Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ice, ice baby.

No snow on the ground here this week, but our street is a sheet of glass. We've lived here for sixteen years. The first year, I slid past our driveway every time I tried to pull in. It wasn't at all unusual for me to have to round the block twice before I'd make it in. The kids thought it was all great fun.

Of course, the years have passed, and now they know better. Thomas was riding with me yesterday as I managed to *almost* stop before the driveway. He told me, of course, that he had it all figured out, and that all I had to do was "drift" in like he did. I just gave him the look. I haven't missed this stinkin' driveway in years, but with one little layer of frozen water and I was labelled an incompetent driver. Kids.

The thing about ice is that you can't always see it, and it doesn't take much to take a person down. Our front porch is very slightly tilted, meaning that the minute I step out the front door, I'll land right on my bahoofus if I don't pay attention. How that mailman manages to get on and off the porch without a major injury, I'll never know. Of course, Jill would say it's because he's so hot he melts the stuff, but I'm not even allowed to think that. I just hang on for dear life anytime I go out.

So there I was tonight, getting off work at 11pm tonight, after a wonderful night of things like "we just need to know how to go about getting married" and "I think the baby drank out of a bottle that had pee in it." (Yeah, I get paid to talk to some really strange people.) Got to my car, and was pretty darn proud of myself for doing it, till I reached for the door handle. Momentary ADD meant that I lost track of my feet, till one flew up in front of my face and the other implanted itself under my butt. I had a few choice words for myself as I realized that I had jolted basically every joint in my body, several of which were already not feeling too well.

Adding insult to injury, once I got into the car, I realized that I was gonna have to get right back out because the windshield was covered in 1/4" of ice and would need to be scraped. With my ATM card of course, because there is no scraper in that van. There is a bag of makeup, a plastic bag of invitations (for what, I have no idea), a couple of library books, a saddle, and God knows what else. At least it is slightly better then the couch debacle of last year, but still, one would think that one would find the proper implements in the car at the time that one needs it. Heck, I'm not even sure we OWN a scraper, because I've been using that same ATM card to scrape the windshield for the last three years.

I think that tomorrow will probably involve a trip to CVS for a few necessities: scraper, de-icer, and ibuprofen for "oh my aching back." You'll recognize me. I'll be the one coming in with snowshoes on. And if I could, I'd be wearing this fabulous red lace wiggle dress, complete with vintage ice on the hip, pointing "this way up, dumbie." From Damn Good Vintage.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

You (hopefully don't) light up my church

We got a call tonight from our minister. He asked Jill and Seth if they would like to do the scripture reading and light the candle on the Advent wreath at the church service on Sunday morning. Sunday, which also just happens to be The Brat's 18th birthday. She's been lamenting her lack of exciting birthday plans for the past month, and how we must not love her that much, because we aren't throwing her a party/buying her a big present/insert anything that would seem big and/or special to an 18yo girl. Well, Pastor Bob took care of that. She will now have the rapt attention of the entire church, while having fire in her hand.

Our family lit the candle at church one time years ago, when Seth was still a toddler. All five of us standing up there, which meant that we had to keep the two oldest corralled while keeping Seth from setting the church on fire. We knew not to trust him even then -- the kid has serious pyro tendencies, to the point where, after our house fire, we took all three kids to the Firestop program, henceforth referred to in our house as the "anti pyromaniac program."

Jill and Thomas were mad that I made them go. "Seth's the one lighting things on fire. Why are WE here?" "Because I said so." "But Mom, we know not to do that stuff? Why do we have to sit through this?" "Because I said so." You get my drift. Two unfortunate draftees and one reforming pyro, who sat through the whole program, listening intently. Heck, all these years later, that kid can still quote some of the things they said. And though he still loves fire, he hasn't tried to light the house up anytime lately.

I hope that is still true after Sunday's service. I think that the first time we lit the Advent wreath, Thomas lit the Advent wreath with Dan's help. I do remember that Jill did the prayer. She practiced all week by randomly climbing up on any available chair and saying, very solemnly, "Let. Us. Pray," in a tone that was all business, and probably inherited from her grandpa, the Methodist minister. It kind of sounded like "let us pray, and you'd better be listening, or I'll come and yank your sorry butt outta that pew by your ear and make you sit up here by me and bow your sorry head till I'm done talking. Amen."

