Thursday, August 28, 2008

It Came From the Laundry Room

Piper and I were doing laundry after Ryan went to bed. I was sitting on the floor of the laundry room with a pile of dirty clothes, handing things to Piper so she could put them in the washer.* I grabbed a piece of clothing and something long, slithery, and many-legged tumbled off it. I jumped up, shrieking, and the Thing slithered back into the laundry pile.

My shriek freaked out Piper, who echoed my "EEEEEEEEEE!!!!" noises while looking very concerned and then started to cry. I picked her up and called "I need some help in here!" across the house. Ryan hadn't gone to bed that long ago; I figured he was still awake. "I NEED SOME HELP IN HERE!" I yelled. No response.

So I charged across the living room, put down the wiggling baby, and together we threw open the master-bedroom door. "I need some HELP IN HERE!" I yelled.

Ryan's head emerged from the covers. "Whaa? Haa? Mmrefah?"

"Iwasgettinglaundryfromthepile and athingfelloutitwashuge OH MY GOD itwasbigitwasoneofthosethings oh my God, the thingswithallthelegs, ohGodoh- a millipede, that's the thing with all the legs, right? Centipede? WELL THERE'S ONE IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM AND IT'S HUGE! Killitkillitpleasecomekillit!"

He sighed. "You want me to come kill it?"

"YespleasebecauseitwasHUGE ohGod HUGE HUGE!"

"Can't you just...oh, never mind," he said irritably as he got up.

I went with him to the laundry room still jabbering about the SIZE of the THING and made him go through the laundry in the basket, piece by piece. He did, grudgingly, the whole time giving me a lecture on how I shouldn't get so "worked up" about the bugs around here, because giant bugs are just a fact of life in this part of the country, and getting upset and freaking out isn't helping anything. He was referring to the fact that the first time a giant flying cockroach palmetto bug got into the house I was screeching and running around like my hair was on fire for half an hour and spent the rest of the evening nervously jumping onto the furniture any time I saw a shadow move.

Personally, I think I have been pretty understanding about the bugs. I spend a lot of time cleaning, scrubbing, re-washing, and sterilizing things to combat the ants (swarms of which have lately been found in such locales as the linen closet and under the computer desk); I didn't have a nervous breakdown when I woke up with a tick on my eyelid and I didn't even scream the time I found an earwig in our bed. In fact, I didn't even wake him up that time, I just killed it myself.

But here he was, giving me a lecture on how I need to "just deal with it" when I find a bug. He went through everything in the basket. I hovered anxiously the whole time, emitting random freak-out noises, which Piper mimicked with astonishing accuracy. When no Creature of Doom appeared, I made him go through it again, which he did, although by now he wasn’t even pretending not to be annoyed at me. The whole time he lectured me in a patronizing tone about how I was going to have to learn to accept the bugs, and why did I have to make such a big deal, it’s not helping anything, blah blah blah. Then he said that since obviously there was nothing here now, he was done.

"You're not-not going back to BED are you? WE HAVE TO FIND IT!"

He looked at me, that patronizing, patient look you give small children, pets, and mental patients. "Well, Steph, I've been through everything in the basket and it's not here. I don't know what you want me to do. It's gone."

"What the fuck is the point of being married if I don't even have a husband who will kill bugs for me?!" I yelled. "I made you chocolate-bourbon-pecan pie from scratch, and you can't even kill a gargantuan prehstoric-size millipede for me? It was HUGE! You don't understand! It was on my UNDERWEAR!"

"Well, I looked through all of the laundry twice. It's not here. Where could it possibly go?"

"Move the basket. Maybe it went out one of the holes in the side of the basket."

He started to deliver more of his "My wife is being a hysterical sissy and should not be afraid of bugs and especially should not wake me up to kill them for her" speech, then stopped mid-sentence. His eyes got really big,and he backed up. "I need a shoe," he said in a flat voice.

I gave him a grungy flip-flop from the pile by the back door. He moved the laundry basket, then brought the shoe down like a hammer. He stood up and looked at me.

"I, uh, see how that could be alarming," he said. "I totally apologize, because you are totally correct, that was HUGE. I saw it, it was like this big-" he held up his hand and pointed to indicate the millipede's length. "Oh my God, that's like four inches. Maybe even six. So, um, yeah. I'm sorry. I could definitely see how that would be disconcerting. It's dead and I don't even want to touch it. I am very sorry I doubted you. It was, in fact, HUGE."

