March 30, 2010

Cinnamon Buns

I hate having a bunch of stuff to deal with first thing in the morning: full trash can, full clean dishwasher, cat food container empty. And Paul often leaves a bunch of stuff on the counters from projects the night before: open science books, bowls of crystallizing substances, pans with thermometers in them. So irritating!

This project detritus I mind less:

(Plus, he unloaded the dishwasher.)

March 29, 2010

Love Via Things That Can Be Bought/Eaten

Q: How much do I love our new cat?

Q: Enough to buy him a large pink cat nest and put it in a sunbeam?
Q: Does he have a name yet?
A: No.

Q: Any guesses?
A: Kip, short for Kissmerighthereonthiswhitenosespot, my favorite write-in suggestion (by Ramona).

Q: Are we driving a full half-hour to a physical Old Navy store just to see if they have a dinosaur swimsuit in size 3T?
A: Yes.

Q: Are we also having lunch at Taco Bell for the SOLE REASON that a 4-year-old boy was weeping prostrate on the floor yesterday at the news that two of his brothers had had Taco Bell when he had not?
A: Yes.

Q: Is that probably a bad plan, parenting-precedent-wise?
A: Maybe, but I will get to eat tacos.

Q: Do I have butter softening RIGHT NOW for making Oatmeal Scotchies later?

Q: Is Easter candy the best candy of the whole year?
A: Are you kidding me? Cadbury eggs, Cadbury mini-eggs, Reese's peanut butter eggs!

Q: Is there going to be a dieting post soon?
A: Coincidentally, yes.

March 26, 2010

Happy Thoughts for Tax Time

I did our taxes this past weekend, and I'd forgotten that a LARGE CHUNK needed to be paid on any money earned from blogging stuff. I kept having to remind myself that it was not only FAIR but also GOOD: I WANT to increase the amount on record I've paid toward Social Security and Medicare: rearing The Next Generation, while valuable, does not add to those funds until The Next Generation starts earning, and that will be awhile yet. That's what I was saying to myself as I made a large withdrawal from Rob's Braces Fund, which is what I've been saving my blogging income for.

And that's when I read Melissa's timely post about tax-time defunkifying through happy thoughts and GOODNESS I thought of a lot of happy thoughts! Melissa said to just think of as many as we could for 5 minutes, and I did so in her comments section but then I kept thinking of more and more.

1. Henry is juuuuuust getting old enough that it's not QUITE such a hassle to bring the three littles somewhere, so yesterday after we did our errands we ALSO went to a big pet store and had lots of fun looking at animals and buying toys for our new cat.

2. Our new cat.

3. We saw some beautiful little finches at the pet store. I had no idea finches could be pets. I love finches. Now I kind of want a finch. But they were surprisingly expensive, like $40-50. That's about triple what I would have expected. But now I am enjoying thinking idly about maybe having a pet finch or two.

4. Deli turkey was on sale this week. I love deli turkey.

5. Paul got a bag of Doritos as a treat. So last night I had deli turkey AND Doritos for dinner.

6. I have Mrs. Meyer's lavender dishwasher detergent.

7. Also, I just spelled "lavender" right on the first try, for perhaps the first time since I made learning the spelling one of my 2009 New Year's resolutions.

8. I'm really enjoying the book I'm reading: Family Album, by Penelope Lively.

9. I bought a pretty Liberty of London storage box to match my pretty Liberty of London mug. I'd been holding myself back from buying it, but then Miss Zoot mentioned that she'd considered the Liberty of London stuff the perfect use for a gift card she'd been saving for something special, and I remembered _I_ had a gift card I'd been saving for something special! So I bought the storage box. I would have bought the canister if I could have thought of a use for it, and I would have bought a sundress for Elizabeth if they'd had it in the pattern I like best.

10. My brother, sister-in-law, and niece are moving. They will live a one-hour drive away rather than a six-hour plane trip away. I can hardly believe it. !!!!!

11. Because I have so enjoyed my six-hour solo plane trips to visit them, I'm going to do one last one in May. This means all kinds of fun preparations such as going frequently to the library book sale to find books to bring with me.

12. I've mentioned before that I find it very cheering to send packages of fun things in the mail, especially as surprises. And I have TWO surprises traveling right now.

