Feets of Strength


We stayed in a nice condo last week at the beach.  I was initially terrified, as it was one of those classy-looking minimalist mostly-white affairs, and, you know, kids.  The kids did great.  We did not permanently stain or deface a thing.  I can’t say the same for the reverse.  I’d like to discuss the floors.

On the surface they were glorious. I’ve never seen floors like them. They had the appearance of planks made of driftwood. But in reality it was some sort of manufactured tile.  But after a day or two, we started to notice something. The bottoms of our feet were black. It seems those floors were glorious in more ways than one: they disguised dirt very well.  Our feet remain the color of Robert Smith’s wardrobe for the duration of the trip.

Just now I was in my kitchen despairing. They were stains all over my kitchen floor. There was something that was probably yogurt from breakfast one day (dammit Felix), some blackberry seeds someone thought they should spit out (dammit Stella) and dribbles of what may have been Cabernet (ok, I have to own that).  Clearly, it was time to mop. I banished the children to Stella’s room to watch YouTube videos as I swept the debris and prepared the mop water.  The experience reminded me of the floors at the condo. I checked the bottom of my feet. Hardly dirty at all, despite the crime scene on my kitchen floor.

Why am I telling you this? Why am I sharing how dirty my feet are? Because, sometimes I/we give ourselves a hard time for not being good enough. I know I often chastise myself for not keeping a better house – for letting things go too much. Well, my floors are clearly cleaner than the condo’s.  Either that or my dirt is more flesh colored. Regardless, I’m counting this one as a win!

 Enjoy your weekend, remember to take time to put your feet up, and only 21 shopping days left!


(P.S.  Holy moly, y’all!  The Crown on Netflix is so good!  I needed something not-too-dismal to watch while mourning again the end of Gilmore Girls ((and holy shit about that!)), and gave it a shot.  Only 3 episodes in and I’m hooked!)

Mistake It to the Limit


Don’t you hate it when your head runs away with you?  I’ve been finding myself randomly awake in the middle of the night for an hour or more, running through holiday lists: who gets cards, who gets gifts, when do we get paid and what bills need to come out of those checks and how much do we have extra for Xmas stuff.  I kind of hate it when I get this way.  It’s going to be a lean Xmas this year, but that’s absolutely OK.  I mainly just want my kids to be happy. Giving them the gift of magical holiday memories is a top priority for me.

(I just had a great idea for people like friends and colleagues, and I wish I had thought of it a month ago: rather than buying gifts for each other, why  not batch-cook food, freeze it, and have a swap?  It’s like having a group of people take turns making your lunch for a week or so.  Dammit.  Maybe next year.)

I’ve also been worrying about my kids.  It’s that generalized parental worry, wondering if you’re doing enough or too much.  Stella’s doing so well academically, but socially I worry.  Am I arranging enough play dates?  Am I finding enough activities to help her develop her non-academic interests?  And I disagree vehemently with first graders having homework almost every night, yet I become Tiger  Mom snapping at her to “pay attention” and “finish your work before you play a computer game” after school.   Is she going to despise me for that one day?

And Felix?  Is he developing “normally?”  I have no idea, despite the fact that he’s my 2nd child and I should be a “pro.”  He refuses to learn the alphabet – just isn’t interested.  I suspect he knows more than he lets on, but what do I know?  By his age, Stella was reading.  Then I kick myself for comparing them.  Obviously her development was not typical.  But what if Felix isn’t as clever as I think he is?  What if he can’t get into kindergarten (yes, in 2 years because mommy is psycho) because he can’t pass the entrance exam in which he’ll have to demonstrate that he knows his ABCs?  And this new game where he likes to come up to people – often me – and hiss and scratch like a cat…what if he claws up some kid at school? I’m not ready for a “your kid is showing antisocial behavior” discussion.

Clearly I’ve lost my damn mind.  Sure, having children will warp your brain – the noise, the arguing, the noise, the school obligations, the noise, the doctors’ appointments, the noise.  My kid brother has a 2 year old little girl – my niece – as well as operates 2 successful boutiques.  He somehow finds time to do stuff like go to gyms, read books, argue politics and philosophy.  I think he must have that magic pendant that Hermione Granger had in Harry Potter – the one which allowed her to go back and forth in time in order to take a zillion classes.  I otherwise don’t see how he can do all that.  It’s all I can do some days to make sure my kids are fed.

Pressure. It’s a lot.  And now all over Facebook I see where I should be talking to my children about treatment of women and how my son needs to be taught not to objectify them.  Sorry.  I kinda thought that was a given if you were a conscientious parent. It didn’t necessarily require a special dissertation.  But apparently I may be wrong.  I’m probably wrong about a lot.

I guess I can only hope that my best will be good enough – that whatever mistakes I make along the way won’t be terminal.  That my kids won’t be assholes and will achieve whatever academic and professional successes they decide they desire.  That they will remember that their mom really tried, tried to give them magic when it counted.

