Sunday, November 30, 2008

Holiday OD, Already


We are coming off of a long kick-off to the holiday season, and we are beat!

Wednesday, we spent a few hours with Grandma and Grandpa R. before they headed out of town for Thanksgiving. The kids really jump-started Christmas by decorating a gingerbread house.





Thursday was our Thanksgiving feast at Grandma and Grandpa P.'s, with lots of eating and card-playing.

Friday, Mom and I ventured out for our pre-dawn shopping excursion. It did not disappoint. Deals were good. Quantities were limited. Other shoppers were rude. We checked off every stop on our list and were back home before 10 a.m. Then, the kids and I started to drag out the Christmas decorations. I got four-foot, metallic, artificial trees for the girls' room and one for Ben-- they were a big hit.





On Saturday, Mom, Ted and Kristin, Ellen and Oliver came over for our annual holiday baking. Dad and Todd, along with two babysitters, took all the other kids with them to the tree farm. This was the highlight of the weekend. The weather was great; the big girls were so, so helpful with the kids; and we are still hearing all the stories about the big adventure. Apparently, Amanda got in on the frustration we have all experienced over the years, with Todd and his quest to find the perfect tree. She accompanied him up and down the rows for some time, as he finally narrowed it down to two trees, but then could not decide. The first born told Grandpa, "This is what happens whenever Daddy has a big decision to make-- his brain shrinks." And Benjamin wouldn't sit on Santa's lap, but did announce loudly in Santa's general direction that he really wants "a big train set." Ben is still asking Daddy and me, "You remember that? When Santa landed in the big helicopter? You remember that?"





Today, we stayed home to clean up and chill out. The cookies are put away. The tree is up and decorated. The rest of the decorations will come out this week, I'm sure. Amanda and Elisabeth were invited to play this afternoon with some friends. I know they had a great time, but when I went to pick them up, they looked like zombies. I think school tomorrow will feel more like a vacation.

Friday, November 28, 2008

In-shop-nia

I am awake. I've been awake for quite a while, actually, and the preceding sleep was sporadic and fitful. Could be everything I ate yesterday... Could be my husband's incessant snoring... Could be the fact that my son is sleeping with Buzz Lightyear, and every time he rolls over, I hear, "To infinity and beyond!" Most likely, however, it is because my mom will be here in a little while to pick me up to go shopping, and I don't want to miss it.

You already know I am a crazy shopper, and, of course, I would not miss the Day After Thanksgiving/Black Friday chaos. I don't think my mom even really likes it (she and Dad give the best Christmas gift of all: cash) but she comes along to keep me company, or to keep me from hurting myself. And, she must really love me, because she is still coming, even after I insulted her on Thanksgiving. I was reviewing my game plan, when she mentioned a store that was having a big sale, but was not even on my radar screen. "I hate that store," I said, "It's like Garanimals for adults." She told me that's where she got the outfit she was wearing.

My list of stores and must-have items is pretty short this year-- not so much due to concerns about the economy, but more because of a pointed effort to get the kids one or two things they really want and will use, as opposed to just filling up the house with more piles of stuff. For me, the after-Thanksgiving shopping is more about the chase. No one in my family ever hunted, but maybe this is as close as we get. Get there when the stores open, grab the stuff, and get out, so those coming in eye my cart and ask, "Are there any of those left?" And all I can do is smile and shrug.

Then, there's the simple bliss of shopping without children. This is a luxury that most often eludes me. However, on this day, my husband knows the drill. I have been an early after-Thanksgiving shopper since before we were married. I remember the first year we were married, I was producing evening newscasts and didn't have to be at work till 1 p.m. or so. I got up and headed out on my own, filled the car, came home and napped, and then went to work. Oh, yes, he's known what he was in for, for years. Allegedly, he is thinking about getting into the act, too. When we were looking at the ads yesterday, he pointed out a couple things he would really like. I told him I had no plans to go to Home Depot this year, especially since he already has three cordless drills and two Shop Vacs. He said he plans to go anyway-- and will take the kids with him, if necessary. Isn't he funny?

