Sunday, February 28, 2010

Rambling and Rummaging



Call this a "hail Mary" blog entry so that I don't look like such a slacker for the month of February. My excuse is that I've been busy. Also, every time I sit down at the computer I wander off into passiveaggressivenotes.com and then forget why I sat down at the computer in the first place (yes, I've gotten to that age). I also recently discovered a site called Regretsy - Where DIY Meets WTF. So yeah, productive time at the computer has mostly fallen by the wayside. But wait, I have another excuse. I've been busy doing stuff like . . .

Last Monday I picked up two Boxers that were sprung from a shelter north of me. The rescue didn't have a foster home open right away and both dogs were in need of veterinary care (vaccinations, heartworm testing, neutering, etc.), so I dropped them off at my clinic for boarding. Then came the job of finding foster homes for these two very nice chaps. Spencer is 10-12 and Jake is 6-7. They were dumped at a shelter because the owner has a toddler and, as you may be aware, dogs and children cannot (apparently) exist in the same house.

[Begin rant] If you are going to get married and have children (or even have delightful little offspring out of wedlock), and don't think you can handle a dog and a child at the same time, please do not get a dog. Seriously. I'm so tired of it I could scream. Week after week we hear the same story. People console themselves by saying that the dog will be "better off with someone who has more time" but believe me, your dog would rather make do with less of you than to be homeless. [/end rant]

The good news is that we did line up foster homes for both dogs and the boys are doing well. I was particularly concerned about Spencer because of his age.

In other news, I participated in a rummage sale yesterday. It was held in a local mall and the sale was specifically geared towards infant and children's clothes and supplies. I shared a booth with a friend of mine and a friend of hers. We got swamped early on and the early birds mostly wiped us out. I had brought some toys (in addition to the clothes) and those were gone within the first half hour or so. By noon, things had settled down and sales were sporadic thereafter. I made around $140.00 which, as my friend Jennifer would say, "is better than a poke in the eye."

I only had a few people try to talk me down on prices. If they were buying multiple items, I was happy to discount. If they were just buying one, fuggetaboutit. Another item I brought along was a vintage (early 80s, I think) Sesame Street lamp that I had in A's room when she was born. I can't remember what I spent on it, but I seem to recall it was quite a bit. That was in those heady "I'm finally a mom!" days right after she was born. Anyway, I actually think this lamp is worth a decent chunk of change, but I'm way too lazy to ship it (the shade would require a lot of special packaging and whatnot). People poked at it all day and then I finally got a buyer at the end of the day. And I was happy, because I did not want to haul that bugger back home.

We ran into a few catty moms early in the day, but most of the people were nice. The oddest exchange was this:

Random old man (holding up a Micky Mouse plate that I was selling for a buck): What IS this?
Me (wondering if this was a trick question): Um, it's just a plate.
Man (setting it back down and then looking at me with one eyebrow cocked): Uh huh. Just a plate, eh?

He then walked away slowly and deliberately, as if to prove that I had been unable to pull the wool over his eyes with my tricky plate.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hanging out with Meemaw

Sorry for the dearth of new posts - my muddah was in town. I ferried her back to the airport (two hours away, in the snow, because I am just that kind of daughter) today and she's headed home to Oklahoma.

