April 30, 2009

More Reading Done Than Expected

Oh hello! I've been SICK! Like, "lying on the recliner all day, too tired to get the kids a snack" sick! Sore throat and coughing and fever and aches and exhaustion. Yeah.

Yeah.

I'm sure it's nothing.

Besides, I felt a lot better today. And I got a lot of reading done. I finished The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and I'm almost done with another book.

I liked The Perks of Being a Wallflower, though I was occasionally aware of being outside the target market: I generally don't like young adult fiction, or books written in letter/diary format, or books written from a disorienting point of view (alcohol, drugs, mental imbalance). I liked the book anyway. It's interesting and absorbing, and I thought it was a good story.

April 27, 2009

Can't Talk. Reading.

I finally figured out that our library lets you reserve books online, so I can put myself on the list and then Paul can pick up the books for me on his way home from work and I don't have to try to manage small children at the library.

Well, but I got a little carried away, because I thought I'd be way down the list on some of the new releases, and that did not turn out to be the case. So when the library said they had some books for me, this is what Paul came home with:



The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell
Screamfree Parenting, by Hal Edward Runkel
The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir, by Patricia Harman
When Difficult Relatives Happen to Good People, by Leonard Felder
The Duggars: 20 and Counting!, by Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar
Certain Girls, by Jennifer Weiner
The Guy Not Taken, by Jennifer Weiner
American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld

So, um, see you in a few months. Well, or in two weeks, because that's when they're due, and most of them are on a Hold List and can't be renewed. (Also: Paul says he thinks he should get MAJOR POINTS for having to pick up some of those titles, particularly The Guy Not Taken.)


Speaking of stacks of paper, we were out of printer paper. Usually I buy the recycled kind, simultaneously wincing and preening as I spend nearly twice the price to get it. But the shelf space for it was empty. Then I saw this:


Non-recycled paper---that COMES WITH A PACKET OF TREE SEEDS. Ha ha ha ha ha! Is that the cutest? Of course I bought it. The seeds are planted as of this morning. I'm going to have a whole FOREST in our back yard.

April 26, 2009

Lift Up Your Hearts

Paul is always finding Cool! Internet! Stuff! and then showing ALLLLL of it to me, especially when I am concentrating really hard on finding a good baby name. When he first showed me the below video (which is in a group of similar videos, and I saw alllll of them), I said what I usually say, which is, "Uh huh. Very nice and/or funny." But then he kept playing it in the background, which is another thing Paul does when he finds something he likes, and before I knew it I was not only humming it but also...well, TOUCHED by it. The visual is unimportant---it's the speech I like. I have a little crush on Winston Churchill now, and there really isn't anything Paul can complain about since he's the one who so forcefully and repeatedly introduced us. And so I give it to you, but on its own rather than in a sea of other such things. "Best of Paul," we can call these.

April 25, 2009

You Too Can Have Cute Stuff From Japan! ...Maybe.

You remember my care package swap with Japan? Well, Lisa is willing to do swap with someone else, too! (Not necessarily the SAME EXACT stuff. But FROM JAPAN.) Sadness: it has to be someone in the U.S., because otherwise the shipping costs would kill both you and Lisa dead. (Lisa's in a military family, so if you live in the U.S., the shipping rates are similar to mailing within the U.S.)

The deal is that you'd mail her a box of stuff, and she'd mail you a box of stuff. Lisa and I did it kind of free-form/surprise style, with both of us mentioning a few things we'd love to get, just to give the other person the general idea. Here's what I sent her. (I used a military flat-rate box, which is even less than U.S. shipping costs. You can get the boxes free online, or many post offices can give you one. You'll need to fill out a customs form, so allow a few extra minutes at the p.o., and write down everything in the box so you'll remember.) (Don't be overwhelmed. It was no big deal.)

I feel I should warn you that I had a TERRIBLE TIME trying to unpack my box. As of several weeks after I'd received it, it was still sitting on the dining room table, full. The only things that had been removed were (1) the ice cream scoop, (2) the teeny cute cookie cutters, which Paul used to decorate the kids' lunches, and (3) the bag from Thailand, which I'm using as a library bag.

Am I really supposed to just OPEN these and EAT them and then THROW AWAY the cute packages? The potato is wearing a potato banner! And what if I LOVE them and can NEVER HAVE THEM AGAIN (unless I go to Japan)?



