I Guess I Have Issues With This

Rage Against The Minivan posted about toilet paper today.

She brought up the old under-versus-over debate.  Then she asked her readers to share their preferences.  I was going to add mine at the foot of her page,  but I got distracted by the other responses.  I read every one.  And when I finished, I realized I had more to say than could politely fit in that comment section.

So yeah, this is a post about toilet paper.  Sort of.

Or maybe it’s about incredulity, defiance, misbehaving cats and a really memorable spider.

When I was a teenager, mom and I stayed a night with some friends in another town.  On our first morning as guests in their home, one of them quite loudly informed everyone at the breakfast table that my mother had replaced the toilet paper roll the “wrong” way in their bathroom.  She went on to imply that this insane act, placing the paper’s end under the roll instead of over it, had caused her some barely survivable inconvenience in the middle of the night!  Poor dear.

My mother politely explained that she didn’t know there was a preference.  I didn’t know that either, but I formed one right then.  And it was just the opposite of theirs.  I couldn’t believe this was an issue worth pointing out to a temporary guest in her home.  Why couldn’t she have done the polite thing and simply reversed the roll herself, without trying to embarrass or educate my mom?  Incredible.

My rolls went under from that day on.  And truly, when I saw one pointed over, and I could change it without much trouble, I changed it.  Because no one could tell me not to.  I did it in defiance of social norms and the dictate of that friend.

Years later, when husband and I bought our house, my defiance waned.  There were other things to think about.  Friends and relatives – people I liked – were pointing the paper over, so I just started to comply.

Then I got pregnant.  And I couldn’t have cared less about the direction of the roll.  Instead, I was obsessed with germs that might be on it.

Who had changed the roll?  When did they do it?  Were their hands clean?  Was the lid down when they flushed?  Did the paper get misted with bio-hazardous germs because the lid was up?  Was the paper still wrapped until the point of going on the roller?

If someone else did change the paper, did they put their hands inside the tube or did they touch the entire outside edge of the paper to keep from dropping it?  Or did they drop it and then wind the paper back onto the roll, complete with whatever germs were on the bathroom floor?

If the paper wasn’t on the roller, was it sitting on the toilet itself or, God forbid, on top of the sanitary napkin disposal bin, contaminating every piece?

Think about all of that.  I sure did.  And really, I still do.

Despite all of these heebeejeebee factors, I guess I was still largely compliant with the over-the-roll philosophy.

However, when I was five or six months along in my pregnancy, we got two new cats.  Boy cats.  Brothers.  Mischievous partners in crime.

The fur boys made sport of kneading the toilet paper.  And because the paper pointed forward, the kitties shredded the hell out of it, piling it playfully it a claw torn heap on the floor below the roller.  It was aggravating and so wasteful.  And gross.  Really, really gross.

For a while, we turned the rolls around to point the paper under.  That way, the kitties wouldn’t unroll it to the floor when they reached up to spin it.  But think about it.  Would you use paper from a roll with claw marks in it?  You know all the places those claws go.  You may as well just dip the paper in the litter box before you use it.  We stopped putting it on the roller.

For years it sat up high on the towel rack above the toilet.  Friends mentioned it.  We tried to explain.  I don’t think our home was anybody’s preferred place to relieve themselves.

When our son reached toilet training age, the roll went back.  The cats had lost interest, but our son was a spinner like they had been, so the paper had to point under until he grew out of his toddler toy attitude toward the bathroom.

I suppose there was a very literal turning point, because now we are all again in the habit of pointing the paper forward, over the roll.  Well, except in our son’s bathroom, because he has a different kind of toilet paper holder and it works better to point the paper under.  But whatever.

I guess the point of my post is to dispel the myth that there is a right or wrong answer to this debate.  There just really isn’t.  There is just preference and circumstance.

Oh, and here’s that spider I mentioned.

P.S.  The boy and I met Grammy at the Zoo last week.  We stopped by to see the polar bears.


What are you up to?













