Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Freelance

There are a lot of changes going on right now in our household, mostly because David is starting his own business. This is a fancy way of saying he is going freelance. And that is a fancy way of saying he will be unemployed.

This means that for at least a short period, I will be drawing the only paycheck in this household. That's bad news for our financial bottom line. But it's good news in the sense that I plan to lord it over David. I will yell at him to get a job to support his family, and also bug him to stand up straight. I'll also nag him to get rid of that ponytail because Burger King is not going to hire him if he looks like a slob. It's going to be a blast!

Maybe I need to
take up smoking so David
can bring me a cigar, too.
Or -- and this could be a lot more fun -- if David is not working then perhaps he could play the role of housewife, and meet me at the door when I come home from work with a martini in his hand and a meatloaf in the oven. And wearing a dress made of saran wrap.

That's going to take a lot of saran wrap.

Since David is going freelance, we are switching to the health insurance offered through my job. I am grateful that my job offers health insurance, and that my employer makes a significant contribution to the cost, but sweet mary mother of god is it pricey. This is gold-plated insurance with zero copayments or deductibles, so I am planning on taking full advantage of it. We are going to get medical care up to our eyeballs, whether we need it or not. For example, I am thinking of having my appendix taken out as a preventative measure. And then put back in and removed again, just for the heck of it. At these prices, we can't afford not to.

Price: free!
Also, I told David that since we are moving to a cadillac health insurance plan that covers all our medical expenses without any additional out of pocket costs, we are going to need to have another baby. Maybe two. Otherwise it's like throwing money away! Right? Right!

And on my to-do list, now that we have this new insurance: Research possibilities for me to develop some sort of malady that is painless yet shockingly expensive to treat. I'd like it to be a trendy illness, too, if that's not too much to ask. Maybe I could suffer from something that Angelina Jolie has. (And don't say "twins." Those are trendy, but not painless.)

There's other changes in our household that are afoot, as part of the change in David's job. For instance, due to changes in the way we pay for David's work cellphone, it looks like I may get a real cell phone and we may ditch our land line. Technically I already have a cell phone, a $12 pre-paid phone I bought from Target last year that has come in handy the two or three times I've remembered to charge it. The rest of the time, it acts as a very technologically advanced paperweight. That could be changing soon.

So: new job, new health insurance, new phone. A lot of things are changing in our household, and there's a certain amount of stress and uncertainty that goes along with all those new things. I'm also hoping, to be honest, that one of the new things is a whole lot of saran wrap.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Delightful

My children seem to be especially loving these days. That's great, in part because the way the stock market is going it looks like I will be relying on them to provide for me in my old age. Either that or I will be eating cat food. (But the fancy kind of cat food.)

Always, always carry a
spare baritone in case
of emergency
Stella is especially affectionate. She tells me dozens of times a day that she loves me. Isn't that sweet? She is such a loving child. The downside is that it becomes increasingly difficult to know how to respond. The first couple times she tells me she loves me,  I say, "I love you too." Then I switch to saying "Isn't it great how much we love each other?" Next I move to "We're lucky to have such a loving family." By the 39th time that day that she tells me that she loves me, my response gets stripped down to a simple "Yup." And then I ask her sign a contract pledging to financially support me in my old age.

Baby W is also being delightful, and has been doing a lot of communicating with us despite having limited verbal skills. He is learning baby signs language in leaps and bounds. He loves the attention he gets when he signs, and so he trots these signs out at every opportunity, regardless of whether the object he seeks to name are actually present. For example, he'll sign "bird" and point off toward the sky despite there being no bird in sight. Or he will sign "dog" and point down the road where in theory there could be a dog but isn't. I think this is because as a child with an open mind, he can perceive truths to which we adults have closed our consciousness. I think that he is trying to broaden our horizons to help us transcend the limits of what our eyes can see, understand how fluid even seemingly concrete objects are, and absorb the limitless possibilities of the world around us. Either that or he's fucking with us. Hard to tell.

That is ice cream, not cat food,
on his shirt
When he actually does see a dog, Baby W likes to remind us frequently that he sees said creature. By "frequently," I mean every five to seven seconds. From the frequency with which he reminds us about the dog, you can tell that he suspects not only do we not see that particular dog, but he is also concerned that we are not even aware such animals exist at all, and that we are laboring under the misperception that humans never domesticated wolves 14,000 years ago. Given all that, it's no wonder that he feels the need to alert us to the presence of any dogs, real or hypothetical, several times a minute. Another possibility is that he's fucking with us. (I'm sensing a theme here.) 

