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October 2010

Seven thoughts at the end of a very long week

1. Hmm, might car tabs be a STATE thing? Here in Washington we pay a frazillion dollars once a year to put a little sticker on our license plates proving we've "registered" (ie: paid the frazillion dollars). And I think it gets taxed? And Seattle residents pay more tax than the rest of Washington's residents? I think for light rail? Which will reach my neighborhood when the only transportation I will be interested in riding are those tiny little public shuttles ferrying old people to doctor appointments and the hair salon? Sounds about right. 

2. Now that we no longer watch Real Television, I think I've seen half of one campaign commercial this year. Which means I know absolutely nothing about the election. I think about my Pregnant With Molly days when all I did, and I'm serious, was watch cable news from morning till night. It was the presidential election, so it was very! exciting! but I've definitely given up my cable news habit. I hardly ever watch the news anymore. I find that fascinating, given that I was seriously watching enough to start my own Cheung Report, but I think the only real effect it's had on my life is my ability to speak intelligently with my dad when he marches us into Political Conversations. Last I talked to him he was rather disappointed in my lack of opinions on the various state initiatives. This is why I read all those magazines with no pictures, folks. FOR MY DAD. (Okay, I sort of enjoy them too. Apple, tree, etc.)

3. Jack's preschool class had a Halloween party today, but there are only seven kids and they weren't supposed to wear costumes and it wasn't a big deal, although I did get a little note on Tuesday asking me to bring cookies. Any kind. I COULD have gone to the grocery store and bought a pack of Oreos, BUT NO. I put on my SAHM pants I mean full skirt and made ghost and pumpkin sugar cookies. We'll just leave aside the fact that I made them with extra cookie dough my mother-in-law sent home with me earlier in the week.  But I frosted them all CUTE and TWEE and when I went to pick him up I was a little annoyed that there was no fawning over my fabulous cookies. Where was my Preschool Mom Head Pat? AND Jack has said maybe four words about his Halloween party. LAME. You mothers of older children are thinking I better suck it up, aren't you. A whole world ahead of noncommittal silent children and no head pats. FINE I WILL. 

4. Because I have a volleyball game at 9pm on Halloween, I will be dressed as A Volleyball Player. Jack is Spiderman. Molly is the Old Navy Butterfly. ONE of these days I am going to gather the bottom of the absolutely enormous purple bridesmaid dress in my closet and go as an eggplant. 

5. Phillip had school Tuesday night and then last night he went out with coworkers and was supposed to be home in time to put the kids to bed, but he missed the bus and got home at almost nine. So. That was fun. And he REEEEEEALLY wants to buy a second car, but it's sort of a ridiculous thing to do. Because even we could swing the cost and insurance on a second car, parking is something like $12 a day and I'm sorry, but nooooo. I feel bad though. The bus is far from direct in our new neighborhood and his hours do sometimes clash with the bus schedule and when his wife locks herself and the children out of the house he has to borrow a coworker's car to rescue us... I like having just the one car, but that's because I get to drive it all the time. Do you have one car? Could you function?

6. I am going to make this for the people coming to my house on Halloween. Although, if you are one of them, do not get excited. My track record with bechamel sauce is dismal. 

7. After a few weeks off, I started looking at houses again. Even though there is nothing new on the market. But I swear, I can look at new construction floor plans until my eyes cross. But have you noticed that so many of these ginormous brand new houses have only three bedrooms? And the master bedroom is the size of my entire house and then there are two little bedrooms and maybe there is a loft or bonus or game room or something, but that's it for Proper Bedrooms? I find that very interesting. 

 

more quick takes here


My First Episode of COPS

You know what is IRONIC? Experiencing your first Police Car Flashing Lights Pull Over Situation as you are driving home from your Can You Please Give Me Crazy Pills Doctor Appointment. You'd think the police could have given me the two to six weeks (depending on who you ask!) for the crazy pills to kick in before they pulled that stunt, am I right? 

I am undecided on how much I want to say on the meds front. I thought it depended on whether or not I would go around telling real life people, but as I've pretty much told everyone I see on a regular-ish basis (sorry Real Life People, I cannot help myself with the oversharing), that doesn't seem to be the issue. So maybe it is how much you are interested in this not terribly mommybloggish aspect of life, or maybe I just have to figure out a way to talk about it that isn't constantly justifying the decision. There are parts of it I want to write up for the Catholic blog, at least. And all that said, I am still undecided on when I am even going to take them. For all intents and purposes I should start tomorrow morning. But I don't know. I'm feeling pretty good right now and that is without having had my nightly glass of anxiety wine and so I JUST DON'T KNOW. 

