Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Posting by request

Andrew would like me to inform the internet in general, and Microsoft in particular, that he is only installing Windows Media Player because he loves me and I want to watch This American Life with our Netflix subscription. He has also authorized me to use the phrase "computer elitist."

I think clicking the "install" button may have caused him actual physical pain.

Andrew thought I meant house elves, but I was thinking of shoemakers’ elves

Over the course of our four years of sharing a home, it has come to light that Andrew and I have different tolerance levels for clutter. We’re both fine with a base clutter level of about 2 on a scale of 1 to 10. You know, the level where, when you walk into our home, you know that no one will mind if you leave your bag on the dining room table and kick your shoes off in the hall. I am comfortable with this level because I find a perfectly organized and put-away home a tiny bit unnerving. I don’t like feeling nervous that I might accidentally leave a magazine slightly askew.

But whatever the underlying psychology, I am OK with some clutter. Some clutter does not bother me. What does bother me are ten pairs of shoes scattered around the house, piles of clothes on top of the dressers, and not being able to see the surface of the dining room table. These things bother Andrew as well, but my tolerance reaches the “We have to clean up this mess or I am going to set fire to everything we own so that it will at least stop cluttering up the living room” stage while Andrew is still resting comfortably at the “Gee, the house is sort of messy” stage.

For the record, I am in no way blaming Andrew for the clutter. Even though I have a lower clutter tolerance, at least half of the shoes are mine. (I am capable of closing cabinets and drawers, however, a skill Andrew mysteriously lacks.) This is why Andrew and I are equally astonished at the recent change in our situation.

You see, last week I got fed up and put away all the clothes in the bedroom and then cleaned off the rest of the stuff from the dresser tops and then DUSTED. I KNOW. On a roll, I also cleared off the dining room table and sorted all of the mail in the house. Thus inspired, Andrew got the pantry cleaned up. We should take a minute here to give him some props, because the pantry was in such a horrible state that I was completely overwhelmed by it and chose just to shut the door and pretend it wasn’t there.

When we were finished, we discussed how nice it felt to have a mostly organized home and how, now that the clothes were being stored inside the dressers instead of on top of them, it was no longer stressful to walk into the bedroom. And so we decided to keep things this way. No more dropping our dirty clothes on the floor, no more plopping our clean clothes on the bed to “put away later.” No. From this point on, we were going to put away our shoes and clothes every night. No exceptions!

It’s been over a week, and, surprisingly, our dressers are as tidy as they have ever been. Naturally, we are amazed that we have been sticking to our plan, but we are astonished, simply astonished, at how little effort is involved. We are two intelligent people, and yet we had no idea that all we had to do to keep a tidy room was take one extra minute before bed and put our clothes away.

We thought we needed elves.

Andrew thought I meant house elves, but I was thinking of shoemakers’ elves

Over the course of our four years of sharing a home, it has come to light that Andrew and I have different tolerance levels for clutter. We’re both fine with a base clutter level of about 2 on a scale of 1 to 10. You know, the level where, when you walk into our home, you know that no one will mind if you leave your bag on the dining room table and kick your shoes off in the hall. I am comfortable with this level because I find a perfectly organized and put-away home a tiny bit unnerving. I don’t like feeling nervous that I might accidentally leave a magazine slightly askew.

But whatever the underlying psychology, I am OK with some clutter. Some clutter does not bother me. What does bother me are ten pairs of shoes scattered around the house, piles of clothes on top of the dressers, and not being able to see the surface of the dining room table. These things bother Andrew as well, but my tolerance reaches the “We have to clean up this mess or I am going to set fire to everything we own so that it will at least stop cluttering up the living room” stage while Andrew is still resting comfortably at the “Gee, the house is sort of messy” stage.

For the record, I am in no way blaming Andrew for the clutter. Even though I have a lower clutter tolerance, at least half of the shoes are mine. (I am capable of closing cabinets and drawers, however, a skill Andrew mysteriously lacks.) This is why Andrew and I are equally astonished at the recent change in our situation.

