All the kids are back in school today, and I could not be happier. Just kidding. Of course I could be happier. I could always be happier! If I ever reached the fulness of my happiness potential, the world would probably explode. Nevertheless, I am pleased to have the house back to myself. Unfortunately, I think that also means I have to clean it now.

If I were a better person, I would have made my kids clean it this weekend. But I’m at best an average person; therefore, all I can do is whine about how messy things are.

Maybe I couldn’t possibly be happier. Maybe this is as happy as my average-person self gets.

But this is no time to get bogged down in philosophy.

Today I went to my clogging class for the first time in three weeks. We didn’t meet during spring break, and then after spring break I got sick. Or rather, during spring break I got sick and was not better enough on Monday to dance for an hour and a half. I confess I was not looking forward to going today. I haven’t practiced at all, and I thought it would probably hurt to start again. It didn’t hurt that much. It was driven home to me, yet again, that I really need to practice some more. I’m so bad right now, I am starting to be embarrassed by it.

And I don’t embarrass easily.

It’s fortunate that I don’t embarrass easily because Princess Zurg had a semi-public breakdown this weekend. I say semi-public because we were at the church, but not many other people were there at the time–and not really anybody we knew. If your daughter has a psychotic episode in front of strangers, is it still humiliating? I shouldn’t say “psychotic episode.” That is hyperbole and inaccurate. What shall I call it? A total loss of self-control and rational thought, which included screaming and profanity. I realize church has that effect on a lot of people, but I’m still concerned. It happens at home too, you see. And yes, I realize family life has that effect on some people. Like me, for instance. But I spend weeks and months repressing it and only let it out occasionally. PZ lets it out all the time, and it doesn’t seem to help her at all, so I’d rather she did more repressing. Do you think it’s possible to teach someone how to repress stuff? I have a natural talent for it, so it’s hard for me to explain how it’s done, but surely there are professionals out there who could offer their assistance.

I had a talk with my husband yesterday about several things, but one of the things he brought up was my writing, and it put me in a rather unhappy mood. I was actually already in an unhappy mood because of the PZ situation, but I was repressing it pretty successfully, and then my husband’s innocent inquiry about my writing forced me to confront my fear of failure, which I suspect is a fear that grows more rational every day, and that put me in an unhappier mood. And here I am now, writing on this blog for no reason except to prove to myself that I can. But it isn’t very interesting, is it?

I’m hungry, and I need to do more laundry. Gentle reader, I apologize for how often I talk about the laundry. I know it has to be annoying. But I keep needing to do it, and there’s just nothing else going on in my life right now. Except that PZ’s birthday is coming up, and she wants to have a party but she doesn’t know what she wants to do, specifically, and I certainly have no ideas because I’m not a party-giver. Also, I’m apparently not an idea-haver, or I would be writing a lot better than I currently do. But that’s treading too closely to the matter I’m trying to suppress.

Tomorrow night is a baby shower for a woman in my clogging group. I feel like I should go because I like her, and perhaps I should get out of the house, but I’m afraid I’ll go and not have a good time. I kind of hate baby showers. But I feel obligated to make some effort to be social with people sometimes. I don’t know. I suppose I could go and if it sucks, I could leave. No one would notice or care. And I will have fulfilled my social obligation. So I guess I’ll go. Maybe. We’ll see.

Now I’m really hungry, and that laundry isn’t washing itself.

Have any of you been wondering, “Whatever happened to the Madhousewife? Did she give up on the blogging? Did she get swallowed up by the devil Facebook? Does she just not love her online friends anymore?”

Well, actually, I have a hard time imagining any of you are wondering any of this. You probably have your own lives to lead. I, by contrast, do not have a life to lead. I have ennui to…have. Maybe it’s one of those malaise things that used to trouble the country during the Carter years. (I’ve heard. I wasn’t super-conscious of national events during the Carter years. In fact, when I heard there was a presidential debate between Ford and Carter, I imagined that President Ford was debating Gabe Kaplan.)

So what have I been up to? Just reading a lot of books and doing a lot of laundry. Occasionally bothering to parent a child here and there. Sometimes I even make dinner. It’s kind of lame.

I was going to inform you that for most of the time I’ve been gone, I’ve also been doing some actual writing–the kind that I don’t randomly post on the internet because it’s Serious. Also, it’s crap. I mean, that’s the bad news. The good news is that its being crap hasn’t stopped me from writing it, which is good because one of the problems I’ve had to get over as a writer is my fear of writing crap. Well, there’s no more fear of that anymore. I’m writing, and it’s crap! And the world hasn’t come to an end just because I’ve written some crap. Unfortunately. Sometimes I wish the world would come to an end, because then I could be like, “Ah, well, I never did manage to become a great writer, but how can I be sad about that when the world’s just come to an end?”

Actually, no, I never wish for the world to come to an end. I sometimes wish for the laundry to come to an end. More frequently I wish my obligation to make dinner would come to an end. I really, really don’t like making dinner. And yet I still do it. I think I should get extra points for the obstacle of reluctance.

My two younger children are off school today because of parent-teacher conferences. I don’t have a conference with Elvis’s teacher because we just had his IEP in February. I’m assuming. I never got any solicitation for conference appointment-making from the school or his teacher, and I’m assumed it was because we just had his IEP and there’s nothing new to talk about. I don’t think I am expected to hear that the kids have two days off of school because of parent-teacher conferences and take the initiative to contact the school and set up an appointment. That’s never been how it worked before. I do have an appointment with Girlfriend’s teacher. Elvis seems a bit disturbed that there is no parent-teacher conference scheduled on his behalf. This has caused me to question my assumption that if his teacher wanted to meet with me, she would have expressed some concern that I had not yet made an appointment. That is how it’s always worked in the past. One shouldn’t live in the past, of course. But that’s neither here nor there.

Well, speaking of Elvis, he is demanding that I play Monopoly Junior in the short time I have between now and when I have to go to Girlfriend’s conference. If there weren’t a limited amount of time, he would be demanding that I play regular Monopoly. So thank God for parent-teacher conferences.


1. He still likes Monopoly, but his new favorite game is chess. Initially he learned how to play with his dad and brother. Then he honed his skills by playing against the computer. He has learned a great deal about chess. The other day we were playing together and he said, “If I move my pawn to bishop five, I can do en passant move.” And I was like, “What the what?” Anyway, he did it. I used to let him win, but now I don’t and he still wins.