Oh, the stories Mom and I could tell from our years in the trenches: mean people ripping things out of our hands; a crazy lady stealing Mom's full shopping cart; a checkout line so long at Menards that I had time to leave, go to Toys R Us and shop there, go through the McDonald's drive-thru and come back to find Mom still waiting; the police officer who almost gave us a ticket for parking in a loading zone so we could "load up" baby Amanda on a subzero morning; the time the crowd turned on us for waiting in our warm car for Target's doors to open, and then we just strolled in the "other" entrance (other-- meaning the one that didn't have a single-file line one hundred people deep.)

But part of the shopping hype even I don't get: The outlet mall near our house, a few years ago, started opening at midnight, to be the first place to shop. Cars lined up on the freeway for miles, and I was glad to stay far, far away. This year, some of those stores jumped the gun even more, opening at 10 or 11 p.m. Now, that is just plain crazy. What is wrong with people?!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanks


Read anybody's blog this week and you are reminded to give thanks, be thankful, count your blessings... Hopefully, you all know that already, so DO IT. I have nothing else to add, except this entertaining turkey tongue twister, contributed by my mother:

The two-toed turkey towed twelve times ten talking turtles.
How many talking turtles did the two-toed turkey tow?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Graduate


Benjamin has graduated from his neurology checkups.

We began seeing a pediatric neurologist when Ben was six months old; he could not yet roll over or sit up, and was still having trouble holding his head steady. This is the one doctor who, from the first visit, told us he really didn't think we had anything to worry about with Ben. He thought Ben was going to be just fine, maybe just take a little longer than most kids to get moving, but he seemed quite sure there was nothing "wrong" with him. This made the neurologist a hero to Todd, and one dubious character in my book.

Today, he told us, "I really like your son, and I really like you. However, I don't think your insurance company is going to accept that as a 'medical reason' any longer." He said he has been happy to take our money, especially since he has huge boat payments, but he is now worried word will get out that he schedules patient appointments "just for fun" and then his practice will no longer get glowing write ups in medical publications.

The best part was his decree of diagnosis: The neurologist said, your kid still has a big head and poor muscle tone. Plus, he's a little guy. The developmental Bell Curve got away from him for a while, but he has definitely caught up. "I don't know what else to call him except a 'normal, two-year-old boy.'"

Before we left, I asked the doctor his opinion on preschool. Ben's school district case worker and his physical therapist have both suggested we enroll him next fall, and I am balking at the idea. He will be just three, and that seems too young. The neurologist agreed the group setting would offer more opportunities and would be good for Benjamin's continued development. But, he asked me, "Do you think you could handle letting go for a couple hours?"

In the Motherhood

Any parent worth his or her weight in Goldfish crackers has admittedly had an ongoing internal conversation about how life with children is so much different than life without children:

Things We Never Thought We'd Do
*smell another person's backside
*pick someone else's nose
*taste baby food-- just to see
*sing along to Hannah Montana songs
*shrug when a kid eats something off the floor
*go to Target, on a tight budget, for a pair of work pants and return instead with two sets of superhero Underoos (Yes, Dad, I remember.)

Things We Never Thought We'd Say
*"Did you really change your underwear today?"
*"Yes, I am certain there are no such things as monsters."
*"Are those Lucky Charms in the electrical outlet?"
*"Stay out of the Barbie swimming pool!"
*"How would you like it if I bit you?"
*"Get your finger out of the cat's butt!"

And, so, I find myself washing field corn in the kitchen sink. My daughters and their cousin went corn-cob picking with Grandma this weekend. Grandma was getting the corn to feed her beloved squirrels. Amanda was gathering corn to-- share with her first grade class?! I don't know why she thinks this is a good idea for show-and-tell, but, Grandma, being a mother, as well, didn't say, "That's stupid." Instead, she got a bag and helped Amanda collect a dozen-and-a-half ears. Then, Amanda asked me to wash them... Because she didn't want to give her friends dirty, old, dried-out, half-eaten cobs of field corn. What must the teacher think? Oh, that's right-- she's a mother, too.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mondays with Jesus


Mondays are generally a little rough around here. We're getting schedules back on track after the weekend, doing laundry, mostly just laying low. This week, we have the added wrench of Elisabeth being off of school. Todd called this morning to find out how the kids were. (We all miss each other on Mondays, too.) Had anyone gotten hurt? (Benjamin took two nasty spills last week.) Was anyone fighting? I warned him not to jinx us, but, sure enough, the screaming started shortly after I hung up the phone.

