Thursday, December 31, 2009

Just once, in a very blue moon

A quick post to wave out the month, the year, the decade.  I am delighted that this New Year's Eve coincides with a "blue moon" -- a thirteenth full moon in a year (which happens because the lunar cycle is 29ish days and our calendar months have mostly more days than that.  Same way you sometimes get three biweekly paydays in a month).

I will be making some changes to the blog in the New Year.  I've started getting a lot of spam in the comments -- especially on the older posts, it's getting insane -- and it's taking too much of my time to reject and/or delete them.  So I think that beginning soon, I'll have to implement that word verification thingy.  I will continue to accept anonymous comments because some of my favorite readers post anonymously (though it would help distinguish you from other anonymous commenters if you used a consistent initial, or something).  I do hope you won't stop commenting for the sake of the word verification.  I have little enough feedback as it is.  Sniffle.

So - My very best to each of you, friends in person and online, and who comment, or who don't.  I hope your holidays were all joyous, and that having them over with is joyous, and that the New Year brings you all good things.  Here's to a blue moon and a new decade -- second chances and fresh beginnings. 

Monday, December 14, 2009

Obligatory spending, I mean merriment, chapter the nth

There's an editorial in today's Cape Cod Times about giving gifts to teachers. In brief: it says that some people go nuts with teacher gifts this time of year, but that gifts more than $50 in value to public employees, including teachers, are actually illegal.

I wish I'd seen this a month ago. Before Thanksgiving break, the mother of one of the Bean's classmates sent a notice home to all the parents saying that she sells Arbonne products (I won't provide a link, but it's skin care stuff), and that she thought it would be a great idea if every family in the class gave her some money ("$10-$20 would be great") so that she could fill a basket with some of these products for the teacher. We were instructed to call her if we didn't want to participate.

This little missive got on my nerves. First of all, coming in mid-November, it seemed like too soon to be getting on the whole buy-buy-buy treadmill that is Christmas in America. Second, how nice that this person saw a business opportunity for herself, but come on, $10-20/family? Really? We're going to give the classroom teacher a $200-$400 gift from your business? It just seemed wrong somehow.

Now I know why. According to the CCTimes piece, it doesn't matter if people pool their money, if the gift is worth more than $50, it's not legal.

The day the note came home, I left the enterprising parent a message saying no thanks, I didn't want to play. Probably there isn't much point in calling her again now to say, "oh by the way, it's against the law."

Still, what to do for teacher gifts? I just can't imagine anyone wants another World's Greatest Teacher mug/notepad/Christmas ornament/candle/fridge magnet/landfill fodder du jour, and frankly, most people need cookies like they need a hole in the head. I usually give a $15 gift card to a local bookstore with a note from the child whose teacher it is. Teachers are often people who like to read, and if not, it's an easy thing to give away. Seems to me the note from the child is the important part anyway, but what do I know. If I were more savvy about these things I'd be in business for myself.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Separate cells please! And make mine padded.

I'm angry with my daughters today.

Last night I went out to a party. With Mr. Sandyshoes hobnobbing with his fellow wizards on the other side of the continent, I hired a babysitter for a few hours so that I could attend. The girls were fed, teeth and hair brushed, in their pajamas and ready for bed when Christine arrived. They had 45 minutes to subject the poor girl to Uno or Sorry or Chinese Checkers, then they were to head upstairs for a story and then lights out.

After leaving my number and destination on the message board, a quick orientation to the TV controls for Christine and kisses and good-nights for the girls, I was out the door.

Party party. Lovely! However, I discovered that hiring a babysitter makes for internal meter-ticking and ka-CHING! sounds that drown out festive chit-chat, and that no $5 martini can subdue. I was also reluctant to get a teenage sitter in trouble by keeping her out late on a school night. So I skipped my usual routine of closing the bar and herding the party along to one that stays open later, and left after just a couple hours.

Home again, I asked the typical parent-to-babysitter question: How did it go?

"Well..." Christine began, "they were tired."


The long and short of it is that they were snippy and fighting all evening. They fought over the game, and were threatened with earlier bedtime. They fought over whose room in which to read the story, and ended up using my room, to which I had deliberately left the door closed. You know, to signify Do Not Go In Here. My room was a pre-party change of clothes MESS and I really, really did not want it in play.

