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January 27, 2007

The thing about having a wood burning stove is that you need to clean it out frequently. I didn’t realize how much I would hate doing this. It means I have to turn the stove off, wait for it to cool completely, then clean the entire thing out, and the restart it. It means that it is off, and not heating us, meaning my ass parked two inches from the flames, nice and toasy, for several hours.

This past week it has turned really cold. As in -15 degrees cold. Schools were closed because it was too cold to heat them, though I personally think everyone was just itching for a snow day.

So this week I ignored the stove cleaning job. I stood in front of it, warming up my backside and my frontside, admiring my new wood floor that is so shiny. I thought, “What is the worst that can happen? Is it going to catch on fire?” Insert hilarious laughter here, because it is always on fire.

Turns out, that yes it can catch on fire.

And when you decide to turn it off because it is completely backed up with soot, the smoke will billow out of the stove and fill the house. Forcing you to open every window and door, AND put a fan in the window. And suddenly it will occur to you that you are much colder now than you would have been if you cleaned the stove out when it needed it.

After awhile of this I grew impatient and decided that I must get all those embers out of the house RIGHT NOW! It was very smokey and my eyes were burning. And so when Rob was in the other room I began vacuuming up the soot and embers that were in the stove. My back was to the vacuum when Rob came running in screaming. The vacuum ( NOT the Dyson thankfully) was on fire and shooting flames out the back of it. All I could think was I hope it doesn’t burn the new floor.

And then I thought, What would Meredith Viera say (WWMS)* ? “How would you feel if your babysitter did this? What is the difference between you and a babysitter? Huh, you rotten negligent mother? How would you feel if your house burnt down? Are you drunk right now? Are you?”

And I would have to answer, “No, but my 10 yr old can make you a mean drink. And frankly, Meredith, I think you need one.”

Also, I wish I could have been outside the Today show window. I would have had my at least one of my children wearing this creation from last year:

My Mother drinks because of me t-shirt
My Mother drinks because of me
Get this custom t-shirt at Zazzle

In the end my house didn’t burn down. The wood burning stove is fine and cleaner than it has been in a long time. All my newly painted walls had to be scrubbed clean. The vacuum didn’t survive. But hey, all of my children did. And most importantly the floor came out unscathed. And if that doesn’t call for a celebratory drink, I don’t know what does.

Updated: A few people have emailed to ask me what Meredith Viera has to do with all of this. Here is the link to the segment on the Today show.The lovely Melissa Summers interviewed by Meredith Viera, where Melissa is vilified for daring to admit she occassionally has a GASP alcoholic drink GASP in front of her children at get togethers with her girlfriends, thereby leading those poor children down the straight road to eternal damnation and drunken homelessness. Also possible death because WHO WILL DRIVE THE CAR IN AN EMERGENCY?!?

Posted by Chris @ 10:33 pm  

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  1. CaliforniaGrammy says:

    Whew! Glad all is well now . . . what an adventure! We’re toasting you as we are enjoying our “happy hour” with a good stiff scotch and soda!

  2. Scout's Honor says:

    Stories like these make me thank god for my totally fake gas log insert. It’s warm, purty to look out, and there’s nothing but fingerprints to clean off the glass.

    Sorry to hear about your day and (whew) so glad your Dyson survived!!!! Now that would have been a tragedy!

  3. Playdate Susan says:

    God I just love you so much.

    I’ve been trying to find the words to write about this all day, but you beat me to it.

    Have another drink. You’ve earned it.

  4. Jill says:

    I found your site through suburban bliss and have been reading for a few weeks. Love your stories.

    If I had a child I would totally buy that shirt for them!

    I’m glad your floor didn’t suffer!!

  5. The Wooden Porch says:

    Oh my goodness, I think I need to have a drink myself after reading that. I’m glad everything (minus the vacuum) is okay! You sure have a knack for turning horror into humor.