Hearts and Farts

The husband and I met at Coco’s for a little Valentine’s lunch together yesterday.  It was very pleasant until someone in the booth behind us ripped a stinker during our dessert.  Chocolate cake just isn’t the same when you’ve been frosted by a stranger’s gut bomb.  Sorry, but it’s true.  Happy heart day to us.

A few hours later, I blew up some balloons for the little boy.  There was one big one in the bag that looked like a mouse.  The last one like that had popped while I was blowing.  That happened with this one too, except that this time it exploded into my eye.  I felt it hit – blammo!

Seriously, I thought for just a few seconds that I had lost my eye.  I screamed.  LOUD.  And cussed.  A LOT.

The pain was unbelievable and the shock of it was overwhelming.  I started sobbing immediately, which didn’t help, but it scared me.  It really did.  I think it scared the little boy too.

I went to the opthalmologist this morning and learned that the lid is swollen and the eye is scuffed, but neither are irreparably damaged.  I now have drops to put in the eye three times a day for the rest of the week, but apparently I’ll live, still with two eyes.

The unfortunate part of this incident, if you get past the pain, fear, shock and incapacitation part I mean, is the fact that it has ruined my sinuses.  I am swollen-eyed, sniffling and sneezing too.  Great.

In other news, the little boy wouldn’t go to school today.  His meltdown defeated me.

I really needed him to go this morning.  I wanted to come back from the doctor and rest my eyes for a few hours, but that wasn’t meant to be.

In my misery, I broke every rule for stay-home days.  They’re supposed to be boring, you know?

But I took the child to get pancakes with grandma and grandpa.

Then, I took him to the doctor with me.  (That’s code for adventure, because it involved a parking garage, an elevator and big weird opthalmology machines with little lights and giant shiny parts.)

And as we drove out of Hillcrest, I impulsively asked the child if he wanted to go to the Zoo.  The Zoo!?

What was I thinking?  With my eye like this?  On a stay-home-from-school day?!

He said “yes” and so we went.  We saw snakes and bears and birds.

After the Zoo, I got him Burger King food.  Strike three.

No, four!  Pancakes, eye doctor, Zoo, Burger King…

Yep, four.

Holy Guacamole!  I forgot Walmart.  I took the boy to Walmart too.  He picked out Pocky.

All of my mom rules are lying on the floor, shattered to pieces.  Small wonder he doesn’t want to go to school, right?

Oh well.

When I’m 105, will I look back and wish I’d stayed on the couch all day?

Or will I remember this:

Happy Tuesday!!

P.S.  I got the boy one of those expensive mylar helium balloons for Valentine’s Day.  It wriggled away from its ribbon (with the little boy’s help, I suspect 🙂 ) and immediately floated up to the top of our very tall front room.  Fart!  We can’t get it with the ladder or the broom.

P.P.S  Did you see the beginning of American Idol this week?  😀

Happy hearts and farts to you too!

Heh heh.



Weak and Guilty

My stomach hurts a lot today, but I haven’t tossed my cookies since yesterday afternoon and I’ve even eaten some dry bread and soda crackers.


Oh, and 7-up, glorious 7-up.

Yesterday I called the husband to leave work and go retrieve the boy.

He was happy to do it for me, but his car overheated on the way there and created a whole new dimension of chaos for our afternoon.

I dragged my sorry self out of bed and climbed into the van in my jammies and slippers to pick up husband and then drive him to the school to get the boy.  I sunk down in the car seat with my hand over my face to hide from the usual crowd of other moms while husband walked into the office.  We were late, but the little boy seemed fine.

Today, because of the busted car mostly, husband didn’t go to work.  Thank God.

He drove the boy to school, is currently cleaning out my van, and he will pick up the boy at the end of the day.  Somewhere in between, he will deal with his Mazda, which AAA towed away last night.  I love my husband.

I am really weak today and my stomach and back muscles are sore.  It has been a loooong looong time since I was knocked over like this.  I hope no one else gets it, whatever “it” is.

This morning I tried to go through a mountain of e-mail messages and found myself again possessed by guilt over the little boy’s classroom newsletter.  The teacher e-mails it every week.  She always includes a paragraph about homework and her gratitude for the parents who work with their kids to get in back in when it’s due.

