January 31, 2010

Drafty Window (Now With Photo)

We have a drafty window right over our bed, and my project each winter is stopping the freezing breezes from drifting down the wall onto our heads. One year I tried moving the bed, but that didn't work because the room is too small for the bed to make sense anywhere but where it is. One year I tried one of those long sand bag things. One year I tried towels stuffed inside and outside the window.

This year I tried insulating curtains. The first set cost $40 for two panels and were a total failure: they in fact CHANNELED the cold air so that it hit our heads with less diffusion. I returned them.

Yesterday I considered some curtains that cost $70 for two panels and looked like quilts. Then I thought maybe I should just get a quilt if I could find one on clearance, and it is the right time of year for that. We don't use that window for light (the shade usually stays down all day) so I don't need panels that can be opened and closed. Several aisles over, a nice brown one with the stitching done in circles, from Target's Vintage Modern Thomas O'Brien line, 75% off so it was $25.

It's king-sized, so I folded it in half (by folding both edges to the center line---that makes both edges nice and pretty), and then put it over the curtain rod like hanging a towel on a towel bar. I tugged on the front part until the back part exactly fit into the window area. So now the window has two layers of quilt (like the part of the towel that would be against the wall) pressed right up against it, and then there are two more layers of quilt (like the front part of the towel) resting against that to hold it in place.

We tested it last night and it's great. Plus, it's easy to take down in the spring when we want to be able to open the window. Plus, it's still a king-sized quilt, so when we eventually replace that window with something less drafty, we can use the quilt on our bed.

(It looks like light is pouring in under the window, but that's light shining in from a window on an adjacent wall.)

January 27, 2010

Reader Question: Congratulations on the Third Pregnancy

Jen writes:
Dear Swistle,

I'm feeling....hmpf....I don't even know! We are nearly 14 weeks pregnant with our third child. As we begin to tell people we're expecting a new member of our family this summer, I get "Oh wow!" "Holy cow!" "OMG!" "Really?!" and [stunned silence]. We have two boys, ages nearly 6 and 3. This isn't an effort to get a girl. We didn't make this decision hastily; the pregnancy was planned with lots of thought. Even if it wasn't.....

I'm sure I'm being sensitive, but my feelings are hurt that no one is saying congratulations for number 3 when no one hesitated with numbers 1 and 2. How did people respond to your 3,4,5th baby news? If it was shock or indifference, did it matter to you? How did you deal with it? I'm angry at myself because it shouldn't matter What Other People Think! But I feel like when my 3yo has a meltdown at play group or my kindergartner isn't reading fluently, people are judging me--like "she can't handle the two she has." So, now instead of excited about our new family member, I feel embarrassed and anxious and dread telling people about our impending due date.

I would be EVER grateful for any advice or thoughts you might have for me.

Your anxious reader,

OH CONGRATULATIONS!! What exciting news!

I am afraid your experience is typical among people having more than two children. The first pregnancy gets huge excitement, and after the baby is born it's "When are you having another?" The second pregnancy also gets good levels of excitement.

The third one gets people acting like they never even considered such a thing could possibly be in the works. As if they're thinking "....What? But you already have two. This doesn't make sense." And then they scramble to adjust, and they don't always do a good job of it.

The fourth and fifth announcements get people staggering backward, pretending to have a hot flash, saying "Are you CRAZY?," asking if you've figured out yet why this keeps happening, etc. And there is such a noticeable difference between "happy surprise of someone reacting to something they are delighted to hear" and "surprise that is trying to communicate a message."

We were just talking about this over at No Whey, Mama (and another place---where was it? remind me if it was your blog!) so my guess is that we can get some good commiserating anecdotes going in the comments section.

January 26, 2010

New $200-Prize Review Up

If yesterday you saw a new review appear, then disappear, then appear in the sidebar but be gone when you clicked on it, the problem is now resolved and here it is: a review of 200-calorie portions of pizza. One of the changes that the review had to be taken down for is that the giveaway changed from $100 to $200, so, uh, I'd say that was worth the little glitches.

January 25, 2010

Frets About Something I Haven't Even Decided to Do Yet

Can we please talk a little bit about the annual BlogHer conference? Every year I think about going. So far I never have. I am, as I may have mentioned once or twice, socially anxious. Like, PSYCHIATRICALLY-DIAGNOSED socially anxious, not, like, "Oh, I'm a little shy around people." (And incidentally, I was totally on my own there spelling the word "psychiatrically," so if it's supposed to be "psychiatricly," neither I nor the spell-checker knew it, and I'm pretty sure that if it's a contest I win because the spell-checker's idea was "psychically.")