2. He just earned his Webelo in cub scouts. Now he is a Boy Scout. I never sewed any patches on his uniform shirt because I’m a terrible human being. (Actually, this isn’t quite true. I sewed a few patches on his first uniform shirt, which he quickly outgrew. I never got around to sewing patches on his second uniform shirt. I’m still a terrible human being. But this post isn’t about me.)

3. He still gets up every Wednesday morning at 6 a.m. to watch the garbage trucks. The recycling and the yard waste trucks come before he has to go to school. The regular garbage truck comes while he’s at school, but he’s always excited to come home and see how many of the neighborhood’s garbage can lids were left open by the trash man. He still plays with toy garbage trucks and trash cans.

4. He is still fascinated by traffic lights and all rules of the road. He always knows exactly what the speed limit is and makes sure you follow it. He is definitely going to pass his driver’s test the first time.

5. Usually he whines when he’s frustrated, but sometimes he whines just because he likes the way it sounds. Unfortunately, he is alone in that sentiment.

6. He’s been following college football for a long time, but recently he started following pro football too. His father and brother both favored the Broncos in the Super Bowl, but Elvis liked the Seahawks. He was very pleased with the outcome of that game.

7. Now he follows college and pro basketball too. He went to his first Trailblazers game this year.

8. He is obsessed with the weather. For a while he was keeping meticulous records of temperatures, whether it was sunny, cloudy, partly cloudy, etc.

9. He enjoys dancing. He has some pretty sweet moves.

10. He wears a men’s size 10 shoe. The kid’s a freaking moose.

11. He is eleven years old today.



Let’s sum up the month so far.

February 1 was Elvis’s basketball tournament. Elvis participates in a basketball program originally sponsored by Special Olympics but now under the purview of our school district’s special education department. I think. It’s hard to keep track. Anyway, this is his third year as a player. Last year Mister Bubby was a peer coach, and this year both Mister Bubby and Girlfriend are peer coaches. In previous years Elvis had good basket-shooting skills but little ball awareness. Over the last few months he’s been playing NBA Live on the PlayStation and now understands the game very well. He’s one of the better players on the elementary-age team.

The job of the peer coaches on the court is to keep the players engaged (e.g. make sure they’re running in the right direction) and facilitate play (depending on the strengths/weaknesses of the players). Mister Bubby is very assertive about getting the ball for his team and giving his players opportunities to shoot, so rebounds and assists are his game. Elvis has gotten really good at getting rebounds and passing the ball as well. He scored a lot of points and was fully engaged in all three games he played. (In past tournaments, he was only able to pay attention to the first game.) Girlfriend, while not as aggressive as MB, acquitted herself nicely, especially considering she was one of the smallest kids on the court.

Everyone had a good time. My mother-in-law’s courtside manner was somewhat embarrassing. But I got over it. Except I have to relive it every time I watch the videos I took that day, and I took quite a few because in the past I’ve always managed to miss whenever one of my kids did a good play, and I was determined to get footage of something worth watching this time–which I did, but I’ve had to sift through quite a few videos to find those moments so I can post them on our family blog. It’s tedious work, but someone has to do it, i.e. I have to do it. Well, I don’t really–I guess I could just not, but I took all these videos, so I may as well.

Our team got third place in its pool–which was last place, but that was mainly because one of the other teams had its coaches doing all the scoring, which was uncool. We probably would have beat them otherwise. I mean, I’m guessing we would have because if they had players who could score, they would have let them, wouldn’t they have? One would think, but whatever. We had fun, and that’s what matters most.

Groundhog’s Day: Don’t remember it.

We got snow in Portland that first full week of February. The school district decided to close schools two hours early, but that was probably two hours too late, at least for the middle schools, which didn’t get out until 1:40 p.m., when the snow was really coming down. Buses didn’t start showing up until 3 p.m. and most buses didn’t show up until after 5 p.m. So instead of getting out two hours early, middle school students ended up staying two hours late, which sucked for them. Poor Mister Bubby.

Elvis’s school got out at 1 p.m., but he was home in a timely manner. As soon as he came in the house, he announced he wanted to play in the snow. So he goes back out in the snow and about fifteen seconds later he comes back in and says, “It’s. FREEZING!” He had tried to make a snowball but had forgotten his gloves. So he put on his gloves and went out again and stayed out for much longer.

The next day school was canceled. (Good call, school district.) As chance would have it, this particular weekend was one where I had planned a road trip with a friend of mine to see Biffy Clyro in Vancouver, B.C. It’s a long story. Would you like to read it? Well, apparently you have nothing better to do, so why not? My friend lives on the east coast and is a huge Biffy Clyro fan and was coming out here to visit family and see Biffy’s shows in Vancouver and Portland, and she wanted someone to make the drive with her. I had not really any experience of Biffy Clyro, aside from my friend’s constant Facebook posts about them, but you know me. I’m open to new experiences and excuses to get out of the house. (Sometimes.) So back in December I said, “Sure, I’ll drive to Vancouver, B.C., to see Biffy Clyro with you,” not having any idea that there would be all this snow the first weekend in February and the roads would become hazardous. Because who could have predicted that? No one. Because it never snows in Portland, except when it does.

And it really wasn’t that much snow–I mean, it was a LOT of snow, for Portland, but not compared to places where it actually snows as a matter of course. But because it never snows here, no one is prepared and there are no plows and we just have to wait for the snow to melt, basically. I mean, that’s pretty much the case. So my friend flew in to PDX Friday night, 10:30 p.m.-ish, and I met her at the car rental and we started driving north. On the plus side, there were no cars on the road. On the minus side, the roads hadn’t been plowed and there was all this snow and we could only go about 35-40 mph on the freeway. On the plus side, once we got to…Chehalis, I think? everything was clear. We arrived at my sister’s house, just north of Seattle, around 3 a.m. and crashed there for the rest of the night. We woke around 8 a.m. and drove into Seattle to eat breakfast with some other Biffy fans my friend knew but I had never met before. We took two of them to Vancouver with us.