Come to think of it, she hasn't really changed that tone much. I guess it all goes back to being the middle child, as well as being the only girl, sandwiched between two boys. Dan did mention when she was young that he didn't have any worries about boys messing with her. Said he was pretty sure if they did that she'd beat the hell outta them. He called it right when she was only about three. The man's a prophet. But I digress.

So my two youngest angels will be up there lighting the candle on Sunday, and we'll be there repeating history, still hoping they keep themselves corralled and don't set the church on fire. You'll know if you're in the right church when you hear the "I'm lighting it" being muttered in a sweet girl's voice, being responded to in kind by the adolescent boy's cracking tone saying that "you always get to do the good stuff. Why don't you let me do the cool stuff for once?"

"Because I said so."

Click here to buy this cool wreath, offered by Garden Devotions. Because I said so.

Friday, December 12, 2008

There's no other store like Aldi Part 2

This whole Aldi's thing was brought to mind the other day, when my friend Ann-not-the-call-girl-Ann was almost arrested there.

Ann is about as sunny as you can be. She has a little nuclear family that I tell her looks like those little dollhouse families like The Littles. You know the ones. They all look like they belong together, like a matched set. Heck Ann's family even IS on the small side. Line 'em up, and they go together like peas and carrots, as Forrest Gump would say.

Ann says that however peaceful her life looks, she really lives on Wisteria Lane with all of the other Desperate Housewives. I think, compared to Utter Chaos, it looks pretty mild, except for that whole
escort service thing. Ann, however, always says "the Utters do the most interesting things. Yeah, right. We're always skating on the side of madness, but at least I can say that none of us have done time.

Well Ann went to Aldi's the other day, looking for a deal. She was probably looking for a ham, because when she gets worried about something, she starts stocking up the freezer. When Hurricane Ike was rumbling around last summer, and that whole area was being evacuated, Ann called me and said "don't you just feel like you need to go buy a big ham? Like one of those spiral cut ones? And maybe a turkey?" Uh, no. But that's Ann's response to stress, and if you ask me, it's a mighty fine one. She'll never starve in a crisis, that's for sure.

So she goes to Aldi's, and gets some produce, amongst other things. Gets up to the checkout with her cart full 'o deals, and the cashier starts ringing her up. Stops abruptly when ::gasp:: she finds a cucumber tucked in with the bag of apples that she was ringing. Ann quickly explained that she just put it in there to keep it from rolling around in the cart, but the cashier wasn't buying that one bit. Chewed her out about trying to steal the cucumber, till Ann was ready to put it back.

Handcuffs on register 6 please. We've got ourselves a customer in a pickle.

She ended up convincing the cashier that she really wasn't a thief -- heck, she married to a dentist, for heaven's sake. The woman goes to Yarn conventions for fun, but she had to talk her way out of Aldi's without having the police called, and it was no small feat. She's afraid to go back there now, so I guess she'll be finding her Evacuation Ham somewhere else next time, lest the family be entertaining the refugees whilst the mom is in the clink. The irony of the underscore-less Ann being arrested while the underscored Ann is roaming free does not escape me. Nor would it escape Mr. Little, who looks strangely androgynous, but who is now available on ebay, from Kiddieland, sans Mrs Little, who is probably doing time in the big house. Mr Little now is a devout shopper of Kroger, and the kids haven't touched ham since Mommy went up the river.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

There's no other store like Aldi Part 1

Dan went grocery shopping a couple of weeks ago. He came home and told me how I should shop more often at Aldi's, because they have some great deals. I told him that I stopped going to Aldi years ago, because every time I was there, someone was calling the police. No joke.

I'm sure that there are nice Aldi's. I've actually been to some. But the one by our house is a little ghetto crazy. I remember walking in there one time when Seth was only about two. It was a beautiful summer day. I happened to be babysitting a couple of other kids, so picture me crossing the parking lot with two seven year olds, a six year old, balancing a six month old on my hip whilst holding the two year olds' hand. Yeah, I'm sure that I was a sight, but during this time period, it wasn't at all unusual for me to be travelling with a small village, and that was fine with me. So there I was, corralling the wild animals, when I hear someone yelling from a car across the parking lot. It was obvious that it was directed to me, so I asked what they'd said, because I didn't hear them very well over the kids. "Put some shoes on that baby." What the heck? Why in the world did anyone care whether the baby had shoes on or not? I just looked at the baby, then looked at the Fashion Police and shrugged. "Not my baby."

