Friday, December 28, 2007
So, first thing after dropping the little guys at the daycare, I pulled out the vacuum. Started to push it around... bag was full, it wasn't picking stuff up. So, I changed the bag. Started again, still a bag alert. So, I started to unclog it... an hour later, I am just re-assembling it.
Start it again, it still works for shit.
Realize that the brush doesn't turn. Disassemble again to discover that the belt is too loose. So, gather the child and go out to buy a new belt (and filter, while we are there). Spend an hour out to buy a filter and belt. We get halfway home and I realize that we have the wrong filter for our model. I drive back to the store and the man assures me that this filter will work with our model. As I arrive home, I miss the UPS guy by about 30 seconds, so J's package (he's been waiting a week) won't arrive until next Wednesday.
I spend a while disassembling and reassembling the vacuum and vacuum the downstairs.
One thing off of my list in an entire day. Bonus for me.
"Yeah", yawn, "so, did Santa come?"
B, wide-eyed and earnest... "I don't know... but... there's a piano in the living room".
Smiling and yawning, "Where do you think that came from?"
Big eyed and smiling "Do you think that Santa left it?"
So, the wrecking crew now own a Yamaha P-70. This is an electric keyboard (not technically a piano). The minuses: low-end, keys can be loud when pressed. The plusses: low volume (on the reviews, this was a minus... I don't get it), can be used with headphones (too cool).
It is getting a lot of use. Z and B start piano lessons in about 1 and 1/2 weeks.
The rest of us plunk away here and there (I only wish that I had the time for lessons as well).
Monday, December 24, 2007
One year (when I was starting to doubt Santa), we went to the Smorgasborg. This particular winter, the snow was coming down. We must have had five to seven inches of snow during the evening. It wasn't a harsh storm though, it was floating down to the ground slowly in big, soft flakes - no wind. Rather than the usual, we didn't only hear Santa's bells as he pulled up. Santa pulled up to the house in a horse drawn sleigh (the reindeer were resting up for the night's work) - talk about snowy, sparkling magical holidays. I believe, I believe...
We have some traditional foods for the holidays. We will start both dinners with cocktail shrimp (and lots of it) and crackers with cheese and pickled herring. Since we moved to Virginia, we have oyster stew on Christmas Eve dinner - it is full of cream and it is yummy and I will even post a recipe if anyone is interested. For breakfast, I'll have coffee, egg nog, hot chocolate, and OJ ready with sausages, apples, and a bun (usually it is sticky buns, another recipe I could post if there is an interest). This year the bun will be the Moosewood Cardamom Cake, both because cardamom says (Swedish) Christmas (my mom used to make the most amazing cardamom braid with almond paste in it, must find the recipe) to me and because the sticky buns didn't make it past Thanksgiving (I freeze them, but the kids plowed through - I kid you not - nine trays at Thanksgiving). Dinner tomorrow will be more traditional than I have done in a few years. I had been doing roasted cornish hens (from a Julia Child recipe, roasted with garlic and mushrooms), but I will switch to a more Smorgasbord dinner of mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, salad, kottbullar, and gravy. Pumpkin and pecan pies for dessert (store bought, I'll be more ambitious when all of my kids are potty-trained).
It is difficult, because the holidays and indoor idle time bring out the worst in our kids. Pair that with a pre-Christmas birthday, and the house has unwrapped plastic stuff strewn about already. The wrecking crew really is a wrecking crew when they have too much idle time. Yesterday the count included a caned stool, their over-the-door basketball hoop, part of Z's new magic kit, an ornament, and I am certain some otehr stuff I have't found yet. It all makes me want to curse the marketing gods that turned a Christian holiday into a pagan gluttony extravaganza.
That said, we are pretty secular about Christmas here anyway. I am not terribly religious. At a recent Christmas party, Z pulled on my sleeve midway through and in his full out-loud voice asked, "Who was Jesus and why was it important that he was born anyway?" I, of course, used this as a learning opportunity - learn to be quiet and ask me that some other time.... shhhh.
So, I guess we were just fodder for the marketing extravaganza.
I see the holiday as a good chance to tuck in as a family, create contemplative and lovely family traditions, and savor the moments that our little ones are still happy in our company. The time will come all too soon that they eagerly wait for the holiday to finish so they can catch up with their friends. Now, any one of the three will still let me bundle them on my lap and squeeze the stuffing out of them.
The sleigh is packed, as Chris says, and our gifts are under the tree. I see some real surprises coming from the creepy stalker that comes down chimneys (unless the kids have been too nosey). I know that they have been inches from blowing the big surprise - but, I think that it still is unrevealed.
We have the loveliest tree ever this year, but it is no longer thirsty, so we have needles scattered all over the house. This wasn't helped by Katie (the dog) that sniffed her present under the tree and took off after it full throttle - she came out shaking needles everywhere. She did have to put the present down, I'll let her open it tomorrow. Hopefully it is big enough that she can stay out of her crate most of the morning while she chews the pigskin to smithereens. (Do I have the only dog that uses pig twists for appetizers, rather than long-term chews? She has a three twist / day habit.)
Saturday, December 22, 2007
I was living with my soon-to-be first husband. His sister decided to beat us to the altar. So, she got knocked up. We had to take an impromptu trip to Florida (what a Christmassy feel south Florida has... the palm trees, the traffic, the slow-driving old folks). I went to the most unusual union ever. I was responsible for driving my soon-to-be father-in-law's
Getting ready to move four states away from my then husband so that we could do the long-distance marriage thing for our careers. Everything we owned was in boxes, and we forgot to buy anything for dinner. No restaurants were open in our podunk town, so we got burritos at the local convenience store for Christmas dinner. Then, we listened to our neighbors get drunk, argue, and play music all night long so that I could be well-rested for an 18 hour drive away from everything that I knew.
