Highway to Yell

I became “that asshole” this weekend – the one yelling at her kids in the front yard.

I don’t know what was going on with me.  Maybe it’s the weeks without a break from kids and/or work.  Maybe it’s hormones.  Maybe it’s trying to do too much.  Regardless, I was an asshole.

Saturday morning started well enough.  Before sunrise, I had made pizza from scratch and had 2 loaves of banana bread in the oven.  Like everyone, we’ve been battling the weather trying to get some things done around the yard.  I was hell-bent to make some progress Saturday.  I figured the kids could play in the driveway while I worked in the flower bed.  It didn’t work out so well.  They ran amok.  I couldn’t pull a weed or dig a tiny hole for a plant without having to grab one of them from the brink of danger.  I yelled.  I popped Felix’s hand when he wouldn’t stop grabbing for things like scissors or ant piles.  Every word that came out of my mouth left via clenched teeth.

It was just one of those weekends where everything felt harder than it needed to be.  Nobody was doing anything especially awful.  I was just a throbbing raw nerve.  Felix was whining.  Stella was affectionate – suffocatingly so.

Felix was feeling the angst.  Here he angrily cries at his blocks for coming apart when he pulled on them - over and over again.

Felix was feeling the angst. Here he angrily cries at his blocks for coming apart when he pulled them apart – over and over again.

Sunday  morning over ramen noodles (it’s what the kids wanted for breakfast), I asked Stella what she wanted to do.  She said she wanted to go to the aquarium.  Maybe it was guilt over my behavior Saturday.  Maybe it was my impulse to just run away from the weed-filled bog that is our yard.  We saddled up and headed to New Orleans.

That dress....

That dress….

Perfectly outfitted for rock-climbing

Perfectly outfitted for rock-climbing

It was a good trip.  Stella had on an extra-special ensemble, including her “glasses–“ old frames of mine with the lenses popped out.  They help her see.  Her favorite part was the scuba divers.  I actually was fascinated.  How do you clean the algae off of the glass in the giant shark-infested tank?  With suction cups, a giant squeegee, and 2 other divers holding large sticks hovering on either side. Who knew?

I don't know that those sticks are robust enough for sharks.  I think I'd demand something a bit tougher....and pointier.

I don’t know that those sticks are robust enough for sharks. I think I’d demand something a bit tougher….and pointier.

Felix was riveted... Not.

Felix was riveted… Not.

Sunday wasn’t bad.  Maybe it was the aquarium.  Maybe it was my surrender to the urge to get things done.  Maybe it was the knowledge that the weekend was nearly over.

So it’s a new week now.  I’ll do my best not to be an asshole in my front yard.  I brought 2 loaves of banana bread to the office to share.  I’m going to try to be happy with what we have been able to do around our home this spring and let go of what we haven’t been able to get to; we don’t look like total hillbillies anymore and we can plant citrus next year.  Crispi will be here soon, so maybe Will and I can get a date night in.

Oh!  And my son?  Last night for the first time ever he slept through the night in his bed.

Keep swimming.

Ren(aissance) and Stimpy

We had a cool weekend – a super cool weekend.  From a parade to a foam machine to gardening to dinosaur fossils.  Random observations:

  • For the second year in a row, a St. Patrick’s day parade put my son to sleep. I have no idea what that’s about.
    Everyone is still so perky...

    Everyone is still so perky…

    Aaaaaand gone.

    Aaaaaand gone.

    Parades:  Better than Ambien.

    Parades: Better than Ambien.  One year ago.

  • Thanks to my husband, a shop vac, a large bin, a garden hose, and a whole lotta Dawn soap turned into magic for our kids and some neighbors. It was such a hit that we’ve pitched the idea to the kids’ school.  The foam machine is going on tour!
    You'd think it was spewing ice cream and candy....

