My Daughter, The Artist. Paranoid Artist.

When 5yr old E plays with crayons, I watch in fascination as her inner artist emerges.  She takes 6 crayons at once and tucks each one between the fingers of her left hand, while coloring with one in the right.  When she needs to switch colors she never puts one down, she just tucks it behind a different finger and chooses a different color.  It is exactly what I’ve seen artists do with multiple paint brushes.

The other day at dinner I comment on this to Kerry.  “You know why she does that, right?” she asks.

“No,” I say.

“She doesn’t want anyone to take her crayons if she puts them down.”

I realize that she’s correct.  Oh well, I like my interpretation better.

The Great ShamWow Experiment

I’ve been getting water in the basement now, on and off, for several years.  It’s a rather annoying problem, as I cannot point to any single location where it comes in.  There’s a crack in the foundation wall which we have Drylok-patched multiple times, that sometimes springs a new leak.  Lately it’s come in, dripping, down a water pipe.  But what I can’t live with is the stuff that must be coming up from the bottom, because some mornings after a rain storm, even after doing my best to block/trap the known leaks at the wall, I’ll have a puddle running across my basement, all the way to the wall.  So either it leaked so badly from those spots, around my blockades, that it crossed the basement, or else it’s coming up from the floor.  But at this point there’s too much water to identify where it might have started.

Over the last few days in this area we’ve had some serious flooding issues, and I knew I was in for an uphill battle.  I was keeping the water contained, but slowly losing ground – it was now seeping under the stairs for the first time.  And though I had a bucket under the known drip, and had thrown my work towel down in another spot I knew to be pooling, I knew that to be inefficient as I’d have to go swap it out periodically.  The more towels I used, now moving the wife’s stash of real bath towels, the more I’d potentially ruin.

So off I go to the hardware store with the plan being to score a some kitty litter as a last defense against the water going under the stairs.  While there I figure I’ll grab some more work towels to throw around.  Know what I find?  A box of “ShamWow” towels, those little miracle thingies that are supposed to be oh so super absorbent.  “What the heck,” I think, eyeing a box of 8, “I’ll give it a shot.  They’ll take up less space when I’m not using them.”

Got home, set up kitty litter barricade, then set to work laying ShamWows out on all the known pooling areas.   Posted on Twitter and Facebook about what I was up to, and had somebody tell me that ShamWows are actually “soaked in dehydrated water to make it look like the guy is squeezing more out”.  I don’t even know what that means.

The results?  Came down a few hours later and it was clear that some of them were completely saturated, some were almost completely dry.  So I moved the dry ones to more unsure locations, and wrung out the wet ones.  Those things wring out great!  One or two good twists and all the water comes right out of them – can’t do that with a bath towel, you can wring those out a dozen times and you’ve still got a mostly wet towel in your hands.  I wrung these things out three times over the span of the evening, and each time they returned to doing their job.  They didn’t seem to lose their absorbancy or become super saturated or anything.

Next morning? Water safely contained.  No new flooding.  One or two ShamWows saturated, wrung out, set down again. Area under the stairs safely drying out.

It dawns on me now, with time to think, that should there be a next time I’ll be ready for it — Get everything up off the floor, and line floor with ShamWows.  By watching to see which towels saturate first, I’ll be able to identify my leaks.  Sure you could do it with paper towels – but they’d saturate too fast, and if you missed the start of things you could come downstairs to nothing but mushy paper.  Similarly you could do it with regular bath towels, but they’re the opposite problem, they won’t show the leak fast enough and you’d have to be peaking under them to see which are getting wet.  These ShamWow thingies do a good job of reflecting their status in color, and at least in theory the one that shows a change in color the fastest would be the source of my biggest leak.

Then again that’s just the scientist in me talking — I’ve got the experts coming it on Monday to tell me how to fix the damned leaks in the first place, as there’s much greater peace of mind in “no water” than in “I know where the water is coming from”.

Have I mentioned I hate flex spending plans?

The theory behind a flex spending plan is great. Put some money aside for health care expenses, get a debit card, pay your bills out of that fund. You don’t even need to keep receipts, it’s all done automatically.

Except when, months later, the flex spending people say “yeah, that $10 copay you had 3 months ago? We want a receipt for that one.” Because sometimes the computer kicks out certain expenses as anomalous and now they want proof.

Or in this case, they want the receipt for the $250 glasses I bought specifically to use up the money at the end of the year. Still trying to find the darned thing. True I could just save every receipt – but in a context where you know ahead of time that you’re not going to need 90% of them, and most of them are of the $10 copay variety, it’s pretty annoying to have to go through the trouble.

Technically she’s right

So my oldest, who is in first grade, was asked at school “Who knows what their Mommy or Daddy does for work?”

Her hand shot up. “Make money!” she said.

I’m sure it got quite a laugh, but she didn’t intend it that way and didn’t understand what was funny. That’s how we’ve always said it in the house, ever since they were little – “Daddy’s off to go make money.” So we explained to her that everybody “works” to “make money”, but that doesn’t mean we actually create the physical money, it just means that people give us money to do stuff so we then come home and give that money to Mommy to spend. :)

Ok. the boy’s going to be an engineer

The other day I’m called in to the bathroom where my almost 3yr old son points out something on the rug. Turns out it is a piece of hardened toothpaste. I begin digging at it with my fingernail.

