Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Meet and Greets

In any new relationship, there are always those meet and greet moments.  Meeting friends for the first time, will we all get along?  Meeting co-workers for the first time, will he fit in with the happy hour crew?  Meeting the parents for the first time...  Oh, yeah. We're there.

In the last two weeks,  I've put my honey through several of these experiences.  I say I've "put him through" them because he likes to call them sneak attacks or traps.  This is not the case.  I can't help it if, after a day of pedicures, lunch, and shoe shopping, my best friend knew he was coming over later that afternoon and asked to meet him.  I texted him first to make sure it was okay.  It's not a trap if you know what you're walking into, right? In fact, I thought it was pretty great that she wanted to meet him because it was a sign that she could tell from talking to me that he was going to be around for a while.

Yay! We made it through Round One.
So he's met my best friend and she says she likes him.  Likes him so much, in fact, that she didn't even blame him for the boyfriend black-out.  Yup, she was one of those calls I forgot to make.  She settled my hash, but left him out of it.  Of course, she also threatened to harm him (with scalding hot barbecue sauce, no less) if he broke my heart, but what can I say?  The people in my life love me a lot and I have a feeling he's going to be hearing that threat quite a bit in later rounds, so probably better to hit him with it upfront, right?

Round two was a double whammy.  We had a busy week this week and didn't get to see each other as much as either of us would have liked.  So I tried to squeeze in some "us" time the other night before going to dinner with my mom.  It didn't quite work out as I'd planned.  I though he'd come over for an hour or so and then when my mom called to say she was on her way over, he'd leave.  He knew I was having dinner with my mom.  He knew we had a limited window for hanging out.  Either, he lost track of time (entirely possible since I was keeping his lips a little busy) or he decided he was ready to meet my mom because the call came that she was on her way over to get me for dinner and he stayed.  This cannot be called a trap!  He said he might as well meet her since he was already here.

It was like this,
only with Mom asking the questions.
It went pretty well, I thought.  Mom changed plans on the fly and ran out to bring dinner back to my place.  We ate and talked and laughed.  He was a little more toned-down than I had ever seen him, but then I'm sure he was nervous and trying to be on his best behavior.  Mom only grilled him a little bit.  She wanted answers to some of the questions she had already asked me for which I had nothing.  How long had he been at his job?  I didn't know the answer to that one and my best guess turned out to be way off.  Was he vested in the pension plan?  Why the hell she needed to know that straight off the bat, I'll never know.  It was a fairly painless grilling I thought, as far as being asked probing, personal questions by your girlfriend's mother goes.  Maybe he will comment on this blog and tell otherwise. I don't know.

But, wait!  Round two wasn't over yet, for riding in the car with my mom was my beloved dog, Roxy.  All 130 pounds of her.  She's half rottweiler, half bull mastiff .  So, half big dog, half bigger dog.  He still had to get the doggy seal of approval.  Mom left Roxy in the house with us, at my insistance, while she went to grab dinner.  Now, my honey is a cat person.  His family has had dogs. Still has one right now, I believe.  So, dogs in general are not a problem for him.  But, I don't think he was quite prepared for how large my puppy was going to be.  He joked that I hadn't told him I had a horse.  But, my honey rose to the challenge and proceeded to win over the dog. 

Forget about must love dogs,
you must be loved BY my dog
He gave her time to get used to him being there and to see that I was okay with him being around me . He used a gentle tone of voice to show that he wasn't a threat.  I had warned him that in the past she has nipped at people whom she didn't want around anymore.  She's protective.  If she thinks I feel threatened by you, she's going to do some threatening of her own.  Clearly, she read between the lines that I was okay with him being in the house and touching me because she settled down on the floor next to the couch and let him pet her.  She kept her eye on him the whole time mom was gone, but eventually he earned a lick on each hand, a lick on his forearm, and...wait for it, wait for it... kisses on his face.  He scratched her ears til she was completely won over by his charms! 

Next, it was my turn to meet his parents.  I had a nervous tummy ache at just the thought of meeting them.  You see, I am really tight with my mom (I was tight with my dad, too.  Unfortunately, he is no longer with us.).  If my honey had failed the Mom Test, I don't know if he would have been sticking around for long.  I spend a lot of time with my mom.  If you're going to be around me, you are going to be around her, so she had better like you and vice versa.  I've always assumed this is true for everyone else, but the older I get the more I realize how lucky I am to be so close with my parent. 
The butterflies in my tummy
weren't the good kind.

My honey came over early to pick me up and that was a good thing because it took him a good thirty minutes to get me calmed down enough to go meet his parents.  I wouldn't say it was a full-scale panic attack.  No paper bags were required because I wasn't hyperventilating.  I was just  nervous. Really, really nervous.  I even made an emergency call to my BFF for a little extra support right before he arrived, I was that nervous.  My stomach was tied in knots.  He assured me that his parents would like me, but that if they didn't that would be their loss. Say what? I'd assumed if they vetoed me, I'd be hitting the bricks. What do you mean their opinion doesn't really matter to you?  He held me and told me to stop worrying.  When that didn't work, he made me laugh and that finally got me to calm down.

We had dinner with his parents at a nice Italian restaurant.  His mother is very friendly and very funny, now I know where my honey gets his sense of humor from.  She immediately made me feel at ease, that and the fact that he was holding my hand under the table like a comforting life-line.  His dad was pretty quiet and I wasn't sure if that was a good sign or not.