That was weird enough, but then when we were ready to leave, someone suddenly came running in, yelling for the manager to call the police. "Someone just grabbed some woman and put them in their car and drove off with her screaming." I never did find out what that was about -- maybe she hadn't put shoes on the baby, and the Fashion Popo did a driveby -- but it was enough for me to avoid the place like the plague for a while.

Some months later, I decided to try Aldi's again, this time unaccompanied. Everything was going fine till I decided to go get in line. The line was rather long, so I just sat back and waited. There was an older man several people up from me, and he suddenly started yelling at a girl in front of him. Apparently, she had left the line briefly to go get one more thing, and he took offense when she jumped into the line in front of him. She tried to explain to him that she was with her friend, who had saved their place in line whilst she grabbed one last thing. Well, Grumpy Old Man was having none of that. He continued to carry one, and the volume kept getting a little louder, till finally Grumpy Old Man yells "why don't you go back to Africa where you came from?"

It was during that awful silence that I thought that perhaps I was going to be doing a different kind of checking out than I had originally planned.

Sister girlfriend was about to take her earrings off when Grumpy Old Man was escorted from the place, and we all breathed a huge sigh of relief that we might actually get out of there in one piece after all. I mean honestly, who says stupidity like that, in today's world? Who even thinks it? I'm telling you, the cheap green beans ain't worth risking being in the middle of a riot, so I'm a tried and true Marsh girl now. Can't shop at Kroger, cause the deli department is sitting on the site of our old church's sanctuary, which is just wrong in a lot of ways. I stay with Marsh, cause although it's not on holy ground, the worst thing that's ever happened there is the day the clerk didn't scan my discount card. The ensuing chaos resulted in me leaving the entire cart, with $400 of groceries, sitting at the counter while they all tried to figure out what to do when the clerk screws up. And then there was the time that I got all my groceries rung up, paid for them, then left the whole schmoley at the store. Don't ask me how that happened, and Dan still teases me about that to this day.

So if you, like me, don't sweat the price anymore, then check out this vintage grocery themed dishtowel from callmejasper, on etsy. Not sure if the baby's got shoes, and how the heck did she shop with that dog? But at least she got out in one piece. More Tales 'o Aldi tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Does anybody really know what time it is?

Look at the time. It's currently 1:28am, and I think that everyone in this household is up. Utter Chaos knows no limits, I guess.

Jill is working on her paper, which she thought was complete several hours ago but, for some reason, didn't get printed. Of course when she went to print it, she found that she'd forgotten the abstract, then decided maybe her references weren't right, then just basically started fussing about a bunch of assorted other details. When she finally went into the sunroom to print it, I heard a lot of mutterings that were completely unintelligible and, when asked, were interpreted as "nothing, Mom" and, I suspect, a roll of the eyes.

Right about then, Thomas wandered in and mentioned that he had sliced his hand, and thrust it in front of my face. Not like I could see anything, because all of the lights were off because of Prince Charming sleeping on the couch. Thomas wandered into the bathroom and ran the water, so I figured he was serious -- remember, this is a kid whose pain tolerance is legendary -- so I got up and went to investigate. Yep, he sliced it a couple of times, but thankfully, not too badly. Just enough to need his Mommy to get him a bandaid "because you're the nurse." He muttered something about Seth, screwing something together, seeing blood.....I'm not really sure, but he went back upstairs.

Seth, the blonde one with no common sense, but a level head, is in his room watching the end of The Return of the King, so it's not surprise that in the midst of this, Dan woke up from his slumber, gave out a yell like he does, for dramatic effect, and wandered in the direction of the bedroom. Perhaps now one person here has sense and is sleeping. Heck, he may've been asleep when he staggered out of here, but who can tell with all the drama?

