November 30, 2007

Jewelry Boxes. Or, If You Prefer, Jewellery Boxes

Do you know, I have not even READ yesterday's comments yet? There are about four latrillion of them (plus 272 posts in the RSS reader--aarrh!), and I am dying to see what you all said, but I am also engaged in an epic battle with the laundry and the bills and a bake sale I agreed in a fit of madness to contribute to. Plus, Henry is having his 6-month growth-spurt and he is nursing two extra times per day AND eating cereal once per day, and I am about to go berserk with the cereal crusts that adhere permanently to his face despite repeated scrubbings, and the up in the night again, and the oh my god Target you are NOT up at 4:30 a.m. because that would be INHUMANE.

AND I am trying to get Christmas shopping done. In fact, that is what brings us here today. My sister-in-law would like a jewelry box. I would like to buy her one. But damned lawned if I can find a good one.

My sister-in-law likes vintage and Etsy and kitsch and art, and she was putting sky blue with burnt orange and chocolate brown before I saw it anywhere else. So I am not about to get her a varnished wood box with little velvet-lined drawers, much as I may like that kind of thing myself.

My first thought was, "Hey! Etsy! Etsy will know what's awesome!" But I am having a devil sheep of a time wading through the thousands and thousands of things that come up when I search for jewelry boxes. Gift boxes. Jewelry that comes in little cardboard boxes. Trinket boxes, which appear to be boxes too small to put anything in. Jewelry boxes that are actually recipe boxes. Jewelry boxes that look like a Decoupage Monster barfed on them.

Surely--SURELY--there are awesome jewelry boxes out there. SURELY! And surely you have seen some, and can point me in the right direction.

November 29, 2007

Small Adjustments

So tell me. *arranges self into confidence-exchanging pose* If it's been 6 months since your baby was born and you would like to stop wearing the goddamn gol-dang maternity clothes already, what small and easy changes would you make to get started on that path?

And listen, I do mean SMALL AND EASY. If your idea of a small and easy first step is "Well, first I cut out all sugars and flours," or, "Well, I run an additional mile," or, "Well, I have a salad instead of dinner," then you and I might as well stop this little chat right here and save ourselves the grief of the ensuing "discussion," much of which would involve (a) weeping and (b) railing, not to mention (c) sarcastic air quotes. Those things would require the kind of lifestyle change that would make digging a quarry look like planting a tulip bulb.

No, I am thinking of something more like all those articles that suggest cheerily that you can become ripped/buff by taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Perhaps this substitution makes a serious difference only if you live on one of the uppermost floors of the Burj Dubai and consistently have to go back for your forgotten keys, but I prefer to think of it as the kind of small adjustment that accumulates, for an overall improvement in health and well-being.

And that is the kind of suggestion I am looking for from you. Do you eat protein for breakfast? Do you make yourself "pay for" each cookie by eating a vegetable first? Do you see if you can wait five more minutes for lunch, and now five more minutes, and now five more? Do you swing your arms madly, power-walker-style, when you go up and down the stairs to do laundry? Do you play games that involve lifting your children up over your head?

And don't be shy about telling me the ones that aren't technically very healthy, like skipping lunch or drinking lots of coffee. I want your little nearly-painless tricks, so SPILL.

November 27, 2007

Photo Attempt Samples: One Bad and One Good

Yesterday I was telling you about my first attempt to get a Christmas card photo of the kids, and you were like, "Heh-LO, SAMPLES!" So, okay, first a photo that represents the typical photo I take of all five children together, the kind I expect to get roughly 100 of for each photo worth considering:

From left to right:
  • William, with an Accidental Dumb Face and also a partial blink
  • Elizabeth, with an Accidental Dumb Face and a partial blink
  • Henry, looking acceptable but grousing
  • Rob, looking tortured and also partially blinking
  • Edward, looking away, partial weird eye reflection, and thumb in mouth

Now one of the good candidates:

From left to right:
  • William, looking cute even though he's leaning out of the group and too far forward, and he has his arm between his legs
  • Elizabeth, looking cute even though she's not looking at the camera
  • Henry, looking acceptable even though his hand is stuffed in his mouth and his eyes are vacant
  • Rob, looking cute
  • Edward, looking cute even though his hands are up and he's not looking at the camera and his shirt is bunched up

What I mostly look for in a Christmas card photo:
  • children looking happy
  • children looking like themselves
  • nobody picking his or her nose

Things I have gradually given up on:
  • everyone looking at the camera
  • no weird things in the background (example: diaper bag backpack)
  • tidy poses
  • coordinating outfits

This doesn't mean I've TOTALLY given up, and I do want to do a few more sessions where the kids are wearing red and green or whatever. But if the "good one" above is the best one I get, I'm satisfied with it.

November 26, 2007

First Attempt to Get a Christmas Card Photo of All Five Kids

Total photos taken in this session: 22

Number of times I thought, "You know what would make this easier? Getting rid of some of these kids": 3

Number of photos rejected because of
  • someone making a dumb face on purpose: 7
  • someone making a dumb face accidentally: 2
  • someone blinking: 5
  • someone looking tortured: 4
  • someone appearing to pick someone else's nose: 1

That's 3 out of 22 worth considering, which is the best percentage EVER, including when we had just one child to photograph. None of the three shots are stagger-back awesome, but they look pretty great compared to the ones I deleted.

