So, this is Christmas…

26 12 2008

Ok, before anyone reads this post and feels inclined to be all helpful by reminding me that things could always be worse, let me say this: Shut up. I don’t want to hear it. I am well aware that in the grand scheme of things, I am profoundly fortunate, and yes, things could always be much, much worse. But being reminded of that does nothing to comfort me. In fact, it only adds a thick, grimy layer of guilt to my already unshowered conscience, and makes me worry even more obsessively about life going from bad to worse in a heartbeat. And besides, it’s my blog and I’ll bitch if I want to.

As I’m sure you are aware, the Blister family has been enduring a particularly long December. A month that kicked off with a birthday (Squiggles), a root canal (my front tooth, affectionately dubbed “Ol’ Chomper”), and a bout of the barfies (Neener) is on track to end on a very similar note. Another birthday (Mr.), more dental interventions on Ol’ Chomper ( thanks to the mysterious lump ballooning from my gum, unaffectionately dubbed “Lumpy”) and more barfies (Mr., the lone non-barfer up until now, is turning green and bolting to the can as I write this.) In between those delightful little bookends, we’ve been ducking and weaving as best we can, as the big bully that is Life gives us wedgies and stuffs us in lockers. (Mental note: ducking and weaving is a highly ineffective strategy for avoiding wedgies, and does not get you out of a locker very quickly, if at all.) In the last week alone, we’ve found ourselves uttering phrases like,  “Anyone know why there is milk pouring out of the remote control?” and “Open the fridge door veeeery slowly so the condiments shelf  doesn’t crack  in half and send hot pepper and relish jars crashing on your toes. Again.” And, ” Should we take Roo’s barf sample to the ER just in case they want to see it?” (Mental note: they don’t.)

And then there was Christmas. The general stress of snow storms, house guests, postal negligence, last minute shopping, family festivities, and cramming four hundred dollars worth of food and a giant turkey carcass into a broken refrigerator normally does not get to me. But this year brought some bonus nerve-wrackers. There was my multiple forced forays into retail hell on Christmas Eve, thanks to the aforementioned barfies bonanza that spoiled my previous shopping plans, and some asshole ebay seller’s postal negligence. Then, there was the always-joyous occasion of trying to contain my sooky, sensory-overloaded kids in a strange place full of people we did not know, at our first ever extended-family Christmas Eve party. And then there was Christmas morning, when, in all the hoopla, “Santa” forgot to put anything in my stocking. Except for an apology note promising two stockings next year. When the plethora of presents under the tree revealed that my campaign for a more meaningful Christmas with less stuff was, more or less, a flop. When my mother, brother and father spent the entire day jostling for a turn in our one bathroom as they too succumbed to the infamous Blister Family Christmas Barf Fest. And did I mention that, thanks to Lumpy, I’m on some super strong antibiotics and can’t even stomach my seasonal survival staples, the holy holiday trinity of coffee, spicy food, and wine. Three words come to mind when I try to sum up the last few days around here: Worst. Christmas. Ever.

Except it’s not. Granted, it is worse than last year. Even though this time last year I had a brand-new, unphotogenic, infant acne crusted baby Squiggles, feet the size of Buicks, and four stitches in my hoo-ha. And it’s also worse than my terrible teenage Christmas, when my gifts consisted of a shiny puffy coat that made me look like a bronze zeppelin, a floppy collared shirt that looked like a rainbow barfed on it, and a sweater emblazoned with a little girl mouse gathering berries. But, even with all its barfing and bitching and boozelessness, Christmas 2008 is no match for the Surprise! Christmas Eve Face Cancer Announcement! of 2003. Or Christmas 1999, which can only be described as The Year The Shit Really Hit The Fan. Yes, this Christmas could have been better. But it also could have been much, much worse. Which is not something I need to be reminded of, so much as it is something I can’t really afford to forget in the first place. Here’s to a happy, healthy 2009!





Weekend Update

20 12 2008

It’s Saturday morning, and guess where I’m not? At the dentist getting a root canal do-over. Why? Because apparently I don’t need to!  The dentist called me in yesterday with an opening for a spur-of-the-moment appointment, so down I went. She took a look, took some x-rays, and could not find any problems or any infection. So she filed the tooth down a bit to fix my bite to see if that would help, and told me to stick to soft foods and advil for the next three days, and come back on Tuesday if anything had changed for the worse.  This latest development is nothing short of a pre-Christmas miracle. Thank you Santa. Or Baby Jesus. Or Cindy-Lou Who. Or Kurt Cobain. Or which ever one of you heard and answered my desperate, grovelling prayers for divine dental intervention. I owe you one.

