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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Of Odor and Order

Oh my, Billy Joel’s voice makes me melt just a little bit. I am such a sucker for music that was written before I was born. Music written after I was born, I only know if Weird Al took the time to parody it. Well, that’s not totally true, but it is close enough to being true that I’m not going to bother and list the handful of exceptions.

Today was a productive day. I feel like doing a photo shoot of my house because it NEVER looks this good. Thanks to some fabric spray it also smells pretty good. This fabric deodorizer spray is one the few products I’ve ever bought because of a commercial. Ironically, the commercial was for Febreze and I bought Glade, but that was Febreze’s fault for being more expensive than Glade even though they have more pervasive advertising.

The reason for this fabric spray stuff, which I don’t think my mother ever used, probably because she keeps her house so clean that the bad smells never have a chance to set into fabrics, is our beautiful couch, one of my favorite pieces of furniture. Our couch has been in use for about a year and half now and is starting to look worn. I took some Woolite to several spots on it last night, and the scrubbing brought forth a musty odor that had prior to this gone unnoticed. Matt, who has a super smeller Burton “Gus” Guster would envy, immediately took note and started to moan about how Coryn and I weren’t old enough to be trusted with furniture as nice as our couch.

One of the most common advertisements on Hulu is the one for Febreze where the lady takes her recliner through a carwash to get the smells out, so I thought, hmmm, I guess maybe that stuff has a use after all. Today I went to the store and got that (as mentioned, the cheaper brand over the advertised one) and a bottle of soy sauce. Coryn and I then went on a cleaning spree. She followed me around as I sprayed the couch, sniffing it appreciatively. Coryn likes spraying things. I have to watch her if I‘m using any cleaning product. She will put Pledge on ANYTHING. The plus side of this is she really likes helping me. I give her a rag and she’ll go to town rubbing down any surface. Today we ‘pledged’ every piece of wood (or faux-wood) furniture in the house. She wanted to keep going. I have a faint hope that this enthusiasm continues until she is competent enough to actually help me out, but I know that by the time she learns how to clean effectively, the novelty of helping Mommy will have probably worn off. For now I’ll just smile as she commandeers my mop and pushes it around the kitchen floor yelling out, “Sippery! Sippery!”

Coryn has made some impressive strides in potty training, including short trips out of the house wearing underwear. She has yet to actually use a toilet outside of our house, but she has been able to stay dry until we return from the store or post office. I rewarded her with chocolate ice cream at the Cross Roads cafĂ© today. She wanted cupcakes. The ice cream was a compromise because I didn‘t feel like baking. Matt would say I am spoiling her again, so don’t tell him. Honestly, she does get a heck of a lot more treats than I did when I was a kid. Mainly because I think we have more expendable income than my parents ever did when we were little. Because of this, as soon as I started making money (and I was quite the baby sitting entrepreneur. . . Well, I had one well paying consistent customer, anyway), I couldn’t go to town without wanting to buy some sort of treat. Even now, every time I leave the house my ‘treat’ sensor goes on and I start thinking about where I can stop for coffee or ice cream or something. . . And of course, if I have something, Coryn needs something too. . .at least according to me. According to Matt (again who thinks I spoil her) children should be seen and not treated. Or something like that.

She is a good eater, though. As a notoriously picky eater who is just now starting to enjoy foods with more than two ingredients and who still has a long list of taboo foods, I expected many battles over vegetables. However, Coryn will eat just about anything. I’m just glad she is getting these good habits ingrained before she is old enough to say, “Hey, Mommy, you aren’t eating your broccoli. Why do I have to?” Last night, for instance, I made a chicken stir-fry with red bell peppers, broccolini, green onions, and carrots . . . I don’t like carrots any way but raw, and even if it is smaller, prettier broccoli, broccolini is still broccoli, but I put them in for added color and because Matt likes that sort of thing. Coryn gobbled up her carrots while I was still picking around my helping looking for the chicken and asked for more carrots. She had the leftovers for lunch today then stole a leaf off the head of red cabbage I was cutting up for my salad and sat there happily munching it. I guess she got that from Matt.