November 25, 2007


Clearly you have NOT been studying the script. When I say, "Wah, wah, poor me, I feel like I'm being taken for a sucker on these stupid car repairs," YOUR line is, "Oh, me too, there's nothing for it but to pay what they ask and hope they're not laughing after you leave. Just take it in and don't think about it." THAT'S your line. Not, "Your paranoid feelings are 100% accurate, and you should definitely call around / take the car to various dealers / do it yourself / not do it at all."

My life philosophy is: Do what is easiest, then whine about it. So what I do in situations like this is take the car in and hand over what they say it costs, without arguing or getting another opinion or expending any energy beyond what is required for (a) fretting and (b) complaining. Which is what I had already done by the time I did my complaining yesterday. So now it is time for your line, which is, "Oh, totally, that's what I would have done too."

Also: Henry is ready for his close-up.

November 24, 2007

This is Not a Fun Way to Spend Money

Our check engine light came on. We took it to Aut0z0ne, because they'll hook the diagnostic thing up to your car for free, instead of charging $85.00 like the dealer does (dealer of SORROW, more like). But since our check engine light was broadcasting a "dealer code," we had to take it to the dealer anyway.

And what is wrong? A SENSOR has cheesed out. NOTHING AT ALL is wrong with the car, but the SENSOR that is supposed to DETECT if something is wrong--THAT is broken. And how much to repair it? FOUR HUNDRED SMACKERS. For a sensor. When nothing is wrong with the car itself. Plus, of course, the $85 to let us know which sensor wasn't working.

Furthermore, the dealer told us that "Aaiemwocn soeimv woien a owxeia aie'aslc, ceiallell!!!!!" Translation: "The sensor might also have welded itself to the manifold, in which case it could easily be another $800." And ALL OF THIS is for a SENSOR. There is NOTHING WRONG WITH THE CAR. Except for the SENSOR.

So of course I asked whether we could just NOT FIX the sensor. I doubt cars had these sensors even ten years ago, so why don't we just sense it the old-fashioned way, by NOTICING THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG and taking it in when something is? The dealer said, oh, sure, we could do that--but then the car won't pass inspection anymore, so we can't legally drive it.

I HATE dealing with car problems. I always feel like I'm being taken for a total sucker. They could be making this whole thing up. The car could be built to have the check engine light come on automatically at certain mileages, and the dealer code could actually mean "Dealer cash deficiency: please add $500.00."

November 23, 2007

Pink Coat

Oh, sure: Baby boys are just as good as baby girls. Sure.

November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving if You're in the U.S.; Regular Workday with Zero Feasting Otherwise

I am thankful that my in-laws live so far away.

I am thankful that my bonehead asshole father-in-law never even visits.

I am thankful for answering machines. Otherwise I guess we would have to answer the phone, in case it was an emergency.

I am thankful for the leftover chocolate pumpkin cheesecake in the fridge.

I am thankful for digital photography because, seriously, I used to sometimes throw out a whole roll's worth of crappy prints.

I am thankful for not living in pioneer times, because that must have sucked.

I am thankful that my fifth baby is a good sleeper. Dear child, you know when to shut up, and that is extremely valuable in a family of seven.

I am thankful for good sales and lots of excuses to shop, and I am thankful that I don't have to go out there tomorrow when people will be using crowbars to wedge themselves into crowded stores.

I am thankful for you guys--and so is Paul, because I vent a lot of stuff here that otherwise he'd have to hear twice. And the shopping talk I get out of my system! He is a happier man, because of you.

November 21, 2007

To Do List

Guess who has 254 posts in her RSS reader? No, guess! YES, IT IS ME! So if you are thinking to yourself, "Why is Swistle not commenting on this post when it is about the very things she normally can't shut up about?," that is why.

You know how sometimes all the joy has been wrung from the universe and nothing is left but the dirty rag squeezings, and there is nothing fun to do in the whole world? Well, I am the OPPOSITE of that right now: I have about fifty tasks to do, most of which are fun and interesting. I need to cruise Etsy and and make my Christmas list. I need to decide if I'm going to order some expensive perfume with my own money (Paul and I get allowances--is that too cute for words?). I need to eat a bag of Raisinets. I need to experiment with yummy coffees for a SundryBuzz post. I need to go through a bunch of funny photos I took of the kids. Sample shot of William and Rob:

I need to do some online shopping for Christmas presents. I need to finish watching season 3 of Angel. I need to go through a year of archives and move the sensitive stuff to a new blog I'm calling Swistle Confidential (more on this later). I need to finish Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy. I need to take photos of all five kids until I get one good enough to go out with our Christmas cards (who dares me to send out one like the one above?). I need to place an Avon order (free shipping code: REPFS). I need to read those 254 blog posts. I need to do a load of laundry, which sounds boring until you realize it contains a bunch of new clothes for the kids. I need to show you THESE JEANS:

Are those TOO FUNNY? Size SIX MONTHS, baby! They are almost as wide as they are tall! Little square jeans! Target's Cherokee brand, 50% off, $3.98. So obviously I also need to go back to Target and buy more jeans. Oh, woe is me, a trip to Target!

November 20, 2007

Names! SundryBuzz! Long Weekend!