So let's chat about the police, shall we? I got my license the summer after my freshman year of college and I have been terrified of being pulled over ever since. I drove like the Oldest Lady On Earth and now I drive like Not Quite The Oldest But Still Fairly Old Lady On Earth. I am constantly surveying the cars in the rearview mirror for cops. I hardly ever speed. I take great care with my signals and lane changes and stops. Possibly this is because I have no idea what the "registration" part of the "license and registration" spiel means. Possibly because I am a Highly Anxious Person and I was pretty sure that if I ever got pulled over I would have fourteen panic attacks and die. Nearly all of my anxiety triggers have to do with me doing something WRONG and what is better evidence of having done something wrong than FLASHING LIGHTS and SIRENS?!

I was sitting at a red light and a police car pulled up behind me. "Gee," I thought to my stupid self, "I sure hope my tabs are up to date! Ha ha!" And then I 1) signalled correctly 2) did not speed 3) changed lanes correctly and when 4) the police car suddenly turned on his lights (but no siren) I thought: DAMN YOU, TABS. 

Since there was no shoulder on this particular stretch of road it was a ways before I could pull over. Which was embarrassing. I mean, when I see a cop car about to pull someone over I always try to get a glimpse of the perp. That wrongdoer! Bad! So anyway, I pulled over and oh so calmly pulled out my license and, this is the best part, my INSURANCE CARD because SURELY that is what "registration" means, right? 

I thought I would cry or hyperventilate or, at the very least, feel really really REALLY super bad and guilty for having done something WRONG. But no, I just sat there blowing my bangs out of my face and thinking, "Well @#@*%@." 

Then the cop came up and I rolled down my window and it was SO television-esque I started internally blogging that minute. And the cop was cute! What a bummer! I gave him my license and insurance card and he said, "Uh, do you have your registration" and THAT, my friends, is when I hauled out the nervous-sounding "uhhhh I've never been pulled over before!" as I flipped open the glove compartment and (THANK GOD) extracted the one single piece of paper available to me: the registration document. (THANK GOD.) I mean, it wasn't like I was even TRYING to get out of something. It just CAME OUT. What a moron. 

Then I sat there for freaking EVER while the cop... I don't know. Ran me through the Computer of Felons? Wrote down all the personal details on my license? (THAT IS NOT MY CORRECT WEIGHT, BY THE WAY.) Laughed about me to the dude in the front seat of his car wearing normal person clothes? (WHAT WAS THAT ABOUT?) I don't know. I sat there texting Phillip because hey, where are our tabs? Oh, and then I started to feel SLIGHTLY guilty because I told the officer that we had "just moved" and when I really thought about it, we moved in APRIL which was kind of a while ago, at least long enough for us to have tabs that are not three months expired. So maybe I got a LITTLE anxious about whether the cop thought I was trying to Pull One Over. Except, I'll just let all the cops out there know: I am not skilled enough to pull one over on anyone. Ever. I am the worst liar on EARTH. 

Anyway. I know this is not that interesting to you, but I was just sitting there feeling like DUDE! Look at me being all Cool In A Crisis! Which reminded me of that time when I was incredibly anxious, like way back in the beginning when I could have used a handful of Valium nearly every day, and Phillip was so distracted and upset about everything he clipped the car in front of us trying to get into the other lane. And you know what happened? My anxiety DISAPPEARED and I was all "CALM DOWN. THIS IS WHAT WE DO. IT'S OKAY. THINGS ARE FINE." Like, SUPER COOL. I don't know. I am all kinds of out of whack. 

Finally the cop came back and was reeeeeeeeally nice (perhaps because I did not show up in the Computer of Felons?) and told me that I needed to fix this little issue lest I get myself a ticket NEXT TIME. And then I drove home. The end. 

Oh wait. Then I had another Super Average Day that was just the tiniest bit more shouty and annoying than yesterday, complete with Totally Disgusting Tub Floater and Crabby, Incoherent, Unnapped Two-Year-Old, but for some reason I did not feel the need to weep when I put both kids to bed and am currently feeling downright CHEERFUL. I don't know. "Obviously," you are saying to yourselves, "she should take the meds ASAP." SIGH.


Just keeping it real

Every so often I read a comment or even a blog post that says something like, "I'm so tired of people being all happy shiny rainbows unicorns on their blogs! Life is not like that! Things are not perfect! Be real!" And I'm always a little amused, because the blogs I read are TOTALLY real, and this website too (I hope). Perhaps this website gives off a little too much real, if the "this is a nice change!" comment I received on a recent-ish positive being-a-parent post is to be considered. 