"I want Jesus!" Benjamin yelled. "I need Jesus!" Turns out Elisabeth was taunting him with this really cute book about the disciples titled, "Jesus and the 12 Dudes Who Did." I had to stop and chuckle as he called out for the Lord. It was even more entertaining than when he was oohing and aahing over Grandma's dessert last night: "Oh, my dod-- I mean, doodness-- dis pie is so dood."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Present is Apparently the Past

We had a little family night out at the movies, taking the kids to see "Bolt." The girls had taken in plenty of promos for this animated Disney flick, and I thought it looked cute, too. I am no film critic, so no review follows. However, I will warn those of you with small children: The first 15 minutes or so of the movie are action-packed and really quite scary. I was tense and nearly told Todd I thought we should leave, but then I figured things out.

Anyway, it was the first time the whole family had attempted a movie together (translation: dared to bring Benjamin.) Ben did pretty well for the first half-hour or so, sitting and being quiet, mostly because he was engrossed in his "Diddles" (Skittles.) But, then he got antsy, paced up and down the aisle, tried to talk to the kids in front of us, yelled, "I dropped my straw!" That kind of fun stuff. We mostly just shushed him and tried to ignore him, but didn't get too bent, because there were plenty of other little ones in the theater, and the Friday night tween and teen crowd was actually making the biggest racket.

About 80 or 90 minutes into the film-- yeah, it was a long one-- Ben "bolted" for the door. I followed him out, so we could wander the theater halls until the movie was over. Ben stopped at the poster advertising "Bolt," pointed to it, and asked, "Hey, remember when we saw that movie?"

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Shower Curtain Saga

Buying a new shower curtain has been on my "to-do" list all week. I have been working to pinpoint my confusion and lack of motivation at completing this task, since shopping is pretty much a daily activity. I think it has something to do with home decorating style, since I readily admit I have none. It also has something to do with cost-- Do you know how expensive shower curtains are?

First, the scenario: A couple weeks ago, I walked into the girls' bathroom (which houses our most-often-used shower,) and saw the shower curtain hanging off the rod. I looked down and saw curtain rings-- metal, mind you-- in broken pieces on the floor. I still haven't gotten the complete story, but it has something to do with one pushed the other one who ended up in the bathtub but tried on the way down to save herself by hanging onto the shower curtain and somehow the curtain did not rip and the tension rod did not fall, but the metal rings did break. Then, a week or so later, I noticed these huge snags and long threads hanging off the other end of the curtain. Then, a couple days ago, this weird orangey-brown spot showed up in the middle of the curtain. I asked Todd whether he knew what it was and he shrugged. But, then, this morning, he called me from work to say he had investigated the stain, and to ask whether I had smelled it. He advised me not to, but rather to take down the curtain and bleach it. IT IS GOING IN THE GARBAGE.

I went to one of those bed and bath megastores, because it was going out of business so I thought I could get a good deal and because it's huge so I thought they would have a good selection. I did not buy a shower curtain there, because they all cost $40 and they were all ugly. Then, I went to Target, but shower curtains there were $30 to $40, too, unless I wanted the plastic one with Hannah Montana's image on it in hot pink for $26.99. I cruised the clearance shelves, and found one shower curtain for $6.48. It was cloth, but had this garish fall leaf print on it. I almost bought it, because it was cheap, but even my interior-decorating-ignorant self couldn't stoop so low.

I'm trying to figure out how I've been an adult for so many years, lived in (I think) about seven different places that all required shower curtains, and how I can currently live in a house with three bathtubs and still have such trouble buying a shower curtain. Maybe all the others were gifts or hand-me downs...

By the way, if you're thinking the title of this post sounded much more interesting than the actual topic, I would have to agree.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Heady

I was watching Benjamin interact with another little boy his age, and I thought, "You know, his head really doesn't look that big anymore." I remembered his neurologist reassuring me that my boy just needed to "grow into" his head... and that probably sometime between the ages of two and three, he would look and move just like other kids his age.