Now, I can focus on the fact that Squiggles is in a world of hurt as her newest tooth officially rips its way through her little gum. And the fact that we’re all coming down with the cold from hell. And the fact that I still have a bunch of Christmas shopping to do. And the fact that we’ve got company coming in two days, and every surface of our house is crawling with one kind of misery-inducing germ or another. Still, it’s better than having all that on top of a fresh root canal. So, I’m armed with some Baby Oragel, an industrial sized tub of Vicks Vapo-rub, a knack for creating homemade gifts, a cupboard full of green apple scented Lysol, and the indomitable determination to have myself a Merry little Christmas, dammit.





We interrupt this comeback for a late-breaking domestic meltdown…

18 12 2008

Just when I was starting to get my swagger back, just when I thought we were settling into a semblance of calm before the wine-drenched, gift-wrapped, turkey-stuffed storm that is Christmas, this happens: Baby Squiggles’ top front tooth starts cutting through, making it impossible for her to sleep in any position other than attached to my breast, and then never for more than an hour at a time, making it damn near impossible for me to sleep, period. Oh, and the antibiotics I was given for my root canal issue are all gone, but the root canal issue itself is not, which means I have to go back to the dentist this weekend to have the whole thing done over again. This time with an infection that will likely diminish the effectiveness of the freezing needles they’ll be jabbing in the roof of my mouth. And in the meantime, I’ll have to focus on not allowing myself to believe that some rogue mouth bacteria is migrating to my brain or my heart or my lungs or my big toe while I sleep. If I sleep. Oh, and did I forget to mention that Neener has the barfies? Hardcore barfies. The kind that had her up barfing every half hour all through the night, and still sick today. If history is any indicator, we can expect it to hit Roo tonight or tomorrow. Then Mr on Saturday, probably while I’m off getting my root canal. Then me on Sunday, because you know, nothing feels better the day after a root canal than a good dose of the barfies. Then, just when I’ve hit rock bottom, and am clawing my way back from exhaustion and illness and root canal fun-o-rama, in the hopes of being able to do some cooking and cleaning and shopping before Christmas officially descends, it’ll be Squiggles’ turn to stay up all night barfing all over everything. And by everything, I mean me.

If you’ve come here looking for some adorable anecdotes about my kids singing Happy Birthday to Jesus, or some wisdom and witticisms about life and other monstrosities, you’ve come to the wrong place. Keep movin’ folks, I got nothin good to say today. It never rains but it snows in the ol’ Blisterdome, it seems. And did I mention, it snowed last night? And not the pretty White Christmas kind. The mean, cold, ice pellet, tooth chipping-fall inducing kind. Bah. Humbug.





Famous Last Words

16 12 2008

“Well, that’s about as easy as a root canal can get!” she chirped. “It might be a little tender for a day or two, but after that you’ll be good to go.” Right. A week later, the only place I was “good to go” was straight back down to the dentist’s office to clobber the chirpy sadistic liar who turned my mildly sensitive front tooth into a constantly throbbing, aching, bitch-inducing hunk of torture.

And that, my friends, is the underlying reason why I’ve been M.I.A from this blog for a while. It also seems that when my evil little bird of a dentist blocked up my tooth’s root with gutta percha (see, at least I learned new words – fancy dentist words – while I was away) she also blocked up my creativity. Pain has a way of doing that. As does sleep deprivation, caused by the aforementioned relentless toothache, as well as the relentless restlessness of one Baby Squiggles who is having tooth issues of her own. Add on to that, a creative crisis triggered by no less than three of my potential writing projects falling through in the span of a week, and a serious bout of hypochondria triggered by the fact that I am a serious hypochondriac. And not in the cutesy way, like “Hee hee hee, I keep forgetting to wear a bra and underwear! I must have Alzheimer’s! I’m such a hypochondriac!” No. Like, in the past two weeks I’ve convinced myself that I might have ALS, a pituitary tumour, throat cancer, a heart infection,  a heart attack, sepsis, strokes, antibiotic resistant strep, hypochondria, and an infected failed root canal that’s going to require seriously invasive surgery and a $3000 dental implant right before Christmas. Before I’ve made enough money and gotten enough published to qualify for a PWAC membership and insurance plan. That, my friends, is a whole lot of reasons to let my husband take over this blog for a while.

But pituitary tumour or not, I’m back! Before I get back to my usual rantings and ravings, here are some Blister family highlights from my hiatus, a couple of snippets that have yet to be erased from my memory by the raging case of amnesia I think I’m coming down with:

Baby Squiggles and the Sibs study

A few weeks back, I took Squiggles to the 12 month visit for the siblings autism research study. And as crazy as I might be sometimes, it’s nice to know that I’m not completely crazy all the time. It has been confirmed that Squiggles is, at the very least, weird. How weird, we do not know. But weird enough that they video taped her little leg-paddling-bum-scootching mode of transportation, did some cognitive assessments far beyond what you’d normally try with a one year-old, and brought the study’s lead doctor in to see Baby Squiggles in all her baffling developmental glory, and meet with me because I’m just so damn interesting. Apparently, we hypochondriacs are very observant, and we know a lot of medical jargon, which makes us fun for doctors to talk to.

