Saturday, April 30, 2011

Detachable Woman

Starting right now,
At the foot of my bed I will lay it all out.

My eyes that can search for pacis that have gone missing in covers and under beds, for necklaces that are lost in the detritus of the backpack, for paperwork at the bottom of mountains of stuff on my desk, for leftovers in their mysterious unknowable plastic containers.

My hands that can rub backs and fold newly laundered clothes and make dinner and pull the ties during diaper changes and click buttons to pay bills and transfer money.

My arms that can carry children needing sleep or having tantrums to beds and bedrooms, bring bags of groceries in from the car, give hugs to those in my home who need them before setting off for their days or at the end of long unpleasant days.

My legs that can chase escape-artist babies and meander the grocery aisles and run up and down steps and make the never-ending trek from my bed to everyone else's bedroom during all hours of the night.

My breasts to nurse for milk and comfort and to lay sweating heads upon during marital tumbles.

My mouth to give kisses, to offer reminders and suggestions and more reminders and instructions.

My ears to listen to job frustrations and school happenings and whining and crying and fighting.

My vagina....for whatever needs it can satisfy.

And all the rest....the nose, the abdomen, the pelvis, the knees, the elbows.  Just keep it.

For I am certain there will be a need at some point, day or night.

But on the pillow will remain my mind, encased in its protective bones, to sleep.
To recover from weariness.
To have uninterrupted rest.
Not giving, not thinking of others, not enraged by the never-ending hunger of the blackbirds and their incessant picking.
That remains mine, and I will not share it with any of you.

The rest and remainder is,
As you already know,
Completely yours. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I sometimes really hate Americans

As gas prices inch ever closer to $4, I have begun hearing about these "movements," like the "Give Up Gas for a Day" event.  And I have been asked whether D and I are factoring in the cost of gas into our Disney World budget since we are driving there and back.

Perhaps because not too terribly long ago we saw gas edge up close to $4 and then back down, I am not as blown away by this situation as everyone else seems to be.  Perhaps because D and I drove around Iceland and paid waaaaaaay more than $4 a gallon/liter for gas, I'm not undone by US gas prices inching up to match what people in other countries have been paying for years.

Driving to Florida for a family of 5 is still a hell of a lot cheaper than flying.  And even if gas is $5 a gallon or $6 a gallon we will pay nowhere near what we are gonna shell out for 3 days worth of tickets into Disney World.

Whenever I hear people bitch about gas prices and invite me on Facebook to participate in "Give Up Gas for A Day" or whatever nonsense, I understand why many people throughout the world think that Americans are a bunch of doofi (I'm assuming this would be the plural of doofus).  Americans, in general, don't want to be inconvenienced.  We think that if we just lay off gas for a solid 24 hours, BP and Shell and Chevron will see that we mean business and beg us to come back to using gas.

My own personal belief is that it is gonna have to get a whole hell of a lot worse before people understand that they are going to have to make real, legitimate and LONG-TERM life changes.

Caroline Baum wrote an article in which she expertly noted that, "Along with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, Americans wants a guarantee of cheap gas prices."  Furthermore Baum notes that, "Americans don't want cuts in their Medicare and Social Security benefits.  They don't want to pay higher taxes."  In short, they (or we) don't want to give up anything, and we don't want to sacrifice in order to have anything either.  We want the government to take care of everything, but we want to government out of our business too.  We want loads of government programs, but we also don't want the deficit to continue to be as high as it is.

We are a country of 3-year-olds, and I know because I live with a completely fucking insane 3-year-old. All 3-year-olds are bonkers who want exactly what they want when they want it and throw a grand-mal fit when they don't get it.   

Political diatribe over.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The quest for 1 g*d-damn fitted sheet

I try to have a waste not/want not mentality.  I have to tell myself repeatedly to just throw the shirts with holes in them away for the love of Pete.  Same with undies and socks.  And if these clothing items are in any way salvageable I make rags out of them, extending their usefulness as long as I can.

I wash out plastic freezer bags and reuse them again and again.
The backsides of N's school papers are used for doodling or at the printer when she wants to print coloring sheets from
I use clear packaging tape on board books when they split in half.
I don't purchase new dvds---only gently used ones.

When the elastic on my fitted sheets becomes so stretched out they no longer grip the mattress and end up coming lose as D and I toss and turn during the night, I don't throw them out or cut them up for rags--my mother, the seamstress extraordinaire, turns them into small sheets for G's toddler bed.

Right now, I have 2 purple pillowcases and a purple sheet that I had been using with my cream/green/purple fitted sheet until its elastic went kablooey.  I continued using the crappy fitted sheet for quite awhile because I had looked around for a replacement sheet to match the purple sheets/cases but without any luck.  I looked at Target.  I looked at Wal-Mart.  I looked at Macy's.  Most places only carry sheet sets, not individual sheets.  And if they did carry individual sheets, they carried only solids, and I needed some kind of print with purple in it.

I looked online at Kohl's and Bed, Bath & Beyond and JCPenney and all over google searching for "king-size fitted sheets only" and "pattern king-size fitted sheet only" and "fitted sheets sold separately."

So what do you get when you are trying to only use what you need and not be wasteful and blah, blah, blah?