However, without mentioning this to my husband, he commented, "Do you know my head circumference is only one centimeter larger than Ben's? That's huge!" Todd knew this because he took a tape measure and measured both his head and his son's. Of course, the real issue is how Ben's dad chooses to spend his free time.

Then, this morning, Elisabeth was making Ben a crown out of Puzzibits (cool toys if you don't know what these are) and she remarked, "Mom, Ben's head is huge! I mean, it's as big as a thick pickle!"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fa Ra Ra Ra Ra


I know everyone says this every year-- But doesn't it seem as though the holiday season is upon us sooner and gaining speed?

Target put out some of its Christmas merchandise before Halloween. One of my friends mentioned last week that a radio station was already playing all Christmas music; I didn't believe her until I heard it for myself. Elisabeth and I noticed a tree lot going up today. And, everyone keeps reminding me there are five fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas compared with last year.

I'm doing it, too. Typically, I begin the shopping in earnest the day after Thanksgiving, just like all the other crazies, but I've already found myself bidding on stuff on ebay, or picking up cute toys at Walgreens while waiting for a prescription. It's enough to make even a Christmas lover panic!

But, then, I glanced at the front page of the local shopper today and saw China Buffet advertising it would be open on Thanksgiving Day. That reminded me of the scene in "A Christmas Story" where the neighbor's dogs eat the turkey so they have to go out for Chinese Christmas dinner. A good laugh might be all I need.



A good laugh, and that oh-so-important reminder of what the season really means: I was praying for a dear, dear friend this morning when another woman declared, "You know, miracles do happen! We all need to remember that."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Great Exercise-- For Whom?


When Benjamin's physical therapist came yesterday, she said she was going to bump up his workload to push him more. She invented one really fun game: Take all the cushions off the living room couches and arrange them in a "bridge" across the room. Add space between the cushions to challenge Ben. Have Ben walk from one end of the bridge to the other, taking objects in his hands to work on balance.

This was so much fun, Ben did not want to stop. The cushions were out again when his sisters came home from school. They were out again this morning when his cousins came to visit. I have now picked up the couch cushions for the umpteenth time, and am thinking about sprawling across them tomorrow morning, just to keep the room looking decent for a while. Guess the physical therapist showed me a workout, too.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sibling Warm Fuzzies

After grocery shopping, Elisabeth, Benjamin and I stopped to sit for a minute and have a treat. Ben was having chocolate pudding, but quickly abandoned it when Libby opened her Skittles. I asked the big sister whether she'd share (a loaded question for that one) and she surprisingly gave up not one, but two, candies. I complimented her for being so kind to her brother and said to Ben, "Libby must love you a lot to share her candy with you. What do you think?" Ben shrugged and replied, "I'll love her when we get home."

For Sale or For Rent


Have I mentioned our neighbors are moving? We are bummed about this, because they have been really good neighbors. Also, their daughters are the only babysitters my kids have ever known (the only people I trusted as much as Grandma or Auntie.) So, that stinks. But, we're happy for them. They were in a weird situation where they ended up renting their house for a really long time-- nearly two decades. They said they just loved where they lived, and the owner would not sell to them, so they stayed.

Once upon a time, when the real estate market was hopping, the area where we live was in especially high demand. After all, God's not making any more lakeshore, right? So, if a property became available, in whatever condition and at whatever price, people jumped. That's what happened with us and the spot where we live. We actually contacted the owners and asked them to sell it to us.

But, now, there are a dozen houses for sale on the lake, a couple for rent, one up for auction, and nothing is moving. No matter how great the price, people who want to buy cannot, because they can't sell their current homes. That's what's so great for our neighbors-- they didn't have anything to sell, so they could shop for a steal of a deal on another house. So, they are moving across town, and we will miss them.

We're also anxious about what's going to happen next door. Heaven knows, good neighbors are not easy to come by. We assume the owner will again put the property up for rent, and that is what the outgoing tenants believe, too. However, there are already rumors flying that she is going to sell the house, and, in this market, who knows what will become of the place.

