My Husband Is Trying To Kill Me

It might make me sound paranoid, but I am pretty sure my husband is trying to kill me.  And it’s not paranoia if it’s true, right?

I really thought it would be one of the cats who took me out. Bellatrix takes test-bites of my nose at night to see if I’m dead yet, and Ravenclaw eviscerates everything.

It started out simply enough. Husband bought one of those plug-in air fresheners. It was fine at first. And by first, I mean for about fifteen seconds. Then my eyes began to water, and my nose felt like I’d been snorting thumbtacks.*** I might be allergic. I unplugged the thing without comment and went about my day.

When I got up the next morning, I thought someone had put a pillow over my head. I kind of wish they had. I slithered out of bed and tried to sniff the thing out. I found it in the hallway, unplugged it, and hid it on a bookcase shelf. By afternoon, the whole house once again smelled like death covered in flowers. I unplugged it and put it on the window sill behind the curtain.

The next day I came home from work, and husband had clearly tried to compromise. He had replaced the hateful fragrance with pumpkin spice. At least that’s what the label said. More like cloves roasted over the flames of hell. I ripped the thing out of the wall and screamed “Why do you HATE ME? unplugged and hid it on top of the bookcase.

And so it continues. He plugs, I unplug. He plugs, I cry. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I get it. He wants to house to smell welcoming and inviting for the guests we never have. But now he has taken to hiding the things. They look just like the motion detector lights we have for when I’m stumbling out of bed in the middle of the night to pee  checking on the kids in the dark. It sometimes takes me ten minutes to find which outlet holds the little offender.

It’s bad enough that my nose and eyes burn, but I think I am losing brain cells. This is where I draw the line. Already I could hide my own Easter eggs, and I can’t remember how old I am without calling my mom. I can’t afford to lose what little I have left.

“Oh, but Heather,” you say. “He’s not trying to kill you with an air freshener.” And you’d be right. Because’s now there’s not an air freshener, there’s TWO! Twice the fragrance, twice as many brain cells withering to dust. I should never have taken out a life insurance policy. Once you’re worth more dead than you are alive, it’s time to start sleeping with one eye open.

But it’s okay. Two can play at that game. If it’s open season on bringing home something that sends our partner screaming into the streets, I’m buying him a tarantula. This is going to be good.

 

***PSA – Kids, don’t snort thumbtacks. It might be what the cool kids are doing, but you’re better than that.

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The One Where I Make a Big Announcement

First let me say that I was as surprised by the ending to this story as you are. It was not exactly expected, but I’m also not sad at how things have turned out.

I called my husband from work a few Saturdays ago to tell him that Spider-Man*** and Captain America were coming to the zoo to sign autographs. Every, single pretend play event like this is a reminder that my boy is growing up. And I grieve.

“He may not be interested,” I said over the phone. My heart said “Please, God, let him want to come.”

“And he might not want to wear a costume,” I added, in the second phone conversation. “Please, God,” my heart cried. “Let him want to wear a costume. Just one more time.”

“And you might want to get here early,” I said, on the third call this time. “Because it gets really busy, and it’s hot, and the heroes might want to take breaks.” And I may never again have a little superhero who dresses up and comes out, ready to fight crime and drink a cherry Slushie.

My heart is hungry for those one more times. One more time to play dress up and pretend. One more time to belly laugh over Snoopy and his silliness. One more time to crawl into my lap and call me “Mommy.” One more time to ask for help tying a boot. One more time to look with wide-eyed innocence at a world too big and too scary.

And I couldn’t take the pain of the one more time. Because what if it never showed up.

On that sunny Saturday, it did. Dressed in his Captain America best, with the cardboard shield his brother and sister had made for him, he trip-trapped up the sidewalk, ready to conquer the world and have his picture taken. He greeted me coolly, and I could see it in his eyes. That one last time is fast approaching, and one time soon will be the last time for both of us because he is the last, the youngest. Why does it feel so unfair?

Here I stand on the precipice of The End,  when it seems like the The Beginnings were only about 10 seconds ago.

I made baby Squish Harry Potter. And I'm not sorry.

I made baby Squish into Harry Potter. And I’m not sorry.

