February 27, 2011

Follow-up on the Split-Wall Paint

Here's how the paint looks with the bunk beds in:

I love it. Each boy has his own-colored area, in a both-love-blue room. If I'd had to share a room as a child, I would have LOVED this.


When I was pregnant with Rob, I bought a travel system (infant car seat plus a stroller the seat could snap into) on a good clearance. In fact, did I ever tell you I bought it one afternoon, and the next morning I went into labor? I cut that a little close, I suppose. I didn't want to get everything done Too Early in pregnancy and then be at loose ends later on. And also there were so many seat/stroller options and I couldn't figure out which was best. Anyway this has nothing to do with the story.

The stroller that came with the travel system was nice while the car seat would snap into it, but once Rob was out of the car seat the stroller was so big and heavy and bulky, I hated lugging it around and hated using it. But umbrollers were too flimsy and often didn't have baskets underneath. I wanted something in between, and, by happy accident, I found a floor model stroller on clearance that was exactly what I wanted: lightweight and non-bulky, but sturdy and with a nice roomy basket underneath.

I used that stroller for Rob, and then for William, and then for one twin at a time (like when I was out with only one of them, or when I could let one of them walk, or when my mom brought a stroller, or anyway this is kind of a boring parenthetical), and then for Henry. When Henry had just turned three, that stroller finally broke (a fatal structural snap), and goodness it had certainly earned it! I felt silly buying a new stroller when Henry was so close to not needing one, especially when this is the VERY SAME THING that happened with our crib: it made it through five children, and when Henry was about a year and a half old it broke. It seems like equipment is made to last through four children. (Although, our boy winter coats have lasted through three boys, which makes me think this might be an issue with HENRY and not with equipment/clothing.)

I dithered and fretted and finally bought another lightweight, non-bulky, sturdy stroller with a basket underneath, figuring that the timing might be silly but I DID still need/want a stroller, and someone on Freecycle would get lucky when we were done with it.

Then last weekend, Paul backed over it with the minivan.

So now I have used one stroller with 4-1/2 children, and the last 1/2 child has used TWO BRAND-NEW STROLLERS.

February 26, 2011

Paint Update

The third room is done! This is the room that used to be pale pink when it was Elizabeth's. Now it will be William and Henry's. William wanted the room to be blue and green; Henry wanted it to be blue and orange. So Paul painted almost the whole room blue (Behr Jamaican Sea, 510B-5), except in the part where the bunk beds would go, where he painted the upper-bunk area green (Behr Tart Apple 420B-4) and the lower-bunk area orange (Behr Orange Spice 250B-5):

Today we moved the bureaus around (we're doing some switching around of those, too), and then moved the two that will be William's and Henry's down to their room. Tomorrow the bunks will move down and we'll see how it looks with the colors.

So now it's time to choose a paint color for OUR new room. Here's a photo of our room I was luckily able to find in another post, since our room is currently halfway dispersed between the computer room and the living room:

I like that quilt. I'd like the wall color to go well with it. But my only color-choosing skillz lie in looking at something and MATCHING a color to it. And yet---I don't want our wall color to match any of the colors from the quilt. Opinions? Maybe just do cream walls this time?

Admiration and Links

I was making dinner last night and fretting about how, when the mother of one of William's friends came to pick her (the friend) up, she (the mother) and I stood in our (Paul's and mine) INCREDIBLY CLUTTERED AND MESSY dining room (messiness marker for reference: extras of the photos we sent out in our Christmas cards, scattered across the floor under the table) and she DEFINITELY saw the room, because WE WERE IN IT. And there was no way she'd think it was some FLUKE, because she has been here probably a dozen times before, and if anything it has looked WORSE on previous occasions, because at least THIS time I picked up the used washcloths and some of the winter outerwear and scraps of paper and barrettes and paperclips and cat kibbles---at least the ones right inside the door---and I also straightened the runner carpet (carpet runner?) which had been akimbo as usual.

So anyway, I was fretting, and I was also kind of praising myself for standing there talking to her like nothing was messy instead of dissolving into fretfulness and drawing her attention via detailed apology to each thing that was messy, and I was reassuring myself by thinking how, really, when someone else's house is messy, I admire them if they brazen it out instead of acting freaked about it as if I were the sort of person who would like them less for it and maybe snicker about it to other people, rather than the sort of person who thinks, "WHEW, her house is messy, maybe we can be friends!" And so I was glad that the nonchalance approach was what I'D done in that situation, in case it would impress that other child's mother the way it impresses me.

So THEN I was thinking how, on the other hand, I also admire it when I go to someone's house and it's really tidy and clean. I'm always impressed, even though I also make a mental note to not let that person see MY house until they love me so much it's too late for them to be shocked, and then they have to instead justify their love of me by redefining what they consider a mark of good character and upbringing.

And they don't have to personally clean it themselves, either: if they hire someone else to clean it for them, I admire their courage (because that involves phone calls AND having someone else in their house AND having someone get all personal with their possessions), and I also admire the sensible idea that we let the professionals do what they do best while we spend our time doing what WE do best---whatever that is.

So THEN I thought, "I seem to be saying I admire EVERYONE'S housecleaning situation, no matter WHAT. Is that possible?" and I thought, "Yes. That seems to be the situation here."

Okay, now I have a bunch of links and stuff to show you, in case you are someone who laments the lack of action in the blogging community on weekends.

First, here's another of those videos Paul finds and blows our household's collective mind with. You will have it stuck in your head AND YOU WILL SAY THANK YOU:

Paul says the guy who sings that song is the same guy who sang that "Peaches" song from a few years ago ("millions of peaches, peaches for free"), and you are very welcome for getting THAT stuck in your head TOO.

Next, The Bloggess on dealing with bullies. It's her usual combination of "making you laugh until you might actually barf" + "actual issue that needs to be addressed" + "something kind of touching that makes you feel all emotional especially because you're all primed for it by the laughing/barfing" + "actual advice for dealing amusingly with troll commenters, which starts the laugh-barf cycle all over again."

Next, Mir on making sure your contract is right before you write for money, lest you find yourself looking at your own book on the bestseller list, but with all the profits going to someone else.

Review blog stuff: GE Ecomagination for a chance to win a light bulb that lasts TWENTY YEARS (and costs FIFTY DOLLARS) (for ONE light bulb) (I am not EVEN kidding). Through February 28.

Over at Milk and Cookies, perhaps you would like to help me choose a travel mug?