I should've seen all this coming when, during a night shift about 15 years ago, Dan called me at 1am to say that he was turning in the for the night. "Hang on," he said, and I was suddenly met with a tiny little voice saying "Hi, Mommy!" "Jill honey," I said, "what in the world are you doing up this late?" "Watching the fishy movie," she said. "What fishy movie?" "Draws."

Yep. Prince Charming let the three year old Bratty Girl stay up to watch Jaws with him. That was about the time that I realized that I was gonna lose the battle over bedtime.

I'm used to not sleeping till weird hours, with all of my years of nights and rotating shifts. They don't call it After Hours Triage for nothing, after all, and I'm off my normal routine, whatever that is, because of training newbies. I'm up most nights lately till 2a.m., so me being up at this hour isn't particularly surprising to anyone. Heck, the boys being up late is no real surprise to me either, but for all of us to be up this late? Someone's probably gonna pay tomorrow, and I'm just hoping it's not me.

Sleep, for me, is usually optional anyway, but I'll be heading to bed soon. But not before I share this fabulous Jerry Gilden Clock Dress, from Dorothea's Closet Vintage. Just don't use it to figure out what time it is, because the clocks all have a different time. Night, night!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Just cause you're on a diet...........

I had a nice day off today, getting tons of work done on piddly tasks that needed to be done, then going to the movies with the hubby and the two eldest in the afternoon. Not bad for a nasty, precipitous, gray Indiana day where your best bet is probably just to roll over and go back to sleep for the day.

As usual, we were running late to the movie, because it takes time to get two teenagers rousted about and ready. We were met at the door by a couple who said that if we were trying to see "Four Christmases," we were out of luck, because something had gone wrong, and they weren't showing it. Walked up to the counter annoyed, because I hate being late to the movies -- it takes time to get tickets and snacks, get settled, make sure the cell phone is off, then lean back and get ready for the show. It's a process. A process which was being interrupted by a guy who was so upset that he wasn't getting to see his movie of choice that he was yelling at the manager, despite the free passes he'd already been given, while his wife and daughter stood there looking mortified. I jumped right in and asked if we could get tickets for Australia, which broke up the argument. I went ahead and got the seats, while Dan got the snacks. Of course, with four of us there, the first bucket of popcorn is done before the opening credits, so Dan took off for a refill, and a command to let him know what he misses when he gets back.

The only thing he missed is seeing that Nicole Kidman will be a sure bet for scariest thin actress of the year. I failed to mention that we were seeing "Australia," but if you decide to see it, look at her arm when they are rowing her to the island, when she arrives from Britain. Her forearm is SCARY.

The movie was a compilation of paradoxes -- beautiful scenery, then suddenly awful, cheesy backdrops. Great horseback riding, then amateurish special effects. Acting that was all over the place. Jill and I spent a good portion of the film trying to figure out if the bad guy really WAS the actor who played Faramir in the Lord of the Rings series, which Thomas adamantly refused to believe but, when the credit ran, turned out to be true.

The one constant in the film was Hugh Jackman, who is nothing short of hot. Jill, of course, refused to allow me to acknowledge this saying that she had already laid claim to him. I pointed out that she already at her four husband limit, but she was having none of that. "You are MARRIED. And I don't want to hear you say....." she said. "What? Just because I'm on a diet doesn't mean I can't look at the menu." "THAT!" she proclaimed. "I don't want to hear THAT." Oh well, it's the truth. I'm married, not dead, for heaven's sake.

Jill's rules for "old people" are multitudinous. I'm not allowed to acknowledge hotness when I see it. Certain music is off limits -- even though it's mandatory to listen to it when she's in the car. I'm most definitely not allowed to text, because "when old people text, it just means they're trying to be young." And on and on and on. The girl forgets that her parents don't generally live within the rules, but we just smile and move along. Some day, she'll get it, but no time soon.
Meantime, enjoy Hugh, the dessert on the menu that we grownups aren't supposed to have.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

There and back again

Dan and I went to my parents' house this weekend, so he could paint their condo. Went up on Friday, got to experience lots of snow on Saturday, and came back today. Quick trip, but that's fine. I like to drive.