That one made me think, folks. In my effort to be Real am I skewing too heavily towards These Shorties Are Making Me Crazy? This IS where I let it all out, so it makes sense that you get much of the bad and just glimpses of the good. There's a lot of good, honest. So I've tried to write more about the good lately. 

But not tonight. I just barely held it together tonight. And what's interesting about tonight, actually my whole day, is that it was utterly totally NORMAL. There was nothing overtly wretched or difficult or tiring. I only put Jack in time out once! It was an average SAHM day for me, with a preschool advantage no less. But here I am, collapsed in a chair after putting the kids to bed, trying to decide whether to cry or pour myself a G&T. 

There were even SUCCESSES today. Molly and I had a halfway decent time running errands in the rain this morning. Jack ate a sandwich and a half for lunch. And at nap time he played his computer quietly, then "took a little rest" for fifteen minutes and when it was obvious he wasn't going to fall asleep, I introduced the super prepared-for Quiet Time Box. I plan to write about that for Parenting this week so no details on that, but it kept him busy and out of my hair for a good hour. And when he was done, he sat in the living room with me and I shut the laptop and we had an Honest To God conversation about preschool. And I sat there, super tired, but totally in love with my three-year-old and his hilarious facial expressions. 

But GOD I am tired. I did not speak to a single adult all day - oh, save for the preschool teacher when she buckled Jack into the car. But there was talking - oh so much talking. There are only two of them and they barely speak English, but they are loud and insistent and God forbid you don't answer them right away. They are persistent little creatures, ready to Look at ME Mommy! Look at ME Mommy! Mommy? Mommy? Mommy? Mommy? until you break down and give them your full attention - and this happens every five minutes. Oh, a bird outside! Uh huh! That's so silly! Where? Oh there! I'm upstairs! I'm downstairs! I AM looking at you! I DO see! No, not right now. Yes, I see that! I SEE IT! YES! Good for YOU!

And that's the nice talking. 

When they aren't asking me to admire or notice or otherwise focus solely on them, they are asking for things. Milk. Water. Snack. Potty. A book. Markers. Paper. This toy. That toy. Molly's toy. Jack's toy. Scissors. Blankets. Dolls. Sleep in Mommy's bed. A show. Cheese stick. Apples. Wait, not apples. Grapes. More milk. More water. Have to go potty, Mommy. Oops, too late. 

Someone constantly needs something, and it's seriously messing with my rather overconfident approach to Third Baby (NOT PREGNANT.) I mean, can I add ANOTHER small person to this neverending chorus of need? Today I honestly don't know. I am so tired. And after practically every shouted-at-me request I have to shout back, "AND WHAT DO YOU SAY?" Nine times out of ten they chirp, "PEEZ!" and then I obediently shuffle off to fetch the milk or toy or marker because that is my job, the Fetcher Of Things. The tenth time they pretend not to hear me, and I have to repeat myself over and over until a job as a maid starts to sound JUST FINE. At least I would get PAID. 

And when it's time to do something, anything, we can't just DO it. No. Taking off one's pants becomes an Oscar-worthy drama. Brushing one's teeth becomes a game. Picking out books to read before bedtime somehow becomes running up and down the stairs with blankets, shouting, shrieking, and I'm sitting in the chair holding back tears. If Molly's allowed to go all crazypants incoherent when she's overtired, I can sit here and at least let my eyes water.  

For the record, I am still anxious. But tomorrow morning I have an appointment to Do Something About It. Also for the record, the thing that has helped the most these entire three weeks is running. Which I absolutely hate admitting, but I seriously could not wait to stick these kids in bed and go hammer out the tension on the treadmill tonight. And I here I am, baby monitors set up and ready to go (because of course it's a school night and Phillip won't be home for another half hour), but I am pretty sure I cannot get out of this chair. Thank God the chocolate chips are still on the side table, right where I left them during nap time. 


Giving up before I even start

This morning I woke up convinced I needed to write a middle grade fantasy novel set in some sort of medieval-ish boarding school with a very Jonathan Franzen Freedom-esque ending. You know why? Because I dreamed I was a CHARACTER in this novel and I was THAT impressed with my own dream. Like: Dude! This NYT Bestseller came out of my OWN DREAM! 

And then my next thought was: NaNoWriMo! Is coming up! Now I have an idea! WAHOO!

The problem (well, one of probably many problems) is that I wasn't going to do NaNoWriMo this year. I am supposed to be working on LAST YEAR'S NaNoWriMo project, for starters. And then I am BUSY. The Blathering eats up four entire days of November, which honestly is not enough days for Blatheringness but way too many days to skip NaNoWriMo. And Phillip goes on a week-long business trip right before Thanksgiving. And yet: MEDIEVAL BOARDING SCHOOL! Sigh. 

