Saturday, February 6, 2016

I do a lot of "oops, sorry....wait....oh....I forgot"

One day D asked me how I keep track of own life and the kids' appointment and school pick-up times and whatnot.

It isn't rocket science.  I have my paper calendar and my iPhone calendar that links to my computer calendar.  I write myself Post-it notes in my paper calendar.

I also very regularly commit to things only to have to go back and cancel or reschedule.  It is not unusual for me to look at my calendar and comment, "Well, shit" because I have double-booked myself or completely forgotten something that is a fairly routine event.

I have to write down stupid stuff that should be fairly ingrained in my head, like "Husband gets paid today" or "Take out recycling."

Sadly, I have even considered writing myself notes to remind myself to pee.

My weeks are chunks of somewhat unusable time.

Next week looks like this:

Monday--drive middles to school, 7(ish); volunteer at middle school bookstore, 9(ish)-12(ish); pick up from middle, 2:30(ish); pick up from elementary, 4(ish).

Tuesday--drive middles to school, 7(ish); piano lesson, 10(ish); occupational therapy for G, 2(ish); pick up from middle, 2:30(ish); pick up from elementary, 4(ish).

Wednesday--drive middles to school, 7(ish); volunteer at middle school, 10(ish)-12(ish); pick up from middle, 2:30(ish); pick up from elementary, 4(ish); Girl Scout meeting, 6(ish)

Thursday--drive middles to school, 7(ish); ; pick up from middle, 2:30(ish); volunteer in 2nd grade class, 3(ish); music class, 4(ish).

Friday--drive middles to school, 7(ish); teach at cottage school, 9(ish)-1(ish); elementary school valentine parties, 2(ish).

(One of the reasons I sorta love Fridays is because for 4+ hours, I am in the same place, doing the same general thing and not having to be in my car.)

I thought I would have oodles of time when all 3 kids were in full-time school, but I do not.  Even if I don't volunteer at the school, I still have errands to run.  Two-hour windows of "free" time throughout my day are the norm.  I fill those with article writing, prepping for my class and cleaning or cooking.

And, really, those two-hour windows aren't even two full hours.  Like the two hours between driving the middles to school and volunteering on Monday are actually filled with haranguing the boys to get dressed, brush teeth, making lunches and waiting for the bus.  Oh, and getting myself ready.  That always comes last.  

Every other week, I get the boys to the clinic by 8 am for allergy shots.

Whenever I think about subbing at the boys' elementary school or trying to find some kind of part-time public school-related position, I get very excited until I remember all of these drive-people-here-and-there responsibilities.

Still, at some point, I will need to go back to more than just very, very part-part time work to help pay for college and the general costs of raising older children (cars, insurance, all 3 in orthodontia), and I have a hard time seeing how that will work.  

Monday, February 1, 2016

I can't think of 47 reasons why I love my husband

This week D turns 47.

Every year, I compose a letter to my kids on their birthdays, but that would be too hokey for the husband, so I thought I'd do a "Things I Love About My Husband" list.

I briefly considered "47 Things I Love About My Husband" but that is far too mentally taxing.  (There also might not be 47 things.)

What I do love about my husband is that he makes me laugh.

One of my habits that drives him batty is that I start a sentence and fail to finish it.  I suspect this is because I'm usually juggling 20 balls in the air at once (mine, N's, G's and M's).

He told me I'm like Darth Vader.

I guess some wives would find this insulting, but I thought it was really funny.

I love his weird dreams, too, which he can't really help, so maybe I shouldn't give him too much credit for them.  The other night he had a dream that he was putting a diaper on one of the kittens, but the only thing sticking out of the diaper was the kitten's head.  At the end of the dream he got so frustrated he went "Aghhhhhh!" and woke himself up.

I love it that my husband leaves me alone.
I probably would not have written this when I was in the "newlywed expect-to-be-up-in-each-others-faces-all-the-time" stage, but I really appreciate that he isn't clingy and doesn't call or text me unnecessarily (ever).  He just sorta lets me do my own thing.