"I know!" I said. "And it almost fell on my LEG!" I shuddered. "And...thanks. For killing it. And for acknowledging that my reaction was in proportion to the size of the bug."

"Well, I expect to be faithfully represented on your blog," he said. "Both as a killer of large insects and as an apologetic husband."

I hope I have done him justice here.

*She likes to help, and even though it makes everything take two or three times as long, I really don't mind. Her little face totally lights up when I say "thank you very much!" as she hands me some laundry or clean dishes or puts something away for me.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Post About Knitting

Not that I have knit anything recently, mind you. The closest I've come is working three rows on a fuzzy yellow baby bonnet, three rows which Piper promptly unraveled and then carried the (glittery, chunky plastic) knitting needles off into another room.

I did, however, order a bunch of books during the 40% off sale at Knit Picks. I got three Elizabeth Zimmermann books - Knitter's Almanac, The Opinionated Knitter, and Knitting Workshop. I got a couple other ones,too (a Debbie Bliss baby book and Stefanie Japel's Fitted Knits), but so far I have spent the most time with the Zimmermann ones.

I think I'm sorry I ordered them. I didn't go in expecting to love them, since I am no fan of Fair Isle (I don't care for the way it looks, and why in the hell would I spend that much effort on something I'll never wear?) or cables (ditto). I work with and like cotton, silk, or linen waaaay more than wool yarns, since I learned to knit while living in southern California and now live in North Carolina. Neither of those places have climates conducive to working with, let alone wearing, anything resembling wool. But I've heard people rave about EZ and her methods, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

Maybe I should've started with Knitting Without Tears or something, I don't know. I find her work a largely irritating read. Maybe it's just that the stuff I have is beyond me, but I find myself going "Uh-huh, it's GREAT that you went skiing today and all, but could you please tell me what the hell I'm supposed to be doing here?" The directions for patterns are buried in chatter about EZ and her family or activities most of the time. The details of daily life are charming, but not necessarily what I'm looking for in a knitting pattern. I also didn't know that a lot of her stuff involves knitting something, then cutting it apart and machine-sewing as a means of finishing. I don't have a sewing machine, and I'm not yet skilled enough to translate the directions/patterns into a way that doesn't involve one. And as for her "percentage system?" Fugheddaboutit. I have yet to finish an entire adult-size sweater, so I think I'm just not experienced enough to apply what she's trying to teach me there.

I am a fan of Fitted Knits so far, though. I've been going through it trying to pick out what I want to do first. There are so many cute things! And the patterns aren't given in general "S/M/L" sizes, but rather in the actual measurements (mostly the bust measurement) so you can measure yourself first, then pick the right size. Japel also gives instructions in most of the patterns on how to alter them for a better fit as you go.

Trying to pick a project has reminded me of just what an expensive hobby this is - I wanted to make the sweater-coat from Fitted Knits as a Christmas gift for my mom, but it takes 32 balls of yarn. I priced it out and it was over $280! I just don't think I can conscionably turn my mother loose with $300 worth of hand-knitting. I don't think I'd even trust myself in a sweater that expensive, unless I was standing exactly in the middle of a totally white room with nothing in it, and I was doing nothing but admiring my sweater.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Oh, THAT's Why My House is Full of Crap

I just cleaned off my counter and dining table. It took me all weekend to do it, and I'm not even done yet. Mostly it was organizing, filing, sorting, and throwing away. I have been bemoaning the massive amount of clutter around here lately, and frequently find myself at a loss as to how we could have entirely filled up our house with crap in the not-quite-five months we've lived here. We don't buy a lot of stuff anymore; I just can't figure out where all this JUNK comes from.

I think I have the answer. A HUGE box (seriously, I couldn't get my arms around it to carry it inside, I just had to sort of hoist a corner and drag) just arrived from my parents' house, containing:

- Various pieces to Piper's three baby gyms, but not one actual complete gym. One of the main supports to the gym she used most often when she was little is broken. Whoever packed the box was so busy trying to shove more crap in there, they failed to notice that they had snapped the foam pole in half.

- An assortment of heinous baby clothes I left at the house when we moved because they were either a)heinous or b) heinous and too small. All of them still have the tags on.