Here's the ice cream scoop I actually did manage to unpack, and HOW WAS I LIVING MY LIFE WITHOUT THIS ICE CREAM SCOOP? I have tried many an ice cream scoop and I always end up using a soup spoon instead, but this scoop is TEH (ice-cream-related) BOMB.

But what am I supposed to do with the packaging? I can't just throw it away! It includes the instruction "Do not carry the metal part of a knife to your lips directly." That is valuable advice!

Also, I see you lusting after my scratched, stained, metallic-flecked, genuine 1960s countertop. BACK OFF IT'S MINE.



And am I supposed to just let the children USE these cute straws and then THROW THEM AWAY? (The straws, not the children.) Unthinkable.



And how about this? The packaging says "Tea Spoon" and "tea time," but the cup says "coffee" on it! Also, the description: "A well-functioned sophisticated and best in quality created exclusively for you." Exclusively for me! And the instructions: "Do not apply onto metal luffa to avoid hurts or residuals on articles." I might need those instructions later.



And the cool clothespins. "Caution with using this product"! "Do not use it in a manner other than regular use"!


I did finally unpack everything and incorporate it into our household, and frankly a lot of the motivation was so I could take pictures for this post. So if you want to do a care package swap with Lisa, your package might ALSO contain SUPER-CUTE STUFF, and you too will have conflicted feelings about throwing away the wrappers and putting things away.

Well, if you want to do it anyway, you can't say I didn't warn you. Leave a comment on this post if you're interested, or on Lisa's post, and Lisa will choose someone as soon as she wraps up another project she's working on (I'll bet it's unpacking her shopping: that would take me FOREVER if I lived in Japan).

April 24, 2009

So Many Potential Posts About Deodorant

GUESS WHAT I AM GOING ON A TRIP SEE MY BABY NIECE!!! I have already started buying twee travel sizes: I have not flown in ten years and evidently Rules Have Changed. Plus, I don't want to have to check luggage, so every inch of space is valuable. Or so I tell myself when I'm cooing over the cute travel sizes.

Awwwww! Baby Degree!


Travel sizes! Because I will be traveling!

I can hardly believe it, even though the evidence is all around me! Look, I bought a suitcase!


Because I am going on a trip! So I need a suitcase! And could they have made that TAG any BIGGER?? It's so huge, it makes the large carry-on look like a cell phone case or something.

I'm really, really happy about this. I'd been thinking of it as if it were an impossibility---as if there was an actual barrier between me and my niece. But it turns out that if you give $300 to Southwest and $50 to Marshalls and $1 to Target, you can have a round-trip ticket and a pink suitcase and a travel-sized deodorant and time with a niece!

Awwww! Baby Niestle!


And please, will you imagine this: I am going BY MYSELF. I will READ on the plane or if there is a long delay. No one will be requiring my feeding assistance! No one will require me to carry their things or their person or their safety devices! No one will TALK TALK TALK at to me! (I am packing a gag in case my rowmate tries to start a conversation. That'll go through security, right?)

So! That is the answer to the contest: I am showing you a travel-sized deodorant because I am going on a trip to see my niece.

A handful of you guessed the trip part, and if no one had guessed closer than that I would have chosen among those for the prize---but only ONE person guessed correctly that it was a trip to see my niece, and that was so right-on I made the little "We have a winner!" ding sound. It was Halloweenlover, of lots and lots of nonsense. Yay! I'm going to email you, HL, and we'll talk food allergies and stuff. [Follow-up: you can see the care package if you're interested.]

April 23, 2009

Step Right Up

Not much longer to make a guess in the contest. I'm working right now on the post that surrounds that photo. I'll post it tomorrow, probably, and then we'll pick a winner. Oh, please be someone who likes brownies or cookies so I have an excuse to make some and eat the rest of the batch myself.

April 22, 2009

Postcrossing Fantasy: CHECK!

Well, it happened. My Postcrossing fantasy happened: I GOT A POSTCARD FROM ONE OF YOU.

YES! It's true! It was from Colleen A Madison Mom. You should have seen Colleen and me FLIPPING OUT about it. Sample dialogue:

Swistle: SQUEE SQUEE SQUEE!!
Colleen: SQUEE SQUEEEEE!!!
Swistle: OMG SQUEEE!
Colleen: SQUEE SQUEE SQUEE!!
Swistle: I KNOW RIGHT???? SQUEEE!

