Man of Steal

I’ve been a crappy blogger.  I know.  One of the “rules” of blogging is to be “regular” with your posts.  I guess I’ve neglected to take my emotional prune juice.  It’s not that nothing is happening, it’s just that it feels like a lot of effort to write it out for a bunch of folks who might not read it.  And now I’ll conclude the pity party and get back to the task at hand.  How’s life?

It’s Louisiana.  It’s hot.  We get these afternoon thunderstorms, which is typically a good thing: it cools stuff off.  But then there’s the wind and lightning which sometimes take a nice cooling sprinkle and cloud cover and turn it into a creation by Danté.  We lost power for 24 hours recently.  Sure, it’s only 24 hours.  We lost power for 3 nights at the end of April.  But it wasn’t in the 90’s in April.  It was horrible.  No one slept the night we were dark, and my entire house reeked of masticated cat food.  We lived, but not happily.

This was about 30 minutes in to the power outage.  The car was our only refuge.  I wasn't digging it.

This was about 30 minutes in to the power outage. The car was our only refuge. I wasn’t digging it.

5:30 AM McDonald's.  Where else can you get AC, coffee, and breakfast when there's no juice at home?

5:30 AM McDonald’s. Where else can you get AC, coffee, and breakfast when there’s no juice at home?

Will and I recently had a nice overnight break from the kids.  We watched Guardians of the Galaxy on DVD (fan-damn-tastic) and went to see Jurassic World in the theater in 3D.  It was a Chris Pratt love-fest.  Candidly, I didn’t know who the hell that guy was before Saturday  night.  Love.  Him.  And it was so nice to feel like a normal human being doing normal non-kid-related things again.  We hadn’t seen a movie in the theater since the first Hunger Games.  Stella was about 18 months old.

So we’re just trying to stay busy/happy and a bit cool.  I finally broke down and ordered a pop-up tent/canopy thing, so the kids and I don’t roast in the backyard.  We need shade, desperately.  There are lots of popsicles around.

We're not always happy...

We’re not always happy…

The big change afoot is that my son has decided that his toddler bed is unacceptable.  For the past week or more, he’s been sneaking into his sister’s bed with his “Donut” (that infernal inflatable inner tube he’s been dragging around for 2 months – see at night and during naptimes.  Thus far, I’ve been able to keep this knowledge from Stella; I go into the kids’ room, remove Donut, and place Felix in his own bed.  I think she’d be pretty angry that the sanctity of her big girl Kitty/Mermaid bed had been violated.  But the message is clear: the dude needs a bigger bed lest he keep trying to hijack his sister’s, ultimately leading to screaming and/or violence.

I’ve ordered the bedding, and the bed should show up Friday.  He’s just a little excited.  This may also finally mark the end of co-sleeping.  I have mixed emotions about that.  While he’s been sleeping in his own bed about 50% of the time lately, he’s my  last baby.  Y’all know what I’m talking about.



Of course it's McQueen...

Of course it’s McQueen…

I’ll try to do better with the blogs.  I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday!

Some Hair Over the Rainbow

I try to manage my children’s hair as best I can.  This is just one of those areas of life that I am inadequate in.  I can’t manage my own hair, much less other people’s.  Will makes me cut his, but he wears the “messy” look.  Therefore, if it’s a bit uneven, who would know?  Stella has “long beautiful mermaid hair.”  In other words, it’s long and straight.  Every 6 months or so, I manage to trim off dead ends.  I think it’s pretty even.   But she is always in motion, so again, who would know if it’s a little off?  As for me?  I shouldn’t be allowed to have hair.  I wash it as often as I can.  I brush it.  That’s it.  It’s getting long again, which means it’s once again landing in the mom-ponytail more often than not.

And then there’s my little dude.  I have no idea what to do with little boy hair.  While I have no problem with long hair on guys, I just don’t think it would suit my kid.  And he’s 2, so we’re nowhere near ready for “product.” So, I’ve had to sort out children’s haircuts.

There’s one of those specialty kids places near our house.  It’s cute.  It’s cute as hell.  The kids can sit in firetruck or police car chairs.  They have suckers and animal crackers.  Disney movies play on the entertainment system, visible from every seat.  There’s a train table and other toys.   The staff is quick like lightning to cut hair, the knowledge that their clients are often seconds from a meltdown or full-on body twitch always first and foremost in their minds.  The catch?  It costs about twice as much.  No matter.  I only get my kid’s hair cut ever other month or so, so it’s been worth it.

