Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Yes, it's mine. And no,
see, it's not pink!
Yes, the saga continues.

And the dead mouse smell that has been driving me insane for two weeks...FOUND!!  At long last.

I've been unable to use my dishwasher for a week now because the last time I ran it, it smelled like a little rodent sauna.  Oh, yes. I'll let that simmer a while just so you can feel the full effect.

Needless to say, I was pretty certain the little fucker had up and died somewhere beneath or behind the dishwasher, which is screwed into my granite-top counter. By a professional, no doubt.

So I text my landlord ('cause he's cool like that) and ask him for his suggestion.

"Do you have a tool belt?" he asks.

Uh...hello...I'm a lesbian.

But then I had to really psyche myself up for it, had a double-chai, flipped my leopard print hat on backwards ('cause, well, just 'cause), and strapped on the brand new, never-been-used belt.  As soon as I tried to unscrew the thing with my tiniest philips screwdriver, I quickly realized this was gonna be nothing like replacing the batteries in Chago's roaring dinosaur.  I'd have to pull out the big guns for this one.

So, I grabbed my flashlight, my Ryobi, kicked off my 5" heels, laid flat on my belly, and got smacked right in the face by the putrid odor.  My eyes welled with tears immediately and I reached frantically for the Lysol, Fabreze, and some crystal gel odor-eating thing I had at the bottom of the nearest cabinet.

So, finally all geared up to go, I then find that it helps to have had your power tool plugged in and charged first. For a while, apparently. And I'm thinking this is a life lesson, applicable across a number of scenarios.  So just take note, and we'll revisit this one later.

Thirty minutes later then and we're back in the saddle. I get the bottom cover off and unscrew it from the countertop with surprisingly little effort.  The heft and vibration of the power tool make me wonder why I haven't taken up carpentry before.  Or, at a minimum, a QA position with Babes in Toyland.  But the jiggling of the dishwasher to carefully maneuver it out of its very tight spot reminded me that you probably need a whole heck of a lot more patience than that with which I come naturally equipped.

Poor little dude. Time's up, buddy.
Under the further misimpression that the dishwasher was just gonna slide all the way out to allow me clear and complete access, I was thoroughly disheartened to discover I'd have to resolve this entire issue from my flat-belly position on the floor.

Flashlight back in hand. Odor-neutralizing gel within reach. I scanned the area behind the dishwasher for less than 2 seconds before coming across the flattened, furry, rigor-mortised, little body.

"HA! HAAAA!" I cackled to no one.  "I've got you now!!"  And I suddenly had a flash of the crazy 90-year-old woman I would eventually become.

But for now...how to get him out.

My mind immediately went to the 3am commercials and that hand-held reach extension thingamajig with the pincher on the end.  Yeah. You know the one.  That would TOTALLY work. Perfectly.  But the nearest As Seen On TV Store is at least 10 miles away. (Do NOT ask me why I know this.)  And right now, I'm on a mission.  And, typically, very easily distracted.  See, there I go again. Stop sidetracking me, people.

Giving a whole new meaning to
what's in your toolbelt?
So, I search my garage, search the kids' outside toybox, search the holiday boxes, the giveaway stack, the gardening corner. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

And then I see a little glint out of the corner of my eye.  Something tucked just behind the tackle boxes.  I stepped closer. Sneaking up on it for absolutely no reason whatsoever. I quickly push aside the scooters to reveal a silver fish. Dangling midair. From fishing line.  Attached to a rod.

I think I may have actually wrung my hands like the old witch in Snow White just before she doles out the apple.

But out he came. His stiff little paw curled tightly around the line. If only you'd found me last week, his rancid aura whispered.  It was all very melodramatic.  I'm fairly certain Celine Dion was playing somewhere.

[End scene.]

Lesson learned: ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS just go get the damned live mice traps. Or a cat.

Monday, December 06, 2010


We don't, typically. As a rule.

Or at least, I didn't think we did.

Until the kids asked what we were going to be doing for the classroom holiday gifts this year.  And I'm sure I had the same blank expression then that I have on now because for the life of me, I have no idea what they're talking about.  And then it occurred to me, it must've happened during the black-out.

You know, the Christmas shopping black-out that begins the day after Thanksgiving and continues up until about the 23rd of December?  It's that place that you go to in order to justify to yourself and to your dwindling bank account and smoking credit cards that you haven't. yet. covered. everyone.

So, evidently, during these black-outs, I've been easily convinced in previous years to purchase classroom gifts for each of my kids' classes. I'm still in a state of shock as to how this actually happens.  Apparently, I'm a pretty functional shopaholic. Buying, wrapping, tagging, shipping.  Even the postman gets a little sum'n sum'n (no, not THAT kinda sum'n).

So, I'm still staring at Saia, mouth completely agape, as she regales me with tales of our wonderful shopping sprees, and how much she enjoys being able to give something to every single person in her class, so that no one feels left out, and how she's so happy with the gift we picked up for her teacher, and how much she's loved wrapping gifts so early for our family this year, and how it was really cool that we adopted that family last year and that we should really do that again, and how she's already been thinking about what to do for her class this year.

And I felt myself beginning to hyperventilate.  Suddenly, it was all beginning to make sense.  The flood of bills in January.  The inexplicable loss of funds. The utter sense of emptiness and gloom at the end of the year.  I was shopping myself into oblivion without even realizing it.

