Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Technology is out to get us

This announcement will come as a total non-shock to many of you who follow me on Twitter, as I recently inadvertently publicly tweeted what was supposed to be a direct message. I blame my phone. You see, I was replying to a DM from someone and forgot that when you reply by phone, it is a TEXT MESSAGE so it replies to TWITTER, not to the person who messaged you. You still need to type the “DM @person” unless you want to broadcast what seems like a weird sideways hint to the entire internet, like maybe a tweet referencing mysterious “home tests” that were “all negative.”

Incidentally, I learned something recently, and it is that cheap pregnancy test strips bulk ordered from Amazon apparently have a shelf life.

Yes, folks, we’re going to have another baby. Sometime in December. I’m tennish weeks along. I’d know more precisely, but I don’t have the exact date of my LMP. This makes me sound like I have a breezy/irresponsible devil-may-care attitude towards such things, but in actuality, I have charts and graphs and observations. I don’t HAVE to remember the date of my LMP because it’s on the chart. You know? The chart? The one Nora found and stole and put somewhere? Else? I’m sure I’ll find it in late December some time.

Yeah, so about five weeks ago I went to the doctor to find out what in the holy hell was wrong with me, because something was not right. Not right at all. And the home tests! Were negative! In fact, I think I deserve some kudos for restraining myself and not googling “early menopause.” Unless maybe I did. Yeah, I probably did. The doctor’s office spends a bit more on test kits, however, so everything was cleared right up. Things were still kind of terrible for a while, though, because the stuff that was not right? Was in my brain. It was like I had post-partum depression early. Partum depression, I guess. So while it was somewhat helpful to know that there was a simple biological explanation and I had only gone mad temporarily, I was still in the midst of it sitting there in the doctor’s office, and the news did not exactly make me jump up with joy. There’s not a lot of jumping for joy when everything about life is totally awful.

I remained in the midst of it until about a week ago, and I have to tell you it feels so good to be ME again. I no longer storm around the house every morning, slamming cabinets and resenting the entire world for not sending in someone ELSE to clean the bathroom for a change and do you think that another person in this house could deign to sweep the goddamn floor once in a while? It was awful. And the worst part of that was how my kids could not even look cross-eyed at me without my taking it as a personal attack on my sanity. They could do nothing right. It felt like they were just pick-pick-picking at me every second of the day. I was just so angry, all the time.

To name one specific example, in the throes of this depression I took the kids to my niece’s birthday party, and I had some trouble finding the location. It was in a play center in an office park, and there was a sign at the entrance to the lot, but no second sign pointing the way to the waaaay back of the lot. I drove around that stupid lot for about five minutes and could not find the place to save my life. I had to call my brother, who directed me back out onto the main road – a BUSY road that I now had to take a LEFT TURN onto – around the corner and back IN to the stupid office park where I found that had I only kept going straight to the back in the FIRST place I would have FOUND the stupid playspace FIVE MINUTES AGO.

I seethed about that for at least thirty minutes. I seethed at the people who decided to put something like that at the BACK of the lot, I seethed at whoever was in charge of signage for not including a second sign, I seethed at the traffic on the busy road, and I seethed at my brother for making me take a LEFT TURN onto a BUSY ROAD. It was an extremely rational and reasonable response to a few minutes of inconvenience, obviously.

When I wasn’t angry at everyone and everything, I was crying from sadness or loneliness or guilty feelings over being a hateful person or a combination of all three. Or else I was dry heaving, and feeling sad and angry and resentful about it. I was pure joy to live with, believe me.

I did consider antidepressants, but I was trying to give my hormones a few weeks to settle down a bit. My doctor and I discussed it, and had I not been feeling better by twelve weeks I would have tried them, because nine months is a helluva long time to feel like that. But the fog lifted during the past week, and I have been in a good mood even though the weather is dark and rainy and cold, I still have to clean the bathroom and sweep the floor, and I continue to spend a lot of quality time dry heaving over the toilet. On the upside, I clean the toilet much more often seeing as I have to stare into it several times a day. (To clarify, the upside there is not that I clean the toilet much more often, it’s that we more often have a clean toilet.)

Best of all, I am once again enjoying my kids. My kids who are not, as it turns out, evilly conspiring to drive me crazy. In fact, they’re actually pretty cute. I kind of like them. Another one seems like a great idea to me.

Monday, May 23, 2011

STRAWBERRIES?

This week is a freezer-meal week because my freezer is completely stocked, so I only bought perishables at the grocery store. When I got home, Nora did an inventory on my purchases. She peeked into one bag and gasped in audible delight. "Strawbrees? Oh my GOSH! STRAWBREES!" She could not have been more excited or surprised.

Oh my GOSH!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Home Decluttering: Attic Edition

I am sure that all of you are on the edges of your seats wondering how The Great Attic Clean Out of 2011 went down. Pretty well, as it turns out. I highly recommend you have Andrew around to be in charge of projects like this, because while I become paralyzed by the sheer amount of tasks to accomplish in this sort of situation, Andrew just... does the tasks. And they get accomplished.