    …now I’m going to go make my drink…

  6. Karly says:

    “But hey, all of my children did. And most importantly the floor came out unscathed.” Most importantly, the floor. I felt the same way after our floors were installed. Forget the kids, just don’t touch the floors! The floors, people, the FLOORS!

  7. Annika says:

    Frankly, if it will piss off Meredith Viera, I am going to start drinking more.

  8. Izzy says:

    What a day! After reading that, I think I need a drink, too. My kids are asleep. Do you think Meredith would approve?

  9. IzzyMom » Blog Archive » I Call Bullsh!t says:

    [...] I’m terribly sorry to say that I have sealed my fate. I will never, ever get to be a ClubMom blogger now. If memory serves me, Meredith Veiera is part owner of ClubMom. Heh. Well, at least I’m in damn good company… [...]

  10. Michelle says:

    Now where’s that ginormous glass you wrote about before, you know, the one for the *ahem* fish? That would work perfect in times like this!

  11. Sarah in the Sand says:

    1) I did the same thing once with a vacum in my first apartment, cleaning out the BBQ on the fire escape. Fortunately, I owned nothing at the time worth more than about a dollar.

    2) Fabulous, Fabulous, Fabulous Blog! I read it and think “wow! I should have seven kids too! How entertaining / rewarding / challenging it would be!” This makes my husband very nervous, until he reminds me that I am a totally incompetent house wife and rather irresponsable mother, thus all seven kids would be in CPS so fast it would make my head spin. Sadly, I must agree.

    3) Who is Meredith Vera? Am I totally out of touch?

    4)Keep up the great work.

  12. owlhaven says:

    Whew– glad all is OK. We heat with wood too, as much as possible, anyway. the furnace usually kicks in around 3 am.

    WE have a heavy metal bucket with a metal lid that we scoop hot ash into. Then we carry it out onto the concrete to cool before dumping it. If it’s really hot we’ll dump a bucketfull of water onto it to quickly cool.

    Thanks to the metal bucket, we can scoop it out while the fire is still…simmering, I guess…then just add more wood and stoke it up again. That way it stays warm.


  13. Tricia says:

    Well, that post deserves a toast! Those 3 margaritas I had yesterday were surely in your honor!

  14. lisavc says:

    I had the unenviable task of having to do this every day when I was a kid, every morning before school..and I did it exactly like owlhaven above.
    Ours caught on fire too from backed up soot (before, I might add, that it became MY job) and if you pour a heap of salt on the flames it really helps to put it out quick. Yep..salt.

  15. Erin says:

    I read your blog, as well as Suburban Bliss, and this post had me laughing so hard I swear coffee almost shot out of my nose. That was hilarious!

  16. Sara says:

    I am fairly certain that I would put that shirt on all four of my little darlin’s. Hilarious post, Chris.

  17. dcrmom says:

    Good GRIEF! I was so afraid you were gonna say your floor caught on fire. Love the shirt. LOVE.

  18. Jane says:

    I actually watched that interview Meredith held with that woman yesterday! Thank God for you ’cause I was the only one who thought Meredith was nuts! She expects us to have kids & stay sober at the same time?! Sheeeesh!

  19. Dot says:

    You have a way of making bad things funny! I’m still trying to find humor in the visiting EMT’s and ambulance at my house. But, hey, at least my half empty Smirnoff Ice was in the kitchen and they weren’t. And YES, I finished it when we got back home just a few hours later!!

    Hooray for the floor!!!

  20. jody2ms says:

    I was laughing at the show thinking “They only have one glass????”

    God help me if the Today show ever comes to our little town…a town that takes coveting beer to a new level. A town where frozen margaritas are a part of “hey lets go to the park”. A town in which the bi-annual Catholic church picnic has a machine that crushes beer cans, and the kazillion kids(after all, it is a Catholic community) spend the entire day collecting them and earning a penny for every can they crush (my kids earned enough $ last year that I am seriously considering crushing cans myself this year). A Catholic picnic that has an auction… during that auction things like coolers full of beer go for $300, and people can bid up to $200 for a frozen pitcher of margaritas with plastic glasses. AND WE BUY IT AND DRINK IT RIGHT THEN AND THERE…EVEN IF IT IS BEFORE 5PM!! GASP!