I like to drive in silence. I generally don't have the radio on, and am known to play the same CD in the car for weeks at a time, because I just forget to take it out. Dan, on the other hand, must have music at all times. Drives me crazy, but at least we like the same kind of music, most days. Imagine my surprise when this man, the one who doesn't rake leaves without music, went all the way to Michigan without the radio on. That's like a nine hour drive, and he didn't turn it on once. I figured he'd go to sleep, so I turned on the MP3 player on my phone and listened to some tunes there.

He painted the condo, and informed me that night that he thought that maybe his good deed for the day was worth a little payback. No, not THAT kind of payback. Payback meaning he wanted to listen to football the whole way home which, depending upon the drive, is about 7 hours. SEVEN HOURS of listening to football. That's one heck of a paint job he did.

So we took off in the car around 11. Coast was clear, because football doesn't start till later. I took my normal detour in Zilwaukee, went to the antiques store, and got very little complaint. Dan does love to shop, though, so I figured the coast was clear. Took off again, and informed him that yes, we would make another stop along the way, but he was fine for now. Got through Flint, still no football. Things were going great.

I asked him if he was hungry, because the man generally eats by the clock. I was surprised that he declined food, but we'd had a huge breakfast, and he had a stash of M&Ms, so I figured that he'd be ok for a short while. That was before the thought came to me that he was probably waiting to eat till 4, when the Broncos game started, so that he could sit and watch the beginning in Applebees or something -- even though we were in Michigan, and the odds of the Broncos playing on TV there were pretty slim. Nonetheless, I prepared myself, and was again surprised when he suggested that we just go through drive-through at Wendy's.

Now I was on to the game. He wanted to get home as fast as possible, so that he could WATCH the game, if it was being televised. By now we had the radio going with the Detroit Lions game, but as I do when the kids have the radio on, I just tuned it out. Hit the Indiana border and just kept going, till I found the antiques place I was looking for. I was surprised that he only let out a little moan of agony, but didn't argue that we WERE going there. He declined to come in, however, because he was going to try to find the game. Ended up coming in shortly afterward, but he was happy to find a sports booth that kept him busy whilst I shopped.

Took off again with the homing beacon on full tilt. He started picking up the game on 1260AM, and was concerned that the Broncos were behind in the second quarter. "This could get ugly," I thought, "if I get trapped in the car when they lose." Oh well, we had chocolate, so I just kept driving. Round about Huntington, the game was tied up, but the signal was spotty. Now we were listening to post-game reports from Cincinnati, where the Colts had beaten them rather handily, I believe. Every now and again, they'd come in with another report of the game being tied.

The signal kept fading in and out, and at about Pendleton, they started doing the rundown of the day's scores, but the signal was really bad (probably something to do with the prisoners at the reformatory, or maybe the license plates they are making, I don't know). I kept hearing "why, why, why does the signal not come in? This is a national broadcast." And right about the time I heard Denver, he gave it a couple of swift WHACKS on the dashboard.

Yes, folks, hitting the dashboard will help your radio signal. Only it didn't, and it was so staticy that I turned it off, then immediately back on, lest the man get the shakes. Amazingly, turning it back on helped, and the signal was suddenly as clear as a bell, but they'd already run down the scores, and weren't going to repeat themselves any time soon.

Did I mention that both cell phones were dead? Well, mine was, but Dan called the boys and they wouldn't answer the phone, so his may've well have been dead.

Now he was getting pretty riled up, and about the time we took the exit toward 70, they started talking results, and the minute Denver came up, he put his hands on his head and bent over, practically with this head between his knees, until he heard the word won. At that point he shot up like he'd seen Jesus himself, and let out a huge whoop that probably caused non-migratory birds within a ten mile radius to reconsider their winter plans. This man, who had been relatively quiet for the entire trip, let forth with a soliloquy de futbol so long and so loud that when I got off the exit, he had me so rattled, forgot I was driving a stick shift, and promptly killed it when I tried to turn right on red.

I don't think the man took a breath until he'd been in the house for at least ten minutes -- five of which was spent booting his computer up and checking the fantasy league he's playing in.

Needless to say, I'm glad to be home. Even more glad that the Broncos won. But one thing I won't forget -- if I let him listen to football, I can shop as much as I want. I'll just bring ear plugs next time.