Wednesday, December 18, 2013


I was sitting on the floor sorting laundry yesterday afternoon when I heard a small rustling sound behind me.  I turned quickly to find Coco inches from my face.  Her eyes were wide.  She stared at me for a second, then said in a low whisper, "I'm going to be sad when you die."  Then she walked away. 

Today on Creepy Things Your Kids Do!

she's terrifying

I had a dentist appointment a couple days ago.  It was just a cleaning but they told me I must return soon to have a crown placed on a particularly unhappy tooth.  It was not welcome news -- my last crowning didn't go so well.

I said I understood the importance of crowns, of course, and would be happy to come back at a most convenient time to have another crown installed by their extremely capable hands but the only problem was, you see, when I do I'm going to freak the hell out.

I told both the dentist and the dental hygienist, both lovely women who listened to me carefully with nodding heads, that pretty much everything they do to me in the dental chair these days is triggering my fight-or-flight response.  And honestly, truly -- and I really mean this -- I do not want to fight them.  But I will.

The dental hygienist began chuckling and said, "Uh-oh, there's going to be a red flag on your file with a large note that says, "CAREFUL, SHE'S A BITER!!"  The dentist and the dental hygienist started waving their arms around and laughing at that -- "A BITER!  A BITER!  OH NO, A BITER!"

I was like, "What?  No no, ladies, I'm not going to bite you.  My arms are just going to fly up all synchronized-like and clock you both in the jaw at the exact same time, gangster style.  Then I'm going to run down the hall and out the front door wearing my bulky black dental work sunglasses and my teeny little dental work bib.  I'm going to fight AND flight.

They're not gonna see that coming.

They promised they would work with my newfound dental anxiety but I'm not convinced.  The dental hygienist walked me to the front desk and told the receptionist, "MJ here needs to schedule a crown as her temperament allows."  Then she patted my shoulder.

Our new refrigerator is pretty great except it started leaking all over the floor five minutes after the water line was hooked up to the ice maker.  We joked our fridge had an incontinence problem.  The thought did not make us too keen on drinking the water dispensed from the door.

The fridge repairman's scheduler made a mistake so the repairman showed up for our appointment four hours early, which would have been fine except I wasn't home.  And our cleaning lady was.

I received a frantic call from the cleaning lady, quite freaked out by a man trying to enter our home, claiming to be a repairman and insisting he had an appointment.  She was like, "No, you don't!" and he was like, "Yes, I do!"

By the time I got home, it was a tense stand-off indeed.  I'm pleased to report our cleaning lady did not assault the man with a Swiffer, though she held one at the ready.  I brokered the truce.  The fridge guy spent two minutes fixing the fridge and left, but the cleaning lady probably needed several drinks and a doobie to finally calm down.

I sent Lucien to school without breakfast for the first time ever this week.  It was a rushed morning and Lucien refused to eat the oatmeal Alex placed in front of him.  Loosh said, "I don't want oatmeal, I want cereal" and Alex said, "There's not enough cereal for both you and Coco" and we all knew as soon as Lucien started eating cereal, Coco was going to demand cereal too and we were not up for that fight.  The oatmeal was plentiful, and it was good.

I stepped in and said, "Lucien, we're serving oatmeal for breakfast.  If you don't eat it, you don't eat it, but that's all you're getting."  As soon as I said it, I thought to myself, "Hmm...that could have been handled better, hardass"  because I knew what was coming.  I have a very stubborn son, you see.

As I feared, Lucien sat back in his chair, crossed his arms and said, "Fine, I guess I'm not eating breakfast then" and I said "Fine" but what I really meant was "Shit."

It was ye olde power struggle.  Dreadful things.  But as a parent, once you've entered into a power struggle, it's a bad idea to back down.  You must be strong and not let the little punk smell your insecurity.  So I held firm.  We drove to school in silence and then OH MY GOD, he ran off into school without breakfast.

I texted Seattle Mom my failings and she sympathized -- many a parent has been made humble by ye olde power struggle.  She suggested I go visit The Loosh at lunch, which I did, and when I saw his face light up when I walked into the cafeteria, and saw him beaming when all his little friends clustered around me, and felt him grab my hand, I knew we were going to make it through No Breakfastgate 2013.

Our blissful mother and child reunion was interrupted by a call from the cleaning lady yelling about some guy trying to break into our house.  

Christmas is coming and I'm very excited.  It's my favorite time of year.  It's the only time of year I feel like baking, which can be quite alarming to my family members.  They sometimes walk into the kitchen slowly and ask with tense voices, "Hey....what are you doing over there?"

I feel energized by Christmas this year so agreed to lead the Christmas community service project at Coco's preschool.  It was a great project but took up a lot of time as well as space in my dining room.  Then I volunteered to collect money from all the parents in the class and buy all the teachers' gifts. I spent many a morning chasing a parent down in the preschool parking lot, begging them to give me money or sign a card and narrowly avoiding the squealing tires as they peeled away and yelled out the window, "Can't! Late for work!"

The teachers may wonder why half the parents in the class have the exact same handwriting.  I tried to disguise my forgeries by using different colored inks.

This was Lucien's recent karate homework on the theme of "patience."

Maybe I should think of cake when I'm in the dentist's chair.

She's a biter!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bright Ideas

I'm going to put off my oppressive holiday to-do list a while longer.  I'm hoping if I ignore it long enough, it will either 1) go away or 2) get bored and start doing itself.