A friend who also lives on the lake was talking about the place the other day. She said she has been urging another family we both know to put their house up for sale so they will be ready to swoop in and buy the one next door to us. I couldn't help but wonder why she thinks we would make good neighbors...

If any of you are in the market, we actually are pretty good neighbors. My kids will annoy you with their friendliness, but will at least call you "Mr." and Mrs." and I never make apple crisp without sharing.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Puzzled


Five minutes before bedtime, Amanda found her Rubik's Cube in the playroom. Todd, nostalgic about his own childhood, wanted to give Amanda one of these toys for Christmas last year, because, what is at the top of every kindergarten girl's list? A Rubik's Cube, of course. Anyway, it sat unnoticed for the better part of a year. I don't know what got into Amanda last night, but, she wanted to figure out that cube. With her father's patience (none) and my mechanical aptitude for problem-solving (again, none,) she soon became frustrated.

She took the puzzle to Daddy, who quickly whipped together one color, but then declared it was all he could do. Elisabeth and Benjamin took their turns, turning and turning, but didn't seem to have much luck, either. Amanda then asked me whether she could return the Rubik's Cube to Target, so "the genius who invented it can figure it out and give it back to me."

Amanda tried to take the mind-bender to bed with her, but the click, click, clicking was making me mad and she needed her sleep, so I confiscated it. She pleaded with me: "Mom, Mom, please work on my Rubik's Cube and don't stop until you solve it. Ask Dad to help you if you need it. Even if you feel sleepy and your eyes start to close, Mom, please, please, don't stop until you have all the sides figured out." I didn't think I should tell her that, when I was a kid, I just peeled all the colored stickers off the cube and moved them to more opportune squares to "solve" the puzzle.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Even This Life-Lover Has Her Limits

Let me just preface this with a warning: This is not the week to cross me.

With that out of the way, I'm not going to launch a moral or political tirade here-- just a personal statement-- If any story, any situation, any devil could turn me into a supporter of the death penalty, this must be it:

Austrian incest father charged with murder
An Austrian man accused of imprisoning his daughter for 24 years and fathering her seven children has been charged with murder, prosecutors said Thursday, contending one of the offspring who died in infancy might have survived if treated.

Josef Fritzl, 73, also was charged with rape, incest, false imprisonment and slavery (more)...


Burn, baby, burn.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Bags Are Packed


The bags under my eyes, that is.

After six or eight months of sleeping soundly, ten to twelve hours a night plus a nap, in his big boy bed, Benjamin has now decided to stop that practice. Regardless of how tired he is, he is refusing to go to bed at night, instead getting up and ramming around his room. Then, he stands at the baby-gated doorway and shouts whatever he thinks will get our attention: "I poopy!" (It worked a few times... What kind of mother would let him go to sleep with full drawers?) "I boke my night light!" "I need more books!" "I awake now!" "I need you!"

When he finally does surrender to sleep, it doesn't last. For the past three or four weeks at least, Ben has been waking up at least once during the night, sometimes as many as three times. He yells, "I'm stuck" (usually his big head hanging off the edge of the bed) or "I need more cup" (a separate bad parenting issue altogether.)

At the time when we first moved Ben to the toddler bed, because he was climbing out of his crib, we put up one of those bed rails and that seemed to either confine him or comfort him, because he stayed put. But, over time, he started messing with the rail, kicking it loose or pulling it out, and getting body parts stuck in it, so I had to remove it. Up went the gate in the doorway, but I know that's not the best practice, either, and now he lays on the floor in front of it and kicks his door.

Todd and some other mothers have suggested Ben needs to give up his nap. Now, ultimately, this may well be harder on me than on him. However, in the short term, I don't see how it's possible, since he is clearly not getting enough sleep, even with nighttime and nap combined.

At 4:30 this morning, after Ben screamed at me that I filled his cup with the wrong flavor of Pediasure, I went back to bed and swore, "I'm done." Next, Todd got up and scolded Ben, who was by that point hysterical to the point of gagging. Daddy got conned into changing the fake-poopy pants, and then threw the boy back in bed. Todd came back to bed and vowed, "I'm done with him, too... I'm done with all of you." (I think that was some kind of unveiled threat referring to the fact that he had to get up once in the night with one child.) Then, Todd started snoring again, while I listened to the sobbing in the other room. Even once the babe finally settled down, I couldn't get back to sleep. So, I know exactly when he woke up again: 6:35. And that explains why Ben was falling asleep in his lunch, and why I did put him down for a nap.