I appreciate that he realizes when the Netflix queue has been too dude-heavy.
After a run of What We Do in the Shadows, Ant-Man and Chappie, he suggested I check the queue to pick some things I wanted to see.  I didn't dislike any of those films (and actually really dig Marvel films), but it was nice of him to remind me to pick some more literary fare for our viewing pleasure.  This past weekend was Terminator: Genisys, so I've got like 3 lined up.

So what is that?  Four things.

I'd say that is pretty good for a Monday and 18 years of marriage.  

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The kind of enthusiasm that could get someone killed in car rider line

I am not a horrible grouch in the morning as long as I've had a cup of coffee and 6 hours of sleep.  I don't yell at people for making noise (unless it is the boys' bone-shattering decibels at 7 am).

On mornings when I have to have a blood draw and must be fasting, I definitely scowl, but I'm not out-and-out hostile.  Of course, the scowl generally keeps people from talking to me and, therefore, avoids any potential hostility.

This week I am driving N and our neighbor to school in the morning.  We are out the door at 7 am.  I have had some coffee but am still in my pajamas with bed hair.

Today, I witnessed something I've never seen, didn't understand and hope to never see again.

A fully dressed dad in the car in front of mine, got out of the vehicle, jaunted to the car in front of him and gave multiple double-high-fives to the people inside.  With a smile on his face, he skip-de-doodled back to his vehicle.

It took every ounce of my energy not to jump out of my own car and thrash him to death.

He would have deserved it for a number of reasons:

1. The first rule of car rider drop-off and pick-up is "Unless your child is bringing a tuba and/or elephant to school and requires your assistance removing it from or putting it into the trunk, keep your ASS in the car."  This man violated the first rule in order to give someone a high five.  UNACCEPTABLE.

2. I don't go places where high-fives are a "thing," Other than my children, I don't think I've high-fived anyone since I reached adulthood.  No one in my bookclub high-fives each other.  But I can say, with certainty, that there is no place for high-fives in a middle school morning drop-off.  My inner middle schooler was like, "What a f***ing dork!"

3. Even if I could go along with high-fives being an acceptable part of car rider line, it would have to be reserved for AFTERNOON pick-up.  School's out!  Yeah!....said by students, teachers and administrators alike.  Even though I've got a full day ahead without my children in my hair, I can't generate any enthusiasm when I've only been awake an hour.  Even another cup of coffee is not going to result in high-fives and skip-to-my-louing.

I've seen quite a few things that I wish I could un-see, but this one takes the cake.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The (hopefully) soon-to-happen master bathroom remodel

I have mixed feelings about remodeling our master bathroom.

I really dislike the room, its layout and so much of it being generally unusable space, but it always feel so first-worldy-spoilt to think about spending a big chunk of change on remaking a room, especially since we have 3 other rooms with toilets in them in our house.  I mean it rankles me to acknowledge that 4 rooms in our house have toilets and sinks in them; 3 have showers/baths.

Totally first-worldy-spoilt.

And I don't like spending money, in general or particular.

But when I can get myself past the guilt of remodeling our master bathroom, I start to get a little excited about the prospect.

Mostly because it will involve the getting rid of this baby right here:

The heart-shaped tub of love (HSToL) that has never, EVER been used for such purposes.  

It isn't even a normal-shaped, HSToL.  It is a caddywhompus HSToL.  The one time I tried to use it, sometime in 2001, it wasn't comfortable for me, and I didn't have company vying for space (which I assume is the point of a HSToL).

The HSToL has jets, but you use up all the hot water in the house if you try to fill up above the jets.  You cannot easily clean the tub because it is so deep and wide.

What bugs me most about the HSToL is that all of the space it uses could be used for storage.  I have to keep all of our bath towels in my closet.  All of our bandaids and extra deodorant and toilet paper is in the hall closet.

See how much space that danged HSToL takes up in the room?

And this is the funky shower.

The shower head is so low it doesn't hit D where a shower stream should hit.  Because he is so tall, the water that does hit bounces up onto the walls because the surround isn't tall enough.  Having a surround is supposed to keep walls from getting damp, but this surround was designed for someone who isn't 6'2" tall.