And actually, it got me thinking: maybe I've gotten postcards from OTHERS of you, too, without knowing it (Colleen had put her blog url on her postcard---otherwise I wouldn't have known). And maybe I've sent postcards to some of YOU without either of us knowing it! So what I was thinking is that we ought to do a little CODE of some sort: something that wouldn't look weird to someone else, but something that would catch our eye if we got a postcard from each other. Maybe a little triangle across one corner, like this?


I'm doing that from now on! If you're on Postcrossing and you get a postcard with a line-corner, it's from ME! And tell me about it so I can FLIP THE FLIP OUT!

April 21, 2009

Reader Question: 24 Months Versus 2T

Sally writes:
Hi Swistle! I had a question and it struck me as one that you and/or your readers might be perfectly positioned to answer: What is up with 24 Months vs. 2T clothing??? My son is 20 months but on the large-ish side and I need to buy the boy some summer clothes but I cannot figure this out. This is not my first time around (the aforementioned boy has a 4 year old sister) but I am buying all new boy clothes and I am still as perplexed as ever. It seems like in some cases 24M is bigger and other times, it is the 2T. Last time I checked, 2 year olds WERE 24 months so - what gives?


Oh! I think I know this one!

Clothing manufacturers make their clothing in batches divided by age ranges---so, like, they'll do one line for "baby" (all the sizes between 0 months and 24 months), but they do a different or overlapping line (well, or SAME I guess, if they choose) for "toddler" and for "girl" (sizes 4 to whatever is the last size before juniors). Sometimes a manufacturer will do the same outfit for both their baby line and their toddler line, which gives you the ridiculous dilemma of buying 24 months or 2T when the two outfits are basically the same size.

IN GENERAL, I've found that 2T tends to be a little bigger than 24 months, but it totally varies by manufacturer: some make it so close in size I can't tell any difference, and others make the 2T way bigger than the 24 months, and others make the 2T longer but not wider (or the other way around), and so on. And some manufacturers make clothes that tend to run bigger and some make clothes that tend to run smaller, so one manufacturer's 24 months might be significantly larger than another manufacturer's 2T.

This makes very, very frustrating to buy clothes for a baby who is right around age 2. I usually buy sparingly and on clearance to start, until I'm familiar with the manufacturer and the fit of their 24m/2T. Henry, who is 22 months, wears some 2T, some 24m, some 18-24m, some 18m, and one pair of 12m jeans and one 3T shirt. Hey, Manufacturers! Get some standards kthanx!

April 20, 2009

Contest!

I feel like putting together a care package! Let's have a contest!


Guess the significance of this photo. Like, when I show you later this week the blog post that accompanies this picture, what will the post be about?

I'll put all correct answers into a random-number-generating hat and choose one. The winner will get a Swistle care package of various shopping finds. Unless the winner has a mailing address that is not USA, APO, or FPO, in which case I will mail them a kiss in an envelope because HOLY SNEEZES the shipping. If you won an earlier contest, you are nevertheless welcome to enter this one. Contest runs through Friday, April 24th, at, say, noonish, U.S. Pacific time. (In other words, best to get vote in by Thursday, but if you make a guess on Friday before I've gotten around to choosing a winner, you'll probably still make it.)

April 19, 2009

New Couch!

When one cat is getting spoiled with tuna, EVERYCAT wins.



OUR NEW COUCH IS HERE!!! Unfortunately, probably due to a problem with the warehouse it was stored in, it is INFESTED with children. We didn't notice until we'd already signed the thingie saying we'd received it in good condition.


Also, remember how I said it was RED? Not quite so red as we'd thought, is it? I've said before that I am not AT ALL skillzed at visualizing from a swatch of paint or fabric or wallpaper, and this is total proof of it. To me, the swatch looked very bright red, with a variegated color pattern that included some orange and some deep red.

It arrived, and it is WINE-colored. Which on one hand, excellent! Because AFTER we ordered the red couch, WEEKS after we ordered it, we remembered that we have a wine-colored recliner, and it seemed like the red and the wine might be a...poor mix. But in fact they are the same color, really. Both wine. And really, I can't claim I was misled by the swatch: the color name is "Claret." WINE.