But I think I'd like to go. I've been inspired by The Bloggess (perhaps don't click that link for a couple of days until her top post isn't quite so gross), who ALSO needs chemicals to get through social interactions, and SHE goes to BlogHer so it CAN BE DONE. I like her idea of wearing a Confidence Wig, too. I wonder if that would work for me. Do you think if I go I should get a wig, or do you think it would just look copycatty? I think it would look copycatty. Perhaps I could do a Confidence Halloween Mask. Or, well, "confidence" still sounds copycatty, so it could be an Intestinal Fortitude Halloween Mask.

I fret like crazy over practicalities. Like, "OMG HOW WOULD I GET THERE?" and "OMG HOW WOULD I FIND THE HOTEL?" and "WOULD I HAVE TO TAKE A TAXI? I DON'T KNOW HOW MUCH TO TIP!!" Other worries:
  • How would I book the hotel room, and what if I want to share, how would that work? And how many people can share? And does one person have to pay and the others reimburse? Because that kind of thing gives me a huge worry wrinkle.

  • When do the conference tickets usually sell out by? I'd rather get the Early Bird pricing anyway, but just in case I dither too long.

  • Do the hotel rooms fill up fast so I should get one early or else I'll get stuck trying to find another hotel in New York?

  • Food? Is there food? Do I have to bring my own or else get stuck paying for very expensive room service?

  • I don't think I act socially anxious on my blog, because I'm NOT socially anxious when I'm sitting alone at my computer typing. So won't everyone I meet be like, "YOU'RE not Swistle! YOU BIG FAKER!"?

  • I know it is ridiculous, but I get stressed about clothes. If I wear pedal pushers and a t-shirt and sandals, and none of it is anything that would make anyone say "OH SQUEE CUTE!!!" (in fact, probably the VERY pedal pushers and sandals as in the photo above), will I stand out like a sore thumb? Or will other people dress like that too?

  • Do I need to have a laptop?

  • People get business cards printed for these things, right? I don't know how to do that.

  • How WOULD I find the hotel? (And WOULD I have to take a taxi?)

January 22, 2010

Poor Attitude; Blood Donation; Vet Fret

My attitude is poor this morning. Type of poorness: obsessive mental arguments with everyone who has ever said anything unfair/untrue, plus disproportionate self-pity for household crimes such as people keep taking my scissors and not putting them back, plus large-scale crabbiness about organizations and how they do things, plus self-disdain for personality traits such as wimpiness, plus near-boiling-point frustration with the CHILDREN and their CONSTANT TALKING/INTERRUPTIONS. I am attempting a coffee-related attitude adjustment, but I've got no-bake cookies on stand-by.

Here is something I am crabby about: I am ELIGIBLE and WILLING to donate blood, and in my area there are signs everywhere with panic-inducing declarations of emergency-level needs, but all the blood drives are, like, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on weekdays. Er? I am guessing that I should not bring three preschoolers with me to something like that. I am further guessing that I am not the only citizen who would find a weekend or evening donation slot useful. Even a late-afternoon would help, because I could have Paul come home from work a little early so I could go. But 9:00 to 2:00? That makes it particularly annoying to read the guilt-trip stuff about how only a tiny percentage of eligible donors bother to donate. ORLY? Is this perhaps something we could change by BOTHERING TO MAKE IT POSSIBLE FOR THEM TO DONATE? *pant pant*

There's a donation center 20 miles away in an unpleasant downtown area (all one-way streets and expensive parking), but they too have hours such as 7:30-1:30 on weekdays, and when they do have evening/weekend hours it's for the more complex donations like platelets and double red cell. What I want is to donate REGULAR BLOOD, and I want to do it NEARISH MY HOUSE, and I want to do it at a time that MAKES SENSE. Considering I am giving up a chunk of my free time AND part of my own personal body for ZERO personal benefit (okay, there are cookies, but they're not GOOD cookies), I think these are reasonable requests.


Thank you for your helpful advice about Mouse. I wet down her dry cat food with a little water and she scarfed it down. I also moved her water dish away from her food dish, and I saw her drinking out of it later that day. And I'm also planning to take her to the vet, though what that means is that I won't get around to it until I get the reminder card in the mail.