The roads were fine. The border guard was a bit confused as to how the four of us from four different states managed to end up in the same car going into Canada, but we weren’t flagged as terrorists, so it all worked out. Unfortunately, by this time I had a splitting headache. The original plan was for my friend and me to drive back to Portland directly after the concert. It became apparent that this might be a poor idea. Fortunately, one of the women riding with us had had the foresight to book a hotel room in Vancouver for that night, and she invited the rest of us to stay with her. So we had this hotel room, so I got to lie down and nurse my headache in the hotel room while the other, more hardcore Biffy fans went out to explore the surrounding area and hang out around the venue where Biffy was going to play. One of them held a place in line while the other two came back to the hotel to get me, refreshed and ready to rock (mostly). We waited in the cold for about an hour for the doors to open. Then we waited for another hour or so for the show to actually start.

The good news is that we were in the very front. Truthfully, I didn’t care that much about being close to Biffy, but I did appreciate having the barrier to lean against when I got tired. It was a good show. There were some drunk dudes moshing or slam-dancing or whatever it is the kids do these days, and my sneakers got stuck to the floor, but I was able to peel them off and walk again when it was over. Between the opening act (Morning Parade, also very good) and Biffy, the show didn’t let out until around 12:30 a.m., at which time my friends (old and new) wanted to hang and wait for the band to come out and see if they could get autographs and whatnot (because this is what they do). Because I’m open to new experiences and didn’t want to walk back to the hotel room alone, I stayed with them. But the band didn’t come out and the band didn’t come out and it was cold and while it hadn’t been that bad to wait in the cold at 7 p.m., it was much worse to wait in the cold at 1 a.m., and I was really tired, so I walked back to the hotel and probably fell asleep. I don’t remember. Sometime in the middle of the night the others came in too. (They had gotten to see the band members and went to get something to eat, since none of us had eaten since breakfast that morning. I was too tired to be hungry.)

Because the woman with the foresight to book the hotel room had not foreseen that she would be inviting three people to stay with her, what we had was a small hotel room with one king size bed. So three of us slept in the king bed and the fourth took the extra pillows and made a pallet on the floor. It didn’t occur to me until much after the fact that I was sharing a bed with a person I had just met that morning. Well, she was nice and she didn’t snore. (And yes, I was in the middle.)

We drove back on Sunday, dropped the other two ladies off in Seattle, where it had snowed a little bit, and then went on to Portland, where the snow had developed a crunchy, icy surface upon which had fallen more snow. But it didn’t really get uncomfortable until we were on the freeway headed toward the suburbs, and it didn’t get really bad until we got into my actual neighborhood, where apparently no one had left their houses since Thursday, and then it was somewhat harrowing. But we made it.

School was canceled again on Monday, although it did stop snowing (finally). Sugar Daddy and I had tickets to Biffy’s Portland show, so that evening we met my friend (and new friends/bedmates) at the Doug Fir Lounge and I got to see the show a second time. Afterwards, Sugar Daddy had a brief chat with the lead singer of Morning Parade, who complimented him on his jacket, a vintage Sears apparel item he inherited from his grandfather. (It’s pretty badass.) On Tuesday I was very tired.

Valentine’s Day: I attended the Valentine’s Day party at Elvis’s school. I usually try to avoid class parties, if at all possible. I usually try to avoid going into my kids’ schools at all, if possible. But Elvis wanted me to come to the Valentine party, so I said I would, and I was glad I did. For one thing, I was merely a guest and didn’t have to actually do anything. Well, that was really the whole thing. I don’t mind going to a party where I’m a guest. (I did ask the teacher if I could bring something or help out, and she said I could bring beverages, so I brought beverages. That was easy.) Elvis was very pleased to see me. As he told me that morning, “I will hug you when you come to the party.” And so he did. Many times throughout the party, actually. The kids played bingo and delivered their valentines and did some dancing (yes, dancing) and ate some treats. Then they cleaned up and went home. It was awesome. Every party should go so smoothly.

Speaking of Elvis, I have an IEP meeting this afternoon for him. We will be discussing transition to middle school. Can you believe it, gentle long-term readers? Elvis is going to middle school in September. That’s hardcore. You know what else is hardcore? Sick children. I have one of those too. Princess Zurg is sick with a headache and sore throat. I’m taking her to the doctor in about 40 minutes. I’m hoping it isn’t strep because strep is horrible, but on the other hand I’m kind of hoping it is because if it is, at least there’s antibiotics for that. The worst is when you just have to suffer with something and aren’t able to do anything about it but just wait and wait and wait for it to end. Le sigh. Oh, crap. I just remembered I have to buy some pizza sauce for Girlfriend to take to her church activity this afternoon. It’s a good thing I typed that for posterity. Now I’ll remember it long enough to do it. Maybe.

I should eat lunch before I take anyone to the doctor. Gentle readers, I hope you all have a great George Washington’s birthday this weekend.

Usually my blog post titles are lousy, but occasionally I come up with a title that the ensuing post cannot possibly live up to.

I’m thinking about flu shots today because Sugar Daddy is home sick, probably with the stomach flu that’s been going around this season, and I just last week turned down a flu shot from my doctor at my annual physical. Why would I turn down a flu shot in the middle of flu season? I mean, I was already there at the doctor. I don’t mind getting shots. I don’t have a fear of needles. Needles have ofttimes been my friends. Yes, I would go so far as to say that. It really doesn’t make any sense that I would turn down a flu shot when it was so convenient for me to get one and my insurance might have even covered it and even if it didn’t, I could certainly afford to pay for it.

So why did I turn down the flu shot? I don’t have a good answer for you. I don’t have any kind of answer, except that I’m a creature of habit and it is my habit not to get a flu shot during flu season because usually I am not right there at the doctor. I might have gotten a flu shot when I was pregnant with Girlfriend in 2005 because my doctor said something like, “It’s recommended that pregnant women get the flu shot,” but I really don’t precisely remember. I’m sure that if my doctor said something as strong as “it’s recommended”–not even “I personally as your physician recommend this” but just “it’s recommended”–I would have gotten the shot because, as I was saying just last paragraph, I hath naught against flu shots, in theory. But my habit is not to get them because it is not convenient and therefore when I’m confronted with the option, I immediately go into deer-in-the-headlights mode:

Doctor (or Nurse): Do you want a flu shot today?

Me: [Silent, but frantically thinking, "What, a flu shot? Today? No one told me this was going to be on the test. I'm not really a flu-shot-getter. Do I want a flu shot? Do I need a flu shot? If I needed a flu shot, would they phrase it in terms of me 'wanting' one, like I might want a refill on my diet Coke or my windshield cleaned? Should I get a flu shot? What will happen if I don't? What will happen if I do? I don't know because I can't see the future. I can't see the future! How am I supposed to answer this question???"