But on the other hand, I was looking forward to red with little bits of orange in it. Last night, I kept trying to get Paul to engage in a conversation about whether we'd made the Wrong Fabric Choice---on a non-returnable couch, is what I was trying to discuss. He escaped into sleep.

April 17, 2009

The Second Stage: Ordering Books

Thank you for all your kind comments about Georgie. Srsly, what did people do before they had internet support? It feels so much better to read the commiserations, the anecdotes, the personal experiences, the tips.

And also the book recommendations. I ordered Desser, The Best Ever Cat by Maggie Smith (recommended by Jessica), When a Pet Dies by Fred Rogers (recommended by Trina) (I LOVE Mister Rogers), and I Miss You: A First Look at Death by Pat Thomas (recommended by Amazon after I added the other two to my cart). Our library has Lifetimes by Bryan Mellonie (recommended by Trina and Heather), so we're going to pick it up this weekend.

Another Heather asked if Georgie were Burmese. The vet lists him as an American domestic shorthair, which I think is a nice way to say "cat mutt" (Georgie was a shelter kitten), but when I went and looked at a bunch of pictures of Burmese cats, I saw some that strongly resembled Georgie, and I also saw resemblances in the Burmese temperament: Georgie still acts like a kitten, and he's social and cuddly (though not much of a meower, and the adjective "intelligent" didn't click right into place). Maybe he's got a Burmese grandparent.

Oh em gee. Woman. Stop taking my picture.
Also, I'm ready for another Pringle.

April 16, 2009

Georgie

I took the cats to the vet this week for their annual check-ups. Two kitties are doing well; the third is not. He's lost weight; he's got a heart murmur; he's coughing; he has fluid in his lungs; his kidneys are smaller; and he's "side-breathing," which I gather means that he's using his abdominal muscles to help him breathe because his lungs aren't working well enough to do it on their own.

The vet says he has both kidney disease and congestive heart failure. The tricky thing, she said, is that the treatment plans for those two things are opposite---and in fact, treating one could push the other one over the edge. Georgie is 15 years old, and she said even if we did a bunch of testing to discover exactly how bad each situation is, it would still be difficult to get a treatment plan that would...well, that would WORK.

I croaked out something about how long would he....? and she said it could be months or it could be weeks (she did not say years), that it could happen suddenly or that he could start struggling to breathe. It's so smart of them to keep boxes of tissues handy. I mouthed "Pain?" and she said no, not usually, but that he could start panicking and feeling like he's drowning, and if that happened we might want to "keep him from suffering." She said if he seems okay now (he does), we can just, as she put it, "enjoy each day with him." But that if he seems to be struggling and suffering, we could "bring him in."

Here's the part that got to me: she said we didn't need to do the usual vaccinations. She put away the little filled needles. Doesn't that sound like a "hospice" kind of move?

Here's another part that got to me: he's very allergic to fleas, and he recently apparently got bitten by one because he has a huge itchy patch. I asked if he could have a shot of whatever they gave him last time to make the itchiness go away faster, and she said it would put too much strain on his heart. She said it could just...and she snapped her fingers and pressed her lips together.

So now we are on full kitty-spoiling mode. Does he want some cheese? A chip? Ice cream? Kitty treat? ANYTHING? He's always liked people food but we didn't like to let him have very much of it, but now that seems like an unnecessary limitation, if the situation is so dire that he's not going to have vaccines.

He likes to sit on my shoulders, which can be inconvenient. But what's a little inconvenience? What's a little claw-puncture here and there, between friends?


And incidentally, if you're trying to conceal a double chin in a photograph, I highly recommend using a cat.

Now and then I see a post with the theme "What makes you feel like a grown-up?" The answers are always so cool: when I started doing my own taxes; when I realized no one was going to clean up that barf except me; when I bought my first set of dishes; when I had to start paying for things like furnaces and roofs; when I started buying pictures for the walls instead of posters.

And this is another one for me: When I had to make a decision about a pet's life. It's hard to be responsible for deciding whether someone else lives or dies, and when the suffering justifies the intervention, and this is the first time I've had to do that. Georgie was the first kitty I adopted on my own, as opposed to my parents adopting a cat for the family. And he's the first pet I've had on my own who's been in this situation: I've never had to make end-of-life decisions before, or wonder what is supposed to be done with the body. Do we....bury it in the yard? The last time any kitty of mine died, it was a family kitty and my parents handled it entirely.