My father-in-law dropped dead of a heart-attack on the 21st. Apparently, he had spent the better part of the day knowing he was ill and might die, but was so afraid of having to go to hospital that he decided not to say anything. I had to tell my office-mates, that, nevermind, I can't keep the lab running over the holidays all of you with young children will have to come in over the holidays. Then, I flew to South Florida to attend services and witness his children going through his effects and helping their mother grieve. It was tragic for them, and difficult to witness. There was really nothing to say. That year, there was record cold in Florida. While we didn't have a white Christmas - we did get a frost.
We were still doing the long-distance marriage thing. I spent days getting everything just-so to make up for the horrible holiday we'd had the previous year. He arrived on Christmas eve and seemed distant and unhappy. That seemed reasonable. I didn't feel that terrific about the whole thing either. It seemed we'd grown apart some. Then, late-night on Christmas eve, I learned that he had been involved with a younger woman (named "Nanette", I kid you not).
I last saw my first husband walking away on Christmas day when he couldn't really decide which of us he loved. Lovely.
I was housemates with my dear husband J (this was before the whole husband part of the equation), and he had invited me to spend the Christmas holiday with his family. I just couldn't face another crappy Christmas or any false cheer, or getting over the angst of the previous four years... I wasn't fit company for anyone and just plain wanted to weather that Christmas by myself. So, I sent him on his merry way, let gun borrow my car as his was a little sketchy. His car stranded me no fewer than six times that week (it started like shit, so it flooded regularly when you didn't get it to turn over easily enough). I drank too much alone on Christmas Eve and sulked alone on Christmas day flipping stations in bed wearing sweat pants and drinking diet coke. It is kinda weird to say, but that was absolutely the kind of Christmas I needed at that moment.
That year, I bought myself a little ornament with a dove carrying a branch. I decided that that was my symbolic way of letting that string of bad-luck holidays go. I remember to be at peace with my life whenever I put it on the tree.
Christmas is a whole different joyful thing with children in a loving house. I really do appreciate what I have (even if I bitch constantly).
If you've got it, savor it.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
For some reason, this game is pretty popular with some of the women I
Here is how one round goes.
"When I went on vacation, I had to leave a list of the food we had and how he might cook it".
"When I left, I had to find someone else to do my daughter's hair. He couldn't figure out how to make a proper ponytail."
"Oh yeah, when I left, I had to lay out his clothes for the week, so he'd wear clean clothing".
"When I left, I had to make individual meals and heating instructions so he'd be able to eat."
"My husband is soooo clueless"
(How clueless is he?)
"I have to remind him to feed the kids their lunch". As an aside, the husband of a close friend of mine actually does win with this entry... mind boggling - isn't it?
Round One goes to mom whose husband doesn't remember that children eat.
The thing is, I've got nothing. I sit out each and every round of this game.
You see, my dh (J) is
When we first moved in together, I tried to do J a favor and do his wash. Since then, he doesn't let me touch his clothes because I don't fold things right.
The man keeps a cleaner and tidier house than I do. His desk has the pencils
In our family... I am the one that forgets anniversaries (and, we were married on New Year's Day for crissakes). I forget birthdays (J's two years ago). I have clothing strewn about (not always, but more often than I like to admit).
He didn't faint at the birth of our children - he caught one of them and held me while I gave birth to another one. He watched my c-section and held my hand. He changes diapers, gets the kids breakfast, understands the baby better than I do, and did everything for the little ones but breastfeed or give birth.
We are a team, we both play to our strengths and parent as a team. He is best at being calm no matter what, coping with vomit, letting the kids play dangerous games, and playing ball in the house. I am best at shrieking shrilly, losing my temper, signing us up for activities, and buying stuff.
So, in the clueless hubbie game - I sit, forlorn, losing, unable to contribute.
I wonder if this is how Scarlet Page (Jimmy's daughter) felt when her friends played the square father game. I can just see it now...
My folks are so square:
"My parents are so square they won't even let me go to a concert yet ".
"Oh yeah, my father is so square, he won't even let me listen to rock music".
"Geez, my dad is so square... he thought I tried marijuana, so he looked at my arms for track-marks".
Scarlet sat there, forlorn... unable to contribute to the game.
Scarlet, I feel your pain. I got to play the "square" game, but I am flat-out of the clueless husband game.
Do you get to play a game?
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Attractive, gregarious, must give up as our house isn't quite large enough for this particular child. Must go to a good home with a safe yard and lots of loud activities.
Inexpensive upkeep: He eats anything (except carrots), doesn't use too much water (showers only rarely and flushes only when the HAZMAT team requires it), and will hardly use a bed (sleeps only sparingly). Doesn't make too much of a mess (even puked into the trash can during our kid party over the weekend, lesson learned - more than one bag of gummy worms can have unfortunate consequences).
WARNING: Not responsible for any of the following compulsions the child has: feels compelled to use power tools, bang on things (anything) that make noise, refuses to put his shoes on, is apparently unable to lift dirty clothes off of the floor, but can throw a football forty yards (sometimes even tries in the house), sometimes doesn't smell very fresh, is a morning person - but not a happy one, plans on being a jouster and a rockstar when he grows up (armor ain't cheap anymore), must have help selecting the proper toothbrush and storybooks or screaming fits and panic ensues... oh, and likes to create fire.