The thing that surprised me the most was that his parents didn't really have much to ask me.  The only question his dad asked me was how many hockey games I'd been to so far.  For the record, I've been to four games.  Every home game since we started dating except for three.  He'd promised tickets to friends for two games and then today I had a prior commitment to take my nephew, Squirt, to the circus.  I'm guessing they figure if I'm good with his love of hockey, then everything else will work itself out?  I later found out that his mom and I have a mutual friend, whom his mom had pumped for information about me.  Since the friend in question has known me since I was about five years old, I'm guessing his mom found out pretty much everything she could have wanted to know about me.

He reported back to me this morning that his mom said that she liked me.  Yay! Round Three success!  Coming up next on the meet and greets, dinner with one of his best friends and possibly a lunch with his work friends.  After this week, those seem like a piece of cake.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Boyfriend Black-Out

DISCLAIMER: Please excuse any unexpected interruptions in this blog as we are currently experiencing rolling boyfriend black-outs at Lainey's Life Lessons.

So, where to begin... First, some happy news.  Lainey, our very single leading lady, has gotten herself a bit of a love life recently.  Yeah, no one was more surprised than I was (except possibly him).  Second, I have committed that most cardinal of sins for ladies in a new relationship,  I went off the radar for friends and family, becoming totally wrapped up in him and my own new found happiness.  It was a boyfriend black-out.

Week One: I was doing so well.  I was seeing him a few times a week, keeping up with my BFFs in person and via phone, having dinner at Mom's house a few nights a week.  I was still prepared and productive at work.  Heck, I was still blogging every other day.  I could multi-task, I had this covered.  I was overly confident in my ability to juggle and keep all the balls in the air.

No. This is not us!
Week Two: I thought I was still doing well.  I was seeing him every other day or so and texting him when I wasn't with him.  Shut up!  Yes, we are that kind of cutesy.  Good morning texts, how's your day going texts, did you see that save texts.  (Fun Fact: He's a devoted hockey fan with season tickets and I now own three team t-shirts.  I can also name 85% of the players on his favorite team by their jersey number alone, 90% if he's quizzing me while adding fun facts about the players.  He cares about it, so I care about it.  Yeah, I'm that kind of girlfriend.)

I was still calling my BFFs regularly, though in person time was dropping fast.  I was missing a few dinners at Mom's house, but no one seemed to mind.  I may have showed up a little tired at work or been less than prepared for a meeting or two.  But, did anyone honestly think was I going to miss out on time with him at the game in order to read an article on modern educational theory?  Nope, me neither.  My blogging was becoming patchy with longer than average down time between posts, but it's not like I was writing Shakespeare here at Lainey's Life Lessons, so I don't think my faithful followers and occassional readers missed my writing that much.  Please correct me if I am wrong because I love hearing people tell me I'm a good writer and that they love my posts.  In short, I was slipping, but not so much that I was upsetting anybody.

Week Three:  I dropped the first ball, but I didn't mean to do it.  I swear!  I was seeing him every day over the weekend and multiple weekdays.  I'm not apologizing for that.  I love being around him, whether we're going places together or just hanging out watching movies on my couch.  He makes me smile, makes me laugh, and always makes me a priority.  In short, he's pretty awesome.  Did I mention he follows my blog?

Work was challenging me, as I was in the middle of standardized testing H-E-double hockey sticks.  Giving ten year olds such power over a teacher is a little nuts in my opinion.  With the ever rising testing goals of No Child Left Behind, all it takes is one or two kids coming to school in a bad mood or not getting a restful night's sleep on test day and their lack of performance can affect how well I am perceived to have done my job.  No wonder I had insomnia!  I hurt my ankle again briefly, so that was no fun.  Also, my mom shared with me that she was worried about Squirt, the world's most adorable nephew, because he was missing me and having tantrums when I didn't show up for dinner.  And in the midst of all this, I forgot to call a friend when I said I would, two friends if I'm honest.  One was more understanding about it than the other.  This was only the beginning.

Later that week, I started double booking because I couldn't concentrate enough to wrap my head around my own schedule.  I told a friend that I would see a movie with her that we were both dying to see because my honey didn't want to deal with the opening weekend crowds.  Apparently, he likes me more than I thought since he took me to see it the day after it premiered.  I completely forgot I'd had tentative plans to see the movie.  He asked me to go to dinner to meet one of his friends and I agreed, forgetting that a dear friend of mine was getting an award that night and I had a ticket to the banquet.  Thankfully, I caught that mistake before I missed the awards banquet.

What will week four bring?  I'll let you know when I find out.  Maybe I'll leave for work without my purse and lock myself out of the house.  Maybe I'll let somebody down in a small way, maybe in a large way.  Maybe I won't have to worry about it because he'll decide he doesn't want to date someone with memory and concentration issues.  I just don't know.  But, I'll tell you this.  I wouldn't trade one second of these last few weeks for anything in the world.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Beauty Is Pain

or I'll Miss You High Heels

"Hello, lover!"  Carrie Bradshaw exclaimed
when she saw this pair of Christian Louboutin heels.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I broke my ankle in November.  It was an avulsion fracture, just a small chip off the bone.  Apparently, my ligaments decided they didn't want to hang out with my ankle anymore if it was going to be striking the pavement so hard (some ankles are so inconsiderate that way) and they took a little bone with them when they left.  Oww!

I have famously weak ankles.  I'll never be a figure skater, a ballerina, or a hockey player.  Oh, the crushed dreams of my youth!  I have rolled and/or sprained my ankles all my life.  This most recent and most severe of all my ankle injuries happened while I was wearing a pair of clogs.  Shocker, my ankle rolled while perilously balanced atop a two inch heel with no ankle support! Ironically, after I was off the crutches, the only shoes I could fit my heavily braced ankle into were again clogs.