Not only are the kids being particularly delightful these days, but Stella has started being nice to Baby W. A little. Occasionally. Between the hours of 1 PM and 3 PM on alternate Wednesdays. Still, that's an improvement. And they've even played together occasionally. I'm hoping that they soon will enjoy each other's company as much as I am enjoying theirs. And then we can all sit down together around the family table, for a dinner of some truly quality cat food. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Camping

Our camping trip was cut short, with us hurriedly stuffing the tent and other belongings into our car before peeling out of the campsite at maximum speed. So while our trip ended poorly and we came back a day early -- more on that in a little bit -- we did have some fun.

We had never taken the kids camping before, so even little things like setting up the tent were novel. Baby W was his usual helpful self:

After setting up camp, we ate, and of course after eating we had to roast marshmallows. Here's Stella when she heard we were breaking out the marshmallows:



Roasting marshmallows is the driving focus of Stella's life. And for this trip, we didn't just bring marshmallows -- we brought some fruit-flavored marshmallows that Stella had seen in the store. Apparently regular old marshmallows just aren't artificial enough, so somebody came up with the great idea of adding even more artificial flavors to them. I didn't know that was even possible. 

One side effect of adding artificial fruit flavor to the marshmallows is that they became too disgusting for even me to eat. I didn't know that was possible either.

After the campfire, we bedded down for the night. We were surprisingly comfortable considering that I had forgotten to pack the air mattress that we were all supposed to sleep on. Oops.

At about 10 PM I woke up because somebody was playing music, loudly. And not just any music -- they were playing really bad 80s stadium rock. "Dammit," I thought, "Where's the park ranger? Isn't he supposed to be making sure that everyone is quiet? Or at least not playing Journey any more than is absolutely necessary?" But David later told me that the music was coming from a concert a mile or two away, meaning the ranger wouldn't have any control over the volume of the music. Let alone the taste.

In the morning we had breakfast, played at the playground, and fed the mosquitoes. There was quite a crop of skeeters at the park, and they definitely had our number, even though I had given everyone a generous spray-down with bug juice. There were a lot of bat houses stationed around the park, each labeled with a little sign explaining that bats eat mosquitoes. Not only were we feeding mosquitoes by getting bitten within an inch of our lives --  in a way we were feeding the bats, since the bats eat the mosquitoes. I know some species of bats are endangered, so I was glad that I played some small part in insuring their survival, as creepy as it may be. This was our family's Sierra Club moment, our contribution to the delicate balance of the forest. Then we went back to camp and let our Hummer idle with the air conditioner running.

No, but we did go back and check the weather forecast using David's phone, because there was a ominous rumbling sound and occasional flashes of lightening in the sky. David read the forecast aloud to me: "Violent thunderstorms...50 mph winds...cloud to ground lightening....nickel-sized hail....stay away from trees....fasten down small objects that may blow away...due in our area in 12 minutes." Small objects, as in the children? The forecast couldn't have been more specific unless it said, "Hey, you in campsite #54, for god's sake blow this joint! On the double!"

So we did. We shoved all our belongings into the car and drove off just as the storm hit. As we were driving out of the park exit, the rain started pouring down and the trees were bent nearly double with the wind. The car was shuddering from the force of the gusts, and we could barely see out the windshield. The storm cleared fast, though; thirty minutes later the day turned absolutely gorgeous, with the sky a beautiful shade of blue with only an occasional cloud. Cool and crisp, it was the kind of day that positively demands that you go camping -- unless of course you had just packed up the entire campsite extremely quickly, in which case it was the kind of day that demands that you go home.

So our trip was much shorter than we had originally intended. We only spent about 16 hours camping, which was pretty brief considering that I spent approximately 427 hours packing for the trip. (It would have been 428 hours had I packed the air mattress.)