13. The new cat had the sniffles and was sleeping a lot and not playing, and I was fretful even though the shelter had said it was likely to happen. But now he's better and is playing with the kids and repeatedly slamming into the window looking out the window at birds again.

14. It's really fun to be considering a name for him. I'm leaning toward Kip. Paul is leaning toward Benchley. I also like the name Peabody: it has a very nice mix of silliness and dignity. And I like Biscuit, which makes up in whimsy what it loses in dignity.

15. Reader Melanie, who shares my PostCrossing addiction obsession hobby, emailed me that MOMA was having an excellent postcard sale, and indeed they were, and the postcards have arrived and they're great. I like the Objects of Design set best, and in fact I wish I'd bought two boxes because it's hard to make myself send them (Rubik's Cube! pens! typewriter! weird coffee table! cool chairs!).

16. The new cat is settling in very well, but he CLEARLY wants to play with Mouse, and she's having NONE OF IT. This has led to pleasant thoughts of perhaps shopping for ANOTHER cat to be a companion for him. It's unlikely, because when we had three cats I had the STRONG FEELING that it would be pleasant if we Reduced In Some Unspecified Way, and when we DID Reduce In Some Unspecified Way it felt like two cats was the perfect number of cats---but it is still enjoyable to think of.

17. Henry is still going strong on his dinosaur kick, and he has been very particular about wanting to wear dinosaur clothing pretty much every day, and I've had great luck recently finding him dinosaur clothes. I found an Osh Kosh T-Rex shirt at Target, 50% off. Carter's dinosaur mix-and-match pjs at Target, 30% off. T-Rex pjs at The Children's Place, 40% off. Circo T-Rex t-shirt at Target, on sale for $4. (Why so much T-Rex, manufacturers? How 'bout some plant-eaters?)

18. When I get the twins' pictures taken each year, I get pictures of them individually but I also get pictures of them together. I enjoy having their clothes coordinate for the together pictures, but it's a little tricky. Happily, The Children's Place always does coordinated lines in the spring, so I wait for those to go to 50% off and then I buy outfits. This is what I bought yesterday:

19. Every year, I think, "I would really like to plant some bulb flowers!" And every year I miss the cut-off. Last fall, Kara Marie sent me some tulip bulbs at exactly the right time to plant them, so I went out right away and put them into the dirt. AND THEY ARE COMING UP! I guess I didn't expect this to WORK!

If you enjoy assignments, here is one for you: spend one minute in the comments section writing down happy thoughts. Let's Pollyanna it up a notch!

March 22, 2010

Name the New Cat!

Um. You wouldn't want to, like, VOTE on the new cat's name, would you? I realize this is a little silly. But we're so indecisive, and we keep changing our list, and we just want it to be OVER and the cat NAMED. Here are the finalists (with links when the name means something to us):

1. Benchley

2. Faraday

3. Darwin

4. Kip

5. Archie

6. Tycho (the fact that it is pronounced TEEK-oh but looks like TIKE-oh bothers me)

7. Albert

I'll put a poll over to the right to keep track of votes, but feel free to elaborate in the comments. Here are some pictures to remind you what he looks like while you're considering names.

March 20, 2010

New Mug, New Cat

I am SO influenced by you guys. Several of you emailed me to say that Target had some Liberty of London stuff SQUEEEEEE! and I didn't know what Liberty of London was but it sounded GREAT! and SQUEEish! And so here I am, a few days later, the owner of a Liberty of London mug.

It is fun to think how easily we could be mug twins!

The new cat continues to be kind of a dummy. This morning one of the kids said, "Um, the new cat is eating one of his toys," and I thought, you know, he was just chewing a catnip mouse or whatever, but NO, when I arrived on the scene there was only an inch or two left of the yard-long piece of yarn we'd tied a ball of crumpled paper to. Cat-toy extraction before 7:00 a.m.---not my favorite way to start the day.

He is intrigued by all the birds outside the window, and he has smacked into the windows several times. SEVERAL TIMES.

Yesterday I went down to do laundry and saw the cat looking down at me from a hole in the ceiling.

Come a little closer: Ceiling Cat needs to administer a paw slap.