Highlights from her visit:
  • A trip to the mall, wherein I scored two big Yankee Candle jar candles and a very cute spring jacket, courtesy of the 'rents. Happy birthday to me!
  • A night out at the roller derby. A friend of mine is a derby chick so I thought it would be fun to take my mom to something different. We had a good time, though we're both still a little fuzzy on the actual rules of roller derby.
  • On Monday, we kept the kid home from school and she spent the afternoon with her Meemaw while P and I were at work. Apparently they played games and drank hot chocolate. I didn't get a lot of details about what they did, as there seemed to be a "don't ask don't tell" policy in place to which they were both adhering pretty firmly. From what I gathered, copious amounts of marshmallows were consumed.
  • On Tuesday, we surprised A at school by having Meemaw pick her up while I waited in the car. The kid was way excited to see my mom coming across the blacktop. She ran towards her grandmother, arms outstretched and then . . . some little brat pushed her down. We then went to Chuck E Cheese. A had a gift card sent to her by Fritz, our former foster dog (that is one generous pooch, let me tell ya). So, we played games and earned enough tickets to buy some worthless crap. The usual. Finally, we headed to the fabric store. I had been avoiding this endeavor since my mom's arrival. If you know anyone who sews or quilts, you know what I am talking about. I even tried telling her that all the fabric stores in town had closed and that it was all very tragic. However, she spotted a Hancock Fabric and I couldn't get out of it. The reason I was dragging my feet is that you cannot get my mother out of a fabric store once you have allowed her to enter one. You'd have an easier time extracting an addict from a crack house. She was buying fabric to make my daughter a dress, though, so I had to keep my protest rally pretty low-key.
As she was packing last night (and this is not a woman who travels light), I made this helpful suggestion: "Be sure to wing a slipper under the bed!" Meemaw always leaves a slipper behind and then I have to ship it to her. After she was all packed this morning, I got on my hands and knees and found two pairs of shoes under the bed in the guest room. Good try, lady!

Note to my mom: Thanks for visiting us! Now, would you like to explain to the nice people why you left dozens of popsicles in my freezer?


Mom holding five whole tickets at Chuck E. Cheese. Frankly, the kid and I really had to carry her when it came to ticket winnings.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jay-rad



"It's our birthday!" we always exclaimed every February, as though we were twins (and as a matter of fact we did later hatch a plot to be adopted by each other's parents). Born a scant five days apart, Jared and I have been friends since we were 14. And, today is his birthday.

We met in 9th grade, in GT English, I believe. I might be making that up. We met in one class or other our Freshman year at Robert E. Lee High school. Over the years we had gym and English together, and maybe a couple of other random classes. You couldn't help but want to be Jared's friend. With his sky-high IQ and sharp wit, it was easy to be drawn to him. 26 years later, he's still the funniest guy I know.

A few memories from days of yore:

  • During our Freshman year, Jared and I made a vow that we would make it all the way through high school without playing an organized team sport of any kind. And, we kept that vow. When we were allowed to choose different activities in gym class, Jared and I always chose either recreational games or archery. One time, we were playing ping-pong in the gym (one of the "rec games") and we lost several balls under the bleachers. Mrs. Rowe told us that if we lost another ball, we were done. Moments later, our ball rolled under the bleachers, far out of reach. So, we just raised our paddles and continued to bat them into the air with no ball in sight. Mrs. Rowe never noticed.

  • Our first job was at Kids R Us. We didn't work there too long, because we didn't have cars and we both lived on the other side of town. I was in the accessories department, spending countless hours straightening headbands and plastic earrings so that God's littlest angels could come along and demolish the displays. Jared, on the other hand, was given more responsibility: he got to run a cash register. We also used a label maker to create code names that we adhered to the back side of our name badges. Jared was, as I recall, Mr. Windex.
  • When we were Juniors, I was dating a red-headed boy named Clint. He was a theater type, as were many of our mutual friends. One day, at the lunch table, Jared noticed that I was wearing a red twill shirt with over-sized pockets in the front (keep in mind that this was 1987). He leaned across the table and asked, "What do you keep in those pockets? Besides Clint's hands, I mean?"

  • The summer after our Junior year, we set about the task of finding part-time jobs. I walked to Jared's house so that we could then head across the street to Springfield Mall. For some reason, it still brings a smile to my face when I think of his mom saying, "And don't come back 'til you're gainfully employed!" as we walked out the door. I got a job at Show Off (a women's clothing store) and Jared was hired by a store called Sport & Hobby, which sold model airplanes and whatnot. Honestly, I think we'd both still work at those stores today if they hadn't closed.
There was a lot of post-high school frivolity as well. Like the time we went to an Irish Pub and I was generously over-served. So much so that Jared was somehow able to convince me to yell "FREE BIRD!" to the nice young man playing classic Irish music. Or the time we visited a "haunted" barn right before Halloween, when Jared snuck under the ropes and re-arranged two gigantic rats so that they were fornicating. What a treat for the young families that were filing in as we made a hasty exit.