    Dear Meredith Viera,
    You must be the most naive person I have ever met. One glass? I have some land to sell you in the Everglades. There are no ‘gators, I swear!

  21. CL says:

    I am ASTOUNDED that EVERY mom blog I visit has a rant about Meredith. Didn’t see the segment but hey, I don’t need to now!

    I laughed about the vacuuming of embers…ha! Hope all is well now. Think I will have a glass of wine WITH lunch AND dinner today! Cheers!

    Nice post. Will visit again.

  22. rachel says:

    my mom’s wood stove became so hot that it made the wall catch fire. Apparently, the previous owners of the house never insulated the exhaust pipe. I didn’t know that exhaust pipes could make a wall catch fire. It ended up well, and the renovation was quite nice. Glad your house and floors are OK.

    I didn’t ask, but I’m pretty sure she had a drink after that. We were with my dad, that time, though - but she drank with her friends in front of us for years, and I’m pretty much fine. Moderation = gooood

    I’ve taught my kids to call 911 in case of an emergency - they can fetch my beers AND call an ambulance. what more can you want? Besides - if there’s an emergency, should you really be *driving* to the hospital?

  23. Chris says:

    We’re not supposed to drink in front of our children? No one told me this…

  24. Lulu says:

    To scarey! (to say LMAO). Glad you all are OK! Glad Rob was home. Being alone (espicially with a bunch of kids)when that stuff happens is so bad.

  25. Mir says:

    And here when I saw the title in Bloglines I was sure this was going to be a post asking what I would say.

    I keep telling you it’s all about me, but you’re not catching on. SIGH.

  26. Jennifer says:

    FUNNY! But um, glad you all survived. Except of course the vaccum. And thank God it wasn’t the Dyson that died.

    As for the drinking while watching your children. PUHLEEZE! That is so beyond ridiculous and unfair and absolutely crazy. Someone please tell those moralists to look at the rest of the world. It would never occur to anyone in any other developed western nation to question the normalcy of enjoying an alcoholic beverage, whether there are children present or not.

    As for the part about an accident, that is pushing it a little bit and besides, even if there were an accident, couldn’t they just call an ambulance? Or is it assumed that the paramedics will be drunk too by association?

  27. Lisa says:

    I had a similar experience with the fireplace, except I used a fire extinguisher vs a vacuum. It was still a bad choice. As for Meredith-she’d rather they see me sipping it from a brown paper bag in the pantry?

  28. Inthefastlane says:

    That shirt would go along great with the baby shirt I just wrote about that says “B is for Beer.”

  29. Woman with Kids says:

    I’m so glad the floors ok! And, uh, the kids too. Cheers!

  30. deborah says:

    someone give meredith a drink - FAST! thankfully the dyson and the floors are ok. Oh, and the kids. Sorry.

    hey, someone call child protection on me, PLEASE!! Not only do I have a glass of wine in front of them, I actually allow them to taste it! Mother of the year award, I can smell it already!!!!

    I believe the word is “custom” in some cultures; like ours, for example. My grandfather had wine at the dinner table, and especially on holidays - that’s where I had my first taste. I’m a somewhat well-rounded individual. I think…

  31. April says:

    Wow, so where is the Meredith I knew from The View (aka: we’re not an eating show, we’re a drinking show) who always used to talk about how much wine she had the night before, while I’m sure her children were home??

    God…Katie Couric wannabe.

  32. Maddy says:

    Here in Australia the parents would probably get more stick for serving *juice box’s* to the kids as they have so much sugar in them and have been proven to cause decay in children’s teeth … as long as the wine is a nice chilled chardonnay I can’t see the problem!