Doctor (or Nurse, tired of waiting for the answer): That's okay. [What's "okay"? I don't know, but that's what they say.] Do you need any refills on medication?

And then I leave, flu-shot-less. That’s what happened last Tuesday.

I know there are people who swear by flu shots and wouldn’t dream of not getting one during flu season. These are usually people who have, in seasons past, almost been killed by the flu. I appreciate their perspective. I’ve had near-death experiences myself, though not many of the flu variety. There are people who eschew flu shots because they’re leery of vaccines in the first place or they’ve gotten flu shots and gotten the flu anyway and are bitter or whatever. I don’t know. I confess that my decision (because that’s really what my indecision boils down to, in the end) not to get a flu shot is influenced entirely by superstition and pessimism rather than science and logic. The fact is (assuming I may have gotten a flu shot in 2005), nine years out of ten I have not gotten a flu shot and ten years out of ten I have not had the flu. The fact is that I don’t get sick very often. I do not attribute this hardiness to not getting flu shots, but the fact is, I cannot seem to ignore the correlation and the sneaking suspicion that it would be just my luck to get a flu shot and end up with the flu anyway because getting the shot somehow tempted fate–like somehow getting the flu shot would show the universe a lack of gratitude for me miraculously not getting the flu all those years I never had a flu shot and therefore I must be punished. Because that’s exactly how I’d see it, if I did get the flu: “Why am I being punished?” It’s not a becoming quality in me, but I acknowledge that it’s there.

That’s why I didn’t get the flu shot.

But here’s my husband, I don’t know, fifty feet away from me? In another room–two rooms away, technically–miserable with (probably) the flu. He didn’t get a flu shot either. We live together. I have definitely been exposed to his germs. I’m constantly exposed to his germs! I could end up getting the flu just like he did, and it will all be my own fault. Well, sure, I suppose I could shift some of the blame to him, too, since he didn’t get a flu shot either, but he wasn’t just at the doctor office last week, getting offered a flu shot on a silver platter. So really, it would be all my own fault. But will I get the flu? That’s the question. As I said before, I don’t often get sick. Not since the pregnancy of 2002-2003, when I caught every virus floating around in the Willamette Valley and spent 39 continuous weeks of being sick with non-pregnancy-related illness. (Literally–I am not exaggerating. 39 weeks of sickness. I did not stop being sick until Elvis was a week old.) That was an experience that has not been relieved (thank God). In fact, after I finished being sick with virus I was suffering with during my labor and delivery, neither I nor Elvis was sick at all for about two years. I hardly knew how to respond to such good health, considering that both Princess Zurg and Mister Bubby had about two dozen ear infections (each) during the first two years of life. But I digress. My point is that my constitution is pretty solid. More solid than the United States constitution these days, my fellow Americans! Just kidding. Well, I don’t know. It might be. But I digress again. I gambled on the flu shot because I’ve had a pretty lucky streak this last decade. But is my luck destined to end?

All good things must come to an end.

Also, I need to eat lunch. But once again I am stymied because I don’t know if I’m going to get the flu or not. Is it folly to eat anything I wouldn’t want to regurgitate in the next few hours? Am I tempting fate again? Gentle readers, stay tuned.

* So long as “starting to die” =/= “dying”

Well, kids, how were your holidays? Mine were fine. Everyone who needed gifts got gifts. Most people who would have appreciated a gift or a plate of cookies or something equally festive got nothing. Lots of people got cards, most of which, I’m sure, have since been recycled and forgotten. Sending Christmas cards is actually a very expensive enterprise, but I don’t imagine we’ll give it up until the government drops the postal service. So, never.

But I didn’t come on here to talk about Christmas. Christmas is so last month. What did I come here to talk about? Not much. Mister Bubby said something funny the other day, but heck if I can remember it now. I’m getting old.

Speaking of getting old, a few days ago I was afraid I might be pregnant–for no reason except, you know, the usual, most obvious one. I’m sorry, that’s obscure, but I’m trying to be more sensitive to my male readers, some of whom are uncomfortable knowing the details of my menstrual cycle. Wait, did I just say “menstrual”? Sensitivity FAIL. Screw it, my period was late. For the first time in about…eight years. Many things went through my mind:

1. I am 42 years old. The eggs are getting old. They could also be getting lazy. Maybe taking their cues from every other part of my body.

2. I am undergoing (very successful!) hormonal therapy. Hormones are crazy. They could be messing with my cycle.

3. I am getting old and perhaps misremembering the date of my last menstrual period. I probably forgot to write it down, even though I have to keep track of these things for medicinal purposes these days, but even if I did write it down, my efficient 10-year-old just recycled all the 2013 calendars, so we’ll never know, will we?

4. If I’m pregnant, I’ll need to be institutionalized, which will be expensive. Plus, my children still need their mother. … I have exhausted my ability to think along these lines. I will go back to my first three thoughts now.

But it is very difficult to put a thought like #4 out of one’s mind entirely. Even when one’s conscious mind is consciously concentrating on other matters, e.g. laundry, dirty dishes, phone calls that need to be made, escapist literature that needs to be read, the subconscious has a way of keeping that unwanted thought somewhere in the brain where it can vex and annoy the nerves of one’s body. It makes for a very uncomfortable night’s rest.

I did go so far as to buy a pregnancy test and bring it home. I didn’t take it right away because it was the day before the housekeepers come, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to get all my work done if I was curled up in a little ball sobbing on my bathroom floor. So I put it off and put it off until finally my subconscious just couldn’t stand it anymore, and I took the test. (I noticed that even the generic versions are now promising accurate results up to five days before your expected period, which is just crazy. Frankly, I begin to worry that science is eroding this generation’s ability to delay gratification. But I digress.) Obviously, it was negative. I mean, obviously, because I’m 42 years old and taking progesterone and doing everything within my power to avoid positive pregnancy tests. Well, obviously not EVERYthing, if I’m still taking pregnancy tests at 42. That’s what’s crazy.

I did feel some small measure of relief upon learning the result, but there was still the matter of the as-yet-absent Aunt Flo, which was still bothering the subconscious enough for the conscious to call my SuperGyno the next day. The SuperGyno said to just keep taking my progesterone until my period came and take another pregnancy test in a week if it did not. I did not find her acknowledgment of the possibility of pregnancy comforting, even if it was professional and scientifically accurate. But I was scheduled to give blood on Thursday, so I just went about my business.

