Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Waiting By The Phone

There's nothing like waiting for that phone to ring. You know he has your number, and yet, he doesn't call. According to The Professor, this means "He's just not that into you."

For those of you who are confused, no I am not stepping out on The Professor - I have been waiting in vain to be called by the automated phone system that contacts me for subbing. It's a special time when I answer the phone, and am met with the robotic message (it always starts in the middle for some reason) asking me in that special way to "dial 1 if I want to accept the job."

I subbed a bit in November and December, but haven't been back since vacation. Now, what with all the illness floating around these parts, there haven't been that many days in January that I've been available.

However, as everyone knows, even if you're unavailable, it's always nice to be asked.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Well, We Got Out...

Well, I finally made it outside today for a non-doctor related outing. Miss Serious made it back to school yesterday, but sadly I needed to keep Big Trouble home, as he sprouted a temperature the night before (I swear, I was about ready to gouge out both my eyes with that thermometer...). He seemed incredibly healthy all day, and I'm ashamed to say that I halfway wished he was ill - a sick child is a quiet child. A healthy child is rather a lunatic who requires you to play games with him all day when he's home from school and has no sibling to play with.

After being stuck inside for about a bajillion days in a row, everyone was a little insane antsy, so I decided to bundle us all up and take a pleasant walk to the library. This seemed like a wonderful plan, and one certainly could not have predicted the outcome.

As we were happily walking along, we saw a seagull venturing across the road (this is a really busy main road, with 2 lanes in each direction). All three of us were watching said seagull, who seemed to have difficulty with one of his wings, and thus could only fly a few feet off the ground. Unfortunately, this happened to be exactly the height of the grill on an SUV, which came flying down the road at 60 mph, connecting with the poor seagull with a sickening thud.

It's always a treat seeing something that horrifying, but it's certainly made extra special when your two young children are watching it along with you.

R.I.P. little seagull - we were rooting for you.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tales Of A Shut-In

Well, I think the great illness of '09 is finally ending. Miss Serious has been sick since last Friday (thus home from school), and I think we're both more than ready to be done with this thing. Big Trouble continues to be healthy, although I'm touching his forehead and shoving a thermometer in his mouth whenever I can get him to stop tearing around the place (which isn't that often - I swear someone sneaks in here and feeds him espresso...), and I figure (actually desperately hope) that if he hasn't gotten it by now, we're safe. I know this is denial, but sometimes that's the only thing that keeps me sane.

Being housebound with a sick child could not be more fun. The fact that I was excited to take Miss Serious to the doctor yesterday (and thus actually breathe in some fresh, if not freezing cold, air) shows just how far the bar has been lowered.

However, being stuck in the house does have a few benefits. I baked pumpkin bread, cookies, and granola:

I know, you're jealous of my fancy storage containers (old Trader Joe's cookie tubs). A helpful hint - when the pumpkin bread recipe calls for 2 cups of pumpkin but you only have 1 3/4 and you think, "Oh, that won't make any difference.." it actually does make quite a difference, and your pumpkin bread comes out really flat (but still tasty).

I finished a sweater for Miss Serious (it's a summer sweater, but she was dying to wear it immediately - I know, whose child is this? Must have been the fever...) so she put it on over a turtleneck, thus it looks a tad odd:

I also finished a sock and began its mate:

(Yes, I was able to stand on one foot and take this picture while my other foot was on the couch. I think I got a lot more flexible doing yoga that one time last week....)

And then (because have I mentioned that I really need to get out of the house???) I decided that I needed something new and interesting to knit. In the spirit of National Thrift Week and in my ongoing effort to pare down some of our stuff, I went hunting under my bed and unearthed this:

Yes, I do know that's a lot of yarn. It's the Knitpicks Palette sampler, a wonderful gift from my mother-in-law at least 2 Christmases ago (it may be 3 - don't judge me). I had visions of making Latvian mittens (I've also got the book, but oddly enough, still no mittens). Due to my moth infestation, I had to frog a pair of fingerless gloves I had made myself a couple of years back, so I thought now would be a good time to try Eunny Jang's endpaper mitts (have I stunned you all with the amount of links in this paragraph?):

This is such a lovely pattern, and the Palette works really well with it. I picked brown and pink to go with my brown coat. I still can't decide if I like the colors together - I am not a trendy dresser (some might say boring) and though I see this color combination often (and like the way it looks) I am still somehow uncomfortable with it (I know, I'm very complicated...). I love knitting things like this, and while the pattern is complex enough to keep me interested, it's something I can work on while the kids are around (as opposed to lace, where I need a silent room, and sadly more brainpower than I can muster most days - thus, no lace on the needles).