    You’d think it was spewing ice cream and candy….

    photo 4

    Good clean fun

    Good clean fun

  • I’ve learned that I’m much better at going with the flow than I used to be. When I read that a really good Jurassic exhibit was coming down after this past weekend, we all piled in the car and drove 50 miles to see it, after spending the morning finally transforming our front flower bed from redneck paradise to… I’ll let you know when stuff starts growing.  Our back yard is still a bog.  We can’t go back there.  That’s frustrating.  Anyway…. the point is that a year ago I wouldn’t have just thrown the kids in the car to see fossils.  It would’ve had to be planned.  I’m kind of proud of myself.photo 7photo 6
  • Stella doesn’t run randomly from snakes. I found a garter snake crawling out of our dryer duct and shouted for Stella.  She was fascinated.  I’m glad.  There’s enough to fear in this world without fearing things that can’t hurt us.
  • Finally, I still feel like I’m emerging from some sort of Mommy cocoon. It sounds stupid but just watching Downton Abbey and knitting makes me feel like a normal human being.  Maybe next will come a book club or Tai Chi.  Who knows?

It’s the End of the World as We Know It, and I Feel Pine

My son has a love affair with pine cones.  Don’t ask me why.  For months now, whenever we go for walks or to a park, if there are pine cones about, he sets about hoarding them.  It’s odd.

As such, I have pine cones now in my living room among the toys.  I have pine cones on my kitchen window sill, decorated with paint, pipe-cleaners, and googly eyes.  We have a pile in the “trunk” of his tricycle, just waiting to be put to good use.  I don’t understand it, but I’ve been ok with it.  Until this morning.

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

Pine cones are even better decorated with marshmallows (shakes head).

Pine cones are even better decorated with marshmallows (shakes head).

For those of you who have never paid close attention to pine cones, they shed these seeds on single “wings.”  Obviously I’m no botanist, but as I recall from a paleoecology class I took which was heavy on fossilized pollen and spores, pine seeds tended to be large and require help in dispersing.  The result, quite frankly, looks vaguely roach-like.

Disgusting Exhibit A (from Google search, thankfully, and not a photo I had to get close enough to take)

Disgusting Exhibit A (from Google search, thankfully, and not a photo I had to get close enough to take)

This morning, I heard my son having a conversation with himself about “PINE CONES!” and mommy’s “HOT COFFEE!”  The kid converses with himself constantly, so I wasn’t paying much attention.  Then I saw this:

No comment.

No comment.

WTF, son?!  Are you trying to give your mother a heart attack?!

Pine cones are evermore banned from my house.

Let’s Cake a Deal

My son has developed an awful new habit.  He eats sand.  Do you have any idea how disgusting that is?  How disgusting that sounds to my ears as his tiny little molars grind on grains of quartz?  It started at school, I think.  As I picked him up last week, he had a face full of the stuff, and ran up to me with his fists stuffed with it.  He proclaimed it “cake” and started to nosh away.  I tried to explain to him  “No, son.  That is most definitely not cake.”  It didn’t work.

During this past weekend as we went on a multicultural/French picnic, complete with croissants, fromages, and some nice chocolate, we had another sand incident.  Oh.  By the way.  Don’t ever take little kids on a picnic and actually expect them to eat any food.  It won’t happen.  All they’ll want to do is go run and play.  Understandable, but inconvenient.

Anyway we went to a very nice and large park.  It happens to be the same park which houses the dog park – where people bring their canines to run free, urinate on things, and play.  The equipment (for people) is awesome.  Our kids love it.  In the middle of the nice playground, there’s a sand pit.  Felix made a beeline for this thing and proceeded to eat sand, once again proclaiming it to be “cake.”

Will climbed to the top of a structure at the playground to keep Felix as far away from sand as possible.

Will climbed to the top of a structure at the playground to keep Felix as far away from sand as possible.

I cannot even think of how much stuff OTHER than sand was in his mouth.  I just sort of clamp my imaginary ears shut and start singing Men Without Hats when I try to think about it.

Will is watching him closely for symptoms of giardia.  I think my time would be better spent acquiring actual cake for him to sample so that he knows what real cake is.

Random shot while trying to do yard work.  You cant' do yard work with young children about, in case you were wondering.

Random shot while trying to do yard work. You cant’ do yard work with young children about, in case you were wondering.

At least there was no sand in our yard, and he's not into eating mud.

At least there was no sand in our yard, and he’s not into eating mud.

