You think that shoppers macing each other to get Xboxes on black Friday is a new and disturbing trend but according to Susan Freinkel's "Plastic: A Toxic Love Story," in the 1920s "full scale brawls" erupted in department stores over women vying to purchase the newly invented nylon stocking.
Had a good fire going in the toaster oven today.
Amazing how many flames two taco shells can generate.
Hit Ken's car, leaving a big dent in the minivan, on my way to dance class.
Am glad not to be keeping a time log today.
song: We Didn't Start the Fire • artist: Billy Joel
So what did I learn from keeping a time log? Well first, that a time log for just one day isn't very good science. I would need to keep a journal for at least a week given that all my days are different and that one Monday can even be decidedly different from the next Monday.
Secondly, it would appear, from this one day's data, that I don't spend much time interacting with S & N. On paper it looks like they pretty much entertained themselves in the bathroom all afternoon. They did help me with the mice, which is why that activity took twice as long as it might normally take.
Lest you think I don't hang with my kids, on the previous Thursday we took the day and went to the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History.
Also, if you just went by this list you might be led to believe that I'm some sort of neat freak who keeps a spotless house. That would be laughably wrong. The stairs I vacuumed had not been vacuumed since January. C & H's room hadn't been cleaned, thoroughly, by me, in an equally long time. On most days I only do what needs to be done in order to stay afloat (laundry, dishes, and making dinner). Since Thursdays are eat out nights I used the time cleaning that I might have spent making dinner.
So what I really need is more data, but the thought of keeping a time log for, say, two weeks, is exhausting. Ergo, what I need is someone, an intern perhaps, to follow me around and keep the time log for me.
And, what I really need is for the person doing the following to do it without my knowledge. Because the act of keeping the log keep me more organized that usual, at least between 7 AM and 4 PM. I didn't try to multi-task or flit from one activity to another. I stayed on task and for the most part finished one thing before moving on to the next thing. Where I usually rinse a dish or two and put them in the dishwasher on my way to the laundry room to sort laundry and then straighten things in C & H's room when I come upstairs to get coat hangers to dry the laundry. Also when I go upstairs for coat hangers I see stuff that needs to go up in the attic, take it up, and then forget what I was doing upstairs until the next time I pass by the half hung laundry and remember that I need to go upstairs and bring down coat hangers.
For the purpose of writing a semi-coherent time log you have to wash and load the dishwasher all at one time, then move on to the laundry, bring those darn coat hangers down the first time and then tackle projects upstairs; a method that's probably much more effective that my usual routine.
That realization alone might make the experiment worth while.
There was an NPR interview with author Laura Vanderkam recently, writers of the NY Times essay "Are You As Busy As You Think?"
As you can guess, according to Ms. Vanderkam, the answer to that question is no. No, you're only exaggerating how busy you are and all you need to do to remedy this situation is to do one more thing: keep a time log.
This way you'll soon notice when you write things like 11:30 to 1 PM, twiddle thumbs. At the end of a week you'll say, "woah, look at that. I definitely have time to write that great American novel and go back to college for a master's degree.
It seemed to easy, so I got busy.
Here's what my typical Thursday looks like.
12 AM - read in bed.
12:12 - lights out
7:00 - Get up. use bathroom. Go back to bed.
7:20 - Get up.
7:20 to 7:45 - Shower and get dressed.
7:45 to 8:30 - Get C & H ready for school, eat breakfast, feed cat, empty litter box.
8:30 to 8:43 - Walk to bus stop.
8:43 to 8:48 - Make breakfast for S & N.
8:48 to 8:54 - Load dishwater
8:54 to 8:56 - Feed cat again, load washing machine.
8:56 to 9:00 - Put away clean laundry upstairs, bring down laundry basket.
9:00 to 9:05 - Clean up from breakfast.
9:06 - Prepare new bowl of cereal for S who wasn't done when I cleaned up his bowl. Play I Spy with twins
9:07 to 9:09 - Microwave yesterday's tea, put things away, more I Spy.
9:09 to 9:19 - Consolidate trash, help N dress, take out recycling (3 trips), catch heel on storm door on the way out (ouch!). Play more I Spy.
9:19 to 9:24 - Check e-mail, retire cleats now too small for C to attic bucket, explain rules of I Spy, repeatedly ask S if he's done with breakfast.
9:24 to 9:30 - Get clothes for S, implore him (repeatedly) to finish breakfast, bring another trash can downstairs to empty.
9:30 to 9:38 - Mix up addresses on St. Patricks's Day post cards, peel stamps off incorrectly addressed card, recreate card, only have enough stamps for one card.
9:38 to 9:40 - Spoon feed S the remainder of his breakfast.
9:40 to 9:43 - Search desk unsuccessfully for more stamps. Return call to Oliver's mom, try (unsuccessfully) to discern why S is crying.
9:43 to 9:56 - Get S dressed.
9:56 to 10:18 - Update Spelling City website with H's new words. Check e-mail. Hide in bathroom and read.