How could something so cute hurt me so bad?

My new favorite pair of shoes

Once I was out of the ankle brace, I still felt wobbly.  I didn't trust my ankle to be any higher off the ground then it could get in a pair of Converse.  Clogs and all other heels were no longer my friends because they had the ability to break me!  Tennis shoes became my preferred footwear for a few months.

Alas, spring has sprung and my star player has been getting pedicures to make her toes pretty.  Nothing makes Lainey happier than having pretty painted toenails!  Well, almost nothing, but I digress.  However, stuffing pretty painted toenails into socks and tennis shoes where no one could see their beauty seemed like such a shame.  The world deserved to see my pretty toes, or so I told myself.  It was a waste of a good pedicure not to show off my toes.  I wouldn't want to be wasteful!

Aren't these wedges pretty?
So, as you have probably already guessed, I busted out my sandals.  High heeled sandals. Are there any other kind?  I wore my sandals for about two days before the inevitable happened.  You guessed it!  I rolled my ankle.  Luckily, I was able to catch my balance before my ankle struck the pavement.  Why am I always on pavement when this happens?  Couldn't I roll my ankle on some nice soft carpeting? 

It's not you, it's my ankles.

But, as I sit here typing and icing my swollen and achy ankle, the damage has been done (just a sprain this time) and I think a life lesson might have been learned.  It's time to break-up with my high heels.  It was good in the beginning and I really thought we were going somewhere together, but this relationship has become toxic.  We're hurting each other.  Well, more like they are hurting me.  It's time for me to start seeing other shoes.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

When Irish Eyes Are Rolling

Top of the morning to you!  It's looking to be a lovely St. Paddy's Day today.  As a fifth generation Irish American, today is one of my favorite holidays.  I love getting all dressed up in green, wearing a "Kiss Me, I'm Irish!" button, eating some corn beef and cabbage (okay, mostly just the corned beef, the cabbage is way too stinky), and generally acting like a hooligan while getting into some shenanigans.
That being said, I don't live up to many of the Irish stereotypes.  I did have red hair in my youth (It has darkened with age to a rich auburn now.), I am Catholic, and I do have a somewhat fearsome temper when sufficiently provoked.  But other than that, I think I steer clear of any of the truly offensive Irish stereotypes.  I don't drink.  I'm a skilled worker.  I am gainfully and steadily employed.  My family follows the typical 2.3 children per household model that is the average for Americans.  In short, you could say that I am proof that the stereotypes about the Irish are wrong.

I share this with you, not out of some misguided attempt to clear the good names of all Irish people everywhere or even because I care about the Irish stereotypes.  I share this with you because I am about to tell you a story about someone I know who believes all of these stereotypes and blatantly shared their bigotry with me last St. Paddy's Day.

Last March, I was sitting in church (with the choir) and quietly listening to the parish announcements.  The lector was sharing the plans for our church's St. Patrick's Day dinner and dance.  It's a big social event at my church with bagpipe players, local Irish folk singers, the requisite corned beef and cabbage, and dancing.  Basically, food, fun, and friends.  The dinner dance sells out of tickets amazingly quickly every year.  Everybody loves this event!  Well, almost everybody.

Those days are long gone or so I thought
As we are sitting there, one of the ladies in the choir leans over to me and says something to the effect of, "Why in the world are they having a party to celebrate the Irish?  Aren't they all just lazy drunks?  What a waste!"  Yeah, I went through a myriad of emotions there.  Incredulity, shock, disgust, and wait for it... you know it's coming... anger!  A)  I'm sitting in church which is normally the last place on Earth you expect to hear bigotry - so there's the incredulity and shock. B) I didn't know this woman too terribly well and I just got a whole new perspective into her psyche - so there's the disgust.  C) I am a fifth generation Irish American, who is sitting next to her fourth generation Irish American mother and our people have just been horribly slandered - ANGER!

I gave the woman a startled look and then proceeded to act like I was deaf.  I wanted to say a few choice words to her, but I was sitting in church and while I'm sure Father Connelly would have been on my side on this one, I wasn't trying to interrupt mass or be forcibly removed from church.  My mother and I sat in stony silence the rest of the way through mass.  Irish tempers have to be controlled with an iron will and silence was the only thing that was going to keep us from saying the thousand angry remarks flying through our heads.

After mass, the Anti-Irish woman came over to us and tried to explain her thinking.  Huge mistake!  I didn't want to hear the reasons why she believed celebrating St. Paddy's Day and the lazy, drunken Irish was sinful.  Again, words failed me or more accurately, I was still in church and throttling this woman wasn't going to win me any bonus points with God.  So, I took a WWJD moment and turned the other cheek.  I left without responding to her.

I wasn't quite this dressed up, but it was pretty close
The following Thursday, we had choir practice and more specifically, it was Saint Patrick's Day.  I came straight from work decked out in all my Irish finery.  Green Irish t-shirt, green Mardi Gras-type beads hanging around my neck, "100% Irish" button pinned to the left side of my shirt, "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" button pinned to the right side of my shirt, green four leaf clover socks, and green eyeshadow.  I was  stylin'! I know, it was way over the top, but remember I teach at an elementary school.  I wear extra green so that any kid who comes in without green on can borrow a piece of my flair and avoid a thousand pinches.