I suppose I'll have to borrow my sister's sleep book again... like I'll be able to stay awake to read it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Comparison


17 weeks

Sickness, exhaustion, unable-to-eat-ness, husband-away-ness... Nothing can diminish or restrain the fourth baby belly. Not that I ever really had any abdominal muscles to begin with. But, yeah, the maternity pants are already out, which means finding longer shirts to battle the bare bump and the creeping crack. Maybe I should take a fashion tip from the only woman in America who, at any given moment, looks more pregnant than me:


Michelle Duggar, expecting number 18, always in dresses

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sassy, but Clear

Benjamin was in the bathroom, "helping" Todd get ready for work. In typical two-year-old fashion, he started bossing Daddy: "I want some toothpaste on my toothbrush, now, Daddy. Are we clear?" Once Todd shook the smile from his face, he found me and said he now knows how I talk to the children when he's gone.

Ben's other favorite expressions these days: "How'd that happen?" "That's my favorite." "Oh, my gosh!" "Who else?" (He means "What else?") "Here are your choices..." I'm not proud, I'm just saying.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

On Foodie Duty


I watch a lot of Food Network, and Todd is kind of into it, too. I remember stopping at his mom's house a few years ago, and she was watching "Iron Chef" on TV. Todd and I didn't really get it, but now we do. I rarely cook the recipes I see on any of the shows; I just like to watch other people do it.

That said, there are definitely some "good" and some "bad" personalities of the Food Network. And, the more you watch it, the more these chefs can switch columns. For example, when I first started watching, I really liked Paula Deen. But, now, she has this "Paula Live" show, and she is obnoxious. If I try to watch her, I have the sensation of wanting to scratch out my eyes.

So, for your weekend viewing pleasure, here are the Krinkeland picks and pans of the Food Network:

GOOD
Bobby Flay
Guy Fieri-- funny, and my kind of man (except for the dyed hair)
Ina Garten
Robin Miller-- Todd thinks she's hot
Michael Chiarello
Giada De Laurentiis-- I think she's hot
Ted Allen
Mario Batali
Tyler Florence
Cat Cora

BAD
Rachael Ray
Alton Brown-- annoying in everything he does
Emeril Lagasse
Paula Deen
Bobby and Jamie Deen
Nigella Lawson
Sandra Lee-- never actually cooks anything
Ingrid Hoffmann-- a chef named "Ingrid" with a Latin cooking show, really
Alexandra Guarnaschelli
Ellie Krieger

On a separate but related issue, the new season of "Top Chef" starts this week on Bravo. I know it's a different network, but Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi are enough to make anyone drool.

Friday, November 7, 2008

First Grade Logic That Makes Sense For All

I overheard the girls having a discussion about friends and classmates, and Amanda said something that surprised me: She said when we went to the fall open house at her school, she was relieved to find one girl was NOT in her class. Now, this child takes after her father-- loves everyone. So, I had to ask more.

Amanda explained to me that it wasn't that she didn't like the girl... It wasn't that she had ever done anything mean to Amanda... But Amanda just didn't think they could be friends. Why not? "Because, Mom, she acts like a character on a TV show." Which one? I wanted to know. "No, Mom, not a certain character. I just mean she acts like she's on TV all the time-- not like a real person." I got it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Knighted by the Clean Queen


I have one of those flat, electric cook tops. I know all you master chefs out there will tell me gas is the only way to go, but, I've eaten your food, and it's no better than mine. I had a gas cook top in our last house, and I hated, hated, hated to clean it. I was soaking and scrubbing those grates after every meal, and they still looked like junk. So, I admit, I did choose the ceramic top mainly because I thought it would be easier to clean.

