My many first-world problems

By Mir
December 14, 2011

Sometimes I sit down to write something and I feel like such a colossal douche I consider just skipping the blog entry and ridiculing myself internally, instead. But then I realize that’s no fun at all, and I share it all with you.


Here at Casa Mir I am fraught with THE BUSY, because time is running out, school vacation and The Big Trek North are almost upon us, and there are a million things I have not done, cannot do, must accomplish, blah blah blahbbity blahhhhhh and all of it is unimportant, I mean mostly, and yet it’s eating up my head space. I’m forever exhorting my children to USE ALL THAT BRAIN POWER FOR GOOD RATHER THAN EVIL, and perhaps I should take my own advice. Except in my case I should probably use that brain power for the betterment of humanity instead of for middle-class minutiae. And I will. As soon as I take care of this other stuff.

Pre-travel grooming. Don’t even try to tell me you don’t do this sort of thing. I mean, maybe for you it doesn’t involve trying to touch up your roots and give yourself a quick pedicure, but I believe just about everyone has some sort of various rituals they necessary to complete before they go on a trip. Notice how I’m not talking about any waxing that may need to happen ahead of time (you’re welcome, again), and focusing only on the stuff I may have screwed up.

While painting my toenails, my darling daughter asked me where I was going. I was confused. I finally said, “Nowhere…?” and she said, “Well you usually only do your toes in the summer or if you’re doing something fancy.” I tried to convince her that her grandparents feel strongly about me having a proper pedicure at all times, but I don’t think she bought it. And then later she told me my toes looked nice but that color would look better on her. And she’s probably right.

Also, every time I try to dye my own damn hair I make it too dark, so last night I carefully did my roots and then washed it out maybe five minutes early. I should’ve just risked being too dark; the coverage is spotty at best, and I feel stupid. And there are starving people in Africa who don’t care that they’re prematurely gray, I know.

Traveling pharmacy. Between the three of us (Otto is the only healthy one in the family, dontchaknow), we have something like twenty-seven prescriptions (not really), none of which are refillable at the same time. And the kids are going to be away for a while and so I need a vacation override from the insurance company to even get their meds, and the pharmacist actually suggested to me that I just transfer all their ‘scripts to a pharmacy up in New England “to make things easier.” Uh, no. We will literally have to stop by the pharmacy on our way out of town to get the last of our meds. Fun!

Door to door… garbage? Some random guy came to the door a month ago and tried to get me to sign up with a different waste disposal company (fancy language for garbage/recycling pickup). His flyer has been sitting on my desk for a month. I finally decided to switch us. So I had to call them. And get scheduled. And call the other company. And get them to take away their containers. And send a final bill. Why I decided this needed to happen during what is possibly my busiest week of the year, I cannot tell you. (Wait, I can: Mental illness.)

Use it or lose it. So remember when I was considering a bite splint last year? Otto made me put a hunk of money into our health care spending account for it, but I really just could not get over the cost. And then I kind of got better and we never bought the splint. Except now we have a bunch of money in that account which has to be spent by December 31st or it goes POOF and so we’re all WHO NEEDS GLASSES? WHO NEEDS CONTACTS? Otto got new glasses last week, and I ran out today and allowed the cute young optician to talk me into a pair of designer sunglasses that, on second thought, are probably going to make me feel like a Real Housewife. I felt pretentious just trying them on. But I also… kinda liked them. SO. There we are.

This afternoon, Chickadee is going in for her annual eye exam, and then getting fitted for daily contacts instead of the monthlies she’s currently wearing. I figure that as long as she has bionic eyeballs and we have money to burn, we may as well do away with the saline and the feeling of insane rage I tend to feel when a contact that is supposed to last for a month rips on the first wearing.

Cookie tragedy. I fully intended to do my regular holiday bake-a-thon and give cookies to teachers and everything, but currently the electrical panel on our range/oven is dying a slow and agonizing death. It started when the quick-boil burner button would no longer respond, and we said FINE, we have three other burners, not a big deal. But now I can no longer turn on the oven. I can, however, BROIL or CONVECT. Broiled cookies sound… crunchy… but I may be able to cheat and convect the cookies? I don’t know. I only know I have to try. Because otherwise I’m afraid Monkey might kill me in my sleep. Ever since I mentioned making cookies he’s been waiting not-so-patiently.