 

Don't ask. I don't know. He looks like he's having fun, though, doesn't he?

Don’t ask. I don’t know. He looks like he’s having fun, though, doesn’t he?

That shield in an heirloom. And it has seen some action.

That shield in an heirloom. And it has seen some action.

Somehow, this kid went from Baby Harry Potter to playing guitar naked to Captain America with the heirloom shield in about a minute. Kids grow up. I know that. I’ve always known that. But he was my last one, and I wasn’t ready.

I thought I was done. I thought the yearnings for a little one would cease by my age. I’ve said for years that I’m done. No more. I’m ready to not have babies. And I was wrong. My husband didn’t feel quite the same as I, but we talked. And negotiated. And talked some more. And he was reluctant but willing.

So I have an announcement to make. We waited a while before telling everyone, and we haven’t even told all of our family and friends yet, but I have some big news.

We got a kitten.

My kitten summed up in one photo. "Hey! You busy? I'm not in your way, am I?"

Ravenclaw summed up in one photo. “Hey! You busy? I’m not in your way, am I?”

Wait. What did you think I was going to say?

***I just learned how to spell Spider-Man correctly so that Spell-check doesn’t yell. Be happy for me! Or very sad. It has only taken me 44 years.

Lost In Translation: College Edition

It’s done. Last week my husband and I packed the car, loaded up the Girl-child, and transported her to her new life at college.  Such stress does funny things to your hearing.

On the road:

What I said: “Why don’t I drive?”

What I probably meant: “Take some time to relax. I’ll get us through the worst of the traffic.”

What he heard: “You’re going to kill us all, you crazy rage-monster!”

 

At Target buying last-minute things:

What I said: “I think we should get her the blue pillow.

What I probably meant: “The teal will brighten the place up. “

What he heard: “The dog has better taste than you, and she’s color blind.

 

Touring campus:

What I said: “Do you want some coffee?”

What I probably meant: “I could use a pick-me-up. Does anyone else want one?”

What he heard: “You are a giant, Debbie-downer turd. Please drink some caffeine so you can stop being a turd. Stat.”

 

On the way home:

What I said: “The speed limit is 70 now!”

What I probably meant: “Yay! We’re finally out of the construction zone!”

What he heard: “You drive like my grandma.”

 

On the road:

What I said: “Put a Clif bar in your cakehole.”

What I probably meant: “Put a Clif bar in your cakehole. NOW! You’re driving me nuts!”

What he heard: Yeah, okay. He had to get one right.

 

At home:

What I said: “She’ll be okay. She’s ready for this.”

What he heard: “I never loved her like you do. I should have raised show rats.”

What I probably meant: “I miss her, too.”

Me and my girl.

Me and my Girl-child

 

Sweet Girl-child, don’t you even worry. You’re going to do great! And we’ll be okay, too.

Ending the Debate

I don’t usually address hot-button topics on my blog. I’m a fiery and passionate individual, and I’m learning that my knee-jerk reactions make me prone to put my foot right in my mouth. When I get really fired up about something, I wait before I address it. When the smoke clears, I don’t want to discover that I have totally embarrassed myself by not thinking things through properly.  Today I don’t care anymore. I can’t keep my mouth shut any longer or hide how I really feel. I’m speaking out. I don’t care about making people mad or fights in the comment section. I can’t keep silent anymore. You want to know my stance? The correct one. Under. The issue is question is, of course, toilet paper.

This patent proves nothing. This is a DESIGN patent, not a utility patent. It shows how it's made, NOT how it is used. So take that, all you hung-over people. Welcome to the Under-world.

This patent proves nothing. This is a DESIGN patent, not a utility patent. It shows how it’s made, NOT how it is used. So take that, all you hung-over people. Welcome to the Under-world.

 

It is simple science. It’s a little-known fact that Sir Isaac Newton was one of the earliest proponents of “under,” about 150 years before TP ever had a patent. Remember high school physics? Me, neither. But I do remember his first law of motion. An object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. At first, I thought he was talking about Squish. He used to run into walls a lot. But then I gleaned the deeper meaning.

