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May 2007
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July 2007


    Sorry about the recent fluctuations in the look of the blog...I'm not very good with DIY blog design, so I keep looking for a preset theme that rings my bell.  This would be easier if I could make up my mind for more than 5 seconds.  Anyway, I guess you can enjoy the changing scenery, eh?

It breeds

    I'm feeling a bit muddled today.  On one hand, I am ecstatic because hubby is FINALLY coming home to stay!  No more Germany!  On the other hand, I'm on the verge of a full-blown nervous breakdown, because now I have to pack our stuff.  That's right, pack.  Our stuff.  Now.  Because the fairy godmother is apparently on strike again, which makes me responsible for getting it all to Michigan.
    Now, I realize that the kids and I have been basically camping at my sister's, and we don't have even a quarter of our belongings with us, but still - !!  Where did all this stuff come from?  I swear we arrived from Germany three months ago with nothing but our clothes.  Yet somehow, during those three months, our stuff has multiplied faster than rabbits, and now I am faced with the task of finding a way to get it all in my car and still leave room for the kids.  I don't have a good feeling about this. 
    Part of this is my fault.  I have this crazy notion that when my offspring outgrow all their clothes, I should buy them more.  So when the weather started warming up and I realized that dear daughter had nothing but jeans and sweatshirts, we went shopping.  Then my precious sons had nothing appropriate for church, so we went shopping.  Then I realized that I had nothing but jeans and sweatshirts (that fit), so we went shopping.  Do you see a pattern developing here?  Still, clothes are soft.  Clothes are smooshy.  Clothes should not take up much space in the trunk of my car.  So what am I worried about?
    The stuff that is not-clothes.  The books, the Legos, the Game Cube, the 3, 724 Pokemon cards....that's what I'm worried about.  See, all these not-clothes items are also not soft or smooshy.  They are hard and angular and therefore do not pack as nicely as clothes.  They do not take well to being bent, twisted or otherwise abused - treatment that our clothing accepts with a smile.  My car has a fairly large trunk (it's a granny car), but I am still concerned.  At the rate this stuff breeds, what if I get it all in the car and then halfway to Michigan there's a population explosion?  I can see it now....Game Cube games and Pokemon cards spewing out of the trunk all over I-75....semis swerving, car horns honking, angry highway patrolmen demanding to see my license... it is not a pretty thought.  Sadly, I have no choice but to get as much in as I can.  Hopefully breeding season is past and we'll make the trip safely.  If not, well....send yarn and beads, please!

Where's my huggy coat?

    Yesterday I had to get up at some horrible ungodly hour of the morning, drag the horrible grouchy offspring out of bed and get in the car to go to Michigan.  There was business with the house that required my presence, and since I really, really want this house, off I went.  It was not a fun drive.  There's construction all over (it is the season of the orange cone-flower, is it not?), it poured on us, and my kids were not the only grouchy people in the car.  Despite all this, we made it just fine and proceeded to spend the next FIVE HOURS sitting there while the home inspector did his thing.  Now, the guy was good, I'll give him that, but we were all starving and even grouchier by the time he finished.  As quickly as possible, we wrapped things up and took off for our hotel.  (Please note that "as quickly as possible" - it's important.)
    We made our way to the hotel,more than ready to stop for the night.  The kids were geeked about the pool, and I was geeked about the hot tub.  So when I walked up to the front desk, I was not prepared to hear "I'm sorry, ma'am, but we don't have anything here for you.  Do you have your confirmation number?"  Perplexed but cooperative, I said I did and ran back out to the car to retrieve the print-out that I had thoughtfully brought with me.  Imagine my surprise when I picked up the sheet of paper and saw Tuesday's date rather than Wednesday's!  Now rather embarrassed, I went back in and explained my mistake to the nice lady behind the counter.   Apparently I'm not the first person to mix my dates when making online reservations; sadly, that fact did not mean that there was a room available for the night that I actually needed it.  The nice lady referred me to another nearby hotel and even printed out directions for me, and we were off again.  Thankfully that place had rooms available, as well as a lovely pool and spa, so we did alright in spite of my boo-boo. 
    This morning we got up, had a leisurely breakfast, spent some time in the pool and spa, and then loaded up for the drive home.  However, while making a brief stop at an area Target, I had a call from our realtor.  In the course of the conversation she casually mentioned that I'd neglected to leave the check for the home inspector, so she'd be sending me an invoice.  I did what?  FORGOT?!?  To PAY the guy?!?  Oh thoroughly embarrassed, I apologized profusely, hoping all the while that my "senior moment" wouldn't cause any problems with the whole home-buying process.  Thankfully the realtor was able to reassure me, but I am seriously questioning my mental state.  Should I really be out on my own?  What about driving my kids?  Forget driving, should I be allowed to sign legal documents?  I know there's something about "mental competence" that comes up, I've heard it on those TV legal shows.  What if the hotel lady and the home inspector join forces to do me out of my new house?  "Nope, sorry, you can't buy this place.  You don't have the minimum number of functioning brain cells.  Too bad!"   EEEEEEK!  I really think I'm about ready for one of those nifty little wraparound jackets.  Do I have to sign for that too? 

