Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Parenting

Two things: today is Laura's 9th birthday. I am not sure how this is possible, since I don't feel even one day older since the day she was born. But I will say that on the day that she was born, all the angels got together, and decided to create a dream come true, so they sprinkled something in her hair and something something something eyes so blue! (Anyone who knows that song, please fill in.) I love that girl. She is spending tonight at another little girl's slumber party, hers is next week. She said, "I will try not to hog the spotlight." And all last night and this morning I forgot it was her birthday, until after she was already at school. I am going to swing by the store and get some cupcakes for after school. And maybe give her her present before her actual party. I think I was nine when I got my first iPod shuffle, weren't you?

And Hank. This morning somehow we overslept--he miraculously slept until after 9--and I woke up with twenty minutes to make his lunch, dress him, and take him to preschool. I ran downstairs, assembled a PB&J lunch, then ran back upstairs to drag him out of bed. He protested and said, "Can't I play with toys for a minute?" I needed to think quickly, so I dug deep and said, "If you come and get in the car right now, I will give you some M&Ms on the way." He cheerfully complied. Oh yes he did. Please look for my forthcoming book on parenting and child nutrition. I did give him a banana first.

I have more to say about the bunco night I attended this week. Oh yes I do have more to say. But I have to run right now. Happy Friday my dears.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Personal Organizer Secrets Revealed

Yesterday my interest was greatly piqued to find out that one of my acquaintances apparently has a personal organizer. Well, when she came to bring Laura back home, I would not let her go until she told me everything. The real picture is not as flossy as I was envisioning. I was thinking--and her little girl had made it sound like--she had a regular engagement with an organizer, and like you guys were saying, "Don't you need to fly on your own at some point?"

So this girl--who I've never blogged about before, but if I did I would call her Mary Poppins because she is Practically Perfect in Every Way, and I say that in love--told me about this website that has daily deals on different stuff, including lots of services like cleaning, massages, etc, geared towards whatever city you're in. Just glancing over it, it looks like a lot of restaurant discounts, but there are also some interesting housecleaning and spa things too. Anyway, she said that a deal popped up for three hours of organizing for $30, and she booked two sessions. Dang! I wish I'd seen that offer. I would have been like, honey, meet my garage. Usually this service costs $40 an hour, she said. The lady came and organized her junk drawers, her kids' art room, and her master bathroom.

So I asked what to me is the key question: was it worth it, or was it stuff you could have done for yourself? She said that it was a job she definitely could have done herself, and that she was a little disappointed because she thought that the organizer would bring more of a vision and a system that she could implement. I know what she means: I would love to have someone who is, like, a Theoretician of Organization come and help me set up a system for the paperwork, mail, and administrative tasks in this house. I need vision. I need strategy. I need strategery. Sounds like that's what my friend thought she was getting, but the person just neatened up. Still, she felt like a lot of the value was that getting this organizer person made her deal with these issues in her house that she wouldn't have made a priority on her own.

We talked about the fact that so many magazines and websites (not to mention The Container Store) have organizing as their focus, it's really something where the ideas are out there for anyone to grab and make use of, it's just a matter of having the gumption. I'm sure there are people who have some kind of genius for it though. Anymahoodle, if I had the disposable income, I could see having a one-time gig with a person to help, um, straighten me out. Someone who specialized in my special tastes and requirements. Because there are some things you can't ask your cleaning lady to do, right?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I Got To Get Me Some of That

I dropped Laura off at a friend's house in Fancy Land today, and the little girl said her mom couldn't come to the door because she was upstairs with her personal organizer.

And she meant a person, not a Blackberry. The way she said the lady's name, followed by "the person who organizes here," made it sound like a regular thing.

Well. That must be nice for her.

I came home and told Matt this bit of information, and he said, "Is that code, like, 'she's upstairs getting somethin' straightened out,' wink wink?" I said, "Honey, no, it means she has someone to help organize her house, which is way hotter than anything you may be imagining."

When she brings Laura home, I am going to get the deets, you betcha boots.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Summary Judgments: Books n' Jeans

I thought I just did one of these posts, but I looked and it was over a month ago. I'll try to keep them to once a month or so, because I could wear you out with all the opinions I have--around here it's opinions all night long. Just like Lionel Richie said.