Here's hoping that fever stays gone and everyone can happily go off to school tomorrow - I've enjoyed my time with you Miss Serious, but have I mentioned that I'd kind of like to get out of the house?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Yes, I Think I'm Ready For Some Change...

Here's a riddle for you:

Question: How many nights of being awakened by a sick child does it take before you become so sleep-addled you can no longer function?

Answer: Four

Well, I didn't say it was going to be a funny riddle.

While we thought Miss Serious was all fixed yesterday, we were clearly wrong, and so she is home again. She is rather endearing however, because when I told her she was going to have to miss school (she really likes school) she was sad, but asked, "Well, if I have to stay home, could I at least watch the inauguration?" Warms your heart when a 7-year old wants to watch the presidential inauguration.

We watched it together, and it made me realize what a cynic I have become about politics, politicians, and government in general. I don't buy into the whole rock-star following of Obama thing, but his speech today filled me with a sense of hope that I haven't felt about our country for a very long time. It was so heartening to hear our president talk about environmental issues, tolerance, peace, personal responsibility, and the importance of being the people we were meant to be.

I don't know if these promises will be fulfilled, but I am overwhelmed with gratitude to have a president who plans on trying.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The More Things Change...

I am a thrifty gal. Part of this urge comes from the fact that we don't have lots of money, and we live in a really expensive area. (The other part is genetics - my family has been known to squeeze a penny or two in their time.) Now, I like living here, so I'm willing to spend a little time on our finances to allow us to benefit from the great schools, beautiful public spaces, and all the other amenities that go along with breathtakingly high property taxes.

This week has been designated National Thrift Week. It was started in 1916, and occurs right around the time of Benjamin Franklin's birthday. Thrift was something he was well known for (as well as awesome inventions, somewhat annoying phrases, and a proclivity for the ladies), and even though I often think of spending problems as something more recent, they obviously have existed forever.

In a New York Times Article from 1/15/22 (yes, that's 1922), ten ideas were outlined to try to get Americans on board with the ideas of thriftiness. Now, one would think that they would be different from what people are advised to do with their finances today, judging from the incredible proliferation of financial writers out there. You can't turn on the television these days without seeing a segment (or 2, or 3, or 11) about how to have healthy finances. The 1922 article gives us these 10 suggestions:

1. Work and earn
2. Make a budget
3. Record expenditures
4. Have a bank account
5. Carry life insurance
6. Own your own home
7. Make a will
8. Pay your bills promptly
9. Invest in reliable securities
10. Share with others

Hmmmm......almost verbatim what the financial folks are trying to sell us in their books today. Which means that maybe everyone already knows all the steps, but they're hard. And they're a pain. And they're generally not fun at all. It's a lot like losing weight - I remember a segment from a tv show where a character is lamenting about losing weight, and she's told that she just needs to eat less and exercise more. She answers that if it were that easy, everyone would be doing it. (And yes, I still do have those 4 Christmas pounds hovering around my own mid-section...don't judge me.)

Happy National Thrift Week, but it would probably be best not to buy something to celebrate.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

It's Hot!

No, sadly not the weather (it's actually really cold), but Miss Serious' forehead. And stomach, legs, feet, etc. She woke us up on Friday morning (just FYI - it's really dark out at 5:00 am) with a cough and a temperature of 102.5. I considered this a high temperature for her, as this is about as hot as she gets.

Until that night, when she called me from her bed. I touched her, and was stunned by the amount of heat that was radiating off of her. Whipping out my trusty thermometer, I stuck it in her mouth, and saw the number 104.5. No, no, my sleep-addled brain told me. That can't be right. Try again. Same.

I'm generally a calm person when the kids get sick, but situations like these are definitely times when it's hard to be the grown-up in charge. It's nice to be able to turn to someone else in authority and have them take charge. Unfortunately, part of being a parent involves the whole in-charge thing, so I hustled over to The Professor and announced that he should probably get dressed because we may be going for a little ride. It also doesn't help when your burning hot 7 year old asks you in a croaky whisper if you can die from having a fever. Miss Serious rarely fools around when asking questions....

Luckily, one of the wonderful benefits of living in a country such as ours is that not only do we have a great doctor, but said doctor has an emergency line that you can call at 2:30 in the morning when you need some answers right quick. She calmly gave us some helpful instructions and within 45 minutes the fever reduced to a less horrifying 103.