It was only after the emails started pouring in that I realized what a sad, sorry deal I was offering you: Reveal your real, actual baby names to me! And in exchange I will tell you nothing! NOTHING!

The one thing Paul has made me promise about this blogging thing is that I won't use the children's names. At all. Not in the blog, not in an email. He hasn't even made me promise not to talk about our sex life or certain details of his anatomy (future post material!), but he did make me promise about the kids' names. Paul is a computer guy for his job and for his hobby, and he's worried that by having (a) five children and (b) twins, we are already (c) way too identifiable without me blabbing their real names.

But oh! You should have seen me sitting on my hands yesterday, trying to keep myself from telling every single person who emailed me! I even tried giving out freshly-minted pseudonyms that come closer to their real names than the English royalty names I've been using, but test subjects reported a 200% increase in tease. (Want the closer-to-real pseudonyms anyway? Owen, Riley, Clarissa, John, Aaron.)

Oh, shoot! I had like five other things I was going to mention, and now this names subject has put them right out of my head. Hm... I don't think anything was crucially important, but I hate that feeling of forgetting something.

Oh! Here's one! I'm not sure I mentioned that the SundryBuzz gig is a regular thing: I'll be posting there 2-3 times per week. Yesterday I reviewed a cookbook that contains recipes for things such as "Bitch Bar Bacon Swimps," "Fried Dill Pickles," and "Connie's Death-Corn Five." Tomorrow I'm going to do a holiday-related tip.

Paul and I caught ourselves actually looking forward to the long weekend. Paul was like, "I have Thursday AND Friday off!," and I was like, "Yay!," and then we suddenly realized what we were talking about here: not a four-day weekend of sleeping in and reading books and watching movies and avoiding stores, but rather four days trapped in a ranch house with five children and one bathroom and no place to go because everything will be either (a) closed or (b) so stuffed with bodies, it may as well be closed for all the good it would do us to try to go there. We have had children in the house for nearly NINE YEARS. When are we going to learn that vacation days are no longer vacationy?

November 19, 2007

Namer's Remorse

Go say congrats to our Kelsey, who has pregnancy news! Yay, Kelsey!

That puts me in the mood to discuss baby names, as if I'm ever OUT of that mood. I've had a question sitting in my inbox 4EVA, and this seems like a good time to dust it off. Shelly Overlook asks:
How about asking if anyone regrets what name they chose? While I don't exactly regret our choice, I wouldn't choose it again and there may be a tiny part of me that wishes we'd gone with MY first choice (rather than his). I'm curious if anyone else feels the same.
GREAT QUESTION. I've had some regrets about our secondborn's name. It isn't actually the name William, as you know, but it's a name that's roughly as common. We chose it KNOWING it was common: not only did I consult my dear friend The Social Security Administration (where I found that the name was significantly more common in our state than it was nationally), but when I was in my third trimester I ran into two newborn "Williams" on the same day: one at the pediatrician's office and one at the portrait studio. I went home in a panic saying to Paul that we MUST START ALL OVER, and he said, "Sorry, too late: that's his name." I was relieved, because that's how I felt, too.

So we went into it with eyes wide open, and we love the name, and it does suit him. But...gosh. When I enrolled him in first grade, the registrar said, "Oh, we've got a LOT of those!" That's...not a happy thing to hear. I find that his is the only name I don't practically shout out when someone asks my kids' names. I feel like people are thinking, "Oh. Yes. THAT name again." All the other kids have names that have been a "happy balance": common enough to be familiar, uncommon enough that nobody's had a duplicate in class or in our social/family circle.

So now Shelly and I are very eager to hear: Do you have any regrets about your kids' names? Did you go too common? too unusual? Did you give in to a spouse and now wish you'd held your ground? And don't tease me, goldangit: if you can't reveal the names in the comment section for anonymity reasons, email me at swistle at gmail dot com and tell me what they are! I demand it! ...Fine, you don't HAVE to. But I will be dying of curiosity. DYING.

November 17, 2007

Fashion Show

Now...what was I going to say? Oh yes! It seems impossible, but I don't think I ever showed you the pictures of all the stuff I bought on awesome clearances at The Children's Place! Oh, it is so pretty and fun. Why oh why do they not sell everything in MY size?

Anyway. First, here is everything I bought for Elizabeth for this fall and winter:

Skirts and corduroy pants in green/pink/brown. One patterned skirt. Seven long-sleeved shirts.

And then I bought a bunch of short-sleeved shirts that will go great with the same skirts and pants for spring, and then those same shirts can go with shorts/capris for summer:

The embarrassingly tall, teetering, falling-over heap in the upper right corner is all the shirts I got for $1 each at Target's end-of-summer clearance. Then there are eight shirts from TCP with pictures on them, and the same skirts and pants as in the previous picture.

Here is what I bought for Henry, Fourthborn Boy Who Wears Tattered Handmedowns:

Four long-sleeved shirts, one short-sleeved, one pair of corduroy overalls he unfortunately outgrew within a month.

And now, of course, a fashion show. This is a sampling of Elizabeth's mix-and-match potential for fall/winter (I just love TCP):

And then only ONE picture of Henry in his new duds. How does this happen? Poor Henry. Look at him, though, clearly WORKING IT.