I'm fretting, too, about how to talk about it with the kids. I had a brief talk about death with Elizabeth the other day, and it didn't go well: she immediately started talking about how she didn't want any of us to get any older because we might die, and about how after her BIRTHDAY would SHE be old enough to die, and so on. Ack.

On the other hand, I'm grateful to have this warning. The vet said that with heart disease, sometimes the first sign of it is when the cat dies. I am glad to have this time to give Georgie extra treats and pettings, and to take his photo, and to be extra sweet to him. Want to sleep on my favorite blanket in the sunshine? And can I bring you a Pounce treat?

April 14, 2009

Purple for March of Dimes

When I was in college, I did my internship with the March of Dimes, a non-profit organization that focuses on preventing/managing premature birth and birth defects. (And you know what? No one who worked there knew if it was "The March of Dimes" or "March of Dimes," either. It was one way on some material and the other way on other material.)

They said I could have my own desk (it was a card table, but it was MINE), so I chose them over doing an internship with the human resources department of a health care facility, and that turned out to be a mistake because the March of Dimes internship had NOTHING to do with human resources (my major) and instead was a lot more like marketing (my anti-major: I could not sell a sedated duck to a hungry fox). But I got to wear cute suits, and also I didn't end up doing anything with my major as it turned out, so no biggie that I may have chosen the wrong internship.

Plus, it's because of my March of Dimes internship that I knew to take folic acid even before getting pregnant, and since I myself was a near-miss spina bifida baby (a deep but skin-covered indentation down to my spine), this was a super-good idea---a super-good idea my doctor didn't talk about with me until I was 8 weeks along and it was super-too-late.

My friend Shannon of Cerebral Palsy Baby has had two preemies, and she just found out she's expecting. She's walking in the March for Babies, a March of Dimes fundraising event, and I've sponsored her, and I hope you'll consider sponsoring her too. And I would like to say for the record that I am doing it out of the goodness of my heart, and not because I am hoping to win the prize she's offering from her Etsy shop. Ahem.

(And if you're reading me in an RSS reader, you should totally click over today to see how FREAKY this place looks in purple. One day only, and then it goes back to the usual aqua color.)

April 13, 2009

Ti, a Drink With Something Delicious

Well, FINE, so pretty much everyone except Paul and me knows the lyrics to Do-Re-Mi. I sure did appreciate all of you who assumed that I would have it right and Paul would have it wrong. We should get "Team Swistle" shirts printed up. And we should get those distributed before I tell you I was half wrong. Perhaps I should have mentioned earlier that it was only in the last decade that I realized it wasn't "Fa, along the way to run." And that it was only as I was composing the post that I realized it was "sol" not "so".

Paul was singing, correctly, "Fa, a long long way to run." I was singing, incorrectly but I still prefer it, "Fa, a longer way to run."

Paul was singing, incorrectly, "Ti, I drink with jam and bread." I was singing, correctly, "Ti, a drink with jam and bread." Actually, I don't think I'd like tea with jam and bread. I think I'd prefer it with an almond white-chocolate cherry scone, the kind with big-grained sugar all over the top. MMMMMmmmmmm.

April 12, 2009

Pay-it-Forward with a Bonus

It's been awhile since we've had any pay-it-forward updates around here! I think a lot of them got out of our orbit. But today there's one over at 3 Giraffes, and it is SUCH a sweet idea: not only will there be a care package as a prize, but Chris and Kim will each donate $50 to the March of Dimes on your behalf, in memory of Maddie Spohr.

Go enter

April 10, 2009

Do Re Me Fa Sol La Ti Do

You know that song from The Sound of Music, the one that goes "Doe, a deer, a female deer"? Paul and I discovered we have different ways of singing it. WITHOUT LOOKING UP THE ACTUAL LYRICS, which of these do you say is correct?

a) Fa, a long long way to run
b) Fa, a longer way to run

a) Ti, a drink with jam and bread
b) Ti, I drink with jam and bread

April 9, 2009

Next Up: Hoarding the Last of the Milk

I bought a package of Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs yesterday. I'm so conflicted: I want to eat one SO BAD, but if I open the package and start eating them, they'll be gone and then I won't have any more. Also: it's still technically breakfast time.

