Archives for June 2007

Proof That You Can Buy A Huge Dose Of Parental Humility At Target For Only $5.82

So this looks fun, right?

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I mean, just look at the gamepieces inside the box:

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They’re all “dude!” and “cool!” and “super fun!,” and we know this just by looking at their body language. Arms stretched out, eyes wide open, smiles aplenty – these crazy kids are pumped as can be about the exciting possibilities before them.

After all, they do get to spend their days here:

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But let me tell you something that I know for sure: if one of those happy little gamepieces happened to be a parent who was trying to explain this game to his or her child for the first time, those facial expressions would be markedly different. And the body language would be a bit more, um, pinched.

Because if you’re looking at the picture of the gameboard and thinking about all the fun you and your favorite preschooler would have the first time you climbed up those ladders and slid down those chutes, I would just like to say that YOU COULD NOT BE MORE WRONG, MY FRIEND.

No kidding, y’all. I nearly lost my mind playing this game with A. last night.

You see, here’s the thing: if a preschooler sees a spinner land on the number 5 and then looks at a gameboard that’s covered with (useless) numbers, he might just think that he’s supposed to look for the next (useless) number with a 5 in it instead of moving ahead 5 spaces because that is the way a preschooler’s mind has to work when he plays Candyland, and then you will spend four or thirty six minutes trying to explain through gritted teeth that this game isn’t like Candyland, that you’re supposed to be right here, baby, right here on block number 42, and I know there’s not a 5 in there, baby, but I promise it’s right, I promise, because you’re supposed to count ahead five spaces from where you were, not just look for the next (useless) number with a 5 in it, so you need to just movethegamepieceplease. Baby.

(By the way, if the previous paragraph is confusing to you, then I would just like to say, “MY POINT EXACTLY.”)

It could be that the numbers on the squares are supposed to encourage arithmetic skills, but the encouragement loses some of its impact since the game is for, you know, preschoolers. Granted, A. does know all of his numbers, but we haven’t so much gotten started with addition and subtraction when anything larger than 10 is involved, so if I say, “Hey, you’re on square 27. You’re supposed to move ahead 5 spaces. What square should you land on?,” his answer is going to be “CHEETOS! I WANT SOME CHEETOS!” or “I WANT TO GO UP THE BLUE LADDER, MAMA!” without “32” ever darkening the door of his sweet little mind.

I’m trying to tell myself that last night was like “Chutes and Ladders” bootcamp for D. and me. It was training. It was tough and rigorous and taxing, but like anything else, it’ll get easier with practice. I really want to believe that, because A. had an absolute blast moving all the wrong places at all the wrong times. And I know that we should focus on the game-playing journey, not the top-o-the-ladder destination.

But this game gets on my nerves, y’all.

Mainly because I never thought I’d have to die to self while playing a board game designed for preschoolers aged three and up.

But now that I’ve vented, I’m going to fight the good fight and head back into the playroom. Chutes and Ladders will not steal my joy.

Just consider yourselves warned: y’all may have to pray some Scripture over me before the day is over.

And also, I’m not playing Candyland next and you can’t make me.

In Retrospect The Weeding Wasn’t Such A Swell Idea

Yesterday afternoon D. decided that he was going to do a little weeding in our flower beds.

Since he’d spent the morning edging the driveway, cleaning off the deck, transferring pinestraw from one place to another, and basically taking care of all the outside chores that I do my very best to ignore, I fully supported his decision to continue with his alarming level of productivity and get after those pesky weeds.

He started with a small bed of azaleas that’s in the center of our backyard, and about five minutes into the weeding, he came face-to-face with a pile of yellow jackets.

I don’t think “pile” is the scientific term, by the way.

I believe the scientific term is, in fact, “posse.”

And one of the members of the yellow jacket posse? Officially a hater.

Because he stung D. right on the bridge of his nose.

When D. came inside I offered to do what my grandmother always did, which was to soak a cotton ball in Clorox and rub it all over the affected area. But the more I thought about it, the more confident I was that placing Clorox so close to the eye area was probably not one of my better home-remedy ideas. So we decided we’d run to the store and pick up some Benadryl.

And I’m certainly not saying that the swelling was immediately noticeable, but when D. went in Publix to get the medicine, a total stranger pointed at him, then gestured to the Benadryl box and said, “LOOKS LIKE YOU NEED TO GO AHEAD AND TAKE SOME OF THAT!”

Really, I can’t imagine anything quite as fun as being singled out in a public setting for an unexpected bout of facial swelling. And I have no idea why that person reacted like she did. I mean, other than the right side of his face being twice the size of the left side of his face, D. looked COMPLETELY normal.

We thought the swelling might subside a little bit overnight, but we were wrong. In fact, when D. woke up this morning, the large patch of puffiness that was spanning the center of his face had an extra-special allergic addition: a right eye that was swollen completely shut.

Which means that he’s essentially been winking at me all day long.

And trust me, girls: you have not been wooed until you have been unintentionally winked at by a man who’s experiencing an abnormal amount of facial swelling thanks to one lone hater in a posse of killer yellow jackets.

Oh, it’s a tender memory that I will carry in my heart forever.

However, D. is encouraged by the fact that since half of his vision is gone due to the fact that HE CAN’T OPEN HIS RIGHT EYE, his hearing seems to have improved at least twenty percent.

So see? That totally takes the sting out of the whole ordeal.

To Which I Say: Amen

“Finally Free” – from Recollection: The Best of Nichole Nordeman

Honestly, Y’all, It’s A Wonder I Survived

D. has always done a great job of keeping my computer up-to-speed. He faithfully checks for software and security updates, downloads them, installs them, and generally I am none the wiser.