 The door whacks the person who is sitting on the toilet in the nose (or threatens to, anyway).

It isn't the worst bathroom in the world, but I am just tired of cleaning of tub we don't use, praying for a fire blower to get rid of soap scum from the too-short shower surround and having to walk into the hallway to retrieve bath items that could be housed in the bathroom.

Be a calm parent, they said. It will be great, they said.

I like the idea that if I just state facts, allow natural consequences to happen, and remain unemotional, my children will do what needs to be done without my nagging, fussing, or feeling like an extra half dose of Lexapro is a good idea.

Throughout this motherhood gig, I really have tried to be a natural consequences advocate.  When N was little and insisted on going outside without a coat, I let her.  She quickly came back in the house shivering, and I didn't have to yell or anything.

When she refused to get dressed for preschool one time, I dropped her off at the door with her clothes in a bag and said to Ms. Jennifer, "Here's her clothes.  Good luck and good-bye."

With the two knuckleheads, things seem more complicated, which makes me increasingly banshee-ish.

I try to state facts.  I try to remain calm.  But while I'm watching the clock tick, the boys are having a WWF-level event in their bedroom, which may or may not (likely not) involve the removal of their pajamas and the installation of school-appropriate clothing.

So I restate the facts, which seems an awful lot like nagging.

And the natural consequence of not being ready for the bus means missing the bus and results in me having to drive them to school, which is, for them, a positive consequence.  Or the other natural consequence is not going to school.  This is where that whole concept of "natural consequences parenting" doesn't seem to work.

Yesterday, both the boys were avoiding getting their shoes/coats on to get out to the bus.  M said, "I wasn't listening," was his excuse, as if that is so much better than "trying to give the cats more treats" which is what G was doing.

Anyway, by the time I got them upstairs, the bus was there.

I immediately transformed into a banshee-like drill sergeant:  "RUN! RUN! RUN!"

M had one shoe on his foot, the other in his hand and no coat on.  G had his coat on but no shoes on his feet.

I wish I could have photographed the look on G's face when he said, "But we don't have shoes on!"  It was like he thought I'd gone stark raving mad.  I kept screeching, "RUN!  RUN!  I DON'T CARE.  RUN IN SOCKS!"

I grabbed M's coat and both their backpacks, and we sprinted for the bus.

They made it, and I suspect it shocked them both enough (the realization that their mom will actually make them go to the bus however she threatens in pajamas or half-naked or without shoes) that they'll cooperate more the first time I remind them of the time.  

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Part 1: Me at the gym. Part 2: Why I love seeing older folks at the gym

Part 1:

I walk in.

Many times I forget I have my sunglasses on, but I'm too lazy to walk back out to the car to switch to my regular glasses.  So I'm Joe Cool working out in shades.

I get on the elliptical-type machine (there are 2 kinds that probably work different muscles, but I don't know which muscles) or a stair-climber.  If on an elliptical,  I do a mile, keeping my heart rate around 130.  I'm not busting a sweat usually.  If I'm on a stair-climber, I do 15-20 flights.

Then I go lift some weights and do floor work (planks and various modifications on the plank, mostly).

When I lift weights, I stick to between 5-15 lbs.  Sometimes I just stop actually lifting the weights and hold them.  When I see these big dudes lifting a gazillion pounds, and they are huffing and puffing and jerking their arms around, I wonder how much they could lift if they stopped moving and just held the weight?

After a half-hour, I am bored and leave.

Tonight, as I was writing this blog post, I started to burn the pancakes I was making.  I might be on the thinnish side, but it is certainly not because I work out with any enthusiasm.  I simply burn our dinners a lot.

Part 2:

I love old(er) people, in general but especially at the gym.  (Like 65 and up is what I'm going to consider older people.)

Maybe it is because I workout mostly during the weekdays, but there are usually older people there.  Not too many single, young people.  I think they probably go to LA Fitness or someplace cool.

It is inspiring to me to be around older people who go to the gym for a number of reasons.

