Monday, March 31, 2008

Above and Beyond

I have had the worst experiences with car dealerships/repair shops. I pretty much always think I am going to get screwed one way or another . . . and I usually do. So, when I have a good experience with a car place, I feel the need to sing their praises as loudly as possible.

My car recently needed some body work and it was taken to Peoria Auto Body. After about a week, they called to say the work was done and I could come pick up my car. I was dreading it, but I had a friend drive me down there. The damage to my car involved broken glass - glass that had shattered into tiny little pieces and sprinkled all over the front seats in my car. I was dreading having to vacuum up all of the tiny pieces of glass out of my car.

When I got to Peoria Auto Body, I peered into the front seat of the car. Completely glass-free. It was spotless - it looked almost as good as it did the day I bought it. I was so happy, I ran inside to pay them and get the keys. I was giggling with excitement. They probably thought I was insane.

It was not until I was transferring car seats into the back seat that I noticed Peoria Auto Body had made all of my dreams come true. Not only had they vacuumed the glass out of the front seat and cleaned out all of the flotsam and jetsam and other random crap, they had vacuumed all of the dog hair out of the back seat!!!

Now anyone who has a large dog, particularly a large yellow Labrador retriever, knows how prolific their dog hair shedding capacity is. My dog seems to lose 75% of her hair on a weekly basis and most of it ends up on me or my furniture. She sheds even more in the car because she is excited and nervous about being in the car. So, under normal circumstances, the back seat of my car looks like it is wearing a dog hair sweater. I have learned to pretend it doesn’t exist, which is really the best way to deal with some things.

Dog hair is one of the most insidious substances to vacuum. It has an amazing capacity to stick into cloth and fibers and never let go. The last time I cleaned the dog hair out of my car, it took me more than an hour to completely rid the back seat of dog hair. I don’t know what kind of vacuum they used at Peoria Auto Body or how long it took them, but they got every single piece of dog hair out of my car. And for that, they will always have a special place in my heart.

Above and beyond the call of duty, Peoria Auto Body. Above and beyond.

And they gave me a free key chain with a light on it. I’m a sucker for freebies.

Friday, March 28, 2008

I Did Not Sign Up For This

**Gross out alert.** If you have a low tolerance for grossness, please beware of this post.

I am not a squeamish person. I do what needs to be done in the gross-out department. I have cleaned up so many ungodly awful messes involving all sorts of bodily fluids and other nastiness, I really shouldn’t be objecting to one more horror being added to the list. Really, gross stuff is just part of motherhood. I accept it. I dare say, I welcome it - it provides great stories for my children’s teenage years for embarrassment purposes.

But I have drawn a line in the gross stuff sand.

I have reached my limit.

And that limit is having to pull a semi-digested, half-expelled, poop covered baby wipe out of my dog’s ass because her poop muscles do not have the capacity to poop out the entire length of a baby wipe and she just let it hang there. And that thing was not coming back into my house until that baby wipe was fully removed from her butt.

The sad thing is, I know exactly how this happened. We had an incredibly messy dinner of ravioli a couple of nights ago. The kids loved it. My son loved it so much, he rubbed his entire head in red sauce. He looked like a hairless oompa-loompa. He was so dirty, I had to switch from washcloths to baby wipes because I ran out of clean washcloths. Then I threw the dirty baby wipes in the trash can. (In retrospect, I should have just carried him to the bathroom and hosed him down with the hand-held shower head.)

Sometime in the night, the dog ate the baby wipes, unbeknownst to me. And she almost got away with it. Until I saw her duck-walking in the back yard with what looked like a four inch piece of poop hanging out of her butt. When she caught my eye, she knew she was in trouble and tried to hide under a lawn chair.

Here’s the thing. I can try to say "I put my foot down - too gross" or refuse to deal with it, but I can’t. Who else is going to deal with this? It’s not like I can send out the 15 month old and say, "Go pull that thing out of the dog’s butt. Come on - it’ll be good for you. Make you a man." I can’t exactly call my friends or neighbors and explain the situation. "Yeah . . . do you have a minute? My dog has a poop-covered baby wipe hanging out of her butt and if you could just . . . . hello? Hello?"