Shopping surrender. While a huge chunk of my job is helping other people shop, I was finding that I was completely stumped on a Christmas present for Monkey this year. The situation had nearly reached critical neurosis when Otto and I discovered something we bought for him LAST year that we opted not to give him after the kids came back from the Stuff-A-Thon at their Dad’s house, and we felt like no more presents were needed. Problem solved! Except this is not exactly making me feel like Mother of the Year.

We wish you a merry whatever. Also, for the first time, we’re not putting up a tree this year. We just… ran out of time, and it seems silly to drag everything out. BUT I HAVE GUILT. Yesterday I put our candle lamps in the windows, because I needed a LITTLE Christmas, and the kids promptly asked me where the tree was.

I told them Santa crossed us off his list because we’re too annoying. And part of that statement is totally true.


  1. Headless Mom

    I wish I was leaving town so I had an excuse to not decorate.

  2. Damsel

    YES to the convection of the cookies! They will be much better!! Also, didn’t you just get these fancy new appliances? Or did I, yet again, fall into a wormhole wherein time disappeared? (This happens pretty much every time I realize that my kids outgrew their clothes. AGAIN.)

  3. erika kar

    Good heavens, I love you.

  4. RuthWells

    Oh Mir. I read the first item as “Pet-Travel Grooming” and it completely threw me off.

    My to-do list currently includes finding a new electric provider and switching the family to a new cell phone carrier, so, no, it isn’t just you. : )

  5. JoAnne

    I wondered the same thing about your oven, isn’t it fairly new!?!

  6. Mir

    Yes, my free oven is two years old and worth every penny we paid for it. Ahem.

  7. bj

    “And then later she told me my toes looked nice but that color would look better on her. ”

    Isn’t it fun to have a girl just that age? My darling D has said exactly the same thing to me.

  8. k's grandma

    My granddaughter was here to help me decorate last Saturday and while we did bring some things downstairs, we basically left the upstairs looking as if Christmas had vomited all over the guest room. And then I got sick, so. . . it will just have to wait and collect some dust and then I’ll probably go up and put most of it back in boxes and not bring it downstairs. When I worked many many many hours during the season back in the day and customers would ask me if I were ready for Christmas, I just adopted a blank look and replied, “Isn’t Christmas a religious holiday?” Maybe the newer new testaments go into required cookie baking, but thankfully for me, the versions in this house do not. Of course I bought the ingredients, but it’s looking more like valentine cookies if you ask me.

  9. Crisanne

    So glad you’ve already answered the over question! And, well, that really stinks that it hasn’t held up very well. It might have been free for you, but surely someone out there paid real, honest money for one! Also, gifts do not determine Mother of the Year status, Mir. Love does, and you’ve given him plenty this year. Now go find me some incredible deal on just the right gift for my nephew please! I have no idea what to get, but I’m holding out hope that you will find it without even realizing it.

  10. elz

    Instead of baking, I suggest candy making (Ok, toffee, potato-potahto). Easy, chocolatey, equally good for Christmas Cheer related giving without any actual baking involved. Also, chocolate. Did I mention that?

    No tree? I weep for the children. {Says the woman who told my sweet girls I was cancelling Christmas for their rotten behavior.}

  11. Scottsdale Girl

    Ah yes, travel at the holidays. NO THANKS

  12. Midj

    Heading North, also. But, not the first year of no tree. I will get the wreath down for the front door but, unless the college age daughter wants to decorate the rest of the house, it’s not getting done. Safe travels, Mir. I’m looking forward to the great stories upon your return!

  13. Carol

    Always a lurker but had to tell you that there is a chance that a small amount of vinegar on a cloth could give you a fix on your oven control panel. Just recently had to replace mine and the repair guy told us that sometimes the vinegar works to get off any thing that prevents the button from reading the finger.

  14. Karly

    Just in case you need one last thing for Monkey, did you see the Minecraft goodies at Think Geek? My 11 year old minecrafter is going to be a proud owner of the foam pick axe and I have a feeling it will blow his mind.

  15. Tracy B

    I wish I didn’t have to put a tree but the truth is, once it’s up, my mood is so much better… until it’s time to take it down! Merry whatever, Mir!!!

  16. Megan

    Well… I have the tree UP and it’s LIT (which required a spare string of lights for the cannot-be-repaired pre-lit ones on the top and a teensy touch of unladylike language) but it has not a single solitary ornament on nor even a skirt to cover it’s indecently exposed ugly metal stand legs.