  33. Sueb0b says:

    My dear nephew cleaned out the fireplace with the vacuum. Fortunately, no flames were involved but it always had a nice woodsy fire smell thereafter.

  34. Her Bad Mother says:

    Getting that tee for WB. And getting one for me: I DRINK BECAUSE OF MY KID.


  35. sarah says:

    I would have loved to see your vacuum shooting out flames! Too bad your husband was too busy saving the day to get a picture ;)

  36. Pointing Fingers - A Gaggle of Girls - A mom and a dad with a gaggle of girls (human, canine, feline) says:

    [...] For the record, I have no problem with adults drinking responsibly around children. In fact, I encourage it. I am repeating what almost everyone other person on my blogroll has already said, my parents modeled moderate drinking, and after my stupid phase in college, that’s what has continued. If we model moderation, hopefully the kids will pick up on it. We all know the lure of anything taboo. [...]

  37. Katie says:

    Duh, you hide the wine bottle and glasses and call 911 in case of an emergency!

    Glad the house didn’t burn down. Although I bet then Ty could have come over and done an Extreme Makeover Home Edition. hehe

  38. Meg says:

    Laughing my head off. I usually think these things only happen to me, but apparently they happen to you, too…

  39. Heather says:

    V. funny post - incorporates all the elements - fire, Dyson, drinking, and witty t-shirts!

  40. Stuckintx says:

    Longtime lurker here- I saw your blog listed in the Houston Chronicle yesterday in a Parenting article.

  41. Julie says:

    My neighbor’s mom, years ago, was “prescribed” by her doctor to have one cocktail or glass of wine every evening at 5 p.m. He seriously offered to put the direction down on a prescription pad!

  42. Mary W says:

    Is it bad my 11 year old can tell you all the components of a good screwwdriver, my special mararitas, whiskey sours, and a mojito?

  43. Finelly says:

    OMG! My DH would have been having a heart attack! Come to think of it, I probably would have too. Glad everything’s ok and no one was harmed in the making of THAT film.
    MV can kiss my butt. What a prude!

  44. crunchy carpets says:

    I was just thinking of the bag of bottles I was giving to our preschool bottle drive…it was all wine!!!

    But seriously folks..the problem with this whole discussion is that the words playdate was used. That implied that a child centered event was more a mom get together than a fun time for kids…

    It was not about moms having a drink or moms getting together with friends to have a drink…the term playdate was used and that made it into something more….like who is the playdate for?

    So the whole idea got turned into something it wasn’t and Viera is full of it.

  45. Mama T. says:

    Shit! I had a Sam Adams in front of the kids last night. I better turn in my Mommy card.

    Glad to read that the wood floors are in tact. Now that would have been trauma.

  46. Tammy says:

    Just got back from a week at Disney with the kids. Is it wrong that we liked SeaWorld best because we could order a beer?

  47. Darren McLikeshimself says:

    Oh, man! The vacuum cleaner shooting out flames must have looked SO COOL!

    Pft. My kids, your kids, their kids. If it’s wet and it’s alcohol, I’m drinking it down.

  48. Nicki says:

    My therapist sent me this link. Thought you might enjoy it.


  49. Tricia says:

    I have to put one more vote in for the metal bucket and little metal shovel. They’re really worth it - and you can even shovel out the fire when there are still coals in it, and save the coals to one side to start your next fire - BUT - then you wouldn’t have exciting stories to share about flame-spitting vacuums and such.
    hehe…love it!

  50. J. Fergie says:

    Hi Chris!

    So funny you blogged about this - so did I:


    I usually love the Today Show b/c they do a lot of “mommy interest” stories, but this one was just plain ridiculous.


  51. jessica says:

    OMG I spit coffee and laughed so hard I peed myself when you mentioned the vaccumm and the impatience etc. That is sooo me!!!