I get stressed about vet appointments because they seem to escalate so quickly into a level of medical care I wouldn't even choose for my insurance-covered SELF. I feel like such a heel asking the COST of things, as if MONEY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE SANCTITY OF LIFE, but I am not $1500 worth of curious to find out why my healthy-seeming elderly cat is off her oats---and also, there are not many procedures I'll do if the tests DO show problems, so it seems like it's not worth it to reveal or rule out every possible issue.

And I KNOW they are just giving me my options since many people DO want to do the full spectrum of tests and treatments, and a normal person would just say yes or no and not think of it at all, but they state it as if they're assuming I'll do the full works and I find it difficult to start any sentence that suggests otherwise. I wish they would state ALL the options including the ones where we DON'T do the tests and treatments or do SOME of them, and I wish there were an easier way to tell the vet at the beginning what sort of pet owner I was---like, a form where I could choose to check off a box that says "I am willing to go as far as, like, giving her an inexpensive pill each day for a simple problem, but she's a 15-year-old cat and so let's not spend $1500 on tests to diagnose an illness I'm not going to treat."

Actually, I guess I could tell the vet this information using, like, my VOCAL CORDS. But I would so prefer a checkbox form.

January 21, 2010

Separating the Firmament From the Heavens

Let there be ANOTHER hotpad!

This one is two strands of cotton (instead of one strand cotton and one strand wool like the first one), but still on size 6 needles. One strand changes from yellow to white and back again; the other strand changes from pink to white and back again. It's fun to choose this kind of yarn and fun to knit with it, but the results remind me of the rag rugs I used to buy for $1 for my apartment so I think maybe next time I will use non-color change.

Happy Eating

Did you already know this, that you can buy a big THING of Panera Bread's cheddar-broccoli soup and just bring it home with you and put it in the fridge and heat some up whenever you want? The Panera counter girl acted all blasé about this, as if it weren't worth having my eyebrows as high as I had them or my voice as quavery as it was. She just put some of the crusty soup-bread in the bag with the soup and told me what the total was. HAS SHE NO SOUL?? The heavens were opening up above her head and SHE DID NOT EVEN LOOK!

Speaking of eating, I mentioned the other day that our cat Mouse is acting all weird about her food and that like an idiot I Googled it. One of the less alarming possibilities was that as an elderly cat she could be having some trouble chewing things, and I remembered that when we visited the animal shelter awhile back there was a Cat Room for the elderly cats who needed to have soft food because of their teefies, so I got her some cans of food instead of her usual dry. She is EATING THAT STUFF UP.

But, uh. I mean, we buy the Iams dry food the shelter/vet recommended so we're used to paying $30 for a bag of cat food without flinching (much), but this Iams wet food is 50 cents for a small can. She just ate nearly a full can for breakfast. Does this mean she is going to be eating $1 a day in cat food, and that I am going to be one of those people in line who has several teetering pillars of cat food cans? And here is the next question: will I be choosing kitty's menu each night, standing before the cupboard wondering if kitty is more in the mood for salmon pâté or for lamb and rice? Well. I guess that would be all right.

January 19, 2010


The kids are still asleep and I hope they sleep a long time more. I'm not looking forward to seeing them today, I'm just not.

I have to take all five of them to a doctor's appointment for one of them. I hate doing that.

Recent excellent 75%-off Target finds: fingerless gloves, earmuffs, Yes to Carrots lip balms/glosses, children's sweaters, a pair of children's winter boots, children's sleepers, children's glittery shoes. Recent excellent 50%-off Target finds: Nick & Nora children's pajamas, children's unders and socks, a hooded flannel shirt Rob has been pining for, picture frames I then actually put pictures in and hung on the actual wall, a baby blanket with hedgehogs on it, several boxes of granola bars for lunchbox snacks.

Last night's dreams involved rooming with Jenn (we had a full bakery kitchen in our apartment, baker included, and neighbors spontaneously dropped in for huge potluck parties while we were trying to get ready in the morning), petting George and Oliver which was upsetting and nice because I knew they were dead but here they were alive, and various Travel Fret scenarios (late for my flight! forgot to check in! no seats left on the plane!).

Mouse, our remaining cat, acts hungry but isn't eating much. I Googled it like an idiot.

