Thursday, February 5, 2015

My Adulthood is Being Spent Running in Place

There's a truth at the heart of adulthood, and it's this: You're going to spend vast amounts of time and money just to maintain things as they are, or slightly worse. You won't move the ball forward. Not at all. At the end of entire days you'll realise all you've done is gotten back to zero. Except poorer.

An example:
I have a dishwasher. I have had the dishwasher for eight years. Some time about a year ago, my dishwasher lost the will to live. Since then, it's been engaged in a concentrated campaign to force me to put it out of its misery. Attempt have included:
- vomiting crud all over the top dishes
- vomiting crud all over the top dishes and baking it on
- no longer drying dishes
- refusing to close without lifting the door up as you latch it
- refusing to open unless you batter the handle with a screwdriver.

Fool you dishwasher. I'm enjoying battering you with a screwdriver.

Each of these various failings requires one or more complicated, time-consuming, and frequently disgusting fixes. I have soaked the arms in vinegar and then in CLR. I have removed the arms and washed them. I have unscrewed all of the dishwasher parts and cleaned the filter. I have done it again. I have tightened the screws for the door. I have run a cycle just with bleach. I have run one just with CLR. I cleaned out two really gross clogs. I feel pretty free to experiment with this dishwasher, because I don't think it's long for this world anyway, so I'm not suggesting you start taking stuff off of your appliances or anything. Each dishwasher hack rendered the dishwasher in a passable, slightly-less-inferior state.

Well, it became obvious that the water pressure was going, and also the opening-up wasn't going to start happening again. We called in the technician. He informed us that the dishwasher is beyond fixing: the top arm lolls forward, a piece has detached from the plastic basin, and a valve is gone. So we are living with the inferior dishwasher.

At some point in the near future I won't be able to stand it, and I will finally get a new dishwasher.

I do not want a new dishwasher. I was happy with my dishwasher of a year ago, before it decided it wanted to die. Dishwasher technology does not excite me, and I do not lust after china cycles or metal basins. So by the end of this I will have spent a number of very unpleasant hours, the cost of a technician visit, and the cost of a new dishwasher. And what will I get from it? Clean dishes. I _had_ clean dishes. I had clean dishes just last year.

My dishwasher situation is a running in place incident. I spend time, I spend money, and I don't get anything I want from it. I get the status quo ante. But with less money. And irritation.

Other popular running in place scenarios include:
- Almost any reason for which one might see a dentist;
- Tickets, parking or moving;
- Redoing knitting I had thought was fine the first time;
- Teaching my child punctuation, again;
- Any missive or instruction from the municipal government;
- Almost all repairs of anything;
- Replacing or locating lost items, especially those lost by children;
- 90% of housework.

See, the problem isn't that so much of what I do is drudgery, even if a lot of it is. It's that it's drudgery in pursuit of making it to zero. And every morning is a new opportunity to let my life be dictated by the appliance that's stopped working, the newest whim of the local government (twice the parking tickets, half the trash pick up), or the discovery that 53 rows back in this sweater I K2 where I should have P2 and now it looks decidedly odd.

Okay, so this is a worse week than usual, and if it ever stopped raining, I might be more chipper. But I know now why my high school will never invite me to give chipper addresses to graduates. My address would be two sentences: "Large parts of your adulthood will be spent trying to get even to where you were yesterday. And by the time you die, you're going to have done an epic amount of housework."

Thursday, November 6, 2014

I had a baby, and I had a natural childbirth. I regret one of those things.

I am not a hippie. I like a rainbow baby sling as much as the next person, and it's true that I don't own any presentable shoes. But I'm too lazy to be a natural or alternative or whatever you call people who prefer to eat happy chicken. For starters, I do a lot of baking, and all those extra natural eating rules seem to create a great deal of complication to create something that tastes _almost_ as good as the version with sugar, gluten, and red food dye. And I like epidurals. I wish they didn't take it away after the baby is out.

