Monday, January 24, 2005

Sick of it all

Being snowed in for a couple of days in nearly two feet of snow made me take stock this weekend. I looked around, at what I had; at my kids, and all they have. And I realized something -- they have just too much crap. And, so sadly, I can't TiVo it away....

The problem is, we are coming off a week of severe stomach virus. Couple that with 21 inches of snow, and you have a "Shining" moment waiting to happen. We were trapped with the virus, then snow, then in a wreckage of our own making. Movie voiceover guy: "It was the stuff that HELL was made of...."

Cara was crazy sick for three days. She couldn't do anything but watch TV. Couldn't eat, couldn't move. Couldn't change her socks or brush her hair, either. She was in heaven. This meant no picking up after herself. But, when you consider that she was knocked out sick, this should not have been an issue. Surrre....

She was hit with the virus last Tuesday. I came home from a meeting Wednesday evening sick as a dog. When I came out of my stupor on Friday, I realized the house looked like something seen only in tornado aftermath footage.

Cut to the weekend. Ryan gets sick 5 a.m. Saturday morning. But he can't accept that. He has to keep pulling out toys, digging for gloves and hats in a plea for snow action--even though he'd get a raging fever whenever the Motrin wore off.

By Sunday, I'd had it with the TV being on. Cara was no longer sick and after a couple of hours in the snow, wanted to return to the comforting glow of "Even Stevens" and "Lizzie McGuire." On the other hand, Ryan, still sick, refused to lay down and take his illness like a man--"SpongeBob's not on."

So I told them we'd play with Play-Doh and the ol' Lite Brite. But first, I'd have to find the little plastic light pieces. This led to a sobering reminder that we have an Easy Bake oven that was used once, more Hasbro and Milton Bradley games than we WANT to play with (because "no fair" is shouted more often than "I connected four!"), enough Hot Wheels and Match Box cars to circle our town twice. About 49,000 crayons and markers. A jillion coloring books, activity books, and just plain BOOKS. Yet, not enough Lite Brite lights (Mike thinks they're out in the garage--see previous blogs about Mike's organizing efforts).

So, I made an agreement with the big guy (actually, it was just a stipulation of marriage)--the next person to give Cara or Ryan ANYthing before their birthdays this spring has to put $100 into savings. We need to punish ourselves. It's the only way to stop the insanity. You can't keep up with the stuff if it just keeps coming in.

Which led me to the realization that all housekeeping should be as easy as TiVo housekeeping. With TiVo, when the recorded shows pile up, you scroll through, decide if you want to keep or delete them, press a button--badabing, badaboom, done. I feel like "Bewitched." No tapes or DVDs to organize. No piles of stuff to move around.

I need TiVo cleaning for every room in my house. It could pop up a list of stuff in Cara's room: I could scroll through and click what to keep, what to delete, what to put in the closet, a drawer. Click, click, done.

Why, oh, why is this not available?? TiVo, WHY DO YOU TAUNT ME?!?

--Catherine Schetting Salfino

Monday, January 10, 2005

The case of the missing gift cards

A year or so ago, a friend from high school told me how annoying it was when his older girl, who was 9 or 10 at the time, would roll her eyes and/or back talk. I, in a rare Mary Poppins moment, told him that "That's just girls. It's what we women do." Cut to yesterday. When my brain was actually undergoing a mental meteor shower after Cara rolled her eyes and started with the snarky comments for the billionth time in one weekend. Did Mary Poppins ever threaten to wash any kids' mouths out using a foaming soap dispenser?

Mike --the ole' softy-- told me to put the dispenser down. Foaming soap is not the answer. He said he'd give me a Sunday morning to myself while he took the kids to the mall. Sounded good.

Cut to 20 minutes later. He couldn't find the Gap gift cards he'd had in his hands two days prior. Gift cards from MY family. One of which my own mother had lost before she even gave it. And told us the story of how she had to have the original gift cards cancelled so she could re-order new ones. THIS was one of the cards Mike couldn't find. I think retailers rely on this kind of insanity to boost their earnings.

Instead of a quiet morning to myself, we spent the next half-hour searching for the cards together. Mike's coats, Mike's bill box. Mike's dresser drawers. My wallet, my purse, my bill box. My dresser drawers. Why anything of mine was dragged into the search, I don't know. Because I never touched the cards. When Mike was going to take Ryan to the store last week, he had the cards on his person. But after they were on the road, they decided not to go. Yesterday, Mike kept saying he remembered taking them out of his coat and setting them down when he came home that day. How helpful.