In some ways, it is. It's flat, and the only removable pieces for food to get stuck under are the control knobs. But, the electric cook top is not as easy to clean as I'd hoped. I got the cleaner recommended by the manufacturer. My mother-in-law swears by those green scrubbing pads and a can of Cameo cleanser. My dad uses a razor blade. (Yeah, my dad cleans the cook top. I was surprised at that one, too.) But, all those methods take too much muscle, and I have too little.

So, weeks and months ago, I bought one of these Scotch-Brite Cook Top Cleaners. I saw the ad on TV, and oohed and aahed over how the handled scrubber just glided over the cook top surface and picked up all the crud in its path. I bought it, and I threw it in the cupboard with all the other cleaning supplies. I kept scrubbing with a plain, old dishcloth, left the top somewhat clean, and tried not to look at it too closely.

Until today. I had a hankering for rice this noon, and, while feeding the urchins, naturally, the pot boiled over. My little cleaning angel whispered in my ear, "Try the Cook Top Cleaner," and so I did. It is WONDERFUL!

It's this plastic, handled device with a Velcro-like pad on the bottom. The cleaning pads, which are rough but not abrasive, come in their own sealed pouch, already soaked in a cleaning solution that reminded me of Soft Scrub. I opened the pack, stuck a pad on the handle and got to work. But, there wasn't much work! I truly just pushed the cleaner around the cook top and all the rice gunk came right up. I added just a little pressure around the edges of the burners and cleaned up marks that have been there for two years.

I did diverge from the directions just a bit, which said to simply wipe the top with a paper towel or soft cloth to clear up any residue or left over cleaning fluid. My surface was still really dull and streaky when I was done, so I wiped it with a soapy, wet dishcloth. If I have to name a downside, it would be the smell, which is quite strong. Cleaning products don't usually bother me... Maybe it's the pregnancy... Lately, every time I see Todd, I'm telling him he smells, too... He hangs his head, and mumbles, "Do not," but he changes his shirt, anyway.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The State of Krinkeland

Here is some of today's commentary from the pundits in our house:

AMANDA ON A DEMOCRATIC ELECTION
Amanda: "You know, I'm kind of glad Barack Obama is our next president."
Mom: "Why?"
Amanda: "Well, it seems only fair we give a Democrat a turn. Americans can't be President all the time."
Mom: "You mean Republicans."
Amanda: "What?"
Mom: "President Bush is a Republican. So is John McCain. That's the other political party, like Democrat. Republicans and Democrats are both Americans. We're all Americans."
Amanda: "Oh."

ELISABETH ON REVERSE RACISM
"John McCain can't be President. He has WHITE HAIR!"

BENJAMIN ON RELIGION
He sat in the back pew of church this morning, "reading" his church rules straight out of the hymnal:
"No hitting... No eating... No yelling... No fighting."

AMANDA ON FOOD QUALITY
I came upon her in my newly cleaned kitchen, making her own peanut butter and jelly sandwich for an after-school snack. (I know, nice mom-- where was I?) She shook her head and handed me the jar of extra chunky peanut butter:
"Mom, you should never buy this kind of peanut butter again. It is very poorly made. It has hunks of nuts that are not even smashed up."

Astronomer Mommy


Since our oldest daughter attends parochial school, there are regular student body masses. Each week, a different classroom is in charge of the service; this week, it was Amanda's class. Since she is only in first grade, I think we can all assume the teacher did most of the work... But she assigned children to be ushers, to read each of the prayers of the church, etc.

Amanda was selected to read scripture. It was only two verses from Genesis, but we practiced and practiced. There were hard words like "produce." The most difficult part was getting her to say "A reading from the book of Genesis." She kept repeating "Genesist," which made it sound like a medical condition.

When I put Amanda on the bus, I usually kiss her and say, "Have a good day. Learn a lot. Have fun. And, most of all, be good." Today, I cheered, "Have a great day, and shine like the star you are!" Amanda had a good giggle at that one, so I guess I won't be further exploring a career in motivational speaking.

As sometimes happens, I had a full agenda today, but I was not going to miss seeing my child read in church. Amanda performed flawlessly. If I could fault her for anything, it would only be for waving at Grandma at the back of the congregation, and I can't really come down on her too hard for that, since Grandma waved first.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day Funk


Krinkeland is in an Election Day funk. It's not because of the candidate pool... It's not because of the exit polling results... It's because of logistics.