I'm switching to herbal tea in the mornings, in case the coffee is messing up my dreams. Also, I think the coffee might be to blame for how cranky I get mid-afternoon.

Parking at Home is having a giveaway to help alleviate a winter funk. Cute crocheted hats are involved.

I'm making another hotpad. This one is a little larger, possibly too much larger. Both strands are cotton, one a pink/white color change and the other a yellow/white color change.

There was a sale at the craft store and I bought more yarn than we can ever use. This is in addition to the yarn we already had at home, which was more than we could ever use. Rob asked me what my favorite part of knitting was, and I said "Buying yarn."

I'm finally watching The L Word: I like a series to be over before I try it so I can watch it straight through on DVD. That's a tricky show to watch with kids in the house---as has been the case with every Showtime/HBO series I've watched. It's like they think the ABILITY to include swearing and nudity is a MANDATE to include it. It reminds me of college plays I went to (and I went to all of them because my boyfriend was a theater guy and sometimes had a 2-second appearance on stage---or even, once, A LINE): every single play involved the characters (1) smoking cigarettes and (2) firing the loud fake gun. WE HAVE THE ABILITY, THEREFORE WE MUST USE IT.

January 13, 2010

Crafting Newbie Rejoices

Look what I MADE:


I MADE this. I decided I wanted to make a hotpad, I consulted Twitter peeps who said wool or cotton yarn would be best and to use a tight weave (I love being able to consult Twitter peeps), and I MADE A HOTPAD. It took me two days of the amount of time I'm interested in spending knitting, which is not much so you know it's a quick project. I used size 6 needles, and I used two strands of yarn at the same time (to make it dense): a strand of 100% wool in orange, and a strand of 100% cotton in a yellow/white.

My goal was a breakfast/sunshine kind of color, but you know what it looks EXACTLY LIKE? Candy corn, that's what.


Never mind that I could buy a hotpad for $1.24 on clearance and it would also come with a dishtowel or two. Never mind that I don't even know if this will work as a hotpad or if it will instead scorch the table and/or my hands. I MADE IT. I have CREATED. I know how God must have felt: LET THERE BE HOTPAD.

January 12, 2010

Marmee's Idea for Counteracting the Winter Funk

Lots of people are in the Winter Funks and I am too. There is NOTHING WRONG, and in fact lots of things are GOOD right now, including Paul getting a promotion and raise that involve no extra time/duties (he got the promotion because he had gradually worked up to doing all the parts of the job he was promoted to), and also that for Christmas my brother and sister-in-law gave me a gift certificate for air travel so I can plan to another trip to see Niestle this spring.

But still, I am befunkified, and I know a lot of you are too. I'm doing my usual remedies, such as using the expensive face lotion and drinking coffee and turning on extra lights, but I've had another idea. It seemed like a great idea to tell you about when I first thought of it, but now I am feeling shy because when I think of putting it down in actual words, it sounds like a really cheesy idea, the kind we ought to consider putting on an inspirational plaque in swirly gilt writing.

Oh, no---I know EXACTLY what it sounds like: it sounds like an idea Marmee would have come up with in the book Little Women. And while I love that book, and love Marmee too, she really was kind of an overflowing bowl of treacle, with her Big Shameful Confession being that she had a bit of a temper that her husband had to help her rope in, which he did so effectively that her children DIDN'T EVEN KNOW SHE HAD A TEMPER. Which, uh. I mean, that doesn't seem like it could have been much of a temper problem then, does it? I don't think Marmee would ever, EVER have snapped at her children or said, "Oh, god no, I can't hear even ONE MORE joke today"---at, um, 6:30 in the morning.

Anyway, here is my idea. ...No, I can't, it's TOO cringey. Here is MARMEE'S idea, which I am going to try: Marmee recommends doing something nice for someone else that is also fun for us. For me, I'm thinking along the lines of putting together a small care package of treats, but that's because care packages and treats are my thing. It's a good idea because it involves the happy work of making treats and packing them up, and also there will be extra treats for me.

I think any idea would work if it uses a skill that's typically enjoyable for you and can be used to benefit others (knitting? embroidery? baking? shopping? drawing? writing? woodworking?), ideally something that will take a little time and effort and perhaps the fun of going to the store to get ingredients/materials. And then there's the fun of choosing who the recipient will be.

This small thing isn't going to CURE the winter funk, of course, but one of my winter funk symptoms is thinking there's no point to doing anything unless it 100% solves the problem, so I'm counteracting that kind of thinking at the same time.