February 25, 2011

I'm Voting For Feeties

I am mystified by the latest notice that came home from school with William. Today is Pajama Day, and I understand the first part of the instructions: "Remember pajamas need to be school-appropriate." I am a LITTLE cranky that they are reminding me of something so obvious, but I am SURE (as in, "absolutely 100% sure, no need to convince me of it as if I were denying it, though feel free to give amusing examples") that ALL school personnel have LONG SINCE stopped saying ANY sentence that begins "Surely any reasonable parent...," and that the sentence about appropriateness is indeed warranted. Though it does seem as if a parent who would send a child to school in, say, just boxer shorts and socks, or in a satin cami and satin shorts with "SEXY" on the buns, would need more than a general sentence about appropriateness to point out to them that their choices were the ones being referred to as inappropriate.

Anyway, the next sentence is the one that mystifies me: it is italicized, and it reads "They may not be the ones you wear to bed." Well, clearly! I mean, we all have at least ONE pair of pajamas we never wear to bed!

I don't think the school is actually telling me that the children must wear pajamas to school that are not pajamas they've ever slept in. I think it's a badly-phrased sentence, and that the school is trying to say one or two of the following things:

1. "It is okay to wear pajama-like clothing that is not in fact pajamas---such as sweat pants or yoga pants and a t-shirt." They mean "might" instead of "may"---though even changing that word wouldn't make the sentence clear enough.

2. "They should not be the pajamas you slept in the night before." They might be trying to avoid children rolling out of bed and coming to school as-is.

Anyway, William is right now trying to decide if he's going to wear sweatpants and a t-shirt, or if his popularity is stable enough to risk the feetie pajamas.

February 24, 2011

Ear Stars

Except for a brief experiment with some earrings that turned a weird color in her ears, Elizabeth's been wearing only her pink heart-shaped ear-piercing earrings ever since she got her ears pierced. I highly recommend this, by the way, until the child is old enough to manage her own earrings: just leave them in all the time, and use the piercing ones because they're surgical steel and the backings lock on so she can't lose them.

But somehow she lost one. Isn't it lucky I have so much trouble getting rid of things that are expensive, sentimental, or theoretically useful? Because I opened my jewelry box, took out the gold star-shaped earrings I had MY ears pierced with when _I_ was 5, and put them in her ears.

February 21, 2011


I DO want email updates from online stores. I DO. So unsubscribing is not the option that would be helpful here. But I can hardly STAND this:

Monday: "Three day sale starts today!!"
Tuesday: "Three day sale still going on!!"
Wednesday: "Ending today! Don't forget about our three day sale!!"
later Wednesday: "Last chance for our three day sale!!"
still later Wednesday: "ONLY HOURS LEFT!! HURRY!!"
Thursday: "By popular request: sale extended an extra day!!"
later Thursday: "Sale is almost over! Don't miss out!"
Friday: "Long weekend sale starts today!!"

February 20, 2011

New Carpet

Obviously I should have taken a Before picture instead of just throwing out the old carpet and putting in the new one, but I couldn't wait even TWO MORE SECONDS. So what I've got is this photo of a post-bath kitten, in which you can see enough of the old carpet to get an idea of what it was like: it was an 8x10 bound piece of the kind of carpet found in classrooms and offices, in an assortment of blues. The main impression was of medium-dark blue, darker than it looks with the camera's flash but not much.

We've had it for years and years, and it just looked TERRIBLE, and there were crumbs so embedded in it that the vacuum cleaner couldn't get them up, and bits of play-doh mashed in, and various stains, and ACK, anyway, when I found a 7x10 carpet 75% off at Target today, I had that sucker out to the car within 5 minutes, even though it involved lugging a 7-foot carpet roll down the elevator and through the store and checkout and then folding down half the backseat so that the carpet could stretch from the trunk all the way to between the two front seats.

Then at home I had to move three large chairs, six stools, and a coffee table. THEN I had to roll up the old carpet, including somehow getting it out from beneath a heavy pine cabinet with a 115-pound fish tank on top of it. THEN William and I had to sweep up years worth of dust and crumbs and bits of carpet backing that were under the carpet, THEN we vacuumed, THEN we wiped the floor with wet cloths, THEN we lugged the new carpet into the house and put all the furniture back, including lifting the edge of the fish-tank-topped table again. That's when I thought, "...Wait. Doesn't this kind of carpet need some kind of non-slip mat under it?" Well. Let's just put that out of our minds for now, shall we?

The recliners are pulled forward on it more than they will be: with our house rearranging, we've stowed bureaus in the living room behind the recliners. The carpet is more....what's it called, Early American? than is our usual style, but I wouldn't call our style Office/Industrial either so this is an improvement. And I think the dark turquoise leather chair keeps it from looking as if we MEAN it to be Early American. And the yellows and reds are the EXACT yellows and reds of our recliners and couch. And don't we get pretty light in the living room in the afternoon? And could I not have troubled myself to pick that handkerchief off the recliner before taking this photo?

I also found this striped throw at 75% off---$2.49 down from $9.99. I think clearance Valentine's stuff is excellent for a girly little girl's room: lots of pink and hearts. In a previous year I bought Elizabeth a large heart-shaped pillow.

Both Valentine's Day and Easter tend to have good clearance year-round paper plates. I can't really use a Christmas tree plate in February, but I can give someone a heart-plate of brownies in May.

Pretty and impractical 75%-off dish towels! They'll look grubby and stained within minutes! Nevertheless I love them!

Elizabeth's class is doing Weather Week, and on one of the days they're supposed to wear yellow clothes and sunglasses. And what did I find at Target? Yellow sunglasses, 75% off.

February 19, 2011

Assorted Updates

I feel like we have a whole bunch of unfinished conversations going!

I've done two things for my resolution to act on generous impulses. Actually, it's been three, but I've already forgotten one. One of the ones I remember is that I impulsively ordered a box of chocolates for someone else while placing my own order. The other was weirder: I ordered a shirt for a classmate of Elizabeth's. The story on that is that it was on a really good clearance and I was ordering it in pink for Elizabeth because it's one of those fake-vintage-ad shirts and the name in the ad happens to be her aunt's name (my brother's wife, not Paul's sister). The shirt also came in purple, and the name of Elizabeth's aunt is the same as the name of Elizabeth's friend and classmate who LOVES purple and often comes dressed fully in purple. Boy, that's a long story. Anyway, it felt like a weird thing to order the shirt for someone else's child, but I referenced the resolution and DID IT. Then I held onto the shirt for two weeks, fretting about how to phrase the note I'd send with it to the parents I haven't met. Finally I did it, and got a very nice note back from the child's mother, and so that was a pleasing thing and I'm glad I did it.


I DID register Henry for preschool, and I feel happy about the decision. We recently finished paying off our 11-year-old minivan (sigh), and the amount of that payment will significantly assist us in making the preschool payment.