But at least it was a taste of camping, and it was enough of a taste to know that our family could have fun with this mode of vacationing. I think we're going to try to schedule another camping weekend this fall, maybe something in late September or October. Next time, we'll try a different park, and I'll let David do most of the packing. Also, next time I would like as little Journey as is absolutely necessary.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Packing

They don't idolize these in Minnesota.
That should be our first hint that
something is the matter with
Wisconsin.
Unlike me, David was born and bred in Wisconsin, which means he possesses certain abilities and tendencies that he has in common with nearly every other native Wisconsinite – sort of a Wisconsin belief system. I’m still puzzling the mechanism by which these Wisconsin-based commonalities are transmitted – is it something in the water? More likely, I think it’s something specific added to the vaccinations that Wisconsin children receive, with the result that those kids grow up to all hold certain Wisconsin-related beliefs that are downright bizarre when you think about them, such as that brats are delicious or cheese curds even more so. How else could you explain that that between July and January, a good 40-50% of the conversations in the Badger State revolve around something as inconsequential as the Packers? There’s no way that would happen naturally without significant medical intervention.

One of the tenets of the Wisconsin belief system is the importance of Going Camping. David’s normal approach to camping is to basically pack every single thing in the house into the car, on the theory that the reason that we own all that stuff is because we need it, and we’ll need it when we are camping too. Then he cooks for days and crams all that delicious food into the car. That means the whole car is taken up with supplies, but that’s okay, we can always strap the baby to the hood.

See that piglet on the left? That's
where we went camping.
We’re leaving on a camping trip tomorrow, but this time around David didn’t have time to pack so it fell to me. I have lived many years in Wisconsin but I am not a native, so my approach to camping is somewhat haphazard. First of all, I chose our destination site based solely on the fact that it was one of the few state parks I could find that still had campsite reservations available – the runt of the state park litter, so to speak.

The name of this park is “Bigfoot State Park.” I take it this means Bigfoot lives there. That could explain why there were so many open campsites left.

Next, when I actually “packed,” and I use that term loosely, I just threw a few diapers into a bag, made sure we had bug spray, and called it done. For food, I am bringing trail mix, which is somewhat of a sore point in our family because Stella still PICKS THE GODDAMN M&Ms OUT OF TRAIL MIX even though we’ve been working for YEARS to get her not to do this. I am trying to impress upon her that children have been dropped off at the orphanage for less.

In anticipation of this camping trip, we even bought a tent. I made sure to get a 6 person tent in the hopes that it might be fairly spacious. The number of people that supposedly fit in a tent of a certain size is a huge joke, because there is no way that a “6 person tent” would comfortably sleep 6 people, unless 2 of them were still embryos. Another possibility would be bunk beds – if you could squeeze three sets of bunk beds into a 6 person tent then I imagine 6 people would sleep quite comfortably in there.

The bottom line is that we’re about to venture out on a camping trip for which I packed, instead of David. I didn’t worry about pesky luxuries that we’re unlikely to need while camping, like matches, a flashlight, or toilet paper. We’ll commune with nature, enjoy the woods, and spend fun time together as a family. One thing that I can count on us not doing, though, is eating trail mix with M&Ms still in it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Money

I have trouble figuring out if I am rich or poor. Oh, I know I'm rich in the sense that I have my health, my two beautiful children, a job I like, a spouse who has finally, finally learned after 15 years of being together to never ask me if I'm PMS-ing no matter how crabby I am, and a metabolism that lets me eat Nutella straight from the jar.

That's all great, but I'm talking about the REAL way of being rich. You know: money. Which is on my mind at the moment, because David's job is in transition -- in the sense that he might transition to not getting paychecks. The bad news is that this would blow a big hole in our family budget. The good news is that if we need money, we can always pawn the cats. They're worth millions.

Actually, I think David and I are the only two people left who have regular old "jobs." Everybody else seems to be "leveraging synergies" or "aligning and streamlining competitiveness in the global economy." The other day I saw a reference to someone's job that involved "convening thought leaders around the state to strategically recognize the important of cluster industries." I don't even know what cluster industries are. Or wait -- is that a reference to companies that make those chocolate covered peanut clusters? Because I would totally strategically recognize those, and I wouldn't even have to be convened.

If David loses his job, perhaps he can
join the priesthood and support us
that way. All those years of Catholic
school ought to count for something
David may be moving to freelance work, which means we will have to get health insurance through my job instead of his. The good news is that the health insurance at my place of work is excellent, but the bad news is that our premium costs will be an arm and a leg -- more than $10K a year. The trade-off for the high premium costs is that we will pay virtually nothing out of pocket for medical care, which will be helpful when we have to sell a kidney to be able to afford the coverage.