November 15, 2007


I'm going to tell you how I totally sucked as a mother and as a human being this morning, and then I'm going to tell you how I handled it afterward. And some of you are going to be like, "Oh, I am so relieved I'm not the only one who sucks!" or "I've never done that myself, but it's good to know that the world wouldn't end if I did."

But some of you are going to be like, "Dude, I guess you get points for fixing it rather than, like, thinking you did nothing wrong or pretending it didn't happen--but you still really really suck, and I hope you don't think that knowing how to glue things back together cancels out the part where you broke it." And I'm going to be all, "Dude! I KNOW! I totally suck sometimes!" What I try to work on is (1) reducing how often my suckiness presents itself, (2) reducing the severity of the attacks I fail to prevent, and (3) finding ways to handle things so that we don't have to get a third mortgage to pay for the kids' psychiatric bills.

I get frustrated very, very easily. And when I'm frustrated, I'm FURIOUS. This morning I was frustrated with the children: I'd been working all morning on THEIR routines, and I finally took my TEN MINUTES to take a shower, and it was "Mommy, Rob hit me TEN TIMES and he's doing that voice he KNOWS I hate!" and "Mommy, William sat in the baby swing and it made a CRUNCH noise," and lots of crazy laughter and giddiness and the jarring irregular banging sound of toys being thrown down the stairs, and a toddler screaming and a baby fussing, and I couldn't quite hear the older-kid reports/tattles over the shower/fan and had to keep asking for repeats.

As I dried off, I could hear part of my brain advising me that this was a good time to go to another room and calm down, but I couldn't take the time to do that because we needed to be at the bus stop in 20 minutes and I was still in my robe, and how was it possible to even SPEAK to a child who would think it was a good idea to sit in a baby swing, and that swing cost $80 and I NEED it for Henry, and everything was so UNFAIR, and so I felt that little catch being released, and I flipped the flip out.

There was enough yelling that afterward my throat felt rough. There was self-pity at top volume. There was door-slamming. There was door re-slamming, and re-slamming, and re-slamming, with "URGGG!!!!" sounds of frustration and anger. Afterward, the door wasn't closing right.

It was an ugly, ugly temper tantrum. Part of me was watching it happening, eating popcorn and saying, "Oh, girl, you are not going to say THAT. Oh you DIDN'T! Oh, girrrrrrrrl." The rest of me was like a tower of flame. There is nothing like rage for feeling SO GOOD and SO HORRIBLE at the same time. Sickeningly exhilarating.

I went into my room afterward to get dressed. I felt stunned and sober. Lightheaded. I felt like trying to talk myself into thinking it didn't happen. I dreamed it. I fantasized it. I read it in a book. I saw it in a movie. I didn't really yell like that. No, my mind said back: you really did. Then I started thinking, I can't fix this. There's no way to fix that. It can't be undone, and children are too young to understand, and this is terrible, and there's nothing I can say to make things better, and nothing can be done about it.

But I had to go back out of my room, to where they all were. And so I went out like this: I said, "Geez, that was enough yelling to last us about TEN YEARS, wasn't it? Man, I yelled SO LOUD, my THROAT HURTS!" The children visibly relaxed. I said a few more things along those lines, and Rob said, tentatively, "I thought the door was going to bend backward on its hinges!" and I said, "It was actually STUCK a little! I thought I was going to be locked in my room!"

Then I made strong eye contact and said, kindly but very seriously, that I should NOT have yelled like that. That no one should. That I was sorry. That they had indeed needed to be reprimanded, but not like THAT, not with anger and yelling. That although toddlers have tantrums (glancing in twins' direction), adults should not. That I should not have yelled like that. That I was sorry.

I reminded them of conversations we've had before, about how everyone has their own issues to struggle with: some people battle self-pity, and some people battle discontent, and some people battle addictions, and some people battle anger--and I was someone who struggled with anger. That I was working on it, always working to control it and to control myself, and that a lot of times I succeeded, but that sometimes I screwed up, and that I had screwed up really badly just now.

The kids weren't sitting silently this whole time, they were making eye contact and looking a little shy, and saying "Yeah" when they knew what I meant; and William was smiling but Rob was trying to keep himself from warming to me, because he was still mad about being yelled at, as well he could be, but on the other hand this kind of talk really appeals to him and to his sense of justice. I kept going.

I explained how I'd gone wrong. How in the shower I'd been thinking of things that had happened when I was working at the pharmacy, situations where the customer was so mean or blamed us for things that were not our fault. I'd gotten myself all worked up about these things that are long in the past, and I explained how that was another thing I had a problem with. I asked if they ever did that--thought of things that made them angry a long time ago--and they both said they did.

I said that thinking about those things had put me in an angry mood, and so when the kids' behavior frustrated me, I had taken the anger I felt at those old situations and directed it at them. That I hadn't even been angry "at them," but rather just ANGRY. Since we've been watching the show Avatar, and there are people on that show who can take lightning and channel it through themselves to use it as a weapon, I used that as an analogy of how anger can come in from one direction but get flung out in a different direction. They lit up with understanding. I said it's like how you can scuff your feet and build up more and more static, but you don't have to put that static shock back into the carpet, you can use it to shock a person. I said that I should not have done that: that I should not have taken anger and shot it at them. I said that I should have gone into my room and calmed down if I felt like I was going to yell. Rob said, "You know what helps ME, is I read a book for a few minutes."