Some current contenders for the name: Dim Bulb, Taco Short, Partial Deck, Loose Screw, Head Injury, Death Wish, Teen Boy.

Bee-tee-double-you, this cat experience has totally changed my opinion about returning non-working-out pets to a shelter. Did I mention that our kitty was a return? Well, he was. The people who adopted him first said he was out of control and a danger to young children (because of playing rough). The shelter let me read the form the owners filled out, and it was really clear the owners didn't like him. But we LOVE him! We LOVE him! I pick him up and SQUEEZE him and kiss his soft head! And he plays GREAT with the kids!

If I'd been the one to return him to the shelter, I know I would have felt AWFUL. Like I was violating my commitment to him. Like he'd languish all his days in a cage because he was a Defective Cat and I couldn't hack caring for him. But look! In this case, the cat was re-adopted 2 days later by a family he's PERFECT for! The first family could have suffered through the years with him, but isn't it nicer for the kitty to have a household that thinks he's the best cat since cats were invented? If the first family could know what the cat's fate would be, they'd be RUSHING him to the shelter with NO guilt at all, EAGER to send him to the household where he would be praised and loved and snuggled and where everyone would say, "Oh HI kitty!" as they passed him in the hall. If I ever adopt a cat that doesn't work out for us, I will rush him back to the shelter, gladly forfeiting the adoption fee as a donation to a worthy cause, so that he can be with the family that will adore him!

March 18, 2010


I ordered eleven---ELEVEN---pairs of glasses from One reason I ordered so many is that they were $8 per pair and I figured if I ordered eleven pairs without trying them on I might get two or three good ones, and if I DID get three good ones they'd be less expensive per pair than the Walmart $38 special. I figured I could donate the extra pairs to one of those organizations that collects glasses and STILL be ahead.

But I like ALL of them. ALL. I like them in different ways, but I like all of them. LET ME SHOW THEM TO YOU. (Incidentally, I gradually discovered that head-on photos of glasses look a little odd, and slightly-turned-head pictures come out better. Perhaps you will notice this in the frequency of photos with that head angle.)

And in case you would like to know what the HELL is the story with my lips, I PICK them okay? Nasty habit, but I've had it for about 25 years so it's not likely to change now. It's not that I apply lipstick unevenly or whatevs.

1. I am wearing these RIGHT NOW. Green glasses with black earpieces.

2. Purple metal tops, rimless bottoms, rectangular.

3. Pretty much the same as #2, but with the purple metal all the way around.

4. Yellow-green, WITH RHINESTONES.

5. Green and pink. Prep-PAY.

6. Gold metal on top, rimless on the bottom. Very similar in shape to my old glasses, as you can see from my relaxed, non-surprised expression.

7. Um? I am not sure about these, and they are not "right for my face" PER SE, and yet I like them anyway. They're black in the middle, green on the sides. They emphasize the asymmetry of my face, so I should have done the semi-sideways photo for these.

8. I find these goggle-like pinky-purple ones AMUSING.

9. Green on the top, rimless on the bottom.

10. I love these green snowflake ones soooooooo much. Can you tell?

11. Purple tops, rimless bottoms, the oval version of #2.

Cost for all eleven pairs, including shipping? $100. OMG.

To order from Zenni, you need your prescription AND your "PD" (pupillary distance). It is a little embarrassing to ask for the PD: your prescription belongs to you and it's easy to get a copy (my optician gave me that without me even asking), but the optician doesn't have to tell you your PD. What I did was I ordered a pair of glasses at the optician's office when I got the prescription, and then told them I'd seen a pair of glasses online and I would also need my PD. They were totally cool about it.

March 17, 2010

Old Glasses vs. New Glasses

Here is a picture of me wearing my old glasses. When I bought these glasses more than 8 years ago, almost all glasses were METAL and ROUND. It was hard to find a pair that was even OVAL.

Here's a side view. Notice that these glasses don't FIT ME: the earpiece goes way up into my hair instead of hooking over my ear. I noticed this after I'd bought them and it's bugged me ever since.