We recently reached critical hair mass.  His “bangs” were long enough to reach his eyes.  I tried to touch up the back but realized I had left my tranquilizer gun in my other purse.  No way.  In short: it was time to take my son for a haircut.  We loaded up and went to the fancy place, aiming to be there right at opening.  We arrived with 10 minutes to spare.

It was a children’s hair salon nightmare.  We walked up and  were surrounded by blond haired blue-eyed perfectly adorable children.  Each of them was wearing a positively precious smocked ensemble.  You know the ones I’m talking about: the ones that retail for about $75 apiece.  Still, my kid needed a haircut too.  So Felix and I joined the ranks of the wee Stepford army.

The other children all stood, waiting very patiently in the hot burning sun.  Felix was already dirty and sweaty, and that was before the screaming and thrashing began.  We lasted for about four minutes, the crowd of perfect angelic children growing larger by the minute.  Dozens of blue eyes stared at my son.  They were judging.  I know they were judging.  So were their  mothers.

He always looks so much older after a haircut.

He always looks so much older after a haircut.

I finally bailed and we set out for one of those cheap discount haircut places.  We walked in, sat right down, and were out of there in under 10 minutes. Felix got a sucker.  And we only paid half of what we would have at Salon Stepford.  Lesson learned.

Show mommy how the piggy eats....

Show mommy how the piggy eats….

My minions

My minions

The Lord’s Player

So we’ve officially entered the world of the “play date.”  Sure, we got together every once in a blue moon with friends that had kids close to Stella’s age, but that was more about the adults than the kids – that kinship you feel with people who are as equally sleep-deprived and covered with spit-up as you are.  Stella (and Felix) enjoyed these outings, but was just as happy hanging out with us.  Now?  She’s becoming a very social creature.

Home Depot kids workshops are always a hit.  They're free, and you get an apron, cute pin, and some sort of project at the end.

Home Depot kids workshops are always a hit. They’re free, and you get an apron, cute pin, and some sort of project at the end.

She’s almost constantly asking for so-and-so to come over.  What’s odd is that as burnt out as I am, it’s actually somehow easier having an extra kid around.  Stella stays engaged and Felix is usually tagging along.  Given that we’re already in our summer hibernation – when it’s simply too hot to go outside for long – it’s cool to find new things to keep the kids busy without A) TV, B) needing to spend money/resources going somewhere, and C) requiring my constant involvement.  There are lots of arts and crafts and sundaes.  I can handle that.  Now I just need to figure out how this social network works.  Do you stalk other parents (of school friends) on Facebook?  Hang out in the parking lot during drop-off/pick-up?  Send a private note home with a 4 year old and hope that she/he remembers to give it to their mom – and then hope further that you don’t come across as creepy?  I need a handbook for this stuff.

What else is new?  We’re in the season of swimming lessons.  It’s taking the sting out of not having dance in our lives right now.  She starts kindergarten in under 2 months.  I can’t believe that.  I suppose I need to start accumulating uniforms soon.  They make the elementary kids here wear navy bottoms and burgundy tops.  That’s about the most depressing palette I can imagine for sweet little kids.  Why not just embrace the whole damn emo thing and make them wear black?  At least they’d look chic.

Summer is kind of a drag.  It’s just a matter of dealing with the heat – looking for innovative things to do.  The over-achiever in me – the part that hasn’t been strangled by reality – always wants my kids to have these awesome and enriching experiences.  And then I catch my son building a “track” out of books and chugging around the living room shouting “Choo choo!  Felix train!”  So who am I kidding?  Those kids are enriched enough.  They need to share some of that with me.

Felix Train

Felix Train

Fill In the Blanket

Our  nighttime hi-jinks continue.  I’ve come to accept that they will always continue, or at least for the next 3 years.  If one is peaceful and sleeping the way they’re supposed to, it’s a safe bet the other one will do something undesirable.  And vice versa.  On the really special nights, they both act up.  It’s great.  I’m sure I’ll look back on all this one day and laugh.  Surely.

