Thursday, June 30, 2011

Laundry S.O.S.

Dear SwindleFun,

Does it matter if I dry ALL my clothes together?

I do my laundry at a coin operated laundromat. I wash all my clothes in separate loads, but I throw all the loads in the dryer to save quarters.

Is it okay to have my jeans, towels, undies, t-shirts, etc all together in the dryer? Am I going to ruin my clothes?



Dear Liz,

Your clothes called. They want to know why you hate them. Seriously.

Garments and linens deserve to be treated with tenderness and respect. That includes drying them with like items at the recommended temperatures. Failure to do this will result in fading, shrinking, stretching, bleeding, yellowing, pills, lint, uneven drying, over drying, under drying, snags, rips, solar flares and urban warfare.

Your delicate items are suffering the most. Especially if you are drying them together with items containing zippers, hooks, or metal buttons. Would you like to tumble around with a hot zipper?

I don't think it will be much more expensive to dry your things properly. Your lighter, more delicate items will dry faster on their own. Your heavier items will dry faster as they tumble freely. Your underwear will not emerge in a wet ball from the wadded-up corner of your fitted sheet. Everything will be less wrinkly and easier to iron.

Your clothes will last longer and look nicer if you treat them with care. I'm appealing to your vanity here!


P.S. Please note that this is not advice as to which items can be fully dried in a dryer and which cannot. That is another question entirely.

To le

Dear le:

SwindleFun is excited to answer your question!

But first, I need to know about the residue on your mirrors. Could you please describe it? Is it sticky? Slimy? Greasy? Linty? Smelly? Blue? Does it dissolve or pit the surface?

Also, what products and cloths have you already tried?

Yours truly,

Monday, June 27, 2011


Tonight, we had vanilla ice cream for our FHE treat.

About ten minutes later, Victor emerged from his bathroom and excitedly told me that if you add water to ice cream, you get tooth paste. Because it's white.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cars 2

Today, we went to see Cars 2. In 3D.

Good Points:
-The spy airplane
-The French rally car
-Having lemons be bad guys was funny
-The spy stuff
-It was not set in Radiator Springs
-The animation, especially the sets, action scenes and water.

Bad Points:
-Violent. Characters in a G movie should not kill each other.
-Victor thought it was scary. He usually loves scary, but not this time, because the scary scenes actually resulted in harm to characters.
-Tow Mater as the main character. He is my least favorite Car.
-Lame story. They should have had Lightening McQueen work with the spies to save his friends or something.

-The "just be yourself" message. Sometimes you should improve your defects, not accentuate them.
-Having all the Cars show up in London

On balance, it's one to see once. But not twice.

Friday, June 24, 2011


We are big Sondheim fans, so when Jeremy heard about a limited engagement broadcast of Company at a local movie theater, we signed right up.

The production starred some very familiar actors and the NY Philharmonic, and it was terrific. I especially liked seeing Katie Finneran, from Fox's stupidly-cancelled Wonderfalls, among other things. Also, it included the song Marry Me A Little, which is not on the original cast recording, but which I think pulls the show together.

Patti LuPone blew me away as Joanne. Good gravy.

If the world is very lucky, Company will become available on Netflix and we can all see it again.

Check out the full review by Orson Scott Card!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Victor Makes a Friend

Victor is a friendly child.

Today, he saw a new girl at his friend's house. She promptly hid behind a tree.

"Don't be afraid," he told her, hand outstretched. "My name's Victor. I am a good kid."

She must have believed him, because she came out from behind the tree.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

New Vocabulary

Last week, I realized that Victor has started using the word voila!

(I think voila! should always be followed by an exclamation point.)

He uses voila! correctly, and I'm trying to think of where he learned it. Maybe Ratatouille.

Another word he has learned to use properly is "clearance," as in the distance between the bottom of a vehicle and the surface on which it is driving.

Reading two and three digit numbers is a skill we are working on. "Twenty" is a hard one. He wants to say "two-y," which is perfectly rational.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Math Book

I found a book at the library that has word problems for children.
It's called How High Can a Dinosaur Count?, by Valorie Fisher, and Victor enjoyed doing the problems with me.

We counted out wood beads for each problem and used them to help us add, subtract, etc. It was surprisingly fun.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Test Carrot

Last night, Victor wanted to put out food for the bunny that lives under our shed.

Jeremy suggested they hang a carrot from a nearby tree to see if the bunny would eat it.

Result: This morning, the test carrot was gone!

Zeke thinks it means that the bunny ate it. And according to Victor, "If the carrot was gone, the bunny must have made it into carrot stew."