Happy birthday, Jared! Thank you for being my friend all these years.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Smut

My neighbor Cassi invited me to a Pure Romance party at her house Tuesday night so, in spite of some trepidation, I went. I'd been to one of these parties about four years ago, and I figured my embarrassment had subsided enough by now to attend another one. Seriously, my cheeks were flushed for a week after the last smutfest. One thing I can tell you for sure: don't even attempt one of these gatherings if you don't drink. Seriously.

As I was walking out the door to trot around the corner through the snow, I posted on my Facebook page that I was "headed to a Pure Romance Party. AKA . . . smut." A guy from my church immediately replied, "I KNEW IT!" Now, I don't know what he thinks he knows, but now I can't help but wonder exactly what sort of impression I've been giving at church.

In telling you about the party, I'll have to be very careful about my word choices here, because I don't want to attract a bunch of perverts to my blog. I learned that lesson the hard way with a previous blog entry. The Pure Romance stuff really is meant to be fun (and, I suppose, useful). I arrived at the party and settled into a spot on the couch, Chardonnay in hand. We were seated in a circle in Cassi's living room. Next to the TV was a low table full of displayed unmentionables. The Pure Romance consultant began her presentation, working her way through the catalog she had given each of us. The pages in the catalog bore titles such as "Good Vibrations!" and "High-Tech Heaven!" The consultant was very bubbly and definitely knew the products well. God love a woman who can say things like "clitoral stimulation" in the very same tone of voice in which one would say "roll with butter." We also played a couple of games. And by "we" I mean "everyone but me."

Cassi's mom and sister were also at the party. Now, I don't care who you are, but you don't wanna think about your parents doing it. My mother has three children so I've allotted three sex acts to her over the course of her adult life and that's it. As far as I'm concerned, my dad hasn't gotten any since my youngest sister was conceived in 1981.

I grew up in a liberal, open family. We are not a Puritanical or prudish lot by any stretch. However, I can't seem to bring myself to discuss d*ldos in polite company (or even impolite company). It took a couple of glasses of Chardonnay at the party before I stopped feeling like I might pass out every time a sex toy was handed around the circle (I have a weird habit of holding my breath when I'm feeling out of sorts). I really do not know what is wrong with me, as everyone else seemed quite comfortable.

So, I guess you are dying to know: did she buy anything???? Yes, I walked out with a black bag just like everyone else. But, alas, I have to disappoint you. All I bought was a massage thingamajig (it heats up) and some massage oil, which may or may not ever get used. Oh, and some glittery lotion, which I thought might be fun to have on hand (sparkly bosom) for a fancy night out sometime (because you know I do that a LOT). Yes, I passed up my chance to buy my very own stripper pole and install it in my house. I'm sorry to dash your hopes on the rocks like that. There was also a, um, motorized male member that retails for $150.00. I just could not get my brain around that at all. That's a week's worth of groceries. This bugger spins in a couple of directions at varying speeds and is, of course, waterproof. Nothing I buy at the grocery store does that.

Maybe I'll host a party so that I can get a crotchless bodysuit for half price. And where, oh where, will I install that pole?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Weekend



It's all over but the shoutin'. I'm 40. I wonder if I'll now start to shake my fist in the air periodically and rail against "you kids and your twitters and your facesbooks!" Actually, if you want to feel really, truly geriatric, check out www.textsfromlastnight.com. That site simultaneously repulses and fascinates me. Has college really changed that much in 20 years? I had no idea that anal sex is now an acceptable topic of casual conversation. Apparently I don't get out much.