Well, that’s it for me for now. Now I’m just holding my breath that Matt gets home before the Law of Entropy kicks in and the house disintegrates into its usual disorder. I’d like at least one other adult witness to its current state.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Normal days

Here I am at the end of the day, a cup of licorice tea, a Castle episode on the TV, uploading photos of my itty baby boo to face book to be admired by friends and family around the world. It’s a good time for reflection. Especially since Castle will be over in a few minutes and then I will be sans amusement. Matt is working nights this week, so he could be home as early as the next five minutes or at late as midnight. I’m not crazy about my husband’s schedule, but I do like having some nights to do things like this.

Today was a productive day in that I got done everything I intended to do: took Coryn to playgroup, collected the mail (including a “Grandma Box” my mom sent with some treats for Coryn and Matt’s birthday present), picked up a few items at the grocery store, and cleaned the bathroom. Not a hugely impressive list. Would’ve been better had I thrown in some writing or had more success with Coryn’s potty training.

Coryn’s potty training has been going much better, but today we had a lot of accidents, and it felt like a step backwards. She has taken it into her head that she has to use the big person toilet rather than her own potty chair. We purchased a stool so that she could wash her hands at the sink, and she uses that to get onto the toilet and balance herself. I think she got the idea because her friend Jack was over yesterday and she burst in on his potty training session. I’m just glad she didn’t decide she should go standing up because I was sure she’d want to try that too. We did manage to make a trip to the store with her in training underwear rather than diapers. That’s a nice first. I explained to her that there are potties pretty much everywhere if she needs to go and showed her the one in downstairs next to the community room. She thought this was hilarious.

“Haha! Potty!” she said, pointing to the toilet.

We only needed a handful of items at the store. Matt won’t be home for dinner at all this week, so we just got milk and bread and a few other lunch items. When we got back to our building there were two shopping carts full of food items with a sign that said the owners were PCS’ing (moving) and couldn’t take them so people should help themselves. I picked up a ton of spices, baking staples, and other unopened non-perishables. The moving person apparently had high baking ambitions. I got three bags of chocolate chips, a bag of powdered sugar, a box of salt, a ton of spices and seasonings (Including chicken bullion cubes, which I covet), and lots of canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. We still have two years here, and I hope we don’t have two entire cartloads of baking supplies left over when we finally leave. I can’t stand throwing things away. That said, I do have two containers of cornstarch which I will never use up. . . Anyone want some cornstarch?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Potty Training Peril

I bought Coryn some training pants. She seems more accepting of them than she is of "big girl" underwear. I guess it's the extra padding, and since then potty training has improved considerably. Coryn does not like the feel of wet training pants. She is still, however, completely terrified of her potty seat. I have no idea why. It doesn't flush or make any scary noises. It's comfortable and just her size. But still, she acts like using it is the end of the world.

Yesterday, we were continuing on our potty training quest, me escorting her to sit on the potty and asking her constantly if she had to go. She would sit there and stubbornly do nothing. Occasionally she would try to milk to situation by having me play hand clapping games (she is very into games/songs that involve finger motions and hand clapping, right now), but she never actually "went." Her training pants even stayed dry.

Confused and wondering if I needed to up her fluid in take, I was about to give up and put on her diaper for nap time, when I noticed she was crouched down in the middle of the living room with her legs and knees clenched desperately together.

I rushed her to the bathroom and took off her training pants. They had a small wet spot, so I thought, "Dang, too late." Exasperated, I told her to sit on her potty pot while I went and got her another set of training pants. She started to sob.

"No! No! Diapers!" she begged.

"No, you stay on your potty pot until I get your new pants, and don't get up or you will get in trouble," I ordered. She kept whining but obeyed, so I left her there long enough to put her old pair in the laundry and grab a new pair out of the bedroom. When I came back she was weeping while potty tinkled uncontrollably into the potty pot.

"No, no, no," she said. She couldn't hold it in any longer. She had to go in the potty pot. The agony of it was too much to bear.