So, a short history of my blood-donation career: I first tried to give blood as a senior in high school, but they wouldn’t stick me because my veins were too small. I felt rejected. I didn’t bother trying again until after college, when I found myself in charge of our church’s blood drive. It’s kind of tacky to ask people to give blood if you aren’t willing to donate yourself. So I went to every drive (held quarterly at the church), and they rejected me–sometimes for iron deficiency, other times for vein issues–over and over. Once they got a needle in my arm and blood was coming out, but it didn’t come out fast enough and they had to quit. They told me to drink lots of water next time. I thought I did drink lots of water already–I was taking medication that required me to drink a lot of water–but whatever. I drank a lot of water, and I tried again the next time, and I successfully donated my first pint of blood. I felt very satisfied.

After that, I got married and started having kids right away, so it was hard to donate blood regularly because when I wasn’t busy being pregnant, I had difficulty sparing a 45-minute block of time where I could lie down with a needle in my arm. I averaged maybe one donation per year I wasn’t pregnant. Eventually, though, my life began to have some flexibility and I managed to start donating blood about twice a year after Girlfriend was born. Last year it was my intention to donate every 8 weeks, but I didn’t quite manage it. I did make four successful donations, which was probably a record for me.

When I went for my last appointment in November, my iron was down again. I was somewhat surprised at how disappointing this was. “Disappointing” is not quite the word I’m looking for. What is the female version of “emasculated”? Because that’s how I felt. Like I had failed to perform. It was ridiculous, of course, but apparently “blood donor” has become an important part of my identity. I have so little to offer the world, when I think about it. When I’m gone, people can say, “At least she gave us her blood.” Yes, gentle readers, that is the legacy I’m going for these days.

So I’ve been faithfully taking my iron supplements, and I had a hamburger for dinner Wednesday night, and my iron was 14.6 on Thursday. 14.6! I don’t think it’s ever been that high before. Usually I hover around 13, or whatever the absolute minimum is. Anyway. So I got the needle in my arm, and the Red Cross person has me gently squeezing the squeezy thing every five seconds. Then she tells me I’m not squeezing gently enough and I’m doing it too frequently. Actually, I was not squeezing too frequently. I have circulation issues, so it helps if I move my fingers in between squeezes. (Another Red Cross person told me that several years ago, and it has worked like a charm up until Thursday, when this particular Red Cross person told me to calm down and squeeze like a normal person.) Well, fine. My blood was coming out very slowly, which they don’t like. The Red Cross person (I don’t know what the folks sticking needles in your arm and monitoring blood flow are called) is messing with my needle, which was not comfortable. I’m making her sound less friendly than she was. On a personal level, I quite liked her; she had an excellent bedside manner, but I did not appreciate her criticism of my squeezing technique or the discomfort resulting from the needle manipulation. She recruited one of her fellow (sister) Red Cross people to see if she could find the happy spot where the blood would just become as unto a fountain, but this other person was not doing much better and thought at one point that my vein had collapsed. (It had not, but it wasn’t happy.)

At some point I thought, “Dear God, please tell me this isn’t your way of saying that I shouldn’t be giving blood because I really am pregnant, because if it is, I AM NOT AMUSED.”

Long story short, the second RCP (Red Cross Professional–sounds more professional than “person”) ended up holding the needle in place in my arm the entire time while the tourniquet thingy they put around your upper arm was as tight as it could possibly be, and that enabled my blood to flow at an acceptable (albeit still slow–I’ve always been a slow bleeder, nothing to do about that) pace. When they finally released me, I found that my fingers had fallen asleep. Note: this was not the Red Cross people’s fault. If they’d known it was that bad, they would have stopped, but they kept asking me if I was okay, and I said I was okay because I had gone through entirely too much discomfort to quit at this point for absolutely nothing, and also, I hadn’t quite realized that I had lost feeling in my fingers because I was so hyper-aware of the fact that there was a human being holding a needle in my vein. Anyway, I got better.

Given how much ouch I felt at the needle site at the time, I expected to see some bruising there later. (I bruise rather easily; I’ve been bruised by phlebotomists before.) But everything looks normal. I guess most of that ouch was in my imagination.

It occurs to me that this is a horrible post about donating blood. I must tell you, I probably didn’t hydrate myself well enough yesterday. All of my Red Cross donations prior to this one were perfectly uneventful and mostly pain-free. (They can never be entirely pain-free because when they check your iron, they poke your finger with this little needle that feels like a staple gun. Sorry, Red Cross, but it’s true. The good news is that that pain is fleeting. The real needle-in-your-arm stuff is much less barbaric.) Now I’m afraid that when I’m dead, people will say, “She gave us her blood but discouraged millions of others from donating because they happened across this random blog post about the one unpleasant donation she made.”

What of my legacy now?

I don’t know, but it hardly signifies because the point of my story is that my period finally got here and between that and the blood donation and the extreme relief I felt over definitely not being pregnant, I am extraordinarily tired today.

And that’s all I’ve got.


Madhousewife (to neighbor boy): L, quit kicking my seat.

L: [continues kicking seat as though nothing has been said]

Mad: Seriously, dude, quit kicking my seat or I swear I will stop this car, go back there and tie your legs together.

L: Ha ha! You’re so funny. (to Girlfriend) She’s making a joke, right?

Girlfriend: I don’t know.

L’s sister: I think she might not be.


Mad: L!

L: What?

Mad: Quit kicking my seat.

L: Sorry. Hey, guess what?

Mad: What?

L: Chicken butt!

Mad: Ha ha! Never gets old…


Mad: Don’t kick my seat, L.

L: Sorry. I’m just so used to doing it.

Mad: Well, you need to get used to not doing it.


They used to sing “The Hokey Pokey” every morning. I wish they’d go back to doing that.


Christmas songs I never want to hear again as long as I live

1. “Santa Baby”–any version, but especially Madonna’s

2. “Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer” — It was only funny the first time. And then only because you weren’t used to hearing whimsical songs about grandmothers dying.

3. “Little Drummer Boy” — I know, I know–Bing Crosby and David Bowie singing “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth,” but that doesn’t count because it isn’t “Little Drummer Boy.” It’s “Peace on Earth” with a soupcon of “Little Drummer Boy.” That’s the thing about “Little Drummer Boy.” It only works as a seasoning, and probably only in this one instance. You wouldn’t pour a cup of allspice down your throat, would you? (If you would, shut up.) Then don’t subject me to a whole song of unadulterated “Little Drummer Boy.”