We don’t turn in homework.  It’s not for lack of trying.  We work on it everyday.  The little boy knows the routine after school and he is always somewhat cooperative, but it’s a challenge to get the whole packet finished.  We almost never do.

There are certain elements he just doesn’t like and will not work on.  It’s frustrating for me.  I’ve tried everything to motivate him, but everyday he reaches a point of fatigue with it that is painful to witness.

It kind of makes me sad that the few hours I get with him are filled with something so stressful for us both.  He’s not like other kids and I am loathe to force that standard on our family.  So, yeah, we never turn in the homework.

I want him to do well academically.  I really do, but I also want him to have as many moments of happiness and unpressured, gleeful childhood as possible.  School tires him out.  He needs to unwind and step away from it when he’s home.

That e-mail from the teacher also includes the general school newsletter.  There is a calendar with information about the Valentine’s Day dance and sales on school t-shirts and upcoming fundraisers at restaurants or bookstores.  There is also a list of PTA meetings and events in need of parent volunteers.  We don’t do that either.

Yesterday, I met the mom of another child in my son’s class.  She is a teacher herself and had taken the day off to spend time with her son.  I guess she was feeling a little bit out of the daily loop.

We chatted for a few minutes (before I knew I was so sick) and discussed getting special ed parents more involved in the school.  For some reason, that stressed me out.

I already feel that I am painted thin.  It takes everything out of me to get my son there each day, to make sure he has a good aide and to see that he can survive any changes to his routine.  I leave the school in tears on a regular basis and I am always tired.  I don’t see myself getting more involved.

My son has a good routine right now.  He thrives on it and I have no interest in changing it or taking time away from him to accommodate curriculum reviews, special ed resource meetings, or PTA functions.  We don’t go to dances or art nights or sporting events because my son gets in the tub at 5:45 p.m.  It works for us.  It works for him.

But I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel guilt over all of this.  I do.  I wish I could be that mom – the one who runs the book fair and keeps the volunteer list active and sells spirit wear in front of the flagpole on Fridays.

Before we had our son, I just assumed I would be the mom with the open door and the endless connections to insider district secrets.

I also thought all of the neighborhood kids would be at my dinner table and lounging on my couch and playing with my board games and reading my books.  That’s how it was when I grew up.

We always had extra kids in our house and my mom volunteered and made cupcakes and was at the school a lot.  We went to all of the events and we knew everybody there.

That’s just not how things are for me and my son and our family.  We are living a completely different reality from that.  We don’t really know our neighbors and I couldn’t tell you the name of the school’s PTA president if my life depended on it.  Our focus is very singular.

Being home today, weak and useless, gets me thinking about the things I can’t do, the things I don’t do.  My head is in that newsletter, feeling guilt for what I’m not involved in.  I need to shake that off.  I need to let myself be something that works for my family and not something that meets a standard set by someone else.  Right?

Maybe I should just return the homework half finished on Monday.

What do you think?

P.S.  Happy Thursday!


A Post Between Pukings

I’m sick.

Haven’t been sick like this in a looooong time.

Not enjoying it.

Had to call the husband and ask him to leave work early for child retrieval.

Can’t muster the stability required to dress, drive two miles, feign wellness and walk in to get him from school.

Probably shouldn’t anyway.

I saw my mom briefly on Monday and she is sick too, so this is probably something communicable.

Darn it.

I was hoping for a quick bout with food poisoning and a speedy recovery.

No such luck.

And the hub and kid are probably gonna get it too.  Great.

I have never been so appreciative of my electric blanket as I am today.

My hands are freezing.

My neck is freezing.

Don’t want to wear gloves or let my hair down for fear of the pukery ahead.

Pukery?  Is that even a word?  It ought to be.  Just like nakery ought to be.

Foolery.  There’s a word.

I haven’t posted anything in a while.  I don’t even have a good reason for that.  Busy sameness.  That’s all I got.

My friend Leighann sent me one of these dolls and her cat a few months ago.  They’re sitting by the keyboard and kind of cracking me up right now.