(By the way, before you refer me to Child Protective Services, I am really just kidding - but, sometimes it sounds attractive. As I said in my original introduction, B is the most likely to melt my heart and the most likely to be responsible for my being institutionalized).
Sunday, December 16, 2007
- The dry ice will start to fog our tables at 2:45.
- We have the dark blue cloths on the tables, strewn with gold and silver stars.
- Our professors robes are hanging in the closet and the children's robes are still ready (remember them from Halloween?).
- The star garland is strewn about the house.
- The sorting hat is ready. The nametags with house colors are ready.
- The dragon eggs are ready to be hidden (once I take the miscreants out for lunch).
- The house banners are up.
- The balloons are (mostly) placed.
- The cookies are ready.
- The potions class is prepared.
- Wand craft is ready to go.
- Transfigurations assignments have been determined.
- The Quidditch cake is here.
- Divinations tasks are ready to go.
Much glitter glue and sparkles will be involved. Lots of sugar and some scary punch will be ready.
This will be our first major-league kid party.All we need now is 19 screaming children.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
"What'd you find?"
"At-chills last stand?"
"At-chills?... oh - Achillles?"
"um, I don't know, it is by Led Zeppelin".
"Yes, dear, I've heard that before".
"No, really, you've got to hear - really cool".
I'll look forward to surfing the internet tomorrow and the day after.
One of my favorite all-time bands is going to play tomorrow night. Of course, they'll be a million miles away.
At the time of evening where people in London will be gearing up to see them play, decades after their last show - I will be decorating a tree, feeding people egg nog, and reading bedtime stories (and loving it, but a smidge wistful perhaps about the music).
Hope that they have a rocking good time across the pond. I'll look forward to reading about it, maybe hearing bits of it after the fact.
It's been interesting to hear about some of the adjustments already made for the fact that voices get deeper as folks age - Plant can't hit the high ones like they used to, so the band has key-adjusted some of their work, according to the music blogs.
He also has indicated that his shirt will be less open. And, that as we say, is a good thing.
That said, Jimmy isn't hard on the eyes for his age. Ironically, he has kids about the same age as mine... as well as a daughter about my age.
So, we broke down and got an absolutely lovely eleven foot tree today and set it up. It is settling out a bit, waiting to be dressed for the dance. It is really big - but, we've a lovely place for it.
I am all "wintery" here... tree in the house, pot of soup on the stove, snowy scenes on decorative platters, splint on wrist from ice-fall the other day (just a sprain, good grief).
And, it all feels kinda wrong... because it is nearly 70 degrees F today (21 degrees C).
Santa is going to have a terrible time with his sleigh if this keeps up.
Friday, December 7, 2007
I checked the weather first thing, anticipating possible closings, as we had an unexpected bit of ice. No luck.
J fell while getting the newspaper.
We did the usual frantic morning rush to get kids fed and dressed and out of the house.
I stepped outside to empty my car of Christmas gifts to wrap - slipped and fell (on my other wrist - not the one I broke last summer - the same damn way). It hurt, but I shook it off and got in the car.
I followed J on his way to drop Z at school with B and T to take to the daycare. We passed three cars off the road on the one mile of our road we both travel. Then, J passed me on the way back to the house. I knew, then, that school must have cancelled (after I had checked) so, I waited until I could safely turn around and headed back home.
By then, the daycare, the schools, and my college had been cancelled (the schools all day, my college until my ten o'clock class). Crap.
J will work at home until I get back from class. So, at nine-ish I head out for the college. I made it halfway and the roads are so bad (I have seen four more vehicles off the road) that I call the school to see if we still open at ten - nope, closed 'til noon.
I come home.
My wrist hurts more and more. Hopefully, it is just a sprain. It should be a festive purple by tomorrow.
My last day of fall classes end somewhat not how I had planned.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
So, I usually try to beg out of these affairs. For real - dozens of kids ten and under.
This year, however, she coerced me into taking my kids (and my hesitant husband and skeptical father) to her annual Christmas party. She lives five hours away, so this is an overnight affair.
You see, she has a special connection - and the old man* stops by to get everyone's special requests and to drop off an early toy...
It is too early for the sleigh, so he pulls up in a rigged red pickup truck, with a wood frame on the bed, and speakers playing carols.
B was hooked on the old man. Look how excited he is.
That was before he started to cough, just a little one that started to build.
I was embarassed (there were over thirty kids there, and lots of parents). So, there I am in the middle of explaining that, "really, he was healthy when we left the house this morning".
That was when the flood gates opened and he hurled all over both of us. Not much to say at that point, but to vanish and clean the little guy up.
That meant that if he blew the hell out of it - the angels would fly all over the place... cool.
So, I cleaned up the little guy. There wasn't anywhere else to go, so we rejoined the festivities.
Boy, he looks just full of the old Christmas magic. Doesn't he?
B loved the "footie" that Santa gave him.
T was willing to examine the footie that Santa gave him (as long as that scary old man kept at a safe distance, thankyouverymuch).
Z loved the rubiks cube that Santa gave him. And, once J finished figuring out how to solve it again (hadn't solved it since the early 90's), he even let Z play with his own toy.
I'd show you the family photo we took, where we got the whole family in the photo with Santa and Mrs. Claus... but, we didn't get a good one before T hurled a second time all over his second outfit, his dad, and Mrs. Claus (I am not kidding). T and his dad left for a costume change while the Claus family made a break for it.
On the plus side, good old Mrs. Claus was just as jolly afterwards as she was before (a candidate for sainthood, I believe).
Time to get geared up for the holidays.