You end up paying $41 to have 1 stupid fitted sheet that has a pattern with purple in it shipped to you.

Even when I try not to waste resources, I end up wasting time and/or money.  

Monday, April 25, 2011

Comme ci, comme ca

Life is currently middling.  Nothing horrible, nothing great.  I should hope that when I die I am either cast straight away into hell or given wings and fly immediately with the angels, because limbo sucks.  

We are waiting on estimates to have a roof built over our deck.  In 2007, we had a new door installed that leads from our kitchen to our deck; the old one had begun rotting from the bottom up.  The "new" door is doing the exact same thing and, by god, I don't want to buy another damn door that is gonna rot.  A roof will eliminate water falling on the door as well as allow us to use our deck in the hours between 1:00 p.m. and dust, when our sun gets full sun.   I am fully anticipating that a deck roof will cost a zillion dollars. 

Well, normally the deck gets full sun, except for lately when all it gets is full RAIN.  Mother-eff, I am sick to death of gray and clouds and precipitation.  This is worse than winter.  

All of this rain has made it impossible for us to install the playground equipment we bought in like late February/early March.  We have to wait for the ground to dry out.  So I'm thinking August.   

I am taking N in two weeks for an ENT consult about tonsillectomy.  I hate, hate, hate the idea of surgery, but dammit she is constantly dealing with strep.  And the regular old amoxycillin that works on everyone else doesn't work on her.  I even began a chart listing when she has had it and keep it at the front of my health insurance binder (where I keep all bills, EOBs, etc).  The dates are as follows:

3/26/10--strep, amoxycillin
4/2/10--completed amoxycillin and within 48 hours began strep symptoms all over again.  omnicef
5/14/10--strep, omnicef
9/15/10--strep, amoxycillin
9/27/10--completed amoxycillin and within 48 hours began strep symptoms all over again.  omnicef
12/15/10- strep, omnicef
3/26/11-- strep, omnicef
4/22/11-- strep, omnicef

If you don't count the 2 times she had to take omnicef immediately after taking amoxycillin, that makes 6 times in a year.  And I totally count those 2 times because obviously her tonsils must be a foul and funky place if regular ole antibiotics don't work.  The ENT might want to argue that they are just a continuation of the same infection, but I argue that they should at least count for half an infection.  Which makes 7 strep infections.  

School is coming to a close soon, which always makes me feel at loose ends.  Everything is wrapping up, so I don't know what to do with myself as I look at all those blank spaces in June and July and part of August.  

Vacation feels so.far.away.  

I think my friend DN on Facebook would categorize all this whining by me as "white people problems."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The absurdity of suburbia

I have lived in suburbs my entire life.  It is what I know.

However, my childhood neighborhood was of the sort that didn't have a name and didn't have a homeowners' association.  We didn't have a neighborhood pool and matching mailboxes at the curb and no one paid dues.  It was basically all the houses behind St. Rita's.  It had once been farmland that was sold and the streets named for the farmer's children.

My dad spent goo-gobs of time on his lawn, not because someone in the HOA told him to but because he liked puttering in the yard and having a pretty landscape.  We had two dark pink azalea bushes on either side of our front steps, and in a good year, they were luscious and overflowing.  He took pride in keeping an attractive yard.

Yesterday a friend's dad emailed sent me a joke (see below) about lawn care and then last night I attended my HOA board meeting where we talked about neighbors whose yards are less than stellar-looking.  (My own particular peeve that I discussed being people who allow the suckers that grow at the bottom of their trees to grow as tall as the branches.  Cut the damn things back for crying out loud.)

I know it is completely persnickety and stupid to give much of any consideration to yards and landscaping when there is so much else in the world to be fixed.  It seems more than a little wasteful of one's time and energy to discuss it or think about it.  I mean, all of the properties in my neighborhood have seen their values decline in the last two years and it's not because Joe Blow hasn't immaculately weeded his front flower beds.   No one named Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan lives on my street but they are some of the numskulls that caused housing prices to plummet.  

I am guilty of allowing it to ruffle my feathers, and it bothers me that it bothers me.  Perhaps the reason HOAs of all kinds get hung up on stuff like this is because it is "controllable."  I can't control developers plowing down trees all over the place and building a zillion concrete boxes to sell stuff.  I can't control new roads and construction and increased traffic.  I don't get a say in how many parking lots are poured with only 1 or 2 trees planted every 3 rows.

But dammit if the deed restrictions say yards must be well-maintained then if a weed is as tall as my preschooler it needs to be cut down.  I can harangue my HOA president to death and feel like I am getting some results a hell of a lot faster than when I email my senators and state representatives and mayor and US president.  It is easier to be a squeaky wheel in a suburb than in the world at large.

Still, I know it is absurd.