Clearly Newton was talking about the proper way to hang the bog roll. Give a tug to a hungover roll of Charmin (or any brand at all. I’m not picking on you, Charmin. Please don’t sue me for insinuating you are less aerodynamically sound than your counterparts), and it goes on forever. There is no outside force to act upon said object, and therefore no way to control how much comes off the roll. A rear-hanger, however, provides its own outside force. A mere yank to the left or right (no preferences here!), and the proper amount needed to complete the paperwork tears right off.

Under is more practical for kids and pets. Cats, dogs, and kids have a habit of playing with the toilet paper.  A curious hand or paw bats the paper, and it rolls off into the floor in an ever-increasing pile, and the next thing you know, the living room looks like the morning after a Halloween frat party. A rear-orientation, however, means that a kid or critter can paw to its heart’s content without causing any damage. ***

Less ick-factor. If the toilet paper doesn’t unroll wildly, there’s less chance that the end of it will come into contact with floor-cooties. Floor-cooties are real, and they are disgusting.

It is avant garde. Over is so easy to support. It’s too easy. It looks all fancy when you fold the outside piece into a little triangle. Whatever. Under is subtle. You have to look closer to appreciate. Over is the Starbucks coffee of toilet paper orientation. Just because a lot of people use it doesn’t mean it’s right. Under is the hipster, fair-trade coffee shop. It just tastes better. Wait…

Cooler people go under. Guess who’s a hung-over girl? Tori Spelling. Because “it’s chic.” Don’t get me started. Guess who’s an under-guy? Gerhard Richter. You know. The dude who painted this? I know it looks blurry. It’s supposed to. It’s an oil-painting of toilet paper.

Kolorolle. Yes, it's art. IT'S ART.

Kolorolle. Yes, it’s art. IT’S ART. It sold at Sotheby’s for about $180,00, so that makes it art, and therefore RIGHT.

Know who else is “over?” My husband. I found that out tonight. Wow. 20 years of marriage, and you think you know someone. I’m considering asking for an annulment. He misrepresented himself.

Want the other side of the debate? Visit Rae at Peas and Cougars. She thinks she knows something on this topic. I think we all know that she does not. Visit her anyway. It’s bound to be funny.

So, join in the brouhaha. Are you an over-achiever or an under-dog?

*** Except for my old dog, Magic. She ate the paper straight from the roll in big chunks so we were cleaning ourselves with what looked like an endless roll of Swiss cheese. But she doesn’t count. She wasn’t an average dog. I’ve had houseplants that could outperform her on IQ tests.

The One In Which I Confess

I could have, and I should have, and I would have. I really would have. But I didn’t. There. Now you know. I did not like Game of Thrones.

I wanted to. I have been looking for a new series to dive into, and Game of Thrones was primed to fit the bill. When I finish a book I love, there is nothing better than the knowledge that there’s another one waiting right there in the wings, another opportunity to immerse myself in that world and meet the characters I have come to love. I’m not just looking for a good read, I crave all the trappings of a rabid fandom, too. I want to type on message boards in the middle of the night, attend midnight book releases where I may or may not show up in costume.

Trelawney. Don't say you're not jealous.

Trelawney. Don’t say you’re not jealous.

I want the whole enchilada. All of it. Game of Thrones was my next hope. Several books to read? Check. More to come? Check, check. Fans out the wazoo? Triple check. So I gave it a go. And then a second go. And now I’m done.

Why didn’t I love it? I wanted to. I really did. But this series has more flaws than I can overlook, not the least of which is an insufferable author who has as little respect for his fandom as he does for the characters he writes. When an author laughs scathingly and says he should make them wait 20 years for the next book, I lose a little interest. But it’s about more than the author.

Martin writes cardboard characters. I guess he has to because he’s going to kill all of them, but it’s hard for me to engage with one-note wonders. I hate spoilers. Hate them. I don’t even read blurbs on dust jackets. But when I finally gave up on this series, I collected spoilers from lots of sources. Turns out, some of the characters are not as one-dimensional as they seem at first. And I might have even liked them eventually. But it shouldn’t take an author 1500 pages to show me. What if Han Solo and Greedo had dropped their breadcrumbs 10 lightyears apart when they made their trail in the woods? Their dad would never have found them. Wait. Back up. Hansel and Gretel. There we go. When it takes too long to develop characters, I get really bored.