Here is a picture of me wearing my new glasses. Now all glasses are PLASTIC and RECTANGULAR. It was hard to find a pair that didn't bisect my undereye circles in an emphasizing way. I ended up with metal and rectangular. I think I could have gotten a better shot of them if I hadn't been so concerned about de-emphasizing the underchin area.

Here is a side-view of the new glasses, which is pretty much why I bought them.

I've also ordered about ten pairs of cheaps from Zenni, so we'll see if any of those turn out.

March 16, 2010


Today, our umpteenth trip to the animal shelter, we came home with a parcel.

This is a boy cat. He is a little over a year old. I liked him immediately. After thinking, "Maybe?" about two dozen cats, this was the first one I asked to see in one of the rooms they have for Getting-to-Know-You time. I had all three littles with me, and he was GREAT with them. The littles were loud, and they kept squealing and jumping, and he didn't even flinch. We all pet him and he didn't flinch. The littles played with him with cat toys and he played exuberantly but with no bodily harm. He let me pick him up. I filled out the paperwork and we put him in the cat carrier. I hadn't brought the cat carrier on previous visits, so I'm glad I brought it today. We brought him home. He has since been sniffing every inch of the house.

He has pretty fur patterns. Neither Paul nor I has ever had a cat with this kind of coloring.

He is brave/stupid.

He is a little funny-looking. He is the kind of cat who, new to your house, will sit on your dining room table like he doesn't even know what guest manners ARE. We are calling him "the new kitty" because we don't have a name for him yet.

March 15, 2010


I wonder if Bruce Springsteen feels differently about the lyrics of "I'm on Fire" ("Hey little girl is your daddy home / Did he go away and leave you all alone?") now that he has a daughter? _I_ sure do. *gag*

I've been going back and forth between our two local animal shelters, looking for our next cat. A couple of times, I've hesitated about a cat and it's been gone the next time I went. I think it's most likely at this point that we'll adopt a kitten: I feel less shy with kittens. When I consider an adult cat, I feel a little awk about it, like it's weird to bring this stranger to our house and expect her to just live with us because we say so. On the other hand, I love how with an adult cat I can see what it's LIKE. So I continue to dither. I'm also dithering because I'm not sure I want to inflict another cat on our current cat. She seems to enjoy being an only, and I've enjoyed feeling like seeking out the company of a cat rather than brushing cats off every surface.

I've been on a reading kick. I seem to be getting one intense, thought-provoking book after another. It's a little tiring. First I read Middlesex. Then I read The Help. Then I read Handle With Care, but after 100 pages I was done with that kind of stress so I skipped ahead to the last 15. Now I'm reading Olive Kitteridge.

I'm also watching the second season of The L Word, so I am just about scalp-deep in thought-provoking.

Henry just asked me if a rollerskate was a quadruped.

I registered the twins for kindergarten this fall. That seems NUTS to me. Since they were a year old I've been saying it would be unexpectedly soon that they'd be in school (I started saying it during the OMG Pregnant Again! panic), but it really did come up fast. Two years after that, it'll be Henry in school. And then what? Let's not turn our minds to it.

March 11, 2010

Adoption Help, Advice, Information, WHATEVER

I'm not sure how long I've been reading Kim at Laments & Observations, but I remember when she posted that her stepdad-in-law had given them $10,000 for a last-ditch attempt at having a baby, and that was in January of 2009 so it's been at least a year. There were several parts of that post that got to me: her saying that she wanted one of those baby things about as much as she wanted to keep breathing, and her talking about how the stepdad-in-law was too cheap to buy eggs for a batch of cookies but had asked if he could help them pay for fertility treatments.

Re-reading the post, I get kind of teary about it again. And especially because it's a year later, and we know what we didn't know then, which is that the fertility treatments wouldn't end up working.

The next step is adoption. More than half a year has gone by, and I started wondering if Kim's personality is similar to mine on things like this: I face something unfamiliar and I freeze up. Part of it is fear of not knowing what to expect, and part of it is fear of what might go wrong, and part of it is fear of going through all that and still not getting what I hope for, and part of it is a reluctance to start doing all the boring/difficult crap that needs to be done, and part of it is just FREEZING UP and who knows why. Obviously the right way to get started is to GET STARTED: if I don't know what to do, I need to FIND OUT; and if crap needs to be done, best get it over with. And yet do I? No. I'm frozen.

