Thursday, October 18, 2007

Nothing a little wine can't fix

A few weeks ago, I made a list and asked for votes. Overwhelmingly, I was asked to blog about number two on the list, and I had one vote for number three on the list. But since this is my blog, I'm blogging about number three: "A day at the recycling center turns sour - as in sour grapes. Although it may very well have been fermented potatoes."

Considering the fact that this is such a "green" city, one would think that Austinites would be more eco-minded when it comes to trash. I think I've mentioned before that on trash pick up days our recycling bin and trash bin are nicely juxtaposed - one ridiculously small and the other ridiculously large - as they wait to be emptied. Don't forget that in addition to dumping the 5,000 gallon trash bin that, for no extra charge, the trash people will also take up to four extra bags of trash.

"Well, what ever can you place in a recycling bin so small," you ask? Hardly anything. Glass. Some plastics (actually, ONLY plastic BOTTLES - #1 and #2). Newspapers. Tin cans. Aluminum cans. Steel cans.

One item they take only sparingly is cardboard. It has to be cut into 2 x 2 squares, bundled, and secured with twine. I used to be able to throw it in a local paper recycling bin, but they don't take CARDBOARD any more. And because I had a whole car load full of cardboard to dispose of one day, this is what lead me to visit the local recycling center.

Let me first mention that this all transpired on Labor Day; I wasn't even sure if the recycling center would be open. When I arrived, the gate was open, so I took a chance and pulled into the large sheet metal barn. I saw two workers sitting at a small table and chatting. We made eye contact, but that was it. Neither made an effort to assist me - or even to stand up.

But I saw the ginormous stop sign, so I stopped. I saw a solitary guy sitting a ways away from the barn - he was sipping coffee at a round plastic patio table under the shade of a huge oak tree. He didn't make a move in my direction either. And because no one seemed to stir in the booth beside me (although it was hard to tell with the mirrored windows - you know, the kind of windows you can't see into, but they can see out of from the other side), I decided to pull around.

When I got to the other side of the building, the guy that was sitting under the shade came over and asked if I had been helped. That's when I realized that he wasn't drinking coffee over there under that shade tree. I was getting a buzz by just having a conversation with the guy. It's a wonder he could stand up straight. I wondered if they knew this guy was "lit" on the job. But seeing that this was the only guy engaging me in conversation, I figured that he was one of those functional drunks. Which was fine with me as long as he could function my cardboard out of my car and into the recycling pit.

So I backed into the barn, opened up my trunk, and began lugging my cardboard out of my car as the three employees stood by and watched. What the heck they were being paid to do, I'll never know.

Finally, a large dude wobbled out of the mirrored booth and yelled at me, "Hey, whatcha doing there!?"

"Uh, recycling my cardboard."

"Didja stop at the stop sign and get a ticket?"

"Well, I stopped, but no one gave me a ticket."

"Oh. That's because I was sleeping in there."

"Ah. Okay then." I didn't know what he wanted me to say to that. Eventually, the three employees reluctantly began helping me toss my cardboard into the appropriate bin.

Then the guy yells over to me gruffly, "Haven'tja ever been here bafore?"

"No. This is my first time."

"Well it costs two dollars. See the sign?"

Sure enough. I finally saw the sign. And while the employees finished unloading my rig, I dug through my purse for the appropriate change. In the mean time, another guy pulled up to the stop sign. Of course now that the guy in charge was wide awake, he scurried over to collect two bucks from him. I, on the other hand, was going about this all wrong, and I found myself in the little booth attempting to pay my fee and being chastised simultaneously.

"It's this guy's first time too," the fat boss sneered. "He knew to stop. See, he's doing it right, so you'll just have to wait there 'til I'm done with him."

"Yeah, I guess he wins the recycling prize," I quipped. Really, I didn't know what else to say. I just wanted to pay my money and get the heck out of there. Luckily, the drunk one pushed his way in there and took care of business for me. Apparently I made a friend that day; actually, the alcoholic probably felt sorry for me, so that's why he was helping me out.

On my way out, I managed not to run over anyone. I noticed that the employees were back to their business of sitting, too.

I can't wait to go back to the recycling center.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ads are like a box of chocolates...

I was looking over the job ads on craigslist the other day - yes, I reek of desperation - and, low and behold, I saw this advertisement in the "Education" classifieds:

"Nit picker part time $30/hr OBO"

Battling the buggers is a horrible experience I won't soon forget (and I've become quite an expert at nit picking); still, I wasn't about to respond to the ad. I did feel a camaraderie with this anonymous poor soul, however. How desperate does one have to be in order to post an ad for nit pickers on cragslist?

So today I responded to the ad. Not to offer my services, but to offer my expertise. I wrote, "I'm not looking to fill the position...I battled lice with my kids a few weeks ago, so I know exactly what you are going through! Honestly, I wouldn't have been able to get rid of the lice had my friend not recommended [name of product]." I also offered to share tips that I learned from my friend whose daughter battled a stubborn case of the nits over the summer.