So all those things make me feel poor. Plus the fact that we do not have a big screen television. Granted, in Madison, that might not be all that out of the ordinary, but in normal society we would have a mob at our door with flaming pitchforks if word leaked out. Actually, for years we didn't have a television at all, until one day David told me that he had made an unscheduled stop at Best Buy and had something out in the car that I wouldn't like, something that began with the letter "t" and ended with the letter "v." Do you know how long it took me to figure out what that was? All I could think of was that he had Tel Aviv out in the car.

See the tiny screen this child is
watching? If the parents loved this
child, she'd be watching a much
bigger screen.
We have refused to supersize our television, although to be honest the cost is not really the deciding factor. It's just that if I must be subject to idiocy that is normally shown in television, I prefer to view it on as small a screen as possible. And yes, that goes for Packer games too. (Uh oh. Now I've really pissed off the mob.)

The irony is through feeling poor, we've managed to do pretty well over the years. We own both our cars, don't have any credit card debt, and are within striking distance of paying off the house. (Of course, the cats are mortgaged to the hilt, but we have an excellent rate on our feline equity loan.) We live within our means, which seems to be a rare skill these days.

Even with all this talk of money, I know that money can't replace happiness, a loving family, or a deep sense of satisfaction with how my life has turned out. On the other hand, money can buy Nutella. I'm calling it a wash.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dumber

Some days I fear I am getting dumber by the minute. Didn’t I used to be fairly intelligent and well-read, able to think through complex problems and arrive at reasonable solutions? These days I consider it a major intellectual accomplishment if I’m able to remember that I have to put my underwear on first, then my shorts.

I am at least grateful that my brains
didn't dribble out my ears until after
I got my degrees
(You might think I’m joking about that, but not too long ago I found myself getting dressed, with my shorts already on and my underwear in my hand, thinking something’s wrong here but I just don’t have the intellectual chops today to figure out what it is.)

Part of the reason why I’m so dumb these days is that I am not getting very much sleep -- Baby W is waking up six or seven times a night. He used to be an excellent sleeper, back when he sucked his thumb. Now he completely rejects his thumb. It’s as if Baby W were Rhett Butler, and his thumb was Scarlett O’Hara, and he just didn’t give a damn. Baby W’s thumb is going back to Tara, because tomorrow’s another day. I, on the other hand, am – wait, who am I in this analogy? Can I be Ashley Wilkes? He seems like a fellow who gets a solid 8 hours.

Being sleep-deprived and brain-addled has a negative effect on my work performance. For starters, I have suddenly have started having problems figuring out whether the word I want to use is “effect” or “affect.” All my life I’ve mocked people with that problem, and now I’m becoming one of them. Next thing you know, I’m going to start mixing up “lose” and “loose,” and start using the word “definately.” For better or worse, if I start making those errors, it will mean that my brain has shut down past the point of return and I am on life support. Please make sure my organs go to someone who can spell.

I can trace part of this brain loss back several years, to a period of a few months where I actually watched television. You know how pregnant women get weird food cravings? My weird craving was that I wanted to watch television, in particular the show Cops, which has real-life videos of people even dumber than me, and proving it. Also very few of them wore shirts.

David, being the attentive partner of a pregnant woman, taped a bunch of Cops shows and we watched them as often as we could. In retrospect, I believe that watching that show had a significant negative effect on my brain power, one that took years to fully develop. It’s like getting multiple concussions – you don’t experience the consequences immediately, but ten years later your brain is basically mashed potatoes and gravy. (My brain, on the other hand, resides in the body of a Madison hippie, so it will become baba ghanoush with a side of whole wheat pita.)
This explains quite a bit

And to think that I exposed my unborn child to the damaging effects of that television show! When Stella gets a C in Algebra, that will be my fault.