What works for me is fret-blogging to access our collective knowledge. I might not be able to face making plans for a trip, but I can put all my frets about it into a post. And then one person says, "I don't know about the hotel, but I can tell you that taxis are a flat-rate $50 from the airport." And someone else says, "I don't know about taxis, but I can tell you that what I did about a room was book one myself and then then I found a roommate she sent me a check for half." And all these bits of information come together until I have enough basic and specific knowledge to unfreeze and start to take action. Plus I feel motivated to do something so I can give updates: it feels as if other people are invested.

So I emailed Kim and asked if she was like this and she said yes, and I said can I help by posting about it and she said yes. I would really like Kim to have a child, and I feel the urge to help, and I have a feeling that "wanting a child" is a common enough feeling that a lot of us can empathize---and can turn that empathy into assistance.

Mostly what's needed here is ANY TIDBIT YOU HAVE. Do you have information about adoption? Did you adopt? Are you trying to adopt? Did someone you know adopt or are they trying to adopt? Have you HEARD stuff or READ stuff about adoption? Do you happen to know the FIRST STEP, because I think that is the hardest part.

What can someone expect from a home inspection---is it really awful and invasive and humiliating and do you get docked points for dog hair? What other parts are there to the process? About how long does it take, and are there ways to speed it up?

How much does it cost? And how do people afford it if they don't have much money but would make such a good home for a child? And are there ways to reduce the costs?

How possible is it to get a newborn? How about a very young child, like say 18 months or under? What are the different kinds of adoption---like, there's the kind where you adopt a foster child from the state, right? and the kind where you adopt from a woman who calls an agency and says she wants to give her baby for adoption? and the kind where you adopt from another country? And is it all different answers/procedures for all those different kinds?

Adoption stuff varies so much by state, and Kim and her husband live in South Carolina so of course the MOST useful information would be from anyone who knows about South Carolina adoptions---but ALL information is useful to the unfreezing process. Don't feel awk about saying, "Er, I only know this one teensy detail I heard about Wyoming adoptions..."---OUT WITH IT! We want to know it all! Help!

March 5, 2010


[Edited to say more what I wanted to say.]

I'm tired of the words "avid" and "voracious" being used so surprisingly often before the word "reader." It's a pet peeve of mine.

How's that? Better?

March 4, 2010

Vanilla Victory!

There are still a few things I buy at Walmart, despite everything. Most of them are things I can't find elsewhere, or things that are SUCH A GOOD DEAL I CAN'T STAND IT. For example, Paul goes through more pickle relish than you would believe, and it costs $2 per regular-sized container, but Walmart had an industrial size (a gallon, I think) for $3.50. (Our Walmart doesn't have that anymore, in case you are a relish lover who is already putting on your coat and getting your purse.)

Another is imitation vanilla extract. I use real vanilla too, but I'd just as soon use the imitation stuff in certain things, like flavoring Vanilla Sugar Milk (a "recipe" my brother and I came up with in childhood, which is adding sugar and vanilla to...well, to milk). I also use it in recipes that call for a TON of it: I have a no-bake cookie recipe that uses 1 TABLESPOON of vanilla, and that just seems like a whole heck-ton more vanilla than any recipe needs, so I use 1 teaspoon of real and 2 teaspoons of fake.

ANYWAY, Walmart carries an 8-ounce bottle of fake vanilla extract for 99 cents. That is CHEAP, my friend: our grocery store has a 2-ounce bottle of fake and it costs $2.00. Walmart, 13 cents an ounce; grocery store, $1.00 an ounce. The last few times I've been there, though, they haven't had it. (This is another way in which Walmart drives me nuts: great prices, but then no stock for months on end.)

So today I was feeling frustrated about that, and frustrated with my inability to find it anywhere else at a price that didn't make me feel like throwing a tantrum. That's when it occurred to me to check Amazon. And look what I found:

A 3-pack of 32-ounce bottles! For $16.54! That's 17 cents per ounce! Only 4 cents/ounce more than Walmart's store brand, and this is brand name!