Elizabeth thinks it's HIGH TIME Henry was CIVILIZED


There are STILL no more baby fish, so either I'm wrong about the pregnant females or else something has gone wrong with those pregnancies. I'd place my bet on the former, except that they look JUST LIKE the photos I saw online of pregnant platys, and not all the females in the tank look that way: the two I think are pregnant are about twice the thickness in the tum area, plus they have dark marks at the back of the tum, which are supposed to be indicators of pregnancy (the more you know! *shimmer sound*). So what I'm hoping for is that everything is FINE but that I'm wrong about how soon the babies are supposed to be born.

I can't believe I'm pacing the waiting room over BABY FISH.


I found all the comments on whether to let William quit the clarinet SO HELPFUL. I waited until he was trapped with me in the car, and then I basically told him all the options you guys mentioned, from "quit altogether" to "stick it out," with all the options in between, and all the pros and cons of each option (he loved this, of course) (I activated the child-safe locks on the doors first). I told him I want him to get enough exposure to music to know if he likes it or not. He said it's the clarinet he hates, not music in general, and that he wants to take keyboard next year (it's offered starting in fifth grade, AFTER a year of other music lessons), and that he's not particular interested in any of the other instruments he'd be able to switch to this year.

So we decided our goal was to get him through this year so that he can do keyboard next year. In order to accomplish that, and in order to make me feel all right about him keeping commitments (I was frank with him that that was an issue), he will spend half an hour a day (where "a day" is understood by both of us to mean "four or five times a week, not seven") Doing Music. His options are: (1) Sit in front of his music book with his hands on the clarinet, but I won't nag him to produce sounds; (2) Actually practice the clarinet; (3) Play our keyboard; (4) Play the recorder; (5) Some other thing, if either of us thinks of something---such as listening to classical albums, or looking on YouTube at videos of people playing instruments.

This has been a moderate success. On one hand, we no longer have to fight about music practice, and he complies right away when I tell him it's time to do it instead of dissolving into despair. On the other hand, he never ever never ever goes and does it without me telling him to, and I am too scattered to remember it more than, say, twice a week. So a recent modification was that I warned him that it was to his advantage to remember to do it himself: if he remembers, say, 2-4 times a week, I'll feel like he's taking care of it and likely won't notice he isn't doing it as often as agreed; if he never remembers, I'll feel like I need to make a chart that ENSURES he does it four or more times per week.


Elizabeth's finger is doing well. We probably should have put the big piece of gauze + several bandaids thing on it to begin with, because I think that's what effectively stopped the bleeding. The next day I just left the bandage on, but it fell off on the bus ride home so I got a look at the cut and it looked fine: nice and clean and healing. I put on a fresh bandaid with no gauze pad.

When my dad read the post, he reminded me that he's available to help in such situations: he's been a workshop guy since childhood, and says that you can't do that for decades without getting accustomed to evaluating cuts. He says it's easier to evaluate if you look while running cold water over it---which also helps it to stop bleeding. I'll stop now before anyone (including me) starts feeling woozy, but wanted to pass along the tip.


Review blog stuff: GE Ecomagination, with two giveaways of a FIFTY-DOLLAR twenty-year light bulb. It's a two-week entry period with one light bulb given away per week, and right now there are not many entries so the chances are still pretty good. I'd use it myself, but it would also be such a good gift for someone who ruins holidays by saying they don't want any more crap.

February 16, 2011

I'm Sorry, Are You Squeamish? I Felt a Little Weak-Kneed Writing It, Too

Last night Elizabeth had earned a behavior reward, which she used to stay up late. That is what she almost always spends her rewards on, which is so pleasingly baffling to me (in the "children are so DIFFERENT---from us and from each other!" sense) because one of her other options is to have a dessert or treat, and she TURNS THAT DOWN in order to stay up an extra hour and a half. Whuh? My 5-year-old self would NEVER have passed by a treat! NEVER!

Anyway, so she was staying up late. And Paul was making salsa, and she likes to sous-chef, so she was cutting a green pepper. She's recently been allowed to start using sharp knives. Do you see where I'm going with this? She got her first cut.

Paul is...*scrunches forehead in pursuit of delicate word-choice*...a fainter. And so the first I heard of this event was a strange tone to Elizabeth's voice and then Paul was airlifting her to the bathroom, saying to me "Elizabethgotcut" as he streaked right back away from the scene. She was holding her finger in her other hand and starting to up the tone from "strange" to "screamy." She didn't want me to look at it, so I looked briefly and then asked Paul if he thought he could bring me a clean dry washcloth, which he did, backing into the bathroom holding the washcloth out blindly.

There are two things I know to do for cuts: one is to apply pressure, and the other is to elevate. But I held her finger firmly in a washcloth for the next hour and a half, and it didn't stop bleeding. I would hold it up high for awhile until my arms got sore, and then just hold it at her shoulder-height for awhile. I'd peek at it and...nope, no way are we done with the pressure and elevation. I started to wonder---do we go to the ER now? What's the ER moment for something like this? I don't want them to be like, "Oh, did she get a boo-boo? Here's a $50 bandaid, you rookie."

Paul looked it up online and in our parenting manual, and all of the answers involved closer looks at the situation than even I could tolerate taking, even if I could see past the bleeding, even if Elizabeth would have permitted such examinations without being strapped down and sedated. Finally it was OUR bedtime, so we bandaged her finger with a large piece of folded gauze and three very firm bandaids, and I guess it did stop bleeding in the night but there is no way I'm taking that bandage off for awhile.

What I kept thinking that whole time was that I STILL don't know what to do. I STILL don't know when to call the doctor about croup, and when to just use steam and cold air. I STILL don't know when it's an ear infection; I STILL can't tell the difference between a virus and bronchitis; I STILL don't know the difference between a normal skin rash and one that needs treatment. I STILL don't know when to take a child to the ER for a couple of stitches, and when to rig a bandage ten times the size of the finger tip. It's frustrating to do this job for so long and still feel like I'm in training. I mean, I realize that's normal: it's not like I think other parents have magically figured out every single thing and never have moments of uncertainty. But it's still frustrating to be sitting there at 10:00 at night, dithering about it---and to still be dithering about it the next day.

February 15, 2011

Party Favors

I made a very stupid mistake eight years ago when my oldest child was about four years old and had just attended his first children's birthday party. He wanted a similar party for his own birthday. I said, "Those are expensive, and a lot of trouble. Maybe when you turn ten." I forgot that I was talking to a child who, if he does not become a successful trial attorney and support us richly in our old age, will have to redeem himself in some other way that makes his legalistic, argumentative, "But didn't YOU say..." personality worth it to have brought unharmed to adulthood. And so anyway when he turned ten he had a party at one of those places with a claw machine and skee ball and air hockey and so forth. Whew! THAT'S over with!