“How about the nail clippies?” he asks.

Smart kid. I take the nail clippers (which are conveniently right on the edge of the bathroom sink, right in front of me), and clip out the offending gunk. “Great idea!” I tell my son. “High five!”

After delivering the necessary high five he says, just as nonchalantly, “You missed some.”

Listen, you. Go Play.

Today at a friend’s, the kids are playing in one room and the fathers are keeping an eye out from the kitchen. My soon-to-be 3yr old son comes out, puts his hand on the door between the two rooms and says, “I close this?”

“No,” I told him. “Leave that open.”

“Why?” he asked, as kids his age tend to do.

“Because we have to watch you,” I said. “In case anybody falls and hurts himself.”

The boy looks at the door for a minute, points to the *window in the door* and says, “You see me through that.”

I turned to the father next to me and said, “Ya know, I’ve got nothing to say to that. He’s got me.”

Wearing (and Eating) Of The Green

So we were Irish in a big way yesterday.  Not only were the kids dressed head to foot in the stuff, but I came home for lunch to a corned beef sandwich shoved in my hand.  Quite tasty, if I must say.

Later that night we had green eggs and ham for dinner.   Green eggs are easy to make, a little food coloring in scrambled eggs and you’re good to go.  None of the kids seemed to want ham, and I didn’t have any anyway, so we went with bacon.  What the heck, green bacon.  Worked surprisingly well, the food coloring really spread out.

The boy wanted green mac and cheese, which was a little trickier.  Hard to blend smoothly, came out more of a mottled blue and yellow.  But he seemed to like it.

For dessert, green milkshakes.  Vanilla with coloring, they don’t really dig mint.

Hardest Game *EVER*

4yr old, to 6yr old, over the breakfast table: “Try to guess the song I’m singing in my head!”

Oh, sure, *now* all 3 of them want to play

Went ice skating yesterday at the Frog Pond.  Was going to be an interesting experience given that I haven’t been on skates in 20+ years,  and Kerry does not skate.  K, the 6 yr old, has been roller skating, so I expect her to do what she always does, stay on her feet and be pulled around.  E, the 4yr old, I expect to be terrified and not want to do it.  No idea what B, the 2yr old, will do.

At first it was as expected – K went all around the rink with frequent stops along the boards, while E screamed from the minute her skates touched the ice and sat back down 30 seconds later saying “I want to go home.”

B, however, was a surprise.  “My turn!  Me next!” he screamed, trying to run for the ice on skates.  Well, at first I tried holding his hand and towing him – no good, he doesn’t have nearly the balance.  Then I try putting him up along the rail to pull himself along.  Still no good, he’s too short.  

Then I did one of those silly Dad things.  (A long time ago, when we only had K, I once put her on my shoulders while we tried to fly a kite.  At the beach, in the sand.  Yeah, you try running in the sand with a small child on your shoulders and not dying.)    This time I bent over, held my son up by his armpits, and then began skating.  He went bananas. Good  bananas, that is.  His skates were going every which way, I’m not even sure they were on the ice at all points, but he didn’t care, he was flying.  With frequent stops at the boards (for Daddy this time), we made it all the way around.  

So when it was E’s turn again, I decided to try the same thing.  Luckily she’s taller so I wasn’t bent over quite so bad.  But guess what?  She loved it too!  So now here’s dad, first time on skates in 20+ years, skating laps bent over 90 degrees like something out of the Olympic speedskating trials, carrying 40lbs of weight in front of him.

I can’t move at all today, but who cares, it was a great time.  I would never have imagined that all three of them would love it (gotta love when  you tell the 2yr old boy it’s his turn and he says “Yay!” and jumps off the bench).  Looking forward to finding some time to go again.

Maybe I’m Not So Old After All

Over last summer I started having this pain in my fingers. Just in the morning, and only for a few minutes – a couple of flexes and it was gone. But for awhile there it was quite painful, enough to give me pause before that first bend because I knew it was going to hurt. I ended up going to the doctor about it in November, and after a quick blood test the nurse practioner told me, even though I am young for it (39), that it was rheumatoid arthritis and I’d need to see a specialist to determine the extent. I remember asking at the time, “Is that just an indicator, or, …” and she said, “No, if this says you have it, you pretty much have it.”

Cut to this week, when I finally got to see the specialist. He tells me, and I quote, “I hate those tests. Those put my kids through college. The majority turn out to be false positives.”

I love that idea – the majority turn out to be false positives. I realize that he’s exaggerating, but that would mean that the test is more often *wrong* than it is correct. He goes on to tell me that the doctor should have explained this to me, and I tell him that no, the NP actually said what she said above.

I’m waiting on the new, “real” blood test, but the rheumatologist(?) said that my level for the original was way low, certainly in the false positive range, and he thinks that rheumatoid for me is a dead end. “So don’t go home and Google it,” he says.

“Should have told me that 3 months ago,” I tell him.

So, just a big shout out to my nurse practioner for that little F up.