The Anti-Irish took in my apparel with a look of shock upon her face.  I sat down and she said, "So, I guess you really like Saint Patrick's Day." Just a small understatement there.  I proceeded to lower the boom on her about mine and my mother's Irish heritage.  I told her how much I loved the wearing o' the green and the general merriment of the day.  The Anti-Irish continued on like a bull in a china shop and asked me if I had already been out drinking with friends or if I was going out later to "get my Irish on".  OH MY GOD!  She had now lumped me into her stereotypes and assumed I was either already on my way to getting drunk or going to get wasted after choir practice.

In church or not, mother sitting next to me or not, I couldn't control the old Irish temper any longer.  I laid into this woman about her erroneous assumptions and stereotyping.  I was civil.  I didn't raise my voice, but I made sure she understood in no uncertain terms that I was proud of my heritage, that her opinions on the Irish were ridiculous, and that I didn't want to hear anymore bigoted comments about the Irish or any other nationality, ethnicity, or race, for that matter.  She responded by telling me that she was Polish and that there were a lot of untrue stereotypes about them, too.  -Stunned Silence-

I let it go.  No good was going to come of further conversation with this woman about family ancestries.  My mother and I said horrible things about the woman all the way home in the car, but nothing to her face or anyone else.

Fast forward to this week, as a "mea culpa" for last year the Anti-Irish got me a St. Paddy's Day present.  It was a green shot glass attached to a green beaded necklace.  Does anybody know where I can buy some Polish sausage?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Where OCD Meets ADD

As a reasonably self-aware adult, I've noticed a unique pattern to my behavior.  It's not really troublesome or worrying.  It's just something that I know I do.  I become somewhat obsessive about something for a limited period of time or as I like to think of it "OCD limited by ADD".

I'm not quite as bad off as Melvin Udall. But, hey! 
Carol the waitress found all that weird behavior endearing. Right?

Let me explain.  I don't run around turning the lights on and off three times.  I don't stockpile bars of soap with which to wash my hands only once before discarding.  I don't have irrational fears of stepping on cracks or being waited on by strangers.  I just get really intense about a topic for as long as it holds my attention, and I've been doing it for a while.

Case in point,  I tend to get fixated on some sci-fi shows.  When I was 15 and hopelessly nerdy, gangly, and awkward, I became obsessed with Star Trek: The Next Generation.  I had my whole bedroom decorated with posters of the cast and schematics of the ship's layout. Yes, I could help you find 10 Forward and the warp core.  This was also during the summer where I decided that I must be adopted because my parents were clearly aliens and I locked myself in my bedroom for hours at a time avoiding their mind probes, err... questions showing normal parental concern.  But, my STTNG mania was just a summer thing.  By the following winter, the posters were taken down. They are still collecting dust in the closet of my childhood bedroom as far as I know.

Boldly going where no one has gone before

David Tennant: The 10th Doctor
More recently, I've become a huge fan of Dr. Who on BBC America.  I bought seasons 1-5 on DVD and even got the Christmas Specials.  And before you ask, yes, I did recently buy two Dr. Who posters.  I got the Van Gogh Exploding Tardis poster because it's arty and yet sci-fi at the same time and I got the "Everything I Know In Life I Learned From Dr. Who" poster because I thought it was funny and it had David Tennant on it.  Cutest Time Lord Ever!  But, unlike the posters that decorated my childhood bedroom, these posters are intended to decorate the walls of my home office.  Adults show off their interests in their office.  Children use bedroom walls because that's the only space in the house upon which they can express themselves. 

Van Gogh's Exploding Tardis:
 Starry Night Meets Time And Relative Dimension In Space

But, I digress.  I watch the show devotedly, for the three months that it is on and then my focus shifts to some other show.  Cable T.V. shows are perfect for my intensive, yet short attention span.  They run for a season (winter, spring, summer, or fall) and then they go on hiatus for 10 weeks before returning with the second half of the season.  It lets me get really into a show and then, just when I'm about to lose interest, it's gone for a while.

Am I the only one who does this?  Is there anything that you have OCD limited by ADD for?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Laundry and Other Necessary Evils

My laundry pile was much larger than this. 
This would have been manageable.

Normally, I love Saturdays.  A day where I get to sleep in, don't have to go to work, and can do whatever I want all day...what's not to love?  Well this Saturday, there was plenty not to love because it was Laundry Day.  Now, I can hear those of you who don't know Lainey too well thinking, "Well, isn't every Saturday laundry day?"  The simple answer is, "No, it's not."

Our heroine has a slightly different approach to laundry.  Like any red-blooded American female, I pride myself on having a fairly extensive wardrobe.  Extensive enough, in fact, that I have to trade out apparel from my dressers seasonally.  All four seasons will not fit in my closet, two dressers, one lingerie chest, and eight Ikea bookshelf baskets.  Yeah, I know that's a lot of clothing storage and it still doesn't cover it by half. 

Imagine this loaded with baskets full of clothing. 
That's only part of my clothing storage system.
But, before you start thinking I have a ridiculous amount of clothing which is obviously more than the average girl, be aware that most of my nearest and dearest female friends have some kind of seasonal rotation system.  Mrs. Mynd stores her spring and summer gear in the attic during winter and Gertie uses her spare bedroom as her closet.  That means she has two master bedroom closets full of the current seasons apparel and a spare bedroom (closet and room) full of the last season and upcoming season's clothing.  At my house, winter sweaters get folded and stored in four 18 gallon totes hidden in my guest room closet during the off season.