- A pink plastic My Little Pony tea set. EDIT: Oh, God, it makes noise. It even sings.

- An outfit which my mom made herself, consisting of a reversible pinafore, two pairs of matching bloomers, a tiny coordinating purse, and a matching hat with a gigantic bow. The whole ensemble is solid blue on one side and the other fabric is yellow with pastel lollipops. She has got to be kidding.

- A set of 4 pastel-plaid placemats. A set of 2 Christmas placemats. 4 mismatched cloth napkins (I mentioned a few weeks ago I was on the hunt for table linens).

- A kit for making this dress, in blue. It's pretty cute, actually, and totally a project I would've picked for myself. There's a note inside the bag that says it's my brother's b-day gift to me. Nice job, D!

- An assortment of tank tops for me, none of which I can wear. They're all either way too big or feature spaghetti-straps and shelf bras, which don't work at all with my current g-cup nursing boobs and tank-like nursing bra.

- A tote bag my mom brought back for me from the Globe Theater in London that has "blood-splatter" on it and says "OUT, OUT DAMNED SPOT!" It's a little scary-looking actually.

- Some old clothes of my sister's which I was going to keep but then returned to the give-away box befoe we moved, after remembering that I had 10 boxes of clothing in storage.

- A play tent from Ikea which I told my mom I was going to wait to buy until the Ikea opens here next spring because we don't have room for it right now and my stupid cats will just pee in it anyway.

- Two pairs of British-flag "women's boxer shorts" which I can only assume are meant for me.

- 4 pairs of Piper's shoes, all of which are outgrown and one of which I threw away at some point because the sizes were mismatched.

- A musical card for Piper, tucked inside which I found an old non-working cellphone and 8 expired/used-up card-shaped things: fake gift cards/fake credit-cards etc.

- Some actually fairly rockin' H&M clothes for Piper. My mom and sister must've gotten them when they were in Europe last month. European babies apparently don't need pink OR giant bows to signify their status to the world.

- A pair of shoes for me, from my sister. Cute black-and-white slip-on tennies, but I think they're a little big.

The last box like this my mom sent (last month) is still sitting in the computer room, mostly still packed. I don't know what to do with all this...STUFF. I've asked her to stop sending/bringing it. She just sends more. When my parents came to visit in June, they brought an entire CARLOAD of this sort of junk. The one thing they brought that I had asked for was Piper's other carseat, which, in the process of cramming into the over-stuffed car, they broke. Snapped the seat-belt clip on the right side clean off, so now we can only put it in the center or on the left. The broken cordless phone arrived safely, as did 6 of my baby tee-shirts in various stages of threadbare decay, a large pink stuffed elephant that records and plays back sound, 16 too-small outfits I had put in the give-away bin anyhow, 3 dozen plastic Easter-eggs with ancient candy inside, 3 more bath-toy sets (to add to the bathtub-full she already has), and several more frog-themed outfits Piper doesn't need.

I have asked, begged, and pleaded with them to STOP BRINGING JUNK to my house. We don't have a garage. The back bedroom is entirely given over to the cats. The computer room is stacked floor-to-ceiling with boxes of books and cd's we have no storage for. Every closet in the houe is bursting with crap. And still, the avalanche of junk continues.

At first, I was polite and merely eye-rolling about this; I figured my mom was just trying to help. But there is also a purposefulness at work here. My parents actually laugh when I ask them to stop bringing stuff. They laugh and they tell me, "oh, it happens. When you get a house, it just fills up!" or the laugh and say how pleased they are to be cleaning out their basement and dumping it off at my house. Erm, forgive me for saying so, but if you don't want that crap at your house, I don't want it at mine, either.

The kicker is that 95% or more of the stuff that my parents claim is mine or which I should be responsible for disposing off my MOM is responsible for. The tiny clothes she saved from my and my siblings' infancies, most of which are now too trashed, have been stored too long, or are too small to be of use to me. Broken toys. The JUNK which she whines that Piper likes to play with - old wallets, broken cordless phones, creaky plastic picture frames, crocheted fun-fur scarves nobody will ever wear, Christmas decorations, a string of beaded tree-garland I had to take away from the baby because it was shedding flecks of green (and probably lead-filled) paint all over her hands and in her mouth. The remains of all those sackfuls of baby clothes I asked her not to buy in the first place. Tiny shoes and bibs I told her not to buy because I'd never put them on the baby anyway. Dozens of stuffed animals and heaps of garish plastic toys the baby never even glanced at twice. Leaky dollar-store sippy-cups; child-size dishes emblazoned with cartoon characters I despise; hats that Piper refuses to wear; mittens that are impractical at best for such a little kid; knitting patterns for an assortment of strange and scary children's garments or toys.