Wake Me Out to the Ballgame

I’ve bitched a lot about sleep deprivation since I started this blog.  For years, I’ve complained about being tired and moaned (justifiably) about how early my children wake up every single day.  Monday should have been sweet – a moment of delicious revenge to savor and think on fondly for years to come.

But it wasn’t.

Thanks to the stupid (*&^#@ing time change, I actually had to set an alarm clock Sunday night.  While getting up before the sun isn’t enjoyable, it’s even worse when it’s precipitated by the very loud crowing of an artificial rooster.  I had put me and Felix on the couch, realizing that the morning would probably get pretty dicey.

Sure enough, the alarm went off.  Felix was still asleep, and somehow slept through it.  Stella was still in her bed, sleeping sweetly.  Will was back in the big bed.  He sleeps through anything (damn it).

I had to wake my children up so that we wouldn’t be late for work/school.  I had to put my hand on my 4 year old daughter’s back while she slept under her jellyfish canopy beneath her mermaid comforter and shake her awake.  Felix was just buffeted awake by the sounds of Spongebob on TV and the coffee maker.

They both acted totally stoned during breakfast.  Or maybe not.  A stoned person would have actually eaten breakfast.  But when you’re used to milling about for at least an hour, watching cartoons to build up an appetite, it’s hard to sit and eat 5 minutes after waking up.

On the way to school, poor little Felix kept hollering “Dark!  Dark!”  Stella marveled at “all the lights.”  Yeah, you need all those lights WHEN IT’S BLACK AS HELL OUTSIDE.

This time change, y’all… It’s gotta go.

Give Peace a France

We began our introduction to France and the French culture this weekend.  When I actually stop and remember that my target audience is only 2 and 4 years old, I think we’re doing pretty well.  Also, when I take Stella’s terrifying memory into account, I feel confident that she’s already memorized the lyrics to “Les Champs Elysees” in French and will spontaneously burst into chanson one day and totally freak me out.

To start, I wanted to show them where this mystical place was, where people talk and eat differently than we do.  So I ordered an inflatable globe on Amazon.  My mistake was only ordering one. My children spent the entire damn weekend fighting over this globe.  It was like a live-action game of Risk whereupon my offspring were fighting – literally – over world domination.

They would not share this damn thing.

They would not share this damn thing.

I actually threatened to deflate their planet Earth and put it on top of the fridge.

I actually threatened to deflate their planet Earth and put it on top of the fridge.

On Saturday afternoon, we thought we’d take the kids to a local French-style café, where she could try some other Frenchy food.  She refused.  I think she had reached her limit of France that day.  Instead?  We went to the damn Olive Garden – one of the very places I was using as an example of what I didn’t want to become a cultural reference to my children.

I felt like an asshole.  The kids loved it.  Felix shoveled so much spaghetti into his maw that he was Jersey Shore orange by the end of the meal.  It’s funny, but it took having children to appreciate the Olive Garden.  Note taken.

So it’s been a mixed lot so far.  We’re not done with France yet.  We’ve worked our way through our Try the World box.  I’m tickled at how open-minded both kids are being.  We listened to Erik Satie and Edith Piaf.  There was no bitching.  We never did find time to make crepes.  Maybe next weekend while we’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.  Nothing wrong with a little France/Ireland mash-up.  Damn.  I should have planned this better.

Felix sampling some croissant and some dried fig bars from France.

Felix sampling some croissant and some dried fig bars from France.

Getting along famously - obviously without the globe nearby.

Getting along famously – obviously without the globe nearby.

Thoughts from the Lunatic Binge

If I had to try to sum up the past few months of my life, I would say that it’s been occupied by the pursuit of balance.  After 4+ years of being snowed under by pregnancies, nursing, young babies, survival, it’s time to start making progress.  The kids are getting older, issues are resolving themselves with amazing results, and it’s now indecent to keep using my 2 young kids as an excuse for things – things like why our house and yard look like utter crap, and why I lack total muscle tone in my midsection and as a result look like Jabba the Hutt when I sit down.  It’s time to start working on myself, my marriage, my relationships.  You know, come out from under the Mommy Rock.