At Hank's bedtime, he likes for one of us to lie down on the couch in his room for a few minutes. I've gotten into the habit of reading in there as he falls asleep. It's a peaceful time. We chat a little bit, then he says, "Okay, that's enough. Good night," and he turns over and goes to sleep. Sometimes if I'm caught up in my book, I stay there a while longer. In that venue, I like to read things that are absorbing but not demanding.

Right now it's that Andrew Young tell-all, The Politician: An Insider's Account of John Edwards's Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down. I know, I feel kind of gross even admitting this. But I thought there might be some nuance to John Edwards's scuzzbucketness that I was missing. So lemme tell you, it is a disturbing book. Disturbing because I think there are lots of powerful people like John Edwards was, just doing whatever the hell they want, living in a bubble-world created and maintained for them by people like Andrew Young. This guy's sycophancy is profound. Profound and revolting. If you're not up on this gossip, he's the guy who was JE's closest aide for years, he facilitated JE's long affair with Rielle Hunter and helped him keep it secret, and he finally claimed paternity of Rielle Hunter's baby when JE asked him to. Young seems to have very little sense of himself as an independent moral agent. He repeatedly says that he found Edwards's behavior wrong and "repulsive," yet nowhere does he recount any time where he confronted him or expressed disapproval. And as for John Edwards, good grief. That shit is bananas. Just like Gwen Stefani said.

In my own bedroom I'm still reading The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova. It's good. Not as good as The Historian, her first novel, but I'm very into it. I'm halfway through, and I cannot figure out what on earth is going to happen. Part of the reason I'm so mystified is that I can't decide what genre of novel this is. You know how, the genre governs the range of possible directions the plot can go in? Like, if you are reading a fluffy mom lit novel, like Slummy Mummy (hilarious), the heroine is not going to deal with her animosity towards her fellow room mom by having the woman whacked. Likewise, a magical dome is not going to descend over her town, stranding her antagonist on the outside. So, with Swan Thieves, I can't figure out what might happen because I can't figure out what genre this is.

And is it weird that one of my favorite writers right now writes for Gawker? If you're not reading Richard Lawson's essays and recaps of popular television shows, they will make your life more fun. I no longer watch those "Real Housewives" shows, but I read his recaps and they make me laugh my face off. He is like a frackin' virtuoso of tone. Much more fun than watching the actual stuff he's talking about. Read any of the Real Housewives recaps, though the Orange County and New Jersey ones are especially choice.

New Vampire Weekend album, Contra: I like them, and I kind of like a few songs on this, except it turns me off the way, in that one song "Horchata," they rhyme "horchata" with "aranciata." I mean, not that those words don't rhyme, but they just seem so pleased with themselves for thinking of it.

Gap jeans in "Perfect Boot." I think these are awesome jeans. Reader, would you like to see a picture of my butt? What's that you say? Oh, I have one right here.

These were the Perfect Boot jeans right out of the package, in all their unstretched-out goodness. I am telling you, it's all about the pocket placement, and these people are geniuses of it. The other thing about these is that they're what Gap calls mid-rise, which means they are a few fingers below my belly button but still above the love handles. Or side muffins or whatever you call them.

Yes, I asked Matt to take some pictures of my new jeans so I could show my sister on (if you're on there, lemme know and I'll friend you!), I wasn't thinking I would post them on my blog. But since I'm giving you the summary judgments and all. Reader, I feel so much closer to you now! The white jeans are cute, even though they're "distressed," grrr, but I don't have pics of those yet. Anyhoo, I do recommend the Perfect Boot. The Curvy is too low for me, but the Long 'n Leans are also good.

Ooh, the new Masterpiece Theatre of Emma. I'm late to this party, since the third part ran on February 7, but I had it dvr'd. Some of the recent Masterpiece Austens have been a little limp (that Mansfield Park last year, snore), but this one is delightful. Johnnie Lee Miller plays Mr. Knightly and he is adorable. I like that it's a longer film and doesn't cram the whole story into two hours. Watch it if they rerun it near you.