Anyway, the usual routine is that Felix is usually bunking with me by the time dawn approaches.  That has been getting better.  He usually waits longer before joining me.  But it’s the same routine: I hear Felix on the monitor.  I go quietly try to fetch him (and whatever combination of McQueen, Mater, Donut, and his water bottle that is required for that night) without waking Stella.  I then resettle my son and his entourage as quickly as I can without hosing all of us with his water bottle. Yes.  The water bottle is a new nighttime Precious.  Then we’re cool.  After all that ridiculousness, we settle back down and sleep quite happily.

He is cuddly.  I’ll give the little stinker that.

Then Stella wakes up.  She’s usually the first.  She comes shooting down the hall like a cannonball, trailing her own entourage of Sweet Kitty, Flat Kitty, and Cousin Flat.  She does a flying leap on whatever surface I’m on – bed or couch. I guess  unbeknownst to me, the floor around my bed becomes lava in the night.  She’s invariably grumpy, as if I’m the one that just woke her up.  She then starts frantically bitching about blankets blankets blankets.  If I’m lucky – really lucky – she might go back to sleep.  But not usually.

Totally unrelated but we recently took the kids bowling. Stella loved it.

Totally unrelated but we recently took the kids bowling. Stella loved it.

This is where the most ridiculous part of the whole damn thing comes into play.  Stella demands blankets.  Felix will not let a blanket touch his bare skin.  He gets cold, sure.  But he will only tuck his feet/legs underneath a McQueen, a Donut, or some part of my body.

If I try to put  myself in the middle of my children, Felix will wake and start screaming.  This is really moot, however, as Stella causes him to scream every single morning by allowing a blanket to touch his bare flesh.

Felix thought all bowling balls were Preciouses and would then throw himself on the ground and cry when you rolled them down the lane.

Felix thought all bowling balls were Preciouses and would then throw himself on the ground and cry when you rolled them down the lane.

This is how every day begins, usually around 5:00 AM.  At least it’s not 4:00, like it used to be.

Damn.  I thought alarm clocks were demonic back in the day.  Those things have nothing on  my children.


Beyond the WonderDome

Will recently got a great new job opportunity within the organization he started with about 9 months ago.  While it’s a tremendous thing, it also means that for weeks now he’s been working longer hours – staying late – and spending off-time studying.  This, in turn, means more on my plate.  It’s short-term, hopefully, but it gets to me at the same time.

I’ve been getting pretty down.  It doesn’t help that my job has gotten cartoonishly bad.  I mean, I work for my state’s environmental agency.  Did you know we no longer recycle?  That’s an illustration of how appalling it’s gotten in the last year.  It’s hard to go somewhere where you aren’t appreciated and don’t want to be.  It sucks your energy.  It makes it hard to gain positive traction anywhere.  All the things I’ve been wanting to do for myself seem to be falling to the wayside.

Regardless, each day I do my best to get up and put my proverbial big girl panties on.  If you start rolling, sometimes good things snowball, you know?  The other day I decided that we needed to get rid of some of the clutter.  I figured this would also be a good time to try to start teaching Stella about choosing things to donate to give to other kids to play with that might need it or enjoy it more.  She graciously agreed to give up her toy trumpet that doesn’t actually make noise.  She also was willing to part with all of her brother’s toy trucks and cars.  To say the least, we didn’t get very far with that process.  Yet another failed attempt at forward momentum.

This will be my most obscure reference ever, but did anyone watch the Young Ones?  Remember when they were poor ("Cash,"  I think) and Mike had "generously donated his used tissue collection" and Vyvyan had burned everything Neil owns?  Yeah.  Stella's "charitable donations" reminded me of that.

This will be my most obscure reference ever, but did anyone watch the Young Ones? Remember when they were poor and freezing (“Cash,” I think) and Mike had “generously donated his used tissue collection” and Vyvyan had burned everything Neil owns? Yeah. Stella’s “charitable donations” reminded me of that.

Later on, I moved my pity party outside to let the kids play in the wading pool and sprinkler.  While we were there, a butterfly came to hang out.  Their wonder was palpable.  It’s one of those moments where you’re smacked in the face with the stuff that really matters.  Not having a beautiful house and yard.  Not losing weight.  Not finding time to learn to sew.  Not resumé building.