Anywho, our romantic getaway for three was fabulous. We swam, we shopped, we whirlpooled, and we ate candy. We arrived on Friday and there was a bottle of wine and a card in our suite when we checked in. "Who sent this?" I wondered.

"Someone who doesn't know you at all," responded P. (It was Merlot.) The gift turned out to be from the resort itself, which was very nice. When I made the reservation I had mentioned that it was a birthday trip. I've stayed there several times before and have always enjoyed it, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to mention the reason for the trip. Always go for free stuff when you can - that's a little tip from me to you.

On Saturday, I suggested we go shopping and, much to my amazement, my other half agreed. We hit a candy store and browsed in various shops. The kid bought me a watch. And by "bought me a watch" I mean that I picked it out, her dad paid for it, and she took credit for the whole affair. I also picked up a couple of sweaters, a new mousepad, and a wine glass (yes, just one). We went out to lunch and, later, went out to dinner. We rounded out the day with a swim in the pool.

On Sunday (my actual birthday), we checked out and then A and P dropped me off at the spa where I had scheduled my massage. The spa was in a woodsy setting, a very serene sort of place (I guess that's the idea). New age-y music was piped into all the rooms. I filled out a form, declined an attempt to sell me extra services (some sort of skin brushing thing? I have no idea), and was then escorted to a massage room by a therapist named Jill.

I had to work really hard at relaxing, but I mostly pulled it off. The massage therapist was darned good at her job, and I did my best to convince myself that she was not appalled by the sheer mass of me. The hour flew by. When it was over I definitely felt less . . . oh, I don't know . . . frenetic? Freaked out? Anxiety-ridden? Something.

P earned lots of "good husband" points this weekend. He gamely kept up as we went from one shop to another, and took care of many of our daughter's basic needs. At one point, they went to a book store while I went to a clothing shop. A half-hour later, he walked out with the following book tucked under his arm: "Barbie and the 12 Dancing Princesses." Yep, that's my Marine.

A few photos from the weekend:

I read the "safety rules" posted on the wall and they did not explicitly state that adults were not welcome in the ball pit.


Try to picture this in focus. My new watch is made of safety pins. I was oddly drawn to it.

Birthday gift from my other half. I spotted this little dog sculpture in a shop downtown last month. It's hard to do it justice in a photo, but I'm excited to have it. It's made by a local artist. (Just so there's no confusion: the dog is sleeping and not deceased.)


A kid in a candy shop. Fer real.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Lordy, lordy, I guess I'm . . .

. . . halfway to dead. Yeah, I'll be 40 on Sunday. Being 39 for the past year has felt a bit like a joke - 39 is the age people say they are when they are really 40.

Have you ever tried to contemplate your own mortality? It's a weird concept for one's brain to grasp. It's hard for me to picture my life without me in it. I've dealt with medical issues most of my life, so it's hard to predict what will take me down. I've read that skin cancer is what kills many people with albinism, and since I also have no pigment in my skin (because of vitiligo), I'm putting my money on that. You know how when some people have a serious illness and everyone who knows them says, "He'll never quit. He's a fighter!" Well, I'm pretty sure that when some colossal malady strikes me, those who knew me will remark, "Yes, I'm hardly surprised. She was a giver-upper from way back."

But enough about that. First, I need to live long enough to find out what this kid of mine is going to become. I think it's a little schmaltzy to say that I want to see her "walk down the aisle" because I am not overly concerned about that (though I'm sure I'll be my son-in-law's worst nightmare). I have a deep need to see who she is going to be. I really think my daughter is going to do something extraordinary with her life. I feel absolutely certain of it.

I suppose this is the time when I'm also supposed to reflect on my own life to date. I'm only vaguely traumatized over this turning 40 business. Many of my Facebook friends are also members of the Class of '88 and it's been funny/interesting to watch each of my classmates turn 40 in turn. Some take in stride, some deny it, some wig out a little. I may have a minor meltdown on Sunday but nothing overly dramatic. I think it would be much harder had I not found a way to become a mom five years ago. I still feel lucky every day, even on days when she tells me that if I don't let her have a second fruit snack she "won't be my daughter anymore!"