Okay, and I have to tell you that the only reason I know how Freedom ends is because I read two rather disdainful reviews of it yesterday (in the Atlantic and The New Republic) and GAH. I read The Corrections whenever it came out and I didn't finish it. I felt guilty, because everyone was talking about great it was, but for me the characters were extra super unlikeable and the whole story just depressed the heck out of me and no thank you. It's still sitting on my bookshelf in some attempt to make me look like I am With It, but now you know: I didn't finish it. 

So I have no intention of reading Freedom either, because I hear the characters are even LESS likeable this go around. But I felt guilty about it, because he was on the cover of TIME! And he is The Author Of Our Time! And then I read several GLOWING reviews, but I just couldn't do it. I don't like his people, I don't like his topics, maybe it's okay if I am NOT with it. I have, after all, confessed to the fact that Anastasia Krupnik is my favorite literary character of all time. Someone with those preferences is not likely to enjoy Jonathan Franzen. Yes? 

Then I read yesterday's reviews and WOW. I've decided I'm not going to write ANY book because there's this thing called REVIEWERS. 

But NaNoWriMo still sounds fun to me. I know I could go into it without any real idea (perhaps my medieval boarding school dream is not THAT fleshed out) and give up four days and struggle through a week on my own and just see! what! happens! But I am not into half assing things, people. I am a Gung Ho sort of person and the fact that I would have to be telling myself it's OKAY if I don't reach 50,000 words, it's OKAY because I have LIMITATIONS would probably drive me out of my mind. And you know, I'm already sort of at that point - why push it?!

Are you going to do it? And if you are my writing group, I owe you an email and a half. Which I will send. One of these days. Swearsies. 

And now Molly, who is sitting next to me in bed reading Peek-A-Who? and playing with her Miffy doll, is getting a touch demanding for breakfast. Harrumph. 


In which I envision Eleventh Grade Jack (AND FREAK OUT)

Tonight's half hour on the treadmill featured last week's Project Runway. Sometimes I think that show is just a giant PSA for the importance of encouraging, supportive parents. Or is it just me who turns it off and immediately finds her husband to discuss (or perhaps decree) that WE are not going to stand in the way of our kids being whoever they wanna be. 

I am actually preparing for this NOW. As in, we have more than the occasional conversation about our hopes and dreams for the kids. Although I actually think it's more "preconceived notions" about who they'll be and what they'll do and want, rather than hopes and dreams. It's not like we're Harvard fellows expecting our kids to go to Ivies and bring us along when they summer in the Hamptons. (Although, note to Jack and Molly: that would be lovely.) 

But who KNOWS what kind of teenagers and grown ups they'll turn out to be. So I spend a lot of time testing myself. I'll say, "Self? What if Jack grows up and does THIS? Or thinks THIS? Or wants THIS?" and then I measure my first reactions. I'm happy to report that I think, on the Project Runway Scale Of Acceptance, I'm more Andy's mom than Michael C's. That said, who KNOWS what kind of mom I'll turn out to be! WATCH OUT, KIDDOS!

Anyway, there's one thing that Phillip is worried about. He's actually brought up more than once. He turns to me quite seriously and says, "I think I will have an actual problem, I mean, it will be really really hard for me, if one of our kids goes Goth." Goth! Ha! I am very curious to know what Teenage Phillip's experience was with the Goth crowd. 

In MY high school we had... three? Four kids who wore eyeliner and black coats? I don't know. My high school was teeny tiny and the cliques were sort of divided up like this: Kids Who Do Everything and Kids Who Do Nothing. The Everythings were sort of revolting in their Pursuit Of Awesome and the Nothings hated them for it. As I recall. As a card-carrying Everything, I was biased, but I was also counting down the minutes until graduation and then the airplane that would take me far far away to a heaven called College, so I can't say I really successfully PURSUED the awesome. 

Oh holy cow you guys, I just clicked over to a blog I used to read back in my Working Days, when I religiously read everything on the internet, but I haven't been there in a long long time. And her daughter is in KINDERGARTEN! I remember when that kid was BORN! SHEESH! 

And this just means that MY kid is going to enter his Goth stage before we blink an eye. HOLD ME. 

But really... what if Jack starts wearing eyeliner in eleventh grade? What will I do? Honestly? Right now? I don't have a huge problem with eyeliner. I feel very shruggy towards the eyeliner. To each his own, la la la. But in eleventh grade I will be... (doing math)... FORTY-FIVE, GOOD GOD and it's entirely possible my opinions about eyeliner will change. 