Our mascot and friend

Our mascot and friend

So sorry, universe, for bitching.  And thanks for sending that little insect to my back yard.  I needed to see it.

Here's to things looking up.

Here’s to things looking up.


My son is going to be my sneaky kid.  Stella can get into mischief, but there’s not a milligram of subterfuge in that little girl’s body.  Blaming her farts on her father – who is often not even home – or brother is about as devious and diabolical as she gets.  Felix?  I think we all need to hang on to our butts.

I get reports from school, in which he’s apparently a whiz at sneaking off of his nap mat and regularly manages to ease out of his classroom.  When he’s caught, I hear he smiles big and sort of does a little dance, waiting for the teacher or aide to turn her back again so he can shuffle towards freedom again.  He does the same thing at home.  And he’s so quiet about it.

It was just him and I at home the other day, as it was my telecommute day.  He’s been totally into art lately.  He’s also totally crappy at staying on the paper.  My white countertops have taken some major punishment.  I read all kinds of tips on the internet on how to remove wax from Formica.  I even tried mayonnaise (WTF?).  I had elbow-greased much of it off, but was pretty damn tired of crayon.  He wanted to color.  Luckily for him I remembered we had this huge roll of butcher paper in our laundry room.  Eureka!  I taped the paper down and turned him loose.

See?  Butcher paper = clean counter.  All is well, right?

See? Butcher paper = clean counter. All is well, right?

He colored for a long time.  Eventually, I went to another counter – still in the kitchen, mind you – to mix up some pizza crust dough.  I was not 6 feet from him.  In about 45 seconds, he managed to noiselessly climb down from his stool, get to the pantry, and begin coloring it a lovely shade of green.



Dammit.  I hollered “Felix!  NO!!”  He grinned at me and said “Hi!  How are you?”

Dammit again.

When I polled my mom friends on Facebook, I was instructed to buy a “Magic Eraser.”  I had heard of these things, but never needed them.

They are astonishing.  They are a marvel.  They are, in fact, magic.  I don’t know what  kind of alchemy is employed to manufacture these things – if ordinary sponges are infused with unicorn tears and alien blood, distilled by Walter White.  I want a case.  I want it in different formats, specifically a liquid or powder.  Imagine what this substance could do in commodes or washing machines?

For all of my friends and family who might be expecting one day?  This will be my gift to you.  No cute onesies.  No diapers.  You will receive a case of magic erasers.  And you’re welcome.

Do or Donut. There Is No Try.

I’d like to introduce you all to Donut.  Donut, obviously, is a pool toy, recently discovered as Will and my dad took the kids to the hotel pool while the girls went shopping.  The problem is that upon completion of the swimming, Donut was not allowed to be stowed away with the towels and swimsuits.  Donut had become a Precious.

A boy and his Donut.  More correctly, a boy in his Donut.

A boy and his Donut. More correctly, a boy in his Donut.

I suppose all kids have Preciouses.  I don’t mean “lovies-“ things like blankets or stuffed friends that must go everywhere at all times with the child.  Preciouses are like talismans for a day (or more).  Stella had plastic Stick of Butter, a toy which she typically would just carry around for a few hours.  I guess she liked the way it felt.

Upon reading that last paragraph, I must concede that Donut is a hybrid between a lovie and a Precious.

Donut gets lugged through the house wherever Felix goes, sometimes all afternoon.  Furthermore, Donut must join both Big and Little McQueen and Mater in bed for naps and bedtime.  When he wakes in the middle of the night expecting to join me in bed or on the couch, the entire f#(&$ing entourage must come along.  If I try to abandon a McQueen, Mater, or Donut, howling commences.  Howling at 2:00 AM is not cool, in that it will definitely awaken anyone else trying to sleep.

The whole gang - my nightly slumber party.

The whole gang – my nightly slumber party.

I’ve been trying to find a way to dispatch Donut.  Unlike with balloons, I won’t need to pop him.  I can simply deflate him.  The problem is, Felix is telepathically linked with Donut.  We’ve tried hiding Donut in the middle of the night, hoping he would “forget.”  Doesn’t work.  I’ve had to go find Donut in the dark, tiptoeing around with Felix, McQueens, and Mater in tow, looking for wherever Will put Donut.