I think there was more but I'm sure we're all sick of me by now. Have a good night y'all! Laura is so excited that women's figure skating is coming on tonight.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Useful Sort of Person

Laura came back from her trip to Providence with her grandmother yesterday, having grown four inches in a week. Or it seems that way. She reports that she had a fabulous time, and she even spent some of her own money on a present for her little brother.

She said, "I'm glad to be back where I can do some of the laundry." I said, "Woohoo, me too!" I had taught her to sort clothes and run the machines the week before she left, after I discovered some clean, folded clothes in her hamper. It had been easier to put them there than put them away, I guess. We had a real come-to-Jesus over this, which included Matt explaining to her that when she dumps the clothes I folded for her into the dirty clothes, it is disrespectful of my work. I think she saw the light, but then I had an epiphany and told her that I would teach her how to do her own laundry, and she could be completely in charge of it. She really liked that idea, and the week before her trip saw her sorting reds from pinks (that's my girl!) and doing numerous small loads of wash. Numerous.

After I told her how to run the machines, she wrote it down in her own words and taped it to the wall of the laundry room. Then she asked if she could do Hank's clothes too. How long will this "laundry is fun!" phase last? Has anyone done this successfully with an almost nine year-old? So far, so good!

This morning, before I got up, Matt told me that she made a sign that said "Stop Polution!" and went outside to stand at the end of the driveway and hold it up for our neighbors. Matt pointed out to her that she'd spelled pollution wrong, and she said, "They'll know what I mean." She's such a funny compound of perfectionism and who-gives-a-rip. Rather like her parents, I guess.

Other stuff happened too, let's see: I had tennis lessons Thursday and Friday and didn't pull any muscles. The weather was glorious. Mom and Dad were here for a few days riding herd on Hank so I could get more work done. We watched Evan Lysacek win his gold medal. Matt and I played lots of Settlers of Catan with my parents after Hank went to bed at night. I took Hank to the aquarium downtown, and he reached so far into the touch pool that he got his forehead wet.

It is so gorgeous today that I think we're going to go on a hike. Enjoy your Sunday everybody.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I Restyle My Couch, Hank Models It

Please Cover Up My Foot Mom

Hank keeled over in mid sentence today for a rare afternoon nap, and I thought, "Oh, he's so sweet, I'll take his picture," and THEN I thought, "and that way I can show everyone my new sofa pillows!" See? This doubletasking is how I juggle being someone who blogs too much with being someone who obsesses over details of her decor. It is a real balancing act.

Hank Naps on Couch

I am blessed with two sturdy hand-me-down couches, couches that remain stout and comfortable despite their upholstery being, shall we say, outmoded. Outmoded being a nicer word than fugly. So I slipcover them eternally, all the while hoping for very selective housebreakers to come steal them so I can have new ones. I entertain myself by switching around the pillows, throws, and rugs. It makes a huge difference in a room. The other day I rolled up a rug I'd had in the sunroom and decided to transition to a more pre-spring look.


I had gotten those three tan wool Jonathan Adler pillows on Bluefly, like two years ago, but for some reason I'd had them up on the couch in Hank's room. Why I was wasting Jonathan Adler pillows on a child, I don't know. I brought them down to the sunroom and I remember now why I bought them in the first place. I love them--they are substantial and sturdy.

Still Zonked

The black and white pillow is from Urban Outfitters. I've had that floating around too--I believe in shopping one's own house. Don't you do that? In the first photo I took, it was turned sideways so the bird was facing downwards, and I moved it. So did I style a photo of my sleeping child? Yes, yes I did. I drew the line at retucking the slipcover or turning the pillow he actually had his head on so the zipper wasn't showing. I'm not, like, a total freak.


Ah, that's better. And my favorite thing--also the only thing I didn't have somewhere in the house already--is that cashmere throw. Because I know you love deets, I'll tell you that sucker was $69 at TJ Maxx. I don't know what it would have cost retail. It feels like an angel's bosoms, I swear. My parents came in tonight to stay a few days, and my dad touched the blanket and said, "Why don't we have this?"

The takeaway for me is the color combination: I am loving the tan, white, black, and gray right now. It just seems fresh to me. I'm going to see where else in the house I can get that working. Since I share everything with you guys, I wanted to show you. It all looks better when it's straightened and tucked, but my model won't work under those conditions. You know how it is.