First of all, they make me look like a freaking rock star fitness freak with my yoga pants and sports bra (covered with a shirt.....I'm not that kind of duckface, selfie-taking, show-off-my-lack-of-cleavage girl .)

Secondly, and more to the point, they totally don't kill themselves, and I think that is the key to real fitness longevity.  They don't bust their humps to the point that they are sick and sweaty messes.  They exercise, they get tired, they stop.  But THEY ARE THERE DOING SOMETHING.

And that is all I care to do.

Do enough so that if I have white hair and wrinkles all over me and a mess of grandchildren, I am still physically able to get myself to the gym and do something in moderation.  

Monday, January 11, 2016

The day (today) I lost my s*** over the school bus

It was half a year coming, really.

It's not like I hadn't put up with it and put up with it.  Since August.

I'd called the compound.  I'd emailed and spoken with the school counselor who said he was at his wit's end about the bus, its route and its lateness and gave me the name of the district people to call.  I'd called the district people.  I'd emailed friends whose kids also ride this bus and urged them to contact the district about its perpetual lateness.

Nothing changed.

Today, I happened to lose my mind about it.

To my way of thinking, which may or may not be rational, the school bus should be sitting at the school when the kids are dismissed at 3:50.  The school bus shouldn't arrive at school at 4:00 or 4:10 or 4:20.  (Ok, maybe 4:00 is ok, but kids shouldn't be sitting in the gym for 30 minutes waiting, especially when the kid lives 2 miles from the school).

Actually it is between 1.8-2.0 miles.  That distance really doesn't warrant 45-60 minutes every day to get home.  When it isn't the first month of school, and the weather is fine.  A straight line from our house to school is 6 minutes.

To my way of thinking, if the district is going to have a dang "policy" whereby if you live in certain clusters you have to attend certain schools, then perhaps they should adhere to said policy and if people move into a new neighborhood in a different cluster they should have to change schools so that 1 bus doesn't service 2 different schools since the danged bus can't seem to make it to either school in a timely manner.

Do I sound entitled?  Is this totally a first-world problem?  Yes and yes.

This morning we stood in the freezing cold waiting on this bus for 35 minutes.  This afternoon the bus dropped off my crying 8-year-old.  It was a different bus, different driver, coming from a different direction, on the different side of the street.  My heightened anxiety child was off-the-chain.

Today was the straw that broke this camel's back.

After I had calmed G down and told him I would "get more information," I proceeded to sit at my laptop and fire this off:

Mr. C***, I called your office in early December about bus ***, which services *** Elementary.  The woman I spoke with assured me the situation would be looked into.  Both you and T**** C**** were out of the office when I phoned.  

I have contacted J***** Compound about this bus.  I have talked to Mr. M*** at **** Elementary about this bus.  This is the second time I am contacting you/your office about this bus.  We live at *** ****** Drive, *****, which is 6-9 minutes away from *** Elementary, approximately 2 miles distance.  My sons do not arrive home from school most days until 4:45.  Today it was 5:00 pm.  

This is the cherry on the top of my *school district* transportation day especially since my sons and I waited 35 minutes in the freezing cold this morning for the bus to arrive.  It was 9:00 am before it picked them up.  As you are probably aware, school begins at 9:05.  

Parents are strongly encouraged to have their kids ride the buses, and because I want to be a team player with *school district*, I have done as requested.  

However, I have reached the point where I am DONE with having my sons arrive home an hour or more after school dismisses when I can pick them up and have them home by 4:10 (our neighbor got tired of the issues with bus *** a long time ago; she rolls into her driveway with her children at no later than 4:10 each day).

I really and truly try to be an advocate for *school district*, but my patience has been reached for the 2015-2016 school year.  I expect a response to this email from you so that I know it was received and read.

Thank you,

Lord knows, I'm not proud of this, but I just had to send it.  And even though it will be a royal pain in my butt to pick up my sons every day (and will require me to reschedule G's occupational therapy appointments), it will mean G and M have more time at home for doing homework and just being kids, and I won't be standing outside waiting for a bus instead of fixing my family's dinner.