Monday, August 29, 2011

Things I've survived in the past week

1. An earthquake (my first!)

2. A category 1 hurricane

3. Cancellation of my vacation (see above hurricane)

4. A child losing his beloved bunny

5.  Bailing a fool out of jail

Guess which one was the most stressful?



Thursday, August 25, 2011

I guess I need to be more clear about stuff

Dear Nelson,

When I asked you to throw the sheets into the dryer, I though the fact that you should also turn on the dryer was implied.  Clearly, I was mistaken.  Now if you'll excuse me, I have some sour sheets to rewash, and shortly thereafter, to dry.  In the dryer.

Your loving wife,

Jenni

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Shore

I'm back from a long weekend in Long Beach Island.  It was my first visit to the Jersey Shore and I tried to get in as much Jersey Shore-ing as possible.  I think I succeeded.

We arrived late Thursday night after traveling through some torrential downpours.  Me and four of my girlfriends packed into one car (it was a wagon) and it was crowded in the back, but I was in the front so it was just fine for me. I know this sounds selfish, but I declared to them all in the car that for the entire weekend, I was only worrying about myself and I would not be taking care of anyone but me all weekend.  They were okay with that.

I generally sleep poorly away from home, but I actually slept really, really well on Thursday night.  I woke up that morning and my friend Nancy made us all waffles and bloody Mary's and then she made me another bloody Mary which I took along with me when we went sailing.

We had a lovely sailboat ride, captained by my friend Nancy's dad (it was her parent's who were hosting us for the weekend) and crewed, in part, by yours truly.  That's right, kids, I crewed a sailboat.  I'm not regatta ready or anything but I can pull some ropes and let them out and generally follow instructions so I think I did okay.

Then we went back to the house and had a couple of mojitos, some lunch, and headed to the beach.  I don't know what I did when we came home from the beach.  I think I read my book and relaxed and snacked as I was not on dinner duty.  Then, two more of my girlfriends arrived and we had dinner and our wine club and that was fun and I drank just enough but not too much, which is a always a bit of a challenge for me, so things went really well on that front.

The next morning I went out and bought bagels and lox for breakfast and had more bloody mary's.  Then we declared that 11AM was mojito o'clock so we had more of those and then went over to the neighbor's pool where I sat and read all afternoon.  Everyone kept teasing me about how relaxed I was and asking did I miss my kids and I was like, "No, because you assholes keep interrupting my reading, so it's practically like there are here." I'm just kidding.  I think I called them jerks.

That night we went to a social at Nancy's parents' yacht club and that was super fun.  The drinks were quite strong.  I asked for a gin and tonic and I got a gin and gin.  My friend Amy was like, "Just drink it. By the time your are done it won't matter how strong it is." She was right. My friend Tracy, who is breastfeeding, asked them to make her drink like and the bartender was like, "What?  I'm not making them strong." And then he proceeded to fill her entire glass with rum and splash some grapefruit juice on top.  He was a little grumpy.

So, most of the yacht club members were in their 60s and 70s (and 80s), so we were the youngest by at least 30 years, and that was good, especially when the time came to play games.  I was drafted to play a game where I had to strap and plastic sand pail to my head, and my friend Tracy had to bounce ping pong balls into the bucket for one minute. We were competing against another team.  We got 3 ping pong balls and they got ZERO.  WE WON, OLD PEOPLE!  We crushed them.  I realize maybe I should not have been yelling, "IN YOUR FACE OLD MAN!" to my competitor and giving my partner double high fives, but did I mention the drinks were strong?

I also may have called out another player for cheating on a different game, but no one cared.  They gave me this look that was like, "Shut up.  We say he wins and don't care if he cheats." Whatever.  Cheaters.

Then, we all went to Karaoke and that was fun and funny and there were these guy who used props and got dressed up and sang Man Eater.  If you like Karaoke, this is about as good as it gets.  If you dislike Karaoke, you'd have been miserable.

We got home sometime after one and I went to sleep shortly there after.  My poor friend Amy had been drinking bourbon all night and did not feel fantastic.  We had quiche for breakfast, tidied up the house and headed home.  I got home around 5PM on Sunday and the kids shrieked with delight and hugged me and asked me if I'd saved them any cookies or brownies (I'd brought some to the shore.) I had not, but I did bring them home a soft pretzel and that sufficed.

And now I'm home and doing regular life stuff and avoiding laundry.  How was your weekend?




Thursday, August 18, 2011

Getting things done

I called our town pubic works yesterday and ordered a new trashcan, since our large, curbside bin has an enormous crack and can barely hold in our garbage any more.  I also called the local locksmith and ordered a new lock core for our front door.