My Griswold wanna-be inflatable collection. I like how they disguise the weeds in the flower bed. Maybe next year I can do better with that.

My Griswold wanna-be inflatable collection. I like how they disguise the weeds in the flower bed. Maybe next year I can do better with that.

Tooth, Justice, and the American Way


After a false alarm last year, it’s finally happening: my daughter has a legit loose tooth.  She is beyond excited.  Well, she is now, after we convinced her that it wouldn’t hurt or bleed much if at all.  And now the Tooth Fairy scheming has begun.

Stella seems to think the TF is going to leave her $100.  For real.  She desperately wants a realistic rubber water-safe mermaid tail she saw on TV somewhere.  They’re $100.  I think $100 is a bit steep for a mermaid tail that A) will only be worn for one summer due to the fact that kids grow and stuff, and B) is obviously designed to ensure lots of near-death experiences due to drowning.  So my girl may be a tad disappointed.  TF doesn’t have that kind of bank, and her mother is biding her time, hoping the soon-to-be-gap-toothed princess finds another passion.

Maybe one of the last pictures taken with all her baby teeth.

Maybe one of the last pictures taken with all her baby teeth.

In the meantime, if I can find something new to worry obsess about, it’s a good day.  Enter Tooth Fairy-dom.  For starters, what genius decided it was a good idea to put tiny teeth under pillows?  You’re asking for missing cuspids, if you ask me.  Secondly, those pillows?  They support the heads of sleeping children – children that are already sleeping fitfully due to Tooth Fairy mania.  You might as well be playing golf with a grenade.

I’m not having it.  Nope, not at all.

I made a Tooth Fairy “mailbox” out of a small wooden cigar box.  It’s not quite as cute as I’d envisioned, but it will do the trick.  Once the appointed tooth falls out, Stella can put it in the “mail,” and the TF will respond in kind.  Best of all, the “mailbox” can be placed in the living room, far from sleeping children.

Before....

Before….


After!

After!

I like it.  Parenting win!

Oh yeah, and how much did/do y’all give for teeth?  The Tooth Fairy wants to know.

As Fudd As It Gets


My son has given me a speech impediment.

It started while at the beach.  Will had brought his bike along, since the place we stayed had great bike trails.  Since my car doesn’t have a bike rack, it got strapped to the roof of the SUV.  He used ratchet straps.  Felix Precioused a ratchet for several days, somehow miraculously not pinching a finger off.  All the while, he chattered on and on and on about his “watchet stwap.”  Since arriving home, I’ve had to convince him not to take his watchet stwap wherever he goes (because of course they’re still floating around the floorboards of my car).  I have found that I’m unable to say the words correctly.  “No, Felix.  Your watchet stwap has to stay in the car.  They don’t need it at school.”

The Dude along with his other beach precious: Used Coffee Cup With Rocks, Shells, and Coins.

The Dude along with his other beach precious: Used Coffee Cup With Rocks, Shells, and Coins.

To make matters worse, Stella has a book on weather floating around in the car.  While sitting in traffic, she and Felix look through it and discuss types of storms and clouds.  Yesterday Felix started hollering about all the “stwatus clouds” out there.  But they weren’t.  While correcting him, I incorrectly pronounced stratus.

I’ve turned into a cartoon character.

For Whom the Hell Tolls


Sorry, y’all.  I went to the beach for a whole week for Thanksgiving.  I suppose blogging (as well as reading others’ blogs) fell by the wayside.  It was an awesome trip.  The weather was as fantastic as a beach can be in November.  Everyone got along.  No drama.  The kids had an amazing time.  I had a whole post running in my head about being thankful – that I have plenty to eat, that I got to spend Thanksgiving at the beach surrounded by family, that the closest my kids get to explosions are what’s on Spongebob, but it seems obvious and trite now.  Now, it’s time to change gears.

Y'all remember Donut?  Here Donut meets Pizza Boat.  Felix is ecstatic.

Y’all remember Donut? Here Donut meets Pizza Boat. Felix is ecstatic.

Stella was brave enough to swim in the rather chilly ocean.

Stella was brave enough to swim in the rather chilly ocean.

We transitioned immediately to Xmas, pulling back into town at 1:00 and heading out to Home Depot to buy our tree by 2:00.  By 3:00, I was inside “decorating” with the kids while Will cussed and drank beer and wine outside, hanging lights and rigging up my inflatables.  We had to get rid of the snowman this year.  He was yellow – urine yellow.  That’s not festive.  Now we have a Xmas pig.  Don’t ask me why.  It was just random, cheap, and seemed to go with Santa, Joy the Reindeer, Holiday Hello Kitty, and the merry C3PO and R2D2 combo.