Sadly, I had forgotten the other four children.

Yes, yes, I realize I could say I had changed my mind or that it hadn't worked out or that life wasn't fair or WHATEVS, and I DO say such things quite often, but this is an idea the kids are soooooo excited about, and also I'd say nine-tenths of my reluctance is pure social anxiety (the other one-tenth is a mix of "dislike of other people's children" and "OMG THE COST"), and also I think it's nice for them to each get to have ONE big fun-location party per childhood, and also it gives me a fast answer every OTHER year ("No, only for the tenth birthday"), and so anyway I'm sticking to this, despite advising everyone I know to avoid making similar commitments because OMG I HATE THIS SO MUCH AND I HAVE TO DO IT FIVE TIMES.

Anyway. William's ten-year party is coming up. We have booked one of those places where the site shows photos of children who look so unpleasantly out of control, I can't IMAGINE any parent seeing the photos and then going on to book a party there. Nevertheless, we have done so.

The party may include up to fifteen children, including the Birthday Child. My first layer of agitation is the sending of invitations and the anticipated Total Lack of RSVPing. And they REALLY MUST RSVP (ideally via email), because the party costs the same if fewer than fifteen children come, and so BY GUM WE ARE HAVING FIFTEEN CHILDREN THERE, and so if some kids can't come we need time to invite other children. So I'm all pre-agitated about THAT, because I don't know if you've ever had the pleasure of encountering an RSVP situation, but if not, you would not BELIEVE how few people RSVP. I mean, you'd think, "Well, of course a FEW inconsiderate ungracious ill-mannered wolf-raised PINEHOLES won't RSVP, but even _I_ can make a few follow-up phone calls, no big!" And then when you are calling EVERY SINGLE PERSON you sent an invitation to, you will start to wonder why you didn't just call them to invite them in the first place, since at least then it would have been a HAPPY phone call and you wouldn't have had to deal with the fuss and expense of the paper invitations and stamps.

But what I'm working on NOW is party favors. And goodness, I could drop $50 on party favors and have fifteen frankly-pitiful favor bags. And I would like NOT to do either of the halves of that sentence. And yet I DO want favor bags, because I don't know about other people's kids, but those are my kids' favorite parts of the parties they go to, which makes me wonder if we should just have a party where people arrive, eat cake, and collect bags. Maybe we could skip the cake. Maybe we could just mail them the bags.

Question one, then, is "What would be cool to put in a favor bag for fourth graders (a mix of boys and girls)?"

And question two is "Where should I buy the stuff, if my goals are 'not spending $50' and 'not having to buy two 12-packs in order to get fifteen of something'?"

And if your answer is "Well, WE try to AVOID bringing a bunch of CHEAP CRAP into OUR house," I would point out that this answers neither question one nor question two, and also that perhaps you'd like to work on that tone of voice so as not to be quite so off-putting.

Wall Color Progress

I sent two photos of Elizabeth's new magenta room to my friend this morning, and that reminded me I hadn't done any photos here:

Right after painting (THREE COATS)

After we moved all her stuff in (nice face, Edward)

Next up is William and Henry's room. I'm not sure if I've ever said why we have the rooms split up into pairs of one older boy and one younger boy---instead of the more intuitive arrangement of Two Older Boys and Two Younger Boys. It's because Rob and William don't get along. Huh. That took less time to explain than I'd expected.

So. Henry wants a blue and orange room, and William wants a blue and green room. They both want intense shades of these colors, and we are having such happy feelings about our orange bathroom and our magenta Elizabeth's room, we're going with that. For the blue: Behr Jamaican Sea, 510B-5. The orange: Behr Orange Spice 250B-5 (left over from our bathroom). The green: Behr Tart Apple 420B-4. Here's a screen shot I took from Behr.com to show you what the colors look like together:

The original plan was to do three walls blue, then split the fourth wall horizontally with green on the top half and orange on the bottom half, so that each boy could have his bunk area in his own color choice. But now Paul is getting all interested in doing something crazier than that, so we'll see.

February 14, 2011

Rabid Weasels With Knives

I read a really good post recently (THANK YOU, Steph!) by a girl who wrote about what it's like to be fat. I came away from that post thinking about how right she was: that shame as a motivational tool has already been maximized; that maybe we don't know why some people are hungrier than others or store fat better than others or have less willpower/motivation than others---but that none of that matters when what we're talking about is one group of people treating another group of people badly. Do you know what's a worse character flaw than being fat? ANYTHING THAT IS A CHARACTER FLAW.

I came away from the article feeling understood, and like I had heard a voice of common sense rising over the "Everyone is skinny by default so you must be REALLY screwing up if you're fat!" crowd. I also felt motivated to think things in a new way---to stop thinking all the time "Must! Lose! Weight!" and instead apply the "Something is better than nothing" principle I'm always trying to work on, and to do it in this way: "I may not be able to make my body smaller, but I can still eat broccoli to help prevent cancer. I may not be able to make my body smaller, but I can still exercise to improve my blood pressure and knee flexibility."

Then I read part of the comments section. And it infected me like a virus: I feel nauseated, exhausted, feverish, like I need to stay in bed. Life looks grey; it's hard to manage my usual routine.

Sometimes when people direct your attention to a comments section, it's because they want you too to read it, so that you will agree with them and add your own comments for their side. In this case, I am telling you so that you will stay away from it: Warning! Pile of dangerous infectious biological material on the floor! Go around, go around!

The people in that comments section have a far worse problem than "ugly rolls of fat." They have a part of them that's hateful and ugly and disgusting and unhealthy, and it's inside of them. A brief exposure to it has made me sick for days. It's particularly appalling that they don't know it's rot: they think they're perfectly healthy and normal, so they're continually exposing others to it.

If you have been made ill by contact with people infected by this disease, I'm afraid treatment is very difficult. DO read the post I'm talking about, because it may soothe the pain of past contacts---but avoid re-exposure from the comments section. Think of them the way Paul told me to think of the underside of a lawnmower: as a pack of rabid weasels with knives.

February 13, 2011


Doesn't this cover make the movie Cheri look like a delightful playful romp?

(photo from Amazon.com)

Michelle Pfeiffer and Kathy Bates as aging courtesans! Rupert Friend as eye candy! "Immensely entertaining!" as a review bite! This movie is going to be FUN!

Ha ha haaaaaaaa.

What we have here is a movie more like Dangerous Liaisons (which Michelle Pfeiffer was also in): dark themes, French costumes, drug/sex/alcohol abuse, undereye circles, and unusually-persistent sexual obsession misrepresented as True Love. I don't think Rupert Friend smiles a single time, and his hairstyle is unflattering, and he's an unappealing mooch.