We took her in to see the doctor the following day (how someone can be so bright and alert after being awakened in the middle of the night coupled with having an office full of sick kids on a Saturday completely eludes me - I myself looked like death on a cracker), all tests came back negative, and we were told that she had a virus, and just to treat the symptoms. After another tough night, Miss Serious woke with a much lower fever, and when she rolled her eyes at The Professor when he made a joke, we knew she was on the mend.

I often lament the amount of money that we pay towards our health care, but at times like these, I couldn't be more grateful for it, or for the wonderful people who make it their life's work to minister to the likes of me and my family. We (and Miss Serious' much cooler forehead) thank you.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Friendly Skies

I don't fly often, mostly out of lack of funds. Also, being a somewhat highly-strung personality, I am not the most comfortable person in the air. I know that it is infinitely safer than traveling by car. I KNOW this. And yet, when I am in a plane (only taken 3 round trips in my life) and it begins its ascent, I can't quiet the little voice that keeps saying, "You know, this is just not possible."

Well, we finally got ourselves together and decided to go visit my grandparents in Florida. They moved down several years ago, and even though they come up to visit regularly, it would be nice to see where they live and enjoy a little Florida sunshine. We began hunting on the web for airfares - I admit to being somewhat stunned by the costs, especially when you added in the "taxes and fees" portion, which is so adorably left off the fare price. In this state of shock, we actually began exploring taking the train - oh my gosh - not much cheaper, and a 26 hour trip, the last 3 1/2 of which are on a bus. Yes, on a bus. Taking such an excursion with a 6 and 7 year old began to sound like one of Dante's circles of hell. So, we thought, we could drive. Yes drive! We could see the South. Hmmm.... then we'll need to pay for hotels. The Professor to the rescue - we can camp! Yes - camping! And then we remembered that in the summer (when such an excursion would need to take place) the South tends to get a tad warm. And they have really big bugs.

Surprisingly, we thus hopped back onto the airline sites, and said airfares began looking much more reasonable. We found some flights that would work, and got ready to book. Then The Professor calls me over to the television and we see this:

(Credit: Janis Krums)

What an amazing story - even more amazing that everyone was safe. I couldn't bring myself to book the flights last night, although it did occur to me that airlines should be offering a substantial discount to anyone who booked that day.

We'll get back on that horse and book soon, although I have the distinct feeling that the little voice in my ear will be a bit louder on the flight. Fortunately, this time around my children will probably drown it out.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Taking the Plunge

That phrase often brings up thoughts of doing something new and exciting, but not so much the way I heard it this morning from the vicinity of my bathroom: "Mommy, somebody's toothbrush took the plunge!" Now, being a bathroom, there really is only one location that one would describe a toothbrush "plunging" into. And I'll give you 3 guesses whose toothbrush it was....

Here at Chez Necessity, we suffer from a shortage of space. I have, therefore, placed a little shelf on the back of the toilet to hold toothpaste, toothbrushes (for some inane reason, 3 out of the 4 toothbrushes in this house have a bulbous base which will not fit into the toothbrush holder mounted on the wall), shaving cream, and the like. While this storage solution works, it allows for the unfortunate possibility of something falling into the toilet.

The Professor (and unfortunately me) found this out one evening in rather a dramatic way. I was awakened from a sound sleep by my husband whispering lovingly in my ear, "I just accidentally flushed one of the kids' toothbrushes down the toilet." If such a sentence has never been whispered to you in the middle of the night, let me assure you that it will wake you up right quick. Hoping against hope, I stuck my hand in the toilet to see if it was there. It was not. All the while, the question that is buzzing around my head is how it would be possible for someone to flip a toothbrush into the toilet while simultaneously flushing said toilet, but apparently this is possible.

I'm not a terribly handy gal, and The Professor, while very clever and witty, is less handy than me. Not knowing if there would be dire consequences if one flushed the toilet while a toothbrush was wedged inside (and absolutely not wanting to clean up a flood at 1:00 in the morning) I decided to go visit my ever available and helpful friend Google.

I must tell you, it's quite astounding to read about the various objects that people have flushed down their toilets, but the only useful information I gained was that if it was indeed stuck, the only way to get it out would be to remove the toilet. At this point, I decided to wait until morning to find out if we were indeed in such a bind. I wasn't worried about my children accidentally flushing in the night, as they don't seem to know what actually makes our toilet flush (leading to the oft asked question, "Whose poo is this?") and I crawled back to bed.