PILES and PILES of this stuff. In my HOUSE. And they're coming to visit again next month.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

More Complaining

I just need to get it out, okay?

Here are a few more things about that in-law visit...I'm posting a lot today because a) Piper is taking a nap; b) It's 84 degrees in the house and our electric bill was so high last month it has made me afraid to ever turn the air on again, so it's too hot to fold a dryer-load of hot clothes right now; and c) I am procrastinating dealing with the massive piles of paperwork, bills, and assorted junk that fill my dining table and most of the kitchen counter. So here you go:

- I did apologize to Ryan because it's my fault he got bitched at about the visit. I was an interminable BRAT while they were here. Seriously. There were times when I wanted to smack myself, but the little voice inside that kept yelling "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?" at me was of no help. I was sick with a sinus issue that I was praying wouldn't turn into some raging sinus infection (since I still have no health insurance, natch) so I was not at my best to start with. Add in that Piper sleeps like total crap when my MIL has been anywhere near her (and that is saying A LOT, because she's a pretty crappy sleeper to start with), so I was teetering on the brink of pass-out-on-the-floor exhaustion for several days...and you have a near-perfect recipe for disaster. Which is what happened. I just didn't have the reserves to sit politely by smiling and nodding for three days while they trampled all over their son's feelings, freaked out my kid, and spouted bullshit. Ryan called me on it a few times, and I did try to be nicer, but I also told him that unless he wanted to watch the baby and entertain his parents at the same time so I could take a six-to-ten-hour nap, I didn't think there was much I could do.

- While that is not an excuse for rudeness by any means, it is a large part of why I was so grouchy. While I was sick and exhausted, I had to drag my ass around, listening to my mother-in-law's stream of chatter and responding like this:

"I'm sure that report you saw on Dateline was very informative, but I don't think it applies to Ryan's situation."

"Uh, I think we have enough dresses for now, we don't really need that neon green one with the pink gingham flounce, ruffle-butt bloomers, and matching hairbows."

"Yes, I'm aware that education can make all the difference in a child's life, but the child has to show up for that education and want to be there. They have to want to learn."

"Well, thank you very much! We can certainly find a use for another stack of education magazines, brochures on involved parenting, and Xeroxed articles about child development."

"I do agree that a job with more money doesn't mean total fulfillment, but there is a big difference between being dissatisfied on $25k per year and being dissatisfied on $150k per year."

"Thank you for the offer, but I think she's at least 6-12 months away from having enough hair for hairbows."

- It's not that they're bad. It's just that she tries so hard. She kept picking Piper up and hugging her and fussing with her clothes and patting her arms and squeezing her feet and rubbing her head and pulling up her dress to say "do you want your belly? You want that belly? Do you want your belly belly belly?" Piper did NOT want her belly, and kept tugging her dress back down, then running away. A couple of times in the car - she and I sat in the back with the baby in her car seat, Ryan and his dad sat in front - I wanted to smack her hands and scream "For the love of GOD, woman, stop touching my child!"

- I felt a little bad for MIL sometimes, because she's had hip surgery that didn't go well, and she can't do a lot of physical things. She had to take Piper to the couch whenever she wanted to read a book, for example, because MIL can't get down on the floor. Friday she wanted to take Piper for a walk and I said she was welcome to, but that I usually only get four houses down before I get tired of herding her out of other people's yards and chasing her back from the street. MIL said she probably shouldn't then, because she can't move fast enough to keep the baby from darting into the road. MIL asked for the stroller, and I would've let her attempt it (and wished her good luck while betting that they wouldn't get far before Piper started screaming to be let out), but it was in the back of our car, which Ryan had driven to a work meeting that morning. MIL couldn't get down on the floor to catch Piper at the end of the slide on her tiny-size jungle gym. She couldn't crouch down to count beads on the bead maze and help Piper pull toys out of the toy-box; she couldn't lay on the floor and wrestle. In short, she couldn't do most of the stuff that Piper spends her day doing.