Since I was foaming at the mouth at that point, and soap had nothing to do with it, he decided to take the kids and get the hell out of the house before they all ended up with teeth marks.

I should have put my feet up, clicked on the Fine Living channel and stopped the search. Coulda, shoulda, woulda--didn't. I went through everything again. I looked under beds. In the kids rooms. Stupid places like MY car. Meanwhile, Mike kept calling me every half-hour to report that (first call): he was still mentally retracing his steps; (second call): I should look on the entertainment center in the basement; (third call): who remembers what he was calling about because by then I had a whole new blob of aggravation to report:

While searching for the missing gift cards in the travesty that is Cara's room, which is a scary and depressing undertaking, I realized that the purse she was looking for earlier was probably thrown out. A week or so earlier, Cara had gone shopping with a friend. The purse she brought had a--don't say it--gift card in it. She brought the purse home in a giant shopping bag, removed her purchases, and--I believe--left the purse in the shopping bag to get tossed into the garbage can. So, unless the purse is somehow hidden the the murk of her closet or under her bed, it--and the gift card that had $10 left on it--is probably gone.

All too soon, Mike came home with the kids. I popped two Advils, made the kids lunch and prepared to take Cara and Ryan to Cara's indoor soccer game. Mike went to hunker down on the computer. Suddenly, he bounds up the stairs and slaps down the two missing gift cards.

"They were behind the computer screen. All you had to do was lift the screen up and they were there on the desk."

All I had to do?? All I had to do!? What the @!%? I'm seeing meteor showers again...


Friday, January 07, 2005

Happy New Year!

I'm back in action. That's right. The holidays are over, I've completed the decorating, drinking, baking, eating of fattening things, shopping, drinking, wrapping, eating of more fattening things, visiting, stressing, drinking, hosting, drinking and...for some reason, I don't remember where I was going with this.

But the big Holiday 2004 season is done. Now, on to the Big Letdown of 2005. For the kids, this began New Year's Day. We had some friends over on New Year's Eve--my two single-mom friends (well, one is in the middle of deciding if she's going to be single or not--why this is such a wrenching decision, I just don't get!) and their kids.

Ryan took a nap from about 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., and was able to stay up past midnight. Cara, working on her natural kid energy, was up until 1 a.m. For fun, she and her friends created holiday "poppers" that exploded with metallic confetti when the ends were pulled at midnight by everyone. It was a great thrill, very festive, and I'm still finding sequins around the house. Mike and I were up 'til 2 doing a clean-up.

Ryan, being a kid of great intelligence, decided that since he went to bed at 1 a.m., it would be a good idea to wake up at 6:45 a.m. He taps me, I open my eyes, and he starts doing this "Walk Like An Egyptian" thing in my face. I hissed at him to go back to bed, where he remained for another hour. Cut to later the same day, he naps for three hours....Me, I'm on the coffee Rx.

By 4 p.m., both kids were looking for playdates. I was looking for a quiet place to hide. Finding none, I decided to take everyone to Home Depot. Happy New Year, everybody! The moaning and groaning that ensued should make me remember that, the next time I want some "me time," I should tell Cara and Ryan I'm going to everyone's favorite do-it-yourself warehouse.

Of course, we only go there for things like big pieces of plexiglass. That's right. Santa brought a 500-piece puzzle that was set up on the coffee table in the living room for about five days. Because it takes more than five days for me to do a 500-piece puzzle. Santa forgot that kids aren't going to really invest a lot of time in a puzzle when there's a perfectly good SpongeBob video game calling their name.

So, the half-completed puzzle had to be moved before the New Year's gathering. On his own, without telling me either what he was up to of that he might need some help, Mike flattened a box from a Hot Wheels race track set and proceeded to try to slide the puzzle on by himself. The unfortunate result led to him calling for my help. I looked at two days of puzzling down the drain, and proceeded to slide what was still together onto the floppy Hot Wheels board. At which point, Mike got an itch on his face and just let go of the left side of the cardboard.

Me: "Do you need a brain transplant?! I could have left the puzzle out during the party and it wouldn't be as wrecked as it is now!"

Mike: "What? I had an itch!"

Hence, the plexiglass shopping trip. So that a half-finished puzzle can be moved out of sight without actually destroying most of it. And, perhaps--and I'm getting misty-eyed just thinking about it, we'll have started a new family tradition--"Happy New Year! Let's go to Home Depot!"