Well, sure, that is a LOT of vanilla flavoring, but it doesn't seem to go bad and I do go through a lot of it. Plus, it keeps me from having to keep checking Walmart for it; it keeps me from having to buy it for $1.00/ounce from the grocery store in the meantime; and it helps me with my goal of reducing the number of things I buy at Walmart.

Return of the Twin Questions and Answers

Let's get back to some twin Q&A! And if you have a minute, go congratulate Mr. and Mrs. Blonde, who just found out they're having twins!

Where are we? So far we have:

Twin Pregnancy
Twin Birth, and Going Home
More Twin Questions and Answers
Still More Twin Questions and Answers
Even More Twin Questions and Answers

Could I perhaps have come up with a more intuitive titling system? Such as, perhaps, #1, #2, #3? I mean for heaven's sake.

Oh. Wait. We don't seem to have any more twin questions to answer. We do have some miscellaneous questions, though, and I'll just go ahead and answer them here since they came about because of the twin Q&A posts.

Ruthie: "I have a question that's not exactly twin related but I hope you'll still answer. I'm about to have my 3rd C-section, and my doctor has been not exactly adamant, but let's say strongly recommending, that 3 is the limit. My husband has taken this to mean that not getting my tubes tied at delivery is the equivalent of a suicide mission. You mentioned that the twins were your 3rd C - did your doctor recommend no more children for you after that point? Did you have any problems with your C for Henry (assuming it was a 4th C)? I've read your archives and it seems like you weren't sure for awhile whether you would have more children after Henry ... did the C section thing enter into your decision?"

So far all my obstetricians (I go to a practice with 6-8 of them, plus I had another one for my first pregnancy) have answered the "How many c-sections is okay?" question on a case-by-case basis: part of what can make subsequent c-sections risky has to do with the complications that caused the woman to need the c-sections in the first place. But so far all of them have agreed that the default answer is that the risks increase slightly for each one, but that as long as everything is normal (and continues to be normal) you can have as many c-sections as you want. "Sure, be a Kennedy," said one of my OBs, referring to whichever Kennedy woman it was who had 9 or 11 c-sections or whatever it was.

What my OBs do is check things out during each c-section and tell me if things still look okay for another, and so far it's always been yes. Definitely it's not standard to say three is the limit. If I were you I'd tell the OB right before the c-section begins that I didn't think I wanted any more children but could he/she please investigate while in there and see how things look just in case you change your mind.

During the twin pregnancy I did worry a little about uterine rupture: the uterus gets soooooo stretched for twins, and I'd already had two c-sections. But everything was fine, and then I had a fourth c-section and the OB still says everything looks fine if I want another. So for me, it's not something I consider an issue; I'm more worried about my increasing age. (In fact, one theory for why the risks go up for subsequent c-sections is that the mother's age is also increasing.)

Megan: "I have a personal one for you, but I understand if you don't want to much weight have you gained with each pregnancy and how much did you lose before getting pregnant again? Did you try to lose weight or did it just happen? I'm overweight and about to try to get pregnant."

I've gained such a different amount with each pregnancy, and had such different experiences losing it. For my first pregnancy I gained 40 pounds and most of it came off quickly but it seemed to take AGES to lose the last little bit. For my second pregnancy I gained 15 pounds and lost all of it fast and then some (and then afterward I gained back the extra I'd lost, and then some). With the twins I gained about 50 pounds and lost it all in a week (a LOT of it was water retention---my legs were swollen up to my hips) and then kept losing. With Henry I can't remember what happened, perhaps because my brain hit the limit of how many details it could hold. But I seem to remember it going about the same as my first pregnancy. I always think I'll use an upcoming pregnancy to inspire me to lose weight, but it never works!

Eleanor Q.: "Independence training? I'd like to hear more about that. How did you pick what activities to start with? How did you coerce a toddler into doing something that YOU wanted when YOU suggest it? Did you see any regression of abilities once the babies came home?"

Several of the biggest trainings were things I probably should have already done by then anyway. My friend Astarte and I have oldest kids the same age, and her oldest was already long since showering on her own when I was all, "Oh, hey, I wonder if mine could learn to wash his own hair?" And when I finally got around to teaching William to dress himself, the quickness with which he learned indicated I could have done that earlier.