When not engaged in slumber, Donut becomes a nest, a racetrack, and a construction site.  I guess he’s not all bad.  I just wish he’d go on a diet.  And learn to sleep all night.

Donut goes around and around and around

Donut goes around and around and around

A New Re-Lease on Life

I’m back.  We have survived a mad 10 or so days.  In addition to my work stuff,  we’ve had my dad and stepmother in town, Stella’s first dance recital, and her “academic readiness” screening for Big School/kindergarten next year.

My son's "Precious" collection is growing faster than he his (and making it really obnoxious when they all join me in bed at night).

My son’s “Precious” collection is growing faster than he his (and making it really obnoxious when they all join me in bed at night).

Speaking of….For F’s sake… It’s kindergarten, not Harvard Law School.  She got in, but I’ve had it up to my eyeballs with testing and screening.  It seems she barely squeaked by, her math being low but carried over by her reading.  How in the hell do you go from scoring in the 98th percentile for math and >99th percentile for reading in a gifted screening but yet barely get through a magnet school entrance test?  (Let it go. Let it go.)

The visit with my dad went well.  They’re getting older and it’s a long trip for them to make.  The kids love it, as they get to eat at restaurants for lunch and dinner and go to toy stores.  Stella even got 2 visits to Joe’s Crab Shack.  We’ve been on a detox diet since my folks left.  Monday night, my kids would only eat fresh asparagus and cherries after 4 days of rich and fatty food.

The waiter at Joe's got it right.  Crab Princess, indeed.

The waiter at Joe’s got it right. Crab Princess, indeed.

The recital was great.  Stella was front and center for every number.  I was relieved to have dance over with for a while, but got very sad packing up her little tights and shoes.  We’ll discuss it over the summer and see if she wants to pick it back up in the fall.  She said she might want to take karate.  That might be Spongebob’s influence, however.

Her beautiful sparkly costume

Her beautiful sparkly costume

She was so happy with her flowers, I could've cried.

She was so happy with her flowers, I could’ve cried.

She couldn't even hold them all!

She couldn’t even hold them all!

A big moment of realization hit me yesterday.  As I said, we’ve been sort of detoxing and trying to get back to normal after the big long weekend.  We all needed to catch up on sleep, eat better, and just find our flow again.  I was thinking about what I needed to do to get ready to go into the office for the first time in what felt like weeks.  I was almost dreading it.

Clowning with my dude!  It also occurs to me our special days together are coming to an end once he starts school full time.

Clowning with my dude! It also occurs to me our special days together are coming to an end once he starts school full time.

That’s when it hit me: work is no longer an escape.  I no longer feel like I need to get away from my family to find some peace.  Sure, the noise still gets to me, but we’ve turned a corner.  A massive one.  I now have to set the alarm on work days, as my kids might possibly sleep past 5:30.  I believe our days of 4:00 AM are over and done with.  I no longer have to watch every move they make, every muscle twitch.  If they get quiet, it might actually not be a terrible thing.  They might just be quietly coloring together.  I can now let them play in the wading pool in the back while I cook dinner (checking frequently out the back window, of course).  I can start letting go more.  And that’s wonderful.  And that sucks.

Backyard biology with Sandy the box turtle.  Sandy may or may not still be in the back yard.

Backyard biology with Sandy the box turtle. Sandy may or may not still be in the back yard.

You do need to be a bit cautious with the lack of supervision.  Glitter should be secured first.

You do need to be a bit cautious with the lack of supervision. Glitter should be secured first.

My 2 big kids.  *gulp*

My 2 big kids. *gulp*

One Way or a Mother

(Since she’s traveling tomorrow, I’m putting this out a day early.  I wouldn’t want my mom to wreck while reading a blog, especially on Mother’s Day!)

Over the years I’ve written about my mom, Crispi, quite a bit.  Usually this has been in context to her service as a grandmother – coming to stay after both kids were delivered, Xmases, beach trips.  But prior to that, she was my mother.



Crispi wasn’t a June Cleaver cookies-after-school mom.  I remember once when she was working as a presenter going into public schools giving talks on sex ed.  She would put condoms on bananas to demonstrate proper usage.  She left one on the kitchen counter one night when I was having a sleepover.  My best friend and I were totally scandalized.  We were probably in 4th or 5th grade.

