December 23, 2010

My grown-up Christmas list

Dear Santa,

I think we're finished here. As far as I know, we're just patiently waiting on you now. Everything that was on my purchase list has been acquired and is all wrapped and sorted into piles to help take the crunch out of the 10 p.m. - midnight portion of Christmas Eve.  (I learned a little lesson after last year when that freak blizzard sort of wrecked last-minute Christmas Eve errands and stretched our 1.5-mile long journey home from Christmas Eve dinner into a 45-minute trip. You just never know.)

Ho! Ho! Ho!
 Now that everyone else's lists have been checked - twice - it's time to make it all about me again. (I know, I know. I'm working on it.) Anyway, this is my grown-up Christmas list.

  • Just enough snow tomorrow to dust the grass but not enough to keep us from moving about the country freely
  • Good health for our friends and family
  • A bath for our stinky dog
  • A protest-free church outing tomorrow evening, with everyone properly clothed
  • Peace - world and otherwise
  • A longer fuse
  • Toilets that automatically close and flush - I live with so many boys
  • Perspective - I lose it occasionally and it's sad when that happens
  • Perfect recall of our boys' enthusiasm for the season this year - it's kind of intoxicating
It's not much, Daddy. But it's definitely wrapped and signed with love.
I could go on and on here, but I know this probably isn't a good time. We look forward to your visit tomorrow and hope you'll call attention to the special oatmeal & glitter concoction that will be sprinkled for the reindeer on the front lawn.

Love, Susan

December 21, 2010

Approval ratings

I'm going to use this forum to take a quick poll. (It shouldn't take long since there are four of you who read...) I'm kind of putting myself out there, but I just really need to know.

I printed and mailed approximately the same number of Christmas cards this holiday as I have in recent years. I did do just a little bit of list pruning because postage isn't going down and neither is the cost to print cards, and I figured there were a few people in our roster who probably wouldn't miss us and some who see us everyday so I figure they don't need a photo.

Now we're at December 21 and I have noticed, for sure, that we have apparently been pruned from some lists as well, because we have not received nearly as many cards as we have in years past.  Nor have we received as many as I sent. Hmmmm. 

I read this story earlier today and breathed a small sigh of relief.  If writers at Slate are talking about it then perhaps it's not just me?

So, I'm wondering. Is the cost of Christmas card production and delivery getting to folks? Are people concerned about the environmental impact of all that photo paper flying about the country? Does it take too much time?  Is the pressure to capture a photo of your children smiling and clean just too great?

Wait. What? You don't know what I'm talking about and you've received a record number of holiday greetings? 

Seriously, people. I want to know. Is it just us? Is it you too? What say you?

December 13, 2010

Let's all panic about mercury

We've had a burnt out light fixture in our master bathroom for weeks. It's high enough that it requires a ladder to change it and the bulb is a special halogen one that requires a trip to Home Depot to purchase. It's not a big deal, but is just annoying enough that we had put it off nonetheless.You can imagine how delighted we both were to discover, after dragging out the ladder, that a new bulb didn't fix it and now, after much testing of breakers and messing with switches and fan cords, the fan isn't working either.  Awesome.

But, really? That's not the point of this story.

During the process of figuring out our bathroom light was (is?) finito, I left a basket of extra bulbs on the dryer in the laundry room.  About 10 minutes later Mark officially declared the bathroom light dead and mentioned that the extra bulbs had fallen off the dryer because it was running and the basket bounced right off the edge - gosh, good thinking, Susan - leaving broken glass all over the laundry room floor. I was thrilled both with my forward thinking and also the realization that I was probably going to have to clean up that mess since I had basically made it.

When I walked into the laundry room I saw that, miraculously, a whole bunch of bulbs had NOT broken, but what had shattered was one, giant compact fluorescent floodlight. You know, those bulbs that are supposed to be recycled, not just thrown in the trash, because they're full of MERCURY.

Red alert.

Mark stayed completely calm as I learned, via the wonders of the World Wide Web, that while the EPA doesn't recommend you call in a Haz-Mat team, they'll scare you right to the edge of doing just that. (EPA RECOMMENDATIONS) You can find conflicting reports on how dangerous this smashed up mercury tube really is, but the bottom line is that you're not cleaning up your run-of-the-mill broken pickle jar here.

The boys were really good while we locked them in the basement calmly asked them to play downstairs as we cleaned up a pile of broken glass using cardstock, duct tape and wet paper towels. The most fun part of the cleanup was that we had, in accordance with government recommendations, turned off our furnace and had opened doors for ventilation while the mercury vapor...vaporized.  Cleaning the floor with numb fingers, in very tight, VERY COLD quarters was a blast.  I had so much fun that I could almost forget I had possibly mercury poisoned my family.

We were eventually left with a sparkling clean laundry room floor, a whole pile of laundry, a bag and sealed jar of contaminated glass and duct tape and a lot of apprehension. Did we overreact!? Did we underreact?! Who left us home alone?!

I talked to a Hazardous Waste Expert at the city today (Hi, Tamra!) about what to do with the bag of glass and cleaning supplies that we've got sealed up sitting outside our garage. Tamra said we done good and she gave me permission to stop worrying.  She assured me that the amount of mercury (dust, vapor?) in the bulb is neglibile and that the EPA suggestions are designed to move you into overreaction. 

If you're still with me, I'll leave you with these thoughts...I know that these bulbs save energy and are environmentally-friendly and we're all being urged to use them in our homes.  BUT, let my stupidity be a reminder. As educational as this was,you might want to consider carefully where in your house you use CFLs and remember to handle them with caution.  I would also maybe ditch the mercury thermometers while you're at it. That clean up sounds even more fun.

p.s. Any brilliant suggestions about our bathroom light? It's dark in there.

December 9, 2010

From the desk of Andrew, Vol. 3

Andrew's a busy guy and if you didn't already know that, all you need to do is see his to-do list to be convinced. This reminder was recently retrieved from his backpack.

This has prompted me to add something to my to-do list about keeping Andrew's load this light for as long as possible.