I also called up this company that is administering a professional exam Nelson is taking this fall.  We sent in the test fee of $275 and they sent it back, less $50 administrative fee, telling us that there was a new company administering the exam and they would contact us about paying the exam fee.  Well, they did, and the exam fee was $275, which seemed wrong to us because we'd already paid $50 and there's no way the fee could have gone up by 20% with no kind of notification or anything, right?

So I called an was all, "Hey, we already paid $50, so it should just be $225." And they were all, "No, the fee has gone up." And then I asked, "By 20%?  That's kind of a lot, don't you think? Particularly during a bum economy when people have less money than usual, right?" And then he responded, "..." And then I asked what we were getting for this 20% increase and the guy was like, "Uh, nothing?"  Which I knew but I was just giving the poor sod a hard time because I was irritated.  So that's how that went.

I spent the morning baking brownies and cookies and then hiding those cookies and brownies from my children, since they are for this weekend's escapades and not for their consumption.  I mean, I did give them each one brownie and one cookie, but I haven't baked in months (the heat), so they are dying for some baked goods.

I realize I should have just baked them a second batch of cookies, but I didn't have enough butter or chocolate chips.  I usually have more than enough stuff to bake several types/batches of cookies, but the weather has not been baking weather so I allowed my stores to diminish.

I signed Oscar up for soccer.  I'm looking forward to being a perfectly mediocre/sub-par soccer mom.  I also look forward to the many arguments about going to soccer practices and games that are sure to ensue (because Oscar does this thing? Where even when we are doing something he enjoys, he still fights about it?  It's pretty great.); and what is sure to be a crushing disappointment on the part of Miles William who is too young to play.

Anyway, that's where I'm at.  I leave this house for an entire weekend in less than six hours.  I'll catch ya on the flip.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Could this be right?

So, each summer I brace myself for a dramatic increase in our electric bill.  This increase comes, without fail, the cost creeping up in May and maxing out by August, and then is gradually falls back to a less heart-attack inducing rate.

In the cooler months we pay around $50 a month (we use natural gas for heat) and in the warmer months, our bill ranges from $150-$230, depending on the month.  It will usually go from $50 to $100 to $180 and on up the the top.  It has been as high as $280 some summers, but we've figured out how to manage our air conditioner usage to keep it below that.  Also, we have window units, not central air.  This is one of the many joys (heh) of living in 93-year-old house.

Usually, we have one window unit downstairs on all the time, and two upstairs that I turn on for nap time and bed time.  This summer has be HOT.  A real scorcher, even by DC standards.  This means there have been weeks where I've had all our window units on all the time.  I expected our electric bill to be through the roof.

I braced myself for the August bill, usually our highest bill.  $163.  !!!  I was shocked.  Last August our electric bill was $230, and we definitely used more AC this year than last year.  I checked, and our usage is down by more than 200 units over this time last year!  Now it is true that we conserve.  We keep lights off during the day, unplug appliances that we are not using, only run the dishwasher once a day, wash most of our clothes in cold water (though we use natural gas for heat), stuff like that.  But we haven't notched up our efforts on that front.  Just the same as we always do.

What we have done this past year is switch all of the light bulbs in our house to compact fluorescent bulbs.   We just did it gradually as the old ones died, we replaced them with CFLs and I think now we are at about 90% CFLs. That's really the only difference, the only real change we have made.

Could this be right?  Our energy usage is down by about 15%, maybe a little more (math is hard!).  Has anyone else switched to CFLs and noticed this much of difference?  I think it is pretty dramatic.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I think this is possible

My kids have been annoying me.  More than usual.  Like, usually they whine and I'm like, "Okay, Whiny McWhinepants, if you can tell me what you need without whining, you got it!" or "Whineville called and they want their whining back" or "Lets get out of Whinetown and use our regular voices, okay?" This works surprisingly well.  They think I'm funny.  I've even caught Oscar calling Miles Whiny McWhinepants one day.

But these past few days I'm like, "Oh my GOD please stop whining" or "Good lord my EARS are BLEEDING."   It could be that they are whining more, but the baseline whine around here is already pretty high.  I think I'm just more irritated by the whining because I know that in two and a half short days, I will not have to deal with their whining for almost three whole days.  THREE WHOLE DAYS.

I'm going out of town on a grown up lady weekend with my other lady friends. I plan to drink bloody mary's with breakfast, beers by the pool, wine with dinner, and not let anyone else eat off my plate.  I will not be wiping anyone else's urine off the bathroom floor or explaining why we do not play in the toilet.  No fighting over bedtime or getting dressed or eating breakfast or lunch or not having Popsicles for breakfast.  I will not have to deal with anyone laughing at me as I get increasingly frustrated or upset.  I will not have to beg and plead and fight over dinner and bath time and bed time an who's turn it is to watch what show.  The only behind I will be wiping is my own.