Surprisingly, I got a reply. "Thanks for the tip. I’m glad it worked for you. I used [the product] and it indeed does a good job compared to the other products out there. It won’t remove the nits, which is a problem with daycares with zero nits policy…"

Ouch. Well, what did I expect? That I would save the population from lice infestations one nit at a time? Via e-mail??

I wrote back, "Yes, so true. What a headache, eh?...Wish I could have been more help. Anyway, good luck!"

To which I received this reply: "Thanks! All is good now. I did find someone to handpick the nits. I couldn’t see most of them myself and when I do they kept eluding me when trying to remove… Dads have to know their limits…"

Indeed they do. Indeed they do. That is one brilliant father.

Moms need to know their limits too.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Not Clowning Around

Poetroad and I are finally taking the next step to getting out of debt. Last year, we sold our house, packed up, and Poetroad took a job in Texas. With the money we made from the sale of our house, we paid off most of our debt. That meant for the first time since we started our family, I did not have to work once we moved to Texas. Not that raising four kids isn't work - every mom knows that raising kids is the most demanding 24/7 job there is. But last year was the first period in our lives that I didn't have to have a job (or two) outside of the home. Not unless that nude photo shoot counts...

Come on people! Didn't you read the line about "raising four kids"?! After popping out four kids, I have the body to show for it. No one is paying me to be in a nude photo shoot! Unless there is some magazine out there that caters to people who like to look at stretch marks, that is...

Anyway, back to the point.

I am back in the job market after that brief hiatus. Oh, we can live on Poetroad's income, but we are not saving any money and we are not paying off the rest of our debt any time soon. And we feel as if that is a financially irresponsible way to live.

Sometimes being responsible sucks.

So we are taking this class - "Financial Peace" - at our church. Because neither Poetroad nor I are nerds (as defined by Dave Ramsey, that is - a person who loves to make spreadsheets, make a budget, pay the bills, and generally keep track of the finances), we learned that we are basically screwed. I'm not lying when I say this process of getting our finances in order has been painful. Really painful.

And there is this looming pressure for me to find a job. Which I have, but the work will be sparse, so I'm looking for another job.

On a positive note, my oldest daughter had a nightmare about clowns last night.

Friday, October 12, 2007

washer, pocket, floor;
there I find evidence of
your six stringed affair

Not that you wanted to know...

Well, then. That was a bit of an unexpected side-track. We had to use a combination of various treatments to get rid of the buggers, though.

First, I used the mayonnaise treatment (I used a mayo-olive oil concoction; slathered head, wrapped in plastic and a towel for 1+ hours before rinsing). I followed that with one of the over-the-counter shampoos. (BTW, the mayonnaise did more for me than the otc shampoo did!) Eventually, the lice were gone after day four. But only because I used this product - on advice from a friend who battled lice for a MONTH before she used the miracle solution. Let me tell you, that product is worth every lice-pickin' cent!

The rest of my time has been spent disinfecting the house, and that process included washing just about EVERYTHING in hot water - everything that would fit into the washing machine, that is. For non-washable items (stuffed animals, dress-ups, hats, some hair goods), I bagged those items up for two weeks. Also, I used this little concoction:

(Disclaimer: in no way am I suggesting that, should you find yourself in the situation I was in, you should use this remedy. I am not a medical person, scientist, etymologist, or pesticide expert. Use at your own risk.)

15 drops of Neem Oil

5 drops of Tea Tree Oil

5 drops of Rosemary Oil

1/4 cup of water

I mixed the solution and put it in a small spray bottle. After first vacuuming everything that a head or hair might possibly touch, I sprayed the solution on the mattresses, couches, carpets, car upholstery, etc. It works on leather too. Of course there are numerous natural remedy concoctions out there; it's easy enough to find one that works for you.

What you must know is that over-the-counter remedies DID NOT work for me. The little lice comb didn't really help me either! I found it sufficient to help me look for nits and comb out the big bugs, but there is no way on God's green earth that this comb would take the nits out of thin or non-course hair. Basically, ALL nits had to be removed by hand (in my experience). This is where the LiceIce came into play - it is a product that prevents the eggs from hatching and loosens the nits from the hair shaft for easy removal. The eggs are SO tiny that I never would have been able to remove every nit otherwise had I not used that product. And it only takes ONE nit to keep a colony going.

Anyway, going on week two, and I haven't seen a sign of nit or louse since. Although my head still itches every time I think about lice.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Really, I'm not avoiding or forgetting

I really am working on a post (or two), but I'm slightly preoccupied with some recent uninvited guests. SO RUDE! Get a clue, people.

Actually, these guests are not people. Come to think of it, they aren't guests. And I'm not talking about the occasional indoor gecko visitor. I'm talking about...LICE. That's right - lice. Two of my little munchkins have it, and I'm positively freaking out. This is the first time I've ever had to deal with buggy heads, and, honestly, it's almost more disgusting pulling critters off of heads than pulling maggots out of a kitten.

Let me know if you need a great remedy to get rid of head lice because using the otc shampoo alone will not kill the buggers.

Laundry calls. Good thing I have a huge washing machine. Clothing and bedding await the obligatory sanitization.