Which brings me to a story about Teenage Phillip. So Teenage Phillip tried to go a little grunge, which I am told didn't really work, and he tried to grow his hair a little long, but ended up with an Asian 'Fro, which wasn't really the style. And then he briefly considered getting his ear pierced and his immigrant mother informed him that if he got his ear pierced, if he got anything pierced, he shouldn't bother coming home. Which, honestly? I think is a pretty excellent way to deal with earrings, because as I type this story I realize that I do have an Experimentation Threshold, where eyeliner is quite low but an earring? EARRINGS ARE NOT OKAY. 

And a tattoo? OMG A TATTOO. I need my smelling salts just thinking about it. I might need to go watch the end of Project Runway again. 


Seven Quick Blurts of Random

1. Instead of taking Molly shopping during preschool hours, we went home. And instead of doing all the things I should have done, I made a cake. Specifically, the spiced pumpkin cake from this month's Real Simple. I plan to have a slice for dinner (not after dinner, for dinner) so I'll let you know what I think. Anyway, I can't say that baking is the smartest substitute for shopping, but it's the cheaper of my vices and Molly was happy to help. If 'help' means 'lick the spoon'. 

2. I also made peach jello. It felt a little scandalous making peach jello that was not the Thanksgiving Peach Jello, but I happened to HAVE peach jello and jello is one of those things my husband gets abnormally excited about. So. Here it is. The Thanksgiving Peach Jello is pretty awesome, but unfortunately for you I can't find a similar recipe online. (Perhaps I haven't spent a lot of time searching. You'd never know!) But it's something like:  mix VANILLA ICE CREAM into just-dissolved peach jello, let it set, pour more peach jello over the top, perhaps arrange peach slices in a pleasing pattern, SERVE. And hope that I don't eat the entire bottom layer before it gets to you. 

3. We went to the doctor today. At four o'clock in the afternoon. Because I am SUPERMOM. No, actually, it's because I totally forgot to make Molly's two year appointment when she turned TWO and I had to take what I could get. But the scheduling gods took pity on me - Molly woke up painfully early which means she was asking for her nap before we even went to pick up Jack from preschool. Which meant she was totally napped enough in time to get her up for a four o'clock appointment. And even Jack cooperated this afternoon, only driving me a LITTLE bit crazy. And then they were total doctor appointment rock stars. Of course, it helped that there were no shots, just the flu mist. God bless whoever invented the flu MIST. 

4. In other news, my daughter is in the 25th percentile for weight and the 90th percentile for height. Which makes me wonder if she is my kid. 

5. Today marks two weeks before I fly to Chicago for the Blathering. To say I am looking forward to it is possibly the biggest understatement in the entire universe. This is going to sound super pathetic, but even just the sitting on an airplane, all by myself, reading my Kindle? Sounds DIVINE. And that is coming from someone who has made a doctor appointment to request Xanax For Fearful Fliers. 

6. I have about nine million things to prepare for a big Churchy Gathering this Saturday and I have, of course, left everything to the last minute. I was planning to do most of it tonight while Phillip works late, but then a friend volunteered to come over and eat my pumpkin cake and drink my wine and I'm all SEE YA, CHURCHY WORK! So I have to figure out when I'm going to get all that done tomorrow, not to mention buy fruit for 50 people. If you are wondering, I have NO IDEA how much fruit that is. 

7. And I loved loved loved this post by Betty Duffy. Favorite line: "...if I’m doing nothing, I at least want to do nothing on the internet."

 

More quick takes here


He probably doesn't even know I'm alive

Well, I just want everyone to know that even though I am SICK and had a less than stellar day with my children (check out Parenting! fun times!) I hopped on my treadmill while Phillip put the kids to bed and ran three miles. I credit the dissipating yet lingering anxiety and the newest episode of The Good Wife, which I watched while I ran, my laptop propped on random garage shelf and (and this was key) a golf club. CALL ME, WILL GARDNER!

I also made pot roast for dinner, boxed up all the kid clothes I had strewn all over the bunk bed and closet floors, finished my contractually obligated writing for the week AND returned the to-be-returned stuff sitting next to the front door. And for all my effort I received a severe day-long button-pushing from a particular three-year-old. I want to quote a friend of mine at this juncture: "Three-year-olds are jerks." It sounds harsh, but MAN if it isn't EXACTLY how I felt today. 

ANYWAY. We're not going there. (I didn't even go there for Parenting. Are wen't all tired of that? No no, my post at Parenting today is about what I'd RATHER be doing. OH SO MANY THINGS!)