Frank, you know all about gardens and nature.   What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to  the dandelions, violets, milkweeds and stuff I started eons ago? I had a   perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil,   withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting   blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But, all I see are these green   rectangles. 
It's the tribes that settled there, Lord   The Suburbanites . They started calling your flowers 'weeds' and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with  grass. 
Grass? But, it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract   butterflies, birds and bees; only grubs and sod worms. It's sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing   there? 
Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to   grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and   poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn. 
The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must   make the Suburbanites happy. 
Apparently not, Lord. As   soon as it grows a little, they cut it -sometimes twice a week.   
GOD:  They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay? 
Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.   
They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?   
No, Sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it   away. 
Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away? 
Yes, Sir. 
These   Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and   turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of   work. 
You aren't going to believe this, Lord. When   the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to   water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of 
What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall   to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. It's a natural cycle of life. 
You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new   circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and  pay to have them hauled away. 
No!? What do they do to protect  the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?   
After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it   around in place of the leaves. 
And where do they get this   mulch? 
They cut down trees and grind them up to make   the mulch. 
Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore.  St. Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you  scheduled for us tonight? 
'Dumb and Dumber', Lord.   It's a story about.... 
Never mind, I think I just heard the   whole story from St. Francis.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Adios MOMS Club; Hello HOA

As of June, I will no longer be president of my chapter's MOMS Club, and I am so glad.  Not that it is a hard job; it is most certainly not.  But I am just done being as heavily involved in it as I have been these past 6 years.

The time has come to be involved in something else.

And so I agreed to run for my neighborhood's HOA because I am a sucker for flattery.

At our first board meeting I agreed to be secretary since I just have to attend once a month board meetings and take notes.  While being compliance chairperson sounds like a dream position for me since I walk around the neighborhood with the kids and think, "They need to clip the shoots growing up from the bottom of their tree" and "They need to rehang their shutters because they are all caddywhampus,"  I know I would be completely dictatorial.  And it already pisses me off to see people who don't keep their property neat and clean; it is best that I not have any contact with these folks since I might say something untoward.  Like, "Ah, you are one of those folks with more money than sense..... or perhaps more debt than sense since you live in a home you apparently can't afford to maintain....or perhaps you are just a clueless a**hole."

N's teacher emailed parents about how the school's board of directors needs volunteers, and I briefly thought about that.  Meetings would be during the day so D wouldn't have to watch the kids (which is good since his head nearly implodes at the prospect of watching the kids during the months when I attend bookclub, bunco and board meeting), but I would have to take G and M which would make my participation minimal and, therefore, my attendance pointless.    

Although I have pretty well decided that I will not go back to work full-time while we have children living in our home unless I must in order to put food on our table, I still like to volunteer as a means of padding my resume (because I do intend to work part-time as a substitute teacher within the next 5 years).  Somehow saying "I wiped shit from 3 little people's asses since 2004" doesn't go very far in the employment world.

My volunteerism is also a great thing for my children to witness.  Seeing me take meals to women in the MOMS Club who have had babies or hearing how I volunteered at N's school when I could or knowing that I work to make our neighborhood a nice place to live shows them that I care for things beyond them and beyond myself.  Giving them opportunities to help me is also a good way for them to feel at ease with volunteering. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My sweet baby boy, and my sometimes sweet but mostly insane preschool boy, and my smart but also hard-working girl

At my friend's bridal luncheon this weekend, I was asked about the kids, how they are.  And I think I answered by rolling my eyes.....because I had a rough Saturday morning, as every Saturday morning is because it violates multiple laws of nature to be awakened at 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday and then have to listen to children bicker over stupid shit like "her foot is touching my pajamas."

No one has ever, in the history of parenting, said it was fun.  I've never heard anyone call it that.  They've called it "an amazing experience" and "great" and "so rewarding," but never fun.  And that is because it is not.  There are moments of fun, but those moments are greatly tempered by the TMJ-inducing efforts to not kill the child during tantrum or eye-roll number 19,999,482,294.

My sometimes sweet but mostly insane preschool boy
G is hell-bent on setting a world record for number of poops and temper tantrums completed in the course of one 12-hour period.  He is capable of pushing every single one of my buttons simultaneously.

And yet, he is so funny and charming and creative that despite being the biggest pain in my ass, he is also one of the biggest delights of my days.

Every night I rock him for a few minutes, and when I put him in bed he says, "Tell me happy things."  And so I tell him some of the nice things that we will be doing soon, things he can think about and look forward to as he falls asleep.  Last night I was telling him about having Easter egg hunts at both grandparents' homes this weekend, as well as leaving baskets out in hopes that the Easter bunny will come, just as Santa does.  At the mention of Santa, G started singing:

Jingle Bells, Batman smells,
Wobin waid an egg.
He poopt his name,
and Santa said, "No way!"

He got the idea one day in the backyard to drag a long piece of corrugated drainage pipe up to the deck and hang it over the side.  I'm not sure if it was his idea or N's to roll tennis balls down it, but that has proved to be at once highly entertaining and (I hope) indicative of his aptitude in physics.

Over spring break at the wildlife center we visited, while we were watching deer and wild turkey from a lookout deck, he got down on all fours to peep through a hole in the floor of the decking....something N would never have noticed at the same age.  He is an inquisitive little fellow.

My smart but also hard-working girl
Where G is maddening with his irrational behavior, N is, on the whole, my great helper, the child who gives me hope that one day G will behave somewhat normally.  Sure, she is a pain in the butt about doing her homework but I know how sick I am of dealing with daily homework, so I know she feels it more acutely.