You see, last week I got fed up and put away all the clothes in the bedroom and then cleaned off the rest of the stuff from the dresser tops and then DUSTED. I KNOW. On a roll, I also cleared off the dining room table and sorted all of the mail in the house. Thus inspired, Andrew got the pantry cleaned up. We should take a minute here to give him some props, because the pantry was in such a horrible state that I was completely overwhelmed by it and chose just to shut the door and pretend it wasn’t there.

When we were finished, we discussed how nice it felt to have a mostly organized home and how, now that the clothes were being stored inside the dressers instead of on top of them, it was no longer stressful to walk into the bedroom. And so we decided to keep things this way. No more dropping our dirty clothes on the floor, no more plopping our clean clothes on the bed to “put away later.” No. From this point on, we were going to put away our shoes and clothes every night. No exceptions!

It’s been over a week, and, surprisingly, our dressers are as tidy as they have ever been. Naturally, we are amazed that we have been sticking to our plan, but we are astonished, simply astonished, at how little effort is involved. We are two intelligent people, and yet we had no idea that all we had to do to keep a tidy room was take one extra minute before bed and put our clothes away.

We thought we needed elves.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

In the year 2008

Sometimes when I am lounging on my couch using my laptop to wirelessly surf the internet, I hearken back to the days of 1995 when my then-boyfriend made fun of a friend of ours who wanted to network everyone’s computers in the dorm. “Computers need wires to talk to each other,” he said, his tone dripping with scorn. “The data can’t just magically float through the air!”

And while we’re on the subject of 1995, I also remember a radio commercial in which a man was explaining his new diet to a woman. I don’t remember what the commercial was for, but the man represented the masses who will believe any fool thing.

“I can eat anything I want except bread,” said the man.

“No bread?” replied the woman. “The staff of life?”

The times, they have changed.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Seriously, we don't care about football

After reading Emily’s post about how she and Dave were not, in fact, high school sweethearts despite some evidence to the contrary, I felt inspired to write about how Andrew came to be The Husband (as he was known on my former blog).

Andrew and I met at a Superbowl party in 1997, the Patriots’ first ever trip to the Superbowl, I believe. (You might think this would give the Patriots and/or the Superbowl a special place in our hearts, but there you would be wrong.) The party was hosted by a mutual friend of ours – Dr. The Professor – who had transferred from Andrew’s university to my university sophomore year.

Andrew and I talked quite a bit at the party, but it was cut short when I left somewhat abruptly as soon as the game ended so that I could go watch The X-files with a different group of friends. I know, I know! But what I think you do not realize it that it was an all-new episode, and also that I never ever realized it when someone was flirting with me. Ever. Dr. The Professor’s friend and I were just talking! It was perfectly innocent.

But when I got back home that night, Professor Lapp, who was one of my housemates at the time, said, “So! I noticed you and Andrew were really getting along at the party!” in that tone of voice which suggests a song about “K-I-S-S-I-N-G” may be brewing.

I blushed and said, “Uh, yeah! He seemed nice! But we were just talking,” and, honestly, that’s all I thought it was. A nice guy who I’d probably never see again.

But then the next morning, Dr. The Professor stopped me in the student center to say, “Maureen! Andrew wanted to me to tell you that he really liked talking to you last night, and could he email you?” I blushed* again, and said of course he could. I also mentally thanked Professor Lapp for putting the idea in my head that Andrew might actually want to date me, because without her I probably would have remained blindly oblivious.

We emailed back and forth for a few weeks, eventually progressing to phone calls. Thanks to our universities being 90 minutes apart from each other, our first actual date was not until spring break when we had dinner and saw the re-release of Return of the Jedi. We both had a good time despite the fact that Andrew was THIRTY MINUTES EARLY and there was nobody else home to answer the door. If you could have but seen the look on his face when I appeared wearing sweatpants and with soaking wet hair.**

He apparently got over it, however, because I noticed him stick a piece of gum in his mouth as we pulled into my driveway. He came into the house with me so we could discuss directions to the rock-climbing gym where our second date was going to be. There were several minutes of awkward small talk during which I thought to myself, “Well? WELL?” And then he said, adorably, “Um… do you believe in kissing on the first date?”