We've got a new refrigerator.  The old one worked fine but it was small and ugly and when we first moved in we found an entire rotten chicken inside, a present from the previous owner.  It's been difficult to shake the image of that chicken.

A great appliance sale led to Bright Idea #1 -- buy a new fridge.

The new fridge delivery didn't go very well because I wasn't home when the delivery people arrived.  (Who comes at the beginning of a four-hour delivery window?  Nobody, refrigerator people, nobody.)  I was dropping Coco at school when the men called to say they were standing outside my house and a large refrigerator was sunning itself on my front lawn.

When I'm in a hurry on the road, everyone in Seattle seems out for a leisurely drive and all pedestrians seem hellbent on moseying.  I'm not generally a road rager but I may have laid on the horn once or twice.  My apologies -- it was full-on fridge panic.

I hadn't yet had time to empty the old refrigerator so I yelled "Hang on, I need a minute to empty this thing" as I ran into the house. OH, how they loved me then.

Nobody needs one million yogurts but that doesn't stop us from having them.  I began stacking the Danons and Fages in a pyramid formation on the floor and tossing bags of frozen peas and meatballs into the hallway.  I broke a sweat, which I hoped would endear me to the delivery men -- oh look, she's working so hard! -- but they had stone cold hearts.

It didn't help things when I yelled at my poor little schnauzer, "Why you always gotta be under my feet, dog?" as I dashed around the kitchen.  The delivery guys were evidently dog people because they couldn't even look me in the eye after that.

All's well that ends well.  The fridge is here and those guys aren't looking at me like that anymore.

Our new fridge is the obligatory stainless steel, a finish I don't particularly like but is still better than all the other options.  Why has no one come up with an attractive alternative to this awful fingerprint-riddled, non-magnetic surface?

It's a serious problem because Al and I are magnet collectors.  Check out this corkscrew beauty from the Czech Republic.  It fell off the fridge a year ago and the dude's head broke off. 

Our magnets needed a rad new home.  Then came Bright Idea #2 -- paint a wall with magnetic paint. 

The magnetic paint can said I needed three coats of magnetic paint to make my wall surface magnetic.  I dug in with gusto but the "what a fun idea" became "what in the bloody hell is this demon substance" pretty quickly.

Magnetic paint is awful stuff.  It's thick and has to be stirred constantly to prevent the important magnetic bits from congealing into a sludgy mess at the bottom of the can.  It smells awful and good lord, it spatters.

After three coats of paint, my magnets fell pathetically to the floor.  I gritted my teeth and began applying more coats of magnetic paint.  I couldn't admit defeat.  I wasn't going to come this far for nothing, time to double down.

Magnetic paint stains your hands, an issue that concerned me since the next day was Thanksgiving.  Our friends on The Street of Dreams hosted the Thanksgiving gathering this year.  I imagined walking into the party carrying my dish of bubbly hot Midwestern Cheesy Potatoes (with a crunchy Corn Flake topping no less), then everybody noticing my dark gray fingers as I served them up at the table and deciding they didn't need potatoes on their Thanksgiving plates this year.

Six coats of magnetic paint later, I was done.  I had nothing left to give.  The wall is now to the point where some of our lighter magnets kind of stay on.  Until they fall off. 

I covered the whole wall in chalkboard paint, too, so at least that part's cool.

Bright Idea #3 was an awesome new piece of furniture for our entryway.  I looked for this piece of furniture for a long time.  When I found it online, I danced joyfully around the house with my tape measure because I knew it was going to fit perfectly.

I was too right.  The deliverymen refused to put the hutch part on top of the base part because "It may fit perfectly, ma'am, but it's a little too perfect for us."  They were concerned about damage to our ceiling or floor, for which they would be liable.  They left it in two pieces in the middle of our entryway.  Alex gave me one of those narrow-eyed looks when he came home from work so I told him to stop looking at me like that and muster his can-do attitude, ASAP.

Seattle Mom and German Seattle Dad agreed to come over and help us with our furniture problem.  Al and I had a decent plan of attack, a careful plan that if executed properly should involve minimal damage to house surfaces.  But for some reason, in the heat of the moment, the four of us forgot the plan and just suddenly picked the thing up, lunged around a bit and shoved it on top of the base.

We did hella damage to our ceiling.

Bright Idea #4 was actually Al's bright idea.  He wanted to take the kids on the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad Santa Ride.  It sounded great in theory -- a choo-choo trip through the foothills of Mount Rainer, a visit with Santa on the train, hot chocolate, fuzzy blankets, popcorn -- it was a goddamn Norman Rockwell painting.

In reality, the Santa Train was a hot mess.  The inside of the train was as cold as the outside of the train. The water lines froze so there were no working bathrooms. Alex stood in line in the snack car for half an hour to pay a lot of money for lukewarm coffees.  There were many screaming babies.  And every time the train car lurched, all the people walking through the train car fell down. 

Chaos reigned on the Santa train.

The kids finally got to chat with Santa and afterwards he handed them some cheap plastic toys.  Coco got this generic Barbie.  She spent the rest of the trip making Fake Barbie do grotesquely terrible things.

Until it all went wrong --

By the end of our magical Santa Choo-Choo experience, Alex and I were dumbfounded and slap happy.  We could only laugh and laugh.  The kids kept asking, "What are you guys laughing about?" which made us laugh harder, which annoyed the kids, which made us laugh harder.  Then Santa came through and sat on Alex's lap.  We just have no idea.

 What happens on the Santa Choo-Choo stays on the Santa Choo-Choo.

We talked about it and have decided to lay off having ideas for awhile.  They're exhausting.