As much as I think she is naturally smart, I also know she is a hard worker at school.  She is reading well beyond her grade level, and her report cards couldn't be more dazzling.  It is nice to have teachers say to me, "She is such a delight."

N is at a nice, mostly mellow age, and I like that.  She sometimes reads us poetry at the dinner table, and is into reading snippets from 6 or so chapter books at a time.  While she seems to be taking a break from writing lately, she did whip out a poem the other day (at least she told me this was an original).

Flowers can be on t-shirts.
Candy canes can too.
What can be on t-shirts?
Chicks?  Letters? Animals?  Trees? 
What can be on t-shirts?
I really need to know!

My sweet baby boy
The sweet baby boy has N's hair, which is starting to curl up in the humidity and make little wings above his ears.  He nurses whenever he is scared and needs comfort.  He pulls off the nipple in order to jabber at me in mysterious toddler language and then latches back on, content that he has told me whatever was on his mind.

He moos whenever he sees a Chick-Fil-A commercial.  He is completely happy to be "reading" his books to himself, and he is over-the-moon excited at any opportunity to go outside and play.  When I change his diaper, he likes me to push his legs back towards his face so his butt raises off the floor and I make a farting "Pfffffff" sound with my lips.  He gives the most wonderful snuggly hugs, laying his head on my shoulder.

On the whole, his only deficiency is that damn 6:00 a.m. wake-up call.

Even though this parenting gig is infrequently "fun" and certainly not relaxing, it is nice for me to blog about the kids as they are at this moment in time.  Because parenting these guys is sometimes so delightful as to make up for a lot of its aggravations. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

This I believe (the financial sermon)

This morning at breakfast, D, N and I were talking about our Disney trip.  I don't know how it came up, but D said something to N about how a lot of kids never get to go to Disney World.  She asked how come, and I replied that some people can't afford a trip like that.

And then she asked, "Are we rich?," to which I responded, "No."
She then asked, "Are we poor?," to which I replied, "No, we're in the middle."

But I didn't tell her that we are probably in the upper middle.
That most people have far more debt than we have.
That we are able to save quite a bit of D's paycheck.
At some point, though, I will tell her and G and M these things and much more about our personal finance.

I will tell them how D and I lived at home and went to local colleges.  That going to college wasn't always fun, but we knew that a college degree would give us far more options than if we didn't.

That once we graduated we continued living with our parents to save money.  That it kinda sucked not being able to come and go as we would have done if we had our own place, but that you can't have it all at the exact same time.  There are always sacrifices.

I will tell them how we could have gotten married much sooner than we did but we chose not to because we both wanted D to finish his master's degree, and we wanted him to pay off his car so we would enter our marriage with only a mortgage as debt.

We had a small wedding that we paid for ourselves (my parents paid for the reception and had enough left over from what they'd budgeted that they bought us our dining room suite and our washer/dryer as wedding presents.)

We purchased a small home and lived with handed-down furniture for many years until we could purchase new furniture with cash.  We did not go into debt to get the best of everything when we were just starting out.  Almost 14 years later, we still don't buy the best of everything whenever we get the urge to get something.

We didn't have children for over 6 years.  During that time we both worked full-time and lived off D's salary; we saved every penny I made.  Even though we weren't sure we wanted children, I knew if I had them I wanted to stay home with them.  My mother told me and D to live off one salary from the get-go if me staying home at some point was in the "plan."  

With my saved earnings, I paid for my master's degree, we traveled, and we bought a larger home four years after getting married.  We also saved enough in cds that should something happen to D's job if I was staying home with children, we could make our house payment for 3 years.  (We actually had more saved but we took a little out of cds to purchase a larger car as our family expanded.  Seven years later we still have these cds, just in case.)

I did not make a lot of money, mind you.  When D and I got married, I was making about $17,000 working at an electronic publishing company.  And after that I was a teacher, so I made maybe $25,000. But saving $17,000 for a couple years adds quite quickly.  We still saved some of D's paycheck as well, so that if and when I stayed at home we would still have savings.

I will tell my kids how the first thing I do when D gets paid is transfer money into our various savings accounts and then I pay our bills and whatever left over is what I have for groceries and clothing and whatnot.  Savings comes first.  

I will tell my kids that we pay off our credit cards every month.  And if we thought we couldn't pay it off within a month, it wouldn't get bought.

I will tell my kids that I started an additional savings account for medical expenses because health insurance costs are ridiculous, an FSA doesn't go very far when you have a family of 5, and we don't spend the money in the health account on anything but health.  Even if I would love to be able to buy all the kids' clothes from Gymboree or Janie & Jack.

We also don't spend money in the home/car repair account on anything but home/car repairs.  The money in the Christmas account is only spent on Christmas.  The money that I'm setting aside for G's preschool will only go to G's preschool.

We live below our means.  We don't get every new thing out there.  We don't have a Wi.  We don't have cable or satellite television.  We don't have new cars.  We don't take a vacation every year.  The only reason D has a smart phone is because he is on call for his job, and his employer pays the monthly bill.  We don't shop at boutiques.  We have an almost 14 year old refrigerator that will only be replaced when it dies in a big heap on our kitchen floor.