The two best and most believable characters in the whole thing are Rose (Michelle Pfeiffer's maid), and Felicity Jones as Rupert Friend's wife. Not only does Felicity Jones do a very nice job Epitomizing Youth for contrast, but she also does a good job portraying a girl with deliberately suppressed spirit and intelligence. And Rose provides Sensible contrast that makes Michelle Pfeiffer look even sillier, plus she makes me wish very badly I had a maid who'd been with me for decades.

What I thought the movie was trying to say (and doing a good job saying, too) was "This is what happens if you mistake sexual persistence for love, and then one of you finds an actual love relationship." But the ending makes it clear that we were supposed to see Perfect Love in the relationship made up of nothing more than flirty insult-humor, arch remarks, sexual attraction, and a mutual affinity for a decadent lifestyle. So then the ending is like "Here's a bonus kick to the stomach for suffering through this whole thing."

February 9, 2011

Fish Update II

Okay! Based on your comments earlier today and also internet search results which let me access the thoughts and opinions of many, many, many people who don't know what they're talking about or how to express it in writing, I have made some Fish Tank Revisions.

1. I released the pregnant-or-maybe-just-plus-sized platy from the fish nursery, and removed the fish nursery from the tank.

2. I added three more fake plants: two of the regular sorts of plants, plus one roughly 5x5-inch square of low dense foliage I thought would be good for babies to hide in.

Here's the new-look tank:

The dense baby-hiding foliage is front left. The two regular sorts of plants blend in, but one is reddish-brown and the other is green and lacy.

To the best of my internet-search-acquired knowledge, two of the four female platys are pregnant, and in fact are to the "can see the babies' eyeballs through their mother's skin" (oh, GROSS, but you DID ask) stage of pregnancy. But between them they ought to have more than enough babies to satisfy Darwin, now that I have all the new fake plants for hiding.


If you enjoy discussing the at-home mom / working mom Balance thing so many of us struggle with, but without all the petty sniping and bitching and "anecdotes designed to make everyone attack one side or the other as if they were piranhas with a steak," we're having a good talk about it over at Milk and Cookies, and I hope you'll join us unless you're one of those people who tries to make other people feel bad about their choices / life circumstances, in which case we decline the pleasure of your company but thanks anyway.

Fish Update

Were you waiting for a fish update? THEN YOU ARE IN LUCK.

Especially because I can't remember where I left off. Let's see: we have a 14-gallon tank and it had two rosy-red minnows ("look just like goldfish but don't grow as big") in it, and then we bought five twin-bar platys ("yellow fish with black tail stripes"), and one was a little sickly from the beginning (bitten-looking tail, clamped fins, keeping to the top or else the bottom, not swimming with the others) and eventually died. We bought three more platys, all female because we read that it's best to have 1 male to 3 females or else the males can chase the females to literal death, which made me hate men for a moment. Then one of the new platys died, too. So now we have six platys, four females and two males, which is not perfect but it seems like it's working okay.

We'd thought the minnows would enjoy the company and stop hiding so much, but instead they hid even more than before. So we moved them back to the 2.5-gallon coldwater tank, and we bought three long-finned zebra danios ("stripey grey fish") for the 14-gallon tank. One of the danios died. Fish are tricky business.

So. We have six platys and two danios in a 14-gallon tank, and two rosy red minnows in a 2.5-gallon tank.

Actually, the "six platys" count is not accurate, because one of the platys had babies awhile back, and we've seen up to three baby platys at a time, but we're not sure we still have three because for awhile we've seen only one at a time. I tried to catch the babies with a net, but I was unsuccessful: they are SO TINY, and so good at hiding.

Baby platy, tiny, in front of T-Rex decoration.
Compare to gravel for scale.

We also bought a little "fish nursery": a small box made of plastic sticks and netting, which fits inside the main tank. I got it because one of the platys looks pretty clearly pregnant, and what you're supposed to do is put the platy in the sub-tank, then after her babies are born take HER out, and then the babies are safe in the sub-tank. But it's been, like, 2 weeks, and a platy pregnancy is only 4 weeks, so I'm starting to feel like this is going to end that she's not pregnant at all but just a little plump (and pissed with us for rushing her to the maternity ward when she'd just had an extra fish flake or two), so we'll see.

February 8, 2011

Green Tea, Contest Warning, Exotic Bloom

This morning I thought I would have green tea instead of coffee. AHA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!! Coffee has been brewed, and I've had some.


This is the last day to enter the worst Valentine's Day gift contest. (Don't worry: the winner isn't chosen by who has the worst story. It's random selection.) I encourage you to enter, not only because there is a $25 Amazon.com gift certificate on the line and because it makes me look good to my boss if there are lots of comments on a post, but also because I am SO ENJOYING reading the stories. Some of them are so appalling, but in the "slap your hand across your mouth" kind of way, rather than the "heart sinking in dismay" way.


Elizabeth has chosen the color for her new room. After a week of dithering between "aqua" and "aqua with pink corners" and "pink with aqua corners" and so forth, she was getting ready for school one morning and said, "I've decided, and it's my final decision: magenta." I borrowed one of her magenta gloves, drove to Home Depot, found one single color that met that standard, and bought it.

Paul has done two coats of it and is going to finish the third coat of it tonight. It is just as startling a color as you would imagine. Very pretty, too! But if we ever want to paint over it, I'm predicting eight coats of Kilz. Here's a screen shot from Behr.com, and keep in mind that not only is her room not that large (I think it's 11x9), nor as high-ceilinged, nor as sparsely/whitely furnished, nor as well-lit, but also we have medium-dark wood trim instead of white:

Exotic Bloom 608B-6

This color makes the "bright lilac" we used in the office look like a pale model-home lilac in comparison.

February 6, 2011

See's Chocolate Report Concluded: The More Ordinary Flavors

The Milk Divinity looked yummy, and I'd say it was "nice": light sweet nougat-like filling with nuts in it, covered in chocolate. I don't think I'd order it again: it was so mild, it barely made an impression.

Milk Divinity
(photo from Sees.com)

I was certain I'd like the Maple Walnut because that's usually one of my top favorites in any assortment box. It's coated in dark chocolate. I think I'd like it with milk chocolate, too, but the dark is perfect. MMM YUM. Mapley without being over-mapley, and some nuts, and definitely in my upper tier.

Maple Walnut
(photo from Sees.com)

I thought I was very likely to like the Caramel, and I did. Very nice caramel (not too sticky, not too hard on the teeth) with almonds, coated in milk chocolate. Seems like it should be called Milk Almond Caramel instead of just Caramel. Upper middle tier.