- Then again, she doesn't make the effort, either. She brought a book of poems for us to read to her (some sort of Shel-Silverstein-like stuff that made me want to puncture my ocular cavities with a rusty nail after just one page) and seemed a little put-out when Piper wouldn’t sit still on the couch with her and read through it. This was even after I warned her that she’d have to be careful if she brought the baby up on the couch because as far as Piper is concerned, “let’s sit on the couch” means “neat, I can jump around, climb on the cushions, topple over the back, dive off the front, bounce off the wall, and generally make a good effort at giving myself a serious head injury.” MIL has a very specific agenda when it comes to her grandma-time and has little use for anything that doesn't fit into what she wants out of it. I have expressed concern to Ryan that this will only worsen as Piper gets older - she will be old enough to actually say "Thanks, Granny, but I don't want to make construction-paper Easter baskets" or "Can we read Harry Potter instead?" and I'm afraid MIL will turn it into a big deal about how Piper doesn't like her or we're not raising her with enough respect blah blah blah.

- We tried to find nice, interesting places to take them to eat, which failed miserably. We took them to The Counter, which does "custom-built burgers." They give you a little sheet and you check off what kind of burger you want - chicken, turkey, beef, veggie (their home-made veggie patties are deeee-licious but fall apart easily) and what kind of toppings (tomato? sprouts? carmelized onions?), cheese, sauce, and bun you'd like. We love to eat there (their roasted-garlic aioli is so good I want to drink it through a straw) and since FIL loves hamburgers we thought it'd be a hit. He took one look at the menu and whined, "But I just want a normal hamburger." Which, coming from him, means McDonald's. He eats McDonald's all the time and it grosses me out. In fact, I got into a somewhat heated discussion with him after he slurped down a hand-dipped milkshake from Cook-Out and declared that it wasn't very good because it wasn't very big and "McDonald's are better because you get a lot." I should have shut my mouth, but instead said that while these were smaller, yes, it was a quality issue not quantity, since the shakes at Cook-Out are actually made with real milk, ice cream, chocolate syrup and fresh fruit, unlike the God-knows-what (I didn't say "chilled soft-serve lard" out loud) in the machine at McDonald's. "Yeah, but a lot is better. McDonald's is still better," he asserted (with his mouth full).

- I totally UNLOADED on them after suffering 90 minutes of their views on the current state of education and health care in this country. It's sort of amusing when these discussions come up, actually, because they are in their 60's and more bleeding-heart-liberal/save-the-world than we are in our 20's (er, well, my 30's, now, but you get the picture). His parents think that the country will very soon have a national healthcare system for everyone, because "somebody has to do something, it can't go on this way." Even though we want to believe that's true, Ryan and I know damned well that nobody - especially politicians - ever has to do anything about anything. They also think Ryan should stay in education because "somebody has to save those kids!"; I want him out of it as fast as possible because I am sick of being broke, never seeing my husband, and having him constantly stressed-out, all for the benefit of little shits who think tests are an opportunity to practice making pictures with the bubbles on their their Scantron sheets (not kidding or exaggerating, by the way). I've told his parents time and time again that I don't want them trying to talk shop with Ryan during get-togethers; God knows his mother does enough of that during their weekly phone calls, there's no reason to spoil family and relaxation time with it, too. So I was pretty pissed when they started in with it, and after more than an hour, I was ready to tell them that if they wanted "those poor children" saved so badly, they should go back to school and do it their damned selves. Instead, I treated them to my diatribe on why I want Ryan to find a different job, whatever that entails, and how I will be glad when he or I are making enough that he can quit because the school system is a sinking ship with too many problems and too many people who want ten-minute, sound-bite-friendly solutions that will never work. They just stared at me open-mouthed for a minute, then they started in about how "things have to get better soon, because they can't go on the way they are" and that's when I brought the hammer down and said there would be no more work-talk, because this is Ryan's vacation and we have enough pleasant things to occupy us all, thankyouverymuch.

The Lowlights, AKA Open Letter to MIL

Here's just some of what happened during their now-infamous visit last month:

Dear MIL,


I'm sorry you "didn't feel welcome" during your visit last month and that you "felt like an imposition." But quite frankly, you were. You were supposed to visit in June, near Piper's birthday, but canceled on us at the last minute because you "had something else to do." I'm sure playing around with the boat your husband bought even though he doesn't know how to sail or clipping more education-related articles to clutter up my house with are very important pursuits, but are they really more important than your only grandchild's first birthday? Yes, I know we said we wanted it to be just us on the day-of, but we did tell you that the weekends before and after were free. My parents somehow managed to make it down here and celebrated just fine. Ryan had already taken a week off work so he could hang out with you...and then you canceled, and seemed miffed that we found this last-minute cancellation troublesome.