I know it is incredibly shallow of me to wish I was married so my husband could do the gross things . . . I mean, I know marriage is about a whole lot more than who gets to do the gross stuff . . . but sometimes, I just wish I was able to see the poop-covered baby wipe hanging out of the dog’s ass and look over to my husband and say, "Enjoy yourself, honey. Wash your hands with bleach when you’re done."

Monday, March 17, 2008

Welcome to My World, Babe.

A study was recently published that found first born children are smarter than their latter born siblings. Since I am a firstborn, I wholeheartedly embrace the study’s conclusions. The study also concluded that the increased IQ might be related to the amount of time the older child spends teaching the younger child new skills. Using that same analysis, here’s my addition to the theory: oldest siblings are better able to appropriately deal with frustration because they spend more time trying to teach younger siblings who have no interest in learning the crap they are teaching.

Here is how this theory has developed in my house. My two and a half year old girl is in her full-on mimicking stage currently. She wants to cook like mama, take care of babies, pretend she is a nurse giving babies medicine, take babies for walks, etc. But most of all, she likes to play school. Of course, most of her playtime is trying to herd dolls, toys, animals, and people to her "circle time" so they can listen to her read a story. So, she walks around the house yelling, "CIRCLE TIME! Come sit for CIRCLE TIME!"

And pity the fools who fail to sit in her circle.

She does pretty well with the dolls and toys. She arranges them in a circle and only reprimands them if they don’t sit still. (Some baby dolls just do not sit on their bottoms like they should, you know, and falling forward on your face is apparently not a good reason for missing circle time.) She has little trouble with our dog, who will do just about anything you ask her to do if it involves the chance of love and attention. Of course, the 120 pound dog takes up a large portion of the circle, particularly when she wants to put her head in your lap while you read the story.

She does have some trouble with the cat. When she yells CIRCLE TIME in his general direction, he puts his ears back and take off like his tail is on fire. When he gets far enough away from her, he turns back and gives her that "HELL NO" look that cats are so good at.

However, she has the most trouble with my 15 month old son. Being human and all, she expects him to sit attentively in her circle and listen to the story without talking, moving, gesturing, averting his eyes, or touching anything else in the circle. She gently walks him over to the circle and says, "Sit here. On your bottom. Sit HERE!" He just walks away. She brings him back, "Sit here. HERE! IT’S CIRCLE TIME. SIT ON YOUR BOTTOM!" Now he thinks it’s funny and he runs away.

This could go on for hours. She has a burning desire to have him behave, sit in circle time, and do exactly what she tells him to do and he has a burning desire to screw with her because he loves to see her mad. Yesterday, this "game" ended in tears for my little girl. "MAMA - he won’t sit on his bottom! He won’t sit in circle time! It’s CIRCLE time. He won’t use his listening ears! MAMA - he’s running away! He took my book! MAMA! He won't sing ABCs! MAMA! I want him to sit and he not sit!"

I explained to her that he is still a baby and babies sometimes don’t listen and you have to remind them and sometimes they still don’t listen. I said that we are teaching him to be a better listener but it is going to take practice. She responded, "NOOOOO! It’s CIRCLE TIME!" I told her, "This is how I feel when I say, It’s time to put your coat on and you run to the other side of the room." She responded, "But he won’t listen to ME! It’s CIRCLE TIME!"

I found myself at a loss as to how to explain this further to her. All I could say was, "Welcome to my world, babe."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Good Laugh Always Helps

I’ve been having a rough week of sorts, but I can always count on my brother and sister-in-law’s parenting stories to lift my spirits a little bit. The thing is, I don’t think they intend these stories to be uplifting or humorous . . . but they so are.

My sister-in-law had their second baby in early February - another boy. Not surprisingly, their first son has had a difficult time adjusting to the new baby. One of the behaviors he is exhibiting is not going to bed easily and not staying in his new "big boy bed."

So, the other night my brother and I were talking on the phone about the trials and tribulations of our two and a half year olds and comparing notes. My brother said things have gotten better with my older nephew’s behavior, particularly with staying in bed. However, they have an unusual method of getting him to stay in his bed:

Me: So, things are getting better with bedtime?

My brother: Yeah . . . tonight he only got out of bed once, but that was because the big rice cooker scared him.

Me: Umm . . . the big rice cooker scared him? Were you cooking rice near his room?