So, I’ve been pushing.  Some days are better than others.  Some days the Mommy Rock slams back on top of my head.  Other days are awesome; just this past weekend, we cleaned the house inside and out.  It looks better than it has since we moved in.  We’re planning on some serious gardening sessions over the next few weekends.  It’s oddly exciting.

I’m working on new stuff for the family.  We joined that Try the World subscription.  I want to start doing “multicultural months” at my house, whereby we choose a country each month or so and try their foods, music, and learn a little bit about their language and culture.  I don’t want my kids to think Italy = Olive Garden and anything Latino can be found at the Taco Bell.  Our first box was French/Parisian.  It’s got some really awesome stuff in it.  Hence, vive la France beginning tomorrow.  I’ve made a binder for pictures and created a YouTube playlist of everything from Erik Satie to modern French pop music.  We’ll make crepes.  It’ll be a blast.

Stella posing per my request next to our Try the World box.  If you tag them on Instagram, you can win a free box.  I'm down with that, so I'm pimping my kid out.

Stella posing per my request next to our Try the World box. If you tag them on Instagram, you can win a free box. I’m down with that, so I’m pimping my kid out.

Finally, I’m trying to do stuff for myself – stuff that makes me happy.  I’m knitting again.  True, I suck.  But I can make some awesome squares and rectangles.  I’ve got hundreds of squares I’ve done over the past 5 years.  I’m stitching them together into a patchwork knitted quilt.  So I’m square.  I know.

I’m doing crunches, planks, just trying to move more.  I don’t look that bad standing, but I do spread out like a Hutt when sitting on my butt.  Not cool.  Not cool at all.

And for fun?  I’m binge-watching shows that all of America has been watching (or has already watched) over the past 4-5 years.  I just finished Season 6 of Sons of Anarchy.  OhmyglobIcan’tfindSeason7anywhereandI’mabouttodie.  Sorry.  I got so worked up after the S6 finale that I started to compose a poem:

I finished Season 6 today,

I’m utterly bereft.

And as I understand it,

There’s only one more left.

But now I cannot find it,

To stream and watch for free.

No Hulu, Netflix, Amazon,

Season Seven’s not for me.

Sorry.  Never said I was a poet.

So yeah. I’ve missed the water cooler chats about these shows, but I’m trying to get back to the world.  I’ve started Downton Abbey.  I’m only on Season 1.  No spoilers, thank you very much, and save the “where have you been?” shit as well, please.

Hopefully soon I’ll be posting pictures of flowers and other good things I’m planting.  Maybe I’ll discuss things other than kids (and kids’ snot, poop, rotten behavior).  This is a good thing.

Yeah, they're cute and all, but I need a damn break.

Yeah, they’re cute and all, but I need a damn break.


I Know Why the Aged Bird Sings

You know you’re getting old when your doctor’s appointments involve getting things cut off.  Last Monday, in an effort to beat rotten changes to our health care plan, I took the kids to school, and spent the day on my own personal health.  Y’all know how hard it is to get yourself in for any non-emergency doctor’s appointments with kids in tow.  So, I took some sick time (allowable, provided it’s for my medical benefit and not my children’s) and hit the circuit. My most notable stop was the dermatologist.  There, I had all kinds of stuff removed.  Sexy, no?

Then it hit me:  I’m freaking old.

For years, my mother has gone to the skin doctor and had this thing burned off, such and such removed, this doohickey biopsied. I was always amazed at how calm and flippant she seemed about it. When you’re young, that whole idea is hideous.  Dermatologists are for old people and kids with zits.  Now it’s my turn.

And no, for any tykes out there reading this:  it’s not a big deal.  I mean, I prefer not to watch or even think about what’s happening as it’s happening.  But it’s not excruciatingly painful.  The worst thing?  The smell from the damn cauterizing iron.  I tried to make it fun, so I cracked the same “no steak for dinner” joke I did after my first C-section.

It’s strange to resolve this whole time/aging thing.  On one hand, I still feel like some wide-eyed kid, floundering out in the world trying to figure shit out.  On the other hand, I’ve been out of high school for almost 25 years.  I have a career, a husband, a house, 2 kids.  I pay taxes.  I cook dinners.  We spent the weekend pressure washing the house (Will and his dad) and bleaching the hell out of the inside (me).