(oh, and if you were worried about the little guy - he perked up as soon as the scary red guy left the house - then, asked for a snack)
Then, Monday, he took his new footie to daycare with him, and hugged it all day.
*Is it just me? I find Santa Claus a bit creepy. This old guy sneaks around your house at night, snoops on your behavior all year, and (on the rare occasion you actually see him) wants you to sit on his lap. Weird, or what?
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I got my iPod in the mail right before Thanksgiving. So, I spent the five days between when I ordered it and when it arrived from Hong Kong (personally engraved and all) loading compact disks into iTunes. I will still be loading compact disks into iTunes when we move the clocks forward again.
Holy cats, does this ever take some time.
I bought the iPod because, although I love music, I would have the same six cds in our changer until my husband pleaded with me to change them. Because I knew they would stay there for
Now, I am about half through loading my music disks onto the iPod, then I will start in on our audiobooks (which are a pain in the ass to load, because apparently, apple didn't realize that anyone still liked books). The audiobooks, by default when loaded from cd, comingle with your music so if you did random play ("SHUFFLE") all of your music, bits of Harry Potter would mix in with Led Zeppelin, Sublime, and Duke Ellington.
Now, I am in a completely different quandary. I've only a fraction of my music loaded and I am dealing with the equivalent of musical attention deficit disorder. There are so many disks that I haven't heard forever that when I start one song, I think... no, I'll play that one... no, no, that one... ooh, look, what's over there.
I also have a real need for developing playlists. My musical tastes are so varied that (even if I could exclude J.K. Rowling's work) a random shuffle might induce epilepsy. I can just see the shuffle from Grateful Dead to Etta James to Pink Floyd to Vivaldi to Led Zeppelin to Paris Washboard to George Winston to the Clash to some of the New Age drumming stuff that I have.
Someday, maybe I'll do my job again... in the mean time, I'll be switching disks and tinkering with old songs like they are long-lost friends.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
21 envelopes to 21 first graders.
21 first graders will receive invitations to Zs seventh birthday party, at our house, in December.
This will be funny someday.... I hope.
They can come as their favorite witch or wizard.
The details are still sketchy, but I think that we can safely say that some dry ice will be involved, some charades, some funny sounds, some "wizard cake", some wizard artsy activity, and probably some magical goody bags.
Hopefully, some other parents will be involved as well. We are already trying to line up a sitter to help us keep track.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
I was married previously... so, I had some experience with the whole switching families for holidays things. And, that was before children.
Now, our respective families live many states apart.
So, when J and I married - we agreed that (to avoid the inevitable, you did *** family last year, you need to do **** family this year) we would never travel for a holiday (yeah, I know, ho, ho, ho).
We are so thankful, words can't express. We never have to pack up the kids, we sleep in our own bed, and our routine is unshakeable.
I love people coming (the more the merrier, with 8 lbs of ham and 20 of turkey, fergodsakes - we could feed them all!).
See you later this week in the midst of (oh, yeah - the only drag - I have to clean up the house enough to avoid embarassment, shop, prep food, and that stuff - suppose it should be done at least once a year anyway).
Hell, I've had crappy holidays in years past, so I know what I am talking about. Being surrounded with my family and whoever else in our happy home may be complicated - but it will never suck.
Friday, November 16, 2007
J was a volunteer chaperone for said field trip.
Z was one sorry kid this morning. He moped and moaned. He looked even more pathetic than he usually does in the morning. I helped him get dressed. I figure, if you're going to be ill, you may as well sleep on my office floor (I have a mat and a sleeping bag on the floor of the back room of my office for just this situation). So, I helped the child get dressed to flop on my office floor all day.
We got everyone dressed and to the car.
Z flopped into the car and buckled up.
Just in time to throw up. (eww).
Quick change in plans. I am mean, but not quite mean enough to make a child throw up in my office all day.
So, J stayed with him until my dad could show up. J will leave work early to relieve dad in time for dad to prepare for his obligations tonight.
I (would usually take-off except when in the classroom for a sick kid) have a horrid meeting this afternoon that precludes sick kids.
Frankly, I'd rather watch Z hurl than talk about general education assessment all afternoon.
For that matter, I would rather hurl than go to this meeting.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
What do I know about it?
Um. More than they do (that's all you need, right?).
Maybe someday I will wax poetic about being a role model and shit, but right now I have a seven-year old to carry off to bed (and, I will follow shortly).
Tuesday - we gave him some ibuprofen and packed him off to daycare.
Wednesday - I got hit with the grunge. Then, last night (Wednesday) - Z starts the fever.
This morning he is all moans and groans until I make arrangements for my dad to watch him while I go to a program I am signed up for... then, he stages a miraculous recovery. So, we pack him off to first grade.
Tonight, he is feverish, and falls asleep on the couch while we fix dinner. No dinner, no food, and the child that can stay awake forever passes out before dinner. Maybe he was sick?
I guess he'll come to my office tomorrow and have a nap in a sleeping bag while I teach. Too bad about the field trip his first grade is taking tomorrow.
(Bad Mom of the year award pending).
Monday, November 12, 2007
He was pathetic. Just healthy enough to want to mess with the stuff in my office... just sick enough to not speak to anyone.
Several students did remark, however, that he seemed so huggable and they'd be happy to snuggle the little guy. This led to the observation that it is so adorable when someone little like that is sick and pathetic - but, when a grown-up is like that we're all - keep it away from us.
Speaking of which... now, it's my turn. I am working the sore throat, snotty nose, and thinking about a fever. I have big plans to wait until the baking I did cools, cover and freeze it, then fall into a blissful Nyquil sleep.