But I guess that means there's nothing to see here. How dull. Oooh, how about a question! I ask, you answer. So! Today I read this funny little post about the best YA heroines who were never book characters and this is where you find out I wanted to name a daughter Daria. (I STILL MIGHT. ONE DAY. NOT PREGNANT!) But I am also still sort of thinking about Will Gardner, so the question is: TV CRUSH? Obvs my answer for all time is Logan Echolls, but right now? CALL ME, WILL GARDNER!


The most average of days

I think something some of you said yesterday - that Jack just doesn't KNOW that staying for lunch is potentially awesome - is the truest part of all this preschool stuff. I didn't tell you that the kids of the two moms I talked to are the younger siblings, and they talked about their preschoolers the way I do about Molly. Because honestly? I could probably drop off Molly at the Twos program on Thursday right when I drop Jack off for his Threes class and she wouldn't give me a second look. Molly is ALL ABOUT whatever Jack is doing. She copies everything he does, she must HAVE everything he has, she requires the same attention for the same performance. When it comes time for her first preschool dropoff she will be more than ready. 

And I know I sounded like an idiot yesterday. I knew it as I was writing it, but there IS just this tiny bit of insecurity, you know? And this is where I deposit that. Lucky you!

Today was a preschool today and I was so! hopeful! that I would get a nap out of it, but no such luck. So I suppose it was a good thing that Molly and I spent preschool prowling the dollar racks at Target looking for Quiet Time stuff. I ended up with a slew of new coloring books, some new pens and a matching game. 

But since we are having some printer issues ("We need a WIRELESS printer!" sayeth the husband) I haven't collected some of the homeschooling stuff I wanted to have for the Quiet Time Box. And I have some other ideas yet and I didn't want to introduce The Box without it being completely fully stocked. Because when I introduce The Box, there will be rules to go along with it. The biggest rule is: you are going to leave Mommy alone for two hours or until Molly wakes up, whichever comes first. And since I let him play his computer (by himself) for up to an hour during Molly's nap, this should be totally feasible. 

Anyway, he played his computer, he took his little rest, but then he demanded his new table set up in his room and Quiet Time. And I was ready! I gave him one new coloring book (the one with stickers) first. And when that got old I made sure to be done with MY stuff so I could go in and show him how to play his matching game AND PLAY WITH HIM. 

I just don't do that enough. It's not often required of me, to be honest. As I type this the kids are "having a tea party" downstairs which basically means taking all the bins out of the shelves and arranging them in a grid (and sometimes dumping them out, but I think I've time outted that out of them.) And they don't WANT my interference which, as you know, is a ok by me. 

But I'm not very good at one on one time with either kid. I have the attention span of a gnat, I'm a perfectionist, I have to PREPARE to make a huge mess or show them how to do something... who let me have children?! But seriously, every time I do an Activity with my kids I feel like a freaking SUPERHERO because HEY, I PLAYED WITH MY KIDS! For shame, right? 

I'm used to using nap time for various required blog posts or other writing or sometimes other work-type things. Okay, "work". But still. Stuff I gotta get done. I am basically toast after eight pm, and my kids are usually pretty early risers which means getting up early to do my stuff isn't reasonable. I NEED NAP TIME, PEOPLE. I've given up on two kids asleep for hours, and I've come to terms with the fact that I was basically spoiled rotten for about a year with my lovely coordinated nappers, but I still have to figure SOMETHING out. If I get ONE HOUR out of this quiet time box it will be Success. 

It was the most average of days, the kind of day where you sit with your glass of wine at the end and think, "Well, there wasn't any bleeding" and then toast yourself. Although tonight is a school night. The only good thing about school nights are that I don't have to make dinner. Before I pour my glass of wine we are going to tape up all preschool artwork (tape! good for at LEAST twenty minutes of not fighting) and maybe after that we will put some of the toy cars we inherited from Great Grandma's house under hot and cold water because they change! colors! and this is EXTREMELY EXCITING. And then we will go night night and my friend will come over to keep me company in the guise of borrowing Halloween costumes and tomorrow it starts all over again. 

My two kids look so old lately, you know? Everyone keeps mentioning how tall Molly is and Jack just looks OLD, his face looks OLD, and I think to myself that all the old ladies are right and I feel so sad that they aren't babies anymore and then I feel excited about this new preschool stage and how the no nap has meant the most interesting of conversations and even the most average of days is really kind of special. Note to the old ladies: I AM appreciating these days. 


He takes after his dad in the chips department

Okay, the first part of this post goes like this: what in the world do I do with my kid while his sister naps for FOUR STRAIGHT HOURS? 