We talked about it a little more, but the bus was coming and we needed to wrap it up. I was glad to see that the storm seemed to have passed, that we seemed to be coming out of the bad situation I had created. Rob said, grudgingly, "At least it doesn't take long to get your temper BACK." I agreed, and--lest they think that their mother showing human flaws meant it was open season on her entire personality--reiterated that that was one of my good points. That everyone had GOOD things about them, just as everyone had things they had to work on, and that "getting over anger quickly" was one of my good points. They agreed.

I took them to the bus. I felt wrung out. I'd slipped, and in fact I'd slipped badly. But I am okay, and the kids are okay, and I took a really bad slip and found a teaching opportunity: (1) people screw up, sometimes REALLY screw up; (2) people should acknowledge their screw-ups and apologize for them; (3) people should continue to work on their weak points; (4) fortunately, our weak points are balanced by strong points.

I don't know if you'll see it that way or not. Some people don't struggle with anger, and I can see how those people might be appalled that I could think anything good came out of this, so I want to re-emphasize that in no way am I saying, "See? It seemed like a bad thing but actually it was good! I can yell all I want now!" My behavior was shitty, and I hope I communicated that to the kids: that I treated them shittily, and that people should not treat other people that way, and that there is no excuse for it.

And what is it I hope I'm communicating to you? I hope I'm not communicating that I need to be reassured, or that I need it re-emphasized to me that I should not have yelled. But I'm a fan of truth-in-motherhood, and I hope I'm communicating to you the same thing I was trying to get across to the kids: that I screwed up, and that we all do sometimes. That being flawed human beings does not mean we're not qualified to be mothers.

November 13, 2007

Sit in the Middle

Writing here is a little like having a big group of friends over for coffee and cookies (not that I ever do that in real life) (though maybe we would if we all lived in the same town) (not that you'd HAVE to come over, I'm just saying you COULD) (it's not like I'd literally FORCE you, I'd just waft cookie aromas out the window and you would be drawn in AGAINST YOUR WILL) (I now return you to the sentence already in progress): it's comfy, it's easy, we rarely disagree except on the BIG issues such as how often children should be bathed, and I'm always having happy thoughts like, "I can't wait to tell them about THIS!"

Over the three-day weekend, I worked on my first post as a contributing writer over at SundryBuzz. That was more a speech in front of my high school. Have I ever mentioned I won speech contests in high school? I liked writing the speeches, but if you won you had to give them in front of the whole school.

My high school was pretty nice to people as high schools go, and so no one openly taunted me or HOOTED or anything, but that feeling of getting up in front of ALL THOSE PEOPLE and then having to SAY SOMETHING---yagghhh. What I used to do was have my few good friends sit right in the middle, so I could deliver the speech to people with friendly familiar faces.

I wonder if you'd mind going over and sitting in the middle.

November 11, 2007

Sunday Timeline

6:45 a.m.
  • Entire family wakes up within 3 minutes of each other.
  • Swistle nurses Henry.
  • Paul checks his email, then sits on the couch with the children.
  • Twins gradually leak through their diapers, which is what happens if they aren't changed immediately after awakening. But how many times can Swistle tell Paul about this, considering she has told him so many times already? It is getting embarrassing. She will just change the twins herself after she finishes nursing Henry. After all, that is what she would do on a weekday if Paul were at work. It's just a little extra laundry, no big deal. Besides, it's good that he's spending time with the kids.

7:15 a.m.
  • Henry finishes nursing.
  • Swistle stands up.
  • Paul stands up. Paul says, "Well! Guess I'll take a shower!"
  • It would make a lot more sense if Paul would shower while the baby was nursing, since then he'd be all ready now and Swistle could get in the shower. Swistle could have said something about this earlier, but Swistle has explained this so many times. How can she explain it without Paul feeling like she thinks he's the village idiot? It would also make sense for Swistle to shower now while Paul handles some morning chores, but Paul is always so crabby if he tries to do things before he showers, so she will just let it go.
  • Paul showers.
  • Swistle feeds the four non-nursing children breakfast.
  • Swistle takes out the trash, into which Paul has dumped something rotten. She should leave it for him to take out, but he would take it out exactly as is: a whole bag, 7/8ths empty, tied up and tossed out the door. Swistle has the super-human intelligence required to realize it's more efficient to add the contents of other trash cans to the bag, especially trash cans that will need to be emptied today anyway, such as the diaper pail which perpetually needs emptying, even more so when Paul doesn't roll up the stinky diapers before dropping them in there. Swistle remembers that stupid "baby-and-me" class instructor who told one mother that she should be sure to praise her husband for changing his own child's diapers, and to be grateful he even does it. Are the fathers receiving similar instructions about praising their wives, and are we all to be so very grateful that the mothers are willing to change diapers? Please.
  • Swistle packs the diaper bags for errands.
  • Paul is still taking a shower. Swistle and her mom are leaving to go on errands soon, so this is not a good time for one of these long, luxurious showers. But Swistle has mentioned this so many Sundays in a row! How can she mention it again without it sounded like boring naggy wife? She will just have to take a short shower to make up the time.
  • Swistle unloads the dish rack.
  • Swistle gets a load of laundry out of the dryer and folds it and puts it away.
  • Swistle gets Edward changed and dressed.
  • Swistle gets Henry changed and dressed.
  • Swistle tells Rob and William to clear their dishes and sends them to get dressed.
  • Swistle builds a sailing vessel, discovers the New World, settles it, harvests a crop of corn, and returns home with a boatload of gold and spices.
  • Paul gets out of the shower.