I don’t have to like all of the characters to enjoy a book. ***Spoiler*** Draco Malfoy was an irritating prat for five-and-a-half books in the Harry Potter series. BUT he was a great foil for the protagonists. His interactions with the other characters evoked something, be it laughter or outrage. He made me feel something. Heck, I don’t even have to like the protagonist to enjoy a book. I could not STAND Lincoln in Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments. He was a spineless little clownfish. Every time he looked out into the world and appeared like he was about to mature a little and stand on his own , he’d dart right back into that anemone. I did not like him. You know why? Because I know people just like him! He was a real person. He made me angry. He evoked emotion. By and large, Martin’s characters don’t.

Yep, this is Lincoln. Will I ask her out? No. I'm gonna move out... Nah... Photo credit amazonaws.com

Yep, this is Lincoln. Will I ask her out? No. I’m gonna move out… Nah… Photo credit amazonaws.com

There are too many characters, as well. There were four characters whose story-lines I kind of wanted to follow. That sounds like a lot, right? But they represented less than 10% of the population of the first book. I didn’t even encounter many of them in the second book, or their chapters weren’t big enough to matter. I tried skipping the characters I was bored by and just reading the ones I liked, but that meant skipping the majority of Clash of Kings. Too much work.

There’s almost no subtlety. Martin’s bad guys are mustache-twirling evil dudes. They’ll tie that damsel-in-distress right to those railroad tracks. But there’s no hero, either. Not only will the train run her the heck over, it will cut her into three equal pieces, and it will take her two weeks to die. Wow. Didn’t see that coming. Not the first three times, anyway. Eventually it becomes predictable. Imagine the very worst thing that can happen to a character. Then multiply it by five, and you’ve got Martin’s plot-line. Basket of puppies? Don’t look now, but those puppies are going to get put in purses and carried around by rich ladies. Poor, poor dogs. Are there little babies? No, not the babies! Is nothing sacred? Martin would write them having to watch six hours of Baby Einstein before being fed M&Ms and getting dropped back off with mom and dad. There’s your plot twist. You thought it was the kids who were being punished, didn’t you?

There were good parts. I loved the Others. I couldn’t wait for them to take over the whole world, actually. I liked Dany. Her storyline in the first book was the best part. She was the one character that was truly developed, and I was taken by surprise by how things turned out with Khal Drogo. I wanted to like the dire wolves. I hear they were pretty awesome later on, or at least had a great story. But again, there was too little of any of these to keep me engaged. If anybody wants to email me the story of the wolves or what happens with Dany, I’m game. I am just not invested enough to find out for myself.

What series do you absolutely love? I’m up for something new.

Sometimes Free Ain’t Free Enough

Why order out when I can make this at home, right? RIGHT?

Every Thursday, I pack up the kids and head over to a local eatery for dinner. Kids eat free with a $5 purchase, which is the only reason that we go. Only two of my kids eat free because one aged out a year ago, and we’re honest folk, but I get a pizza that feeds the three of us who are over the age of 12. Where else can I feed my family of five for $10? Okay, I can do it at home for under $4 most nights, and that’s why we don’t go out to eat. But $10 once a week is doable. And it’s organic, or at least natural, so it’s a bit better than driving through at the golden arches.  But I think I’m over it.

There is a four-hour window for the free kids’ meals, and we hit it wrong every week. Each week, we plan our mission before we even get out of the van. Straight to the counter, place our orders, and then get any shopping done. The idea is to minimize the time we spend hanging around the counter and waiting. And it’s such a great idea. Too bad it rarely works.

Every week, it’s the same. We scope the parking lot and check out the other families who are unloading their brood. Even Squish is aware that they are our competition. Dodging strollers and shopping carts, we dash into the store, only to find it booby-trapped. The free samples, you see, are strategically placed by the front door. We merely step over the threshold, and we’re already behind. Like me, my kids cannot pass up the offer of free food. And all of those families that we cut off in the parking lot enter the store, find the sample holders blocked from their children’s vision by my ravenous troop, simply march on ahead of us.