We value education and saving and caring for our family's needs more than anything else.

Has luck played a part in all this?
We were lucky to have parents who supported our educations and made their own sacrifices so that we could attend college.
We were lucky to not have to deal with catastrophes beyond our control---like serious and expensive medical conditions.
We were lucky that D happened to go into a field of study that pays well.

But there were and are a heck of a lot of choices we made and continue to make because we want security more than we want stuff or the prestige that goes with having certain stuff or the short-lived thrill that goes along with getting new stuff.

(And despite all this, I also know that there are a heck of a lot of people who weren't raised as we were to value education by parents who provided a secure, loving home; people who are working in nursing homes and in hospitals and at fast-foot restaurants (doing the jobs no one really wants to do) and are still poor, who don't feed off the system and cannot get by.  Which is why even though I financially feel like a Republican, my heart feels like a Democrat.  And so that's the way the wind blows my sails.)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The true costs of vacation

So this year is our big vacation year, meaning we are making more than a day-trip.  I have booked the condo in Orlando, FL and will soon be mailing my check to pay the balance due.  I will probably go ahead and purchase the Disney tickets at our local Disney store about 2-3 days before we leave.

But here is the thing that gets me about taking these "big" vacations:  I always end up needing to purchase a whole bunch of shit before the vacation in order to go on vacation.  And I'm not talking about a swimsuit or a couple new t-shirts.

In 2009, when we went to Gulf Shores, AL, we bought a portable DVD-player because we now had 2 kids and only 1 Mamaw in the car, so we knew we needed extra distraction help.

This year because we will have 3 kids and 1 Mamaw in the car, we need to purchase a luggage rack for the top of the van.  There simply isn't any extra space within the confines of the car.  I keep internally justifying the cost by reminding myself that we will use it for years and years to come since we will  never go anywhere by plane with 3 kids.  Airline tickets for a family of 5 would deplete the vacation account in its entirety.

Today we also purchased a new stroller because the one we got when N was a baby, a Metrolite, is on its last legs.  It has been a great workhorse, but it no longer folds by using the hand-grasp mechanism on the handle, which means that most of the time I just shove it in the back of the van completely upright.  And that is not going to be an option on vacation.

Everything on it acts like it is ready to just seize up and keel over.  It is pretty difficult to push M in it, so forget about pushing G if he gets tired at Disney and wishes to ride.  I have a cheap umbrella stroller, but the handles are so low, I have to hunch over to push it, which means D has to get on his knees.  They simply don't make inexpensive umbrella strollers for tall people.  Plus, it doesn't have any kind of basket underneath for storage.

The aged Metrolite and the new Maclaren Volo will both go on vacation so that each boy has a ride and we have loads of storage space for all the water bottles and snacks I will take to cut down on spending a small fortune on food in the parks.

I will also purchase some used Disney dvds that the kids haven't seen 10 trillion times in order to keep them happy and quiet in the car on the way down.

So between the dvds, stroller and car storage thingie, we're looking at $500+ just to get out of the driveway.  Not the condo.  Not the Disney World tickets.  Not the gas to get there and back.  Not the hotel room going down and coming back since we can't make it in one day.  Not the food we'll eat for breakfast and dinner at the condo.  Not the 1 souvenir-each limit I have placed on the kids at the parks.

I think I better stop blogging about this now before I cry.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day 5 of Spring Break

I completely forgot Day 5 of Spring Break.  Not that we didn't do anything---it was a full day.  I guess getting back into the routine of school days affected my blogging focus.

Since G started speech therapy in February, we haven't been able to attend our weekly playgroups on Fridays, so I invited everyone over on Spring Break.  It was so good to see my mom friends....oh, and for the kids to see each other.  Of course, G spent the better portion of the time being a sh*thead, crying, throwing a tantrum.  But he finally got himself together and had a little fun with his buddies.

That afternoon, my parents were flying back home from Las Vegas, NV, so I took the opportunity to take the kids to the international airport.  We have visited the smaller airfield in our city, but never the big TSA insane-security airport.  I always worried that if I just took the kids in for no reason other than to check things out someone would think me suspicious.  (I know this is completely illogical since most terrorists do not bring their 3 kids along, but I also realize that in the post-9/11 world when a child is patted down by airport security, one cannot underestimate the zealousness of airport personnel.)

As we waited for my parents' plane to land, we watched a number of airplanes take off, and we believe we saw Nana and Pa's flight land.

All in all, it was a good week.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How I Am Love got my panties in a twist

Maybe I am too darn practical for my own good, but whenever I feel that my life is not as dazzling as it might be, I remember some handy phrases:

1. The devil you know is better than the devil you don't know.
2. Life is full of peaks and valleys.
3. A person is about as happy as he or she makes up his/her mind to be.

This weekend D and I watched the film I Am Love starring Tilda Swinton, and while I liked it, I couldn't believe what she did at the end.  I was so disappointed in her.  I even watched the interviews to see if I had missed a major theme or something.

But I hadn't.

I got that she was an alien in the Milanese culture.
I got that perhaps her marriage wasn't zesty and lusty and as emotionally satisfying as it could be.
I got that perhaps her grief at the end of the film made her say, "To hell with being not quite as satisfied with my life as I might be."