4. “Twelve Days of Christmas” –No, not even the Muppet version. No version! Except maybe this version, but only after skipping the first two minutes.


Fortunately, people hardly ever sing “Twelve Days of Christmas” anymore because everyone seems to understand how obnoxious it is. Except for those few obnoxious people who didn’t get the memo. For that reason, it needs to stay on the list until it is completely eradicated from the earth.*

* (Except maybe for limited use in warfare.)


Mister Bubby was complaining this morning that elementary school kids have it better because they get to have parties on the last day of school before winter break, and all they’re doing in middle school is reading aloud “A Christmas Carol” in one of his classes. I asked him if he was going to read it in Mr. Magoo’s voice. MB remarked that Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol is actually the most faithful of all the adaptations and that it most effectively shows the transformation of Mr. Magoo’s character over time. I tend to agree. I like most adaptations of “A Christmas Carol,” but Mr. Magoo’s is still my favorite. Little Ebeneezer gets me every time.



I actually love Christmas. It’s my favorite holiday, despite the fact that it’s also the most stressful. I’m very bad at gifts, you see. I like to give gifts, I want to give gifts, but I have a hard time choosing gifts. You know how some people are really good at giving special, thoughtful gifts? I’m not those people. I like to think it’s not because I’m not thoughtful. I just don’t have any thoughts that translate into gifts. Once in a blue moon I think of something that somebody would really like and I’m actually correct and that’s awesome, but that’s not the rule with me. Most of the time when I try to think of what gift someone would like, I come up with nothing. Which is how I end up giving gift cards so much of the time.

Personally, I like gift cards. Getting them, I mean. Obviously, I love giving them because there’s no thought required. Not that I’m thoughtless, but I like giving them for the same reason I like playing games of chance: there’s no strategy required, so I don’t have to feel bad about getting it wrong. Except I know some people find gift cards impersonal. Well, they are impersonal. But some people are offended by impersonal gifts. Personally, I am not offended by impersonal gifts, even though personal gifts are also nice. I don’t actually have a preference between the two. If my husband got me a gift card for my birthday, I would not be offended, but he might be offended that I was not offended. A gift card would basically boil down to his explicit permission to spend more of his money that I’m already spending without permission (or rather, with implicit permission coexisting with the implicit understanding that I won’t ruin him financially). When you look at it that way, it seems kind of lame, but I wouldn’t mind. What kind of monster am I? I don’t know.

I almost always give my husband a gift card to Jamba Juice for his birthday and for Christmas because he loves Jamba Juice, and it’s not like I can wrap up a week’s worth of smoothies and put them under the tree, is it? Of course, that’s not the only thing I give him. I’m not that much of a monster. But at least I know he’ll use it. But then, he’ll get Jamba Juice even if I don’t give him a gift card. But he’ll feel guilty about it if he gets too many of them. The Jamba Juice that he buys with a gift card is his guilt-free Jamba Juice. I think a card that absolves its holder guilt, even if it’s only the retail variety, is not so impersonal after all. But maybe that’s just me.

But I’ve digressed. But not really because my husband is a good segue to what I meant to talk about here. My husband is a reasonably thoughtful gift giver. I say this mainly because he starts thinking about birthdays and Christmas way before I do. He’ll make me sit down with him and discuss what we ought to give the kids for Christmas, starting in, like, September. (He’s not one of those people who have all their shopping done in July or anything horrible like that. He’s just organized.) I don’t often have something to contribute to these discussions. My most meaningful contributions are “That’s a good idea” and “We should do that.” It’s not that I don’t know my children or what they like. I just can’t think of what they’d like when I really need to. (My husband, on the other hand, thinks very well under stress. I’ve never considered this in light of things like Christmas, but maybe it has a lot to do with why he’s better at it than I am.) Once in a blue moon I have a good idea that isn’t his first. It makes me feel like less of a monster. But it’s a rare feeling.

Now that our children are older, we are moving out of the toy stage of life. Girlfriend is technically still young enough for toys, but she already has a million. We have been trying desperately not to add to the millions of toys that are already in our house. We have been trying desperately not to add to the billions of things we already have in our house, but those efforts have been mostly in vain. Here’s where I have to beg people not to share stories about how they give their kids the gift of working in a soup kitchen every Christmas or buying a cow for someone in Rwanda or whatever. Just don’t even go there. If you do, I swear I will not rinse this ketchup bottle out and recycle it. (That ought to give at least half of you pause.) We don’t have a problem with spending money. We don’t even have a problem with spending money frivolously. (Well, not a very large problem, anyway.) We just don’t want to acquire more crap that we have to thereafter manage. We’ve thought about giving experience or destination gifts, but nothing really comes to mind. Also, not having something to unwrap Christmas morning kind of sucks. I think every kid who isn’t working in a soup kitchen or buying Rwandan cows knows this. Do they even have cows in Rwanda? I’m sure they must, but how much does your average Rwandan need a cow? This is what I don’t know and I’m kind of embarrassed to admit it. I don’t know why I chose Rwanda out of thin air. I think I just like the name “Rwanda.”

One of the thoughtful things my husband thought to do this year is to (finally) compile a photo album of baby photos for Girlfriend. Baby photos of her, that is. She is, sadly, the only child (of ours) who doesn’t have one. Even Elvis has one, although his is rather thin and stops at around four months of age. I would have to double check on that, but I’m afraid if I did I would discover it actually stops at eight weeks of age, and I don’t want to know that. My husband thought of it, but I was put in charge of executing it–which was fine, because it gave me the opportunity to do something thoughtful, so even if I didn’t think of it originally, I can sort of get credit for it. So I have been spending the last few weeks desperately searching for baby pictures of Girlfriend. And you know what? It turns out there aren’t many. Not of that first year, anyway. Which has actually been very depressing. I mean, I knew there weren’t s many of her as there were of the older children, but…wow, I really had no idea how scant the photographic evidence of her babyhood is. Thank God I still had it enough together at the advanced age of 35 to take her in for professional portraits every three months that first year, or who would know what she looked like at six months? No one, that’s who. NO ONE. It is making me sad just thinking about it. But what can I do? WELL, NOTHING ANYMORE, THOSE MOMENTS ARE GONE FOREVER CATS IN THE CRADLE AND THE SILVER SPOON ET CETERA.