Apart from rubberized bananas, she did try to do the meal thing. Only now –as I sometimes struggle to feed my own children – do I understand having to do that when every fiber of your being is screaming that you just want to take a bath and go to bed rather than try to invent some nutritious toddler cuisine that your children will eat only to have it land in the trash.  When I went vegetarian for years, she really tried.  She bought cookbooks and tofu.  What she failed to realize was that I was doing teenage vegetarianism – a meal plan in which Kraft Macaroni and Cheese was not only the keystone, but the major staple.  Tofu was for chumps.

Once when I was going through some serious tween angst, she and my stepdad at the time “ran away from home.”  I remember vividly the note she left: “We’re running away from home so you don’t have to.”  I wish I still had that note.  And that’s the kind of move I plan on borrowing when Stella and Felix need it.

There wasn’t loads of money, especially early.  I learned to make that mac and cheese mentioned above from her.  We never took big fancy vacations.  We would travel down to Meridian Mississippi to see her parents – my grandparents – and all the other family in that area.  It was a long haul from Pennsylvania.  We made the trip almost every year, I think.  Shit.  I’m afraid to take my kids more than 4 hours away from home.  There was a trip to Niagara once, and my graduation trip to NYC where we saw Les Mis on Broadway.  Later on we had a blast in New Mexico (when I stopped pining for my boyfriend) and San Antonio.

We were proud.  We were tacky.  Yes, we went out in public that way.

We were proud. We were tacky. Yes, we went out in public that way.

When I got divorced and was just sort of broken, my mom was my knight.  She rode in, helped me clean up my house and life.  She bought lamps and aromatherapy spray.  Anything that could make things feel better and happier.  She then took me to Hot Springs Arkansas for a hot bath and massage. Sure, I felt violated, but it was a good thing (see for full details).

In the past several years, she’s occasionally breezed into my kitchen to make “meatloaf eggballs,” basically generic Scotch-eggs, which was one meal I adored as a kid.  Now it’s a big of a gut-bomb, but that’s ok.

Way back when, I used to buy my mom a plant or two to put in the yard for Mother’s Day.  We both are fairly practical types that understand that a living plant or flower is better than some ephemeral (and overpriced) bunch of roses or carnations.  Now she has no yard.  Furthermore, being a full-time RV’er, she has no space for tchotchkes or knick-knacks or plaster casts of kids’ handprints painted in garish colors.  Also being an RV’er, she’s now several states away on this day.  There really isn’t much – anything – I can do with her or buy for her.

So mom, this blog’s for you.  Happy Mother’s Day!  I love you.

Last month in NOLA.  I guess I did technically buy her some Cafe du Monde....

Last month in NOLA. I guess I did technically buy her some Cafe du Monde….

Mold Shoulder Treatment

The old saying is true:  when it rains, it pours.  The next 10 days promise to be about as hectic as they come, and this is before both of my children are involved in things like soccer and band and karate and baseball….  I have big meetings at work, inspections at work, a HUGE presentation for work, mother’s day, a dance recital (plus associated dress rehearsals and accoutrement-purchasing), and Stella’s final examination for entry into the local magnet program.  On top of that, my dad and stepmother are visiting for the first time in 8 months, so I have to schedule that (and the required house cleaning/purging/de-disgustification that will need to happen – y’all don’t even want to smell the bathroom after my kids have flooded it every other night for a year).  I’m scheduled within an inch of my life.

My princess could kick their ass in a cuteness contest.

My princess could kick their ass in a cuteness contest.

The dude is cute even covered in dirt.

The dude is cute even covered in dirt.

I just gotta breathe.  And remember that the work crap is just work crap.  It will pass (I guess).  And my kids really are so spectacularly cute that hopefully no one will notice strange stains or smells – like that blasted bathroom.

Oh yeah, and Graham Elliot has once again acknowledged my existence.  Win!

It's just some IG banter, but wheeeee!

It’s just some IG banter, but wheeeee!

Anyway, I may be out until after the 19th, at which point I will either collapse like a stringless marionette or erupt like a cinder cone.  Stay tuned.