January 11, 2010

Newborn Pictures

One of my Things To Deal With after my closet declutter was filling a 5-opening picture frame. I bought it because hey, I have five kids and this frame has five openings, IDEAL! But there were too many decisions to be made. Two of the openings are one way and three are the other way, and the frame can be put up either horizontally or vertically which affects which "way" two/three are.

Plus, which of my THOUSANDS of kid photos should I use? And we didn't get a digital camera until the twins were 6 months old, so I'd have to go through ALBUMS and then SCAN PHOTOS IN. And I do want the kids' pictures to be in order by age, so what if I want to hang the frame vertically, and I don't find pictures in the right orientations that I like? OH ACK.

Well, so my plan was to put it in a closet for two years and not think about it, but THAT didn't work EITHER. After finding it again, I made this decision: either I deal with filling this frame, or I get rid of the frame. I spent an evening on it and it was worth it.

The first decision that really helped was deciding to use all newborn pictures of the kids. We were still using film cameras for the first four kids, so we don't have very many photos to choose from, and I was further limited by the orientation of the openings, but I just MADE DECISIONS choose-choose-choose and tried not to get all bogged down in what would be Perfect or how sad it was that a certain picture was the wrong orientation or WHATEVER. I just chose five newborn photos that fit in the five openings, and I scanned the four paper ones and uploaded them with the one digital one, and I got the prints and I bought them right away rather than giving in to the temptation of "I should wait until I have a larger order to place" which would have taken AGES.

So here are the five photos:

Newborn Rob

Newborn William

Newborn Elizabeth

Newborn Edward

Newborn Henry

And then I had to decide where to hang the thing, but again I just got a hammer and chose a place, and if I don't like it I'll change it later, but here's how it looks right now. It's in my kitchen and I like it.

Goal achieved

January 9, 2010

PSA: Sonic Riders Zero Gravity Bug

I realize this is unusual content, but OMG THIS DROVE US CRAZY THIS MORNING.

If you have the Sonic Riders Zero Gravity game for the Nintendo Wii, and it is asking you to press the plus button but nothing is happening when you do, see if you have any controllers (such as Gamecube controllers) plugged in to the Wii. If you do, unplug them, restart the game, and then the + key will work.

OMG SO FRUSTRATING. It's apparently that it defaults to any controller that isn't plugged in, and then doesn't recognize the Wii remote when you try to use it.

January 8, 2010

Reader Question: Weaning Hormones

Gayle writes:
Hi Swistle! So, as you're, like, the ONLY person I have ever met who has copped to having a tough time emotionally after weaning, I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions. These post-weaning hormones are kicking my ASS, see, and I just...I dunno. I guess I kinda want to feel like I am not just plain old garden-variety crazy, and that I will go back to feeling like a normal effing person again.

How long did the post-weaning funk last for you? And what did it feel like? I don't really think I have full-on PPD or anything - I don't feel depressed, per se, I am mostly just being suuuuuper hard on myself and feeling sad about the baby getting older, not "needing" me anymore, etc. I plan to call my midwife group this afternoon & see if there's someone I can talk to/if they have any suggestions for natural remedies or things I can do. I don't really want someone to slap a prescription in my hand, just because 1) I think (hope) this is temporary and don't want to bring medication into the picture, and 2) honestly, I don't think it's terrible enough to warrant medication...but it is bothersome enough to make me feel kind of low-grade miserable most of the time.

I guess what I'm looking for from you is what you pretty much already said in your comment on the blog: that you went through this too. I know you, uh, ALREADY SAID THAT TO ME, but...you know. I just felt like I had to get it out there to someone else besides Brad, who gets more and more concerned every time I burst into random tears.

Thanks for reading this hormonal rambling.

Dude! Totally, you are not alone: weaning was, I'd say, my WORST hormone time, worse than pregnancy, worse than postpartum. I would sit limply in a chair, tears leaking silently from my eyes as I imagined my baby a WRINKLED OLD MAN ALONE IN A NURSING HOME.

My second baby's weaning was the most memorably awful. He was 11.5 months old when I wanted to go to my grandmother's funeral (a several-day trip, altogether). I brought a pump with me to keep the milk going and figured I'd just pick it up again when I got home. And when I got home, Paul said William had done totally fine without nursing while I was gone, and that we shouldn't start him in the habit again only to break him of it so soon and possibly with more trouble since maybe it'd helped that I hadn't been home. Well, and that made sense to me, I guessed, and he looked like such a big kid sitting in his high chair eating a quesadilla and drinking milk out of a cup, so...okay.

