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Archive for December, 2007

Mousy murder

We have mice in our cold storage room in the basement, and in the closets down there. We keep the extra dog food in a storage closet along with tons of other crap, and when I took out my winter boots, they were filled with dog food. They also got inside the gift I was keeping for my 5-year-old nephew – a set of kid-sized tools from Home Depot and filled his little tool belt up with food too. That made for a more amusing gift-opening experience. He was so happy he has his very own level and chalk line, he didn’t care.

So J did the manly thing when we found the boot full of food and set out traps in the cold storage room. The mouse find their way in every fall, no matter how many little cracks J stops up with steel wool. The kids refuse to go in when this happens, making it easier for me to hide gifts from them.

But today, our remaining cat, Roxy, got into the room unsupervised. Predator that she is, she found one trap under the shelving and dragged it out to the middle of the basement. Traps themselves aren’t so easy for a cat to carry, but when there is a nice, plump mouse in it, it’s a snap – so to speak.

Maya found the result, which is a bad thing. She came screaming upstairs, raving about “blood everywhere”! I didn’t panic. Maya exaggerates. A lot. Sure enough, there was a dead mouse, caught in the trap only by maybe a lip (eeewwww!), but I think Roxy did it a favour and finished it off. The ‘blood everywhere’ turned out to be a smear on the trap itself.

The positive side to all this is that Maya has now announced she will never again go down to the basement and since that is where the TV is, maybe she’ll never watch TV again. I wouldn’t count on it, but then again, I wouldn’t put it past her, either. When she was four years old and we lived in a different house, I flushed a wasp that got inside down the toilet on the main level and she refused to use that toilet ever after, convinced the wasp was going to swim back up and bite her on the butt. That’s only mildly insane when you are four, although she did irritatingly keep it up the whole summer until we moved. But what pushes it over the top is that this summer, she remembered the incident and now refuses to use the ground floor toilet in this house, which has basically the same lay-out.

I totally understand why people chose not to have children, given that they suck very life out of you for 20 years or so, but I do feel a little sorry for those who live the stable, expected life that comes from not living with these unpredictable, insane little creatures. Like, for example, an 11 year old who refuses must go upstairs to pee because her mother flushed a wasp down the main floor toilet in another house 7 years ago. I giggle every time I think of it.

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Someone said that to me the other day. She claimed that having children made it impossible to read. I told her she’d just not looking at it the right way. Then I told her I read my New Yorker magazine in the shower. I wasn’t kidding.

So, in her honour, when and where I read:

1. In the shower. We have one of those multi-shelved racks in the far corner of the tub, so I prop the magazine in there, with some shampoo bottle holding it up. Yes, it gets a bit damp, but it’s a magazine, so who cares. I keep my towel in reach to dry my hands before turning the page.

2. While singing lullabies to Boo. I have several songs – Mama’s Going to Buy You a Mockingbird, Little Boy Blue, You Are My Sunshine – that I have so utterly memorized that I can sing them while reading something else. I can’t do the more serious stuff, though. I read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol a couple years ago, and found that the unfamiliar language required even that small portion of my brain dedicated to the song.

3. In the car waiting for kids, or even at long stop lights.

4. While walking the dog, as long as I don’t need gloves.

5. While playing games with Boo. The older two don’t let me get away with it anymore.

6. While frying anything.

7. During meals, if I am alone. I’ve been trained that reading while eating with others is rude, but sometimes I sneak it in when I am just with the kids, just leaving a newspaper lying there on the table so it doesn’t look so obvious.

8. In waiting rooms. In fact, waiting for anything, like the sub sandwich to be made or to return something.

9. While brushing and flossing.

Many of these places are good for knitting too. Doesn’t work so well in the shower. Knitting is also good for watching TV or when chatting with people. I got most of a hat done during parent-teacher interviews, as I waited for the teachers to be freed up. At one point, another parent commented on the hat and how nice it was, and lamented that she hadn’t knit in so long. Didn’t have the time, she explained. I didn’t point out that both of us were sitting there waiting, but I was getting a hat done.

Of course, she’s making the same mistake many people do – that knitting is something else to do, rather than the thing I do to fill in the boring bits. And same with reading. You don’t need extra time to do these things. You do these things to make the other daily stuff less boring. Well, I do, anyway.

Maya’s iPod has opened up a whole new venue of boredom-busting, since I discovered downloading podcasts. Now, as I walk the dog, shovel the driveway and shop for groceries, I listen to radio documentaries and interviews. Now I never have to be left alone with my own thoughts, ever!

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A cuckoo in the nest

Someone just surfed onto my blog using the search string, “tiny whale.” I swear on all my chocolate I have never used the word ‘whale’ in my blog. Until now.