In the olden days I would have been dancing a jig because dude! Four hours! Jesus loves me! I have been blessed with excellent nappers, folks. But Child Number One no longer takes a nap. Well, sometimes he does, if preschool was especially strenuous, and he almost always naps at Grandma's house since she wears him out way better than I do in the mornings. But usually he is up. Usually he plays his computer for a good long while. Then he goes into his room to "take a little rest". He used to fall asleep, but no more. Now he shouts, "I done with my rest!" and I have to figure out what to do next. About half the time he plays quietly in his room and leaves me alone. The other half he makes us both miserable until Molly finally wakes up and we have someone else to occupy our attention. 

Today was one of the miserable ones. Obvs.

I really want to establish Quiet Time - play in your room, read your books, drive your cars, do your puzzles, all that stuff. But none of those toys are new to him and he's done it all with Molly and shoot - I'M bored too! We're BOTH sitting around waiting for Molly to wake up so we can DO something. So when I get all short tempered and snippy because he won't stay in his room or he keeps asking me for stuff, I feel like that's my fault. If Molly's going to sleep for four hours, if we can't go anywhere, if we're stuck inside with only each other to look at, I better find something for him to do! 

I talked to my mom about it and she suggested a Quiet Time box or cupboard full of fun things he 1) only gets to do during Quiet Time and 2) Molly doesn't touch. So I'm printing out some stuff from a homeschooling site and I ordered a few things off his preschool book order and I think a trip to the dollar store may be in order. I also bought him a little folding table and chair for his room, just for quiet time. But I'm really wondering how you guys handle this. What do your older kids do while the younger ones nap? I mean, at this point I feel BAD for Jack because seriously, it is SO BORING in our house right now! And poor kid, his mother is stomping around feeling bad for herself that she can't ENJOY a four hour nap! Anyway. Ideas welcome!

The second part of this post is about Curriculum Night at preschool. Ahem. 

I asked my sister to babysit so that Phillip could come with me and help me not be scared of the other preschool moms. Which was nice. And you guys, I love our little preschool even more. The teachers are just so nice and the room looked so fantastic - artwork EVERYWHERE, snapshots EVERYWHERE - and all the veteran parents were saying wonderful things about the preschool and I was super self congratulatory. I'm all, "Dude, self, you picked an AWESOME SCHOOL. You did SOMETHING right in this parenting gig! Go YOU!" 

But there was something about it that left me a little insecure, and after thinking about it for a while I think it's about the other kids. I mean, it's about comparing Jack to the other kids, except I haven't really met the other kids, so I'm comparing him to what the other parents SAY about their kids. WHICH IS STUPID I KNOW. Like, HEIGHT OF STUPID. 

Like you can stay up to an hour after preschool - eat lunch and play outside. We haven't tried this, though I've kept it in mind. Tonight I learned that the other kids do this ALL THE TIME. And two of the kids in particular wanted to stay after school for lunch so bad that the teachers talked to the parents about it! And now they stay at least once a week! And it's so nice! And you know how many times my kid has mentioned wanting to stay for lunch? NEVER. 

And then the mom talking about how her daughter wants to go to preschool every morning, how the mom had to lie about where she was going tonight so the daughter wouldn't get upset about not being able to come with. And me thinking about how when I told Jack he had to stay home sick he didn't seem to care. 

And how social some of the other kids are and things the teacher would say, about how they have no problem going potty in a new place or things they talk about all the time or how one kid is so chatty. 

And I know I KNOW this is ridiculous. That these aren't even REAL THINGS. I mean, why in the world do I care about whether or not Jack wants to stay for lunch?! But there's still this way that I left feeling sort of... I don't know. Like my kid isn't doing what all the other kids are doing. How COME he doesn't want to stay for lunch? Is he getting LEFT OUT with this lunch stuff? Are the other kids just more ADVANCED somehow? Are they all BESTIES? Does Jack not LIKE preschool? Is he counting the minutes till I come pick him up? HOW COME HE DOESN'T WANT TO STAY FOR LUNCH?!

When what I should really be thinking is: I am specTACularly skillful at turning anything into a full fledged blog-worthy problem. Someone needs to write me a prescription.

That said, I introduced myself to the mom of the kid that Jack talks about the most, and it turns out she is all about The Playdate and while I'm not particularly a FAN of the playdate I am a fan of making friends and she was nice and her kid's little story about himself on the wall next to a super cute snapshot was pretty funny and hey, why not, right?

And I really like this preschool. I like it so much that I told Phillip we'll just have to stay renting in this neighborhood until we can find a house to buy in this neighborhood. So, uh, maybe when Jack is thirty-seven? We'll see. 