Maybe I should just accept that I am a victim of late-30s brain decay, and embrace my plummeting intelligence. That will give me the cover I need to engage in low-IQ activities, like questioning why the president is only wearing one flag lapel pin. I’ll ask David to start using shorter words when talking with me, and to steer clear of initiating any discussions that involve Keynesian economic policy. (Actually, that’s pretty much a standing order in our house anyway.) But I think I could get used to get used to my new limited capacity. In time, is it possible that I could even come to enjoy getting dumber? Yes, definately!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bible

I believe in evolution. Do you want to know why? It's because I can see it happening in my everyday life. You know how as a function of evolution, each organism evolves in part to maximize its chances of survival and increase the resources at its disposal, unless that organism is President Obama in which case it seeks to give Republicans nearly everything they want in the debt ceiling deal?

 My kids do not allow this
kind of perverted behavior.
Well, I can already see that evolution happening in my children. (Not the part about the debt ceiling; unlike President Obama, my children are skilled negotiators.) Specifically, they work to maximize their resources by eliminating any chance of additional siblings. And they do that evolving fine-tuned sensitivities that allow them to disrupt any activities that could, at least in theory, lead to siblings, if you get my drift. 

Their abilities in this area are awe-inspiring. You could suspend Baby W in a sensory deprivation tank many miles away in, say, Indiana (which many people would argue is basically a sensory deprivation tank in of itself) administer him a powerful sedative, and yet he would still be able to wake up and start crying the minute I start to give David a backrub. Stella has her antennae out for so much as a meaningful glance between David and I, so that she can disrupt it by announcing that she has something VERY VERY IMPORTANT to tell us RIGHT NOW, she NEEDS TO TELL IT TO US RIGHT THIS MINUTE, which is that um, um, um, she has a hole in her sock.

Given that I see these kids evolving right in front of my eyes, it's a bit ironic that Stella has recently taken a turn towards religiosity and become interested in the Bible. It started when we were listening to a CD of children's music, which included a song about Noah's ark. I told her the story, and she took to it like a duck to water. So I dug out an old children's Bible of David's, which she has taken to leafing through. The children's Bible is a bit too old for her, so I have to do some editing on the fly when I read it aloud. I also edit it as I read it because -- and this was kind of a shocker -- it's awfully heavy on the whole God concept.

It's ironic that Stella is so interested in this children's Bible, given that she can't stand stories that are the slightest bit scary. She even freaks out when we read "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas," because it's too emotionally intense for her. Yet somehow she can handle old-testament Yaweh, who is the Ultimate Grinch. He would smite Cindy Lou-Who for sure. And then turn her into a pillar of salt for being a harlot.

The hair kind of reminds
me of Baby W.
But maybe Stella's just taking after her old lady. When I was a kid, my babysitter had a children's Bible, and I spent hours at a time reading it because there weren't any other kids there my age to play with and I was very bored. Not that my parents should feel guilty about that. No, what they should feel guilty about is that this particular babysitter often served us canned spaghetti-Os with hot dogs cut up in it for lunch, in an apparent attempt to find the single most disgusting lunch combination ever. I've never seen a clearer violation of the Geneva Convention.

The bottom line is that somehow my children manage to demonstrate the fundamental principles of evolution while also becoming very interested in religion. I don't necessarily think this is a conflict. I do hope that Stella in particular can learn about religion, decide if it interests her, and make up her own mind about what to believe. I also hope that Stella stays away from that Cindy Lou-Who slut. She's trouble for sure.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Olga

I think it's time I gave an update on my gymnastics class! Every week, I've been trekking out to the other side of town, which in itself is a measure of my devotion. Most of the time I see very little reason to leave the six-block radius surrounding my house. On the rare occasion I do head over to the west side, I make sure to have my papers all in order. Just in case they try to deport me.

Fortunately, we have a hybrid,
which runs on japanese beetles for fuel
Since I normally stick so close to home, the majority of the miles I drive in the car are not to reach some far-off destination, but to get the baby to take a nap. This means that I am not very sensitive to fluctuations in the price of gas. In economic terms, my demand for gas is extremely inelastic, and I suspect that parents all over the country are in the same circumstances. This means that if OPEC really, really wanted to screw with us, they would jack the price of oil sky high and all the parents would have no choice but to pay it, because you know, given a choice between dealing with terrorists or a tired baby who's missed his nap, I would choose the terrorists every time. 

By the way, you should never negotiate with tired babies, even if they are heads of state of small-to-midsize nations in the Middle East. It just encourages them.