I’m 41 years old.  I guess that means I’m sort of middle-aged?  I don’t even know what the rules or cut offs for these groupings are.  I guess if I were a wealthy male, I’d buy a sports car.  But I’m not.  And I don’t want a damn sports car.

So instead, after having bits of my body removed and sent to a lab, I went and had a freaking pedicure.  And I picked this cool green color.  Because no old lady would do that, right?

Yeah, I have green toes under my red boots.  No old ladies here!

Yeah, I have green toes under my red boots. No old ladies here!

Swear the Wild Things Are

Language is a funny thing.  For those of you who actually read most or even all of my blogs, I probably seem like I’m a little schizophrenic.  I consider myself to be a reasonably intelligent person. No, I don’t have a Mensa card in my purse, but I completed a reasonably challenging degree in college and work in a technical field.  That being said, I find that the way that I communicate can vary from boring scientific nerd to gutter punk.  Let’s face it:  there are times when only profanity will do.  It can add that certain je ne sais quoi to a comment, discussion, or blog.  It adds that punch of color that fancier more cerebral language is missing.

Yes, I have children. And I’m painfully aware of how porous they are. The things  you say that you don’t want them picking up on are the ones that they’re going to pick up on the most.  We really do try to watch our language around the house. Lately, we have learned that we need to watch how we speak about things and other people.

We’ve already had some issues at school with Stella.  She’s been at both the giving and the receiving end of what I’ll call name-calling.  Of course, at a preschool level this is mainly stuff like “big baby.” In Stella’s class, “big baby” seems to be the phrase that cuts the deepest (for this month).   I want my kids to be tough emotionally, but I don’t want them to be bullies. I also don’t want them to be bullied. It’s a fine line.  Lately Stella has walked both sides of that “big baby” line.

Me?  Name calling?  AS IF.

Me? Name calling? AS IF.

I have to admit I struggle with this one.  Sometimes people do act like big babies.  They act like big old tittie babies.  There’s just no other way to put it.  But we can’t go around telling them that they’re acting like big old tittie babies.  Explaining diplomacy and political correctness to a 4 year old just sucks.  And the cynic in me doesn’t think of this as “bullying” per se as much as playground politics.  But that in and of itself is probably not politically correct anymore.

So the censor is on, big-time, and it’s not just 4 letter words anymore.  Will, especially, has been bad about calling Felix a cry-baby.  That’s now totally off the table, as Stella thinks it’s cool to call him that since daddy does it.

There's no crying in bench-sitting.

There’s no crying in bench-sitting.

I’m off to brush up on my French.  Until Stella learns to speak it herself, I can at least rant to myself in private.

The Food, the Bad, and the Ugly

I suppose I’m one of those Instagram celebrity stalkers. I follow quite a few, I’m embarrassed to admit. No, I could give a rat’s behind about anyone named Kardashian or GaGa. I follow tattoo artists, celebrity chefs, a small handful of actors (Game of Thrones, anyone?), and Dita Von Teese.
Why do I share my (embarrassing) goofball IG habits? Well 2 major things are happening: the South Beach Wine and Food Festival (abbreviated Sobe, for you rubes) and the Oscars.
My IG has become an obnoxious maelstrom of slick food shots, party selfies, and beautiful people taking selfies and eating slick food.
My life isn’t beautiful. At least not like that.
I’ll never walk a red carpet in a couture gown. I’ll never get to go to a Food and Wine Festival, mingling with the TV personalities I admire so much (although I did so love meeting Robert Irvine and helping out on a Restaurant Impossible shoot) .
I wear a hard hat sometimes. I had a nerdgasm the other day, watching a bayou get dredged, removing arsenic-rich sediment. I could care less who wins Oscars. The last movie I saw in a theater was the first Hunger Games (don’t judge, bastards). I do care a bit more about “Sobe,” but so be it.
Those people don’t get to hang with my people. They don’t get open-mouthed kisses from my son- the juicy kind, mixed with snot. They aren’t called “a kind and beautiful mommy” during an impromptu story-writing session.
So I’ll stay off of IG for a few days, just like I do Facebook around an election. Then I can go back to peeping without any regret- although regret is a rather strong word.