    AND my den has looked like the Somme for the past week, AND the spiced nuts have not been made AND somebody who in their infinite wisdom decided that having a child born in Germany meant we had to get all festive and celebrate St Nick’s day didn’t manage to get an actual package off in time for that very Germany born child on her first Christmas away from home. BUT I’M NOT WALLOWING IN MUM GUILT. Oh no.

    I’ll just be in the corner over here with the unfinished hand-made Christmas stockings and the cards that I just remembered haven’t been signed, sealed or stamped much less mailed… sigh.

  17. Lucinda

    Now I’m going to go look back to see what oven you got so I don’t ever buy it. Yes, that’s my takeaway from all of this. Oh and don’t feel guilty. Kids will survive a treeless Christmas.

  18. addy

    Ya so decided to at least put the tree up. You know so the college age returning wanderer would have something pretty and shiny to distract her. Cuz ain’t puttin’ up nuthin’ else. ANDDDDD proceeded to smash my toes into the wall while moving said tree down the hallway to the stairs. ANDDDD probably broke my effin’ toe! So, no guilt Mir. No guilt. You saved yourself a toe or two.

  19. Anna

    May be too late for you and not sure about your particular plan, but I am pretty sure new IRS regulations stipulate that you have until 3/31 of the following year to spend your flex money; you should check.

  20. hollygee

    Agree convection is great for cookies and very funny for muffins — they look like they are trying to escape the muffin tin.

  21. Anna

    Ah, yes. The year we traveled, we bought a fake tree, set it up and then…. didn’t decorate it. Left all the decoration boxes just out on the floor, unopened. Merry Christmas. ;)

  22. Brigitte

    I’m trying to get away with JUST the tree, but DD keeps asking about the other stuff.

    Don’t feel guilty about Monkey’s gift! When DD was younger, we could get away with giving her clean, hand-me-down toys from friends with older kids, and she didn’t know the difference. Now she’s already to the Nintendo DSis and stuff, where’d the time go? But we still hit a pawn shop for the pricier items. ;-)

    AND I just found a bracelet I bought for her two years ago and stashed away “safely” (oops) – extra Christmas present!

  23. Brigitte

    Ooh, just remembered a wrap-around skirt incident from 7th grade in the late 70s. Windy day blew it right open! Never wore one of THOSE again.

  24. Shelly in Austin

    Check with your accountant, but generally you have an additional three month grace period to spend your flex health money. Not that I ever have any left over.

  25. 12tequilas

    I just got an e-mail newsletter-y thing from our vet’s office with all sorts of holiday warnings. I’m pretty sure one of them said something like: if you have a Christmas tree in your house (even an artificial one), your dog will eat the fallen needles and DIE.

    There’s your excuse. You have to protect your puppy dog from the evils!

  26. Brigitte

    Oops, apologies for #23 – had multiple windows open and thought I was at “Off Our Chests!”

  27. Angela

    My husband and I hemmed and hawed about putting up the tree for a few weeks but have decided, screw it. For one, we don’t have kids so it just doesn’t seem to matter to put a tree up just for us, plus we’re not having actual Christmas celebrations at our house. For two, I’ve become increasingly Grinchy about America’s need to “celebrate” Christmas for an entire month and the materialistic consumerism that is really the driving force behind this month-long greed fest. Christmas Eve and Day are plenty to celebrate Jesus’ birth, and I do celebrate that part!

  28. Beth

    “. . . the kids promptly asked me where the tree was.

    I told them Santa crossed us off his list because we’re too annoying. And part of that statement is totally true.”

    I love how you frequently come back with this type of smart-ass answer. I’ve always said this kind of thing to my kids and most of the time they roll their eyes and say, “Mah–om!” Every so often, they can’t quite tell if what I said was true or not. After a few minutes of watching the wheels turn, I give them the real story, but sometimes I’m laughing too hard to get it out.

  29. Edd Fear

    All I can say is Enjoy the Traveling to See the Family. Because the only thing worse than traveling to see family I like (with all the requisite pharmacy stories that go with it) is NOT traveling to see family I like, and instead staying home closer to family that frankly I could do without (even at Christmas, sadly enough).

    And you know you’ll have fun despite yourself. Or at least have great stories.

    You go!!

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