My only true regret is that I've never been published. It's my own fault, of course. It's hard to get published when you don't submit anything. Being a published writer and being fearful of rejection are mutually exclusive. You can be one or the other, but not both. Self-publishing via a blog works well enough to stave off my angst. Now if you people would just send me some money every month we'd be all set.

We had originally hoped to go to Vegas for my birthday, but we were unable to plan a trip because my job was up in the air until last month. So, we are going to a nearby resort for the weekend instead. A romantic weekend for three (yes, our suite has two bedrooms). I've scheduled myself a massage for Sunday morning. If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know I have issues with pedicures and massages and the like. But, I'm going to give it my best shot, to see if I can get through it without needing therapy afterward.

Old lady out

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

We should've named her Jo


My daughter is attending a Valentine's Day party at her 4K class tomorrow. I knew about this little shindig in advance and picked up two sets of Valentine cards: X-Men for the boys and Princess Tiana (of Princess and the Frog fame) for the girls (don't bust my chops over the gender stereotypes - it seemed like a good idea at that time). I pulled out the class list and wrote the name of a recipient (twenty children in all) on each card. Some of the spellings seem a little wacky to me, but what do I know? There were a few student names that were iffy enough that I had to check with my daughter to confirm which ones have a penis and which do not.

I sat the kid on a stool at the kitchen counter and instructed her to start writing her name on each card. Instead of blasting through them as I'd hoped, she signed her name to one card. Then she applied a foam heart sticker to it. Then she layered a slightly smaller heart sticker on top of that one. And then added a third. She then folded the card in half and sealed it with a small paper sticker. Finally, she flipped it over and proceeded to use a marker to fill in all of the closed letters in her name. Then she waxed poetic about how much she likes that particular classmate.

Here's the detail I left out: my daughter's name contains eight letters. It is not the sort of name you can shorten into a nickname, which is one of the reasons I chose it. I could see that this process was going to be beyond excruciating. She completed three cards and then stated (and I quote), "I'm too tired to go on."

Then, things got a little worse. Her Kindercare teacher sent home a note announcing a "friendship party." The note instructed parents to send in twenty-two Valentines, and specified that each child should try to write their own name on each card. Fortunately, I had enough Valentines left over to cover the second set.

Okay, if you are doing the math, here's where we are: 42 valentines x 8 letters = 336 letters. = Hell. What should have been a fun little project has turned into: "WOULD YOU PLEASE SIGN YOUR NAME FOR THE LOVE OF GOD?!?!?" To make matters worse, she has about a 10% failure rate when writing her name. Occasionally she transposes a couple of letters. Then she wigs out and insists on replacing that particular card.

At the outset of the project, I handed her a marker for signing her name and warned her to be very careful with it. Apparently, when I was out of the room, she somehow made a 10-inch streak across the counter. Instead of telling me about it so that I could clean it up right away, she got a piece of paper and carefully taped it over the streak. Because, you know, I'd never think to move it or look under it.

We're down to the wire now, with about ten cards to go and half an hour before bedtime. Her dad yells "Sign your name!" periodically from the living room, but it's clear that the Valentine project is chiefly my problem (somehow, possession of ovaries = responsibility for everything).

So, Happy &%*$ing Valentine's Day to one and all.

Love,
Claudia
XOXO

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Meditation: Fail

The list of things I suck at (or "things at which I suck" . . . the English major in me doesn't like to end a sentence with a preposition, even though many grammar guides have now sanctioned it) has just grown. The list was already pretty long.