When you did get around to visiting, in July, it was only on your way to do something else. Forgive me if I'm not feeling like Piper is a priority for you. You bitch and moan at me to put more pictures up on the Internet, you call and ask relentlessly to hear "the stories, I have to hear all the stories," you expect Piper to perform her words or giggles or whatever on cue when you call (sorry, she's not a trained dog here to do tricks for you), you badger and pester me about how "we want to be involved in her life! We want to be part of her life!" Apparently it's only selected parts of her life you want to be a part of, at times and place you designate.

While I am discussing your visit, I'd like to add a few more things:

- You FREAK MY KID OUT. She actually hid behind me when you came into the house. You scared her. That has NEVER happened, not even when the drunk proselytizing guy at Jack-in-the-Box touched her her head to try and bless her with the Holy Spirit while I was waiting for my orange creamsicle milkshake. She sleeps like shit when you're around, she's crabby and irritable and unmanageable. Could you be a little less intense, please? I'm sick of dealing with a freaked-out baby for three days after you visit.

- Your husband sucks at babies. He let her run out in the street TWICE when he was supposed to be watching her, then had the gall to act offended when I ran past him to pull her out of the path of an oncoming car. He won't pick up toys she drops, even if the fall on his side of the table or, in some cases, ON his foot. He won't change diapers, instead preferring to come find me in the kitchen and say "We have a report - she either pooped or farted really loud, but it was definitely something, so you might want to check." He sat in my living room and read a book, totally ignoring her while she played. Also, I can't eat meals near him anymore because it makes me physically ill. His table manners are horrid (um, hell-o! if my kid talked with her mouth full like that I'd pop her one), and his constant chew-smack-snuffle-grunt-snort is like listening to someone throw cheeseburgers into a woodchipper.

- We don't drink much, and we don't drink at 10:30 in the morning. It's nice that you showed up at that hour with two bottles of champagne and two cases of beer, but don't get huffy if I don't want any until later in the day. Your excessive alcohol consumption is also part of the reason I haven't accepted your increasingly-more-insistent offers to babysit, BTW.

- I did warn you that Piper doesn't like to sit still, but because you wouldn't shut up about how much you wanted her to make you a finger-painting for your fridge, I agreed to let you try it. Don't blame me if she was screaming to get down after two minutes.

- I appreciate the thought, but that book of poems you brought makes me want to gouge my eyes out with a rusty nail. I know they're supposed to be for kids and all, but really they're just moronic. I don't care what parenting magazine recommended the author, he sucks.

- When I say "no more work-talk," I mean it. I know you like to think you're informed about Ryan's job, but you haven't got a clue. I'm sick of you ruining our family time and his vacations with your blathering.

"Ohana" means family,

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

This Is Why I Don't Live Closer



My mom and sister just called me from inside Ikea, demanding to know how to buy a bed. Except the phone reception is terrible in there, and my mother likes complaining more than getting to the point, so the conversation sounded like this:

Me: Hello?
My sister's cellphone number: ...ert, I don...errible...keharewaweioare...
Me (thinking she has pocket-dialed): HELLO? HELLO? HELLO!!
My sister's voice: ...aft...Mom, I don't know what you want me to say!


My mom's voice:'t...gur...This is ridiculous! I don't even know how you did this! This is just awful!
Me (still thinking this is an accidental call): HELLOOOOO? MOM? SHILO? HELLO!
My mom's voice: Hello?
My mom's voice (irritated): ..kea, and we're TRYING to...mmmasdfhfff.........bed.
My mom's voice: .....s, and...ow to do this...onfusing...just awful, this is ridiculous...rice...for the slats, or the...?...
Me: Mom, I can't hear you - are you asking about the slats? You need a frame, a midbeam, and a set of slats. Three things. The numbers are on the tags.
My mom's voice: ajeoriaazerrehijt...system, can't fi...khniosuaoieuopuetsn...stupid, awful, it's so conf...mmeardfadaeadak
Me: The reception in there is always bad, I can't hear you...MOM?! ARE YOU THERE? SLATS AND A MIDBEAM!! SLATS AND A MIDBEAM!!