They both look utterly horrified by my pukey-ish-ness.

I am horrified by it too.

I cry when I throw up.  Like a big baby.  Sobbing right until the final moment and mournful wails as I go.

Too much information?  You are glad to be somewhere else.  😀

Husband called to ask if I wanted him to get me anything on the way home.  At first I said “no,”  but it hit me that flat 7-up is an amazing elixir in times of troubled guts.

I don’t even drink soda anymore, but I can’t wait for him to bring me a 7-up.

Husband is my hero.

I can’t believe how quickly this has hit me or how almost normal I feel in between the peaks of doom.

Right this second I can sit upright and type and think a bit, but in twenty minutes I may be down for the count and the crying.


My ears are getting hot again.

Happy Wednesday.


My Preferences

A. The cat doesn’t barf.

B: If the cat is going to barf, then he warns me first.

C: If the cat is going to barf and isn’t going to warn me, then he does it out in the open, on the tile, where I can see it.

D: If the cat is going to barf somewhere obscured from my view, then he at least has the courtesy not to do it under my favorite dining chair.

E. If the cat is going to barf under my favorite chair, then he angles it toward the front instead of behind the back leg where it will smear all over the floor when I pull my chair out to sit down for dinner.  😦

F. If the cat is going to barf behind the back leg of my favorite chair, then he has a dry barf instead of a liquidy puddle that travels under the giant bookcase thing that I can’t move.

G. If the cat is going to barf a big runny river under the giant bookcase thing, then he at least waits until after I finish my dinner so that I don’t gag on my pasta because everything around me smells like old tuna and why the hell is that?!?  😯

H. If the cat is going to barf  under my chair and ruin my dinner, then he meows or something before I walk through the slimy, liquidy, chair-leggity pile and track it all over the kitchen floor.

I. If the cat is going to barf a pile for me to step in every time he freaking eats, then he doesn’t he eat so much so fast.

I. If the cat is going to barf up my evening so violently, then husband is home to witness my despair.  😦

J. If the cat is going to barf when husband isn’t home, then at least I remember to get my camera so husband can suffer it again with me later.

K. If the cat is going to barf, then he goes to a friend’s house to do it!

I’m just sayin’.

Evil dirty kitty!

Grrrrr.  😡

Happy Saturday!


Late Night Three Pointer

little boy + miniature basketball + lamp =

(and toxic, cough inducing stink!)

The stench was bad, but the worst part was the little boy’s reaction to the sight of the melted ball.

It kind of scared him.  😦
He ran out of the room and down the stairs.

He knew we were upset and that he had done something wrong, but I think the total destruction of the ball by a force he didn’t quite understand was overwhelming to him.

It didn’t help that my discovery of the ball happened in the midst of his totally unrelated tantrum.

He was shaking and a little freaked out when we found him in the kitchen.

We told him it was okay and that we weren’t mad.  That seemed to calm him down a bit.

He wouldn’t come near the ball or the lamp and light bulb, but he was interested in looking at them from across the room.

He latched onto the words “hot” and “melted” as husband and I explained what happened.

This morning I held up the ball and light bulb again and asked him to repeat the sequence of events.

I put the basketball on top of the lamp.
The light bulb was very hot.
The basketball melted.
The melted basketball was very stinky.
The stinky smell can make me feel sick.

He repeated all of the words very purposefully and even got ahead of me when I added:

No more toys on the light bulb.

Best lesson all week.

This was a close second:


A snail, a tooth, a bump in the road

I stepped on a snail this morning.

It was on my friend’s front porch.

I used a piece of bark to flick most of it into the bushes afterward.  Couldn’t leave it for my friend.

Years have passed since I last felt that squish under my shoe, but it was familiar just the same.

Close your eyes!  Don’t you remember exactly what that’s like?

Crack!  Sploootch.  Rubber sticky.  Blech.  Ooze.  Buh-bye.

Now I have that phantom snail imprint on my foot.

I recalled it perfectly when I was eating lunch.

I contemplated removing my tennies and socks, scrubbing my foot and trying to get rid of the feeling.