The next morning I held my breath, pushed down the handle, and.....it flushed. Wow. I guess a child-sized toothbrush is just short enough to get around that curve in the toilet. It was one of those toothbrushes that blinks while the kid is brushing so that they know when to stop.

I still wonder if somewhere in the vast pipe system of Westchester there is a little red toothbrush blinking on and off, waiting to be rescued.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Today is my mother's birthday - she is affectionately known as Bammy to my kids. She gave this name to herself (it was originally Grammy Bammy, but young mouths shortened it to the most fun word) and it stuck. She tried (unsuccessfully) a few years back to change it to the more socially acceptable Grammy, but the kids were having none of it.

We were planning on all getting together to celebrate over the weekend, but the snow/ice festival effectively put the kibosh on that. So now, we must celebrate virtually. Bammy has her own blog, where she keeps everyone updated and gives us a peek into her life (I think this is why I enjoy blogs so much - I am a voyeur, and enjoy the peeking). Being an interesting person with some unusual hobbies, peeking over there can sometimes be a fun surprise.

We hope you have a wonderful day, Bammy, and enjoy your birthday. We all love you very much, and hopefully can celebrate in person soon!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Holiday Lessons Learned

Well, although the holidays are officially over, I seem to still be celebrating them. Of course, by "celebrating" I mean carrying around the several extra pounds I managed to pack on in a breathtakingly short amount of time.

I am a person with absolutely no self-control when it comes to delicious (but completely horrendous for me) food. Armed with this knowledge, I do my best to avoid bringing such food into my home. This plan works pretty well the majority of the time, and then the holidays hit. Not only do people bring me wonderful things to eat, but I make candy for friends and family. Thus, my generally ascetic kitchen cabinets are filled for several weeks with crunchy, salty, fatty, sweet, delicious, awesomely awful for me tidbits. And, shockingly, when I eat this food all day long, my pants no longer fit.

My solution to all of this was to take out about 19 yoga/pilates DVD's from the library. Unfortunately said solution has not involved placing any of these DVD's into the player and actually doing any exercise. Is it odd that I'm shocked when the scale continues to read the same number every morning?

Also, on a related note, eggnog makes an awesome coffee creamer. Just thought you'd like to know.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy New Year!

Yeah, I know it's late, but with the kids (and The Professor) home from school, there was no discernible schedule 'round these parts, and many things (cleaning, laundry, blogging) fell by the wayside. The holidays were a success, everyone seemed happy with their gifts, and as the kids get older, the presents are getting smaller, so everything was able to fit into our apartment without too much effort.

While many things didn't get done, many others did. We saw the last sunset of the year at the local bird sanctuary on a beautiful, snowy, and very cold New Year's Eve.

The kids went to their grandparents' house for a sleepover, so The Professor and I got a little crazy. Yes, we went to car dealerships and drove not only a Smart Car but a Prius as well - really, really fun. I've been admiring Smart Cars on the road for quite a while now, and as The Professor has already mentioned, I have a bad case of Prius envy. When I (hopefully) get a teaching job next year, we will need a second car, so planner that I am, we have started looking at our options. Neither of these is a reasonable choice for us (the Smart Car has only 2 seats, and the Prius is a lot pricier than other cars its size) but they were really fun to drive. The Smart Car always makes me giggle when I see one, and you can make a u-turn in almost 1 lane, but driving it definitely reminds one more of a golf cart than an actual car. So, now I've gotten these out of my system, and can concentrate on actual possibilities.

A few other things got done, including some knitting (the second rainbow sock is also done, and currently being worn to Kindergarten today):

We tracked deer at the Nature Conservancy:

We saw about 13 of them - it's unbelievable that in such a populated area these enormous animals are able to silently survive, and I baked meringues:

The kids saw these at Trader Joe's and wanted to try them, so I tried out the new cookbook that they got me for Christmas, and cooked up a batch. They came out just like they were supposed to (as opposed to the very unpleasant cauliflower soup I made a couple of days ago) and the kids like them. The Professor is not a huge fan, but as they have no fat and only a little sugar, they are a good option for my post-holiday puffiness.

Now the lovely vacation is over; the kids are back at school (though I refused to sub today - the thought of subbing for a classroom of children that have been on Christmas vacation for almost 2 weeks while consuming large amounts of sugar could not be less appealing), and I have flute students coming this afternoon so began the process of cleaning some of the grosser sections of the apartment. Back to reality, but luckily I like my real life a whole lot.