Still, it really bothered me that her affair with a man is what initially made her recognize her need for something more from her marriage.  Made her realize the culture in which she had been living for 20+ years was not as near and dear to her as she had thought.  It bothers me that it was a man that brought her into the life she realized she didn't want only because another man f*cking her made her realize it.  Is this supposed to be romantic, and I'm just dense?  It seems to fly in the face of her finding her true female power to stand on her own if she doesn't actually stand on her own.

She said she loved Antonio, but how could she?  They had had sex a few times.  She loved what he represented, but not him.

It really bothered me that she was willing to throw away so many years and so many relationships....not just the relationship between herself and her husband.  Because as the ending so clearly showed, there was a new beginning on its way, a new beginning that could include her but that she may or may not ever experience.

As much as I grouse about my kids and the drudgery of being a SAHM and how I'm gonna strangle my husband with all his cords, the truth is that I cannot imagine my life without any one of the dingdongs I share it with on a daily basis.  This is the life I chose and when I sometimes imagine what life might be otherwise, I see it with fear and emptiness.

Is that what it means to be content?
Did Tilda's character see her possible other life as so much better than what she had?
Or could she have had a more free life without sacrificing so much of her previous one?
Was she wrong not to try?
Is there something wrong with me because I can't understand her choice?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

This might qualify me as bonkers but I don't think so

D and I took N to Disney World when she was 3.  I was about 5 months pregnant with G at the time, and N was absolutely over-the-moon about Disney Princesses.

Her love affair began in December 2006 when my cousin gave her a Disney Princess Seek-And-Find book at the family Christmas party.  In February 2007 I began to have nonstop pregnancy sickness and took to the couch, leaving N to watch Disney Princess movies (borrowed from our neighbor whose own daughter had outgrown them) all day long for about 11 weeks.

On our first day at Disney World, we had lunch at the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall with various princesses stopping by our table, and N's eyes all agog and her head on a swivel.  It was truly magical for her to meet the princesses and get their autographs.

Because at age 3, it was all completely real.

On the second day when we went to Magic Kingdom, N sat on Pa's lap (my parents and MIL went with us) riding the monorail and when she saw Cinderella's castle for the first time she screamed:  "There it is!!!!!"  The joy on her face made the trip.

G is a complete Pixar nut.  He has watched Cars at least 10 trillion times.  He has an abiding love for Mater and his rockin' version of "Dad Gum."  He (and N) have determined that our family is just like The Incredibles, with D as Mr. Incredible, me as Elastigirl (D wishes), N as Violet, G as Dash, and M as Jack-Jack.  He loves WALL-E.  He has seen all of the Toy Story movies over and over.  And he is 3.

So it made sense that we would visit Disney World this year since it is our "on" year for a big vacation (we do a bigger vacation every other year, with our "off" year being 1-2 small day trips during the summer.)

Friends with children the same age as G or slightly younger have asked me about going to Disney World, and I always encourage it.  Because of that realness and magic.  Because of the wonder of seeing it all through the eyes of a young child.

N is 7, and while she is plenty excited about going to Disney World, there is not that same kind of enthusiasm as when she was 3.  She is excited to ride bigger rides with her Daddy and sweet-talk her grandparents into buying her souvenirs.  (All 3 grandparents are going with us again.)

The truth is, as magical as it was for N at 3 and will be for G as a 3-year-old, at least 50% of the reason I'm doing this is for me.....because I want to witness the magic of my children seeing something completely fantastical and over-the-top and delightful.

Prior to going to Disney when N was 3, I hadn't been since I was a teenager.  Disney World was never and will never be somewhere I go on my own, without children.  Instead of visiting the fake places at Epcot, I want to go to the real China and the Netherlands and France.  Before having our kids, D and I made a point to travel as much as possible to some great places----Italy, Greece, Iceland, Niagara Falls, Toronto, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Grand Cayman Island, Chincoteague Island.   But young kids would not want to tour cathedrals or hike or do any of the "grown-up" things we did on those trips.

D is apprehensive about taking 3 kids because of tantrums and all of the issues that go along with kids.  But I figure at Disney there are kids everywhere, and at any given point some kid is screaming or zonked out after screaming.  I spend all day long with the kids and have had to endure their tantrums in Target and doctor's offices and libraries and grocery stores and shopping malls----plenty of places that are much less forgiving of childhood's most unpleasant behaviors.

I have told him that we will plan to go again to Disney World when to M is 3, and then we never have to go back.  If the kids want to ride amusement rides, we can go to much, much closer and much, much, much cheaper destinations.  What I'm willing to pay for is the magic and wonder that only lasts a few short years when a child is quite young.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Things I don't understand (also Day 4 of Spring Break)

Today I took the kids to JCPenney for M's 18-month pics with the hope of getting a pic of all 3 of them together.  It was all I had planned for the day since it generally proves so exhausting I'm really not up for much else.

Ok, onto things I don't get or outright annoy me.....