I don't remember meeting any resistance. This may be because I was too tired to hear any. Or it could be that they were just the right ages: Rob was 6 and has always liked Being a Grown-up, and William was 4 and has always liked Doing What Rob Does.

I chose activities based on the things I was finding overwhelming during pregnancy. I was spending a lot of time in the morning dozing, so I was motivated to teach them to get their own breakfasts, and this made me think of having them also learn to make their own lunches. I was having trouble kneeling at the tub and getting past my tum pressed against the side, so I was motivated to teach them to wash themselves.

Some of it was just teaching them to PITCH IN. They weren't really able to gather up the trash, and having them lug it to the porch wasn't much of a help to me, but having them do it took away some of my I'm The Only One Who Does Any Work Around Here feeling, and that was helpful.

I didn't see any regression, though definitely the Fun! Of! Independence! wore off after awhile.

March 2, 2010

Sneaky Sneaky SNAKY

Do you remember last October when I wrote about how Walmart sells sneakily smaller packages for their "lower prices," so that they often actually cost MORE while bragging that they cost less? I used the example of Luvs diapers, which Walmart packages 70 to a box while Target puts 80 in a box: it SEEMS like the Walmart box costs less---if you don't happen to notice there are fewer diapers.

WELL. Reader Christine sent me another example:
I thought you would get a kick out of this one, please see the attached picture. I bought packs of Quilted Northern, 12 rolls each with identical packaging, one from each store. The roll on the left is Target, the one on the right is Wal Mart.

Pretty funny huh?
(photo by Christine)

March 1, 2010


This morning I made four phone calls that have been on my to-do list, a long time. These weren't even SCARY phone calls like calling about a denied claim or a statement error or a lost payment, these were absolutely standard, non-scary, making-normal-appointment calls.

One call had only been waiting two weeks for me to make it. That's the one where I need to schedule an evaluation for Rob with the orthodontist to see if he's ready now for braces. They sent me a little reminder card and it's been sitting on the counter for two weeks.

I couldn't make the orthodontist call until I'd made Rob an appointment with the dentist. We discovered that his "brushing his own teeth" was NOT GOING WELL. The school does dental screenings and sent a note home, and I took a look for myself and was APPALLED. And this brought up my Dentist Anxiety, which is that dentists seem to charge me until I run out of money, so I don't like to go see them unless there is pain. Anyway, we discovered the tooth situation 9 months ago, so that's how long that second call has been waiting. I could have GROWN AN ENTIRE BABY in that amount of time.

The third call is an eye exam for myself. My current glasses are so covered in teensy scratches it's like they're foggy. I can't really say how long this call has been waiting for me to make it, but the last time I had an eye exam and new glasses, third-grade William was still in an infant carrier so that'll give you a general idea.

The fourth call I made because I was on a roll: it's so much easier to make calls when I am already making calls, so I made the cat her vet appointment for next month.

I made these calls about 2 hours ago and my legs are still jittery and my underarms are still damp.

I have been trying to think of ways to conquer this phone problem, since it negatively affects my life. The nickel-psychology is that you're supposed to Face Your Fear and then you will stop being scared, but I've been making phone calls for more than a quarter-century and I'm still scared. I even worked as a RECEPTIONIST, and if that doesn't thoroughly explore the Extinction Through Exposure method I don't know what does.

In thinking about it, I realized that one of my MAIN stressors is not being able to hear very well on the phone. It's partly the inevitable household noises, partly the connection, partly a silly reluctance to say "What?" (and a near-inability to say it more than once), and partly anxiety levels that make it even harder to process what I'm hearing. Our phone is already cranked up as high as it will go, volume-wise, but surely there are phones made for, like, older people, and surely those phones can be turned up to "thinks young people are always MUMBLING" levels.

In fact, a minute's research on Amazon told me what to search for: "amplified telephone." Here's a likely-looking fellow: Clarity Amplified Phone, for mild to moderate hearing loss. It says the volume can be turned up to 18 decibels; it would be helpful to know the decibel level of a regular phone for comparison. There's another one that's more than twice the price but goes up to 43 decibels, so perhaps 18 decibels is for sissies. Or I could get the cordless one (30 decibels) for a price in between the other two.

Another idea: hire a receptionist.