Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Rude Awakening

After staying up until 2:30 a.m. because it's fall break and I can (and also because I had Starbucks yesterday afternoon with Loren and I became the Energizer bunny), I had a very rude awakening this morning at 6:45 when I heard a continuous beeping sound coming from far away. I'd slept in Nine's room last night since I went to bed so late and didn't want to wake Dan up. Nine was sleeping in his brother's room because, if you ask him, fall break is just one really long sleepover. Anyway, I heard this beeping, didn't know where it was coming from, and didn't know what it was.

In my groggy state, I stumbled out into the hallway, where the sound got a little louder. I kind of smelled a stale, vaguely smoky, gas heater-y kind of smell, but it didn't smell like raging house fire. I thought maybe the sound was coming from a carbon monoxide detector. Then I remembered we didn't have one of those anymore because the old one went on the fritz
at our previous house and got thrown down on the concrete driveway and smashed repeatedly with a broomstick by someone with obvious anger management issues when it wouldn't Stop Making Noise. Ahem. Calm, soothing breaths. Okay, moving on...

So, then I kind of woke up the rest of the way and realized it must be a smoke detector and it must be coming from downstairs because I could barely hear it. Then I noticed that Dan was awake. Then the smoke detector in the hallway right outside the bedroom doors started going crazy. Two sleepy boys came tumbling out of Thirteen's room, dragging their feet and looking confused. I yelled for them to follow me downstairs, but they couldn't hear me because they were covering their ears to drown out all the beeping. I pulled them downstairs while Dan found a stepladder to reach the smoke detector and shut it up. I grabbed jackets for the boys and got them outside, then made the other detector in the laundry room stop beeping.

We figured out that it happened because this was the first time that our heater had ever been used, since we got the new air conditioner/heater combo back in June. There was probably some kind of protective covering or layer of dust over the heating element or in the ducts that burned off when it first cut on. At least, that's my scientific explanation.

Bottom line is, if this had been a real fire emergency, we'd all be toast. Between the whole parents-not-hearing-the-alarm-at-first, the kids-covering-the-ears-so-they-don't-hear-instructions, and the bypass-the-closest-exit-upstairs-and-go all-the-way-downstairs-where-there-might-actually-BE-a-fire, we sucked at fire safety. Epic fire drill fail.

The good news is, since this wasn't an actual fire and we didn't die from our stupidity, it gave us a good opportunity to talk about what we did wrong and how we should respond in a real emergency. When I taught preschool, we always did a lesson about fire safety in October because, in addition to being Breast Cancer Awareness month (didn't the football players look so cute in all their pink accessories Sunday?), October is also, you guessed it, Fire Safety Month.

When I taught Pre-K, Grace and I always taught the kids to "Stop, Drop, and Roll." I loved that I got paid to roll around on the floor with four- and five-year-olds. We taught them to feel a door to see if it's hot before they opened it. We showed them how to "Get Low and Get Out" to avoid smoke inhalation. We taught them to never go back into the house for anything--pets, toys, parents, etc.We told the kids to talk to their parents about an escape plan. We even had the Smyrna fire department come out with a fire truck to show the kids how it worked and what firefighters do. I always put in a special request for them to send the really H-O-T firefighters to our school, because anyone who spends several hours a day with little kids deserves a little eye candy to spice things up a bit.

But I realized this morning that my own children probably haven't heard any of that since they were preschoolers themselves. So we had a mini-lesson right there in our pajamas in the Man Cave. Nine had a million What If? questions, of course, and Thirteen was busy hatching all kinds of radical escape plans involving the use of Nerf guns to break windows that he would then crawl through and Spidey down the downspouts with an invincibility that is only possessed by teenage boys. Or forty-five-year-old worship pastors, but that's another story for another day. I seem to remember this lesson being easier to teach with preschoolers.

So, even though I was rudely awakened way too early, we all learned a valuable lesson. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go take a nap and dream about hot firefighters.

Monday, October 4, 2010

To Do (Done)

Here's the list of things accomplished today:

1) cleaned the upstairs, not just sort of picked up like I usually do. There was actual mopping involved, people.

2) took two bags of aluminum cans and one bag of newspapers to the Humane Society so they can get money to feed their furry charges

3) took about seven bags of stuff to Goodwill

4) loaded my car up with plastic grocery bags to be recycled, and then forgot to go to the store to recycle them

5) had coffee with my friend and blog stalker, Loren

6) Hauled all the fall/winter clothes in from the detached garage. Then unpacked, washed, dried, folded or hung all of them and put most of them away. I say most of them because my closet is too tiny to put all of them away at the same time. The rest are hanging in the laundry room waiting to see which boy's closets becomes the extension of Mommy's closet. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, maybe just once or twice, but I have the smallest closet in the family. Just thought I'd mention that, in case you weren't aware.

7) Removed all the spring/summer clothes and put them in SpaceBags and totes. Wept copious tears of joy when saying good-bye to all my cute, strappy sandals and flip-flops (which, incidentally, filled two Sterilite 18 gallon storage containers--pink ones, of course)

8) watched my boyfriend, Rick Castle

9) pulled some of my potted plants inside since we have a frost/freeze warning tonight. Got bored with that and decided the rest of the plants can fend for themselves.

10) made sure the cat had food, water, and blankets in her igloo to survive the cold night

11) blogged this so that my stalker would have something new to read

Notice I still haven't listed "painted Thirteen's room." Sigh.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

How to Ensure that I Will NEVER Buy Your Product

An open letter to all companies who sell products which they advertise on television...