Anyway, I've been single-handedly wrecking the environment (aka driving over to the other side of town once a week) for my gymnastics class. Here are some skills we've worked on in the class: forward roll (PLEASE NOTE this is NOT called a somersault; if I slip up and call it a somersault in class then everyone turns to me with a puzzled look on their faces as if to say "What is this somersault of which you speak?" when c'mon, they all know what I'm talking about), backward roll, handstand, bridge, and cartwheel. We've worked on the uneven bars, the balance beams, and the trampoline. Despite all this, I am still waiting for gymnastics class to transform me into a 4'10" Bulgarian pre-teen named Olga. No luck so far.

In gymnastics class, we've also worked on our salute, which is the very first thing you do as part of a floor routine, where you stick your arms up in the air before you so much as start your first double backflip aerial roundoff (or in my case, a somersault). I think you are supposed to have a haughty impression on your face when you do your salute. I'm still working on it, but I've got the eyebrow part down cold.

Now THIS is the kind of bridge I
could do 50x or 100x a day
During our class, I watched some of the adults do back walkovers, which seems like a skill that is both quite impressive and yet still seems like something I could in theory work my way towards doing. Most of these skills can be broken down into their components, which you can master one at a time, so I went online to figure out how to break down back walkovers into their components. One site, which had some helpful suggestions, suggested I start with doing 50 to 100 bridges a day as a way to get good at back walkovers. That gave me a good laugh! I don't do 50 to 100 repetitions of anything a day, unless you count wiping up the floor under Baby W's high chair, which I do have to admit I have gotten really good at doing. Perhaps I'll add that to my floor routine. 

Gymnastics class is almost over. It's been so much fun, though, that I'm definitely signing up again. I think I've convinced my sister to sign up as well. Until then, I'm going to practice my haughty looks, 50 to 100 times a day. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mother-in-law

David's mother came to visit for a few days, which is always interesting, because the minute she steps in the door she starts cleaning. Twenty minutes after she arrived, she had the high chair scrubbed down and bleached, the kitchen floor swept, and the piano dusted. And she practically begged me to throw in a load of diapers so she could hang them on the line. I complied, because I'm nice that way.

Something tells me these socks
were paired by a political conservative.
She also folded all of Stella's underwear. This is quite a departure from the normal course of action around here. Usually I just cram underwear into the drawer because -- well, do I really have to explain why I don't fold underwear? I don't even fold shirts. I am also lax in my attitude towards socks, and don't adhere to narrow-minded ideals of conformity when pairing them. This might also be why I am a liberal.

Stella is quite smitten with her drawer of Grandma-folded underwear. She opens the drawer several times a day to take a peek at them. Enjoy it while it lasts, kid, because it's NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN AGAIN.

I guess if Stella asked me to fold her underwear for her birthday, I would do it. But only if she had been very good.

Where's the 'on' button
on this thing?
I enjoy it when David's mother comes to visit. Not just because she is a cleaning tornado, although that doesn't hurt. I also enjoy her visits because I get a kick out of her high energy level. Ironically, David has a very low energy level. His idea of a perfect day is to spend eight hours on the couch, moving only to turn the pages of the New York Times. In fact, among taxonomists, there is considerable debate whether David is actually a species of sea sponge, based on part on his limited mobility, as well as his tendency to trap crustaceans and drain them of their nutrients. (However, I want to note on the record that he is a very sexy sea sponge.) David's mother, on the other hand, would have the sea floor swept out, the sea urchins aired, and any rips in the coral sewn up before striking out to look for starfish to scrub down.

Grandma also brought a bunch of hand-me-down clothes and toys for the kids. That's great, except that it threw the Crap Balance in our house out of whack. The Crap Balance is a finely-tuned equilibrium between all the junk (er, valuable possessions) inside our house, and the four walls that can just barely contain that junk. So if we add more stuff, then either a) our house will shoot out a geyser of junk like a two-liter of Diet Coke into which a tube-full of Mentos have been dropped, or b) we have to drop some stuff off at St. Vincent on the double. Fortunately, Stella was so entranced by her folded underwear that I was able to smuggle some stuffed animals out the door when she wasn't looking.

My mother-in-law only had a short visit, so things are back to normal now. Our house is cleaner, Stella has some new-to-her clothes, and Grandma and the grandkids got to spend some quality time together. And you never know, perhaps I'll have a change of heart and start folding Stella's underwear. After all, Christmas is coming up.