So first, Andrew started bringing stuff down from the attic. I naturally forgot to take a “before” picture before we started, but I think the following series should give you the basic idea of what we were dealing with; which is to say, 1400 square feet of disorganized junk and trash. (I know I said 1800 square feet before, but I was wrong. It is a mere 1400.)

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These are our holiday decorations and wrapping supplies. They used to be piled up in a little alcove right at the top of the attic stairs. If we wanted to get at the boxes on the bottom, we had to move all the other boxes first. And a lot of this is just trash.

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Dining room chairs that I put in the attic to stop Nora from using them to rifle through the china closet. Also the easel. And a bunch of empty boxes and other trash.

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Baby stuff, a lamp, air conditioners and fans, coats, and my wedding dresses. Yes, two of them. No, I only wore one. Oh, and look! A random plunger! And an air pump for rocket balloons. There’s probably some trash in there as well.

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This is the baby/kids’ clothes area. It is pseudo-organized, but there are clearly some issues.

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Andrew’s workbench.

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The pool table, aka, backup workbench. (It came with the house.)

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Our old futon, covered with old Christmas presents, candy canes, some baby stuff, and, naturally, trash.

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View of workbench area from the other side.

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This is the living room filled with the toys that were in the attic. Andrew brought this room and the holiday stuff in the kitchen downstairs in the morning, and then he had to go coach Jack’s soccer team even though Jack wasn’t actually there because the kids spent the weekend at their grandparents’ house. I spent that time sorting through it all, and actually made excellent progress. Then Andrew got home and did most of the rest of the work.

So. Is the attic much worse than you thought it would be? It probably is. It was really really bad. But we threw out many bags of trash, recycled about 150 boxes, and gave away a whole landing full of various toys, clothes, baby supplies, and the like. (Don’t tell Jack about the toys, please. I was, in fact, unable to give away his old toy tool bench because he saw it when I was trying to sneak it out and had hysterics.) I Freecycled lots of it and once the Big Brother Big Sister Foundation comes to pick up the last four boxes on June 2, the attic will be DONE. Well, except that it will probably take a few more weeks before we can get all the trash out. But whatever! It no longer makes me cry to go up there!

Here are some after shots:

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Holiday decorations. Look how they are on SHELVES. So when we need the bottom bin, we can take move JUST the bottom bin. I KNOW.

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Baby stuff and toys currently out of circulation. (Note Jack’s old tool bench to the left of the bassinet and how it is hopefully packed in a box. Sigh.

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Baby/Kids’ clothes. There is a slight issue here, because there is no more room for more bins, and I am relatively certain that my kids are not finished outgrowing their clothes, but I think I have a different spot for the new bins.

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Air conditioners, coats, wedding dresses. I will deal with the wedding dresses later.

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Look at how there is plenty of space to walk around the chairs.

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OK, so this isn’t actually much better, but that’s because we need to purchase or build some sort of shelving/organizational system. Andrew has a ridiculous number of tools, and a lot of them are really large. But there IS space for him to build bunk beds for Nora and Jack this month, which was kind of out of the question before we did this. We got rid of a bunch of old wood scraps that we didn’t need anymore, and it cleared out a lot of space.

So there you have it! I’m not sure the pictures adequately convey the dramatic difference in the attic. What if I put them side by side?

Before:
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After:
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Before:
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After:
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SEE?

So our next major step is to figure out where to store the circulating toys. They’re currently in plastic bins that are pretty much piled up under the window in the living room. It’s organized but not exactly aesthetically pleasing.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Minor Annoyance

So here's a little thing. About four months ago, in a fit of decluttering the office, I brought 14 or so spent ink cartridges to Staples to recycle them. When I called to find out if the do, in fact, recycle spent ink cartridges, I was told that yes, AND I get $2 for every one, plus money off of new cartridges and paper for each one! Yay! But then when I GOT to Staples, I discovered that I had to sign up for a customer loyalty card to get the money. And they will only take 10 cartridges a month. So. OK. I gave her 10 of my 14 cartridges, signed up for the program, and paid for my new cartridges and paper. But what was this? No money off! And no money back!

No, they MAIL you the rebate at a later date, and it actually comes as "Staples Dollars" (or whatever they call it) only to be spent at Staples. So. FINE.

But here we are, four or five months later, and I do not have my Staples Dollars. I finally got around to inquiring at the store, and they said, "Oh, they must have the wrong email address." But I get the ads JUST FINE. In fact, I was inspired to write this complainy post by a Staples ad I got in my email just today! As I do every day! And there is nothing they can do at the store; I have to call Staples and complain. This is obviously a huge pain, so I didn't, and then a month went by and I lost the info, and had to inquire at the store again. I should note that at this point, I also brought back the other four cartridges, so now they owe me at least $28. Then I actually DID try to call, but it was the weekend and I have to call during normal business hours. Which I didn't, and now I've lost the phone number again.