I cannot:
  • accept a compliment
  • knit, crochet, or sew
  • do math
  • play cards (I can, but pretend I can't because it's just so freaking boring)
  • hit a ball or play an organized sport of any kind
  • sing
  • play an instrument or read music
  • draw (you do not want me on your team for Pictionary)
  • do the splits
  • read a map properly
  • run any reasonable distance without appearing as though I suffer from a neurological disorder
  • understand what "penalty declined" means in NFL football

New entry: meditate. At church on Sunday, we had an interesting speaker. She runs a local yoga studio. She spoke about being "in the moment" and not letting your mind wander. It's definitely a challenge, being fully present. After speaking for a bit, she had the congregation members put our feet on the floor, close our eyes, and attempt to meditate. She rang a bill every 15 seconds or so, with the meditation lasting three minutes.

At first, I did manage to keep my mind pretty quiet. I tried to focus on my breathing. However, we were planning to go to Red Robin after church (P had accompanied the kid and me to the service), so pretty soon I started thinking, "Shroom Boca burger or Whiskey River Barbecue Boca burger?" Then I thought this: "We could get an appetizer, but why does Red Robin insist on bringing the entree thirty seconds after bringing the appetizer? That is so annoying!" Then, as the seconds ticked by, I started to find the bell itself irritating instead of soothing.

The next exercise was to turn to a neighbor and stare into their eyes for one minute. Despite the fact that I have been with my husband for 17 1/2 years, I could not do it. I should have done the exercise with someone I have not seen naked. Every time I tried to look into his handsome brown eyes, there he was smirking at me. Like, "I have seen you naked, too, lady." We gave up after about thirty seconds.

The nice lady who adopted Fritz is a Buddhist. Like many UUs, I'm very interested in Buddhist teachings and philosophies. So, imagine my excitement when Fritz's new mom handed me a set of Buddhist prayer beads. They are really beautiful. I carry them in my purse and hold them in my hand sometimes. I'm just fascinated by them. Anyway, when she handed them to me, I graciously thanked her for the gift by: dropping them on the floor. As they clattered and slid across the linoleum floor, I scrambled after them like the goober I am. So, I'm guessing that whatever energy they held has now drained out of them.

So, yes, I seem to be failing miserably in my quest to become a more grounded, reflective person. I cannot meditate, I cannot connect spiritually with my partner, and I cannot be trusted with sacred objects. I may try meditation again sometime, but fully expect the Red Robin issue to rear its ugly head again. I mean, seriously, why can't they stagger the appetizer and the entree? I just don't get it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Talk about Old School

This afternoon we took A to her cousin's third birthday party. My sister-in-law wisely came to the conclusion that having a birthday party at your house every year is for the birds. The cooking, the cleaning, the unruly relatives, etc. So, she booked it in a bowling alley. The bowling alley was conveniently located in 1963. Don't get me wrong - I love hanging out in unpretentious joints that just barely meet health codes. We had a blast!

You gotta check out the decor, though.


Apparently this is the last place in the free world that allows smoking indoors. I didn't know which I found more aesthetically pleasing - the groovy stars or the soggy cigarette butt.


I wish I knew what the original ashtray looked like. I'm betting it was fab-u-lous.



Molded white and orange plastic seats? Check!


This baffled and frightened me most of all. No, the photo is not upside down. There was indeed a large custodial bucket strapped into the ceiling.



The only person at the party who knew how to keep score was my sister-in-law's grandma. After I scored a 72 in the first game, I suggested to her that she really did not need to do any more math for me.


The party was a lot of fun. As you can see from the photo above, our niece enjoyed the princess music set I bought for her. The set also included castanets, maracas, a tambourine, cymbals, and a trumpet. Why would I do this to my sister-in-law, you ask? Well, she started it. She threw down the gauntlet when she bought my kid a make-up set for Christmas. It contained lipstick, eye shadow, and nail polish (the real stuff - not "pretend" make-up). My daughter was delighted, of course. I tightened my jaw a bit. "I just want to be the fun auntie!" said my sister-in-law.

"Oh, you're a barrel of laughs, alright," I told her.