But I don’t actually want to touch my shoe yet.

So the snail impression stays.

Yesterday, my son smiled up at me with a new hole in his mouth.

He had parted with a tooth when I wasn’t looking.

I asked him where he put it and he started looking in earnest on the floor near his computer.

Clearly he had dropped it there at some point earlier in the day.

I spent the better part of an hour crouched under the table sorting through dust bunnies to find it.

The little boy seemed relieved when I finally picked it up and gave a triumphant cheer.

We zipped it into a plastic bag and later put it under his pillow.

And then the tooth fairy forgot to come.

Nice, huh?

It was a tough weekend.

The husband and I had a weird disagreement on Saturday.

The details aren’t important because we worked them out like we always do.

Unfortunately, the price for our little detour from bliss was a lot of anxiety and missed sleep.

I’m functioning on about half power right now.

That’s not quite enough to charge my fairy wings or hone my peripheral snail-avoidance vision.

Oh well.

Snails die and fairies come back, right?

I need chocolate.

Speaking of chocolate, I met my mom and Lou at Karen Krasne’s Extraordinary Desserts on Friday.

Every time I go, I am reminded that I should go more often.  So should you.

Here is a blurry photo of my breakfast pastry.

Happy Monday!



Uh oh.

Found this on the driveway today, right where husband’s car tires usually go.



After watching those two happy lizards sunning themselves in our backyard yesterday, I feel sad when I look at this one.

A nice little life has been snuffed out.

It reminds me that I haven’t ever attempted to teach my son about death.

I’m not even sure when you’re supposed to do that with kids.

I guess it’s important when a pet dies, but our cats always just slow down and then we take them away to say goodbye.

I’m not sure the little boy really even notices that our Burmese cat is gone.  And she was quite a presence in our house.

I know I want my son to understand what it means for something to die.  I just don’t want to scare him.

My best friend passed away when her daughters were four and six.  They got the end of life lesson way too early.

I don’t want my son to worry, but I do want him to have a frame of reference if something unthinkable happens.

Should I show him this lizard and tell him that it died?  Should I try to explain what that means?  Do I even know?

There was a dead squirrel lying on the pavement in front of the door to the school auditorium this afternoon.

It was fresh dead – still bloody, you know?  Probably dropped by a hawk or something a few minutes before I got there.  Lots of hawks out by the school.

When I went to the office to sign out my son, I told the school nurse about the squirrel.

She called the janitor and tried her best to repeat what I had said, but for some reason she had a tough time coughing it up.  She couldn’t say “roadkill.”  She couldn’t even say “blood” comfortably.  And she’s a nurse.  So odd.

I kind of half hoped the janitor wouldn’t get to the squirrel before I got to my son.

I was thinking maybe that little mangled, furry body was a sign that I should teach him about death today, while I’m thinking about it and while this squirrel is conveniently available for my lesson.  But the janitor was quick.  Squirrely was gone when we walked back to the car.

The lizard is still in my driveway though, so what should I do?  Am I thinking about this too much?

I’m good at pondering death.  If you’re a regular reader, you well know my preoccupation with the dearly departed.

I’m open to suggestions on this one though.

How, and when, do any of you recommend telling an autistic child about death?

Comment below to let me know.  Extra credit if it rhymes.  🙂



One of the cats barfed in the kitchen while I was gone this morning.

I didn’t notice it until I was sitting down with my lunch.

I slammed my eyes shut for a moment.

Couldn’t face a puddle of vomit before I had a snack.  Still can’t.

It’s sitting over there kinda by the window and I know I need to clean it up, but I just don’t want to.  You know?

It will take ten paper towels and a lot of cuss words to get it all.

Kitty indiscretions…ocean whitefish and tuna.  Great.  Can’t wait.

I don’t get why this issue never comes up for my friends who have cats.

Are mine the only ones who do this?  Can’t be.

And yet, my friends’ houses seem consistently vomit free.

Why, oh why, do I think you have any interest in this topic?

Well, I guess I don’t really think you do, but it’s the only topic I’ve got today.

Sorry.  😦