7:50 a.m.
  • Paul starts to get dressed. He starts sighing at the children because they're "not letting him get DRESSED!" (They're following him and asking him questions.) His tone implies to Swistle that he thinks Swistle should be keeping the children away from him, but it is hard to know which things Swistle is "picking up on" and which things Swistle is "totally imagining."
  • Paul takes Elizabeth downstairs to get her dressed. (Later Swistle will discover that Elizabeth has (1) uncombed hair, (2) no shoes, and (3) a short-sleeved shirt in November.) Having Paul downstairs makes it tricky for Swistle to take a shower, because she'd have to leave Edward unattended and Edward is the kind of toddler who dumps a box of cereal onto the carpet and sits there eating some and grinding the rest under his feet. Swistle tells Rob to watch Edward.

8:00 a.m.
  • Swistle heads for the shower. She first has to remove Paul's book, which has been left hanging on the shower bar. Why do they have to have the same "consideration for others" conversation so many times, particularly about taking unnecessarily long showers (READING in the shower, for god's sake) when Swistle has to be somewhere, not to mention how it means the woman he supposedly loves more than any other in the whole world ends up with tepid water? If she explains this AGAIN, she will sound as if she thinks Paul is a child, not a grown man who can understand things and remember them later. And probably he doesn't love her, either, since he doesn't care if she gets enough hot water.
  • Henry fusses. Paul doesn't seem to notice. The fussing makes it difficult for Swistle not to feel tense and rushed, and also as if nothing gets done unless she does it.

8:10 a.m.
  • Swistle is drying off and putting up her hair, and she can hear that Paul is impatient with the children already. How can that be, when he has NOTHING TO DO? Swistle makes an unpleasant expression and wears away a little more of her tooth enamel.

8:20 a.m.
  • Paul asks what still needs to be done. He seems to expect to be praised for realizing that things need to be done in the mornings. Does he not realize that 1 hour and 35 minutes of work have already taken place?
  • Swistle replies that all that is left to do is nursing the baby, and doing last-minute diaper checks, and putting on coats, and none of that can be done right now except the nursing, and would Paul like to do that?
  • Swistle should leave it at that, but she cannot. Instead she explains to Paul again how it works best if they MESH their routines for maximum efficiency and fairness. That is, instead of Swistle working while Paul gazes into space, and then Paul doing something for himself while Swistle works, and then Swistle working while Paul does something else for himself, and then Paul asking what work still needs to be done when it's all been done, it works best if Paul works too, in a way compatible with Swistle's work. Yes, Swistle CAN do it all herself, since she DOES do so on weekdays, but the agreement was that when they are BOTH home they SPLIT the work, since otherwise Paul has a weekend and Swistle does not.
  • Paul agrees. Yes, he remembers this. But he says, what was he supposed to do? He only just now finished getting ready, and everything's done!

8:25 a.m.
  • Swistle goes to Target and spends a lot of money.

November 10, 2007

Do Not Fear the 2-Year Spacing! (Except at First, When It Can Seriously Suck Sometimes)

Remember how I was all, "The two-year spacing sucks!," and then a few minutes later I was all pretending to retract it? Now I really DO retract it. The two-year spacing is great.

Silly boys, two years apart

Big sister and little brother, two years apart

November 9, 2007

Vote: QUADRUPLET Baby Names!

Baby namers, TO MY SIDE. We have on our hands the kind of situation that makes my fingers go all cold and tingly.

Reader Casey nearly gave me heart failure by telling me she is 24 weeks pregnant and has QUADRUPLETS to name. Are you getting this down? EIGHT NAMES to choose, four first names and four middle names.

Three of the quads are known to be girls. The fourth is going to be a surprise--which is particularly appropriate because the baby itself was a surprise to parents already getting used to the idea of having triplets. Oh my god, is this not the most wonderfully fun thing you have ever heard of? I have been thinking of this ALL WEEK. Don't you wish we all lived in the same town so we could sign up for shifts to go hold babies? Newborns everywhere, plenty to go 'round! Imagine the surround-sound wahing!

Anyway! The three known-to-be-girls have somehow already been named without our assistance:

Molly Claire
Paige Lilah
Jordan Kate

The fourth quadruplet, if a boy, will be named Chase Tobias. The decision on the table, then, is what to name the fourth quadruplet if a girl.

The current contenders for first name are Olivia and Addison. (I don't know why "Swistle" isn't in there. I assume it didn't sound good with their surname.) The current contenders for middle name are Grace, Olivia, Addison. This gives you the following name combinations to vote on:
  1. Olivia Grace
  2. Olivia Addison
  3. Addison Grace
  4. Addison Olivia
We are voting here for overall sound of the name, but also for compatibility with the other three girl names.

But Casey ALSO says that they're open to new name suggestions, so BRING IT!

Well, VOTE first. THEN bring it.

November 8, 2007

Tutoring Needed

I can get so discouraged when I come upon another example of HOW MUCH CHILDREN HAVE TO BE TAUGHT. Why do my children not know that you have to wash between your toes? Why don't they know that powdered laundry detergent has to be mixed with water before you add the clothes? Why do they think it's okay to drink dirty sink water? Do I have to tell them EVERYTHING??