Almost heaven (with some side trips)

    West Virginia!  The short people and I made a brief and unplanned trip to the Mountaineer state over the weekend.  My mom's sister had to have some medical tests on Monday and thus was unable to babysit her grandkids, so I took my babysitting tag-team and went down to save the day.  In other words, I made my three big(gish) kids watch my cousin's three little kids.  It's a beautiful thing, it is, watching your own offspring be all responsible and mature while taking care of someone else's offspring.  I laughed myself silly when my youngest looked at me very seriously and said "Mom, it is hard work keeping three kids amused at the same time!  Sometimes they all want different things, and B doesn't listen, and L was upset and wouldn't tell us why, and...and...."  I told him now he has some idea of what it's like to be a Mommy.  He was suitably impressed.  I'm still amused.
    Side trip one - the good drugs are starting to do their work, and the volcano in my head is slowly subsiding to a state of peevish discontent rather than the uproarious anger it was expressing last week.  I can work with peevish.  Believe me, it beats the heck out of wondering when your head's going to explode! 
    Side trip two - tomorrow the kids and I go to Michigan to take care of signing some papers, etc. for the house we're buying.  I can't wait to get in, this house is awesome!  I'm really curious to see the kids' reactions - so far they've only seen pictures.  The pond will have a definite thumbs-up, I know that much.  Jon will be back for good on the 4th and we'll be in the house sometime the end of July.  Yippee!!  Finally all together again in our own place!  I am soooooooooo ready....and I never want to rent again.  Never. 
    Now I have to go return library materials and video rentals, buy a new swimsuit and sandals for kids, make a few dozen phone calls, and generally make myself crazy for the rest of the day.  Fun times!!  Have a great Tuesday, y'all!


    Sure enough, when I broke down and went to the doctor, I was right.  Sinus infection.  Here are your antibiotics, here's the nasal spray, drink lots of fluids and good-bye.  See how easy that was?  What was I fighting?  I even got to be right, which is something I enjoy immensely. (Actually I  probably enjoy it more than I should, but we won't go there.)  I also refrained from knitting yesterday, which was amazingly harder than I thought it would be.  The sock really is coming along nicely, and I hate to lose my momentum.  However, my thumb is reminding me that momentum takes second place to mobility, so I'd better behave for another day or so. 
Darn it.  Hope someone out there is knitting something fun.

And I do this because - ???

    Some days you just have to shake your head in disbelief and think "Whaaaaaat?"  Today I'm doing that at myself.  Not a good thing, folks.
    I do not like pain.  Pain is not my friend.  It is not weakness leaving the body, it does not build character, it does not increase my appreciation of fuzzy kittens and rosy sunsets.  Pain sucks.  Pain is something to be avoided.  See, God created pain to tell us "DON'T DO THAT, STUPID!"  And yet, despite the fact that I am convinced that pain is bad, pain is to be avoided or erased whenever possible, today I find myself not only ignoring pain (dumb) but pursuing activities that will increase my pain (dumber). 
    For the past several days my sinuses have been letting me know that they are not happy.  The little cavities in my skull are throbbing pits of fiery pressure from the third circle of the seventh hell, defiantly resisting all attempts to medicate them into submission.  Clearly, there is something brewing here - some infection or other evil.  Also clear is the fact that I should go to a doctor, because merely moaning and whining is not eliminating the pain, and that is what I want: the pain eliminated.  So what did I do today?  I did not go to the doctor.  I told myself, "Self!  Your sinuses do not hurt.  There is not boiling lava roiling inside your skull, your eyeballs are not going to melt out of their sockets, and you do not need to see a medical professional.  This is silliness.  Stop it right now." 
    It didn't work.