The School Holiday Concert

I don’t know what was the most fun about Neener and Roo’s Holiday concert: Me, my mother, Neener and Roo, all dolled up standing in a massive line-up outside for 15 minutes, waiting for The School to open the doors so we could get out of the chilly night wind, drop the kids in their classroom, and claim our two-tickets-alloted-per-family seats; or the rousing performance of ‘So This Is Christmas” that opened the show. Because you know, nothing says holiday celebration like an a capella  rendition of the most depressing Christmas song ever written, sung by a bunch of tone deaf kids in the key of guilt flat; or the grade six band, who, god love them, really thought they were playing a song. In actuality, they were being used by The School administration as part of an evil plot to confuse and disorient the crowd with so much random honking and tooting that no parent would be able to hold their video camera still, and would thus be forced to shell out $25 for a dvd copy from The School. But for real, the finest moment – hands down the best part of the entire concert – came when, of all 371 kids in that school, one little angelic-faced girl on her way off the stage suddenly darted to the mic, put it three milimeters away from her mouth, and shouted “But nobody could do that!” Unbeknownst to her, Roo singled-handedly delivered a lot of people from the mind-numbing monotony of Holiday concert hell with that classicly cryptic little line.

There. Now we’re all caught up. Finally, I’d like to thank my Mr. for stepping into the blogging breech when he was needed. Like you, I have an endless appreciation for him, and his remarkable talent for melding dumbass observations with smartass wit. And thank you, readers, for giving him such a friendly yet appropriately tepid welcome. I’m sure you realize that if you’d been all giddy and swooney over every word he wrote, I might have gotten all  sulky and huffy and said “Fine! Screw you guys! Way to kick me in the sore teeth when I’m down! It’s all fun and games now, but you’ll be sorry when he starts writing about the proper way to test for oil or latex paint, or starts posting his illustrations of how to replace divots on a golf course! Drawn on a Magna-doodle!” Lucky for us all, it didn’t come to that. And as long as I can keep this potentially life-threatening case of what I suspect is carpal tunnel syndrome at bay, it never will.





A Traitor in the Gender Wars

14 12 2008

Read the last few posts and you’ll notice something missing. That’s right, a vagina. Mrs. Blister, our family’s head writer and CEV (Chief Executive Vagina), has been on sabbatical in the world of pain and it has been left to me, our family’s one and only NVM (Non Vagina’ed Member) to fill in.

As is customary for NVs, (AKA men), when put under pressure, we make jokes. Don’t ask me why but when we men don’t know whether to laugh or cry, we always laugh. Or fart.

(In this gender bending age, it’s nice to know there’s one reliable method of determining someone’s sexual identity: watch how they react to a difficult situation. Any attempt at humour strongly suggests the presence of a Y chromosome.)

So here I am, making jokes. Laughing. Farting. Doing what we men are supposed to do. So what does it mean when I find myself fighting back tears over a sad story in the morning paper? Why is a lump growing in my throat as I watch appeals for African relief flash across our TV screen? Where are the jokes? Where are the farts? Are they gone forever?

No. But after a decade of immersion in the world of women, things are changing. For those of you who don’t know, I’m surrounded by women. My wife is one. My three daughters are too. Our cat, our fish, and our minivan* are also all female. My only true friend I’ve kept since my grade school years is female. In my pre-homemaker life, I worked in a store otherwise completely staffed by women and serviced by an army of sales reps who, despite working in a male-dominated industry, somehow all happened to be women.

What does it all mean? I don’t know. But I do think I’ve gained something. I’m not always sensitive, but I’m more sensitive. I’m not always thoughtful, but I’m more thoughtful. I don’t always see our children’s bad behavior as an invitation to discipline. More and more, I see an invitation to nurture.

And that’s why I’m a traitor. If there is a gender war, I’m on your side ladies. Somehow, slowly, you are wearing away at my insensitive, thoughtless, smart-ass and replacing it with “feelings”. I’m so grateful. What’s left is a better father. I can see it in my children. I can see how much happier and more comfortable they are when I’m “feeling” it. And it’s enough to make me cry.

                        * If you are crazy, like us, and you give your vehicles names, you’ll know how this is possible. Our 2005 Pontiac Montana’s name? Patricia Dishwasher. Don’t ask me why, it just is.

 

ps Happy Birthday Mom! (Another great woman in my life.) I love you!