1. Portrait Studios.  Despite taking pictures of mostly young kids, I have yet to see a portrait studio that truly understands the concept of "Windows of Opportunity."  As in if my appointment is 10:00 a.m., you better have my kids' ass in the session no later than 10:05 a.m.  If you want to ask me which background I want, do it online where I made the appointment in the first place.  Have your shit up and ready to roll at 10:00 when you open or arrive ten minutes earlier.  And HAVE SOME TOYS for kids to play with in the studio waiting area.  Parents might be able and or willing to spend more money on pictures if they could actually look through them without having to stop every 4.7 seconds to chase an 18-month-old who is making a mad dash into JCPenney proper.  

2. The phrase "Just sayin."  For the love of g*d,  Thank you.
I also request that people stop over-using the phrase "good times."  Particularly on Facebook.  

3. Technology...all of it that is meant to be helpful but is inevitably just irritating, which I think means all of it.  Period.

On Wednesday D had some kind of GPS thing on his iphone set up to get us to the wildlife center, which is great.  The problem is that it told me stupid shit, like turn right out of my driveway.  Now if technology was really helpful and smart it would know that I probably don't need a direction for getting out of my neighborhood. The lady would only start yammering when I am out of familiar territory.

4. Cords.  I only mention this because I just mentioned my husband and technology and when I think of those two things I think of cords.  Everywhere.  In my basement.  If my husband happens to die by someone else's hands, namely mine, it will be by strangulation with cords.  The same cords that connect all the speakers and hooters and tweeters and whompers and whuppers and whatever other gadgets are down there in the man-hole. 

5. eReaders.  Nooks.  Kindles.  (A friend of mine just bought something like this and mentioned it on Facebook---I really hope she likes her, but since I'm venting about technology I'm just gonna roll with it.....please don't take offense KB; none intended.)

I don't own one.  I don't want one.  Probably if I did own one I would love it, just as I love my iMac even though I groused about buying one.  But I like books.  Real paper books.  I really like real paper books.

And I am just ornery enough to dislike most anything that is even the slightest bit popular even if it is awesome.  Like sliced bread.

6. iPhones or phones that people can fiddle around with so much that they ignore the actual people who are in their physical presence.  Yes, this one is about the husband too, but I've been around lots of other folks who are so engrossed in their phones that it is just annoying.  On par with when a salesperson answers a ringing phone instead of helping me, the real live human standing before her with an obvious need.  I can't tell you the number of fantasies I have about jamming these things up people's asses.  

7. Lazy or negligent home ownership.  Regardless if one's home costs $40,000 or $400,000, that is a shitload of money particularly when you figure in the interest one pays.  Given how much money one pays for a house, it makes absolutely no sense to allow it look like a dump with mismatched shutters or shutters on only one side of windows, broken vehicles or refrigerators sitting in driveways or on porches, missing trim and siding, or craters and pits in the yard.  I've never been one to jump on the "house as insanely profitable investment" train, but it makes financial sense to maintain one's property with basic upkeep.  If people purchase a house and find they cannot do this themselves or afford to pay someone else to do it, perhaps apartment dwelling makes more sense.   

Alright, that is enough venting for now.  Gotta save more for later.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 3 of Spring Break

Today my tribe headed to a state wildlife center for a few hours of outdoor fun.  The last time we visited was June 30, 2009 when I was pregnant with M, and G was only slightly older than what M is now.  Nana went with us that time.


They had some cool new exhibits.  One was a camping experience with a small cabin, a hunting lookout and a fishing boat display that the kids could explore.  There was also a fisheries exhibit that was pretty cool.

The best part is that it is free and only about a 45 minute drive from our house.

M enjoyed things much more this time.
Well I assume he did.  Maybe visiting in utero was more fun?

She's grown a bit in 2 years.

(No toddlers or elk were harmed in the taking of this photograph.)

(G needed a little help from Mom to get those darn fish out of the "water.")

 (I love the look on my, "Where the eff is some hand-sanitizer?)

(Based on how soaked he got at the Science Center yesterday, there was no way I was taking any chances at the Living Stream.)

Another day of rockin' it!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Days 1 and 2 of Spring Break

I feel like I should document the things I do with the kids during spring break and summer so I have evidence that I am an awesome mom (and can remind them of this when they hit their teen years and think I suck).

Monday, April 4th--
Took G and N to get haircuts.  Headed to the mall to see whether the boys needed new shoes.  Darnit that they both have wide feet which makes it effing impossible to purchase shoes for them at nice inexpensive places like Target or Wal-Mart or Payless.  G's feet hadn't grown, but M's feet had.  Of course at home I have a size 6.5, 8 and 9, and M needs a 7.  Decided that G should have some new shoes as well because his current tennis shoes are suede-like and will be uncomfortably hot this summer, especially at DisneyWorld.

N was biting at the bit to get new shoes, but I wasn't gonna play.  Each boy gets one pair of shoes per season and wear them everywhere, everyday.  She has 3 pair of tennis shoes, 2 dressy shoes, and 1 pair of crappy looking formerly sequined slip-ons.   Her Mamaw encourages the shoe fetish; not me.  Told N I would buy her an item of clothing for summer.

Bought the kids lunch at Subway.
Let them throw $.25 worth of pennies in the fountains.