Years ago, Election Day was a big work day for me. It was hard to figure out when I'd get to vote, because I typically had to be at the TV station by the time the polls opened, and would still be at work when they closed. And, from a personal standpoint, I was conflicted about being at work for so many hours on Election Day. On one hand, it was really fun. It was an exciting day, the news was constantly changing, I got to find out results before passing them along to the public, the overtime was great, and we usually got fed. On the other hand, I knew Todd was home alone, pacing and screaming at the television.

Todd calls Election Day his Super Bowl. Once I stopped working, my amusement at Todd's nervous energy turned to annoyance. He was standing in front of the TV, ranting and raving, blaming my former colleagues for slanted coverage. I find it's not nearly as interesting to watch the results as it is to report them. Sure, it's my civic duty to vote-- one I strongly encourage all Americans to exercise-- but, my vote is just one, and, once it's done, it's done.

This year, it's all kind of sad. Todd has been traveling so much for work. He arranged his schedule to be home Tuesday morning-- the only time this week he could be home with his family-- but realized today how that would affect things tonight. As full-blown coverage begins and results start to come in, he will be in a media black hole, on an airplane. By the time he gets to his hotel room, it should all be over. He asked me to tape the coverage... But, all of it? And, who really wants to watch it once you know how it came out, anyway?

Post-Halloween Tips and Pointers


Now that Halloween is over, I have gathered some tips from other mothers and am passing them along to you. I realize these may have been more helpful before Halloween, but that is why you don't have to pay for information posted on this blog:

1. Buy boys' costumes (like superheroes) at a discount after Halloween and put them in the dress-up box. This should make my brother-in-law happier, since he shakes his head and covers his eyes every time his boys emerge from our toy room in tutus and princess gowns.
2. Take all the mini candy bars from the loot bags, chop them up, and mix them into brownies.
3. Take all the mini candy bars from the loot bags, freeze them, chop them up, and freeze them again for use as ice cream toppings.
4. If you're a pumpkin-carving household, (we painted ours, because pumpkin guts make me barfy,) sprinkle cinnamon, ground cloves, or pumpkin pie spice in the inside of the pumpkin before you light the candle and your front porch will smell like dessert.

The local Target had all its Halloween merchandise 75% off today, so, if you're a stocker-upper like me, it's time to roll out.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Secret Agent Man

My husband left for his latest business trip so early this morning, it couldn't really be called morning. As a result of my whining, he arranged his schedule to fly home this week between trips, albeit for just a few hours, most of which is sleeping time. So, I watched him get ready (because can anyone sleep in the house when a man is awake?) for this unusual "day trip," which meant he did not have to pack his usual carry-on bag. He just got dressed, and then put his phone and his cards in his pockets. When I asked him whether he had everything, he stopped to pick up a small, hard-sided, black case. That was it. And he left.

This got me thinking-- about how little I know about what my husband does all day. When I ask for details, they are either vague or ever-changing. This fits with my husband's personality, so I've never gotten too excited about it. Allegedly, he has developed this medical/pharmaceutical device for his company, and it is now in the human testing stage. So, he was earlier making trips to choose research sites to carry out those tests. Now, he is supposed to be visiting the sites again, to train the doctors and techs on how to use the device.

That's as much as I know. But, when he picked up that little case today and waltzed out, I began to wonder. First, I thought he might secretly be a Gideon; after all, he was wearing a jacket and a tie and the box was hardly bigger than a bible. Plus, there is always at least one hotel on his agenda. Then, I thought better: What if he's James Bond? I mean, he's smart, good-looking, a sharp dresser... not so smooth with the ladies, but that could be a ruse... Naturally, that took me back to my place in the equation. If he is James Bond, and I know nothing about his secret agent life, then I obviously can't be M. So, does this make me a Bond Girl?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

In a Galaxy Far, Far Away...

...our three little goblins celebrated Halloween, Star-Wars-style.



Amanda as "Boba Fett," Benjamin as "Chewbacca," Elisabeth as "Princess Leia"-- but, you already knew that, didn't you?