    To add insult to injury (or stupidity to stupidity, whatever) I have been knitting quite a bit lately.  This in spite of the fact that my hands hurt like the dickens and my right thumb is virtually useless for grasping anything.  Because that is true, holding knitting needles becomes unpleasant very quickly.  And yet I continue.  What is wrong with me?  Any sensible person would put down the knitting, take some ibuprofen and find something else to do.  Not me!  No, sir, I am being productive!  I'm being industrious!  I'm being STUPID!  Good grief, there is no great moral value in being busy at the expense of your own joints.  And yet I have this niggling feeling of guilt if I don't have some sort of "project" going on, so I make myself a martyr to what I think others might expect of me.  God forbid I say "Hey, you know what?  I'm really hurting right now, so I'm going to have a little nap.  See ya later."  Or "Gosh, this sinus headache just keeps getting worse in spite of all my efforts to neutralize it.   Guess I'll run to the clinic this afternoon."  Because, you know, enduring pointless pain must be good for me somehow.  Right?  Yeah.  Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.  Wake up and smell the aspirin, Steph. 
    So tomorrow, I'm going to the doctor to see about having that lava siphoned out of my head, and I'm going to let my knitting have a rest for a couple days.  Because pain, my friends, is NOT my friend. 
    Although the sock is going really well.....


    I have come to a decision: I never want to move again.  Moving makes my brain hurt.  By the time we're settled in to wherever we settle, I'm pretty sure that my few remaining brain cells will have gone belly-up in total surrender to all the extreme and unusual activity I've demanded of them in the past year.  Clearly I was not designed to think this much about these things.  Actually I'm not sure I was designed to think much, period.  I don't seem to be very good at it, that's for sure.  (That's why I don't balance my own checkbook.  Poor thinking skills.  Causes problems every time.)
    On the other hand, if worrying and fretting and obsessing about minute and irrelevant details counts as thinking, maybe I'm better off than I realize, because I have those things down.  As in, champion level, gold medal, look-here-comes-the-queen!  I swear to you that I woke up last night and spent an unholy amount of time worrying about whether or not our living room set would look right against the teal carpet in the house we're trying to buy.  From that I went to fretting about wallpaper removal and methods thereof, which led to painting after wallpaper removal and how do you prep the walls?  I don't want bumpy walls, that isn't good, so how do you get them nice and smooth and make sure all the wallpaper snot is off before you paint?  Because wallpaper snot is a booger.  (snork...sorry, couldn't help myself)  See?  If this stuff is really thinking, I am SO good.  If it's not, many fingers do you need to balance a checkbook, anyway? 

You say potato, I say po-tah-to

    The bargaining has begun!  We placed our offer last night, and today our realtor called to tell me that there will be a counter-offer shortly.  Now we get to have fun negotiating all the little details - you know, stuff like the lawn mower and the pinball machine (yes, really!).  What stays and what goes?  It's almost like Christmas, only without the wrapping paper or the snow.  But a much bigger bill.  Okay, maybe not so much like Christmas.  But still, it's fun, albeit in a stomach-clenching "will I ever get to go yarn shopping again?" kind of way.  I'm still boggled by the whole process. 
    Meanwhile, as Jon and I wait semi-patiently to hear what the counter offer will be, the kids have regressed to less enlightened behavior.  In other words, they're fighting like cats and dogs.  Of course, they were little angels for Grandma last week, but apparently there is a limited pool of goodness in each individual child, and once it's used you have to wait some indefinite amount of time for the goodness to regenerate.  Naturally the goodness is always used up for someone other than mom.  This is apparently one of the cardinal rules of childhood, and one of the most frustrating for parents.  Granted I'd rather they act like stinkers at home instead of in the middle of Wal-Mart, but still - !!  Just once in a while, could they save some of the goodness for me?  Come on, guys, throw your poor ol' Mom a bone here....just a little one, that's all I ask.  But noooooooooooooooo, that's not gonna happen.  Sigh.  Guess I'll go back to waiting for the realtor to call. 