Tried to contain M and G in Justice while N browsed.  There was a lady there shopping with her daughter who seemed intent on burning holes through me with her glare.  Apparently my boys were a little too all-over-the-place for her taste.  It was at this point that I may or may not have just thought to myself, "What the hell" and let the boys go ape-shit.  Bitch.

Purchased N a top and DAMMIT forgot the 40% off coupon at home.

The remainder of the day was spent tolerating G who didn't have a nap.
M painted for the first time.

Tuesday, April 5th---
Took the kids to fitness class and then onto the Science Center for a couple hours of fun.  In the water area, M had a blast.  He was completely drenched---shoes and pants were as wet as if he had sat in a bathtub full of water.  I am writing a letter to the director of the center to request that they just purchase a damn dryer instead of those completely useless hand driers like what you find in a restroom.

And if they aren't gonna do that, keep a big ass bin of dry clothing that parents can borrow and bring back.  BECAUSE for us parents it is all we can do to get the kids out of the house with some food packed and a change of diapers.

Fortunately a very nice worker found a pair of shorts for M to wear.  My friend Meredith (who was there with her boys) said, "He looks like he's gonna do the Tour de France."  Picture a very very short and fat Lance Armstrong in black biker shorts and a Mickey Mouse shirt.

Unfortunately it is all I can do to manage all 3 kids, the stroller, my bag, coats and the lunch bag, so I did not bring the camera with me.  This is why I'm taking my husband, parents and MIL with me to take photos.  Everything else I can handle.....because I do it every stinkin' day.

And I rock it.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Things we're trying around here (again or for the first time)

I.  Exercise Redux
D has high triglycerides and his good cholesterol is too low so I harangued him into visiting the doctor.  The Rx was for D to exercise.  Being the supportive wife I am, I told him I would exercise with him.  If I'm putting the kids to bed, he walks on the treadmill.  If he's putting the kids to bed, I walk on the treadmill.  Whomever is putting the kids to bed walks on the treadmill after he/she has marched G back to bed for the 11th time.

On the weekends, our goal is to walk for a longer stretch.  Yesterday we took the boys to the park in the morning since N had a sleepover with her Mamaw so when we got home last night after a busy day, I asked D if he was gonna walk on the treadmill.  He said, "Nah.  On the weekends, I have to walk in the morning because being with the kids all day wears me out."

And I replied, "Yeah, I don't know anything about that."

II. Meal-Planning....finally
Desperation has finally forced me to make a monthly meal plan because I am sick to death of trying to figure out what to eat every night at 4:45 p.m.  Oh hell, who am I kidding---it's totally 5:30 p.m. before I think about dinner most nights.  And we eat around 6:10.

I printed out a calendar-like chart and planned meals for 5 days of the week.  I figure the other two days will be leftover days or eating at the grandparents' homes or ordering takeout pizza.  There are four weeks scheduled.  But I'm being very loosey-goosey about it because I don't like to feel committed to making meatloaf on a Thursday if I don't want to.  So what I'm doing is making sure I have ingredients to make 80% of the meals and then picking the ones I want to fix given my mood on that particular day.  Once I've made it, I cross it out.  If I think of another meal I can fix, I add it at the end of the month (moving into week 5).  If I have to purchase any perishables, then those meals that I've tentatively scheduled will definitely be fixed that week.

At the top of the calendar, I've got about 4 side dishes planned that I can pick from for the month---side dishes made from scratch....not like pre-packaged mac & cheese.  The remainder of our meal will include veggies (canned or frozen) or salad.

This is only week two of the "plan," but I feel much less stress about what to fix.  Just having the meals written in front of me takes a lot of the work out of making dinner.  Half the battle is just deciding what the eff to prepare.

III. A New Shopping List
I googled grocery-shopping list templates, found one I liked and reworked it so that my new grocery list is one that categorizes items (dairy, produce, canned goods, etc) and lists the items I tend to purchase the most (like balsamic vinaigrette and steel cut oats).  I printed off some on the backs of old paper and now when I need something I can just check it off on the list.  And since everything is lumped together based on where it is in the grocery, I will hopefully avoid circling back multiple times to get coconut, and then nuts and then dried mint.

I am hoping some of this efficiency will enhance my motivation to clean out and re-order the garage and my craft closet.
But I doubt it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Goings on around here--a pictorial

And a few words because I simply have a hard time not shutting up.  

He's eating yogurt now which is terribly exciting for momma because I was seriously wondering what would happen when cheddar cheese and raisins got old.  

I took the kids to a local nature preserve on one of those warmer days earlier in the month.  N pet the horse whom she named Pepper and then proceeded to cry big huge tears at the prospect of the land of the preserve being sold and Pepper forgetting N.  Girls and their drama!  Sheesh.

While N was busy bonding with Pepper, G enjoyed climbing the ginormous pile of gravel.  

And M just wandered around drooling.


The smile was totally worth keeping my OCD in check while he petted the goat.  

And this week I've been taking random pics of M, who is this close to 18 months.  Sniff, sniff.  

Still loves dem boobs.  

The other two monkeys are pretty cute too.

And today, I may have dressed G in his brother's jeans.  Size 24 months.  And didn't realize it until G was walking through school on our way to his speech therapy session.