Of course, if left to my own computing devices, I would probably be trying to blog from a circa 1987 PC with an amber monitor and a four year-old version of MS-DOS. And a floppy disk drive.

So night before last D. checked for updates while I was watching a movie (“Breach.” Not half bad. In fact, I would recommend it.), and in the middle of updating, the computer crashed. So we re-started, and the computer decided it would be fun if it re-started again. By itself. Without us touching anything even remotely in the vicinity of the computer.

I’m telling y’all – these computers are filled with microchip-sized elves. And from time to time they get angry, and quite frankly they act out.

Long story endless, last night the computer wouldn’t recognize my camera when I got ready to upload some pictures. And then it wouldn’t recognize my iPod. And then it wouldn’t recognize the USB ports at all, and if you’ve spent any time at all with a computer over the last couple of years, you know those USB thing-ys are kind of important.

D. did a little research online, consulted your various and sundry Mac websites and forums and message boards and whatnot, and based on the information he found, he realized that he was going to need to re-format the hard drive.

Those last four words? They fill me with fear and trembling.

So last night, while I watched – and I am not exaggerating – six episodes of “House Hunters” in a row (I do enjoy the OnDemand service now that it seems to be functioning properly), D. backed up my iTunes and iPhoto files (over 7,000 pictures – can anyone say “FIRST CHILD”?), and began the re-formatting process.

OH MY WORD IT TOOK A SWEET FOREVER.

It was after midnight when D. finished installing all the software, and then he spent the better part of this morning transferring all my files back onto the computer. Which means I could not check the email or read blogs or write new posts.

Surprisingly, I didn’t twitch very much at all.

I just blinked a little faster than normal.

And I did make something kind of fun for lunch because, well, I had ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD, and while I don’t know if it’s terribly original, it’s definitely terribly tasty, so I’ll pass it along to you.

Crispy Pizza Taco-Type Things

6 small tortillas (I used Mission Carb Balance)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp. dried sweet basil
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce (I used Newman’s Own)
1 pound ground sirloin, seasoned to taste, browned and drained
2 Tbs. butter
1 sweet onion, sliced fine
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Spray two baking sheets with Pam, then place tortillas on baking sheets.

Combine olive oil, basil and oregano. Brush mixture on top of the tortillas. Then cover the surface of the tortillas with marinara sauce (use as much as you like, making sure to leave a little room at the edges so that you have a little bit of “crust” to hold onto when it’s time to eat).

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat, then saute’ onion slices until they’re almost carmelized.

Layer tortillas with browned ground beef, onions, mozzarella and parmesan (some fried bacon would make these even better, by the way). Place in oven for about 8 minutes – until cheese melts thoroughly and the edges of the tortillas are crispy.

Take out of the oven and fold in half so that the pizza resembles a really big taco.

Listen to your husband say that you’ve combined all of his favorite foods (olive oil, beef, marinara sauce, onions, cheese) into a crispy delicious shell.

Run to your computer and tell the internets all about it.

Because your computer works again.

And all is right with the world.

As Always, I’m Tackling The Absolute Toughest Issues

This morning I got out of bed and decided that clutter in our house is causing clutter in my brain. The main area that’s getting on my last nerve is our kitchen / breakfast room / playroom area. Everything piles up in there because that’s where we keep keys, mail, camera, my purse, etc. – and any empty basket or bowl seems to become a receptacle for coupons, receipts, stray batteries, cell phones and the like.

And, quite frankly, I have hit the wall in terms of being able to deal with it.

Until the next time it gets cluttered, at which point I’ll sigh deeply and start all over.

So while I’m working on de-cluttering and THROWING OUT TOYS (hello? preschool department at church? I believe it’s your lucky day!), I need your help with a couple of floor-cleaning issues.

1) What do y’all use to clean hardwood floors? People always tell me to just use vinegar and water, but the problem with that is I DESPISE THE SMELL OF VINEGAR, and so using that method doesn’t leave me with a happy, oh-my-house-is-so-clean feeling. It leaves me with a sad, oh-my-house-smells-like-sour-vinegar feeling. Which isn’t very much fun.

So if you have a more, um, pleasant-smelling suggestion, I’d love to hear it. I just feel like the floor (around the breakfast room table especially) is starting to look a little dull, but I certainly don’t want to mop with anything that’s going to hurt the wood.

2) Alex’s bathroom has a white tile floor. Not off-white. WHITE. Mopping with a little Clorox diluted with lots of water will definitely get it clean (though it leaves it looking a little dull), but then we have to leave the house because the fumes are so strong. And somehow that strikes me as a little bit, you know, dangerous. I’d love to know if you have any non-bleachy alternatives to really make those white tiles shine.

Finally.

While I’m on my cleaning soapbox (OH, THE PUNNINESS! IT’S PUNTASTIC!), I have a little cleaning tip of my own: if you have a chance, check out these all-natural products if you haven’t already. I absolutely adore the lavender disinfecting spray – it’s smells great, it’s not harsh, and it’s great for when you need to “tidy up” before company comes over. And my absolute favorite is the lavender room freshener (I believe my love affair with the scent of lavender has been well-documented, so I will not elaborate on its magical soothing properties) – it’s great stuff.

All righty. I’m going to get out the mop and wait for y’all to tell me what to do to my floors. Don’t EVEN suggest that I spray something on my floors and then get on my hands and knees to wipe up said spray, because the odds of that happening are approximately, oh, ZERO.

(I love for the house to be clean, of course, but I certainly wouldn’t want to go overboard.)

Thanks in advance, y’all!

Absence Makes The Heart Explode

After five days of visiting his grandparents, the boy is home.

And I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of hearing the words, “Mama, I missed you ALL DAY LONG.”

I’d write more, but I’m too busy catching up on hugs.