Mar 25, 2010

A Bee In Your...

I've been thinking about my grandma this week. She'll be 90 at the end of this year. She's still pretty dang sharp--lives on her own, drives, and all that. She and my mom do most everything together, which is good because someone has to keep my mom in line.

For probably longer than I've been alive, Grandma's gotten her hair done (as opposed to doing her own styling). The style has varied some over the years, but the basic structure is the same--short, curled, teased, and Aqua Netted in place. This is the sort of hair where you don't take chances. You have a dedicated hair routine at bedtime, a perking-up hair routine in the morning, and under no circumstances do you go gallivanting out in the rain without some sort of hair protection.

Now, being an adult and having my own purse, I can guess at the contents of Grandma's purse, but as a kid I remember a basic few: Wrigley's Spearmint gum, mints, Kleenex, nail file, and the ever-present, never failing, fold-up rain bonnet. Living in Phoenix, she didn't use the rain bonnet all that often, but I do remember it on occasion. It always struck me as a silly, if handy, thing to keep around, but it's one of those things that always said, "grandma" to me, so there you have it. If nothing else, I understood and appreciated its function. And still do.

While I understood the rain bonnet, the thing I never "got" was the plain old handkerchief tied around the head, which I would sometimes see on other ladies. I mean, what on earth does a simple piece of fabric accomplish? It reminds me of women and girls from some arbitrary "Old Country" in WWII-era black and white photos, wearing sensible knee-length dresses, similar to Edith Bunker, along with lace-up shoes and either nylons or simple cotton crew socks, and looking not particularly happy, but somehow joyful just the same. But did they keep the rain out? I think not. Plus now, it's entirely appropriate for ladies to wear baseball caps, or to just tie their hair back with a hair tie or scrunchee.

(Incidentally, I'm pretty sure scrunchees have been way out of style for a while now, but I still wear one on my wrist, and most days it makes its way into my hair by 10 am due to grabbing and such by little hands. I have yet to find a hair tie with the same balance between tension and comfort that I can achieve with the right scrunchee.)

Well, I've lived in Cheyenne for over a year and a half now, and I finally put two and two together with old ladies wearing handkerchiefs on their heads and...the dang wind. Perhaps there's a little vanity involved, but here it's a very little vanity; it's more an issue of not having one's hair yanked out by the roots in the kind of gusts we get. A handkerchief can be tied snug enough to protect one's hair-helmet, without smushing it flat. If Grandma lived up here, I'm certain she would keep at least one handkerchief with her at all times, plus an emergency one hidden somewhere in her purse, in case she ever forgot.

I know that's what I'd do...

Mar 10, 2010

Stuffy Stuffington...

Today I'm thinking about my war on stuff. Over the years the Cat Daddy and I have had the standard discussions on the ins & outs of stuff. Here's what we've come up with...

Stuff, in and of itself, is not bad.

Wanting to have stuff is not bad.

Caring more about stuff than about people is bad.

(On the one above I was going to say "Caring about stuff more than people or Jesus..." but Jesus is a person, after all, so I left him out. But I didn't really leave him out. Got it? Good.)

Caring more about stuff than about God breaks one of the ten commandments (I could probably put Jesus in this one too, but I didn't).

We like stuff. Not all stuff, or stuff simply for stuff's sake, but we are definitely fond of certain stuff.

He (the Cat Daddy; not Jesus) likes big stuff, good stuff, new stuff and a lot of stuff.

I like good stuff and functional stuff, but not too much stuff.

With some stuff, we will pay more for good stuff.

With other stuff, not so much.

...and that pretty much sums up our overall philosophy on stuff.

Lately, I've been feeling overwhelmed by our stuff. I like being organized, and having a place for everything, and all that, but I think it's also way too easy to get trapped into a constant upsizing cycle, where you get more space to hold your stuff, and then turn around & get more stuff to fill your space. Pretty soon, no matter how organized you are, it's still just a lot of stuff to keep track of. I've been feeling that way lately, anyway.

I thought about areas where I can get some tidying systems in place, and so on. I thought of some FlyLady rules I don't mind sticking to, such as concentrating on one room per month, doing 15-minute quick-cleans, and so on. The Cat Daddy has taken on much of the laundry as a personal challenge, which has been a big help. Still, in the end I decided that the only way to fight the clutter would be to get rid of stuff.

So I've been going through our house again, paring down stuff. I'm not as ruthless as I'd be by myself, but then again I have three other people to consider, so there's that. has been huge--I'd always considered books to be permanent residents, but since I can get new books out of the deal, I'm getting rid of more of my old ones. When all is said and done I'm more or less getting new books for under $3 each, and I feel a little bit better knowing I'm sending the old ones to good homes.