My brother: Oh no, he gets to choose a kitchen appliance to take to bed with him every night and tonight he picked the big rice cooker. But then, after he was in there for awhile with it, he came out and asked to swap it with the little rice cooker.

Me: Because the little rice cooker is less scary?

My brother: I guess so . . . and it takes up less room in his bed.

Me: Well . . . whatever gets him to sleep at night, I guess.

After we hung up the phone, I sat there wondering how far out of control a parent has to get when he or she allows a child to take a kitchen appliance to bed with him. I mean, I have had some desperate times as a parent, but . . . taking kitchen appliances to bed? I just can’t picture the scenario occurring in my house.

Well, at least it wasn’t a kitchen appliance with blades.

Clearly, my nephew is still in control of this house.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

News Flash

"Men Who Do More Housework May Get More Sex" says a group of researchers after looking at the roles of men and women in two income households. Well, I'd like to send out a nice fat DUH on that one. One researcher says:

"If a guy does housework, it looks to the woman like he really cares about her — he's not treating her like a servant," said Coleman, who is affiliated with the Council on Contemporary Families. "And if a woman feels stressed out because the house is a mess and the guy's sitting on the couch while she's vacuuming, that's not going to put her in the mood."

OK, I'll go along with those statements, but I think there is a little more behind all of this. It is not just the man doing more housework and the woman automatically "rewarding" him for his good behavior. In a broad sense, relationships are becoming more and more equal for a variety of reasons.

First, the men who are in their 20s and 30s now were more likely raised by women who came of age during the women's movement. It is more likely their mothers worked outside of the home during part or all of their childhoods. It is more likely that these men experienced homes where their fathers helped a little more than their grandfathers, and also where the children helped out as well.

Both of my parents worked full time during the entire time my brother and I were children (and both still work now). My father did a great deal of the household chores, probably equal to the amount my mother did. However, both of my grandfathers were very traditional; they did no housework that I remember and considered mowing the lawn and grilling steaks on Saturday significant contributions to the household. Furthermore, my brother and I also helped more around the house because both of our parents worked.

Second, couples may be having more sex now than they did 30 to 40 years ago, but not just because men are helping more around the house. I really dislike this notion that men are the only ones who want to have sex and that women don't really want to have sex, but they use it to reward their men. This completely disregards women as sexual beings as well, not just as candy machines where men have to "pay" the right amount to get some sugar. Sometimes women want to have sex to reward themselves and because it feels good, not to reward their men.

I would venture to say that in the last 40 years, it has been more acceptable for women to consider themselves sexual beings and admit they want to have sex because they enjoy it. (I am not going to use my family as an example here, because frankly I don't know how often my parents and grandparents had sex and don't really want to know.)

This does not mean men should stop helping around the house. After all, it does really piss off a woman when she is vacuuming and you are sitting on the couch. But remember, it is not the fact that you vacuum that makes a woman happy. It is the fact that you consider her your equal partner in the relationship. Now that's sexy.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Call Me Crazy

I work near the top of a 16 floor building. The elevators in this building have always been a little . . . erratic. This morning, I got into the elevator and pushed the button for my floor. The elevator went right up and made no stops and opened on my floor. As the doors were opening, I glanced at the electronic display that tells me which floor I am on. The display said 28.

I find it very disconcerting to be told I am getting off on the 28th floor of a 16 floor building. I know it's not true, I know I am really on my floor, but there is a part of me that feels like it is a really, really bad sign. I picture myself in the glass elevator in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, popping up through the top of the building and flying around downtown Peoria with an old guy and a guy in a purple suit and top hat. Of course, I also pictured myself stepping out of the elevator in to a vast nothingness and falling to my death.

Of course, this is not the first time the elevator has done crazy things. It often says we are on level MM, which sometimes means mezzanine, but there is no mezzanine in my office building. I also got stuck in one of the elevators once. I called my secretary on my cell phone and said, "I'm stuck in the elevator!" She said, "Where?" "Where do you think? In our building! Call maintenance!" It was during my lunch hour and I had my lunch with me, so I sat on the floor and ate it. When the elevator company finally came to get me out, I had to crawl out onto the floor above where it stopped.

I try not to think about that when I get off on the 28th floor.