There are a lot of ads on TV today. This comes as no surprise to anyone who actually owns a television set, but I am still amazed at how much companies spend on television marketing. These are tough economic times, and consumers have to make important financial decisions when shopping. Therefore, I thought I'd help out those companies who are shelling out big bucks to get their share of our money. Here are the top five things that guarantee I will never buy your product:

1) Use the words "erectile dysfunction" at any point in your advertisement. So far I've been extremely lucky, but I know that at some point my children are going to ask me what that means. That is a conversation I really do not want to have, ever, in my life.

2) List side effects for a pharmaceutical product that are far worse than whatever the advertised drug is supposed to treat. You've all seen these ads. They go a little something like this:

"Side effects include dry mouth, headaches, joint pain, projectile vomiting, explosive diarrhea, and impossibly odorous flatulence. Some users report the growth of a third arm while taking this medication. If you develop neon orange chest hair or the sudden urge to sing Milli Vanilli songs while flying to the moon, please discontinue use and contact your doctor immediately. "

Er, no thanks. I think I'll just continue to be a bit depressed. Really.

3) Four words: "As seen on Oprah." Whatever she's plugging, I'm pretty sure I won't ever need it. Ever. Especially if it's a book from her book club. *Shudder*

4) Ditto any product for whom the spokesperson is a caveman, a talking dinosaur, or Marie Osmond.

5) Try to convince me (or my kids) that we will never be cool/happy/hip/smart/skinny/ or popular unless we rush right out to buy what you're selling. Sorry, I'm not that gullible and neither are my children. Shame on you. We're all just fine the way we are, thankyouverymuch.

Okay, Madison Avenue. There you have it. Please take this advice to heart and save not only a few of your advertising dollars, but my television viewing pleasure as well. Thank you.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Couch Crazy

They say the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem, right? Okay, in that case, here goes...

I am addicted to couches.

There. Whew. It felt good to get that off my chest. In the past year Mom and I have moved no fewer than SEVEN couches, which means I should probably look for a twelve-step program really soon.

See, I kind of have a problem with collecting couches. It started innocently enough. When we lived in Smyrna we had an off-white matching couch and love seat downstairs in the living room, which we covered with chocolate brown slipcovers after realizing that people with small boys and black cats should NOT have off-white couches. We had a gray matching couch, love seat, and chair in the bonus room upstairs because the color theme in that room was red and black with gray. No problems, right?

Well, when we were in the process of buying our Hendy home, I knew we'd need a bit more furniture because we'd have an additional room (a den) here. I didn't want to break up our matched sets, so I bought an extra couch at a yard sale for $10 and Mom and I hauled it home in her Suburban. Since we didn't have the house yet but we'd already moved out of our other one, I stored it on Mom and Dad's patio for a couple of weeks, much to my dad's chagrin.

So a few weeks later we moved into the house and discovered that the new $10 couch was too big for the den. We switched it with the off-white-slipcovered-in-brown love seat from the living room, then bought another similar but not totally matchy brown slipcover for the $10 couch.

All was quiet on the couch front for a few months.

Then Mom and I worked a Humane Society yard sale where I fell in love with a brownish leather love seat. So, that time we borrowed PawPaw's truck, hauled the love seat to my living room, and moved the $10 couch downstairs to replace the gray couch that was beginning to show the strain of being occupied by an eighty-pound lab every day. We bought a black slipcover so it would match the music room (a.k.a. "Man Cave") theme. Then we hauled the gray couch to Mom's and dumped it at the top of her street for the trash men to take away.

Digression: Have I mentioned that the trash collectors hate me? Well, they do. I don't know what I ever did to them, but they will not haul away anything I leave at the curb. My neighbors can leave all manner of household refuse at their curbs and it gets picked up that day. I, on the other hand, have had a rusty old planter and an ancient chandelier sitting by the street for two weeks and no one in the sanitation profession has even glanced at it. Grrr...

Anyway, so I've been fairly disciplined with my upholstered furniture purchases for a few months. Then last week we found a free couch and love seat that had seen better days, but we thought it would be okay for my brother. See, he's taken out his own trash by kicking his wife out of the house. (Sorry, I'll retract my claws now, but she totally deserves that comment.) Since she'll be taking some furniture with her if she ever finally picks up her crap from his house (sorry, claws again, gotta work on that), we thought he could use them. Once we got it to his house (with the use of PawPaw's truck again), we realized it was in worse shape than we'd originally thought. Now it's waiting to be carted off to Goodwill.

So today Mom and I were out yard saling again (of course, because it's Saturday. Duh!) and we found a sleeper sofa that I could afford. I've been looking for one so that when my in-laws come to stay we can offer an alternative bedding option (other than the Aerobed, which is losing air through a slow leak so that our guests end up flat on the floor by morning--because we're givers, you see), but they were all either too expensive or in really bad shape. The sleeper sofa is a woven kind of rust and brown combination that would be really pretty if it weren't unraveled in a couple (okay, several) places, but it'll look great with a slipcover on it. And I just happen to have a couple of those lying around. Ha!

So, you guessed it, we borrowed a truck (this time my brother's) and brought home the sleeper sofa, then hauled the old $10 couch to Goodwill (because the couch I'd been sitting on for months was not good enough for my brother to put in his garage TV room). What a couch snob!

I washed all the covers that would unzip in the washing machine, then shampooed and vacuumed the parts that aren't removable, and sprayed antimicrobial Febreeze over all the cushions. Now I have a new (to me) sleeper sofa.

So there you have it. Seven couches moved in less than 16 months. There's probably a cure for this sickness, but I don't want to know. I don't suffer from my insanity--I enjoy every minute of it.

And don't even talk to me about shoes. Just don't.