Happy Thursday everybody!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Three Apparel-Related Issues

I submit these for your consideration:

1. I bought some white jeans yesterday. Is that wrong? And when is Easter again? 'Cause around here that's still a rule, the whole white shoes and pants only between Easter and Labor Day thing. Or in my culture it is. It has been a long time since I had a pair of white jeans, but I've lost 13 or 14 pounds so I'm celebrating. Celebrating by wearing something that will make me look bigger on the bottom. Maybe when they get here I'll post a pic. (I did the thing where I went to the Gap and tried on a bunch of jeans, and then went online and ordered the right size and style for cheaper.)

2. A month ago I posted this picture of my sister walking down my driveway in her sock feet.

Amy Leaving

That picture, in my flickr stream, has since been "faved" by two people, strangers, who, judging from their other favorite pictures, have a consuming interest in ladies in their socks. Not even bare feet, but socks and tights. Is THAT wrong? Go ahead, check it out, you can get to their faves through that flickr page if you wanna. I glanced through their faves and they don't have any pictures of kids or anything. Amy, I was going to tell you about it, but I forgot, so I'm telling you now. If you want me to make that photo private, I will, but I see no reason to deprive the world of your DELECTABLE sock toes.

3. Now THIS is wrong. A friend posted a link on my facebook page to Pajama Jeans, Pajamas You Live In, Jeans You Sleep In!

Go to that page and watch the little commercial. My first response was, "This is clothing for the clinically depressed." What do you think? Maybe a guilty pleasure, like the Snuggie?

I just don't know why you would really want to sleep in jeans. And the brass rivets just absolutely slay me.

That's all I got. And I'm submitting this post to Keely's Random Tuesday. Whee! Go over there if you get a notion, 'cause that meme has just gotten huge. Huge like white-jeans-butt huge.

Snows, Froze Toes, the Running of the Nose, Off the Girl Goes

(Okay, so I thought I'd try my hand at a cutesy post title, but I didn't enjoy that like I hoped. Oh well.)

Hey, lookie at our backyard!


Other Side of the Backyard

This was the scene on Friday afternoon and evening. We got more than three inches. I know, I know this is small potatoes for you survivors of the Great Mid-Atlantic Snowllapalooza(s) of 2010. But as I said, this snowfall is ours. Recognize!

It was fun, and it was pretty. I sat by my big window and looked out at the yard, rendered newly strange by all the whiteness. Matt was the one on kid duty.

Snow Day


Because Atlanta just cannot deal with this kind of precipitation, a bunch of flights were canceled, including Laura's flight to Providence with Matt's mom. That sainted woman takes Laura off on a trip every year, and Laura has been really excited. They did finally get out late Saturday night and will be gone a week. This girl packs herself now, which is awesome, with only a little supervision from me.

Laura All Packed

At one point she was having trouble getting her high-top sneakers crammed into her bag, and I showed her that she was only using half of this carry-on, that there was a whole half of the bag hidden behind a zip-out panel. She saw the extra space and said, "I feel like a princess!" I said, "A princess, really?" She said, "So many pockets!"

Because that's what princesses have: lots of storage and superior organizational systems.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I Could Not Help Myself

I was really happy tonight to get the news that my cousin Patrick proposed to his girlfriend Jessica today. I have this thing where I never think anyone will be good enough for the men in my family, and then when I meet their ladyfriends, I'm like, "Dude. Seriously. Lock it down. Best put a ring on it NOW." My dad emailed my sibs and me to give us the news, and he thoughtfully attached a picture of the ring. I am so glad that guy got an iPhone!

I think those are sapphires but I'm not sure. I am sure however that I want one just like it. I wanted to tell y'all about this whole event because, when I called Dad to get the story, he told me that Pat had put the ring in a coffee can and buried it in the backyard, then concocted some story for Jessica about digging up a time capsule, and after he asked and she said yes, a mariachi band came out of Pat's house and played for them. You know, the usual: diamond, coffee can, trowel, unexpected mariachi. Possibly nothing more adorable has ever occurred. Those are all the deets I know, maybe Pat will come by and expand upon this outline.

Anyhoo, I remembered this post, one of my favorite Matt posts ever, and I wanted to give it a rerun. Because Jessica, my wish for your future is that you and Pat will attain this level of romance:

On Friday night we were on our way up to the mountain house for the long weekend, and I turned to Matt and said, "Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, you know." This seemed like new and surprising information to him.