Occasionally, though, I discover a childhood lesson I myself failed to learn. Here is one I am hoping you can help me with.

1) You wake up in the morning.
2) There are cookies in the house.
3) You do not eat them for breakfast.

I don't see how this works.

November 7, 2007

New Rant Blog; Also, Burn After Death Boxes

My dears, did you catch in yesterday's comment section that Pann has started a new website for when you have something to say but can't say it on your blog? It's called Rant Haven, and the way it works is you send her an email (from an anonymous email address, if you want) and you get an anonymous account on the site, which you can use to post your rants.

HELLO! Obviously this is what we need. I have already subscribed to it in my RSS reader, because I want to read ALL of you who say you can't talk about [Insert Mesmerizing Topic Here] because your family reads your blog.

Also, I think we need to make lists of what would be in our "Burn This When I Die" boxes. Here's what would be in mine:
  1. My NaNoWriMo novel.
  2. One folder and two college-ruled notebooks full of poetry.
  3. Photos I took of myself in the mirror to send to an ex-boyfriend years ago. They are not racy, but I am looking Intense and Posed in a way I find excruciating now. Except I also think I look kind of cute. And there are so few photos of me at age 24. And I don't know where the photos are, because I hid them somewhere.
  4. My diaries.
  5. A book called The Script : The 100% Absolutely Predictable Things Men Do When They Cheat, which I thought would be handy thing to know ahead of time in case it ever came up, but I only got partway through the book because it seemed so dumb and obvious I lost interest. ("Is he getting phone calls and hissing 'I told you never to call me here' into the receiver? Are there charges on the credit card bill for flowers and hotels?") I should just get rid of it, but I feel like I should finish reading it first.

November 6, 2007


I've been wanting to tell my brother about this blog, but I haven't trusted him since the day we came down on different sides of a hypothetical situation. The conversation was a year ago, shortly after I'd finished my NaNoWriMo novel. A NaNoWriMo novel is a novel you write in one month. The emphasis is on quantity, and there's no time for quality. I was explaining to my mother and brother that although I had not burned my novel YET, I certainly didn't want anyone to (*shudder*) READ it, and I was worried now about dying unexpectedly and having the novel discovered among my possessions.

Anyway, my mom and I started envisioning a "Burn When I Die" box: you'd use it to store all the things you don't really want your relatives finding unexpectedly through their tears: bizarre feti$h magazines, documents related to your secret marriage and subsequent secret annulment, novels so gaggingly awful you fear people would be relieved the author was no longer with us, etc.

My mom said, as I knew she would, that if I had a "Burn When I Die" box, she'd burn it for me without hesitating or peeking. I knew this would be the case: when I was a teenager, I had the only mom in the universe who would walk past my open diary in a deserted house and actually move a little further away because she didn't want to accidentally see anything.

But my BROTHER said that he would NOT burn the box. No. In fact, he would in good conscience make a deathbed promise to burn it, and then consider the promise meaningless when the person had died, and he would root through the box right after the funeral--or perhaps before, if it was an afternoon funeral. Dead people don't have valid contracts, was his point of view.

You see, perhaps, why I am not sure I can let him go rummaging around in my blog. The blog in which I might want to complain about my brother, or talk about S-E-X, or discuss my plans to steal his half of our inheritance.

But I'm finding I have to constantly talk around the blog: I'm always monitoring my Next Thing To Say to make sure I'm not about to say something about one of our discussions. More than once I've had to say, "Uh...I read on someone's blog that..." when I want to mention my own blog. This is getting silly.

So I've told my brother and my sister-in-law about the blog. But! Now I need to do a big edit. A biiiiiiiiig edit. Imagine you're talking on the phone to your best friend, and no one else is home. Now imagine your husband is in the room. Now imagine your husband AND your mother-in-law are in the room. With each new person, you have to think more carefully about how what you say will be received, or who might be hurt by it.

It is hard to decide where to draw the line. At what point is it so edited, I'll need to start a new secret blog so we can still have our private phone conversations?

November 4, 2007

My New Diet

ten fun-size Mr. Goodbars

fun-size Reese's Peanut Butter Cup every 15 minutes

skim milk
ten fun-size Kit-Kats
five fun-size Mr. Goodbars

carrot stick
handful of "caramel" candy corn (whuh?) (also: bleah)

skim milk
creamy chicken casserole

skim milk
nine chocolate-chip cookies

It's not a DIET, it's a LIFESTYLE CHANGE.

I expect to be fun-size any day now.

November 3, 2007

Baby Diaper Usage, Month Five

I did diaper usage reports for months three and four, month two, and month one, too.

Halfway through this month, Henry switched from size 1 diapers to size 2 diapers. So the first 15 days of the month he was in size 1 diapers, which are $10.60 for 112 of the Target brand we use; and the next 16 days of the month he was in size 2, which are $10.60 for 96 Target brand diapers.

Size 1 diapers are 9.46 cents each ($10.60 divided by 112 diapers in the package). Size 2 diapers are 11.04 cents each ($10.60 divided by 96 diapers in the package).

When he was outgrowing the size 1 diapers, we went up to an average of 7 diapers per day. When he switched to size 2s, we went back down to our usual average of 6 diapers per day.