(photo from See.com)

I knew the Light Chocolate Truffle was unlikely to be a success: I always give Paul the truffles from an assortment. But this one was milk chocolate and had ground almonds on top so I thought maybe? But no. This is not the fault of the truffle, but rather that I don't tend to like chocolate-covered chocolate truffles. Lower tier for me, and I gave the other half of it to Paul.

Light Chocolate Truffle
(photo from Sees.com)

The Milk Butterchew is a nice caramel. It's very much like the Caramel, above, except without nuts. It says it's a "brown sugar" caramel, which is why I chose it, but it tasted like regular caramel to me. I wouldn't specifically order them: they're yummy, and I'd enjoy them in an assortment, but they're not special to me---I'd much rather have the one with nuts, above. Middle tier.

Milk Butterchew
(photo from Sees.com)

I mentioned the Milk Bordeaux in my first post on this topic. I'm glad I also got a Dark Bordeaux, because as with some other very-sweet fillings (like vanilla buttercream), I preferred it with the dark chocolate coating. I still didn't like the texture of the sprinkles.

Dark Bordeaux
(photo from Sees.com)

I was pretty sure I'd like the Walnut Roll enough to want a piece but not enough to get a whole bunch, and that was exactly my opinion of it. The inside is like a cross between a buttercream and a caramel: neither creamy nor chewy, but more like a nougat. Then rolled in walnuts. Yummy, a nice large satisfying piece, and a nice break from chocolate. Middle tier for me.

Walnut Roll
(photo from Sees.com)

February 4, 2011

See's Chocolate Report Continued: The Weird Intriguing Ones

One of the reasons I got so! excited! about this See's order is that I chose one or two pieces each of a bunch of kinds that were pretty adventurous considering the price per pound. If I'm just considering a box of regular chocolates, I keep converting it into "bags of peanut M&Ms I could have for the same price." But if I'm SAMPLING ODD FLAVORS---well! That's valuable scientific experimentation right there!

I was very curious about the Almond Truffle, in part because I think it LOOKS so yummy. One of the reasons I don't usually choose truffles is that I don't like how they're so dense and rich AND covered in chocolate: it's like taking a piece of fudge and dipping it in chocolate (okay, that sounds a little good). The Almond Truffle is like a piece of fudge rolled in crushed almonds. Upper tier for me.

Almond Truffle
(photo from Sees.com)

I chose the Walnut Square mostly because it was so neat-looking: why only dipped on the bottom half? And it's a very satisfying piece to pick out of the box and hold: heavy and largish. The caramel has a noticeable butter flavor and is a nice "chewy but I won't have to keep prying it off my teeth" consistency, and I like the nuts in it. I'd want one of these in an assortment (for beauty as well as for variety), but I don't think I'd specifically order it again: I would prefer it with more chocolate, I think.

Walnut Square
(photo from Sees.com)

The Scotchmallow intrigued me: "Honey marshmallow" and caramel. I can't tell you if I liked it or not. The contrast of very-thick caramel and very-light-and-fluffy marshmallow (I didn't notice any honey flavor, but I also forgot I meant to take a nibble of it separately to check) was odd, and I didn't like the way the chocolate was breaking off with each bite. But...I think I like it anyway, and it's definitely distinctive in an "I wouldn't/couldn't make this myself" kind of way. I would put it in the middle tier so far, with more testing required while I get used to the oddness.

(photo from Sees.com)

In my top three favorites from a box of Russell Stover chocolates is the Roman Nougat. I would buy a whole box of just those. (And in fact, in looking on their website to make sure I got the name right, I found that I CAN buy a whole box of just those, as soon as they're back in stock. This is a happy, happy day.) ANYWAY, when I saw See's Rum Nougat, it looked very similar to the Roman Nougat and I wondered if it WAS similar. And it IS! The See's version has a more intense rum flavor, and it has raisins as well as cherries and walnuts. I lovvvvvve it, but it's one of those WEIRDISH candies where if someone else said "AAAAAAAAAAAA how can you EAT those, I SPIT THEM OUT patooie-patooie!!" I would said, "Dude, I TOTALLY see what you mean, and also can I pick them out of your assortment box?"

Rum Nougat
(photo from Sees.com)

I don't usually like coffee-flavored things unless they are coffee, but the Kona Mocha looked so yummy I tried it anyway. But I was right: I don't really like coffee-flavored things. I would like a variation with chocolate buttercream covered in white chocolate and toasted coconut but without the coffee flavor. Still, really fun to try.

Kona Mocha
(photo from Sees.com)

I ordered the Pineapple Truffle out of astonishment: PINEAPPLE? with CHOCOLATE? But I really liked it: intense pineapple flavor, with teensy barely-noticeable bitlits of pineapple in the filling. Upper tier for me: A+++ would order again. Not a whole box, but definitely would get some in any custom mix.

Pineapple Truffle
(photo from Sees.com)

The Divinity Puff looked a little WHITE: divinity, white chocolate, walnuts, coconut. I wanted to try it because I wasn't sure I'd like it but I thought I MIGHT. And it is kind of yummy! I'd put it in my middle tier, maybe lower-middle. I'd want one in an assortment but probably wouldn't specifically order it.

Divinity Puff
(photo from Sees.com)

A Mayfair, to me, is like if you liked the taste of chocolate-covered cherries (which I do), but you didn't like the way they sploosh if you don't bite into them carefully (indeed I don't), and so you chopped the cherries and filling into a buttercream instead and then added walnuts. YUM. Upper tier for me.

(photo from Sees.com)

February 3, 2011

Bad Night's Sleep

Oh, man, what a bad night's sleep. It wasn't up there with, for example, the night in the hospital after one of my c-sections, when I spent all night feeding one twin while the other one cried, then switching so the crying one was being fed and the fed one was crying, until 4:00 a.m. when the nurse took them to the nursery, and then she brought them back at 4:20 a.m. and I am not even kidding, saying they were hungry, so that I watched incredulously as the sun came up and I STILL hadn't slept after SURGERY 24 HOURS EARLIER.

But as we know, an experience does not have to be The Worst Anyone Has Ever Experienced in order to qualify as Bad, and last night was still Bad. Elizabeth joined us around 11:00, and Henry joined us at 2:00. I'd gone back to sleep after Elizabeth, despite the way she kept flipping over so that first her hair was in my face and then she turned over and started kicking me and then back to the hair in my face, but Henry talked for awhile about avian dinosaurs, and once he'd gone to sleep I lay awake fretting about assorted financial stuff, my parents' eventual decrepitude, Paul's mother's estate (WHEN will it be settled, WHEN?), my overdue GYN check-up, and the time my landlord wouldn't refund my security deposit OR a month's rent I'd paid in advance, with him saying I'd left tons of boxes in the apartment all month (I HAD NOT) and adding that if I wanted money I should "get a job" (I HAD ONE) (also: MY EMPLOYMENT OR LACK THEREOF HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT).