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When Maya was 11 weeks old, a newspaper story came out of two sets of parents in the US who had discovered their sons had been switched in the hospital at birth. This boys were about 9 years old, and yet the parents switched them back. We were baffled. After only 11 weeks, we were so utterly besottled with this child that we could not imagine giving her to someone else, even if she turned out to not be ours biologically. Which is good, because yesterday we had this conversation:

Me: Look, I got this promotion card for 28 free song downloads and one audiobook. Cool, huh?

Maya: I want the songs.

Me: Okay, but I get the audiobook then.

Maya: Well, duh. It’s a book. Like I’d want that. (laughs, then assumes a false voice) No, no, give me the book! (laughs uproariously, even more so as I start to sob quietly in my chair.)

Wherever my real daughter is, I hope she’s with a proper, book-loving family. I’ll always love my reading-phobic Maya, even though it is completely clear that she was switched a birth with another kid.

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Asher is indulging in something I wouldn’t call his favourite holiday tradition, but it certainly is his most common: getting sick.

He likes to mix it up and generally stays away from common, boring illnesses. At 10 months, he developed a raging fever and a red, blotchy rash over most of his body that had every doctor in the office in to stare at him, but was never diagnosed. A year later, he pulled out the big guns and developed pneumonia. He let us off easy with pink eye one year, and didn’t even pass it on to anyone. And he did go with that old stand-by – the flu – to miss his Hanukkah concert when he was in kindergarten.

This year, he is back to keeping mystery in our lives, and I am not amused. I declared our own personal snow day yesterday (37 cms of snow! A foot and 2 inches for the non-metrically-inclined). Asher complained that his final house league soccer game was at lunch time and they needed his skills in defense, then lay down on the couch and pretty much didn’t move for the rest of the day. He had deep, dark circles under his eyes and I figured a couple late nights on the weekend were catching up to him, and that explained the headache he complained of, and the achy limbs.

So, of course, he’s no better today. He’s completely pale except for the dark circles, has no energy and the same headache. No fever. Mystery. And a doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning.

If I celebrated Christmas, I’d be freaking out about now, being stuck in the house with a sick boy.

At least he’s doing this now and will hopefully be better for our far more fun Christmas tradition. For years now, we have been going up to the cottage and on Christmas day, we go tubing at a nearby ski hill. At first, we just went with my brother and sister-in-law and their three kids. Since then, it has expanded to include several other families and this year, our group has so far reached 11 children and 8 adults planning to go.

Tubing is always fun, but the particular enjoyment of doing it on Christmas day is that there are no line-ups anywhere, as it is just us and a few Hasidic Jews from the area.

Okay, obligatory apres-big-snowstorm photos:

Jasper discovered he can dig real holes in this stuff!

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The plow made such a big snow bank that Boo can slide down the middle of the lawn to the end and hit the bank instead of the street.

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Snow, snow and more snow!

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Our side door. My compost bin and extra garbage bins are under there too.

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Master of all he surveys.

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to sleep …

and dream lots of really weird dreams.

This was my day yesterday: I slept. I hate when that happens.

I seem to have a bit of a cold and coughing kept me up late Friday night, but when J woke me up at almost 10 am, I’d had pretty much 9 hours sleep, which should be enough for anyone. It didn’t feel like it. I felt really dopey. We started getting ready for synagogue, but discovering Boo had a fever derailed that one. She wanted me to lie in my bed with her, so I got my newspaper and propped myself up to read. Next thing I knew, she was gone and Maya was accusing me of going back to sleep. The nerve! I assured her I was just resting my eyes, then tried to fake my way through a conversation as I dozed off again.

A friend called, long distance. I hoped that would perk me up, and it did. But when I got up afterwards, I was really dizzy. You know how on TV they show that someone is dizzy or disoriented by moving the camera in slow motion so everything blurs? I actually feel like that sometimes. It feels like, when I move my head, that my brain takes longer to catch up to where I have turned. Very disorienting. I went back to bed.

For the next four hours, I went to the mall with my kids and J and looked at bedsheets and book shelves. We rearranged the family room, installing a flat-screen TV we’d somehow had in storage, and hooked it up to a spare computer so we could stream TV shows off the internet. I cleaned up all kinds of cat poop the dog had dragged upstairs. Then, I packed to go to Ireland, and even managed to get on in first class. Once on the plane, I realized I’d forgotten all my medications.

And on it went, vivid and realistic, except for the part where I’m certainly not going to Ireland (and never forget my meds), the dog doesn’t drag cat poop around the house, we don’t have a flat screen TV just kicking around and no need for bedsheets. I’d like the bookshelves, though.

After those travels, I managed to drag myself out of bed for a while and have something to eat. J went to a friends with the kids for dinner, and I was back to bed. All in all, I was awake about 6 hours yesterday.

The vertigo is weird, but the sleeping jag is something I’ve experienced since I was a teenager. More fun with fibromyalgia!