10:18 to 10:50 - Clean mouse cage. During bathroom break accidentally drop antibacterial hand soap into toilet. Figure that since it's antibacterial it will be okay pending a quick rinse with hot water. Wash my hands, using antibacterial soap that's been in the toilet. Make bagels with Nutella.
10:50 to 11:05 - Bagel break spent pacing kitchen, checking e-mail, and putting shoes on Nathan.
11:05 to 11:25 - Wipe down the front of the mouse cage, empty washing machine, hang laundry to dry, start new load. Notice S in tell-tale posture and remind him of existence of potty, suggest he use it. S invites N to keep him company in the bathroom but requests that he "not leave again." N response that he will have to leave, in order to "get toys." Help S onto potty.
11:25 to noon - Finish putting mouse cage back together. Insert mice. Refill bubbahs with chocolate milk. Am convinced the twins drink more when they can carry bubbahs around with them. Am convinced four year olds shouldn't carry bubbahs around with them. Am convinced Playtex bubbahs are old and leaching plastic toxins into milk. Go on line to LLBean and order two more stainless steel water bottles. Get distracted looking at side items like new graphic Ts. Only end up ordering water bottles. Check e-mail. Wipe S's butt. Clean up water on floor in bathroom. Suggest S take tubby. Wipe down tub. Clean up toys. Run water. Undress S.
12:14 - turn off water in tub. Undress N.
12:14 to 1:20 - Vacuum computer room, as per H's request check for St. Patrick's Day Peanuts movies via CLAMS network. Find none. Order two other snoopy movies H has possibly not seen. Fill pasta pot with hot water, repeatedly on command to pour into tubby, take mice bedding to compost, bring in hula hoop from bunk house to make hoop castle for S & N. Check size of fabric from Nana's house. Not big enough for circumference of smallest hoop.
1:20 to 1:34 - Lunch. Finish "Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar" by Roald Dahl, read via C's recommendation. Catch "For the Good Times" by the Little Willies being played on MVY, think to myself that some songs should be left in the past and not remade as covers. Come to the realization that I've thrown Norah Jones over for Adele but don't care.
1:34 to 2:00 - Clean in C & H's room. S & N get out of tub, need towels, undies, and for me to put the water down the drain. General excitement over handyman's arrival. Lunch
2:00 to 2:35 - More cleaning C & H's room. Set up Caillou movie for S & N. Feel guilty. Clean lunch dishes.
2:35 to 3:06 - Finish cleaning in C & H's room. Start to vacuum stairs.
3:20 Finish vacuuming stairs. Put vacuum away. Stairs look great!
3:20 to 3:43 - Update blog. Dress Silas.
3:43 to 3:48 - Call to make vet appointment for the cat.
3:50 - Leave to walk to bus stop.
After C & H got home it was impossible to continue because I was pulled in so many different directions by the four of them together. We had just over an hour together before having to leave to drop C at piano lessons.
When we were in Vermont last month we placed two bets with the Mad River Valley Rotary Club's annual "You Bet Your Life" fundraiser in which participants place bets on when a carefully positioned outhouse, rigged to an alarm, will fall through some local ice.
The internet allowed us to track our bets and C was both excited and crushed to learn that he was less than three hours from guessing the correct date and time of the big spash.
With NaBloMo's theme this month being the word whether - I pondered whether it was easier to take losing a contest of luck by a little or by a lot.
I had a free makeover the other day at Mashpee Commons in preparation for a dance performance. As someone who doesn't wear make up, it was rather traumatic: foundation, blush, concealer, eyebrow pencils, mascara, lions and tigers and bears - oh my.
I don't know what to think of make up. Is it something I never did because of my feminist college days? Did I give up on make up even before that after some failed attempts with eye shadow in junior high? Was it that I was lucky enough to have a high school boyfriend who was supportive of make up-less girlfriend? Was it sheer laziness?
And why, when you tell someone you never wear make up, do they then finish your make over and ask you when was the last time your husband saw you in make up?
Haven't you been listening?
Then she asked if I had cleanser at home.
Why would I?
Again - what part of "I don't wear make up" are you not understanding here?
What do you do when you get a message saying you've been featured in a blog and then your parental control feature tells you that the blog's content may not be suitable for all readers?
You are psyched. Thanks Kevin!
song: Midnight Rambler • artist: The Rolling Stones
Yes, that was me. I was the mom in Marshalls today who carried her four-year old, mid-tantrum, out of the store with his twin brother gimping along behind.
Then I had to chase him back in after putting him down next to the car to fish keys out of my pocket (stupid automatic doors), and pick him up all over again.
Why was he mad? Because I would not buy him shoes that were too small.
Why was I mad? Because I was plum out of parenting tricks.
I tried reasoning: "those shoes don't fit, we tried them on your feet two times."
I tried choice: "you can put those shoes back and have these shoes," "you can put those shoes back or we can leave."
I tried distraction: "let's go look at the socks instead."