And this, my friends, is why I also included a set of Plah-Doh in the gift bag today. Oh, and a robotic kitty who meows. I think you'll agree that this was well-played on my part. My kid's birthday is coming up on May 3rd and I have a feeling we'll be receiving something that involves glitter and paint and possibly an ant farm. I am planning to counter with a live puppy.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Color me over-extended

First off, I did indeed go to my Weight Watchers meeting on Saturday, in case you wondered. Let it not be said that I am not a woman of my word. Normally, Nan at the scale would say something along the lines of, "You're not too far off; you're doing fine." On Saturday she busted out with, "You're up quite a bit." Well, see, I know because . . . I own a scale.

The meeting topic was highly relevant for me: emotional eating. For the past few days, I have been repeating the mantra from the meeting: "if hunger is not the problem, food is not the answer." Sometimes food tells me that it is the answer if I just ask the right question. Nonetheless, I recommitted myself to the program and so far this week has gone pretty well. I think part of my problem is that I am trying to do too much every day. By late afternoon, I am feeling pretty brittle and it doesn't take much to break me. Over-scheduled and over-extended, that's me.

On Monday nights, we have swim class. I am not one of those moms who puts her kid in every activity. She likes swim class and I feel like it's one of those skills that's as necessary as it is fun. Getting her to swim class on time involves packing a bag with her swimsuit and towel, putting dinner on the table, and then getting out the door with her by 6:05 p.m. It's harder than it sounds, in as much as there is laundry to be put away and dogs and cats needing to be fed (well, just one cat - but she is moderately Rubenesque).

On Tuesdays, I go to step aerobics. Sure, I could live without going to aerobics and indeed I do take the instructor's name in vain the whole time I am there, but when I leave, I am so physically exhausted that whatever I was fretting about on the way to class simply dissipates into thin air. Getting there on time is, again, a challenge. The class starts at 5:25 and is 20 minutes away. I try to get dinner on the table before I go but some weeks it's more like my husband and daughter are catching a sandwich in mid-air as I am flying down the driveway.

On Wednesdays, I take Gretchen to obedience class. She has progressed into the Novice class, which starts at 5:00. If you thought I had a hard time getting out the door for aerobics, you should see me on Wednesdays. My husband gets home at 4:40, the exact time I have to leave for class. The class is, again, an activity that is not required, but I am determined to compete in Obedience and possibly Agility and Gretchen is coming along whether she likes it or not. I should add that she's actually doing quite well in class. She no longer needs a training collar and has started going off-leash work.

On Thursday nights, P works his second job. I try to get caught up with housework on Thursdays so that I don't have to do it on the weekend. Nothing ruins a Saturday like a load of laundry. I don't get as much done as I'd like because, as you may have guessed, my daughter requires a high degree of interaction. She is not the do-a-puzzle-quietly-in-her-room type.

Things do settle down by Friday night and even though weekends are also heavily scheduled, they are less stressful. I think I just need to make sure I stop signing us up for obedience classes and swim classes in the same session. I'm also anxious for school to end, because right now our schedules are tied to that. I have to get to work by 7 in order to pick the kid up at 3:30. And getting to work at 7 is a fantastic feat, let me tell you - particularly since my friends at the highway department decided to rip apart the bridge that I need to cross in order to get to work.

Anyway, enough with the whining. Yes, I am insanely busy (and I didn't even mention the mucho hours I spend every week as a rescue volunteer), but please know that I did take time out to enjoy a tea party with my curly girly yesterday. We drank tea and spoke very formally about how pajama day at school had been such a meaningful experience for her, as well as covering other sundry topics.

"Excuse me, Miss Hostess," I said, "My tea cup has teeth marks on it, kinda like a dog has been chewing on it."

She frowned, irritated that I'd bring up such an unseemly topic during such a refined affair.

"I notice you have a contusion on your forehead. How did you get that?" I asked.

A raised her hand to her head. "I falled at the back door," she replied.

"Now, this is just my personal opinion, but I really think you should consider falling down much less frequently." I took another sip of my air tea.

She nodded and raised her chin. "I will consider it."