I think next will be putting more pics on the walls. We have a stack of 6 pics we need to frame before we can put them up. Hello, Target.

In this process there's still stuff coming in (new books, picture frames, etc.), but I'm hoping it's efficient stuff. Books that will be read (and maybe even sent to someone else), instead of sitting on the shelf unopened for years. Pictures that will be on the wall instead of cluttering the guest room closet. And so on.

I read an article in Reader's Digest a few months ago about getting rid of stuff that you otherwise might not have considered parting with. The author, for example, gave away a table that had been her & her husband's first woodworking project together. It took a lot of time and some convincing for both her & her husband to be ready to give it up, but in the end they gave it to some newly-married friends who had always admired it. So it was a really meaningful gift, and they knew it was going to someone who would take good care of it, so maybe it wasn't quite as hard to let go.

I'm not, like, selling our bed or anything, but it did make me think a little differently about which stuff I would & wouldn't part with...

Mar 8, 2010

Boring is Good...

Well, we weren't excommunicated.

I didn't even get to go. His Highness came down with some "sick bugs," so we had to stay home. I asked the Cat Daddy how it went, and he said "fine." I replied, "That you're aware of, anyway. Did you see anyone talking to the Leader afterward?"

OK so I was being a little naughty on that one. It's so rare that I get to give the Cat Daddy a hard time, though, that I felt I had to take the opportunity. But no one came running down the aisles, demanding the Cat Daddy's immediate release from the stage--with stoning to commence in the parking lot--or anything like that. In fact, no one said much of anything.

We traded off in the evening, and I went to small group while the Cat Daddy stayed home with His Highness. I had a chance to ask around, & from everything I heard, it was just a morning of great music and good worship.

Benevolent subversion--it's a beautiful thing...

Mar 5, 2010

Soon to Be Excommunicated...

(Bear with me--much of this is my secondhand re-telling, and probably got a little embellished along the way. By me.)

When the Cat Daddy got home from worship team practice last night, he informed me that we might get kicked out of church after this weekend.

"What!?! Why?!?"

Because the music is just too awesome.

OK, that's not entirely true. I mean, from his description, the music will in fact be cool and fun and rockin'. The thing is that when the Cat Daddy plays on the worship team, he brings his fancy-schmancy bass guitar pedal, which has all sorts of cool patches and pads and whatnot. So when he asks the leader, "What do you want here," and the leader replies, "Well, what do you have," they end up sitting in a circle playing with space-age-sounding bass tones. And pretty soon they hit upon my personal favorite, which is a sort of doodly-doodly-doodly sound you might hear when you're jumping into warp drive on the way to the Restaurant At the End of the Universe. And of course everyone immediately said, "Oh yes, this is exactly what we need to hear here."

Then the leader said, "No one's ever heard this in church before," and the Cat Daddy said, "Well, that's not entirely true." He used this same patch fairly often at our last church, the cool one in Mass. That's not to say it is automatically the perfect thing to use here, or anything. It IS to say that he has experience with it, so he has a good sense of when it is and isn't appropriate, and isn't simply playing crazy space-music for the shock value or anything. He was going to go a little crazy with it, but the wise and balanced sound guy said, "Trust me, that will be pushing the envelope too far," so the Cat Daddy toned it down.

I think the worst that will happen will be complaints from some of the grumpier old folks. My philosophy is that, as long as it blends with the band as a whole and creates good music it should be just fine for the most part. After all, it's hard to argue with good music. Then again, the Cat Daddy replied, some folks will argue with anything. True. True. Now if that happens, there will be some hashing out to do...we do, in fact, want to respect & honor even the grumpy ones. There's a balance somewhere in there.

Either way, after hearing about all of this I'm all motivated to get my butt there on time, 'cuz it's gonna be a fun morning for worship music. My plan is to bring several cute children (I'll have some extras this week) and sit up front. They will enjoy the music, and dance, and be extremely adorable, which will be endearing to even the toughest critics. Then I can say, "See? It's for the children."

Looking forward to it...

Mar 4, 2010

Paperback Swap...

I discovered this website a few weeks ago (courtesy of Mrs. Z.), and I think it might have changed my life a little bit.

Sort of like a combination of the public library and Netflix, is a website where folks trade books (any books; not just paperback ones). Here's how it works:

First, you sign up.

Next you pick 10 books that you would like to get rid of (or, at the very least, don't mind parting with), and post them on the site. You punch in the ISBN's, and they ask "Is this the book you have?" and you say "Why yes, that is the book I have," and you're good.