Tomorrow, the little guy goes back to daycare, and hopefully I can make it through work.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Once I got to dad's, Z and T came in for breakfast and T had a slow but steady temperature rise through the morning.
I feel a bit iffy, B is an irascible tyrant today, and T is out cold in a motrin-induced nap (fever down for the moment). Z is headed to a Birthday party.
Work also looks iffy tomorrow (can't leave a sick kid at daycare) - not the best day for me to find coverage for the kids (five hours in the classroom on Mondays).
Friday, November 9, 2007
It is kinda expensive.
So, I have done eResearch, read other people's opinions, asked other professor's, college students, and all kinds of people. I have read some magazine articles and searched the internet for more information.
But, I am so hesitant to spend money, I'll ask my reader(s) as well... should iDO it?
I (think) want to get an iPod.
I am tired of jockeying around a bazillion cds.
I want it to store all of my music to play it in the car (I'll need to use a cassette adaptor), at home (where my stereo will either need an upgrade or I'll need an extra cable), in my office (a second USB connector for my office machine? both to play and to upload some music), and at my computer at home (for the upload process as well, with the dock).
When I add a case, an extra auxilliary jack, a hard case (for protection from the wrecking crew), a second USB connector and so on - I am looking at a hefty chunk of change.
So, I figure I'll hesitate for another several weeks before I either decide to give it up or bite the bullet and spend money.
Friday, November 2, 2007
Anyway, last summer, we bought a hide-and-seek toy. It is a little two-piece treasure chest. You hide the bottom part (turned on), then the top part provides either a blue (cold), yellow (warm), or red (hot) light and corresponding tones to help you find it.
Usually, we have fun hiding the little thing and the little guys find it in a minute or so.
One time, however, as a joke, I handed it to the little guy (T). Then, told B to find it.
T climbed into the wagon and (as usual) Z started to tow t around the house in his wagon.
B spent nearly 45 minutes completely perplexed that he could stand in one spot and the light changed from blue to yellow to red to yellow to blue and off again.
He would wander close to the other boys and the toy would light up, then get so busy looking under furniture, he wouldn't notice that they wandered away. "Oh, I guess it isn't here".
My father, J, and I all about busted our guts watching it.
You see, T wasn't hiding the toy. He was waving it around.
To make B's job harder... T was constantly turning his part off and on.
Poor B was so focused on finding the toy, he didn't pay any attention to T waving the toy, and pressing its buttons.
Good thing that B is good-natured. When he FINALLY figured it out - he thought it was almost as funny as we did.
Unlike my mother - that took all but my favorite five pieces of candy and gave them to a charity,
unlike a colleague - that has the "Halloween sprite" take the candy and replace it with toys...
my children get to eat their candy.
That said, they don't do so all on the 31st. Z thought we did... he said "what do we do next?"
I said that we would go home and eat candy.
"All of it???!"
We trick or treated at the college, in the freshmen dorms. It is always fun. It was especially fun taking Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter there as these college kids grew up with the Potter series.
And, it is always fun to see my students dressed up, even though sometimes I feel like I need to cover my eyes (they still seem to think that Halloween is an excuse to be slinky and sexy - wherever you are). Of course, it seems like the costume industry has the same impression of everyone (even pre-teens).
The one big benefit? I have great leverage to get the big guy to start his homework. Unlike the usual two hours of pleading for him to start five minutes of work, I just told him...
"I'm really hungry... really hungry... I'd love to have your chocolate... every minute you delay - I'll eat one piece."
He was done in an instant.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Now do you see why I said that?
Scary, isn't it?
Even young Harry Potter looks scared.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
If you have a kid in first grade, you'll want to be involved in their education.
To be involved in their education, you'll want to go to parent's day at the school.
If you go to Parent's Day at the elementary school...
You'll have to schmooze with other parents.
When you schmooze with other parents, you'll have to learn their names.
Once they know your name, they'll suggest you join the PTO.
Once they ask you to pay to join the PTO, they'll feel like they can ask you to contribute.
They'll ask you to buy and sell wrapping paper.
Once you have wrapping paper, you can earn toys for your brilliant sales. (this is theoretical, actually, I don't panhandle for my kids.)
Once you have bought a shitload of wrapping paper, they'll ask you to come to the next parent's night.
When you sign up for the next parent's night, they'll ask you to contribute.
If you sign up for cookies, you'll have to make them.
If you have to bring two plates of cookies, you might feel like you have to bring two different kinds of cookies.
If you need to make cookies, you'll need to shop after dinner (the night before the cookies are expected) for some random ingredients in the cookies.
Once you have the ingredients, you have to help said first grader finish the work he avoided while playing the rubber pencil game for three hours at school today.
As your first grader works on their five spelling sentences, you'll also have to start the cookies.
When you finish the first batch, you'll have to put said first grader to bed.
Once the child is in bed, you'll have to go back to the cookies.
When you finish the first batch, you'll have to start the second.
When you finish the dough for the second, you'll realize it is supposed to be refrigerated prior to making cookies. (You'll decide that this step is optional).
When the cookies come out, you'll save any misshapen, over or under-cooked ones, cracked ones or other rejects for the love of your life. (and pack up the pretty ones for some stranger that you have never seen before).
Then, you'll put said first grader back to bed.
When the next cookies come out, you'll find some decorative paper plate to set them up on.
Once the cookies are all pretty on the plate, you'll finish polishing off a handful of remainders.
Put said first grader back to bed... again.
