Library Meatloaf

Yesterday marked the start of the first full week of school and also the first morning confiscations of the school year.

With minimal frisking—this ain’t my first rodeo—I bagged an iPod, an MP3 player, and a set of earbuds I thought I’d left in Chicago from an eleven-year old who honestly may not have noticed they were still attached to her, and also a bulldog puppy named Meatloaf, whose seven-year old thought I was kidding when I said she wasn’t allowed to bring toys to school without asking her teacher first.

I promised Sunny I’d take good care of him all day. Remarkably, this worked and she handed him over with minimal fuss and a heartening touch of guilt.

To be honest, I meant to leave him in the car, but tossed him in my bag instead, where he quietly tangled himself in my badge lanyard.

When I pulled out my badge to clock in, there he was.

And since he was, I decided to put him to work.

Meatloaf Clocking in

Did it beep? I didn’t hear a beep . . .

Meatloaf turned out to be the perfect library page: eager, willing, and remarkably quiet, considering his owner.

He helped answer the phone:

Meatloaf Taking Calls

Yes, we’re open. Yes, I’m sure.

Look up information for patrons:

Meatloaf at the Catalog

You don’t know the title, the author, or the plot, but the cover could be blue? Or maybe red?  No problem.

And sort magazines (from his expression, clearly not his favorite):

Meatloaf and Magazines

Um . . . I’m going to need the step stool. And some thumbs.

He also shared my dinner and helped me hone my Flappy Bird skillz* on Jane’s iPod before napping in my lunchbag for the rest of my shift.

Meatloaf for Lunch

Got any Scooby Snacks?

At the end of the day, I returned one very sleepy puppy to his equally sleepy little girl just in time for him to tell her all about his day before I tucked them both into bed.

This morning, I didn’t have to remove him from Sunny’s backpack.

I found him hiding in my purse. Wearing my lanyard.

Good boy!

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*Which are nonexistent.  Someone needs to invent a game where you’re supposed to bash a digital bird into the same building over and over.  I would be the reigning champion of the world.

Sunny’s New Pad

I might have mentioned that in the past few weeks, Watson and I managed to change the kids’ former playroom from this:

Jane's Room Before

Into this:

Jane's Room After

But our plans didn’t stop there . . .

The next step was to fill half the living room with the contents of the kids’ formerly-shared bedroom.

View of Living RoomArtistic shot of a major mess.

This revealed several primitive wall-drawings that Watson swore had some kind of link to the Lascoux Cave Drawings, though I’ve personally never wanted to attack Palaeolithic  artwork with a Magic Eraser and I sincerely doubt it would be as difficult to remove mineral-based pigment from rock as it was to scrub graphite and ink from laytex-based paint:

Lascaux2Can you see the unicorn?

Watson was in charge of painting the yellow walls an extremely pink pink—seriously, these photos do not do it justice—which she did with the air of a seasoned perfectionist and a collection of absurdly small brushes:

Tiny PaintbrushNo joke—this is the brush she used to cut in.

She wielded them with impressive speed, though, and it only took two days for two coats, plus drying.  It would have gone a lot faster,  but Watson had several “helpers”:

Sunny HelpsSo.  Much.  Spatter.

Jane HelpsTHIS is how Janie rolls . .

photo 1 (1)I helped, too . . .

Almost DoneThis was the point where Sunny said, “Hey!  We’re almost done!”
Watson said the optimism was breathtaking.

Once the paint was dry, the furniture was rearranged, the books classified, divided, and distributed and—once the kids left the house for a couple hours—the toy bins were sorted and parceled out according to contents.*

We’re pretty proud of the results, which are, believe me, several shades pinker that shown, and include a special nook where she can sit and read or play dolls, or just, you know, hang:**

Sunny's Room2  Sunny's Room

I only hope Sunny will make herself at home in her new room, just like her big sister:

Jane's Pad  Except, you know, not.

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*We have one bookcase left over—a minor miracle—and I’d better move it out of the living room, soon, before it starts collecting stuff, as every relatively flat surface of the house seems to do, and blocks the TV forever.  Then again . . .

**Yes, there’s a bed, too, though we still can’t get her to sleep in it past 3:30am . . .

Random Thursday: Small, Disturbing Things

It’s been kind of a weird week, y’all . . . 

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The Strange Occurrence of the Tea Party in The Daytime

I came home from work the other day, walked into the dining room and said, “Oh, the table is clean!  And you’re having a tea party!  How fun is that?”

“Mom?” Janie asked from the living room couch.  “Who’re you talking to?”

I looked again.

Dinner Party3

“Um.  Sunny’s doll,” I said, with as much dignity as I could muster.

“Okaaay,” Janie said, going back to her book.  “As long as you aren’t talking to the skunk.”

In my defense, Eleanor looks an awful lot like Sunny:

Dinner Party2

But I’ll admit that Violet doesn’t look much like anyone but herself, even in her best dress and choker:

Dinner Party1

But you know the truly frightening thing?

I probably would have talked to them anyway.

oooooooooooooooOOOOOooooooooooooooo

The Goats

The first time you watch this, it’s adorable.

The second time, it’s like Hitchcock’s The Birds, except cuter, softer. . . and baby goatier.

oooooooooooooooOOOOOooooooooooooooo

Who Whew!

My husband says this isn’t funny, because no one could possibly be afraid of David Tennant.

I’m not sure he understands how frightened I can be, given the proper motivation.

oooooooooooooooOOOOOooooooooooooooo

Hitting (the Keys) a Little Close to Home

This is strangely familiar . . .

Very strangely . . .

(Kate Miller-Heidke also wrote two of my favorite songs:  God’s Gift to Women and The Facebook Song*—see what you think)

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* Not Safe for Work or Children Likely to Gleefully Repeat Certain Words in Front of Your MIL.