Well Gummy Dinosaur had other ideas. Specifically, he decided to be done with the whole affair in twenty minutes. It is impossible to set an epidural if the baby is out in twenty minutes. Especially if one is spending that twenty minutes . . . well, making a scene.

The natural childbirth books promise that at the end, one looks at one's baby with a powerful rush of endorphins that bears no relation to the inferior, un-endorphined, medicated bonding process. Maybe this only works for intentional natural childbirth. I felt stunned. I felt stunned by the other babies too (except Genomes; That one I was unconscious for), but less uncomfortable. So that's a thumbs down for that experience, and IYH if I get pregnant again I'm having the epidural sited at the 12 week appointment.

My OB says one isn't allowed to have epidurals sited in the first trimester, which is as good a reason as I've ever heard of for aggressive family planning.

The children have dubbed the baby Gummy Dinosaur.

When my brother went home to tell the children that they had a baby brother, the older ones jumped around cheering, then shook hands. Apparently my children think that having a baby is roughly akin to a successful space launch.

When the children met Gummy Dinosaur, Munchkin adored him. Genome adored him. Lollipop was happy enough to hold him and pose for photos. Firefly hid under the Striker bed. I tried to take a picture of that but couldn't quite get them all in the same shot. Will I never have a family photo that captures the essence of my children?

Firefly went home to my mother's house where he and my mother's dog -- she has one of those small anxious headcases of a lapdog -- sulked around the house until I got out of hospital.

Maybe you're considering having five children in fairly close order. If so, I suggest you get very, very fast at doing up car seats. There are a lot of car seats in your future. And booster seats. Our current tally is two boosters, a forward facing, a convertible, and a bucket seat. Having a baby is not a lot like launching a space shuttle, but getting them all to the doctor's office bears a certain resemblance. The man who comes up with a five-point harness that can be easily buckled with one hand will make a fortune.

Gummy Dinosaur is four weeks old. His expression reminds me of an iguana. He is extremely quiet. He grew on Firefly immediately upon leaving the hospital, but the headcase of a dog is still not a fan.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Let's Visit the Dentist

I feel very anxious when I have to visit the dentist.

This is not made better when I have to take a bunch of tiny people to the dentist. Actually, the addition of four smallish children really doesn't make anything easier.

I showed up on time. I am very good about this kind of thing; I get places on time. I don't think they actually anticipated that I would be on time, because the children were seen late. I know this is the type of thing that makes childfree people hate me, but I do think that whenever possible, large-ish groups of children should be processed promptly. This is for everyone's comfort. I do my best in waiting rooms, but it's often not very good.

This time, Lollipop found herself a little old lady and decided to perform Twinkle Twinkle Little Star for her. She also strewed pompoms all over the waiting room, but close enough.

The oldest child informed the dental hygienist that she does not go to school. In fact, she has _never_ gone to school. But not to worry! Because she can read!

The second child informed the dental hygienist that he has a little sister named Lollipop that he loves-loves-loves. He's getting another sibling. He's excited to meet the new sibling. But he loves Lolly. Lolly is so cute and so fun and she should go to the waiting room and meet Genome's little sister.

The third child. Oh, the third child.

First he wouldn't get in the seat. "He's nervous," I explained to the hygienist. "Very nervous." She looked nervous too. I held his hand. He cried. I was holding a large child in the other arm. The older two were milling about. She moved towards him with a very harmless looking instrument and he clamped his mouth shut. "You'll get a prize. Open your mouth and you can get a prize." He opened it perhaps half an inch.

She almost touched him with the instrument.

"Gaga! Gaga googoo!" he burst out. "Gaga gaga!"

"What's he doing?"

This seemed obvious. "He's pretending to be a baby in the hopes of getting out of this."

"He's pretending to be a baby?"

"I a baby! I a baby! Gaga googoo!"

". . . really?"

"Yes, really."

"Is he always like this?"

