Wednesday, February 27, 2013


DH drives a 1999 Jeep Wrangler Sahara. He drove it when I met him, and he has continued to drive it through all his economic upturns and downturns. 

The Jeep is, hands-down, my man’s best friend. The dog can’t even compete. The Jeep has taken DH to federal court, to multi-million-dollar real estate closings, to private airfields, and out mud-running.  It has effortlessly clambered up and down mountains, through lightning storms, over blowdown trees, and into gullies that would puzzle a bighorn sheep. In one surprise blizzard, the Jeep led a conga line of 4WD vehicles up the freeway shoulder to freedom while the drivers of more ecologically responsible cars had to sit in gridlock and shiver. “That thing grips like a slug,” DH chuckled with great satisfaction, kicking snow off his hiking boots. A law firm client even gave the Jeep top billing during his company’s Christmas party: “Our lawyer is a complete Renaissance man: he’s not only handling our merger, but he flies airplanes, climbs mountains, and drives a Jeep!”

The Jeep failed us only once, through no fault of its own: we tried to drive it through a thigh-deep flood to evacuate from a Florida hurricane. The Jeep cheerfully went forth, but its unmodified exhaust pipe was blowing bubbles from twelve inches underwater.  Rather than swamp the exhaust system, we chose to abandon the evacuation and sit out the hurricane in the house. (This was the fourth evacuation of that year, which accounts for the cavalier attitude. Frickin’ frackin’ hurricanes. Note that we no longer live in Florida.)

When not saving humanity, the Jeep acts as DH’s portable Man Cave. It harbors an interesting welter of drywall mud, tow ropes, paint sticks, tile samples, Home Depot receipts, sturdy gloves, earflap hats, water bottles, reading glasses, and camping gear. When I occasionally drive the Jeep, I have a nice smug feeling that if civilization imploded somewhere between preschool and the dry cleaners, the Jeep would either get everybody home and/or sustain us in the wilderness until we could flintknap our own spears.

The Jeep stays largely devoid mommy-litter and kid-litter, except for last week. For reasons too long and boring to list here, DH and I swapped cars for a few days, and I shoehorned both carseats into the back seat of the Jeep.

 The kids are flatly delighted by this turn of events.  He’en can see everything out of the full-length rear window and keeps squealing with delight on the turns, crowing about “how FAS! we awe [are] go-ween!” Dragon Girl is less vocal but equally pleased. Her rear-facing bucket carseat requires me to stand on the back bumper and hoist her through the rear window for exit and entry. She thinks it’s great fun and giggles every time at this peek-a-boo game. Once underway, her ladybug toy merrily jingles over the bumps and she watches the scenery out the giant windows with an occasional softly delighted “Ah-glurrr!”

Where two-girls-under-five go, however, pink sparkly things go a-with. Thus follows the Glitterfication of the Jeep. After a mere four days, DH’s formerly fine and manly vehicle acquired a dried yarrow flower on the dashboard, a smattering of pastel terrycloth socks, a plushy blanket with green and pink flowers, and a liberal sprinkling of glitter from He’en’s “Pink and Purple Mermaid” art project.

I feel that the Jeep is comfortable with this.  Like a man who is secure enough to cheerfully escort his girlfriend to a drag show, the Jeep knows that it will be back in its rightful place in good time.

DH, however, is going to realize an unexpected benefit. Since the birth of Child #1, I have been harping at him to buy a more baby-friendly vehicle.   I now have resolved to stop.   In a world increasingly slathered with pink tulle, rhinestone tiaras, Barbie dolls, pastry sprinkles, beads-glitter-feathers-sequins-rainbows-sparkles-ponies-ribbons, it’s clear that DH’s last bastion of manliness should be preserved. I think that even the dog would agree.

[A special shout-out for this entry goes to my AOL-customer-support alumna sister, who found a way to make my computer talk to the Internet again.]

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Four-Minute Shirt

This probably will be a four-minute entry about the four-minute shirt. You know those speed writing exercises they give you in college? Yeah, come to my house for the "two kids under five" exercise. As my NANO-winning sister will attest --  for three years running, people! -- this place ups our game by factors of magnitude.

Anyway, the four-minute shirt. When your little bundle of joy arrives, you cannot conceive of the laundry it will generate. Pound-for-pound, they generate laundry at a minimum 3:1 ratio. For example: baby pees through a onesie, which soaks the bedding and later the changing pad. Here's what you have to swap:

1. The onesie, duh.
1.a. Any pants that accompanied the onesie.
2. Crib pad.
3. Crib sheet.
4. Changing pad.
5. Blanket on top of changing pad,

and, if you are like me and cannot securely hold a baby without getting all scrunged up yourself,

6. Your own shirt.

This last necessitates putting down the baby so you can change with two hands, and there is a risk of starting the whole thing over again.

The four-minute shirt happened thusly: I was going about my day wearing a nice comfy black sweater that puddled nicely over my Mama-belly. I bathed Dragon Girl and the sleeves got sopping. It was too wet to wear, so I changed it out for a black T-shirt.

I didn't like the black T-shirt because it was tight, but I figured I would not wear it long. I was right. As soon as I went down to the kitchen, I moved a dish in the sink and splashed half a baking bowl full of chocolatey water onto my Mama-belly. Then I shook up a warm bottle for Dragon Girl and sprinkled formula all over my sleeve. While still sighing over that, I picked up a hollering Dragon Girl and fed her. Seconds thereafter, I hoisted her onto my shoulder where I heard a liquidy little "glurp" followed by a cascade of the same formula, now at baby-belly-temperature, onto my left shoulder.

Four minutes. Seriously. And people wonder what a Mama does all day.