Needless to say, I did.

*Incidentally, why does the phrase “to blush” evoke a mental image of a sweet maiden with downcast eyelashes and an attractive glow to her cheeks when in reality, “to blush” means “to have your face and neck turn a hot, beet red that gets hotter and redder with the knowledge that everyone can see you are blushing.”

**And then he had the gall, years later, to complain to me that I was late. I set him straight and still bring it up on occasion in order to mock him, because, dude.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Best toy ever


(It's a Swiffer without the duster.)
(Which, I should add, he saw for the first time in his life today. Dusting is not among my priorities.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Caught!

We’ve entered a new phase of parenting: The phase of having to out-think a sneaky kid. But I’m sure this phase only lasts for 18 years or so, right?

Last Saturday, Andrew and I were having breakfast in the kitchen when I noticed a loud silence coming from the living room. Jack was in the living room, and, as all parents of toddlers will tell you, Silence = Bad.

So I went to see what Jack was doing and found him elbows deep in the lower cabinet of the entertainment center, a cabinet we usually keep locked but sometimes forget. There’s nothing terribly dangerous in there from Jack’s point of view, but there is PLENTY of stuff in there for which Jack is a destructive, tornado-like force. Plenty of expensive, fragile stuff. When I appeared at Jack’s side, he gave a guilty, startled jolt and dropped the DVD he was fingering. “Doh dah! Doooooh dah! (Don’t touch! Don’t touch!)” he said, shaking his finger at the tempting cabinet.

If you read between the lines, this translates to, “Ah, I’m so glad you came in here, Mama. This cabinet was open! I have no idea how it got open! But I am NOT supposed to touch the things inside here. In fact, I only came over to the cabinet so that I could explain that rule. Now that you are here, you can close the doors and secure it as usual. Don’t touch!”

Now I realize that, at this point, out-thinking my sneaky kid is not all that tricky. I’m just saying that he’s already in the stages of thinking, “The cabinet is open! Go go go go go! But quietly, lest the overlords hear!” and then feigning innocence when caught in the act, so what is the situation going to be in a few years?

In other news, we are in the process of The Great Pacifier Weaning of 2008. Up until his last doctor’s appointment, the Bink Rules were as follows: Jack can have the bink only when he is in bed or in the car. He cannot have a bink at any other time, except for, you know, the times we let him have one.

Sure, we knew that those exception times were because of extreme tiredness, comfort after a split lip (this happens more often than you might think, the child has a talent for breaking falls with his mouth), or – let’s face it – our desire to just stop the whining already, but he didn’t. So we weren’t exactly being consistent. Thus, our plan for the weaning is to actually restrict the bink to bed and the car, then remove the car, then remove the part of “bed” where we are reading in the chair before bed, and then remove bed. So far, we are up to the car and we only give it to him in the chair before bed if he asks and we can’t dissuade him, and so far, it’s going pretty smoothly.

Today in the car he asked for one, “Bih?” but I hadn’t even brought one with me so that I wouldn’t be tempted, and nobody died. In the morning after he’s changed, I tell him it’s time to put it down, and he does. And he hardly uses it in the chair before bed at all. But I am dreading, DREADING, the part where we take it away from him in bed. I don’t know how we’ll do it, and I’m not really thinking about it because I’m trying to pretend we’ll never have to. I imagine we’ll be a tired household when we finally bite the bullet.

Speaking of whining, I recently asked Jack if he wanted some cheese with that whine, and he stopped whining to shout, “Zsheeeeeeeeszh!” I sort of forgot who I was talking to.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

He usually says, “I am not your performing monkey” when asked for tricks in public

So you know how in the last post I said that Andrew and I know phenomenally little about football? You want to know what makes our lack of awareness even worse?

We live in Massachusetts.