Yes. He is always like this. His whole life has been like this.

Does anyone know the minimum age for Valium? Preferably the extended release type? Because one of the two of us is going to need a lot.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Return of the Empire of the Zinc Cream Strikes Back. Part Two.

I remember the first time diaper cream was an issue, I actually thought that one of my other children had doused the baby-now-toddler. Oh, how innocent I was. Little did I know that I had accidentally spawned the most accomplished domestic terrorist yet. And this is after two boys.

So, zinc cream. The mistake I made was in feeding them. It is a mistake to feed children regularly. First, it creates a spectacular mess. I don't know why I put food in bowls rather than scatter it onto the floor, perhaps in a festive design. The people who work at fast food restaurants are magic saints of astonishing efficiency to handle the mess of so many toddlers in short order. Second, it gives the children energy. That permits them to then execute their bad ideas. If I didn't feed them, they'd loll about listlessly and harmlessly, without the energy to  destroy my house.

Then, while clearing the dishes, I dropped one on the tiled kitchen floor, where it shattered. Pro tip: buy open stock white catering dishes. I put the children on the couch in front of the TV, locked them out of the kitchen, set a timer for ten minutes, and tried to clear up my little emergency-room-visit-waiting-to-happen. Then I returned to my angels, who were sitting watching television, where they had been placed not ten minutes before.

No wait. They weren't. Firefly was watching his sister, highly amused. And his sister was elbow deep in what appeared to be a pot of marshmallow fluff.

But we don't have any marshmallow fluff.

In ten minutes -- I was timing this -- she got off of the couch, into the children's room, onto a chair, and into the diaper table. She retrieved the pot of diaper cream, unscrewed the lid, and carried it to the living room. Then she spread it all over part of the couch, the floor, the coffee table, and herself.

Because I am the mother of several children, the very first thing I did was memorialise this episode in pictures.

Then I sent it to my husband. Then I changed clothes. Only after all that did I begin the de-lollification of the area. Did you know that diaper cream washed out with dish detergent smells like fish? You know, like my youngest smells now. And my coffee table, and my couch. See that shirt she's wearing? I gave it up for dead. Good bye, shirt. It was a nice run.

Also, I went on Amazon and ordered a high chair with a five-point harness.

Monday, August 11, 2014

A brief break in the Lollcapades

When you are pregnant the first time, you go get a book or you go online, and you read lists of ninety million symptoms. Most of these symptoms you will never experience. Unless you get pregnant five times in a decade, in which case you're going to collect them like a game of Pregnancy Pokemon. And I'm not sure what happens when you catch a Pokemon, but it's probably more fun than, say, a nosebleed. That's an actual pregnancy symptom. I had it with Genome.

So as we near the home stretch of Pending's in utero time, let's review the way each little angel was special to me, even though I couldn't identify their ultrasound photos from a line up.

What was it? Double vision.
Which kid? First.
Why is it weird? Apparently pregnancy makes your muscles relax. Even the eye muscles. Which you probably don't spend a lot of time thinking about, but just so you know, they exist. And if they get too que pasa you will need to consciously bring things back into photos.

What was it? Nose bleeds.
Which kid? Second.
Why is it weird? Because a fetus in nowhere near the nose. What the heck? Absent a tumor or getting socked in the face, adults should not have bloody noses. It's especially creepy to have one while sleeping and wake up to a pillow that looks like you were murdered on it.

What was it? Going postdates.
Which kid? Third.
Why is it weird? Because no one else even made it to 39 weeks, meaning my third child cooked a full month longer than my average, and %@$(*#$%@ was I ready to get. Him. Out. Then he had colic.  Joke's on me.

What was it? Burns.
Which kid? Fourth.
Why is it weird? With my fourth pregnancy, if I even brushed near a hot pan I'd end up with a burn. FYI: I brush up against pans rather a lot. At least three times in the last trimester alone.