Then, since it is fucking nearly @#$^#$%^ o'clock on a school night, and you've been making cookies for hours - you'll sit down with a glass of wine to surf the internet and complain.
Then, when you go to the school's family fun night tomorrow night, the PTO will ask you to sign up for something else...
and you will. (you never learn, do ya?)
*My apologies to Laura Joffe Numeroff for the unspeakably bad parody of the "If you give a mouse a cookie" series. You probably didn't even recognize it. It's late, I am drinking wine, and my belly is full of cookies (toffee bars and molasses, if you must know).
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Antibiotic resistant bacteria are not new, they've been plagueing the hospital near you for a while. It is more scary now that they are out in the community. Even more so that a high school football player from Virginia died of a staph infection picked up at his school this week.
As mom to one elementary school kid and two soon-to-be elementary school kids, this is frightening stuff.
Of course, since I am a lousy homemaker, and because my kids get in no end of muck, mud, bugs, filth, and dirt outside and I am rarely on top of my game enough to arrange play dates - they should be in perfect shape to have very powerful immune systems and not be exposed to too many things from other kids.
On the other hand, if we can call this a good excuse for
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
- Any of the purported alternatives to evolutionary biology
- Birth in America
- The size of our ecological footprint
- People that consider breastfeeding icky (or any other silly variant, that's why they're there folks).
- Bad Music
- Needless killing (people and other organisms)
- The Sad State of My Body at the moment (sad, but true)
Does anything make you rant?
I see lots of folks toting their babies around in the car seat containers. These suckers are heavy. Heck, I had a c-section for my first and the little guy weighed nine pounds. You aren't supposed to lift more than ten pounds after major abdominal surgery. So, you can carry the baby and a drink (but, not a car seat) and you are at the limit. Not to mention, they are awkward to carry, you can't nurse a baby in them (unless you really are one of those gals that needs a little extra support), and my babies shrieked bloody murder in them. My kids hate riding in their car seats and hate the car in general - my issue, not yours, of course. Anyway, add on to these opinions the latest warnings that children should not sleep in their car seats or spend extra time in them - and can we agree this isn't a good idea?
Ok, so not the car seat (besides, I always get sad when I see a little baby toted around in the bucket anyway - don't you just want to hug the little one?). It's OK, if it worked for you, this is just my opinion anyway, go somewhere else if you want someone else's opinion.
So, now what?
Before my first was born, I bought a sling - an "Over the Shoulder Baby Holder". Lots of women get these things and find them awkward to use. I'll be the first to admit that there is a learning curve here. The "lactivist" store where I got mine had a fake baby (about eight pounds with a heavy little head - so, baby proportioned) to try it with... and an owner that spent some time showing me how to use it. My main advice - get the baby where you want it to be and fit the sling around the baby (not the other way 'round).
So, when I got home with my wee little first baby and a brand new c-section scar - I learned to use the sling. It helped keep the baby off of my scar, and I could use both hands to shop, type, cook, or whatever. Most importantly, being up against me (usually nursing) helped keep my little colicky baby settled. This sling has been used so heavily - it has carried three babies from newborn to 30+ pounds each.
I can't recommend more strongly that parents should have something like this.
Not necessarily this though. I love my sling, but after six years of near daily wearing I have some (more) opinions on the matter.
- Get a grown-up pattern, fergodsakes. A grown-up wears the thing (even if it has a baby in it). You will see and be seen with this thing a lot and duckies and bunnies get old (stars and moons started feeling pretty old). And, don't even get me started on stupid ducks and bunnies on maternity clothes - I was having a baby, not becoming one.
- Take the time (some time when you are both calm and rested) and figure out a bunch of comfy ways to carry your little one.
- (for the ladies) Figure out how to nurse in the sling. People can't tell when you are. I always hear other breastfeeding moms say that they had been scolded for nursing in public. I always heard, "Oh, how cute, can I see the baby?" "Oh, can I see the baby better?" - um... when he is done eating ... I am a staunch advocate for breastfeeding and I think that people should feed babies where they are when the baby is hungry. But, I liked to be able to grocery shop then, too. It helps to plan one's clothing accordingly - it can't be done discreetly in a dress, for example - someone might notice it when you hike your dress over your boobs.
- Get more than one, if you are inclined (one without padding for easy travel - a pouch or maya wrap) and one with for more comfort (but more bulk) like the OTSBH. My second was a maya wrap (pretty fabrics, no padding, larger learning curve). If I did it again, I would buy a Kangaroo Korner fleece pouch (pretty easy to learn, light, and so soft). She didn't pay me to say it, I have purchased gift certificates for other folks here as well.
- Don't go on the cheap - one size fits all usually means one size fits none, expect to pay $50-80 and be glad you did.
- Get advice from people that you see successfully toting their kids.
In the end (as if anyone asked for my opinion), all I am saying is that it is worth your time and effort to get over the sling learning curve. Don't be afraid people.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
I took the students on a field trip earlier this week.
I don't have delusions. I realize how old I seem to the "kids". The young man that rode shot-gun on the way to our field trip is handsome. I found myself thinking that (if I were twenty years younger) I'd have thought him so hot - I'd probably stutter talking to him. But, I am twenty years older, so I just talked with him.
He told me about his knee surgery. I said "gosh, you mom must have been worried sick about you through all of that". See? I am really old now - thinking like a mom around this kid.
He said his mom was worried, but what made it worse was that she was going in for a hip replacement right afterwards. I thought, "Isn't she young for a hip replacement?"
Yes, she was - she is 38, he says.