My sister's voice: Mom, that was not very nice.
My mom's voice (distant): afkwl;ejrpoeijaeihrinrhk
Me: Dude, what do you need?  I can barely hear you.
My sister's voice: ...upb...ooking at the beds and there's two prices and we want to know why...kkkrkwe...fffffff...hgmrmew...
Me (wondering why the hell they don't just flag down an employee and ask): Are you upstairs or downstairs?
My sister's voice: Upstairs. And we want to know why it's so much more on the other side. Why is it so much more over there??
Me: Over where? The other side of what?
My sister's voice (impatient): The other side of the THING, where the MATTRESSES are.
Me: Does the other bed have nicer slats? Are you looking at two kinds of slats maybe?
My sister's voice: No, we need two sets of slats or something?
Me: I can barely hear you...there's two pieces to the slats, they go on either side of the midbeam.
My sister's voice (relaying to my mom): Mom, she says we need two pieces of slats.
My mom's voice (faint): grumble grumble grumble Ikea slats grumble stupid grumble too hard grumble stupid too hard dumb system grumble.
My sister's voice: So why does the other tag say $30?
Me: I don't know, dude, we didn't have any trouble at all when we bought our bed...

It was about ten minutes of this total, with my mom complaing and my sister saying "the THING on the SIGN!" and me having no idea what they were actually asking, all of it garbled through terrible phone reception.  The whole time I was getting increasingly annoyed because a) the cell reception in that Ikea is always terrible, everybody knows it, every time I have been there with a member of my family they have commented on it. So why were they calling me?? b) my sister text-messages as much as she breathes. Why not text me whatever the hell it was they were trying to ask? and c)WHY NOT ASK A FRICKEN EMPLOYEE? You know, someone who actually works there and can HEAR WHAT YOU'RE ASKING and CAN SEE WHAT YOU'RE POINTING AT?

Read the damned tags, fercryinoutloud. It's not friggin' rocket science, it's Ikea.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Long-Winded But Not Long Enough

The problem with my infrequent posting is that it forces the stuff I do get around to posting to be novella-length. Like if I were to want to, say, vent about the fact that my MIL called today and whined to Ryan that they "didn't feel welcome" during their visit last month and she thinks "it felt like we were an imposition," I would have to tell you about how that visit went and why she's not far off. I just tried to write some of it out, but it turned into the world's biggest run-on sentence.

And now I have wasted a rare and precious morning nap writing and deleting things.


Friday, August 08, 2008

The Battle of the Closet

*For anyone who likes to look at baby clothes: this post inadvertently turned into a mini-guide to my favorite baby clothes, so enjoy! If you don't like baby stuff, this post will probably bore you so badly you'll impale yourself on a pencil.

We cleaned out Piper's closet today. I put eight pairs of never-worn shoes into the give-away pile. Er, rather the "What the Fuck Do I Do With All This Shit Now?" bin. The WtFDIDWATSN bin is currently a large Ikea laundry hamper; it used to be a shoebox, then a larger shoebox, then a large shopping bag, then an empty box from a mega-pack of disposable diapers. I keep chucking more and more stuff, as I seek to make dressing her easier and the distance from our families makes me feel less compelled to hang onto every fugly outfit they buy her.

Or maybe it's that we're lazy. I love a cute pair of tiny shoes as much as the next mama, but I am also deeply devoted to the path of least resistance when it comes to dressing a baby. When Piper was tiny, we had frilly, foofy outfits with matching bibs, booties, and blankies galore, but I battled the grandmas like hell to put her in onesies or t-shirts every chance I got. My mom bought pair after pair of miniature mary-janes, stacks of bonnets and bloomers with ruffles, or rompers with matching bibs and socks. My MIL brought things, too, although not nearly as many because my mom bought so much, I think my MIL felt crowded out. The things my MIL bought were occasonally cute, but mostly seemed to convey the impression that Piper was going sailing, yachting, or lounging at the country club on a regular basis.