Too much Beatrix Potter, I think.

Friday, June 10, 2011

My Dad Is Special, by Victor

My Dad Is Special

His name is Jeremy.

He is 40 years old. (I think.)*

He is as tall as . . . bigger than a tarantula.

His favorite color is black.

His favorite food is spaghetti and tacos.** Actually, all dinners are his favorite.

My dad's job is to work eight miles away.***

He really likes to play swords and cars.

What I love about my dad is he is bigger than my mom.

*Jeremy is not even close to 40.

**These are Victor's favorite meals.

***Jeremy's office is much more than eight miles away. Sadly.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My Mom Is Special, by Victor

Victor also filled out questionnaires about his parents. This is what he says about me.

My Mom Is Special

Her name is Cyndie.

She is 64 years old.

She is 60 feet tall.

Her favorite color is red.

Her favorite food is: she likes lots of food.

My mom's job is: she stays home every day.

She really likes to play: she works all day and has no time to play.

What I love about me mom is: she takes me places.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I Am Special! by Victor

Victor filled out a personal questionnaire in preschool this year.

Here are some highlights:

I am five years old.

My birthday is March 15th.

My favorite color is red.

My favorite food is candy and  meat.

My favorite thing to play is hide and seek.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Another Invitation Question

This question comes from a friend expecting a baby.

Dear SwindleFun,

I am expecting a baby! It is not my first (or second), but some friends have offered to give me a shower. It sounds fun, but I'm not sure whom to invite. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer: Congratulations! And I do have a suggestion. Since this is not your first (or second) baby, when showers are customarily given, I recommend a smaller guest list of close friends.

When I make a guest list, I try to include all friends of a similar intimacy or social circle. Invitations are a kind of social currency, so you want to take people's feelings into account. This is especially easy for showers, where the cost of adding another guest is a chair and chicken salad croissant.

For guests, I always recommend keeping an invitation under your hat unless you KNOW who has been invited. This caution extends to blogging or posting on Facebook about parties to which other people have not been invited.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

An Invitation Question

We have a question from a reader in New England!

Dear SwindleFun: My husband and I just moved to a new city. A nice couple invited us to dinner and we accepted.

A few days after the invitation, our hostess asked me if my husband and I played tennis, and would we like to play tennis as part of the dinner engagement. I answered that we do not play tennis.

A few days after that, our hostess wrote to me and asked whether we would like to play either tennis or soccer before or after dinner.

First of all, how weird is it to play sports at a dinner party? Second of all, we don't play tennis (lack of ability) or soccer (previous injury). Third of all, I don't want to be rude or a party pooper when these people are extending a hand of friendship, but I don't want to play soccer or tennis before or after dinner.

What should I do?

Answer: Never fear! You can safely decline to play sports before or after dinner because it was not part of the original invitation. The trick is to decline the sports with tact, but then state how excited you are for the dinner.

You might respond: "I'm afraid we won't be able to play soccer or tennis on Saturday. We're excited to see you at dinner, though. Is six still a good time? See you then!"

A few additional notes.

1. It is not weird to mix dinner and sports if that is what you like to do. I have at least one sibling who would be in paradise with this kind of invitation.

2. This is a cautionary tale for hostesses: make the terms of your invitation clear when you invite someone to do something. If your evening is based on a sports activity or a particular game or a particular show, make that part of your invitation so your prospective guest can make an educated response to your invitation.

3. Whenever possible, do not explain why you are declining an invitation. Just decline kindly and with regrets.

4. Where games of skill are involved, such as tennis, you should be honest about your skill level when asked. This is an exception to the general social rule of modesty because it is not fun to play tennis when you and your opponent are not similarly skilled. Or so I've heard.

Good Luck, New England!

Friday, June 3, 2011


Victor is very interested in cars. How fast they go, and why. What kind of fuel they use, and why. How many exhaust pipes they have, and why. Whether other cars are faster than our car, and why.

Lately, he has been using speedometers to decide which car is the fastest. He peers into parked cars to see the maximum speed indicated by their speedometers. Then he tells me how it compares to our van (100) or my Camry (140--yeah, right).

These discussions are constant as we drive.

Today, I banned the topic of cars. Victor was stunned. I asked him if there was something else he'd like to discuss.

He suggested trucks.

I extended the ban to all vehicles.

He suggested lawnmowers.

So we discussed lawnmowers. Specifically, ride-on lawnmowers.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Wish List

Last night, Zeke told me that he wants a sister.

Specifically, he wants a "toy sister, who can walk. And with buttons and levers."