Story completed, Christine was led to believe that the Bean is allowed to read with a flashlight for half an hour after bedtime. This sounds plausible and I can't fault Christine for going for it. The best lies have some truth to them, and Bean does sometimes get to do this. However, she knows absolutely damn well it doesn't happen on a school night. Wily little sneak.

Also, at some point the Bean told Christine she wishes she were an only child. I'm actually partly glad she did, because when I respond in the way that mothers do when one of their lovely offspring tells them this, I'm sure it falls on deaf ears. Such gentle words of wisdom about why not having a sister isn't as good as having one might have more influence coming from the intriguing, young and lovely Christine. (Admittedly, my own words of wisdom have become somewhat less gentle in the months since this complaint was first made, though I do manage to say "if you're feeling cranky, play by yourself" instead of "Really? Too fucking bad.") So it's good that the Bean got some feedback on that line of thought from a source other than her mother. But it still pisses me off that she pulls that peevish brat crap.

I don't know precisely what role the Peanut played in all this drama, but I know it takes two to fight, and that Peanut knows just what buttons to push to bring out the worst in her sister. I'm angry with both of them. I'm taking away the game they were fighting over, and they won't be allowed to play with each other at all today.

They'll be sad, they'll say they're sorry and that they won't do it again. But it won't work. As anyone with a sibling or more than one child knows, this bickering isn't going away. At what point am I perpetuating my anger to no purpose? One of the wonderful things about children is how quickly they let go. We plodding adults are always being encouraged to Live In The Moment, blah blah blah. Kids don't need reminding.

I don't want to be angry with them anymore. I don't want to take away their games or keep them apart. I do want them to stay the hell out of my room when the door's closed and not to behave like sneaky whining brats when a babysitter comes. Sigh.

(As usual, The Onion hits the nail on the head. Hee!)

Monday, December 07, 2009

I hear/The secrets that you keep...

I've written a little bit before about sharing a bed with my daughters. This isn't a routine thing. They've never been inclined (or encouraged) to join us in the middle of the night -- I'll go to them for a bit, if there's a scary storm or something -- or to come romp on our bed in the morning and fall back asleep there. We have been very successful with a Play Quietly In Your Room Until We Are Awake rule. But when we're traveling, it sometimes makes most sense to put one grownup and one child in each of a hotel room's two queen size beds, and at home, if Mr. Sandyshoes is away, I let the girls take turns sleeping in my bed with me.

Last night was the Peanut's turn. At bedtime she hauled in her gear and unpacked: feather and fleece pillows, fleece blanket with duckie, "taggie" blanket, stuffed lambie, stuffed doggies, and her music box. It is a good thing I have a King sized bed.

She arranged everything and fell asleep in no more time than it usually takes her. When I came to bed myself, I saw the taggie blanket had been draped carefully over lambie, and doggie was under the pillow. Peanut often sleeps on her back, limbs out like a capital X, but to my happy surprise, she was on her side and there was plenty of room for me.

We had a peaceful slumber until zero-dark thirty, when she hollered: "NO! You're looking at my cards!" Pause. "I said DON'T!!" We have been playing a lot of Uno at our house lately, so I assume this outburst was directed at her sister. I don't look at her cards, I swear. Yeeesh. Back to sleep.

When we woke at a decent hour, I asked if she remembered any of her dreams. Big smile, then "I dreamed of a bunny eating an apple pie." She had no memory of having loudly relived any injustices suffered during card games. It cracked her up to hear what she'd said.

My college roommate once sat straight up in bed and pronounced "I am a fine connoisseur of hams," then lay right back down and continued sleeping. That's probably the oddest thing I've heard of anyone saying in their sleep. Especially funny because she's Jewish, though not practicing. (Evidently.)

I don't think I talk much in my sleep anymore. I occasionally have crazy animal attack dreams, and thrash and holler until I wake myself. Mr. Sandyshoes has gotten as used to these as a person could be expected to, I guess. It's just what happens sometimes. I keep thinking I'll run out of animals because it's never the same species twice. Weirdest one (though not by far the most violent) was a deer chewing on my elbow.

What are you saying in your sleep?

I am now obligated to leave you with this primo bit of mid-80s pop culture. The hair, the hair!

Friday, December 04, 2009

NY Senator Diane Savino speaking truth to power

A disappointing vote by the New York State Senate. Who'd have thought that New York and Maine would have so much to learn from Iowa?

But here's hoping we haven't heard the last of Diane Savino: