Friday, September 29, 2006

Quirky Old Habits I'll Likely Never Break

I’m a creature of habit and routine. There are certain things that have to be a certain way or I’m all antsy and irritable. There are some things that I do without even thinking about it because for me it’s almost like breathing.

I can’t go to the movies without a hoodie or light jacket on hand, even during the summer months when it’s 100 degrees out. I’m the same way about restaurants unless we are already out and about and I don’t have one in the car and am absolutely forced to do so.

I will not eat alone in a restaurant. I'll get it to go and eat in my car before I do. I’ve only eaten alone in a restaurant once ever, and it was recently when my husband and I mixed our signals and he stood me up. I’d already ordered our drinks and sat there for half of my lunch hour before realizing it so I stayed to eat but it totally sucked!

I have to have a bottle of nose drops (nasal spray) next to the bed. I don’t use them daily but often wake up stuffy and need a squirt. I make sure they are sitting next to the bed every night, just in case. I also keep a bottle in my purse at all times and usually in the console of my car. My mother and sister are actually addicted and much worse than I am. When my sister and I were neighbors she often came down to use mine if she was out. Yes, we’ve actually shared those. Is that sisterly love or what?

I can’t sleep without the noise and circulation of a ceiling fan and preferably a loud one. If I'm ever in a situation without one it is a long and miserable night.

I can’t just lay my head down on the pillow and fall asleep. I either have to read, watch TV or mess around on the laptop until I can barely keep my eyes open. If I don’t have something to focus on then the sixteensisters in my head will remind me of all of the bills that need to be paid, home improvements needing to be done, blog entry ideas, whether I remembered to put the clothes in the dryer so they don’t mildew, whether I locked the doors (of course I would never forget that because it’s another thing I have to do before going to bed, but of course a sister will have me questioning whether I actually did it or not and then I’ll have to get back up to double check), etc. Get the picture?

I have to have sleep with three pillows and arrange & fluff them before I lay down.
I have one feather pillow that I guard with my life. I will pull it out from under my sleeping husband’s head if necessary. Hey, I’m gentle about it! He shouldn’t have been stupid enough to fall asleep with it knowing it’s my pillow.

I can't sleep in a messy bed. The sheets and comforter don't have to be prefect, but close. If they've been pulled more to one side or the other I just hate it! (unless it's my side that got more!)

The bedroom door needs to be “pulled to”. My words to the kids as they come in and out after I’ve already laid down. “Pull it to on your way out”. Before bed I put a piece of clothing or a small towel in the door way to keep it from shutting completely. I know that’s really weird! But if it’s shut all the way it’ll drive me nuts when my husband gets up for his middle of the night snack and if it’s just cracked and not shut I’m convinced I can still hear a kid in distress. Actually, I can’t hear much over the noise of our fans. In addition to the Fantastic Fan, we also use a small floor fan to block out noises like barking dogs, the sound of our oldest daughter’s music, her talking on the phone and the repeated opening and shutting of her door long after we’ve gone to bed.

I don’t like spending the night away from home. I will, but only when I have to and only at certain places. Anyone wonder why? Isn’t it obvious from all of the above?

I can’t go to bed without taking a bath or shower at least a few hours beforehand.

Here are my special habits that were initially developed as a result of my cockroach phobia that has been mentioned here many times before. We were clean people growing up, but the big ones would get inside from time to time. Everyone knows they like to come out at night, so some of the following were habits I developed when I was younger but have stayed with me until this day, even when we lived in California, where I never even saw a roach.

Since I was a teenager I’ve made a large glass of ice water every night before bed and sit it on my night stand. I started doing that so I wouldn’t have to get up in the middle of the night if I got thirsty and chance a roach encounter. When each of my kids was little they picked up my water next to the bed habit, too. Most nights I may not even drink but a sip or two and other nights it’ll be almost gone by morning, but it’s always there just in case I get thirsty. For a long time I used to put a wash cloth over the top of it to ensure nothing would fly or fall into it while I slept. I didn’t want to drink a floating mosquito, fly or even worse but I eventually broke that habit. The official name for that glass of water in our house is “Night Water”.

I always wear house shoes (slippers), flip flops or socks around the house. If I wake up to go potty at night I have a pair right next to the bed that I slip on. Yet another habit created from my fear of stepping on a roach in the dark. It used to be only a night time thing but then I developed a fetish about walking around barefoot in general and now I always have something on my feet if I am up and moving around, day or night. Okay, I might walk through the house barefoot on occasion, but 99% of the time I just don’t.

I hope this doesn’t make me sound part OCD/part high maintenance. I am in some ways, but for the most part my habits/routines don’t effect anyone else or require anything of them, so that’s not technically high maintenance is it? (The husband is not allowed to answer that question!)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

All Dogs go to Heaven

I started this entry in the wee hours of the morning, (technically last night), while I was still very raw and emotional after losing one of my dogs to a sudden illness. I debated all day on whether I should even post this because it’s rather depressing! However, it was what poured from my soul last night and after giving it some thought, I’m going to. So, consider this your warning that it’s a sad read, but I also want to report that the entire family is doing much better this evening. We all five sat around earlier crying some more, but then our tears turned to laughter as we talked about some of the silly things Spencer would do. We even reminisced about our first family dog and what we missed about her. I’ll try to think of a happier topic in the coming days, but for now I will go ahead and let you pet lovers boo with me. I promise, we’re all doing much better tonight!

I wish this was going to be a funny, lighthearted post but sadly it’s not. It's going to be a real downer so you might want to just skip it. It's 3:30am and I’ve not yet slept a wink and the alarm will be sounding in three hours. I’ve cried a river but still can’t sleep. The kids were up past 1:30am and are staying home from school tomorrow. I had to make the decision to euthanize one of our dogs tonight and it was tough on all of us.

Spencer was fine earlier in the afternoon but when my son took dinner out at about 8:45pm, he didn't come running as usual. After installing the electric fence we’d only had a few episodes of him escaping so I walked out front and started whistling for him. My son soon called to me that he was in the back but wouldn’t come and eat. I walked around to the back of the house where he seemed to be hiding. He was at the water spicket, which we have set to drip when they drink and there was a lot of water saturated on the ground and he seemed to be sopping it up like crazy. When I called him he started walking towards me in a daze, so immediately obviously not himself and then he sort of sprawled to the ground and flipped over onto his side. He’d start to get up and it would happen again. I totally panicked. He’d sometimes manage to walk eight to ten feet at a time without the tumble, but just when I thought he might be getting better, he would regress and fall over again. His alert moments were short lived but gave me hope as I tried to figure out what could’ve happened to our dog. He was so thirsty and gulped down two small bowls of water then threw it up.

As I tended to the dog, my husband checked the fence and found a place where he could’ve gotten out and we initially suspected poisoning until I’d called a friend with a strong veterinary background and he told me it didn’t sound like the symptoms of poisoning but more like severe dehydration, from what we had no clue. I was crying as I tried to get him to act or feel normal and within the hour decided this warranted a visit to the animal emergency clinic. Who has the money to fork out for after hour’s care, but how can you just sit and watch your pet in such distress and only hope for improvement until morning? Even though he wasn't whimpering I just knew he was in bad shape and had to be suffering. My younger two kids and I prayed together shortly after we'd found him like this. We didn't want him to suffer and wanted him to be okay.

I’m not sure why I did, but the kids were too anxious and worried to sleep so I let them throw on some clothes and go with me. We had to lift the dog into the car and slide him on the sheets all the way in. In this short period of time he became so lethargic and non-responsive that I was prepared for the worst, but hoping I was wrong. My oldest daughter followed us from work to the clinic. We had to ask for help to get him inside and they brought a gurney out and took him in through the back.

I can't even begin to describe how proud and amazed I am at the way my children handled this very emotional drama. I’m still in awe of each one of them and so thankful they were with me, because as hard as it was for them to say goodbye and see their dog in such a state, I honestly don't think I could've handled it without them. We were working together as we weighed the grim options and went back and forth before making our final decision. I was told they could start IV’s and treatment on Spencer but he would require several days of hospitalization and medication, and depending on what point we’d caught the illness, he still might not make it. His blood was turning to “tar” and his system was shutting down. It’s got a name, three words that I can’t recall exactly but it was Hemorrhagic X X and they couldn’t tell us the exact cause, only speculated that he ingested something. (i.e. a plant, a mushroom, trash or bad food at some point) The cost for the treatment for just the one night would be six to seven hundred dollars and he would most certainly have needed to be hospitalized for a minimum of several days. He was in bad shape by the time we arrived at the clinic. The doctor gave me his opinion and was frank with me that I would be looking at a minimum of a thousand dollars. I hate to say that money played a role in my decision, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't. It played a role but wasn’t the deciding factor. There was a point when the kids each volunteered their own money to help fund the treatment and a point when I came so close to writing a check (thinking I'd deal with the financial strain later) and just saying go for it, do it, do whatever it takes, but after talking to our experienced friend again, and to the doctor a second time, the kids and I together agreed to say our goodbyes and let them end his suffering. It wasn't an easy decision by any means, and so hard to see them all trying to accept it and then have to say goodbye. They'd wheeled him into the room on a gurney to us and only once did he even lift his head. He had labored breathing, his eyes were closed and there was absolutely no response from him to us all petting his face and whispering that we loved him. He worsened even more in the five or ten minutes we spent with him and my oldest saw that his closed eyes were literally blood red and got very upset so I nudged them out and called them to go ahead and take him. We all sobbed and waited for them to bring him out to my car for the ride home where my husband was preparing his final resting spot in the backyard.

Yes, he was the alleged "ducknapper", very mischievous and always into something, but the most lovable, adorable, sweetest dog ever and we're going to miss him.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Ten Things

Since I can’t change the world, I wish I could at least change a few small things around me. Here are ten things that come to mind right off the top of my head. I could’ve easily listed twenty, or even thirty, but didn’t want to get carried away and have everyone reading here thinking I was just a big grouch. (Ha!)

I wish.............

1. I wasn’t the only person in my house who knew how to change the empty toilet paper roll.

2. The other four people I share a house with would flush the toilet after every use.

3. My husband wouldn’t use his side of the bed as a laundry hamper and shoe closet.

4. I could see the floor in my oldest daughter’s room.

5. My children wouldn’t take their socks off inside out.
(Folding them like that hasn’t broken them of the habit, either.)

6. My husband wouldn’t take his T-shirts and underwear off inside out. (He’s actually gotten better about his socks. I think he got the message that the kids didn't.)

7. My husband wouldn’t leave the shower nozzle in the ON position so that every time I go to start the water for a hot bath I get sprayed in the face. (Over the last few weeks there has been a slight improvement in the number of instances. It’s only taken nineteen years to get this far, so maybe there’s hope for him after all.)

8. Everyone in the house utilized the laundry basket or clothes hamper.

9. I wouldn’t find empty items put back in the refrigerator or pantry. (Ahem……anyone but me ever heard of a trash can? What good is an empty pop-tart box?)

10. Everyone rinsed the sink out after brushing their teeth. (Then again, what better things do I have to do than scrubbing dried globs of toothpaste from the sink? Well, I do have socks to fold. Plus I have to turn them right side out. How do you say that, anyway?)

There are plenty more where these came from, but I'll save those for another time. Feel free to add to this list in the comment section. I'm sure everyone has their own special list.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Coffee, Anyone?

My husband and I drink coffee every morning when we get up. The only exception to that rule is if we sleep really late on the weekends, but even then it’s rare that we don't drink it whenever we get up. He usually makes it on the weekends but I somehow got stuck with being the official coffee maker during the week. I always prepare it the night before and set the timer for it to brew before we get up in the morning. Our morning ritual consists of us drinking our coffee while watching the local news in between waking the kids for school and then getting ourselves ready.

Last night, as I was doing my "before bedtime routine", I decided that I'd just skip coffee today knowing that my husband had taken the day off from work and would be sleeping late today. I thought I'd take full advantage of the fact that he wouldn’t be nudging me to get up if I hit snooze two or three times and sleep a little later than normal. So, I crawled out of bed this morning half asleep and rushed around like a mad woman trying to get out of here on time, semi-regretting my decision to pass on the coffee.

It was a brutal morning at work without my normal dose of caffeine to keep me going. I could hardly keep from nodding off right there at my desk. I work for a very small company and we don't even have coffee at work. Can you believe that? It’s the only place I’ve ever worked where there's not coffee brewing all day long or it wouldn’t have been a big deal. We do have a coffee shop across the street that comes in handy for times like these, but it was raining today and I just wasn't willing to venture out into the rain so I just toughed it out.

As I was leaving for lunch today I called my husband to check on the status of his day and during our conversation I mentioned how tired I'd been all morning since I'd chosen to skip my morning coffee. He got very upset and asked what I meant by that so I explained myself. He went on to tell me that he’d gotten up and poured himself a cup of coffee from the pot and heated it up in the microwave. Our coffee pot sits in an out of the way spot on the counter and is sort of "out of sight, out of mind". I'm usually the only one in the house who empties and/or washes it, so it's not unusual for it to sit there with a little bit of leftover coffee in it until it's time to make the next pot. We were discussing how old the coffee must've been as he tried not to puke during our conversation. He said he had looked it over and even smelled it before pouring himself a cup and that he really thought it was leftover from earlier this morning. We decided it must've been from yesterday and he was totally grossed out to think that he'd enjoyed a cup of twenty-four-hour old coffee. We both laughed, in between him gagging and hung up. I thought about it some more after that and just had to call him back after I specifically remembered that this was an unusual weekend for us because we didn't have coffee on Saturday or Sunday. He'd actually enjoyed a cup of Friday’s coffee on this Monday morning! Upon hearing this news he suddenly felt sick and asked me to go look inside at the filter to see if there was any mold growing on the coffee grounds. (And no, there wasn't!)

I guess if I were a really good wife I would've just let him keep thinking it was only twenty-four-hour old coffee rather than seventy-two-hour old coffee. Not!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

One of These Things is Not Like the Other

I hope I don’t live to regret posting this entry. You will probably ask yourself why on earth I would care to share this story with anyone, much less everyone, but you have to be able to laugh at yourself in life and laughter should be shared, right?

I'd made fun of my sister for years after she’d called me one day to tell me that she’d been on the elevator at work and had looked down at her feet and realized she had on one brown and one black shoe, of the same brand and style. She’d stood there hoping and praying no one would notice and tried to remain obscure for the rest of the day. Then one day, karma took care of me and I've never made fun of her for that again.

I went to work one morning last summer and my day seemed to be off to a normal start. I worked in a large office with cubicles, but they were the ones with short walls and very little privacy so we could all see what was going on around us. I'd walked around the office to use the copier, fax machine, check my inbox, etc. and didn’t notice anything unusual. At about 9:00 am or so I went to use the restroom. Almost as soon as I’d sat down, I glanced down at my feet and immediately gasped out loud and stood back up. I let out an involuntary sound of some sort of panicked moan and must’ve said "OMG" three or four times out loud. I was absolutely mortified. I’d looked down at my two feet and saw two COMPLETELY different shoes staring back at me. I'm not talking about a brown and black pair of the same brand and style. Nope. I'm not talking about two shoes that could’ve passed for sisters, they couldn’t have passed for second cousins! One was camel colored with a flower on top and the other was dark brown with straps running across the front. The heels were even shaped completely different. There wasn't one thing similar about these two shoes! I was in shock. I wanted to crawl out of the window and run home. I could not believe that I’d walked around the office like that for over an hour unnoticed and was horrified at the thought of one of my co-workers seeing me like that. I stood in the stall paralyzed as I planned my escape. About that time a co-worker walked in and I reluctantly opened the stall door and pointed down to my feet, then asked if she would go to my desk and get my purse. She was bent over laughing WITH me, not AT me! There was absolutely no way I could've walked back through the office like that. All I needed was for one of the guys from the sales department to see me. I would've never lived it down. I still can't understand how no one noticed when I was walking around the office for over an hour like that, but am so grateful they didn’t.

By the way, there's a perfectly logical explanation for this horrifying mishap. I was getting dressed that morning and had put on one of each shoe, then walked into my oldest daughter’s room to ask her which one looked better with my khaki pants. Apparently, when I walked back to my room to finish getting ready I’d gotten sidetracked and unfortunately never gave the shoes a second thought. Don’t ask me how I managed to walk around without noticing the half-inch difference in the two heels. Take a look at these shoes and ask yourself what I was smoking that morning! The answer is nothing and I still assure you that I’m not a blonde!

My co-worker brought me my purse and I literally sprinted to the parking lot and called my boss from my cell phone explaining my sudden disappearance. I laughed at myself all the way home thanking God that no one had noticed. This definitely made the time I wore a T-shirt around all day with the cute little “pocket” on my back left shoulder seem mild in comparison!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Gone But Not Forgotten

As most of you know, I started this blog in June after learning that my friend Kim had died suddenly and unexpectedly. The first two entries were about her death but I haven’t written anything about her since then. I have refrained from doing so because I didn’t want to make this a depressing place to read. It’s been almost three months since she passed away and not a day goes by that I don’t think about her and miss her. Her name is still saved in my cell phone and email contact lists. I often come across it when I’m scrolling through looking for a contact but I just can’t bring myself to delete her.

My thoughts and prayers are with those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Fantastic Fan

A few years ago my husband was working a different shift and his two days off were during the week. We hated not having the weekends off together but on the plus side, he managed to get more stuff done around the house with the kids in school and me working.

One day I came home from work and found the house empty, which was unusual so I headed down the hall looking for everyone. When I reached my bedroom I found my husband, son and youngest daughter all lying in our bed with these strange smiles on their faces. It was obvious they were up to something so I stood there at the foot of the bed just staring at all three of them with their silly grins and asked what was going on. We went back and forth several times with me asking them what they were up to and them denying that there was anything out of the ordinary going on. Finally, my husband asked if I noticed anything different in our room so I looked around but saw nothing unusual. It still looked like the same messy bedroom as it did when I’d left that morning. The suspense was now killing me. When I just couldn't spot anything different he finally told me to look up. I did and a brand new shiny ceiling fan was hanging above our bed. Ours had been on its last leg, rattling and shaking for a while so I was extremely pleased that he’d finally installed a new one.

As they all three continued to lie there watching me with those silly grins my husband then told me that the fan did something really cool but that he couldn’t say it out loud but that he would spell it. I looked at him like he was crazy and he spelled “S A Y -L I G H T -O F F”. I thought he was losing it so I just stood there so he spelled it out again. I hesitated but finally said, “light off”, and the light actually turned off. Next he spelled out “S A Y- L I G H T - O N”. I did and lo and behold the light turned on. I was stunned and just stood there processing this and then said “No way!” He continued giving me more commands such as “fan off”, "fan on" and this master of all fans was following my every command. I couldn’t believe that I could actually verbally command my new ceiling fan to turn on and off like that. This was better than The Clapper! (Not that I had a clapper but the idea was always intriguing!) All I could think about was no more getting out of bed on cold mornings to turn the fan off or stumbling around in the dark to feel for the light switch. This was awesome! I was so impressed and amazed with the technology of this new magical fan. Well, that was until the last two “test” commands didn’t work quite as smoothly as the first few. The timing was off by a few seconds after I verbalized a command and it was at that point my husband and kids could no longer contain their laughter and I then knew I’d just fallen for the “voice controlled fan trick” hook, line and sinker. (And no, I’m not a blonde in case you were wondering)

My husband had been hiding the remote control to the fan under the comforter the entire time. I wanted to kill him but I was laughing too hard at the time, as were all three of them. As disappointed as I was that I didn't actually have a new magical voice controlled fan, the Mother of All Fans, I was still stoked that it at least came with a remote control. It took a while for us to train ourselves not to pull the strings on the fan or to flip the light switch and to stop losing the remote somewhere in the bed, but it was pretty cool and we became spoiled by the convenience factor in no time.

About a year ago the remote stopped working and we’d really gotten dependent on it so my husband made several attempts to fix it with no luck. The fan worked just fine in the caveman mode, but not with the remote. Unfortunately, we were forced to return to life as we'd once known it, pulling strings and flipping switches. It was tough, some mornings were colder than others, but somehow we managed to survive!

Well, guess what? The prankster husband of mine came home from Wal-Mart yesterday with the part he’s needed for over a year to fix the remote and he got it working again so we’re once again living life in luxury! Now if I could just find a remote control with a mute button for my husband’s mouth, I’d be good to go!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Grocery Store/Hell

I absolutely loathe grocery shopping. Not that anyone asked, but I felt compelled to share that tidbit of information. Luckily, my husband does the majority of our shopping, or we’ll often go together. Otherwise, we might starve.

Every time I step foot inside of a grocery store I remember why I hate shopping. It never fails that I will get stuck with a slow person that I can't seem to shake. You know, the one person who is on the first or second aisle that you start on, and they're right in your way, so you sort of mill around waiting on them to move so you can grab your item and they sort of scoot along like a turtle then you finally manage to maneuver your way around them and think you're finally in the clear, but the next thing you know they seem to be following you. You just can't shake them. You might get a reprieve for a row or two and think you’ve put enough space between you and them only to turn around and see they are again blocking you from your item or making your attempt to get down the aisle almost impossible.

I stopped by the store on my way home from work tonight to get a few things. The tables seemed to be turned and I found myself being the one in someone's way for a change. It was really strange to be on the reverse end, especially to an elderly woman. On several occasions I feared this eighty plus year old woman might plow me right over. She was moving so fast I tucked my rear end in every time I heard her coming for fear that I might lose my backside. I think this little old lady was on speed cause I’ve never seen anyone her age move that fast, especially in the grocery store.

Personally, I think they should have little tables set up like they do when they're passing out samples of a product, but instead of food and drinks they should pass out Valium in various forms. It could change the whole dynamics of the grocery shopping experience. Can you imagine how nice and relaxed everyone would be? If they were to do that I know I would be willing to go much more often, if not every day and my husband would just love that.