The One Correct Way to Wash Dishes

12 12 2008

(Author’s note: Our favorite blogger, Mrs. Blister, is on the mend. Until she gives me her trademark “get your sweaty, shaking hands off my blog” look, I, Mr. Blister, am filling in. So, if you like what you read here, don’t tell her. You know writers and their egos.)

 

Brace yourself Dear Reader. Today I bestow upon you instructions that, used wisely, will change your life forever. Some of you may consider it a duty to humanity to forward a link to this gift of knowledge to everyone you know. You would be right.

The following techniques were developed using my personal life philosophy of “Constructive Laziness”, which is quite different from “Traditional Laziness”, my personal life philosophy from 1994 to 2002.

Constructive Laziness (or CL) essentially harnesses the inner desire to do nothing, also known as Traditional Laziness (TL), in order to make a task as easy as possible. The result is a spirit resigned to its destiny of a lifetime of unwanted effort (like washing dishes), but excited by the possibility of getting the job done with a lot less work.

THE ONE CORRECT WAY TO WASH DISHES

(unless you have a dish washing “machine”, in which case, just fill the thing with dishes and soap, turn it on, and go f**k yourself)

LESSON #1: SORT

The most important step to make dish washing easy is to sort them out as soon as possible. Plates with plates, cups in cups, all the silverware gathered together.

Keep them sorted as they go from sink, to drying rack, to cupboard. This one principle will mean more dishes can soak at once, more dishes can fit into the drying rack at once, and putting them away becomes infinitely faster. Nothing on God’s Green Earth (in the context of washing dishes) feels better than grabbing a handful of spoons and dropping them all at once into their ubiquitous little plastic moulded home. This experience makes the typical method of grabbing a handful of mixed utensils and putting them in place one at a time seem like fork-in-the-eye insanity.

 

LESSON #2: SOAK

Just like a weekly bath, soaking dishes will really help loosen all of the dried-on food, resulting in less effort scrubbing. (And less chaffing, in the case of the weekly bath.)

The key to a correct soak is timing. Scrub too soon and you’re wasting effort. Scrub too late and you’ve lost the warm water and bubbles to a sink of cold, slimy swamp water. Also, avoid soaking wooden things like cutting boards for very long. Especially overnight. Especially with other much scummier dishes. Especially if you don’t want your cutting board to smell like day old water-logged lasagna. (Trust me, you don’t.)

 

LESSON #3: PUT THE TOWEL DOWN

 As my mother-in-law says, “Let God dry the dishes.” 

The only time dish towels are used correctly while washing dishes is to lay it down on the counter beside the drying rack so you can put dishes on it to dry because the drying rack can’t hold everything. The only other time dish towels are used correctly is not in the kitchen and has nothing to do with dishes, wink, wink. As my wife says, “If you can’t find a dish towel, look in the bedroom.”

 

There you have it Dear Reader. Although this list is not exhaustive, it was exhausting. Please feel free to add tips of your own in the comment section. If they are good, I will erase your comment and edit this blog post to incorporate your ideas into mine. I’m just like Sylar from the greatest TV show ever, Heroes. Except I’m killing comments on a blog, not people. And I’m stealing their domestic advice, not their super powers. And I wear glasses to drive and watch TV which I don’t think he does. Other than that, we’re exactly the same.





This is A Call

10 12 2008

When Mrs. Blister is sober ready, she’ll tell you all about the Christmas Holiday Concert we attended yesterday. I was going to tell you myself but The Boss vetoed me to keep the best story ideas for herself we agreed it was best left to her.

I will, however, put my life on the line to say this: Opening a Christmas Holiday Concert with a tone-deaf choir droning singing several unaccompanied verses of “So This is Christmas” unleashes a fierce internal debate about the merits of murder vs suicide vs murder/suicide doesn’t get the crowd as energized as you may think.

Anyway… After re-reading my last post, it seems I may have opened my big fat mouth about things I really don’t know suggested that I have some domestic wisdom to share. Also, I asked you to comment on my posts so that I don’t curl up into a ball of booze soaked self loathing know someone out there cares.

Well, you didn’t comment (Moms excluded) and I’m petty and insecure eager to engage you, the reader, so I’ll make a list of some of my ideas, and you goddamn better well post a comment to tell me which ones you want me to elaborate on.

1. “The Art of Complaining for Fun and Profit”

2. “There’s Only One Correct Way to Wash Dishes”

3. “Don’t Try to Tell Your Wife She Doesn’t Know How to Wash Dishes”

4.  “Waste Management: 6 Different Garbage Bags to Freedom”

5. “Sweep it up Now, or Pull it Out of the Baby’s Mouth Later”

Now, just in case there’s nothing on this list that piques your interest, you may also post a comment about: how I inspire you to do great things, or how I inspire you to do fewer bad things, or how much you miss Mrs. Blister. You may also ask me a question and I will twist your words and make fun of you strive to answer it.