Around 3:45 I felt too claustrophobic to lie there even ONE MORE MINUTE: we have my side of the bed directly against a wall while we rearrange the house, and so I was trapped between the wall and a bed crammed full of snoring people, and I had to get OUT OUT OUT AAAAAAAAAA. I couldn't find my blanket in the dark closet, and both throws are on our bed but in between other blankets so not easily extracted, so I put on Paul's wool coat and lay down in a recliner. The coat was itchy but warm, and a cat came and hopped up on me, and I had jusssst drifted off to sleep when the clock chimed six. And I thought, "It can't be six o'clock. I can keep sleeping. I KNOW it's not six, because it was 3:45 less than fifteen minutes ago." But then I started thinking, "What if it REALLY IS six o'clock? Then Paul will be late for work, and Rob will miss the bus and I'll have to drop him off at school and it will cheese up our whole morning." So I had to get up and check, and no, it was four o'clock and the children had been playing with the clock.

I settled back into the recliner and thought for awhile about the time in high school when a friend of mine heard a rumor that I'd slept with my boyfriend and she confronted me about it, and her attitude was that if I HAD done so, then I was absolutely required to have divulged that to her, and that she had every right to feel I'd violated our friendship, and that it didn't really matter if I denied it because the rumor-spreader had no reason to lie. When MY points were (1) I HADN'T, but (2) if I HAD, I would have had the perfect right to keep that sort of thing private, and (3) the whole "girlfriends before boyfriends" thing did not mean my relationship with her was in fact closer than my relationship with my boyfriend OR that I had to tell her everything about my relationship with him, and (4) where's the whole "girlfriends before rumor-spreaders" part? Then I dozed off and dreamed that Rob had left the freezer door open and everything had thawed out and had to be thrown away, including two cartons of Breyer's ice cream, and when I was speaking to him about it he was defending himself and rolling his eyes and blaming other people and making the kind of insult-humor backtalk we're currently training him to see is not the same as "just joking," and in short behaved pretty much exactly how he would have in real life, except that in the dream I started trying to HIT him, and my arms were too weak and it was very frustrating.

Then the STUPID CLOCK chimed the quarter-hour and it was 4:15 and I was awake again. And I needed to pee. I got up and peed, and returned to the chair, and was just drifting off when I heard a cat making a "covering" sound behind my chair. I didn't get up to investigate, but instead listened so hard I woke myself up entirely and started mentally composing a post about how St. Valentine's Day is not in fact a Hallmark holiday and it's very tiresome to keep hearing it called that in scornful tones year after year by person after person, and then I fell asleep and dreamed I was trying to load the dishwasher but the cups wouldn't stay upside down. And then a cat went skittering across the hardwood in pursuit of another cat skittering across the hardwood, and it was 4:30.

So then I sat in the recliner thinking about how nothing I ever try to do ever works: not weight loss, not exercise programs, not psychological improvement programs, not "trying to be a person who likes social stuff," not stopping pulling my eyelashes out, not keeping the house clean, NOTHING. It took me until 5:00 to remember that other things HAVE worked: maintaining a blog, having children, investing in the stock market, paying off our student loans years early. I fell asleep and woke up at 5:18 when Paul got up for work. I lay there feeling very sorry for myself and needing to pee, until I got up at 5:45 to take my own shower.

But have I mentioned our old water heater broke and we replaced it with a new one with a feature that lets it heat the water much hotter while still preventing scalding by mixing it with cool as it leaves the heater? This increases the hot water supply without increasing the tank size. Which means that I had a HOT SHOWER.

Also I still have a lot of See's chocolates to taste and to report on.

Also the house-rearranging is going very well, so that I am now writing in a bright lilac room.

February 2, 2011

See's Chocolate Adventure: A First-Round Report

Finally, FINALLY, after a long week of waiting, my See's chocolates have arrived.

Because I have been making such a gd fuss about it on Twitter, people have been asking if they are REALLY so good. Er...I'm not sure. That is, I know I like them, and I've never found an equal to the Butterscotch Square---but I haven't compared to many other higher-cost chocolates, and the non-Butterscotch-Squares don't strike me as being Beyond! Compare!, and I think hardly anything is worth $20/pound plus shipping, and probably I wouldn't have spent the money if I hadn't had some gift money burning a hole in my pocket plus the recent annual discussion with Paul where we decide not to do Valentine's Day. I think on a regular day I would get more satisfaction per dollar out of $20 worth of Dove chocolates with almonds, or $20 worth of peanut M&Ms. But because having expensive candy is a rare thing, and because it was kind of a thrilling situation to have ordered them for myself (and I added a mug at the last minute, and the mug came with another little box of candy), and because my appetite for Butterscotch Squares was whetted by Doing My Best's Crappy Day Present of See's---well, I got kind of WORKED UP about the package arriving, and about trying other kinds to see if perhaps there was another Butterscotch-Square-level candy among them.

The first thing I noticed was that the first box I picked up felt like it weighed more than a pound. I have a postal scale, so I checked it:

My two 1-pound boxes together weighed just a teeny bit less than 2.5 pounds. Packing techniques can vary, and also probably the pre-assorted chocolates are much closer to an actual pound than the pick-your-own boxes, so I wouldn't want to make a big THING about this and then have us all disappointed if we ordered boxes later that were "only" a pound---but it certainly was a happy discovery. That's like a free $10-worth-of-chocolate-plus-shipping right there.

Now. Let's open the boxes:

Oh, wait, I forgot to switch it to my camera's "Blogger Mode":

The one I wanted most to try was the Milk Bordeaux. I've mentioned (perhaps OVER-mentioned) that my favorite is the Butterscotch Square, which is described as "Firm brown sugar buttercream." Milk Bordeaux is described as "Brown sugar buttercream," so I've been wondering how it differs from the Butterscotch Square. I have now tried both and am ready to make my report: the Bordeaux is more like a regular buttercream, with a dense (I'd say it's as dense as the truffles), sweet, very smooth and creamy filling that tastes only a little bit like brown sugar (primary flavor is "sweet"); whereas the Butterscotch Square has a grained texture like actual packed brown sugar, and also tastes like actual packed brown sugar. The Bordeaux also has a layer of little chocolate bits (like jimmies, but better) over the chocolate coating, and I don't like those: messy and I dislike the texture.