Well, WHOA. I then spent a couple of weeks feeling like I'd made THE BIGGEST AND MOST IRREVOCABLE MISTAKE OF MY ENTIRE LIFE. Why oh why had I weaned him? Maybe I could start him nursing again? Maybe it wasn't too late? I cried and cried and cried over it, which was weird because one year was roughly how long I'd planned to nurse him and here we were at one year, and he was fine with it and taking milk from a cup so WHY WAS THIS SUCH A BIG DEAL? It just WAS a big deal, that's all. It was a HUGE DEAL and it was ALL MY/PAUL'S FAULT and EVERYONE'S LIFE WAS RUINED.

Ooo, look, I journaled it. Okay, so he was weaned at 11.5 months. One week and one day later: "I'm so sad about weaning. I can't pinpoint why, so I assume it's hormonal. I feel like he weaned too early, like it wasn't the way it should have been. I feel more and more upset about it. Even though he's doing fine and doesn't seem to miss it. Even though he's nearly a year old anyway. Even though lots of babies wean way before one year. Even though it makes sense to take advantage of the accidental 'clean break' and not start up and have to wean all over again. Nevertheless, I feel heavy and tired with sadness. I have that feeling of things not being worth doing, things not being fun, nothing in particular to look forward to. I don't even particularly LIKE nursing, so I don't know what's the matter with me. I wish I HAD nursed him when I got home, and I wish everything was back the way it was planned."

At 1 week and 3 days: "Still feeling down. I feel tired, like I can't handle anything. I'm irritable and intolerant. Series of normal little incidents seem like they require massive solutions, such as confining both children and going into another room to lie down. When the sink is full of dishes, it seems like a good plan to carry them all outside and leave them there, or maybe THROW them out there. I'm sleeping soundly, waking with difficulty, tired by 8:00 in the morning, ready for bed at 8:00 in the evening."

At 1 week and 4 days: "I don't know what's the matter with me; it's like I've lost my mind. I'm on the edge of fury all the time; I spent all yesterday and all morning so far today losing it over every little thing. EVERYTHING drives me crazy in about 2 seconds. It seems way out of hand."

At 2 weeks: "I'm feeling better now. Less sad, less angry, but still with Moods."

At 2 weeks 1 day: "I don't feel as sad anymore but I'm still struggling with being too easily frustrated and angered."

At 2 weeks 2 days: "VERY crabby and teary. Feelings of not being able to cope, of never getting anything done, of always having children HANGING on me. Yelling. Still leaking."

After that I don't see any more mentions of it, though I do still see mentions of being overwhelmed and discouraged, but I think that went more with the Toddler And Baby situation than with the Weaning.

By the time I weaned the twins, and later Henry, I had a pretty good idea of what worked for me: weaning verrrrrry slowly, one feeding at a time, and not taking out another feeding until we (meaning me and the baby, not taking Paul's input anymore) felt ready. (I WANTED weaning to be a decision We The Parents would make together, but that turned out not to work for me, and I didn't want a repeat of the time I was angry at and resentful of Paul over the William Weaning Fiasco.)

I did still have hormone issues with the weaning, but not NEARLY as bad. I remember distinctly when I weaned the twins they were only nursing once every day or two, and I suddenly felt ready to be done, but even then I didn't make any Big Final Decisions, I just offered a cup of milk if I didn't feel like nursing (and nursed if the baby didn't want the cup and continued to want to nurse), and nursed if I did feel like it.

I just looked it up in my journal and I don't see any mention of weaning-related sadness. On the other hand, I got pregnant with Henry almost the very day I weaned the twins for good, so that may have affected the hormone situation JUST A BIT. Oh, in fact, that was around the time I started this blog, so if you want you can read what I wrote about weaning and the pregnancy announcement two weeks later, and then what I wrote when I was weaning THAT baby (Henry).

Oh, but I'm getting distracted. Those of you who breastfed and had Weaning Sadness (and/or Weaning Crazies), can you reassure Gayle that she's not alone?