"Wow! Awesome! Such a big girl!" I gushed. "Look what you did! What a good job!" She sobbed some more. I ended up having to hug her and give her her "treat" reward (some candy hearts) before she'd stop crying.

That was our only success for the day. After that I put her down for her nap, and when I got her back up, she chose to pee on her bed when Daddy put in her a time out for throwing a book at Mommy (I told Matt that maybe until we are finished with this stage of training, unsupervised time outs aren't the best discipline solution). This morning she went on her pot again, but only after I caught her "in the act" and forced her to sit down to finish.

I'm not sure why she finds going on the potty scary, but after she does it, she literally quivers in fear . . . she likes washing her hands A LOT though. I have to be very patient with her five minutes scrubbing, four minutes rinsing, three minutes drying process. Well, little steps forward, I guess.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Various Poems that Flitted out of my Pen

The Centipede

In this park there is a centipede
A villainous, poisonous centipede
A loathsome, wretched centipede;
I saw him just today.

And when I saw this centipede
It started a one woman stampede.
I could not sit and quietly read
Til it had gone away.

Oh it would be a valorous deed
To step upon that centipede
But I balked and went weak kneed,
And so its here to stay.

I appeal to your pity or maybe your greed
If you should spy this centipede
Please its creepy breath impede;
Perhaps I'll even pay.

Cleaned the bathroom in my underwear.
That's not as sexy as it sounds
And looking back it doesn't even sound sexy.
Spent hours in the park
Rescuing my toddler from other toddlers
And frequently visa versa.
There are few things as stressful as a toddler war.
Remembered a day when I had time.
Remembered a day when all was in order.
Remembered a day that didn't involve diapers.
This year was not that day.
Nor the year before it.
Yet it has been an extremely good year
for baby kisses.

Consider the ant, O sluggard,
But if you don't my two-year-old will
She'll hover above fascinated
Amazed at how creepy they feel.

“Bye-bye, chickens!” my two-year-old waves to the sparrows.
Her world is too busy for multiple categories
To her all birds are chickens
All women are mommies
And all people are friends.

Gonna party all Summer
In the sun and in the shade
Gonna eat some ice cream
And drink lots of lemonade
Put a blanket on the grass
And sleep outside all night
Gonna go fishing
And hope the fishies bite.
Gonna have a picnic
With cookies, cake, and pie,
Gonna blow some bubbles
Watch them float up to the sky.
Maybe we'll vacation
Go down to the sea
Run barefoot on the sunny sand
We'll be happy as can be.
Gonna play this summer
We're gonna have a ball
Oh yes, we'll love this summer
The best season of them all.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Ninja Kitty

The events of the last few days lead to only one logical conclusion: our cat is a Ninja.

Our second story apartment has two balconies, one off the bedroom and another off our living/dining area. Both of them are netted in to keep birds out and pets in, so I've always considered them a safe place for both Coryn and Kamikaze to play. Yesterday morning, however, Coryn comes to me in a panic.

“Mommy! Kazi! Kazi!” She took my hand and pulled me out onto our living room balcony and pointed through the mesh. There, on the four foot wide ledge, was Kamikaze, on the wrong side of the netting.

“Meow,” said Kazi, looking innocent and lost. I carefully inspected the mesh, finding no cat sized holes. I checked around the edge for gaps. Nothing. Realizing that she could've gone through in the bedroom and walked around to the living room on the ledge, I checked the bedroom. No holes there. Now what?

Cats stuck in trees, call the fire department. Cats stuck on ledges? Call in the Marines! Well, a Marine. I just happen to have one handy.

After a few attempts I got a hold of Matt at work. Now, Matt has not been on speaking terms with Kamikaze since she chewed through the cord for his computer headset (among other things, she's a destructive cat.).

“Is she meowing?” he asked.

“Not at the moment,” I said. Actually, she was taking a nap, but I wanted my cat back.