She will just have to remember for the rest of her life that I was still carrying her around the house when she was eight years old because she didn’t have any younger siblings with whom I could compare her weight. (She’s actually sixty-seven pounds, but it doesn’t seem that way because she’s my baby. Eventually, this relative lightness is going to end. It probably should have ended a couple years ago, but at least I’m not still breastfeeding her.)

One good thing that has come out of this experience is that I’ve learned that Walgreens will develop my 35mm film. I’ve been looking for someone to do that for ages. Well, not continuously or diligently, of course, or I probably would have discovered the Walgreens photo lab a couple years ago, even though I hardly ever go to Walgreens. I will be going to Walgreens a lot more often now, believe you me, simply because I’m so grateful to them for developing my 35mm film less than a mile from my house. I feel like I owe it to them. Even though I no longer have any more 35mm film to develop. (That I know of. Twenty years from now we could find several canisters that house Girlfriend: The Lost Months.) But I will use them for all my photographic print needs from now on. And also for buying things like Tylenol, maybe.

Talking of which, I have to take a shower and go to Walgreens and pick up the prints I had made from the CD I had made of the 35mm film I had developed, only about six exposures of which involved Girlfriend in some way, Actually, only a few more than that involved any people in some way. Apparently my children started doing experimental photography before we officially entered the digital age. That makes me glad I waited until we were firmly entrenched in the upper-middle class before developing these rolls of film, or I might have been more upset about spending all this money to see blurry shots of someone’s arm.

Only three more hours until winter break begins, and I have to spend twenty minutes showering and getting dressed. What a rip-off. (No, I don’t know why it takes me that long. Considering how I end up looking, it should take me no more than seven minutes, tops. But my universe is a mysterious place.)


Actually, I don’t especially mind “Little Drummer Boy” when Grace Jones sings it in Pee-Wee’s Christmas Special, but that’s mainly because I’m so mesmerized by the bizarre visuals of the performance that I don’t notice the audio so much.


If you’re going to send your kid to my house, don’t think I won’t find out that he has head lice or that he’s thrown up twice this morning. He tells me everything.

X’s & O’s,


1. She loves dogs. L-O-V-E-S dogs. She loves them so much, she even pretends to be a dog sometimes. And by “sometimes” I mean “some part of every day.” If there’s any child in the world who ought to have a dog, it’s Girlfriend. Unfortunately, neither her father nor I is willing to accept the responsibility of pet ownership. She will have to wait until she’s living in her own home to have a dog. In the meantime, she has to make do with doggy play dates (with dogs belonging to other people) and playing with stuffed dogs. She has suggested maybe getting a robot dog, but I just don’t think that would satisfy her. She needs a real dog. But I am not a good enough person to give her one.

2. She enjoys sports. She’s not especially athletic, but she likes to play soccer and basketball. This year she is planning to volunteer as a peer facilitator for the basketball program for children with disabilities that Elvis plays in. She went to basketball camp this summer to work on her skills.

3. She gets embarrassed easily. Sometimes she does something adorable and we’ll laugh because it’s so cute, but she’ll think we’re making fun of her and will hide under a table or whatever and won’t forgive you for at least ten minutes.

4. She loves to read. She’s the only one of my children who really, really loves to read. She especially likes mysteries.

5. Our next-door neighbor of ten years had a black dog named Sugar, and Sugar died in August. Girlfriend had a black plush dog she had originally named “Blackie” but she re-christened it “Sugar” in honor of the late Sugar. (And also made it a girl when it had originally been a boy, because the late, real-life Sugar was also a girl. It’s easy to give plush dogs sex changes.)

6. She’s very nurturing. In addition to having a dog, she should also have a younger sibling, but I’m not a good enough person to give her that either.

7. She likes to do everything perfectly. She doesn’t like to lose.

8. She is eight years old today.

When I started this blog, Girlfriend was not even a twinkle in her father’s eye. She was hardly even a theory in her mother’s. She is therefore the only one of my children who has been blogged about her whole life. But she hasn’t been blogged about a lot because she isn’t outrageous, just freaking adorable–and that’s a lot harder to put into writing.


Contrary to what some of you might suspect, I have not given up blogging for Facebook. Would I blog more if there were no Facebook? Hmmmmmm…no. No, I don’t think I would. Because I don’t get nearly as much pleasure out of Facebook as I used to. I go on Facebook every day, but I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook. Seriously, I don’t. I used to, but I don’t anymore. These days the majority of my time-wasting is spent on reading—which you might say isn’t a waste of time, but unless you’re Facebook friends with me, you don’t know what kind of books I’m reading. Some of them certainly aren’t time wasters, but others, well, some people have a couple hundred shows on their DVR; I read trashy novels. He who is without sin, etc.

That’s a roundabout introduction to my subject for today, which was inspired by an interaction I had with a friend on Facebook. The friend in question is a woman I know from church; she and her family recently moved into our ward, and I have enjoyed making her acquaintance. She seems like a lovely person. We’ve only been Facebook friends for a few weeks. Maybe a little more than a fortnight. The other day she posted a concerned-parent rant—I hate to call it a “rant” because she really is such calm, good-natured person, I don’t really think of her as “ranting” about anything, but if it wasn’t a “rant,” maybe it was a soapbox type speech—about Oregon’s Common Core guidelines vis a vis literature and composition classes. Apparently, one of the books eleventh graders are required to read is Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. She was very upset about this book being required reading because it contains very graphic descriptions of child rape, given from the rapist’s point of view. She likened it to pornography—perhaps even child pornography—and thought it was just outrageous that students would be required to read this filth.

My initial reaction was “Yowza—note to self: do not discuss books with this person.” (Especially if said books have titles like Invitation to Seduction or The Wanton Dairymaid Trilogy. I’m not saying I’ve read The Wanton Dairymaid Trilogy, but I’m not saying I wouldn’t.) There are books out there I would classify as pornographic. I’ve read some of them. Can’t say I finished any of them because wanton dairymaids notwithstanding, pornography isn’t really my thing. I find it alternately gross and tedious. But I don’t consider your garden variety romance novel pornography, and I certainly wouldn’t classify your garden variety Toni Morrison novel pornography. I guess pornography is in the eye of the beholder, given people’s differing sensibilities, in addition to their differing values. To me, pornography has no purpose beyond provoking sexual arousal in the user (viewer or reader) and either has no artistic merit or is so exploitative as to render its theoretical artistic merit irrelevant. I don’t know. That’s all subjective, isn’t it? That’s why we have a constitutional right to Hustler. But whatever.

