Thursday, January 26, 2006


A quick chronology of the state of our toilets, as follows:

  • Two weeks ago, two of our three toilets stopped up on the same day for no apparent reason. We got them unclogged by ourselves, but one of them has continued to back up approximately once a day.

  • On Tuesday the plumber sent out by the home warranty people arrived to tell us that the problem wasn't some kind of stoppage, it was that our toilets were worn out.

  • Upon notifying the warranty people of this, they said that because technically nothing was broken on the toilets, they'd be damned if they'd switch them out (I'm paraphrasing here). But they did give me the option of getting a second opinion from another plumber.

  • Today I called the second plumber and they sent someone out. The same day! Which was great, but I didn't get a chance to get everything out of the bathroom that hadn't been installed there.

  • The plumber was extremely nice and seemed to know his stuff, approaching our recalcitrant toilet as a personal challenge. He also stuck his BARE HAND in a stopped up toilet!!! Everything had gone down several flushes ago, but STILL!

  • And then he used our phone! And he didn't wash his HANDS!

  • While I would like to think I am not a complete germophobe (after all, I am the mother of preschoolers), I am thinking these list items do not accurately convey my utter and complete horror.

  • Do you have any idea how hard it is to memorize everything someone else has touched in order to surreptitiously follow around behind him with an antibacterial wipe?


  • He was very thorough and did achieve his objective after using 1) an auger, 2) taking off the toilet to check the trap, and 3) using an auger again. He also used up 1.5 rolls of toilet paper in the evaluation and eventual remedying of the issue. He was also very splashy and drippy.



  • I even pointed out our sink and soap "in case" he wanted to wash his hands. His response was that it was "clean water" and it couldn't be that bad if dogs drink out of toilet bowls. Nevermind that dogs do lots of disgusting things I would never do. With "clean water" like that, who needs raw sewage?

  • Our housekeeper was here on Tuesday, so the bathrooms started out unusually clean. However, after the plumber left today, I spent a good bit of time wiping down every surface in two bathrooms with a disinfectant wipe to counteract any possible plunger splashes. For Pete's sake, I put my pajamas on that toilet lid!

  • I know it takes an extremely high tolerance of disgusting things to be a plumber. Heaven knows, they play a critical role in society. I am very grateful for the guy today who seems to have solved a major problem in our household.

    I'm just glad they make washing machines for rugs and disposable disinfectant wipes for everything else. And I'm throwing away the magazine that was on top of the flush box, and which is now drenched with highly suspect water.

    Just last week Nate mentioned how cool he thought it would be if we could see germs with the naked eye. I, for one, am ECSTATIC that we can't.

    Tuesday, January 24, 2006

    A Fix

    Aaaaaand, the gratuitous family photo for those of you who may have been going through withdrawal. And who have been gracious enough to check back after my lengthy absence.

    This was taken a week ago Sunday, before church.

    Also, I know it's no excuse for going 12 days between posts, but in case anyone is keeping score, I am almost done with book 3 in a six-book series with a total of 5,694 pages. And I CANNOT PUT THEM DOWN.

    Tonight we had frozen pizza for dinner.

    Grown Up

    Tonight Nate told me that he "really is a very grown up boy."

    I said, "Oh? What makes you grown up?"

    "I use a man's hairbrush, I wear men's underpants, and I have a microscope."

    So there you go.

    Thursday, January 12, 2006

    Racecar pirate daughters

    After naps today the girls played in the playroom. At one point I came in to find this:

    I've got the whole sequence on flickr.

    Polka Dot Birthday

    A couple of shots from Charlotte's polka dot birthday on Saturday. First, the table. Please note how all the food is ROUND (well, except for the hotdogs for people who wouldn't eat hamburgers).

    And the cake. Outdid myself on this one. What I mean is, I ran out of time, out of icing, you name it. But it's ROUND, and so are the decorations on top.

    Just trying to do my job here

    6 days since my last post! How time does fly when you're:
    • fighting unbelievably bad traffic going to doctor visits that don't exist because you canceled them a month ago and forgot to cross them off your calendar;

    • driving people around who barf in your car while fighting unbelievably bad traffic;

    • too busy to eat and/or drink anything until 5 pm;

    • staying up too late knitting because that's the only time I have to do it; and

    • trying to function with 2 of 3 toilets in the house clogged up.

    Also, Charlotte is sick, the dog tore a ligament in his knee, and we have to represent ourselves in court on Jan. 31 to try to get Charlotte's Medicaid waiver back that has been denied.

    On the plus side, yesterday and today have been much more normal. Hattie and I made a marathon trip to the grocery store this morning and got enough food for at least a week's worth of homecooked meals. The dog is up and around and seems to be feeling much better. I got enough sleep for the last night or so (what a difference THAT makes!), and the toilets are unclogged, thanks to the tireless efforts of our resident toilet unclogger. (That would be Tim. I am excruciatingly happy to adhere to traditional gender roles if it means I never have to touch a toilet plunger.)