Having gotten their fill of snap peas, we route away from produce, which usually sports at least three samples, and worm our way through vitamins and health aids. Even my children will bypass freebies on cod liver oil. if we can make it past the chips, we are home-free. Until we get to The Counter. And I feel my resolve weaken.

Finding a swarm of twenty-five children hovering like expectant sharks around The Counter is enough to send even a cheapskate running for the door. But we press on. The kids are expected to fill out a little menu. In crayon. Which have invariably been scattered across the store by the kids whose parents were not detained at the Fuji apple slices. I’d make a note to myself to bring a pen in future weeks. But there’s nothing to write with.

Having finally tracked down half a pink crayon and filled out the kids’ menus, it’s my job to brave the mob and push my way over to The Counter. And there I meet employee Judy. Judy’s job is to collect the kids’ menus and turn them over to the chefs in the order in which they arrive. Judy is likely a recent college graduate. She is young, she is adorable, and she is also apparently afraid of crowds. About 5 minutes after our menus have been handed to her, Judy disappears, never to be seen again. Until next week. She has left the papers on The Counter in an order which changes every week and only she understands. Bless her. Last week, our menus got lost for twenty minutes as we watched other families come and go and were finally located under the box latex gloves.

Last night may have been the final straw. I turned in our papers to Judy and placed the order for my pizza. The chef recognizes me, and he asked if I wanted my usual. I glanced at the menu and said I wanted to change it up. I wanted a pesto chicken pizza. His brow furrowed, his eyes narrowed, he gave me a sideways glance. “You sure?” he asked. And suddenly I wasn’t. Why was he looking at me like that? What does he know that I don’t? Is pesto chicken pizza total crap? It’s on the menu! Right there! Look! But I said I was sure.

And then he forgot about me. Was it because he couldn’t face the thought of preparing absolute garbage for a customer?  About 10 minutes later, he looked up and saw me still standing there amidst a swirl of hungry children and their parents. I saw him walk over to the pizza counter and whisper something to the chef there. Pizza Chef looked puzzled. “Really?” I heard him say. “Pesto chicken? For who? Primary Judgmental Chef pointed at me. They both looked sad. Guys, it’s on the  menu!

Pizza Chef prepared my food in silence. Guy Who Writes the Item Number on the Pizza Box did his job with a sad shake of his head. He handed me my box, and I did the walk of shame to the check out area and took my embarrassment of a pizza home. And it.was.good,

But now I no longer feel like I can return.  I have already revealed myself as a person with no taste whatsoever. And they remember me. No longer am I Half-Four-Cheese-and-Half-Mediterranean girl. I am Pesto-Chicken girl. And I can’t take the shame of it.

 

Karma Really Bites

Brotherly love

My beloved did NOT greet me at the door with the secret word of the day yesterday. So I had to do it. I snuggled up to him as he was watching football and said “I think Squish would really like to have a baby brother, don’t you?” “Um, no,” was his reply. He didn’t actually shove me off the couch, but he was definitely no longer in snuggle mode. My evil plan was in motion.

As he watched a game I am not even sure he cared about, I began to share how very much Squish enjoyed having our friend’s baby over to play. And I wasn’t lying. Squish had a blast. When I asked the baby if he was ready to get down from the highchair, Squish added “And pway wif me?”  with sincerity and hope. It was really sweet. Here’s where karma comes in. As I talked about how incredibly adorable the boys were together, I started falling for my own shtick. And it’s no longer funny.

I started imagining Squish playing with a little brother the way he played with our visitor. Baby takes train, Squish says “Gimme dat!” Baby gives train. I pictured Squish feeding his own little sibling, shoving cheerios (not play-doh! I swear, Cyndi! It wasn’t play-doh!) in its mouth with glee. Wouldn’t that be awesome? And it’s totally feasible.

A new baby wouldn’t be here before Squish was ready to leave his crib. We move him to the lower bunk in the 9 year old’s room, the new one takes its place in our room. By the time it’s big enough to leave the crib, oldest child will be out of the house and in college. We can move the 9 year old into his sister’s old room and let Squish and his little buddy stick with the bunk beds. This is so very doable!

And for my husband, am I kidding? Today’s secret word is “chuckle.” You tell me.