Did you know you could break one of these
 if you overload it with too many clothes?
But, I digress.  My point is I have a large wardrobe which allows me to take some liberties with laundry day.  Laundry day is not a weekly event in my house.  I loathe doing laundry!  Saturdays would not be half as enjoyable or looked forward to if I knew I had three or four loads of laundry waiting to shackle me to the stackables in my upstairs hallway.  So, I let laundry go undone some weekends.  Sometimes, I let it go for multiple weekends.

While this lackadaisical approach (Yes, I spell checked lackadaisical and it was spelled correctly on the first try) to laundry frees up a lot of time on non-laundry weekends, it has consequences.  Yesterday, I faced those consequences head on in the form of several mountainous piles of laundry.  There was no more avoiding it.  It had to be done because I was out of socks and other unmentionables that I won't mention.
I know that was redundant, I don't care!

Five and a half hours, one load of whites, one load of colors, two loads of reds, and two loads of jeans later, I still wasn't done.  Laundry Day came to a close because I ran out of fabric softener, not because I ran out of laundry to wash.  Yes, I could have gone to the store and gotten more and yes, I had dryer sheets on hand as a back-up.  But, I had done six loads already and I was more than ready to stop for the day.  Luckily, I had someone who was willing to hang in with me via text messaging and keep me entertained and laughing throughout most of the ordeal. :-)

Thank goodness for insomnia!  It got laundry day restarted at 6 a.m. this morning.  A load of khakis are in the dryer and a load of darks are in the washer as I type.  I figure two more loads of colors and one more load of darks ought to finish out my laundry weekend. 

Folded and ready to be put away.

Don't judge!  Everybody has something they procrastinate in doing.  I only take procrastination to the extreme with laundry, it could be much worse.

 What necessary evil do you put off doing as long as possible?

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Girl in the DirT-shirt

The love of dogs and toddlers is rarely tidy!

Last week, I had a very relaxing evening with my family.  I was over at my mother's house for a family dinner, a fairly regular event for us.  My brother and his wife were there, along with my beloved nephew, Squirt, and his faithful dog, Libby.  Faithful is an overly nice way of describing this canine beggar of food and attention.  She will bark at you if you dare to eat in front of her without sharing and considers you fair game for rough housing if you sit on the rug.  As Squirt enjoys playing with cars and trains on the floor, we are often subject to being run over by a ready-to-romp Libby.

Libby, a Bull Mastiff beggar of food and attention

My mother's dog, Roxy (formerly, my dog Roxy) was also there and very glad to see me.  Roxy was my dog until I moved out of my mother's house and she said she was scared of being in the house all alone at night and would feel so much safer if she had Roxy with her.  You can see how I ended up dogless, can't you?  I couldn't be the only daughter of a widowed mother (true fact) who left her mother alone and scared in a big empty house, could I?!  No, of course not.  So, now I see my dog whenever I go over to my mother's house for dinner and on weekends.  I miss her, but I suspect she is much happier romping around my mother's large yard than she would be trapped in my postage stamp of a back garden.

My beloved pup, Roxy
(half Rottweiler + half Bull Mastiff = 130 pounds of puppy love)

Anywho, we were all there (one mother, a brother, a sister-in law, a Squirt, two family dogs, and me) and Mom had made a fabulous lasagna.  Whenever my mother wants her children to come over to the house, she simply calls and tells us what she's made for dinner.  Some dishes, such as her lasagna, pot roast, or chicken parmesan, have magnetic properties that pull the whole family into the house.  We ate my mother's amazing Italian meal, talked about the latest events in our life ( my brother's work week had been interesting, my sister in-law's family were having health issues, Squirt had a cold in his nose, and Mom was debating the merits of retiring now versus working a few more years) and settled into the living room to watch the evening news.  Well, my brother was watching the news.  My sister in law was on her phone checking facebook, my mother was doing the dishes, Squirt and I were playing Angry Birds on my brother's phone, and the dogs were waiting patiently to be fed some leftovers.  But, we were all together is my point.

Roxy wandered over to me after she'd received some lasagna love and presented her rump for a rub, something she's done since she was a puppy.  I obliged Roxy and gave her a good rubdown and in the process, managed to get dog fur all over my shirt and pants.  Normally, dogs shed in the summer, but Roxy seems to have this perpetual shedding thing going on regardless of the season.  Even in the dead of winter (which didn't exist here this year), Roxy always sheds alot.  But, what's a little dog fur among family, right?

Libby decided that she wasn't going to be left out of all this attention and proceeded to squeeze herself between me and Roxy.  As she had also recently enjoyed a small helping of Mom's lasagna, she was very dribbly and drooling. She's a mastiff, it's what they do.  I gave Libby a good scratch behind the ears so she wouldn't feel left out and she gave me a drool stain across the front of my shirt in return.  Fair trade, I guess.

The whole time I was rubbing rumps and scratching ears, I'd been playing Angry Birds with my nephew, Squirt.  I can multi-task! Squirt likes his Lainey-time, just as much as the dogs.  When he was little and I'd tell him it was time for me to go home to my own house, he'd look me straight in the eye and tell me, "No!  It's time for you to play with me some more."  How was I supposed to argue with that?  Needless to say, a lot of my departures from my mother's house have been timed to coincide with his nap time.  Less tears and toddlers wrapped around my leg that way.

Squirt had kept me so distracted with the game, that I didn't really noticed the mess the dogs were creating on my shirt until he decided he didn't want to take turns anymore.  He's four and an only child.  Sharing occurs in short bursts spread far apart.  After ten minutes of taking turns trying to defeat the next level of Angry Birds, he was done sharing with me.