Then they give you two credits you can use to order other books. Most books are worth 1 credit each. So when you find a book you want, you say, "Hey, I want that one, please," and the old owner sends it to you.

"Well great, Skerrib," you might say, "But what if I want more than 2 dang books?" This is where your books come in. When someone else orders one of your books, the site will help you print an address label, and once the book is received you will earn another credit. So the more books you give away, the more new (to you) ones you can get. When you receive a book it's yours to keep...unless you decide to pass it on after you're done and earn another credit. And the only cost is the postage you pay when you send someone a book.

If no one has a book you want, you can put it on your wish list, and when it comes available the site will notify you. AND it keeps a running tally on where you are in line for that title, how often it has been exchanged in the past week, and roughly when you can expect to get it. For example, I was something like 228 of 247 for The Tipping Point, and it had been exchanged once last week, so they were estimating it would be 228 weeks (4-ish years) or so until someone sent it to me. Well, I didn't want to wait that long, so I caved & bought it cheap off of Amazon last week. But that's neither here nor there.

It's a great site if you get in trouble for spending too much on books, or if you have a sucky library or something. We have a fantastic library here in Cheyenne, but between it,, and now this site, I've got an awesome reading bag-o-tricks. Plus, for you bibliophobes, they have a CD swap and DVD swap as well. I don't normally swear about media mail, but this little site is just plain kickass.

True, I don't make any money like I could at or ebay, but I also don't have the stress of trying to collect money, giving a portion of the profits to a middleman, and all that. And I like the grass-roots, free love (book love, that is) feel of everyone trading books with one another, happily retreating to our little corners with brand new books we didn't have to pay for.

Go on, check it out: Paperback Swap

Mar 1, 2010

Grossest of the Gross...

Poop is a major theme in my life right now.

Last week, the boyz and I were getting ready for a motherific time with our moms' group peeps at the local McD's. Each month we have a discussion group--we all eat, then send the kids off to climb and play and scream while the moms discuss various topics. This month we talked about finding me-time, as well as ideas for playgroups, field trips, and so on. The stuff of young childhood, and all that.

So while we were getting ready for all this fun I was putzing around the house, only half paying attention to what the kiddos were doing. I knew that the Littler One was hanging around the dog door, but I didn't hear the characteristic "flip, flop" that means he's just gone thru the dog door, so we were good. I did hear His Highness opening and shutting the sliding glass door, but whatever.

Soon, though, His Highness appeared. He was crying and looking very distressed in general.

"Mommy! The Littler One's eating poooooop!"

"Really? He's really eating poop?"

"Yes! He's eating pooooooop!"

It was fitting for His Highness to be so concerned for his brother. When His Highness was little, he stuck his hand in his diaper one time and pulled out a handful of his own poop. He looked at me with mischievous eyes and I said, "Don't do it." Well, he did it and was immediately very sorry indeed. We never again had to tell him not to eat poop.

Anyway, I walked over to the back door and saw the Littler One seated comfortably on the deck, munching away on what could have been a hunk of beef jerky, except that instead of beef jerky it was dried dog poop.


What's worse, the Littler One seemed quite content with the state of things. He looked at me as if to say, "Oh, hey Mommy! Look, I found a crunchy snack; aren't you proud of my resourcefulness?"

Frankly, I was a little impressed, but this was outweighed by extreme disgust. I scooped up the Littler One, wrangled the poop jerky out of his hand, and took him inside. Along the way I lectured His Highness about not letting his brother outside, making him use the dog door instead, and so on. As I gave the Littler One the once-over I saw a smug sort of look on his face, which in children his age usually means they're munching on something with what few teeth they have. Sort of like chewing baby-cud, except not really at all.

I knew what this meant. I had to do a mouth sweep. So I did, and came out with little bits of what had previously been dried jerky-poop, but was now fully-hydrated, soggy, dribbly poopy bits.


And he bit me. The Littler One has 5 teeth at the moment and quite enjoys biting anything that manages to find its way between those front top & bottom razor blades.

I rinsed my finger, wiped his mouth & overalls, and went back in. The second sweep went something like OUCH--sweep--whine--OUCH--sweep--whine. Then I got smart and wrapped a washcloth around my finger. It's as helpful as a mesh suit when swimming with sharks.

Finally satisfied that I had removed all the poopy bits, I released the Littler One with strict orders to stay inside (because he listens so well) and went off to scrub down.

Before I had kids I remember hearing gross stories and thinking, "Gosh, I wonder if I'll ever have stories like that." As if somehow I could avoid the grossest of the gross.

Now I'm wondering if I was smoking crack at the time...