So I asked, "Did you remember to pack my present?"

And he said, "Sweetie, I'm always packing your present."

Then he whooped and high-fived himself. He's such a hopeless romantic.

Happy Valentine's Day! Anybody get anything sweet? Flowers, candy, other tokens of affection? We are sticking close to home. Hank is much better today. He still has his cough, but no more fever, and he played in the snow and had a normal day. Have a great weekend, y'all!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Mediating for These Little People

hank in radiology

These little people who live with me, I mean. Here is one of them now. Hank has had a loose-sounding cough for a few days--actually I have it too--then yesterday he woke up with a fever. More worrisome, he was breathing shallowly, and every thirty seconds or so he would take a deep, sighing breath. That got my attention. After we got his fever down, he didn't seem too unhappy, but I took him to the doctor. You know how doctors and nurses will address the child, but they're really talking to you? They were taken aback that Hank spoke up and told them all about his symptoms. When the doc asked, "Hank, what's going on with you?" he said, "I can't breath and my chest hurts and my head hurts." That got the ped's attention too. She said his lungs sounded clear, but neither I nor Hank was really satisfied with that, apparently, because Hank said, "There's this thing in my lungs. I can hear it and I hear it ALL DAY." Which was sort of cryptic, but the doc ordered a chest xray. I was like, way to advocate for yourself, my buddy.

Here he is after changing into his little gown. He was put out that there was no mirror, so I took his picture to show him. Anyway, the xray showed no pneumonia, so the doc just thinks he has congestion in his upper chest, and she gave us an inhaler to use if we need to.

But for the point of this post: As we navigated this experience, I was thinking about how maybe our second-biggest job as parents--after physically caring for these kids--is mediating their experiences for them, modeling how they're supposed to respond to and feel about what's going on around them. There were several novel and potentially scary things happening: Hank had a breathing treatment at the doctor's office, which involved wearing a mask on his face and was REALLY noisy; and then there was all the weird stuff in the xray room, and having to lie down up on the big table with his back on the xray plate thingie, while I held his hands up above his head and the big camera moved around. Dude was completely chilled out about it, and even interested in all the xray stuff.

I thought, you know, he wouldn't be beyond his rights to be like, "To hecks with this, I'm going to freak out now." But he didn't. I kept up a stream of "wow-isn't-this-interesting-yet-not-a-big-deal" chit chat, and he was fine. I mean, we all do this all the time. I'm good, but if parental judo were an Olympic sport, I don't think I would medal in it. I would be in, like, the junior city semifinals, maybe. But this job of mediating the child's environment, this is huge, you know? I was thinking, what a disaster for a child if he has nobody to do this. I don't mean that only scary experiences need mediating, I think the parent teaches the child how to react to nearly every stimulus, starting in infancy. How intolerably difficult the world would be if a child were on his own in that regard. And what does that do to the mind of that kid and the person he becomes? It is sort of a big responsibility, this parenting business.

So that happened yesterday, and somehow I also managed to go up to Laura's school two separate times to do reading groups and February birthday celebrations. They also had Valentine exchange, AND it was Pajama Day AND they had doughnuts in the morning. ZOMG the sugar. Hank is still ailing today, but not so much that he hasn't been out playing in the snow. BTW, snow! We have like three inches out there! I know everyone up and down the boulevard has already had their Snowpocalypse, but this one is ours.

I am crossing fingers and toes that Laura and Matt's mom are able to fly out of here on their trip to Providence tomorrow.

I hope y'all are well. More updates as conditions warrant.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Oh For the Love

Well. Remember my awesome 99 cent Red Wing find and its attendant negotiations? It arrived today.

Yes, pre-broken for my enjoyment. Really. When I was engaging in all my clever and delicate negotiations with the seller about honoring the auction price, I should have also said, "Now, don't forget to take the bowl out in your backyard and throw it at a tree! Thanks!" 'Cause she might as well have.