Oh shit - I am older than this kid's mother. I know that I am theoretically old enough to be their parent, but I am older than his parents. I have a two-year-old - how is this possible?
I mentioned this to another professor. He said, "I still find the students attractive - until they open their mouths. What is interesting is that now I find their mothers more interesting than the students".
A second professor calls this the "golden age". "We can look at and appreciate them all - students, mothers, grandparents - they are all good".
This is scary.
I guess I'll pull up the rocking chair and start grading those papers now.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Oh, and forgodsakes, they like light... so, at night when I can't sleep and I am minding my own business, lurking on other people's blogs, they show up.
First, it's the humming. (ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ - hard to localize, but you know they're there.
Then, you might see one for an instant.
Then - WHAM - in the side of the head (shit, goddamnit, get away from me).
Shit, I am a field biologist, and even I hate a stinkbug in the house.
These little bastards have been lurking around, on, and in our house for like two weeks now. Not just a couple of them, that would be interesting. It is more like hundreds... or thousands of them - all over the inside and outside of our house.
To you would-be Orkin men, I know - determine the route of access - try my three children that think closing the doors makes our house less fun).
And, they are complete crap at flying. So, once they start in your direction (say, toward your computer screen, they could unpredictable plummet or veer at any random moment).
Yup, it's these guys I am talking about:
They are out in force in Virginia right now.
Whenever I stand near our garage door, they fly into my head, then I have to keep wondering if they are in my hair. No, really, I mean, I collect and study spiders, but these things piss me off.
The only thing worse then these are these...
These bastards live in our bathroom.
These are the only beasts that make this field biologist call dh for disposal.
What is it that makes these strike fear in me when I can pick up hairy spiders in my bare hands?
Listen to this - it is gross: When you kill them - the bastards leave squiggling legs all over the place (eeewwwwwww!).
Oh, and they are venomous.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Every year so far, we have had at least one (usually two) children along that required a stroller (pain in the ass to navigate in a crowd, not good in gravel), a backpack (where you hold food over your head for them and pick up errant sippies), or carrying (ooooh, my aching back - really, dh's aching back).
So, sorry little guy - you can go play soccer with your cousins... see you later. Look at him, it's not like he suffered.
This year, only our two older (odder?) knights came to the festival.
Yup, he's got it.
He sets a good example for the kids (yeah, so he wasn't swallowing fire, right?).
Oh, then we watched the jugglers. Yeah, more good role models, juggling machetes.
First, they compete to see who can skewer the rings with their swords (Ree, eat your heart out - here are some beautiful Belgians doing the work they were bred for).
Then, they hack apart wood blocks.
OOooooooh, look, here is the jerk they hired to get the crowd going, there he is occluding the view I sat in the sun for 45 minutes to get. Isn't he charming?
Oh, and look, here are the knights beating each other (more) senseless with clubs.
And, here is the big deal - actual knocking horseman off with a lance.
Here, they celebrate the winning horseman that broke his lance (several times) on the other man's armour.
B wants to be "a jouster" when he grows up... we are so proud. No, really, I've heard there's lots of money in it... what? YOU ACTUALLY PAY TO DO THIS?
So, we burned off some extra energy at "Ye Olde Playground".
They had swings during the Renaissance, yes?
Oh, and pirate ships?
After the boys burned some energy, we added to the family fun by watching "Hey Nunnie, Nunnie". They are absolutely hysterical (to all of us that think making fun of nuns, religion, and the bible are the perfect pastime).
We ended the perfect day by letting our aspiring jouster have a pony ride.
What you didn't see:
- the stilt people
- lots of pleasant drunk people
- the belly dancers in Ye Olde Tavern
- a fair with enough "ye olde portapotties" for everyone in need (really!)
- a fair with very little trash (again, it is true)
- the amazing amount of dust (boy, is it ever dry out here)
- the aerial angels (I missed 'em too, but dh and Z got to see them). I think the combination of aerial work of women in leotards, with great flexibility probably suits the guys more anyway, yes?
- the Drench the Wench booth
- lots of women making good use of period costumes to show more cleavage than ever
- lots of unusual people (but, really, in a good way)
- more off-British accents than you can shake a stick at (Kevin Costner was virtually a Londoner by comparison)
- the child's Knighting ceremony (we missed it this year, but our oldest has already been knighted - for deeds of "being good to his baby brother").
- fair food - can you say "on a stick"? I mean, seriously, even cheesecake on a stick, geez Louise. On the other hand, deep-fried pickles are scary good.
See you next year, festival, it is always fun.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
We need to leave Z and T with my sister. Then, dh and I can take B on his own, custom-made, vacation to a cabin at the lake - by himself.
Wouldn't that be grand?
Does anyone else note any deep-rooted desire for parental attention?
I thought not.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Thus, Boston has a disproportionately large number of polydactylous cats.
I pointed out that the success of the original male was just a chance process. There is nothing inherently cool about males with big feet.
Then, I said, it wasn't the big feet that made him sexy.
My college students started to chortle.
It beats hell over last year when I inadvertantly refered to a jellyfish's testicles...
(uh, I mean, uh... tentacles).
Saturday, September 22, 2007
His name starts with a T. So does my youngest child's name.
So, I refer to the youngest as T and the oldest as Z.
Why? You might ask.
When I was pregnant with my oldest, we had, early on, selected an unusual trio of potential names. We were fairly certain, even, which of the three unusual names we would choose. We didn't want a lot of editorial comments on our choice.
So, when asked about our chosen name for our "yet to be named player" boy - I told them...
"Oh, we've chosen Zoltan"
Then, there was always a long pause.