January 5, 2010

Dream Come True: A Couch With No Under

The timeline:

Roughly 2:30 in the afternoon: after digging around in the lint and crumbs for a paintbrush and finding also (among many, many, many other things) a video game cartridge, a DVD out of its case, two non-matching socks, and a sippee cup with very very old traces of milk in it, Swistle uses Twitter to complain:

8:45 p.m.
Swistle checks Twitter and finds many empathetic replies to this complaint. It turns out Miss Zoot DOES HAVE a couch with no under. This does not surprise Swistle, who theorizes that Miss Zoot is probably magic and can also probably bend spoons with her mind and probably also has a computer keyboard that doesn't collect brownie crumbs in the cracks. But then Arwen said SHE had a couch with no under TOO, and what are the odds of TWO people being magic right in a row like that?

8:50 p.m. Swistle tells this whole story to Paul. She says, "If I'd known such a thing as a couch with no under EXISTED, that would have been, like, the FIRST thing I would have looked for when we were couch-shopping." Paul says, "You know, I wonder if the feet of our couch would just, like, come off." Swistle is silent and dumbstruck.

8:55 p.m. Paul and Swistle go out to the living room. Paul tips the couch back, but has to HOLD it like that, at a tipped angle, because all the STUFF under it actually prevents it from tipping backwards all the way. This is when Paul realizes he is going to need tools, so Swistle has to go fetch them. Paul spends nearly a full minute explaining the appearance of a Special Crazy Tool he needs Swistle to find, until Swistle interrupts with "Do you mean an Allen wrench?" and Paul says "...Yes." Marriage is neither a game nor a competition, but Swistle nevertheless makes an imaginary mark on her side.

Using the Allen wrench. Can this possibly work?

Yeah baby.

9:00 p.m. Paul says he can either put the foot back on and we can do this later, or we can clean out under the whole couch and then remove the other three feet right now.

9:01 p.m. Paul and Swistle are cleaning out under the whole couch, loading "Things that need to be put back in their homes" into one bin and trash in another, while Swistle uses the dustbuster for everything else and who cares if it wakes the children. When everything is cleaned, the couch can be put on its back.

Two feet off; two feet remaining.

The feet, on our coffee table.

9:20 p.m.: A couch with no under, and the first day of the rest of our lives.

January 4, 2010

Decluttering Project: Closet

I am suddenly inspired to do some organizing/decluttering in the Gift Closet, which is not only a Gift Closet but a catch-all for a lot of things. It's hard for me to tackle it because getting rid of stuff from there often means getting rid of NEW stuff, stuff I bought on GOOD DEALS! It's disappointing to have something that seems like such A Find turn out NOT to be A Find after all.

I already did a few boxes-of-clutter giveaways, and I also donated spare toys (bought for birthday parties they never seemed right for) to a charity toy drive this past December. But now I feel ready to tackle the rest. The closet is in the same room as the computer, so I can document each thing as I toss it out, recycle it, or put it in the Freecycle pile.

1. five years backissues of Consumer Reports magazine, which I never reference because I look online, and the magazine holders that held them

2. two unopened packages of booklets that accompanied the handheld organizers we bought eight years ago, including two sealed-in-plastic booklets labeled "READ ME FIRST!"

3. set of very pretty satin padded hangers I thought I would want for myself but it turns out padded hangers take up a lot of space, so then I thought I'd save them for a guest room, but we don't have a guest room, nor will we have one for a very long time if ever, and if we DO ever have one I will buy more hangers if I still want them

4. a pretty Pfaltzgraff holiday serving dish, bought as a teacher gift before I decided to only give gift cards, then saved for a couple of years in case another use occurred to me

5. seven board games we never, ever play

6. paperwork/boxes for the cellphones we bought in 2000 and no longer have

7. ten reusable bags, bought for a planned Earth Day giveaway that has failed to happen two years in a row because I keep not noticing it's Earth Day until other people blog about it

8. bag of holiday clearance items for planned holiday giveaway that didn't happen

9. several broken picture frames from when photos got knocked off the wall and I thought I'd glue the frames back together and get new glass for them AHA HA HA HA HA

10. the packet of scrapbooking stickers and papers that came with my 2009 Victoriana calendar and thought I might find a use for

11. two partially-used classroom packs of jackolantern/pilgrim-making kits, the kind where you assemble a bunch of flat foam pieces; someone gave them to us as a gift, and although I do have a lot of children, I don't have 32 of them, and no one made more than three or four of each thing

12. package of OVER THE HILL candles purchased for a family member's milestone birthday I then forgot to use the candles for