"Mama?" she says.  "Are you listening?"

And I grab the corner of the table to stabilize myself.

"So, Mama, can I tell you my idea for this year?" she continues, oblivious to my impending heart attack.

"Sure, sweetheart. What is it?" I eek out, my cheeks all flushed, perspiration beginning to collect on my brow.

"Well, see, we all have pencils at our desks and little pencil sharpeners, but the sharpeners we have are for regular pencils, and they don't work on colored pencils because they're just a little bit thicker, and since we have both regular pencils and colored pencils in our own pencil boxes, it would make more sense if we all had little colored pencil sharpeners at our desks that sharpen BOTH kinds of pencils, so that we wouldn't have to stand in line to wait to use the electric sharpener."

She takes a deep breath.

And as the color begins to seep back into my face, I feel a smile overtaking me from head to toe. I mean, seriously, who is she kidding? She cannot possibly be this adorable. :)

And I'm off to Staples this afternoon.

[Incidentally, as I was googling for an image for this post, I typed in "group gifts." Eww...just don't. Not the combination I was looking for.]

Friday, December 03, 2010


Working on her budget
So, the monsters' school held their annual fundraiser, a holiday gift shop, which included trinkets and chincheria from a quarter up to $17.

But new this year was a little budget envelope that accompanied the flyer.  On it, were three columns: Name, Amount Budgeted, Amount Spent.  And then the whole thing was divided up into categories, like Family, Friends, Pets, and Others.

So, the kids sat down and started listing the folks they wanted to pick up gifts for.  It started out with 8, and ended up somewhere around 15.  Each. Mommy and I huddled to determine a reasonable budget max.  Then huddled twice after that to adjust and re-adjust it.


Is that a genetic trait? Spending?


Working on his budget
with Mommy
Gift Shoppe day finally arrives, which is clearly meant to be a charming holiday experience, as evidenced by the intentional use of the Old English spelling of "shoppe," with its aggressively quaint double p, and, therefore, providing implicit permission to thoroughly enjoy and spend at will, as opposed to "shop," which clearly means a bunch of flea market crap we got donated to us and are trying to hock to your children for their allowance money using the classic marketing tools of guilt and compassion.

Two. Hours. Later.  And Saia finally appeared to be done. I checked and rechecked her calculations, and was pretty pleased to see that she'd come in under budget by $5, which she promptly pocketed. :)

Santiago, however, took his right up to the very last penny. Not that there's anything wrong with that. He absolutely got his money's worth, and at least he didn't go over.

The 5th graders provided complimentary gift-wrapping with purchase, so the monsters insisted on getting the gifts that they'd bought for Mommy and I wrapped before we headed home.

When Saia was done, she came right up to me with a half-smile on her face.  She looked nervous. Something was wrong. And then she said, "Mama, you know that little jewelry box we picked out for Sally?"

"Yeah, baby."

Waiting to check out
"Well, did you like it?" she asks, forcibly stretching the corners of her mouth into an eerie joker-like grin.

"Um...yeah, I liked it fine, sweetheart. I think it's a perfect choice for Sally," I said a little tentatively.

"Well, good," she says, "because I wrapped it for you instead." Big cheesy smile.

"Wait. What?"

"I couldn't find the gift that I thought I bought for you, so I just picked out another gift from my bag and they wrapped that one for you. See, here it is," she rushes out.

"Oh, baby. I don't want something you picked out for someone else," I said. "I mean..."

But it was too late. The tears had begun to pour. Her cheeks flashed red. Her nose crinkled. And I began looking for a place to duck. Fast.

Getting her gifts
I ushered her around the corner of the building just in time for her to burst, and then she let me have it.


"Okay, okay, now, wait just a second, baby," I said, getting down onto my knees and trying to get her to focus on me and away from the hundred little demons perched on her shoulders ready to pounce.

"Clearly, you thought you'd put something for me into your bag, but maybe you set it down accidentally," I explained. "That would certainly explain why you had that $5 left over when we thought we had accounted for all of it, wouldn't it?"


"For two reasons, mama.  One, you picked that out for Sally. And won't you be disappointed if you can't give that to her? And two, you had something else that you wanted to give to me. That you picked out for me. From you. And that's what I want from you. Not something intended for someone else," I say, suddenly realizing that I'm describing my own penchant for re-gifting with painfully stinging accuracy.


"Oh, oh, oh..." I say, finally starting to get it. "Baby, there's nothing wrong with going back into a store to get something that you forgot. Mama does that ALL THE TIME.  And you have that money in your pocket already, so all you have to do is go back in, pick up the item that you probably set down, and get back in line to pay for it."

[Sniffle. Sniffle.]

"Are my eyes red?" she asks, wiping her cheeks.

"No, no," I say, blowing softly on her face, "You can't even tell you've been crying," and I kiss her red bulbous nose.

So, she smiles, turns on her heels, and skips off all Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hydish back into the shop.  About a minute later she comes running out...without a gift...money still in hand.

"Mama, can I have another dollar?" she says.

"What? No. That'll put you OVER budget now, babe," I whine.


Oh, for pete's sake.  And I just handed over the damn bill.

Chago's Shopping Spree