(ha ha) I said to myself.
They would say "oh, how interesting", or "really?" or "gosh, how did you find that?".
We must be really odd, because they thought... maybe that was serious... better not make fun of it.
So, when said child "Z" was born, and we announced the highly unusual T name... all respondents chirped "Oh, what a lovely name", "He sounds wonderful", or some such.
This d0esn't mean we're not odd (we are), but the name kinda grows on you.
By the way, does Zoltan ring a bell with you?
It was the fortune-telling machine in the Tom Hanks' movie, Big.
Not how to keep one going... just how to choose wisely.
Don't we all know the couple that is unhappy because - their spouses are exactly the same as the day they married them?
I tell my kids, when doling out snacks, Popsicles, or (well, anything really): "you get what you get, and you don't pitch a fit". I didn't coin the expression, the daycare did. We got lots of great gems there (including, for the record: "walk away", "that is not your work", and "that is not a safe choice").
In marriage, however, you do get to make a choice... a monumentally important, life-changing, happiness-defining choice. Do it wisely.
By wisely, I mean, don't choose someone because they have great potential. That is, if they changed this, or that, they would be perfect. You are making a Eiffel Tower-sized error if you think that you will be able to pick and choose which traits your spouse should keep. Besides, your spouse is just as perfect as you are.
I know a handful of couples at this very moment where one (or more likely both) spouse is unhappy because their spouse didn't change in the way they had planned. You get what you pay for, nothing more (sad to say).
One couple: the guy lied a bit when he said he would be OK with one child, he really didn't want any... thought he could put her off until it was too late. She lied a little when she said she'd be OK with just one. Yup, they have had major struggles.
Another couple: She said she'd be OK with his continuing most of his "guy" activities (being mostly a widow while he dashes about running, hashing, and hanging out with the guys). He said he'd want to spend a bit more time with her and back off a bit on the guy time. Struggling, as we speak (well, as I pontificate... and almost no one reads my ponderous crap).
I made this mistake the first time around. I thought... he's young... he'll grow up. Nope. Another case of arrested development.
This time around. My husband isn't perfect and neither am I. I knew that I married a frugal man that doesn't like (to give or receive) surprises, speaks as he thinks, and is organized to the edge of OCD. He knew and still married a woman that will never be organized, forgets anniversaries (we got married on New Year's Day, and I've still mucked it up!) and birthdays (his, last year... oops), and misplaces everything. He likes technical literature, I am a bookworm. But, it all works out... because we accepted our respective idiosyncrasies. I love dogs (and have a pain-in-the-ass golden retriever) and he thinks that dogs are outside toys.
I did know that I married: a phenomenal listener, a man with inhuman patience, a caring individual, a man that needs space and time to organize his thoughts (damn, the man takes a long time paying our bills - but, he balances his checkbook to the penny). I didn't even guess then that he would be the most awesome dad ever (knew he'd be good, but didn't know the extent). Even if he'll never really surprise me (I don't love surprises either), won't say things just to be nice, thinks spending money on frills (like curtains) is excessive, and sleeps through anything - I love him to death.
Maybe he will (maybe he won't) get a card from me on New Years' Day this year... but, he knows I love him.
You get exactly what you marry (sometimes more, but you don't get to choose which parts).
Friday, September 21, 2007
I slept terribly from 3:00 am until I climbed back into bed at 6:30. I am supposed to get up at about 6:30 - but, that didn't happen until nearly 7 (maybe even after 7, I was a bit fuzzy this morning). I still am a bit fuzzy, a cup of depth-charge coffee didn't do it, now I am working on some diet pepsi. I teach in 20 minutes, and I hope to (by then) know a little more than my students. Maybe not. Sadly, it is parent's weekend, and this brain-dead mom will have a few parents in class. They will wonder what they are spending their money on.
Bossy: If you read this, remember when you attend a class with your son next year during his parent's weekend that maybe the professor didn't sleep well the night before.
You see, T woke up shrieking for daddy at one a.m. I was too exhausted from soccer night, first grade homework, pre-K homework, grading quizzes, finding something (old and used clothes to choose from) for first grade photos today, and scraping dog poop off of the driveway to negotiate. So, I toted the little guy to our bed; shoved him toward dh and chirped "there's daddy". Then, I went back to sleep.
Then, I woke up at three because the little guy was screaming "NO, B, NO", and kicking me in the head. What was he yelling at? I tried to roll over to see what was going on... I couldn't quite stretch out. Hmmm... short sheeted? No. Um, sheets tangled? No. Um, hey, what is that? B? Why are you laying across the foot of our bed?
So, now B is awake too. "I need my tooty dog! Where is he?"
"I can't look for tooty dog at three am. Geez, quit kicking me in the head."
DH is blissfully sleeping through it all. It's a gift he has. I love him anyway.
So, pissing and moaning, I wander away... "I can't sleep with all of this."
B says "Mommy, are you getting tooty dog?"
"No... (mumble, mumble)".
For the first time in married life, one of us sleeps on the couch.
As it turns out... no shoes on the couch meant take your shoes off on the couch to someone and it is covered with playground sand. Oh, and the afghan is gone so I cover up with the throw pillows. I had crazy dreams for three hours until I heard dh start the shower.
I climbed back into dh's side of the bed at 6:30 (B was on my side, T was in the middle). T, half asleep, hits me in the head because I pulled the covers over his legs.
DH leans out of the shower and chirps, "where were you? Couldn't sleep?"
Grumble, grumble, (I hope that I got some sand on your side of the bed).
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Yes, we really did bring up the level of sophistication in the classroom.