    I have also learned two three important new things:

    • our grocery store offers a (NEW!) Orange County Choppers cake;

    • if you can't get your toilet to flush, squirt in some dishwashing liquid and then try -- it works! and

    • how to do lists in html.

    Never a dull moment at our house.

    Saturday, January 07, 2006

    Charlotte's Birthday

    Today (actually now yesterday) was Charlotte's fourth birthday. When I asked her what kind of cake she wanted, she initially said white. But since I didn't get to the store in time, I asked her if chocolate would be okay, since that's what I had. She reluctantly agreed, but only if it had purple icing. In a fit of guilt, I told her absolutely, she could have purple icing.

    Then I thought about it.

    Yuck! Purple icing! Time to drag out the special icing colors from a year ago when I had time to be into that kind of thing. I did have a little pot marked "violet" so I thought, perfect. I'll use that.

    Until I actually put it in. I couldn't bring myself to use much. So I ended up with this.

    Don't adjust your screen. Those colors are scarily accurate. Gray cupcakes. And lemon-yellow ones. Of course the purple was not at all vivid (maybe that was a good thing) and the yellow was entirely too vivid (not at all a good thing).

    And in case either one by itself wasn't enough to make you hurl, I combined the colors so that you could enjoy both on every cupcake! The polka dots were in keeping with the party theme, both for tonight's family dinner and for tomorrow's lunch for the extended family. (Don't worry, family, I'm having a cake for all of you. You don't have to eat the cupcakes unless you want to.)

    The one saving grace was that the kids LOVED them. Both what they looked like and what they tasted like. And Tim and I liked what they tasted like too, when we closed our eyes as we ate them.

    And what a shame, I didn't have enough icing to ice all the cupcakes like this. So I got creative, since I had the icing bags all set up anyway. If you want to see those lovelies, you can check them out here.

    In the end, I would consider the evening a success, if only because of how much the kids enjoyed it. Happy 4th Birthday, sweetie!

    Thursday, January 05, 2006

    Something I didn't need to tell a 2-year-old

    We had a couple of potty accidents today. First Hattie, which is more or less to be expected. A quick change of pants, a replacing of the underpants with a diaper and everything was hunky-dory.

    Then mid-morning Charlotte had an accident. Not as expected, since Charlotte has been potty trained for months now. And, without being overly graphic, much more difficult to clean up, shall we say.

    So Charlotte got a short lecture about what she was really supposed to do. And Hattie heard it also, since she was standing there watching this show. Charlotte said she completely understood. And apparently so did Hattie.

    When Tim walked in from work today, Hattie went right up to him, thrilled with this new piece of information that I had said ONCE, and which she had been repeating all day to anyone in hearing distance.

    "Hi, Hattie!"

    "Babies poop in their pants!"

    Tuesday, January 03, 2006

    Odd Fellows

    Charlotte will be four on Friday. I think I can still get away with having a family-only birthday, so I'll be sending out invitations tomorrow after I've had a chance to go to the store. Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow, I always say.

    However, with Tim home, I have had more of a chance than usual to get some things done. Yesterday I finished this apron to go along with a gift she's getting from Grandma and Grandpa.

    Distant photography hides a multitude of ills. The rick rack was an afterthought to hide less-than-straight stitching right across the front. That's what happens when you try to have a glass of wine while sewing. So don't drink and sew, mmmkay?

    Also the piping was my addition. Why follow the pattern exactly when you can add your own flair? And apparently also add too much bulk to the seam, making it fall funny. The trials of an inexperienced seamstress.

    I also tried my hand at one of Jess Hutchinson's unusual toys for you to knit and enjoy. Hers was much smaller, no doubt due to the use of non-bulky yarn and smaller needles. But he turned out okay, I think. He just has to fit inside one of these purses, so I think I can still cram him in.

    I was thrilled to learn about her "jogless join" when changing colors while knitting in the round, a phenomenon that has plagued me for years. Now my stripes are straight instead of hitching up at the beginning or end of a row of a new color! The invisible seam to sew body parts on, however, continues to elude me. Hopefully Charlotte won't be overly critical on that point.

    In other exciting tales from our home, I walked into the bedroom this morning where the rest of my family was clustered around the computer monitor. Nate was masterfully maneuvering his man onscreen, Charlotte was watching with awe, Tim was brushing his teeth, and Hattie was pointing at Tim, yelling, "Mommy's! Mommy's!"

    This made me look at Tim a little more carefully, whereupon I noticed that he was using MY toothbrush. Apparently several months of using his red toothbrush two or more times a day was not enough to burn into his brain that his toothbrush is RED while mine is BLUE. Hattie, however, had picked up on it, despite only having blown through the bathroom occasionally on some other mission while I've been brushing my teeth. Tim tried to attribute it to his having been home with all of us during the past week or so, but really, if that's all it took, what would MY mind be like?