You know? Massachusetts? Home of the New England Patriots, the team that was going to have a perfect 19-0 season?

I actually kind of wish I did care about football this year because it sure would have been a fun season to watch. As it was, however, my reaction when the Patriots won the 16th regular season game to become the second team ever to be undefeated in the regular season and the first team ever to win 16 games in a row in a single season was simply, “Neat.” And then when they lost the Superbowl so improbably and failed to become the second team ever to have a perfect season, I thought, “Well, that’s a shame, that is.” And then I went to bed.

So, yeah, I’m not much of a football fan, and thus present you with this, the (incomplete) list of things I do not understand about football.

The (Incomplete) List of Things I Do Not Understand About Football

* The 2-point conversion
* How come the clock seems to run all the time in the first three quarters but stops whenever the players stop in the last quarter
* Holding (I understand this in theory, but it seems to be randomly enforced)
* The man in motion
* Why there are apparently hundreds of men on the team but only ten or so on the field
* Special teams
* Seriously, the 2-point conversion has been explained to me about twenty times but I cannot for the life of me remember how it works

But you know what I am a fan of? Eskimo kisses.


Yesterday was Jack’s 15-month checkup, and we learned that he is in the 20th percentile for weight and 40th for height (22 pounds, 31 inches for the curious). The doctor asked again if he is saying “Mama” and “Dada,” and I had to say no, but that he is saying tons of other words. And then I made Jack perform like a performing monkey by asking him how old he is, to which he gave his standard reply of whipping up his index finger while grinning. The pediatrician was impressed by this as he was with the fact that Jack can say “Thank you,” because that is two words put together, and two words put together usually come later. (I did not mention that Jack pronounces it “dee deee” or, sometimes, “hmm hmmm.”)

I know that pediatricians have to maintain professionalism, but through is demeanor I could totally tell that Jack’s doctor was saying, “My goodness, but this child is clearly the brightest, smartest, most adorable baby I have ever met in lo my many years of practicing pediatrics.”

Have I also told you that Jack knows that six comes after five and eight comes after seven. Yesterday afternoon I tried to get this trick on video, but instead of counting for the video camera, Jack blew raspberries.

But then he called me “Mama,” and that was a good substitute.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Conversation during the Superbowl

There was a commercial for Ontario, Canada which depicted a group of people having drinks around a table made of ice. “Why are they sitting at a table made of ice?” asked Andrew.

“It’s an ice hotel,” I told him. “That’s a thing.”

“An ice hotel?” he said, disbelievingly.

“Yeah,” I said. “Remember in that James Bond movie?”

“The one with Halle Berry?”

“Yeah, at the beginning of the movie they meet in an ice hotel,” I said.

Andrew disagreed. “I remember them meeting when she walked out of the ocean.”

I paused. “Uh… right. Well, maybe it wasn’t the one with Halle Berry, then. Remember the one where he was in the snow?”

“Was it the one with the invisible car?” asked Andrew.

I paused again. “Invisible car? I don’t remember an invisible car.”

“Well, the one with Halle Berry has the invisible car,” he said.

“I have absolutely no memory of an invisible car, but there is a James Bond movie with an ice hotel. They’re real, and they’re a thing.”

“But that’s stupid!” Andrew exclaimed. “Why would anyone go there?”

“So you can tell people you went there,” I said.

“But how do they build them? The whole idea is ridiculous. No matter how cold the air is, the hotel would sublime within five years or so,” he complained.

“They must use igloo technology,” I said, and then had to endure some mocking for the phrase “igloo technology.” “Why don’t you Google it?” I suggested. He did, and, lo and behold, they do use igloo technology. So there.

There was apparently also some football going on during the Superbowl, but neither Andrew nor I are particular fans. In fact, we had a long discussion at the start of the game about how little we know about football. I, for example, had never even heard of Eli Manning until tonight, and, while Andrew did know about Eli, he didn’t know which one was on the Giants and thought they were talking about Peyton.

So football fans we are not, but igloo technology is a discussion we can get behind.