Anyway. I trust that you all will have fantastic ideas for quiet time AND you'll say a few prayers for poor Jack's future dealing with his neurotic crazylady mother. Thanks. 

Jstory



Work, worth, value and I ate Cheerios for dinner at 11:25 PM

"Maggie!"

He sidled up to me after church and gave me a smile. He's not normally anyone who has anything to say to me, so I smiled back and waited. 

"Thanks for typing up all those notes! You did such a good job keeping track of everything!"

"Well," I said, "I am naturally anal-retentive."

"No really! You did such a great job. When we passed around the sign up sheet for being secretary I really paused, you know, because I'm so bad at it." 

I took a bite of my after-church doughnut so I could think more about how to respond. Then I said, "You know, the people who are good at it don't always want to be the ones to do it." And then I took another bite of doughnut to hide my shock at myself for saying such a thing. 

He grinned sheepishly and said, "I know." In a way that definitely added on a, "But I probably won't sign up for it." 

**********

After church I came home, took the calendar off the wall and planned our meals for the week. I looked up recipes and combed through my coupons and thought about how to use up the things in our freezer. Then I wrote a grocery list, double checking all the cupboards.

Then I took Jack shopping so Phillip could watch football in peace. 

Then I came home and realized what I planned for dinner tonight was a bit labor intensive, so I started poaching chicken and blanching broccoli and grating cheese. Then I made a different dinner for the kids because I knew the grown up dinner would be rejected. And I washed all the dishes as I went, because I had a volleyball game tonight and I didn't want to leave Phillip with a huge mess. 

And then I sat at the table while everyone else ate, having no interest in eating either of the things I cooked. Somehow there was a huge mess despite all the dishes I washed along the way. And I sat there thinking, "I think I am pretty tired of this." 

***********

Seven people showed up for our game tonight, and there were only 3 girls, a rare occurrence. Usually there are way more, and all the girls have to take turns sitting out. But tonight one of the guys said, "Hey, you know when there's only 3 guys they play all four games. So you guys should play all four games!" And I thought that was pretty cool of him, because we were up against a difficult team and we NEED the guys to win. 

A guy sat out every game and then at the fourth game, when we'd lost the previous three but were THISCLOSE to winning, I felt like: if a guy sits out, particularly the guy whose turn it is to sit out, we will lose. If I sit out, he'll stay in and we'll probably win. I should offer to sit out. 

So I did.

Except, no one really cares if we win or lose. I mean, not THAT much. If we were all about winning certain people wouldn't be allowed to set THAT'S ALL I'M SAYING. (And I do everyone a favor by NOT setting.) 

But it was just sort of awkward. Because the team captain was all, "No! You should stay in! Unless you WANT to sit out?" 

And I was all, "Well, not REALLY, but it seems like I should be the one to sit out..."

And the guy whose turn it was didn't say anything, because he wanted to stay in just like I did and I don't blame him and he happens to be my favorite teammate anyway so it honestly wasn't a big resentment type thing. 

But it just got weirder and awkwarder and finally I just had to take myself out to make the whole thing stop. I sat on the sideline and wondered why I'd done what I'd just done. I didn't have to take myself out. I didn't have to volunteer. I didn't have to single myself out as the Reason We Might Lose This Game. I didn't have to publicly acknowledge that the guy teammate was a better player than me, just so that everyone would know that I wasn't fooling myself or thinking highly of myself or thinking I could take his place. Which is what I think I was doing. 

Which is all kinds of messed up. 

*********

Three and a half years later I am still angry that I never asked for a raise, and consequently never received a raise, at my old job. If you are wondering, I totally deserved a raise. 

********

Also at church this morning I talked to Cabrini minister for a very long time. I am very interested in Cabrini ministry. I think I am, at least. I'm not sure. I needed to find out more, which is why I talked to this woman. But even before I talked to her I knew that the training is intense, it takes a long time, it requires a lot of hours. It seems that most of the people involved in it are retired. It seems like something I can't do in this stage of my life. Also, aren't I trying to spend my free time writing a novel? 

But the woman was super encouraging and didn't see why I couldn't make it work if I wanted to make it work. And she didn't say it in a way that was forced or fake enthusiastic or anything like that. She was genuine and thoughtful and made me want to do it even more. 

But I looked over at my husband, talking to someone else. He's in school for another year. His job is harder this year than it was last year. He's a busy busy guy. 

And I looked at my kids, who are three and two. And have been wetting their pants all weekend, which has been really awesome. 

I told her I was interested, but probably not this year. Maybe not next year either. But one day.