Y'all, I just don't know why people don't understand the laws governing How Stuff Does and Does Not Get Broken. All that bubble wrap so lovingly taped around the dish would be great for a crosstown move. But wrapping a brittle object in bubbles and then putting it in a small flat box does not protect it from the slamming and jarring that is part of the concept we call "shipping." Slamming and jarring are why shipping is not called "gentle cradling."

So this is me being done with buying pottery on ebay. Done. Crocodile Dun-dee. Because you know, I am now posing a threat to the world's supply of vintage pottery. One day it will run out--they ain't makin' any more of it. By winning these auctions and inciting inept people to "ship" me things, I am hastening the demise of perfectly nice ceramics. So from now on they can all stay right where they are at the sellers' houses, probably wrapped in Kleenex and stored safely under bricks.

I have a feeling that this seller may be difficult about this refund. Lifeforce . . . dwindling.

Let's be careful out there.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Whatever, Facebook, It's Fine, Really

The much-discussed Facebook redesign finally arrived on my home page a couple days ago, and I was kind of like, hmm, it looks pretty much like the old one. Except it seems like there is no longer that distinction between "News Feed" and "Live Feed," which I'd never really figured out anyway.

Also, some of the people I'd hidden were now unhidden. Weird. That is a whole other topic, why we would friend someone on Facebook and then hide them from view. You know how it goes. I'm lookin' at you, guy from college who wanted to talk about nothing but Ayn Rand.

I did check in on my privacy settings to make sure they hadn't "defaulted" to a setting where my bank account information is now being shared with distressed Nigerian princes. Also it had dawned on me that there's another word for the category "friends of friends," who Facebook is always trying to get you to be visible to. That word is "strangers." So everything looked kosher in there.

Then I noticed that several of my friends had joined one of those "let's get a million people to join in support of same sex marriage" groups. Now, I think this is all great and fun, even though I'm not really sure it's effective political speech. I mean, the first group I ever joined was "If a Million People Join, My Girlfriend Will Let Me Turn Our House Into a Pirate Ship." But, it is more of a fun social-networking thing, and also I support same sex marriage, so I joined the same sex marriage group. As I did it, I said to Matt, "I'm going to see if I can get Frenemy Neighbor to finally unfriend me." Ever since she friended me last year, it's been like When Worlds Collide on there. And she was one of those people who campaigned in favor of Prop 8 even though she doesn't live in California. Anyway.

So last night I logged onto Facebook, and lo and behold, I HAD lost a friend. But it wasn't Frenemy. Son of a monkey! So who was it? Of course, there's no way to know, because it's not like I can look at the huge list of friends and tell who is missing. But that stings, anonymous former friend! What about all those times we had/may have had? What about those school days we shared ten/twenty/thirty years ago?!? And what will that mutual friend/relation of ours think when he/she sees us estranged this way? I don't think you've thought this through, former friend! Come back and I will start a game of scrabble with you and NOT abandon it after a couple of turns. And I will NOT send you Jonas Brothers flair and I will NOT invite you to take purity pledges with me all the time. I promise! Just please reconsider. If only you would reconsider.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Cautionary Note

Okay, I have a lot to do this morning, and I'm reposting this from last year because I thought it was cute. Like, it was cute that a year ago I was even trying to get Laura to wear Gymboree. And I wanted to pop in and say hi because, honestly, my sister is giving me unending crap about not having blogged in a few days. Hi Amy! I get the sweetest notes and text messages from her. Here's a sample from Saturday, a text:
Well, i don't know what you're doing, but it certainly isn't blogging or reading my blog. Maybe we should call this r'ship what it really is.
I responded that I have to live life sometimes in order to have something to blog about, and she replied, "What is this living you speak of?" I said that it's what the rest of us do when we're not fighting rats. That was a little mean. Then, last night, an email.
From: Amy
Subject: um

your blog?
And that wasn't the end of it. She got on, this calorie-counting website we are both using, and left a helpful reminder on my profile:
dude. not to get off the subject, but i was wondering if you remember that you have a blog? just checking. in case you forgot.
To which I responded:
I think you bugging me about that on here is crossing the streams. Remember in Ghostbusters? Probably every molecule in our bodies will explode backwards now. So thanks for that.

And I will spare you the facebook interactions, the late night eruptions of uncertainty and haranguing that it enables, and that all our mutual friends can see. I think they are concerned about us. But they need not be. I love it and I know that she is my Number One Fan, even if her access to technology needs to be severely curtailed. So here is a little pre-Valentine's post. Enjoy!