My mom is obsessive with the baby clothes; she'll go into Kohl's and drop $120 a pop, lugging out a sackful of clearance-priced Carter's outfits, half of which will never see the light of day. I've begged, pleaded, and implored her to stop doing this kind of stuff. At first, I told her over and over that I'd rather have ONE cute dress from Tea Collection or Kate Quinn Organics than 10 cutesy-wootsey rompers, 20 pairs of pants decorated with fruit, or more stuff with frogs on it that I will never even put her in, or which, due to the sheer volume of clothing she has, will be worn once and then just take up closet space until they're outgrown. I can't even get her to shop at Old Navy, even though I've raved about how cute their baby clothes are (and, oh, the shoes!), and if you shop their clearance sales, just as cheap as the stuff she brings home from Kohl's, Wal-Mart, and Penney's. I've tried explaining that I'd rather have quality than quantity; that it doesn't matter if "it was only $3.50!," it's a wasted $3.50 if I'm not going to put it on her or if you buy so much stuff I can't even cycle through everything once before it's outgrown.

That tactic did not work, so now I've taken to begging my mother to, instead of buying one more shirt with a frog on it or another dress or more pairs of "ruffle-butt" tights that she will never wear, to please, PLEASE put the money into a college fund instead. "She'll need a college educaton a lot more than she'll ever need another pair of ruffly socks," I tell her.

It's not working. She is getting better; she still sends boxes of stuff, but she's at least listening to my preferences about what to buy. I tell her "t-shirts and bottoms; she's just too busy and too wiggly to wrestle into onesies anymore" or "solid colors are best, she has a lot of patterned stuff it's too hard to match to" and the things still arrive, but I put most of them into rotation without wincing too much. I still haven't convinced her to start buying plain, solid-color AA tees and Baby Soy separates, but *sigh* maybe someday. And as many things as she buys that I don't like, she has subsidized my Babylegs habit quite a few times. Those little suckers are so frickin' cute, and they funky-up any outfit, in addition to being easier to deal with than all the clothes that have 264 snaps on the legs. I chucked quite a few of those kind of pants after several times having to haul a half-dressed baby out of a public restroom because she wouldn't stay still enough on the (filthy, within-grabbing-distance-of-the-trash-can, and never-quite-flat) wall-mounted baby changer. Anyway, back to the Babylegs. They are like crack to me, and I will not disclose how many actual pairs Piper has (or how many more pairs of kneesocks are sitting around here waiting for me to DIY some more), because the number is embarrassingly high.

My next move is going to be to my mother to save her money and spend it on gas to come visit. Maybe that will work: "Wouldn't you rather be playing with her down here than shopping for her up there?"

Now I have to figure out some way to deter my MIL from buying hairbows.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

3:45 a.m.

It's almost four in the morning, and what am I doing? Not sleeping. Blogging.

My birthday is next week. The big three-oh. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's just a number, but really? Just thinking about it makes me want to lie down on the floor and not get up. Of course, I can't do that, because the cats will all come lay on me and it's much too hot to be covered in furry, wriggly bodies.

And since my child seems to have inherited my completely, totally, absolutely shitty sleep genes, she will be up in another hour or so anyway. Duty calls, and all that. Somebody has to rock her and shush her and walk the floor with her and beg her to "please, Piper, for the love of God, go to sleep."

My in-laws were here last month, and I was a total brat during their visit. I feel somewhat guilty about it, but I was sick the whole time they were here and spending a lot of time around them tends to make me feel a bit tightly wound and strung-out in the first place. I cooked and planned activities and tried not to roll my eyes too much. I don't think I did a very good job, but I didn't outright scream at them for any of the annoying/stupid things they did while they were here, so I guess it could have been worse.

I've had my new camera for two months, and it's still in its box on my bedroom floor. My current excuse is that there is not a single flat surface in the house that is not-baby-accesible and debris-free so I can set it up and charge the damned battery. While it is an excuse for me not to have to deal with Big Scary Camera, it is also true. Every fucking flat surface in the house is covered in crap.

The clutter and mess are slowly driving me mad. I can't handle all the chaos anymore. Every time I get something cleaned, it's messy again in ten minutes. There is more shit than I know what to do with, and the baby wrecks EVERYTHING as soon as I straighten it. I just feel like crying, because I would feel so much less stressed if my house were at least a little bit neat and orderly. Maybe I wouldn't feel like screaming my lungs out at the end of each day.

I feel like it's some sort of personal failing - who is this messy, honestly? Grownups don't live like this.

Really, I'm just tired of everything right now.