All I have to do is keep this dog and pony show going until 7PM Thursday night.  I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Complaints, I have a few

Is there anything worse than a summer cold?  I mean, obviously there are things worse than a summer cold, but you know what I mean.  My head, ears, nose, chest, all congested.  My throat, sore. My muscles, aching.  Complete bodily exhaustion.  It's been a week.  I'm over this.

It has been raining like the dickens here.  Not that I should complain as it has not really rained in DC since sometime in May, but it's just that this is the end of the summer and our last few weeks of the pool and we can't even go because there is pretty much thunder all day long.

Oscar has been terribly defiant and ugly lately if he does not get his way.  He's been making threats, "I'll take all your stuff and throw it in the trash!"   "I'm just going to throw things on the floor!" "I"m going to scream until you let me XXX!" He's also been physical, intentionally scratching or trying to squeeze our hands until it hurts.  So that has been fun. We're giving him time outs and that generally stops the behavior in the moment, but there has been not decrease in the behavior in general.  I'm hoping he's just board and ready for school to start.  I know I am.

Miles has finally decided to live up the the terrible twos.  My sweet little boy now throws temper tantrums with impressive noise and longevity over basically nothing.  Screaming, crying, throwing himself on the floor, kicking, flailing; the works! And then after about 15 or 20 minutes he just stops.  Super.

God, that was self indulgent, but I am feeling slightly better.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Camping: The evidence

Camping breakfast

Our swimming hole

The first morning at our campsite

Nelson told them to make "camping faces"

More camping faces

On our hike

Hikers

Playing around the campsite

Campfire

Dinner

Early morning camper

Miles, practicing his Nelson face


Trees, duh

Oscar and I with his first fish; he cast the line, but I reeled it in

Reeling in his first fish

First fish with Dad (we think it may have been the same exact fish)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Persepective

The end of day three of camping: 


Nelson: Fine, you guys can watch Bolt on the portable DVD player.

Oscar & Miles:  Yeah!

Jenni: So, are you really going to let them watch that movie?  Isn't the whole point of this trip to hang out together and be outside and active and stuff?

Nelson: Well, yeah, but it's just that I've been around them all day every day for the past three days.  We need a break.  Some grown up time.

Jenni: You think?

Nelson: ....

Jenni: Because I'm around them all day, everyday of every week.

Nelson: ...

Jenni: Okay?

Nelson: Yeah, okay.  I get it.

Guess who got to nap in the hammock that day all by her lonesome?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Happy campers

So, earlier this year I had word that Nelson was to take a trip to Vermont in early August and I decided that the boys and I would go on up there as well. I thought maybe we'd do some camping and some maple syrup tasting and whatever all they do up in Vermont.

Then about a month or two ago, Nelson's trip was canceled, but since I'd already requested the week off from watching Benji, and Susanne and Monica had already made alternate arrangements for his care, I decided we'd still go on a trip.  A camping trip.  Why the heck not?  That's what families do right?

Now, to be clear, this is not what my family did.  We NEVER went camping.  Not even one time.  Maybe one time in our urban backyard.  Nelson, being an Eagle Scout, has camped many, many times.  He's quite an experienced camper.  He and I went a few times post college and I did not hate it, but that was back in what Nelson refers to as my "cosmopolitan days" so I was more into going out for beers than sleeping in tents.

Nelson had done some yard camping with the boys and they liked it so I was like, "Let's go on an enormous camping trip and see how that works out." That's kind of how I do things.  I'm a fly by the seat of my pants kind of gal.  My husband, being married to me and all, fully signed on to my proposal without a hint of concern or nay saying.  He was like, "Yes, lets do that."

We did not want to go all the way up to Vermont, but we did want to head north, out of the terrible 100+ degree temps we'd been enduring here in DC.  I decided Western Mass would be the place - less than a day's drive, and close to family so we could do some visiting.  We'd planned to camp for three nights and then do a hotel for two, but the more I though about it the more I just waned to camp for the full five nights.

Nelson though we could do it, but we decided to play it by ear.  If the first three nights went well, we'd go for two more.

(What Nelson failed to tell me at the planning of the trip was that he had three (THREE!!!!) papers due August 1.  That's a lot of papers.  However, he got them all finished before we left and he told me it was the first time in recent memory that he had not been working on papers up to the wire.  It meant that I had to do all the camping preparations myself, but who are we kidding?  I'd have been in charge the prep work anyways.)

The drive up went not so great.  It should have taken us around seven hours and it took closer to nine thanks to traffic in New York (is there ever not traffic in that godforsaken place?) The last 20 minutes of the trip, Miles was screaming, "Let me out! Let me out!" and I was feeling that, too.