Milk Bordeaux
(photo from Sees.com)

Butterscotch Square
(photo from Sees.com)

So to me, Butterscotch Square wins HANDS DOWN NO CONTEST. The Bordeaux is NICE, and I'd put it in the lower middle tier of my own favorites, with Butterscotch Square in the top tier and Ginger in the lower tier (I got Ginger in a mixed box once and I don't remember if I spit it out or if I just didn't finish the piece---it was like a strongly-flavored ginger-root gumdrop covered in dark chocolate that peeled off brittley when I bit) (oh, ick: that gave me a taste/texture flashback).

Next I wanted to try the stripey one. It's a Blueberry Truffle, and I didn't expect to like it so I only put it at 5% of one box (in this case, 5% of a 1-pound box was one truffle). But I DO like it! Middle tier, possibly even upper-middle. Nice blueberry flavor, some of it "blueberry candy" flavor and some of it "actual blueberry-the-fruit" flavor, and it's a very pretty color with flecks of what is either blueberry skin or a very nice approximation of it.

Blueberry Truffle
(photo from Sees.com)

From there I moved on to the California Brittle. I was excited to try this because I love Skor bars and Heath bars, and this looked like an upscale version. I got three large pieces of this (they're on the far right of the lower box in my photo) and I would definitely get more next time: SO YUMMY. The brittle was just the right type of brittle: it shatters exactly right, neither hurting the teeth nor being too sticky, and the nuts made it even better. In my top tier: I'd still choose a Butterscotch Square over it, but they can keep company.

California Brittle
(photo from Sees.com)

Last, I tried a Pecan Bud. This is another large piece, like the California Brittle (the Pecan Buds are on the far left of the lower box in my photo: two slots are double-stacked Pecan Buds, and one is an extra-large Pecan Bud all by itself). I THINK I like them very much, but it will take another try to be sure (good thing I have five of them): I was expecting more chocolate per pecan, so the first piece I tried was a little disappointing---but that doesn't mean I won't love them when I go into it knowing what to expect. ...In fact, I'm going to have another one right now to see. Yes, this time it was much better. These would be lower-upper tier, except that I feel like anyone can put caramel and chocolate on some pecans. Even _I_ could put caramel and chocolate on some pecans. So although these are very yummy and I really like them, I probably wouldn't ORDER them at $20/pound again.

Pecan Buds
(photo from Sees.com)

Five flavors down, fifteen more to go!

February 1, 2011


Here is something I find exasperating. As you may know, bloggers are required by some sort of law to tell you whenever they're talking about something they've been paid (in cash or in product) to talk about. That's not the part I find exasperating, though I DO find it irritating that, for example, businesses are not held to the same requirements and can put "1 cup Brandname sugar" on their recipes all day long without disclosing their relationship to Brandname, and magazines can talk about how extremely awesome a product is without disclosing that they were given it for free, and so on. It's not that I mind the rule (I DEFINITELY want to know if a blogger has been paid to tell me about how awesome something is), it's that I mind the unfair/uneven application of it.

ANYWAY. Moving on to my point. There are MANY RULES for this disclosure stuff, and they are CONFUSING AND ALSO STRICT, but the gist is that if I've been given ANYTHING or benefited in ANY WAY from writing about something, I have to TELL YOU SO.

So! In theory, this should work great for things I'm NOT being compensated to talk about: I write about it, I don't mention compensation, and you know that no compensation has occurred. HOWEVER: because of the blogging rules, the general blogging public is being extra-careful and doing the "disclose when there IS NOTHING to disclose" policy: i.e., saying "I wasn't compensated in any way and I bought my own stuff with my own money" when such is the case---which means that THAT has become the default, and that NOT saying that specifically seems to imply that the reader needs to wonder about compensation.

SIGH. This clutters the place UP. And it makes it seem sleazy, too, like a salesperson saying, "Hey, I would sell this product FOR FREE, just because this product is SO AWESOME I feel an almost RELIGIOUS FERVOR for spreading the news of its existence!"

All this is to say that I am about to talk about something AWESOME, and I have not been compensated IN ANY WAY---which you SHOULD have known by the fact that I wasn't saying I'd been compensated, but instead you get THIS crap.

*cleansing breaths*

SO. I recently got a Target RedCard (LINKED FOR HELPFULNESS NOT FOR COMPENSATION) (SIGH!!), which means everything I buy at Target is automatically 5% off. I'd wondered how that would WORK, since I don't slide the card until AFTER it rings up a total so how does it know to take 5% off? And this is how: the clerk says, "That's $100," and I slide my card, and the total changes to $95 automatically and then charges THAT amount. Awesome. It was also easy to apply: it asked me a few questions (SS#, address, income) on that little screen you have to sign on, and then I was done. My mom told me afterward that what she did was apply at Customer Service, so she wouldn't hold up the line.

But I've had that card for a couple of weeks, and this NEXT part is what made me rush to Inform The Internet: they sent me a thingie that says I can have 1% of what I spend sent automatically to any school I choose (er, of participating schools) (duh). And I thought, "Hey, why not? Free money. For schools." So I went to http://www.target.com/tcoe, I chose one of my kids' schools, I entered my name and card number, and DONE.

The unexpectedly cool part is that you can see how many other cardholders are having THEIR 1% sent to each school you're considering, AND how much money has gone to the school, AND how much has accumulated since their last payment. So in our case, in which our children are spread over three schools, I could look at each of the three and choose the one with the fewest cardholders already donating money to it.

...I'm not succeeding in making this sound as fun/cool as it actually was, which is probably why I am NOT being compensated to talk it up. There were even daycares and preschools on the list! And this COSTS ME NOTHING. And yet I am giving money to SCHOOLS! Automatically! So I never have to think about it again, unless I want to change schools, and yet money will continue going to the school!

This is one of those things that gives me this huge IMAGINE WHAT COULD BE DONE feeling: imagine if everyone with a RedCard signed up---whether they had kids in school or not. It's not as if it costs the cardholder anything except that couple of minutes it takes to choose a school and type in a name. And 1% isn't much, even if you shop at Target the way I shop at Target, but it ADDS UP, and there's NO REASON NOT TO, and it BENEFITS THE COMMUNITY, and *pant pant*

I'm feeling especially passionate on this issue because our school system has been asked to cut their budget this year by a huge amount of money, the kind of amount that's causing them to wonder if they should choose MUSIC to cut or ART, or maybe THREE teachers should be laid off, and OMG PEOPLE JUST SIGN UP SO TARGET WILL GIVE A SCHOOL THE 1%!! It doesn't even have to be a LOCAL school: if you have a niece in school in another state, you can have the money go THERE. Or if you want to give to your old hometown elementary school, or WHATEVER.

In other news:

(UNCOMPENSATED) reviews to begin soon!