Wait. Damn it. I forgot to try fantasy: "I wish we could shrink your feet back down to a size 9." "I wish we could by 100 pairs of these shoes." "I wish I were in Tahiti."
I have learned all sorts of fascinating things as a result of having kids. Who needs a liberal arts degree? Just have children. Why just recently I learned that owls can turn rotate their heads 270 degrees. Woah!
I know how much salt it takes to float an egg in a glass of water and how to make a lightbulb light using a D battery and a piece of tin foil. I learned that male box turtles have red eyes and females have yellow eyes and my life is richer because I now know about Balto the sled dog and Andre the seal.
But there is some misinformation out there folks.
Contrary to what you might have learned from the Bee Movie, male honey bees (drones) do not have voices like Jerry Seinfeld, and are heavier, hairier, and have bigger eyes than worker bees (females). Their only purpose around the hive is for reproduction and they have no stinger.
Sorry. Just wanted to set the record straight.
No soup for you.
What if they remade the Incredible Hulk (again!) only this time instead of mild-mannered David Banner, the Hulk's alter ego would be some Mrs. Brady-type of stay-at-home mom.
When she's asked the kids for the third time to pick up the living room, or for the love of Pete to empty the plastic containers out of their lunch boxes or throw their dirty clothes into the hallway; that's when she would launch into the familiar refrain: "you won't like me when I'm angry!"
Forget counting to ten or excusing yourself to the bathroom. This would be much more effective.
song: A Change is Gonna Come • artist: Neville Brothers
One of NaBloMo's prompts this week was would you rather have the ability to fly or to be invisible.
This American Life did a segment on this same subject. Some guy used it as an ice breaker at parties. What he found wasn't unanimous desire for one ability over the other but that people overwhelmingly said they would use their powers for trivial things, spying on co-workers, avoiding rush-hour traffic; no one was moved to use their powers for any greater good such as apprehending criminals or getting kittens down from trees.
For kids I would think invisibility would be the greater draw.
You could ease drop sure but you could also trip bullies on the bus, sneak into the movie theater to see R rated films, hide out in the library or the museum of natural history until after it closed and then spend the night among the exhibits or with the penguins.
Elementary school kids could find out what their teacher does after you've left school or check out the teacher's lounge.
You could crawl under desks and tie your friend's shoelaces to each other. No one would have to see you change into your gym clothes. You could sneak in beside the lunch ladies and help yourself to an extra slice of pizza on Fridays.
At home you could disappear just before dinner tasks get assigned and reappear after the table's been set.
You'd be able to check out your brother's cool model helicopter, the one he told you never to touch though if you broke it, somehow your parent's would still know it was you.
You could be pen pals with Harry Potter, Bilbo, and Frodo and other mythical folks who've had brushes with invisibility.
For kids, the possibilities are limitless.
As a middle-aged mostly stay at home mom, I already suffer from being invisible, and flying wouldn't do me much good unless I could take my four kids, and the beach towels, and the snacks, and the bikes along too. Guess it would be better if I could make the mini van fly instead of me, sort of a modernized Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
The NaBloPoMo theme for March is the word whether.
Whether you'd rather this, whether you'd rather that.
Whether seems like a wishy washy word, a word for people unable to make up their minds overwhelmed perhaps by choice: cash or credit? paper or plastic? low cal, fat free, 0 trans fats?
But for me, the word "whether" immediately brings to mind "The Phantom Tollbooth," that rarest of children's books that's clever, engaging, and a great read for adults as well as kids.
Surely everyone will remember that the first person Milo meets in The Lands Beyond is the Whether Man. Though he's every bit as confused as you might first assume, he makes an observation to Milo that's always stayed with me: "Whether or not you find your own way, you're bound to find some way."
That's it isn't it? Perhaps it sounds so familiar because it's so much like other famous quotes along similar veins, "wherever you go, there you are,"
"life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans,"
"if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice."
Okay, that last one might not be so familiar unless you're a Rush fan but even so, it sounds familiar doesn't it?
Interesting that this word, which seems to vacillate in every direction, is also so final.
You know what this is don't you? It's an invitation to live in the present. Because 2012 is the year of living in the present, at least for me. I may not be able to be present at every given moment but I've at least gotten better a telling the different between auto pilot and mindfulness. So I guess for me, this month's prompt reminds me that whether I'm an active participant or a passive spectator, the game is going on, right now. I suppose it's up to me to find my own way.
Though I sure could use a Watch Dog like Tock to keep me from wasting time.
One of them wore a dark-brown, baggie, hoodie such that I couldn't see his face. The other wore fatigues. They walked a pit bull across the street from where I sat in my car waiting for an NPR broadcast of the Moth Story Hour to end before heading into the pharmacy. I watched them with suspicion. On the sidewalk, between the church and the nursing home, the dog stopped to do his business. The boy in fatigues pulled a plastic bag out of his pocket and promptly cleaned it up.
They kept on walking.
The radio program ended and I exited my car - chagrined.