I have this same problem with almost everything. It's probably the borderline version of whatever inspires people to save every newspaper and magazine and piece of junk mail in huge teetering moldering piles until eventually the piles start falling and they crush the person domino-style.

If I have a little left of a "special" moisturizer or conditioner, it's hard to use it. I end up saving it until it's all dried out or gross or something. I must have...well, I'll just go count and save us all the agonized guessing. Hang on. BRB. Okay, I have three---THREE---bottles of "special" conditioner with about three servings left per bottle.

(Putting "special" in quotes like that makes it look like I'm talking suggestively. NO. I just mean, like, my Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Reconstructor DEEEEP is "special," but my Suave Professionals Color Care 'Protects as well as Biolage' Conditioner is "not.")

If we're down to the last few bags of chocolate chips, I start feeling anxious and squirrely about using them. Bags 3, 2, and 1, are THE SAME VALUE as bags 6, 5, and 4 were, and yet...I really like to buy fresh bags 3, 2, and 1, before I use the bags formerly known as 3, 2, and 1. My pantry is...generously stocked. I am a fretter, but I rarely fret about what we would do if we couldn't leave the house for a week because of natural disaster or zombies or whatever. We'd have plenty of food. In fact, come on over, we have enough for you too.

Clearly this is a little psychological glitch. Probably therapy is unnecessary, but a little practice at home wouldn't hurt: using the SECOND to last bag of chocolate chips before restocking, for example. ...Well, THIRD to last. Rome wasn't built in a day. I also think it would be valuable to open that package of Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs.

April 6, 2009

No More Babies: An Update

Updating the No More Babies situation is a tough call. Every time I talk about it I get a few ugly comments, and who likes that? Nobody! And also, I feel so blicky talking about how "wah, wah, I've only had five helpings," when other people haven't even had a first helping yet.

Still. This is a big thing to me, and it seems to me that "wanting a child" is a big thing to a lot of people, and so it's worth discussing---whether a person has zero children or one child or two children or eight children or whatever. But I plan to be brief about it and just sort of sum it up, not go on and on.

The reason I'm doing such a PREAMBLE is to give you a chance to duck out if you'd rather chew tin foil than hear a woman with five children give an update about wanting another child. I'm not going to talk about anything else in this post, so it's safe to take a pass on the whole thing.

Last chance! Last chance!

So. It was mid-December when Paul and I had the big talk. It took me several weeks to be able to find any positive things to say at all, and to work out a wallowing system. I found I felt better when I shopped and when I ate yummies and when I did fun stuff, and I felt even better when I thought about my niece and about the babies THREE of my friends were/are expecting and all the babies my online friends were/are expecting: it reminded me that I can still enjoy happy anticipation and happy family expansion, even if it's not happening in my exact household or barfing in my exact toilet.

Even so, I spent a solid two months feeling overall awful. Almost as if the sixth child already existed, and I had failed to save him/her, and now he/she was lost. Desperate.

The third month, I felt the first inklings that this might be a temporary feeling. I'm sure it had nothing to do with Henry getting full-swing into the Toddler Nutcase Era just as everyone came down with a nasty snarfing coughing cold accompanied by cough-related barfing.

And now it is almost the end of the fourth month, and I'd say I feel bad about it only 5% of the time, which is really really really good, and better than I'd been hoping for. Furthermore, I probably feel GOOD about it 5% of the time, too---also way better than I'd been hoping for. And perhaps most importantly of all, I'm spending large% of the time NOT THINKING ABOUT IT AT ALL.

Still, if you'd like to expand your family to make me feel better, please do. Very thoughtful of you.

April 3, 2009

Catching Up

I am for the most part what is known as a "late adopter." Or maybe it's "lagger"---I forget. I didn't get a cell phone until 2001, and I only got it because I got into a VERY MINOR, INJURY-FREE, NOT-MY-FAULT accident while pregnant, and Paul kind of freaked and said it was stupid we didn't have cell phones. So now we have them, but they don't play games or music or anything, and Paul always leaves his at home on the counter. We still have a landline, and our phone has a cord.

