Thursday, December 25, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Not quite in full-scale panic mode

I have my sewing machine back, and it's humming along beautifully, and since the girls' dress-up capes are done and all the Christmas gifts for our neighbors are put together, I spent this evening cutting out pieces for the first Totoro. There's gray fluff everywhere — the dining room table, the floor, ground into the living room rug, on my clothes.

Oh — and my back is killing me, even after taking prophylactic ibuprofen before spreading the fuzzy fabric out on the table.

I have four more days to make this happen, and I'm not really panicking quite yet, but I'm scared enough to start working my tail off.

On the plus side, I think I figured out how to make the ears stand up: pipe cleaners.

Wish me luck. How are your Christmas preparations going?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Eating my words...

After weeks of openly and roundly mocking Scott for playing "My Heroes Ability" on Facebook (at random hours of the day and night)...I'm going to have to eat my words. I admit it. I'm hooked on "Nobility."


I am such a nerd. Let the mocking begin.

Monday, December 15, 2008


So I called the town health department today, out of curiosity:

"I have a strange question — I've been looking on the town website and I see licensing requirements for dogs and cats, but nothing for other animals. Specifically, I'm wondering about getting a miniature pig."

"Um...not in Belmont."

"I see. What can you have in Belmont?"

"Just chickens."

"Huh. Well, thank you."

Well. There goes that idea.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cautionary Tale, or: Never move to a new city to be with a guy

I have this cautionary tale that I tell occasionally, usually when I'm talking to someone who's besottedly in love and making hasty decisions. (I used it several times when Scott and I were assigned to the singles ward in Pittsburgh.) It goes like this:

Once upon a time, about nine and a half years ago now, I was dating a guy who lived in Los Angeles. I'd known him since high school, when he was geeky-cool and funny, and we'd kept in touch as he took more and more interesting artistic jobs (ending up as a storyboard artist for Disney) and I'd floundered through my twenties trying to figure out what I wanted out of life. Somehow we ended up dating at the same point that I found myself between jobs and between roommates, and it was my mom who suggested that I move to L.A. to see if we could make things work romantically.

So I lined up a job (I thought) and an apartment, and moved myself down to Southern California, and then the job fell through and the boyfriend's endearing quirks started to really grate on my stressed-out self, and within a month I found myself jobless and boyfriendless.

The lessons are these:
  1. Never move anywhere for a guy. (And the corollaries: Never make drastic life changes based on body chemistry alone; Major life changes will usually result in too much stress on the relationship.)

  2. Your mother always wants to see you happy, and she's not going to be above pushing you into a romance if she thinks it's going to put a smile on your face or pictures of grandchildren in her brag book.

  3. Sometimes you end up doing something right for all the wrong reasons.

Here's what the guy in question is doing now. And I'm taking the kiddos to see the movie this afternoon. (If you're in the area, I'd love some company.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mean streak

My baby sister just called me with her newest Grand Scheme: in her bid to become Favorite Aunt, she's going to buy our other sister's daughter a miniature horse.

And, since we're the city-dwellin' folk that we are, she's buying my daughters a teacup pig.

Not this Christmas, mind you. She has some saving to do.

I think she has a mean streak.

Two girls and an easel

Okay, these were just too cute not to share:

Beth and Sarah decided they both wanted to paint today. Beth had brushes; Sarah had her first giddy foray into finger painting. It works particularly well when there's an easel between them, and plenty of newspaper on the floor.

Instead of putting these paintings on the wall, we'll use them as wrapping paper for the grandparentals, who will no doubt appreciate them way more than we do here. (Too much of a good thing at the moment.)

Oh, and Beth decided she wanted to be "a lady with a baby in my tummy." That's her hat tied around her middle. I had to stop laughing before I could take the picture.

And the award for best technologically-integrated customer service goes to...

Anyone called customer service lately?

Or, rather: Anyone been called by customer service lately?

Scott bought a number of our Christmas gifts on Amazon, which is typical, and the order got split up, which is also typical. One of the shipments, unfortunately, got sent to our old default address in Pittsburgh. We called some friends who still live in our old apartment complex to see if they could head it off at the pass, but apparently the U.S. Postal Service is savvier than UPS: they know we've moved. The package was marked "undeliverable" and sent back.

All of this I can see by clicking on "Track your package" on Amazon. But we still don't have the package. So I go through the Amazon web page to contact customer service. Up pops a page that says "Talk to us! We'll call you. Right now. Really."

I enter my phone number. The phone rings immediately. I also get a popup screen that's managing the telephony somehow — if I want to hang up the call, I click a button. I'm also connected (again, immediately) to Nitu, a very nice customer service agent in India, who confirms that the package is in Amazon receiving limbo somewhere and sets me up with a replacement order.

Let me just say, since I've done my time (two years!) in the purgatory that is phone-based customer service, that this is Very Impressive. Now, granted, they're estimating that the new shipment won't arrive until the 18th (bummer). But I'm still impressed.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

At what point do I issue a DNR for my sewing machine?

Let me point out that I love my sewing machine. It's an old Singer Stylist model, purchased secondhand out of the Pittsburgh Pennysaver for the grand total of $25: machine, cabinet, and all the extra parts, random thread colors, measuring tapes and other odds and ends that had accumulated in the storage compartment of the cabinet. I understand this machine. Like me, it's wound a little tight, tends to be tense, and stubbornly insists on doing things its own way. (You should see the threading diagram.) We're both products of the early '70s.

And, like me, it's higher-maintenance than it appears. (I hate to admit this about myself, but trust me.) First it was $40 to get it cleaned and oiled and tuned. It sorely needed the attention, and I was happy to pay for it. Then it was a few dollars here and there for new needles and the right kind of bobbins and some oil (the oil seems to have disappeared when we moved, darn it — it's not like it's expensive, but I like having the right kind of long-nosed bottle).

About two years ago it stopped working altogether. It's of the nylon-geared generation of sewing machines, and the gears finally wore out. Getting them replaced cost about $100.

Saturday night, as I was in the middle of appliquéing a princess crown on a cape for Sarah, the zigzag stitch got narrower and narrower and less and less predictable until it finally stopped zigging and zagging completely. It's a timing issue — the needle goes back and forth, but not quite when it hits the fabric.

The guy I took it to this morning gave me an estimate of $129 to replace the bearings, and there are a few other small things I'm going to have him replace while he's at it. Right now I figure it's worth it, since I don't have the money to replace it with a good quilting machine at the moment. But I'm starting to wonder how many other parts might disintegrate, and where to draw the line.


Thanks, Danika, for lending me your old Kenmore machine. We're going through a getting-to-know-you phase, and having a few scuffles over territory, but we're going to get along just fine. Can it stay and play for another week and a half?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Listen to your body!

10:00 last night, Beth still doing her in-and-out-of-bed, up-and-down-the-stairs routine: "I can't sleep."

"Sweetie pie, can you go back upstairs and put your head down on your pillow?"

Mournful face, tears welling up in the eyes. "But I'm saaaaaad." This is a common refrain around our house when Beth is exhausted, and I have a consistent way to deal with it.

"Bethie, you aren't sad. You're tired. When you feel this way it's your body's way of telling you that you're really tired."

"But I can't hear it!"