Passing the Rabbit

English: pg 25 of The Velveteen Rabbit.

I know I said a while ago that I wasn’t going to muck out clean the kids’ playroom ever, ever again unless applying lighter fluid and a pack of matches counted, but I lied, okay? I might be one of those people whose personal filing system involves geological strata instead of folders but even I like to be able to walk into a room without having to wear steel-toed boots and shin guards.

So that’s what I did most of Saturday, which means the muscles in the back of my legs feel like someone beat me with the two miniature souvenir baseball bats I unearthed two hours into the job, and the hockey stick I sat on a little later.

The kids did help, to their credit, which means I’ve also gone hoarse, as Sunny’s hearing is inversely proportional to her level of boredom.

But everything is mostly in order.

The final harvest this time was two bags for the landfill, three bags of recycling, two bags of donations, and a ridiculously large pile of stuffed animals and dolls I’m going to have to throw out, too, because they can’t easily be washed, disinfected, or repaired and The Velveteen Rabbit is a beautiful lie.

The mess didn’t break my spirit, but this is threatening to break my heart.

The books were easier to pare down than this mountain of formerly-loved creatures.

How can I throw out Carla Baby, gone gray and grubby with love?

How am I supposed to let go of the Pooh Bear that was bigger than Jane when he arrived and kept her safe? Sunny’s one-eared piggie? The Very Hungry Caterpillar whose fuzzy antenna were gummed off by two Very Hungry Babies?

How can I toss the adorable hedgehog with the sock on his head. . . wait.  I don’t have to.  He’s mine.  And the Honeymoon Haggis.  Don’t ask.

But how can I possibly give up my children’s childhoods?

I can’t.  I just can’t.

Which is why, at the age of forty-cough, I’ve started a Grandparent Box.

I will fill this box with the discarded bits and pieces that mean so much to me because they meant everything to my kids once upon a time.

And when my children grow up and I eventually and inevitably become another one of those discarded things, I will tell my children’s children the stories of the Grandparent Box  as they hug the ladybug pillow with the missing spots and kiss the orange nose of the snowman with the chewed buttons.

There is no doubt that in the fullness of time and in the venerable tradition of my people, I will also bring a box or two whenever I visit and hide them in closets or a corner of the garage when no one’s looking.

You know, just in case the Velveteen Rabbit magic needs a little more time . . .

Why I’m mainlining ibuprofin today

Janie and Sunny have a playroom.

The natural state of this playroom is complete and utter chaos.

This is neither cliche, nor hyperbole.

Until yesterday afternoon, despite their parent’s numerous requests, pleas, bribes, outright threats, and one of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s patented cures*— the room looked like this:

   

   

I would have taken an image of the closet, but I couldn’t get to it.

I’m not a big fan of housecleaning,** but there is a line, and this room crossed it.  So my husband took the kids to the family museum, and I grabbed a roll of garbage bags, clapped on my headphones, and got to work.

Three hours of high-octane music later, The room looked like this:

     

Never underestimate the power of my Adrenaline Playlist.

I pitched two full garbage bags of broken or damaged toys, orphaned game bits and puzzle pieces, desiccated art supplies, dismembered dolls, crumpled paper, old workbooks, and plenty of etcetera.   Doll clothes were sorted by baby, American Girl, and Barbie.  Barbies and Barbiesque dolls, who were mostly naked, were given their own bin in which to party and Sunny’s baby dolls were put to bed or to snooze in the stroller.  Sunny’s collection of Odd Creatures*** were incarcerated in their own pale-pink bin. I separated and isolated three sets of blocks and a Jenga set, and needless to say, the books were rescued and rearranged.

There’s even room for future Christmas and birthday gifts in there.

There’s a garbage bag of plastic toys^ and two of stuffed animals waiting for someone to miss something.  Anything that isn’t claimed after a week will go to our area’s domestic violence shelters.

Oddly enough, the kids love it.  They could find stuff.  They played in there until bedtime and put everything away when they were done.

We’ll see how long the honeymoon period lasts—but I’ll tell you one thing:

Never. Again.

Except for this weekend, when I start on their bedroom.^^

Wish me luck.

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*The one that claims if you refuse to put away your child’s toys, he or she will eventually have to put everything away to either find a particular toy or get to the door.  And just in case you’re wondering, I’m fully aware that Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is a fictional character, but it sounded logical at the time.

**To the same degree that Don Juan was not a proponent of monogamy and the Marquis de Sade did not delight in Sunday School picnics.  Which should have been my first clue that the Piggle-Wiggle cure wouldn’t work.

***True story:  I’d warned the kids I was doing this and told them to remove any toys they absolutely wanted to keep, because I might not know.  Sunny ran to the room and came back with a long, stuffed pink leopard-spotted snake looped twice around her neck, carrying Itch, an orange plastic stegosaurus, two matchbox cars, the ugliest stuffed bat I’ve ever seen, and a handful of mini-rubber duck in various outfits (a doctor, a football player, and a Chinese duck complete with traditional headgear and “mandarin” jacket—rubber duck puns are weird).  Her Bubbleguppy was already under her pillow.  Jane, who was playing a computer game, decided to trust me, though it’s possible the question didn’t register.

^Most of these  go beep, baa, vroom, r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r, or belt Hannah Montana tunes—I’m pretty sure it’s not necessary to explain that this is not a coincidence.

^^ If I can bend enough to pick things up by then.  My back thighs feel like someone took a baseball bat to ‘em, which makes sense—I did the equivalent of five thousand toe-touches, standing and sitting.  My sinuses have yet to forgive me, either, but that’s a given.