So for the first half of the month, he used 105 diapers (7 diapers a day times 15 days). Those diapers cost 9.46 cents each, which comes to $9.93.

And for the second half of the month, he used 96 diapers (6 diapers a day times 16 days). Those diapers cost 11.04 cents each, which comes to $10.60.

That's $9.93 for the first half of the month plus $10.60 for the second half of the month, for a total of $20.53 to keep Henry in disposable diapers for a month.

November 2, 2007

Oh, Fine: Anonymous Wedding Pictures

So Shannon and Shauna want to see wedding photos, and Shannon particularly wants to see the wedding shoes. Well, all right. I guess I can make things anonymous enough to suit my nature.

Here are our wedding outfits, which we did indeed wear to other people's weddings:

I don't think we would choose the same outfits if we were getting married now, but, you know, TEN YEARS AGO. We felt pretty cute at the time. Also: we look a lot taller with our heads on.

You can also see some of the parlor-type thing we got married in, because this photo was taken by our justice of the peace.

The shoes kind of blend into the carpet, but when I was looking through my journal for a photo that showed our outfits, I found a catalog clipping of the shoes I ordered:

These are the announcements [Edited: I made it more clear that this wasn't my personal info]:

Before you think, "Hey, her real name is Janet???," I will tell you that this is a photo of the sample announcement we got during the decision-making process. The announcement is white, embossed with white flowers. The writing was purple on the sample, but we ordered black.

Here is our car, decorated for our drive:

The end.

November 1, 2007

Our Wedding Day

Have I ever told you about our wedding? It was ten years ago, in fall of 1997. We got engaged, and we were married two months later. Estimated percentage of friends and relatives who expected a baby to be born within six months: 75%.

We'd been living together for two years, intending to get married but not finding any reason to do it at THIS time as opposed to THAT time. Then we decided to have kids, and that we'd prefer to be married first. Our favorite season was autumn, and we wanted to get married in autumn. We realized our autumn wedding was either two months away or a year and two months away. We opted for two months away.

Our plan was to work fast. We'd chosen a date, so we thought we'd invite people immediately, then buy nice dressy clothes, get some platters from the deli and some napkins/plates from the party store, and have a nice city hall wedding followed by a pleasant cakey-and-punchy-and-snacky reception in the large formal room available for free at our apartment complex. Get a stereo and some mix tapes and some champagne, and WHO'S a cute little married couple, WHO is?

We told our parents. Mine were happy with the plan, and started looking into plane tickets.

Paul's. Oh, Paul's. His mom said it didn't matter to HER, of course, but that OTHER people were concerned that we weren't getting married in a church, and Paul's grandmother wanted to know did we realize our marriage wouldn't be valid In The Eyes Of The Lord? His mom said she would have to stay in our apartment for two weeks after the wedding, because otherwise she couldn't afford to come. His mom said she was sure MY mom was disappointed we weren't having a bigger wedding. His dad didn't know if he'd be emotionally able to attend at that time.

Did we want to go on our planned weekend honeymoon to a nearby city, then come home to two weeks of Paul's mother in our apartment with us? No, we did not. Did we want to go to a lot of trouble and expense, only to hear how unsatisfactory our efforts were? No, we did not. Did we--now that we thought about it--even CARE if we had a wedding-wedding? No, we did not. We wanted to be married, but we were only half-interested in the party part of it.

So we made a list. What did we really want, in terms of nice-but-unnecessary wedding accessories? I wanted special outfits--ideally outfits we could then wear when we attended other people's weddings. I wanted rings. I wanted to order pretty announcements or invitations, and I wanted matching stationery for thank-you notes. I wanted studio portraits. I wanted to drive around in a decorated car so people would honk at us and be happy about marriage. That was what I wanted.

What did Paul want? (1) minimal fuss; (2) someone else to choose his outfit; (3) not to have to wear the outfit for too long; (4) no pictures of us gazing moonily into each other's eyes; (5) the rings not to be too girly.

We hired a justice of the peace, a retired minister who wanted to keep doing his favorite part of being a minister, and we paid him ten bucks extra to bring his white-haired wife and sister to be our witnesses. We got married in the parlor of the apartment complex, where we'd planned to have the reception. I wore a pretty green dress and fancy black velvety maryjanes with little heels, and Paul wore a white dress shirt and tan dress pants and a leaf-patterned tie. Then we drove to the post office and dropped off huge white heaps of beautiful white-on-white embossed wedding announcements, the square kind that require fiddling around with extra stamps. Then we drove to a studio and had our picture taken.

Afterward, we changed into jeans, decorated our own car, and drove a long way on the highway, waving at all the people who honked and waved and held up their own wedding-ringed hands. We had dinner at a steakhouse we used to go to all the time when we were first dating. We went to a large bookstore and browsed, and we each bought a few things. We drove home. We washed the car.

It was a great day. I was worried I would regret giving up the flowers, the reception--the other wedding accessories. It's been ten years and I don't regret it yet. It was a great day.

I do enjoy going to other people's weddings, though, and thinking, "What color table linens would I have chosen?" and "Ooo, I would have MY bridesmaids wearing non-matched dresses!" and "I love this yummy buffet!" and "Lots of bottles of wine, that's the key," and so on. Wedding stuff is fun.