What is it? Numb hands and arms.
Which kid? Fifth.
Why is it weird? I'm not talking about falling asleep on my arms and they go number. The arm I'm _not_ sleeping on goes numb. The doctor promises this is some kind of nerve/positioning problem from carrying an engaged baby for, oh, ten weeks, but I don't see why having most of a person hanging out in my pelvis would make my arms fall asleep.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

High Chairs

I didn't expect to spend so much of my time worrying about things inappropriately flushed down toilets.

I just thought I'd throw that out to the universe.

King County produced this video, which is really lame. I'm considering tying my one-year-old into her high chair and making her watch it, Clockwork Orange style, until she learns the error of her ways. Also, if you live in King County, I strongly caution you against looking up how much the video cost to make. It will make you cry over your tax forms.

Two days ago I took apart my high chair to try to get to what I thought was a stain, and what was actually a thriving biological experiment. Taking this high chair apart involved twelve screws, so it's not just that I was negligent in my high chair care.

I also didn't expect my life to involve so many screwdrivers. If it did I would rather they be more of the vodka kind of screwdriver and less of the metal things. Look, I can bake bread. I can make a reasonably good cake. I should not have to know what a hammer does. Where's 1950 when you need it?

Once it came apart I was filled with a deep set of regret for ever having thought that cleaning the high chair was a good idea. The right thing to do would have been to set it on fire. I was committed though. That's a lot of screws. So I dropped the seat and straps in a vat of bleach water and hoped for the best.

The seat and straps came pretty clean, all things considered. Unfortunately cleaning it that thoroughly again will require the screwdriver, which will never happen. So we're going to have to think of some other solution, which may involve just making one-year-old eat outside and hosing her down before she's allowed near the house.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Yet Another Post About Lollipop

A fellow wrote a nice article in the Washington Post about his wife. The upshot was that he used to think that his wife was being lazy because the house wasn't clean. Now, he's realised that the house isn't clean because she has two small kids. Okay, so apparently the writer lives in 1985 and has just had his eyes open to the notion that small children are messy and labour-intensive, but whatever. Nice of him to try.

Remember when newspapers had news?

Anyhow, I should not have read the comments. Never, ever read the comments. I tell my mother this. I tell my friends this. But I still do it.

The comments informed me that if only I were more organised/better/harder working,  my house would look like a centrefold in Better Homes and Gardens and my children would also be deeply fulfilled.

So, let's implement that advice.

Advice: Enlist the children in picking up after themselves.

Implementation: I try to tidy up before Husband gets home so he doesn't, idk. Faint. I mistimed and left a half hour of chaos between tidying and Husband Arrival. I asked the children to please watch preschool television for an hour and please, please, do not destroy the house. So my youngest chose to strew toothpicks all over hell's half acre.

No worries! I assigned my second-born to pick up the toothpicks. And since Genome is an easy-going  love, he hopped to. When I returned ten minutes later, the toothpicks were moved  around, but not a one was back in its  container.

Genome, what happened? "I put the toothpicks  back. But Lolly wants the the toothpicks out, and she is much faster than I am.

Conclusion: Reality remains the same whether the person tidying is six or sixty. Destruction is faster than construction. One-year-olds cannot go a half hour without strewing toothpicks all over. Hide the toothpicks.

Advice: Clean with the children around! Don't leave them out. For example, one could mop up with the toddler on a chair in the being-mopped room.

Implementation: I left Lolly on a stool while I washed down the walls in the bathroom. I do not normally wash walls. Don't get the wrong idea. I'm having some pregnancy crazy here.

She took the opportunity to grab the prefold I was trying to wash with, shove it down the toilet, and flush. Then while I was extracting it, she tracked the toilet water about the house. Then when everything was cleaned up, she decided she needed to relax with a bottle.

I need a bottle too.

Too bad I'm pregnant.

Conclusion: Washing walls? What kind of stupid idea was that anyway? Just be happy prefolds can't fit down toilets.