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The weird searches are popping up again. Someone was looking for “bad bad webkinz,” which sounds really obscene to me, but maybe I just have a dirty mind. Someone else actually googled, “Chinese have floppy breasts.” This is bizarre on so many levels, not the least of which is that in my personal experience, women of Chinese origin tend to have smaller rather than larger breasts, and those are less likely to be floppy. But really, level of floppiness all comes down to letting small children do nursing calisthenics. That, and gravity, which affects all of us, no matter what our ethnic origin.

Every day for the last month, and I exaggerate not one bit, someone has googled ‘hanukaka.’ Why? Would the next person please tell me? I mean, I know why they end up here, because last year, I told a funny little story about how in daycare two years ago Boo made a brown, lumpy banana thing while all the other kids made Christmas tree decorations from their cinnamon clay and the daycare ladies proudly presented it to me and said, “Happy Hanukaka!” (The picture is here.) But what else can Hanukaka mean? I guess I’ll just have to go google it myself.

I went and found that entry from last year and discovered it was exactly a year ago, minus one day, and I was describing the green grass on my lawn. Oh, the difference a year makes! We are currently being so buried in snow we had to cancel our family get-together because you can’t distinguish the road from the not-road, as J discovered when he went to get Maya from a sleep-over. I swear, it bearly goes a day without snowing this year and it is lovely. As long as it isn’t bitterly cold, I’m happy.

I have even been getting lots of exercise shoveling the driveway. I actually like doing this. It provides a sense of accomplishment I cannot explain. But I shovel and the kids and dog play and it is good for all of us. Except my neighbour, with whom we share a snowblower. He derives deep, childish joy from snowblowing and when he sees me out there with my shovel, always comes to complain that I am depriving him. I tell him I am sure he can find someone else who would be happy to have him blow them.

Backyard fun (Boo needed frequent rescuing):

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Boo had an eye appointment yesterday and it was great. It was almost a year ago that we found out her eyesight was dreadful (the doctor admitted today that when she first came in, she was legally blind). When she first got her glasses, they improved her vision to 20/200. That was the good number, which really upset me.

Today, with her glasses on, her vision is 20/30. Unbelievable. And she still has a couple years of improvement, since the doctor says we have until about age 7 before her eyes will no longer change for the better. But 20/30 already! I honestly never thought she’d be able to see that well, ever. It was a good day.

So now we get to go get new glasses. Yay! Her old ones are scratched and battered, so it is about time anyway. She’s excited about picking out new frames. I’m excited about her eyesight improving enough to justify new glasses.

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I had something written about Hanukkah – of which today is the last day and yet I am sure I will still be hearing “happy Hanukkah from well-wishing but clueless acquaintances until the 25th – but I keep not getting it posted and now it is over, so I think I’ll treat it like the minor holiday it is and ignore it. Is that a run-on sentence?

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I just read in the paper that Matthew Perry, Zach Ephron and Michelle Trachtenberg are going to be staring in a new movie called 17. According to the blurb, it is about a dad who gets zapped back to being 17-years-old and goes to his daughter’s high school, for unexplained reasons, and his daughter develops a crush on him.

I think if pretty Zach were to take a look at the photo on the link to Perry I provided, he’d think twice about agreeing to be this guy’s younger self. But beyond that point, may I just add an very hearty, very sincere EEEEEWWWWWWW!!!! What kind of sicko came up with that plot idea? I know a zillion girls think Zach is just the biggest cutie ever, but are they really going to want to see a movie in which the concept is that their dad could have once been the biggest cutie in school? And the whole daughter/dad thing – it’s just way too incesty. Blech.

And what’s with the girly boys? Zach is all over my daughter’s wall and he’s prettier than his girlfriend. I don’t think this is an entirely new thing, because I remember reading some deep analysis once that said young teenage girls like girly boys because they represent unthreatening masculinity, but I personally never got it. My first crush at age 13 was on Harrison Ford, who was gruff, crabby and scarred. I still have a crush on him.

I can’t wait to see what kind of hits those tags get me.

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It was one of those perfect winter days today, where the snow fell in big, slow flakes and made everything look beautiful. There was no wind and it was mild. I took Jasper for a long walk, then got the kids and when we got home, Asher and Boo played outside for a long time with the dog. It was idyllic and fun and helped me breath properly again. Here are pictures. Lots of pictures.

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He loves to smush his whole face in the snow.

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I don’t want to go on about it, but the reason it was so nice to watch everyone romp around was that my cat, Theo, died yesterday at the age of four, very suddenly. He developed crystals in his urine, his bladder got blocked and his kidneys were damaged beyond help by the time I got him to the vet. He died in my arms shortly thereafter.

He was a marvelous cat. He was utterly-unfeline-like in his friendliness and love of everything. He purred at his vet appointments. At one, he had to take a medication that had the side effect of calming them down and when the vet walked in, he was lounging on her counter, purring happily. She said, “Wow, that stuff really mellows them out sometimes.” I told her, “He hasn’t taken it yet. This is just his personality.” Even my mother liked him, and my mother hates cats.

I miss him so much.

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