From February 5, 2009:

Laura and I were debating her wardrobe choices for today. I was trying to steer her towards Valentine-themed apparel, because Gymboree, Inc. has put a chip in my brain, and I just respond to their instructions. Laura was was resisting.

Laura: You know why I don't like the color red?

Me: No, why?

Laura: Because it attracts bulls.

So, Reader, as Valentine's Day approaches, be on the lookout.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Continuing Ebay Adventures

Remember the other day I was griping about shoddy shipping practices? Well, I got my irritation out of my system on this here blog, then I wrote the seller of my broken bowl a nice note. It said something like:

"The bowls arrived quickly, thanks, but one of them was broken in half." Then I favored her with an emoticon.

"The other one is in perfect shape, so of course I want to pay for that one. Would you consider a partial refund for the broken bowl and its shipping?"

She wrote right back and was all, "Oh I'm so sorry, I've just issued you a full refund, we hope you'll shop with us again," etc. Then I thanked her for being so responsive and we were done. I'm glad she gave me my money back. And I think I see why she has 100% positive feedback despite her poor packing and shipping. She bought my silence.

So, then (you didn't think I was finished shopping for Red Wing, did you?), I saw another leaf-shaped bowl like the green one in the post I linked to. This one is is all one color, a gorgeous celadon. And, nobody had found the auction yet and I won it for 99 cents. Good Lord! The shipping was $16 for one of the larger Priority flat-rate boxes, but I thought, well, that's about right, and maybe this one will be properly packed. So I was surprised, when I got the invoice, to see that the seller had added a $16.99 charge in addition to the shipping. Hmm. I looked closely at the auction page to see if this was some kind of bogus "handling" charge, but there was no mention of it. So I sent a note to the seller:

Hi, would you please reissue this invoice? It seems to have an extra $16.99 charge on it. Thanks!

Here was her response:

Yes, I added that because the auction ended so low. You couldn't of expected to get that dish for a dollar did you!
Oh ho! Oh ho ho ho! Let's dig in, shall we? First, I can't even talk about the "couldn't of" because it gives me hives all over my body. Let's just note that this person, despite a lot of history on ebay, it seems, does not understand how an auction works. Her opening bid was 99 cents, I bid that and nobody else did, ergo I get it for 99 cents. There was no reserve price. This is why, when I've sold stuff on ebay, I always always list it at an opening price that I would feel okay with. If I wouldn't want to let an item go for its opening bid, the opening price should be higher. I know many people believe in and use the 99 cent opening price to avoid listing fees and to elicit interest in their auctions--people argue it drives the final price even higher than it otherwise would have been by pulling in bidders and watchers--but that only works if you have a hot item. An auction for obscure mass-produced American art pottery will not work the same as an auction for the next-gen iPod nano. Anyway, yeah, 99 cents is crazy for that dish. I would have paid 20 bucks for it. I paid forty for the one I have now, but it is a better color scheme and had matching candle holders. But that is the way the ebay cookie crumbles. So I wrote back:

Well, I didn't expect to get it for a dollar, to be honest. And I know that it's frustrating to only have one bid on an auction. But if you add the extra charge to your invoice, I'm afraid ebay will see that as fee avoidance, you know? They're tough on that stuff. So I'll keep an eye out for the invoice, thanks!
Then, without responding back, she invoiced me for just the 99 cents plus her original shipping. I'm glad we didn't have to get ugly, 'cause hell hath no fury like a bargain hunter scorned. Also, it is amazing to me how many people are selling stuff on ebay--high volumes of stuff it seems--without knowing the rules of ebay. You see it all the time: people charging excessive handling fees after their auctions end low, people adding surcharges for payment with credit cards rather than paypal funds, on and on. To quote my favorite Monica line from "Friends," people, the rules control the fun.

So yeah, I might have enough Red Wing for right now, unless something absolutely great comes along. I still haven't managed to find a bowl in the same design that Fabienne broke. That one had little feet. They were so elegant. Sigh, it's hard out here for a pimp.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My First Tennis Lesson

I feel like that post title should be scrawled in crayon, with some backwards letters. That would be an accurate reflection of my level of tennis prowess. But hey, look at this skirt.