I looked down at my shirt and saw the mess the dogs had made of me with their shows of affection.  Dog fur and slobber all over the place!  I commented on this to my family and said, "The only thing missing from this shirt is a little snot from Squirt's cold and then it'll be completely trashed."  Guess what happened then?  You guessed it.  Squirt leaned over and wiped his nose on the front of my shirt.

This should have really grossed me out.  It certainly angered Squirt's father, who immediately began fussing and fuming about Squirt's snotty actions.  But, the only response I could produce was gales of laughter.  The 'shirt as kleenex' swipe had been so swift and unthinking that I couldn't get mad at the Squirt.  I'd said that snot was what the shirt was missing and he'd obliged me immediately.  What a thoughtful nephew to give his aunt what she asked for right away!

I went home that night disheveled, but very relaxed and happy.  A great family night!

Must love big dogs!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sleep Deprivation

(or Insomnia Sucks!)

Sleep is eluding me this week.  I go to bed at a reasonable time and manage to get to sleep, but something happens around 2 a.m.  I don't know if I'm having bad dreams that I don't remember or if I suddenly just need less sleep (really doubting that's the case as I'm dragging the next day) or if I've got so much going on in my head right now that my brain can only hold it down for so long before popping back into action.  Whatever the reason, I'm only getting about four hours of sleep a night, which is half of my norm.

I read an article a few weeks ago in the BBC News Magazine that said eight hours of sleep was a fairly recent human phenomenon. (See the article here: The myth of the eight hour sleep)  According to the article, before the advent of electric illumination and gaslight streetlamps, humans would sleep for 2 four hour stretches and get up in between for some nocturnal activity.  It's not too hard to guess what the nocturnal activity was long ago.  The article also said that modern culture and parenting started encouraging people to sleep through the night in the 19th century, just as streetlamps and the rise of the coffee house were making nighttime activities more desirable and sucking up some of the time people used to spend sleeping.

While this is all fascinating, I just want to sleep!  I don't care if I'm genetically preconditioned to pop awake in the middle of the night.  For thirty years, I've been sleeping for 8+ hours a night.  When I was a teen, I'd sleep for over 10 hours a night.  Nighttime is when you do all your growing and when your body repairs your cells, so that kinda makes sense since I shot up six inches during the high school years.  

Telling me it's okay to wake up in the middle of the night and not to worry about it, isn't helping, either.  It's dark, which is a childhood fear that lingers for most of us all of our lives, and everybody knows scary things happen in the dark.  The movie industry makes a fortune off of this fear every year in horror movies.  I had a night light on in my room from birth til I left for college.  My first college roommate wouldn't tolerate it, which is the only reason I learned to sleep without it.  Now, I live in a townhouse and the lights from the parking lot provide a comforting glow if needed during the night.

Well, time to wrap this up.  I just heard my alarm clock go off upstairs.  Let's see how many times I can hit snooze without being late to work!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Communication Deprivation

This weekend, I inadvertently under went a psychological experiment.  I endured 48 hours of electronic communication deprivation, barely.  As you may have read, I went for a little swim on Friday morning while fully clothed due to a canoeing accident.  (See I Finally Got Into Mr. Mynd's Pants for full details.)  As my time in the canoe was more of a rescue mission than a canoeing trip, I forgot to take my beloved flip phone and my camera out of my pockets before going into the canoe and into the drink. This precipitated the start of the experiment.

The first eight hours weren't that bad.  I was on a field trip with my class and had roughly sixty children and twenty adults to monitor, educate, and fish out of the river.  I was NOT the only one to go swimming in the creek that day!  By the end of the trip, three adults and two children had taken an unexpected polar bear plunge.  We should have done a plunge fundraiser for the folks at the Special Olympics, then at least our time in the water would have been for a worthy cause. 

I was so busy making sure everyone was with their chaperone, was at the correct station, etc. that I didn't really notice my lack of electronic stimulation.  I did have to ask a few parents what time it was as my cellphone had also been serving as my watch and there were no clocks down by the canoe docks.  But, other than not knowing when it was time to send the groups to their next station, I was unaffected.

I really need to think before I speak!
After we took the kids back to school and sent them all safely home with their parents, I headed out to happy hour with my dedicated teammates.  I took quite a lot of good-natured ribbing from my colleagues who hadn't been on the field trip and had a few laughs retelling the story to them.  A special highlight for me was when I thanked Mr. Mynd for the loan of his pants and without thinking said, "I can't believe I got into your pants!"  I was referring to the fact that Mr. Mynd is a beanpole and I am a curvy lady, so I was surprised that his pants had fit.  My slip of the tongue produced a tableful of laughter from my friends and some rosy-blushed cheeks for me.  No harm, no foul.  Once again, I was having such a good time that I didn't really notice my lack of phone.

However, when I left happy hour later that night I had some calls I needed to make and now I was starting to miss my phone.  Luckily, I am the kind of nerd who syncs her home phone address book to her cell phone address book, so all I had to do was wait until I got home to call.  This created a ten minute rain delay in my ability to communicate while I drove from the bar to my house.  Nothing too traumatic about that, just a minor annoyance.  I got home, made my calls, wrote a blog about falling out of the canoe, and went to bed.