13. pile of paper-pad mousepads that seemed like such an awesome idea but I only ever use mine to start my pen so now they seem less awesome for giving as gifts

14. some gifts set aside for the mother-in-law

Things I dealt with:

1. put a bunch of "I'll put these in the box later" packets of studio pictures into the studio pictures box, which used to have too much stuff on top of it to get into

2. hung up a small pretty plate my mom gave me for a reason I no longer remember

3. released into the household a number of craft kits and activities I'd bought "for a rainy day" and then never thought to give out when it was "raining"

4. put up on the wall some jungle wall stickers I wasn't sure if I wanted to save for myself or give as a gift

5. released into the household a huge inventory of stickers I used to send to Make a Child Smile or my parents' World Vision child

6. filled a box with Valentine's Day stuff for a giveaway

7. took a Mother-In-Law Dishes mug intended for a giveaway and put it with the rest of the Mother-In-Law Dishes, which should probably be renamed now that there is no mother-in-law

Things that still need to be dealt with:

1. a 5-opening picture frame: I need to choose a photo of each of the kids, get the photos printed, put them in the frame, and hang the frame up

2. a cute print of a lamb and a ladybug I forgot I bought for William in his lamb-obsessed toddler years: I need to decide if I'm going to keep it, and if so get a frame around it

While I was working on this project, Henry:

1. used a (fortunately washable) stamp on the wall

2. shook a paintbrush loaded with (fortunately washable) paint

3. unwound a significant percentage of a skein of yarn

4. got painty (still the fortunately-washable kind) hands all over the kitchen counter and dishes

5. shook salt and pepper all over the counter and the dishes and the sink and the floor

6. dumped out the container of jackolantern-making kits, spreading the flat foam pieces far and wide

January 1, 2010

Resolutions for 2010

Okay! Time to improve ourselves for the sole reason that it was time to buy a new calendar!

Let's pause and notice that I spelled calendar correctly without the spell-checker correcting me. It seems like it would be a 50-50 thing, but it's not just that I can't remember how to spell it, it's that I remember how to spell it WRONG.

Here are my resolutions:

1. I am going to use my reusable bags more often. I am already doing pretty well at this, in that Paul does the grocery shopping and he always remembers to use them, so I am using them by proxy. And I just bought (him) a set of 5 reusable produce bags after I saw them on StyleLush. Also, I carry a single reusable bag in my purse, and sometimes I remember to use it, and the number of "sometimes" has been increasing. I'd like to continue to increase.

2. I liked Miss Grace's friend Molly's idea about resolving to pass along good things we hear. As Miss Grace puts it: "The logic is that you ALWAYS hear about it when someone says something nasty about you, so why not make a special effort to make sure people hear about it when someone says something nice about them." So, for example, if someone mentions in an email how awesome they think Jonniker is, I would not just say, "Oh, dude, seriously, I KNOW!," I would also tell Jonniker about it, even if privacy prevented me from telling her who said it. My resolution is to think about this idea and its implications, and maybe try it out.

3. I'm going to try to think longer before buying something. I enjoy bargain shopping, and although this results in happy things like $2 shirts to clothe my many, many children, it sometimes results in twice as many $2 shirts as we need. It's not like this is tearing our finances apart, but it does seem like it might be nice to leave some $2 shirts for other people to find. I'm going to try to AT LEAST think it over before buying it, rather than thinking that "excellent price" plus "we have a use for it" equals "duh, buy it."

4. I'm going to drink champagne more often. That stuff is delicious.

5. I will at least OPEN my Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Workbook for Dummies to the page where I left off. I don't know why I stopped reading it when I was finding it so useful ("I can PREFER that X is the case, but I can't DEMAND it"), but I can't seem to get back to it and it's been MONTHS.

6. I'm going to memorize and think about a quote I just read at Kate's place: "Don't be afraid of failing; be afraid of succeeding at the wrong thing." There are things I sometimes feel pressured to succeed at, but this reminds me that success in and of itself is nothing to strive for or be praised for: it has to be something that was GOOD TO DO.

7. I'm going to throw out the lotion I don't like and replace it with the kind I do like. We are talking about one of those huge bottles that cost $5, so the investment is not worth holding onto year after year.

8. I am going to copy The New Girl's decision to avoid avoidable jackassery.

What did you resolve? I might steal one of yours and add it to my list.