I know, totally j'adorable, right? See those flouncy things on the sides? They don't do anything, they just flounce. It has little bike shorts underneath to keep me modest and all. I got this skirt, in a lavender that's way cuter than this, at TJ Maxx for $7. And then I found out that Maria Sharapova wore this to the French Open already. So like, obviously I can't be seen in it, like I wear her hand-me-downs. Anyway, what were we talking about besides clothes?

Right, my first group tennis lesson was this morning. It was 45 degrees out, so I wore sweats instead of this skirt. The teacher was not a hot dude, but rather a very nice and patient lady. I could tell she's given lots of lessons, because the way she eased us into it really made sense. We started with the absolute basics: how to hold the racquet, how to stand, and then we got into forehand and backhand swings. Then she hit balls to us as we ran across the court, then we lined up on either service line and volleyed back and forth.

Everything was going great, and then I was just standing there in ready position, and then the ball was coming towards me, and I stepped forward and pulled a muscle in my butt. I don't know why. It didn't seem like an especially demanding athletic move. I announced my injury to everyone and I also may have mentioned it to Matt and Pretty Neighbor: "I went to tennis, ya know, yep. It was fun but I have an injury, yep, in my glutes." GLOOTS! Matt is of the opinion that this has been discussed rather more than is strictly warranted by the severity of the injury. No worries though, I did the shred this afternoon and my beeyou-tocks performed just fine.

So it was fun, and as soon as I find a little argyle sweater that matches that skirt, I'll be in business! I kid. Or not, you never know.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Sun Did Not Shine

Except on that rodent, apparently. Hank is home today, but yesterday in school they made groundhog puppets (think tongue depressor sticks and a metric ton of brown construction paper). This morning we were puttering around when he said, "Oh! I have a idea! Why don't you watch the news about a groundhog!" He was so excited. So for the first time in my life, ever, I hastened to the TV on the morning of February 2 to tune in the proceedings in Punxsutawney. Fortunately Al Roker had sent his crack team of correspondents to Gobbler's Knob. We watched as the guys in top hats manhandled Phil, and Hank loved every minute. He turned to me and said, very solemn, "He saw his shadow, Mom." In case I'd missed it. When you're three, I guess everything in the world is new and weird, so sure, a day devoted to this groundhog character, why not?

I love that movie, Groundhog Day. So funny and goodhearted, it is definitely in my top ten. I'm not sure what else is in the top ten. I might put Solaris up there, no kidding. It's a mood piece, people.

I've given a little thought to what days I would want to live over and over. Have you? Certainly the day I got engaged to Matt, when I knew without doubt that large portion of my future happiness was assured, and I felt so relieved. Maybe one of the first days I spent in Italy as a college undergrad. One of the days this Christmas, with all the family together in the mountains. Really, considering we never know what's coming at us next, I would take any ordinary day on repeat.

Other things in this day so far:

Someone please explain to me why it is impossible for us to get our recycling to curb in time for the truck. The garbage and recycling trucks come around Tuesday morning. Why do we not think of this Monday night? Instead I run out there in my Uggs every week at around 9:30. This is on time for the garbage, but not the recycling, though some time they mix it up and come later, and this epistemological gray area leads me to text Normal Neighbor at some point during the afternoon and say, "Did your recycling come?" And she's like, really? I am SO BORED that you're asking me this again. It comes EARLY IN THE MORNING, POTATO HEAD. She's a lot nicer than that though.

I was going to have my first tennis lesson this morning, but it got rained out. Tennis is a big huge thing in the neighborhoods here, and I've always wanted to learn, so I figured that one way to do that would be to join a team. Normal Neighbor is starting a beginner's team, and when we were at a party she asked me if I wanted to play. I said yes. Then she called me a week later and said, "Did you really want to be on the team or were you drunk when you said that?" I was like, honey, I don't know how to take that. Also I've never been so drunk that I agreed to participate in group sports. Except possibly that time Freshman year when we played Red Rover. So I've been thinking that I need to do more things that scare me, and this tennis thing is one of them. I will keep you posted.

If I had this day to do over I would totally make that recycling truck. Have a fun Tuesday, my dears.