And, like, we don't have a DVR or a Blu-Ray or HDTV or a iPhone or a Kindle, and it's not because we're technology snobs, it's because we're cautious. Okay, I'M cautious: Paul is by temperament (though not by bank account) the sort who would buy every new thing the day it came out. I tend to buy things when everyone I know has already replaced it with something two generations more recent.

All this is to say that I have finally acquired the Fear of Recession everyone else picked up a few years ago. Yesterday I was in a funk all day and couldn't even figure out why I felt so doomy. I tried to pinpoint the problem: was it marital? No. Was I worried about one of the kids? No. Was it ennui? No. Hormonal? Probably no. A fight with a friend? No. But it felt like it was SOMETHING, and finally I figured out what I was feeling was Financial Stress.

I know exactly what triggered it, too. We got a letter from Paul's company saying they were changing our health insurance plan AGAIN (as they do EVERY YEAR), and that as usual there was no good news. Not only is our monthly contribution now MORE THAN OUR MONTHLY MORTGAGE PAYMENT (just let that sink in a minute: if we chose to wing it on the health insurance, we could OWN A SECOND HOUSE) (well, okay, we couldn't pay the taxes or the water bill or the utilities or whatevs, but STILL) (and maybe we could rent it to a doctor in exchange for free check-ups), but now we have a $2000 annual deductible before the dubious benefits (we haven't seen them yet, but the copays always go up and the covered services always go down) kick in.

This is difficult to accept. Health insurance, like life insurance, is a gamble you WANT to lose---but it's still difficult. I did some quick math and found out that even if I had paid cash for all my c-sections, we would STILL have paid less for health care than we have paid for health insurance. That utterly sucks. And yet I'm too chicken to drop the health insurance: something could Happen, and THEN WHAT?

Anyway, that whole thought process made me get all squirrelly about money, and that's when the Recession Worries finally kicked in. And yet, I am having exactly as much effect on the situation as when I WASN'T worrying about it. Yay.

April 2, 2009

You Too Can Have Awesome Amy Quarry Stuff! ...Maybe.

One of my favorite artists, Amy Quarry, is doing a pretty amazing giveaway:
I am feeling generous with the sunny weather I am experiencing in my corner of the world, and wanted to spread some of it around. So…I am having a giveaway featuring your choice of ANY TWO ITEMS currently in my shop. You can enter this giveaway one of two ways:

1. If you have a blog, post a link back to either my shop (www.amyquarry.etsy.com) or website (www.amyquarry.ca) (feel free to use any of my pics too).

OR

2. If you don’t have a blog you can post a link to me in your Twitter or Facebook status.

(OR if you are totally not a part of the internet world, just write me a comment on this post (http://thefrontroom.wordpress.com/2009/03/29/spring-has-sprung-giveaway/) to explain, and maybe tell a friend about me for the good karma!)

Winner will be chosen via random number generator on Friday April 3, 2009 at noon pacific time. I should be able to see all the links in Technorati but if you want to make sure I get your entry you can also post a comment or send me an email at thefrontroom(at)gmail(dot)com.

Good luck everyone and happy spring!


I'm linking to it not because I'm throwing my hat into the ring to win (I ALREADY won an Amy Quarry package, if you recall, and here's the post where Elizabeth models the dress), but because I am a GENEROUS PERSON and want YOU to win.

April 1, 2009

Speaking of Fools for the Second Time Today

See my helpful sticky note on my monitor?


It is in the hope that this year for the first year ever, I will not immediately believe that (1) my radio station is switching to an all-polka format, (2) Google is offering a dating service, (3) someone is pregnant, or (4) etc.

Speaking of Fools

Don't celebrity women realize the rest of us KNOW "running around after my kids all day" is not what keeps them a size 0? If "running around after my kids all day" made people thin, wouldn't....well, I mean, wouldn't things be very different than the way they in fact are? Office moms would be plump. Stay-at-home moms would be lean. Moms of more children would be thinner than moms of fewer children. Nannies and babysitters and daycare workers would also be thin. Parents would be thinner than non-parents. Women would be having children---or begging to borrow their friends' children---as part of a diet plan. There would be expensive retreats where you could go for a week for spa treatments and to babysit.

Are the celebrities perhaps LITERALLY running around after their kids? Like, jogging in place next to them all day long? And then not eating any food?