But we got there, and my sister's dad was waiting for us and helped us set up camp and it was awesome.  We had a great time.  Delicious campfire dinner (chicken, potatoes, asparagus), s'mores, sleeping bags.  It was a bit difficult for them to get to sleep that first night, but that got better once the novelty of sleeping in a tent wore off.

We had no cell phone reception.  That was just fine, though we did have to drive down the mountain so Nelson could check that his papers had been received, but we needed to go down for ice anyways.

Back to camping.  The weather was gorgeous - highs around 82, lows around 60.  We hiked; we swam in rivers and lakes; Oscar caught his first fish; we visited family; we showered in camp showers (well, some of us did); we fished; we slept in a tent; we climbed to the summit of a mountain (okay it was a mountain in name only, but we're okay with that); we played in the woods; we poked toads.  We camped our faces off, and it was great.

We did the full five nights, but I have to say four would have been enough.  It's not that they were tired of camping, but the boys were ready to come home.  They missed TV and their toys.  They last day, all they wanted to do was watch Bolt and whine.  But the rest of the trip had gone so well, it was okay.  The first three nights, there weren't even any bugs.  We were too high up or something.  (There were lots of bugs at our second site, but there were plenty of other redeeming factors.)

And I loved it.  I did not expect to love it, but I did.  I loved sleeping in the tent, waking to birds singing, being outside all day long with my family.  I even liked fishing!  So, we are officially campers.  I'm working on planning another (shorter and closer) trip for September, and maybe one for October.

Here's a photo of the family at the summit of Thumper Mountain.  Thumper is not a very tall mountain, but the hike up is rated as strenuous, (even more so with small children, I might add) and it was quite steep and challenging in places, so I'm proud and thankful we all made it with no injuries and in good humor.  I'll post more later this week.

Our first (very tiny) mountain summit!

The boys at the summit of Thumper Mountain.  I was hovering to the left, sure they would plummet to their deaths.

This sign gave me heart palpitations.  The drop was huge.

The view from Thumper Mountain


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Conversations while driving

Somewhere in the Berkshires


Nelson: How many times do you think they've watched Bolt on this trip?

Jenni: I don't know.  A million.

Nelson: I feel like after this trip I want to sit down and actually watch the movie, since I know all the words by heart at this point.

Jenni: Yeah, me too.  Oh, here it comes, the John Travolta/Miley Cirus duet.

Nelson: I guess John Travolta can sing?

Jenni: OF COURSE HE CAN SING!  HELLO?!  Have you ever seen Grease?

Nelson: Riiiight.

Jenni: He sang all in that movie. It's a musical!

Nelson: John Travolta's done a lot of stuff.

Jenni: He really does have a broad range of work.  Saturday Night Fever.  Grease.

Nelson: Broken Arrow.  That was a good one.

Jenni: Those Look Who's Talking movies.  Comedies! Oh, and Pulp Fiction.

Nelson: That one with the faces?  Face Off?

Jenni: Yes!  And there was that weird alien move?  What was that called?

Nelson: John Travolta was in an alien movie?

Jenni: Yeah, he wore all that make up.  Battlestar Galactica?

Nelson: He was in Battlestar Galactica?

Jenni: No, no...Battlefield Earth, that L. Ron Hubbard movie?

Nelson: Oh, right that Scientology guy.

Jenni: I don't care what anyone says, I liked that movie.

Nelson: Did people not like it?

Jenni: I don't know, but I did.

Nelson: I'll have to watch it.

Jenni: You should.

*****************

Somewhere outside of NYC, listening to a local reggae station


Nelson: Ha ha, did you hear that?

Jenni: What?

Nelson: The DJ, she just cut into the song.  There, she did it again!

Jenni: She's singing the song!

DJ: I bet you didn't know I could sing.

Nelson: That's so funny.

Jenni: That is funny.

Song continues


Jenni: Is this a reggae song about Baltimore?

Nelson: It is.

Jenni: Wow. I had no idea.

Nelson: Me either.

Song continues.  Three or four minutes elapse.


Nelson: Is this still the same song?

Jenni: I think so.

Nelson: I think this is a different song.

Jenni: Nelson, they are still singing about Baltimore.  How many reggae songs about Baltimore could there possible be?

Nelson: I don't know.

Jenni: I guess if there is one there could be two.  But I think this is the same song.

Nelson: I think you're right.

**************

Somewhere in Western MA


Nelson: So, did you boys like camping?

Oscar & Miles: Yeah!

Nelson: Should we go camping again?

Oscar & Miles: Yeah!

Jenni: Oscar, what was your favorite part about camping?

Oscar: Roasting marshmallows.

Jenni: Miles, what was your favorite part about camping?

Miles: Uncle Butch [My uncle we visited on our trip.]