“Hopefully she stays there,” he grunted. Finally he agreed to come home. Matt suggested she probably got out through the un-screened window in the laundry room, but she didn't seem to be able to jump back inside, in spite of my coaxing and pleading.

Meanwhile, Kamikaze had discovered this new perch put her within hissing distance of birds. She sat there “Merrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrowwwwwing” at a large crow who sat just out of reach. Finally, one of her victims, a smaller, black and white bird, had had enough. It launched itself at her dive bomb style, pulling up just inches from her (now cowering) kitty head. For the first since the beginning of her high wire adventure, Kamikaze looked ready to be rescued.

“How are we doing this?” I asked.

“I figured you could climb through the window and hand her in to me,” Matt said casually.

“Me?” I asked.

“Yeah, I can't fit through the window.” This was true. Still, I had expected Matt to draft me into cat rescue ops. It was actually pretty uncomfortable, getting through the window, but I managed, and a four foot ledge makes the second story seem pretty tame. I fetched her, handed her back in to Matt, and grabbed onto his shoulders so he could hoist me back in. Safe inside once more, I cuddled my kitty, feeling pretty good about the whole thing. I made sure to keep the laundry window closed after that.

Then, this morning, I realized the cat was missing. . .

I found her, again on the ledge, this time with the window still closed. Frustrated and not wanting to call Matt home again, I opened the window and started looking for something to put outside so she could climb up. . .

“Meow,” Kamikaze said, right in my ear. I turn around and there she was, sitting right on the window seal beside me.

“Now why didn't you do that yesterday?” I groaned. Kamikaze just looked smug.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Last night I was plagued by guilt and regret over something left behind, something abandoned over three years ago when my marriage started over shadowing all other pursuits. I lay in bed, trying to sleep, going over all the mistakes, all the things that had gone wrong, and all the other reasons I never finished writing that particular novel.

I start stories all the time, but I finish maybe one in ten (if that), but this particular story had grown to almost 300 hand written pages (with my handwriting that equals about 200 type written pages) before it was set aside in a box of manuscripts to suffer three years of neglect. I'd even typed up the first few chapters (57 pages type written). . . and last night, unable to rest, I found the file on my laptop and started reading. I forced myself to stop around midnight, but now I'm determined to start again. I know where I went wrong. I always make the mistake of letting my characters get married too early in the story and then they want to settle down and stop doing exciting things that keep the plot going. After all, who wouldn't rather go on a honeymoon than return to the castle of the evil king to challenge the dark forces attempting to overrun his homeland?

Jonas, my main character, certainly didn't want to go back to the castle (especially since his new bride was supposed to be the bride of the king's son. He married her after their daring escape.). Oh, he had reasons to go back. There was destiny involved, and evil bad guys in black capes and hoods (you know anyone in a black cape is bad news.), and I planned to burn down his hideout in order to force them out of hiding, but at that point I just wasn't buying the storyline any more. I abandoned the story and started writing “The Invisible Princess,” a shorter, less dramatic work that I did finish, and am still proud of despite several very rough patches in the narrative. Then I got married and basically stopped writing. I have had very few projects since then that got over the first few paragraphs and the two that did ran into plot holes even larger than Jonas's unwillingness to return to danger post wedding. Well, the story about the young man pursuing a fugitive who happened to be his own father ran into a plot hole. The story about a prince who has to go on a series of quests to save his father from supernatural forces in an Egyptian style kingdom ran into bad writing. I still think the plot works. I just wasn't happy with the way I was conveying the ideas.

But Jonas's whole issue was that I went about twenty pages allowing him to be perfectly happy simply because I got sucked into the love story, which was very appealing. Maybe it just wasn't the story to write while desperately missing my (then) boyfriend. After all, if I had to be half a world away from the man I loved, at least I could write about two lovers who weren't spending the summer on different continents. Now that I have my guy handy, there is no more need to live vicariously through Jonas and Lady Brynn, so I can make them as miserable as I want. Mu ha ha ha! Oh the power . . . Nah, I still like writing kissy scenes too much.

Either way, I think I can make something of this story. I need to just force myself to write again. It's been too long.