But I will hunt down my $28, and I will complain heartily and try to get more. At least, I hope I will. I'm a lot of empty talk sometimes. But I'll try to channel A'Dell who would definitely not put up with this sort of thing.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Just sitting here on the couch, internetting

So about 50% of my laptop battery ago, I got home from dropping the kids off at their grandparents’ house for the whole weekend. Yes, I said “weekend.” And yes, I said, “whole.” As in “two nights.” TWO NIGHTS. Clearly, this is a golden opportunity to get a billion important home-maintenance things accomplished, and so I naturally flopped onto the couch with my laptop the instant I got home and have been here ever since, dirty kitchen be damned. Oh, and I have a bunch of work to do that requires quiet and concentration, so I’m wisely using this quiet alone time to tweet important breaking news like:

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It’s true! And you have to act fast, because several of the $10,599 Birkin bags have already sold out! Plus, I am sorry to report that you will be unable to purchase a hideous rocking-horse print silk scarf for a mere $359, as they are long gone, my friend. LONG GONE.

All that being said, I did not drop the kids off for a restful weekend of internetting. No, Andrew and I have big plans. This is the weekend we clean the attic. And as not-fun as that theoretically sounds, I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to it. We borrowed my in-laws’ truck so that we’ll be able to haul stuff to donation sites and I just cannot wait to get rid of 75% of the stuff we have stashed up there.

You may or may not recall, but in January I made three resolutions, and one of them was to have an assigned place for everything in my house by December 31. I am supposed to be spending at least fifteen minutes a day decluttering, and I have to admit that that trickled off by late February, but I did get a lot done. I sort of hit a wall, though, because there are a bunch of clutter-troves in the main living area that cannot be decluttered until the attic has been dealt with, because I need to store some stuff up there, but I refuse to put any new things into the attic until there is some sort of organizational system up there.

See, we have a huge walk-up attic that runs the length of our big two-family, so it’s 1800 square feet of emptiness. And it WAS empty when we moved in, save for a pool table that the previous owners left us because it was easier than moving it out. But it is not empty anymore! Oh, no. It is stuffed to the gills with things that we “just stuck in the attic” until such time as they could be dealt with, which turned out to be never.

I did explain before, but it bears repeating that it is quite difficult to clean out the attic because it isn’t insulated. This means that there are about eight weeks a year during which it is neither too hot nor too cold to spend any significant amount of time up there. So while it’s always possible to run up the stairs and “stick something in the attic” to deal with later, it’s no easy feat to spend a large chunk of time sorting and organizing. And lest you think we are just too wimpy to deal with the temperatures, may I remind you that “no insulation” means that the attic is JUST AS COLD as outside in the winter, and that is usually in the twenties. As for summer, the attic is actually HOTTER than outside because it just bakes all day and the heat gets trapped overnight. Just ask the bird that got in last year and simply dropped dead on the stairs from heat. True story.

So this is the big weekend. The attic will get miraculously organized and I will be able to sort through the rest of the stuff in the main living space and maybe, just maybe, I’ll get this house cleanable by the end of the summer. (Please note that I am not saying it will always be clean, I’m saying that when I NEED to clean it, I will be ABLE to clean it, because I will be able to just put things away instead of standing around wondering where I’m supposed to put all this stuff. Because a big pile of toys pushed against the wall just isn’t doing it for me anymore.)

In other news, Jack’s preschool spring show was today. He was a raindrop. I was almost late, because I wasn’t incredibly early and therefore had to park at the park and walk over, which is actually a pretty long walk. But I did make it, and while he had an initial look of worry on his little face when he couldn’t find me right away, there was a lot of waving and “Hi, Mom!” –ing throughout the show and it was adorable.

You know what wasn’t adorable? Jack’s school sent home about five separate notices about the spring show, largely concerned with the parking. We were allowed to park at the school, across the street at the town hall, and overflow parking was at the park, a five or so minute walk away. It was made perfectly clear over and over again that the police were not allowing parking on Smith St., By my estimation, there were 10-12 cars parked on Smith St. at the start of the show. Sometimes I hate people, you know?

But I don’t want to end on a sour note, so I’ll tell you that I made one short video that will hopefully be audible; if so I’ll post it for your viewing pleasure. But I didn’t get any of the “Hi, Mom’s!” on tape, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. He also gave me a thumbs up after one particularly satisfying song. And I died.

If any of you are still reading, you should go over to A’Dell’s blog and leave a comment telling her that she is awesome and that the baby will come out eventually, because she is approximately 74 weeks pregnant and is understandably kind of depressed about it. And then go drop by Arwen and let her know you’re thinking of her because she is ONLY 33 weeks pregnant (with twins!) and the babies are a little over-eager to make their appearance. Irony’s a bitch, eh?