Plan B

    Have mercy.  This past week has been a long, hot blur of frenzied activity, much of which I do not remember clearly.  I know my husband was here - he flew over for darling daughter's 13th birthday last Sunday.  I remember meeting him at the airport and driving back to my mom's house, where we were staying for the weekend.  I know there was birthday shopping and present wrapping and helping out with my elderly aunt, who wasn't doing so well.  That was the weekend.  But Monday - oooooohhh, Monday!
    Monday morning we drove to Michigan to meet a realtor and at least begin the process of finding ourselves a place to live.  Jon found out on Friday that he was allowed a week for househunting, etc., so we decided to run with it since he was already here.  We'd already planned on spending Monday checking out the area and looking at a few houses, so we just let the realtor know that we had all week and proceeded to run like crazy.
    First of all, how is it that just driving from house to house and looking can make you so completely exhausted?  I swear to you that by Wednesday I felt like an old dishrag.  We started with some houses we'd found online and thought looked promising.  A word to the wise: pictures online are deceiving.  One house I absolutely loved based on the listing pictures was in the middle of a "protected wetlands area" (meaning mosquito breeding ground).  Another was so dark inside that you almost needed a flashlight to see, in broad daylight.  And my personal favorite was a Victorian-type house that looked great on the outside, barring a little garden work, but the inside was - well - words fail me.  Someone had clearly spent a great deal of time and effort on a very individualistic paint job...sad that it was so ugly.  One room was a vivid magenta, walls and ceiling, with gold filigree stencilling around the walls and plastic "jewels" glued to the center of each filigree emblem.  Another had been sponge-painted a peculiar shade of orange - again, walls and ceiling.  Every carpet was torn, stained or both.  And the basement?  Let's just say you'd have needed hip waders. (quack)
    In an effort to find a house that didn't have a duck-pond in the basement, we upped our price range a little.  Unfortunately, this led us mostly to larger ponds.  One house actually had mushrooms growing out of the basement carpets.  Another one had been foreclosed on by the bank, and someone (irate former owners?) had broken into the house and ripped everything out, and I do mean everything. Doors, trims, cupboards, appliances....completely gutted.  And of course, more basement pondage. (Is that a word?)  We began to grow discouraged.
    On the third day, though, we found some winners.  A lovely Cape Cod, a spacious ranch, a striking modern with a great master suite.....but how to decide?  When three such different houses meet all your basic requirements, you move from the concrete to the intangible.  How does the house feel?  Is it cozy?  Welcoming?  How would this feel with the kids' friends running around?  What about our parents or friends?   After a lot of thought, we ranked the top three and got serious, sitting down and creating offers.  We left Michigan yesterday with our first-choice offer submitted and our fingers crossed.
    But today....plan B.  The realtor called and our first choice is a no-go; wife wants to accept our offer, husband won't budge.  So it's on to Number 2, and we'll see how it goes!  I foresee interesting times ahead.

Late-breaking news

    Okay, so this is pretty silly (and pathetically revealing of my personal insecurities and need for reinforcement) but while I was surfing today I found something on one of the blogs I read regularly that just made my day.  Mother of Chaos has a list of other blogs in her sidebar - places she goes when she should be doing laundry, I think it's called - and believe it or not, Grouchy Mom is on the list!  At first it didn't even register that I was looking at the name of my blog, but then - woooooooo-hooooooooooo!  Yea baby!  Do you know what this means?  This means that someone other than me has read this blog.  I am so excited!!
    Now clearly, I need to remember that this is really a pretty small blip on the radar of eternity, and just because I found my blog's name on someone else's blog doesn't mean I'm suddenly hot stuff.  Nor does it mean that I'm anyone's first internet stop of the day (although that would certainly do my little heart good).  Really, when I started this blog, it was mostly as a way to vent without driving my husband, mom or sister over the edge.  Purely therapeutic, right?  But I gotta tell you, there is something intensely gratifying about realizing that someone else has read what I write, and that they found it, if not superlative, at least good enough that they don't mind having a link to my writing on their website.  It feels good.  Really good.
    So, Mother of Chaos, whoever you really are - thank you.  You made my day.