I’ve read a lot of Toni Morrison. It’s been a good 20 years or so since I’ve read The Bluest Eye. I only vaguely remember the story and the themes. It’s not my favorite Toni Morrison book. (That would be Song of Solomon.) But I don’t think it’s pornography. I mean, if it had been pornographic, it probably would have made a more lasting impression (unfortunately). I did recall it being somewhat sexually explicit. My FB friend was so disgusted by the excerpts she read online that she wasn’t comfortable posting a link, but through the magic of Google I found a blog or an article that gave several excerpts from the novel, and I immediately understood how a person who is not generally a prude (or may not generally be a prude—I don’t know this FB friend well enough to judge) might find this book offensive. Funny, I did not remember it being quite so…ick. Maybe because it was before I had children? I don’t know. Granted, the quotes were all out of context. Context certainly makes a big difference. It’s not fair to judge the literary merit of a book based on isolated excerpts. At the same time, these are still graphic, disturbing passages, regardless of context, and I know that if my own teenager had to read this book, she would be traumatized. Princess Zurg is particularly sensitive when it comes to certain subjects—probably more sensitive than your average teenager these days, but not the only one so sensitive, I’m sure. Certainly kids who come from conservative, religious households are more likely to be disturbed by such frank discussion of rape and incest (or anything of a sexual nature, including the consensual stuff).

I guess our household is conservative and religious. The household I grew up in was conservative and religious, but I have a high tolerance for “adult content” in books and always have. I don’t have a similarly high tolerance for such content in movies and TV. I process words differently than visual images. I’m very fastidious about what I let my kids watch—there are things I forbid them to watch–but I don’t, as a rule, censor their reading. I have a copy of The Bluest Eye in one of our (many) bookshelves. I would not forbid my teenager from reading it, if she (or he) wanted to. I really can’t imagine either of my teenagers wanting to, but theoretically, if they did, I would not forbid them. I would certainly warn them about the content because they’re the type of kids who would not care to be surprised by that sort of thing. That would probably end the issue right there. My teenagers are not such voracious readers that they’re going to pick up a Toni Morrison book for kicks and giggles, so I don’t need to think very deeply about this.

However, if Princess Zurg is expected to read The Bluest Eye next year, I will have a problem with that. I’m well aware that sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds are very close to adulthood, and most of them probably don’t need sheltering. Certainly if they are college bound, they should expect to read more challenging material as they advance in their education, and some of this challenging material may offend those with more delicate sensibilities. Once they’re actually in college, of course, they will be expected to read all sorts of things. I’m of the opinion that, for the most part, “all sorts of things” can wait until college. It’s not like there’s a shortage of worthwhile literature out there. Plenty of sixteen- and seventeen-year-old kids can handle The Bluest Eye, as far as the language and subject matter go. That is, they’re not going to faint or anything. I am skeptical of how well they can appreciate the novel as literature, given that Toni Morrison is not the world’s most accessible writer. And being from a conservative religious community, I am probably more sympathetic to those kids who would be disturbed and/or scandalized by the graphic language, even though my own sensibilities are different. I am sympathetic to my daughter, who I don’t think would get any benefit from reading something like The Bluest Eye. It should be easy enough for students like her to get an alternate assignment, which is all well and good, but the thing about an alternate assignment is that it removes the student from the regular classroom curriculum for a period of a few weeks (at least a fortnight). That is less than ideal, which is why even though it is a provision of my daughter’s IEP that she be given alternate assignments when appropriate, we are reluctant to invoke that option. PZ has encountered plenty of books and plays and whatnot in her lit & comp career that have distressed her. To an extent I think she needs to learn to deal with being distressed, so I talk her through the material and she manages to complete her assignments and in the end she is okay, even if she doesn’t learn to like the books in question (in point of fact, continues to hate them). But I think something like The Bluest Eye would be a bridge too far for her.

I can see it being a bridge too far for a lot of teenagers, who are still, after all, living under their parents’ protection. No, they can’t be coddled forever, but they’re not adults yet, and most parents are probably reasonably good judges of what their kids can handle. If my FB friend thinks a book is pornographic, I can’t really blame her for being upset about her child being required to read it. Obviously, though, there’s something to offend everyone. That’s what we book-lovers are supposed to say: Where does one draw the line? Who will judge what is “inappropriate” and what is not? Well, someone has to, and it seems to me it shouldn’t be so hard to classify some books as inappropriate for required high school reading lists. Public schools are for everyone, not just for sophisticated urbane types who think there’s no such thing as an “inappropriate” book. As I said earlier, it’s not like there’s a shortage of worthwhile literature. There’s not even a shortage of challenging material that manages to discuss heavy issues like rape and racism without describing exactly what a pedophile does with a little girl’s vagina. I’m just saying.

It’s easy to understand how The Bluest Eye ends up on a recommended reading list. We want our students to read more than just the dead white males. Toni Morrison is female, black, and alive—a three-fer!—and also happens to be a Nobel Prize winner. Why shouldn’t high schoolers read her? Well, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t, but there’s no compelling reason why they must¸ either. She is not the easiest author to read. She’s sort of a female, black (and alive) Faulkner, with slightly shorter sentences. Plenty of kids leave high school without ever reading Faulkner (I was one of those), so I think they’ll survive if they miss Toni Morrison too. Or they could read something she’s written that doesn’t contain graphic descriptions of child rape. I really don’t see what the big deal is. The Bluest Eye is a compelling novel in some respects, but not absolutely essential to a teenager’s education. Why court this particular controversy? When I was in high school, parents were upset about books like The Catcher in the Rye. The Bluest Eye makes The Catcher in the Rye look like The Cat in the Hat. Why would one feel so strongly about going there? Don’t we sophisticated, urbane types have enough trouble dealing with the parents who want to ban Harry Potter? Do we really want to upset a larger percentage of the parent population? Is it that worth it? I just don’t see it.

Of course, this is Portland (or Portland suburbia), not a terribly conservative community. I don’t foresee a huge revolt among the parents here. And I’m not the revolt-starting type. What do you gentle readers think? Have any of you run up against this issue in your sending-your-kids-to-school career?


April 2014
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