The next morning, I got a call from my mother telling me that she had just taken her car to the dealer and they would be working on it all day.  Could I come and get her?  Um, I was supposed to be meeting Mrs. Mynd for our girls weekend road trip in an hour and a half and I hadn't packed.  If I didn't retrieve my mom quickly, I was going to be running late.  How would I be able to tell Mrs. Mynd of my delayed arrival time from the car?  I wouldn't, so I drove like the true leadfooted driver that I am and retrieved my mother in 45 minutes flat.  I sped the whole way there, but had to drive like a responsible adult with my mom in the car, otherwise it would have been 30 minutes.  I got home, threw clothing into my duffel bag willy-nilly, and raced out the door to meet Mrs. Mynd.

"She's coming into Gambon... and across the line!  That was properly quick."

Amazingly, I was early to meet Mrs. Mynd.  Mr. Mynd and Princess Sassy Pants dropped her off and we all had a quick breakfast before hitting the road.  As I was driving, my lack of phone again went unnoticed for the hour or so we were driving.  We arrived at Sister Mynd's house and got down to painting.  It only took us a few hours to paint the dining room and front hallway.  Mrs. Mynd and Sister Mynd's phones kept alerting them to incoming texts as we painted and I was getting phone withdrawl.  I wonder who's trying to text ME right now? 

We ran low on paint for the dining room and used the potential paint shortage as an excuse to stop for the day.  We got cleaned up, went to see a movie, had a celebratory birthday dinner for Sister Mynd, and got some more paint. Again, during dinner the sisters' phones were chirping to alert them to incoming texts and photos.  I really miss my phone!

We got back to the house, watched a movie on TV, and took some time for girl talk and wine.  Mrs. Mynd was playing around on her iPad and let me borrow it to check for comments on my canoeing blog.  I was enjoying the company, but not the lack electronics.  Will the bag of rice have fixed my phone by the time I get home?  God, I hope so!

By nine, we were off to The Pub and I was itching for my phone.  I'd had a fairly long day and tragically wasn't going to last at the bar.  Mrs. Mynd even let me hold her phone in an attempt to keep me entertained and at The Pub.  It wasn't the same.  I wanted MY phone!

In an epic fail, I left the bar early.  Between the previous day's swimming adventure, my early wake up call, and my upper body workout from painting, I was wiped out.  I hung my head in shame as I walked back to the house solo.  I had to get Sister Mynd's husband (who hadn't gone with us to the bar) to text the sisters and let them know I hadn't been killed by an ax murder during the three block walk home.  I was in serious phone withdrawl at this point.

The rest of the weekend was painting, breakfast shore style, and a harrowing visit to Mrs. Mynd's foot doctor.  Having a foot doctor on call is good.  Needles are bad.  Multiple needles are really bad.  Being poked full of holes and bleeding all over the place sucked rocks, for her and me.  Okay, probably more so for her since she was the one getting stuck, but we were both a little nauseous when the appointment was over. 

I couldn't wait to get home and take my phone out of the rice to see if my flip phone could be salvaged.  I got home, pulled the phone out of the rice, reassembled all its rice powdered parts, charged it up, was working again...for a few minutes, then it died again.  Disaster!  I drove over to the Mynd house and had Mr. Mynd hook me up with one of Shaggy's old phones.  It's a slide phone and I text at the speed of a snail on it, but at least I can text again.

Only three more months til I'm eligible for a phone upgrade!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I Finally Got Into Mr. Mynd's Pants

I Finally Got Into Mr. Mynd's Pants
And Mrs. Mynd Helped Me Do It!

First, let me say that this is not going where you think it's going.  Get your minds out of the gutter, this blog is strictly rated G (okay, PG13 tops).  Second, let me say that the title is literally accurate, though figuratively misleading.  Here's the long story short (or as short as my verbose writing style will allow) on how this unusual turn of events came about for me.

As previously mentioned, Lainey is a teacher of the elementary variety.  I work with the crowd between four and five feet tall.  Today was our class field trip to an outdoor education center.  A place for kids to become environmentally conscious and learn to be ecologically responsible citizens.  Under the guise of a hands-on science experience, we took the kids to a wooded summer camp-type facility where they would get to hike in the woods and go canoeing.  Alright, there are hands-on science experiments, but the part of the trip I really like is the canoeing.  I'm all about the canoeing.  If given a choice, I would spend the whole trip down at the docks being the canoeing instructor, which is exactly what I had planned to do today.

Alas, I am chained to the classroom and the parents get to run ahead to the facility on the day of the trip for training.  A parent instructor complained about not knowing all the scientific words in his lesson and the weak-willed staff at the outdoor education center switched him to canoeing and me over to looking at river water samples trying to find plankton.  Lame!  I am a social studies teacher.  I have no interest in explaining the difference between phtyoplankton and zooplankton (phtyoplankton is a plant and zooplankton is an animal.  Hey, if I have to know it, so do you.)  When I arrived with the kids on the bus, I was informed that I was no longer canoeing.  However, I was meant to end up in a canoe by the end of the day.

It was exceptionally windy in my neck of the woods today.  This made canoeing challenging for my four to five foot tall crew members as their weak oaring efforts met with a much stronger wind, resulting in them getting blown around and ending up in the marsh grasses by the shoreline.  Surprise, surprise!  The fearless, vocabulary challenged canoeing instructors who had so quickly snatched up my role for the day couldn't get the kids out of the grasses.  So now I had my chance to canoe, as I was asked to assist them in extracting the kids from the marshy area.

I got into a canoe and was pulling away from the dock when another parent chaperone decided that he would come with me to help.  Apparently, he was concerned that I wouldn't have the strength to get the job done.  Chauvanistic idiot with a Superman complex!  I've been canoeing with children in that creek for years.  I've towed in stranded canoes alone before.  I've also never tipped over before.  Can you sense where our story is about to go?  This guy didn't know his oar from his @$& and he was going to show me how to do it.  Needless to say, within twenty feet of leaving the dock we had a problem.  My canoeing partner wasn't rowing in such a way as to keep us straight due to the wind.  We were getting blown towards the shoreline, a hard wooden bulkhead this time, not marsh grasses.  Superdad came up with the brilliant idea to use his oar to push us away from the bulkhead, only we weren't close enough to do it.  He leaned out of the canoe to reach for the dock and tipped the canoe over!

Way to go, Superdad!

I got dumped into forty-something degree water on a forty-something degree day.  In addition to being shocked by the cold and so mad that I was seeing red, I was embarrassed as hell to be the canoeing instructor who tipped her canoe and went into the drink.  To understand why I was both mad and embarassed, you need to know that a few years ago I took two fathers, both Army Rangers, to this same facility and made them canoeing instructors. ( I had a group of kids whose behavior did not allow me to spend my day canoeing.)  The Army Rangers tipped their canoe and I've since joked with one of the fathers that I should have gotten the Navy to teach canoeing.  That father had a younger child on today's field trip.  I'm sure I will be hearing from him soon and the teasing I will be getting from him and my fellow teachers is going to be merciless.

I'm wet, I'm cold, and I'm pissed off!  Don't ask.

I got out of the water and onto dry land, although the longer I stood there with a river of creekwater running off my clothes, the less dry the land was.   To make matters worse, I had my cell phone and my camera in my pockets.  Since I wasn't supposed to be on the water I'd been carrying them to record our special day and forgotten to take them out before racing to the rescue.  If anybody needs to get in touch with me, YOU CAN'T.  At least, not til my phone comes out of the bag of rice.

I tromped with Superdad to the facilities health room where we discovered that they only had spare clothes for the kids, not the grown-ups.  Superdad called his wife, who rushed over with a change of clothes.  I, being single, had no spouse to send to my house for a new outfit.  Utterly freezing and with no possibility of someone bringing me a new set of my own clothes to change into, I made an SOS call to Mrs. Mynd.  I asked her to run to her house and bring me clothes to wear.  Since she is a petite toothpick and I have much taller and curvier proportions, the only clothes in her house that would fit me were... you guessed it, Mr. Mynd's.  This is how I ended up in Mr. Mynd's pants (and his socks and his shoes and his Steelers jersey).

Thank you so much, Mrs. Mynd, for coming to my rescue.  I'd have been drip drying for six hours without your speedy assist.  Thank you, Mr. Mynd, for the temporary loan of your clothes.  I hope you get a lot of mileage out of telling people that I got into your pants and that you enjoyed the photo your wife took of me as a drowned rat in a Steelers jersey.

I am never going to hear the end of this.  This story will be retold in perpetuity for as long as our school goes to the outdoor education center.  Maybe years from now I'll be able to laugh about this?

Not a great start to girls' weekend.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Girls Weekend!

I've had it with you people.  I'm outta here!  Okay, maybe the situation isn't that serious, but I am getting away this weekend.  I'm headed out of town and over the bridge for a girls weekend with my dear friend, Mrs. Mynd.  Mrs. Mynd's sister has a birthday coming up and we are driving over to help her celebrate.

However, Sister Mynd has unique ideas when it comes to girls' weekends.  For example, last time I went to her house for a girls weekend, we stripped wallpaper off nearly every wall on the first floor of the house. It may not sound like it, but it was actually fun.  The sisters tried to talk me into get a tattoo. They are both inked and I am inkless. Needles are scary! Sister Mynd graciously agreed to taking turns plugging our iPods into the sound system, so I even got to listen to my music for a big chunk of the wallpaper stripping process. They're a little bit country, I'm a little bit rock n' roll.  We talked about boys from our past and men from our present.  Sister Mynd has a unique marital situation that while foreign to me is also incredibly interesting to hear about.

Once we'd all had an excellent upper body workout, we got cleaned up and strolled down to the local pub for adult beverages.  There I learned that I didn't have sufficient hand eye coordination to win at the fooseball table, even though I was drinking soda and everybody else was imbibing.  There's a reason I was always picked last when kids were choosing teams for sports.  Uncoordinated doesn't even begin to describe the slowness of my reaction time when trying to turn and slide multiple handles simultaneously.

The next morning, we went out for breakfast.  I'm not actually sure if Sister Mynd cooks.  I spent two whole days at her house and we ate out for every meal.  The restaurant we ate at, while supposedly a local gem, thought that it was okay to charge locals one rate during the week and charge the beach crowd a higher rate on the weekends.  I was so incensed about the injustice of this practice that I snapped a shot of the menu with my camera.

Why does the day of the week effect the price of scrambled eggs?
We chatted some more before Mrs. Mynd and I got back in her massive Suburban for the return trip home.  All in all, it was a pretty relaxing weekend.  Who knew stripping wallpaper could be so much fun?

This time, we will be painting the walls we stripped on my last visit.  Yes, it was months ago that we stripped the wallpaper, but Sister Mynd moves at her own pace with labor intensive home repairs.  I am sure there will once again be talk of getting me inked ("How about just a tiny dot so you can say you got tattooed, but no one would be able to really see it?") and a discussion of boys past and men present.  I'm also pretty sure there will be lots of laughing, some drinking, and a little paintbrush fighting.  Not to mention an untimely defeat at the fooseball table.  It should be a great weekend!