Y’all, I had this vision – this warm, fuzzy vision – of decorating the tree with my children.  They’re old enough now, right?  No, I and I alone would hang the Christopher Radko ornaments, as well as anything else precious and super-delicate, but anything metal or wood was perfect for them.  I even let them try a couple of blown glass ornaments.  Within about 10 milliseconds, they each shattered one.  15 minutes later, a Wedgwood ornament was pulverized.  I managed to hold them off by sending them to “their” tree – a 3′ baby blue fake tree with pink lights – with the lesser ornaments, but soon they were back to “my” tree.  Stella demanded to wear her stocking.  It was chaos.  It was hell.

It started so well....

It started so well….

"Their" tree looking fabulous.

“Their” tree looking fabulous.

I finally sent them to the trampoline to jump in the setting sun where they proceeded to whack each other with plastic bats, taking turns crying “he/she hit me.”  I was so annoyed I didn’t intervene.  I just put my head down and hung the rest of the f($&#ing ornaments.  Ho ho ho.  And the tree looks like crap.  I  mean, I’ll never ever win any kind of decorating awards, but this tree is jacked up.  I blame the kids.

Yeah, not my best effort.

Yeah, not my best effort.

Yes, I can now say with some authority that decorating a Xmas tree with small children is a special kind of hell.

This is about how I felt by the end of the day.

This is about how I felt by the end of the day.

Planty Raid


At long last, the excruciating heat has broken.  It’s a small wonder, then, that most of us have streamed out of our homes and offices to be outside whenever possible.  I’ve had inspections at work, which, while keeping me busy, is not necessarily a terrible thing as it gets me away from my desk.  Today alone I saw a bunch of deer, 2 bobcats, 2 ospreys, and I rescued a large tortoise from the road.  Saving the environment, indeed.

A nice doe, with a groundwater monitoring well for scale. Or vice versa.

A nice doe, with a groundwater monitoring well for scale. Or vice versa.

We didn’t do much this past weekend, per se, other than a birthday party.  It was one of the “good ones” that both kids were welcome to attend.  That’s always a touchy bit of etiquette, and I’ve never seen Miss Manners address it.  When you have multiple kids and you don’t necessarily have someone to keep the other(s) while the invitee goes partying, can you bring the sibling(s)?  In some cases, it’s a matter of money; some of these venues charge per kid and it adds up.  Regardless, the party Saturday was an “easy” one, as Felix was welcomed up front.

Sunday Will had a ton to do, so it was me and the kids against the world, only I couldn’t find an entertaining and practical world to visit.  So we made it in the backyard, the neighbor’s chihuahuas be damned.

Since Will had done a tremendous job Saturday of winterizing the yard and completely gutting and organizing our storage area, I found our tent and threw it up for the kiddos.

She read to her brother for about a half hour. That was the cutest thing.

She read to her brother for about a half hour. That was the cutest thing.

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They loved it.  Of course they couldn’t actually sleep in it that night, as it was a school night and, you  know, chihuahuas.  But they got to hang out in it between swinging and trampoline jumping.  That night we busted out the fire pit and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows.  Good stuff.img_9230

Felix, in particular, is inspired.  He’s been rather “botanical” lately.  He spent 45 minutes yesterday visiting and chatting with his “succuwent” Pointy Beethoven Planty.  img_9235img_9237

He’s also taken an interest in flower arrangement, coming home from school with this – uh – thing, made more beautiful by a zip tie.img_9246

Happy fall, y’all.  It’s finally here!

Like Putting the Art Before the Horse


In keeping with my vow to attempt to be positive and upbeat, I bring you a stellar piece of Stella art.  Behold: Portait of Mommy and Daddy.


Apparently Will is very short.  And bald.  And has feet like the Penguin.   And doesn’t wear pants. And I’m slender with a tiny ass.  This is totally going to live at my office.  Maybe even in a frame.

So yeah. That makes up for going 3 days with a car that’s not running. It’s nothing major – hopefully just a battery.  But considering it’s not even a year old and is under warranty, it’s been worth waiting  until one of us could make it to Walmart.  And geez…. people talk about “banker’s hours.”  I’ll take Walmart automotive hours.  Closing at 4:00?  Really?

On that note, I’ve had to be mom/wife taxi, meaning I’ve had to be late to work.  Driving a different way and time yesterday, I was treated to the sight of some dude pissing on a house.  It was odd, as this is a really busy street and he was bloody close to the edge of it – no attempt to hide.  And he looked “normal,” not like a homeless person or like he was strung out on something.  When you gotta go….

Speaking of, try to have a good day, y’all.  Don’t pee anywhere you shouldn’t.   And be nice, OK?

Let Them Eat Fake


I’ve been kind of sporadic with my posts lately.  Much of it has been trying to avoid the venom and bile – or piss and vinegar, if you’d prefer – of the election.  I voted early, if for no other reason than to be able to say to people, “Shut it down.  I’ve already voted.  I don’t need to discuss it any more.”  But lots of folks have had a really hard time shutting it down.  It’s like when I say to people here that I just don’t do football and they want to f’ing tell me about it anyway.  Geez.  Boundaries, y’all.

But it’s been ugly.  I don’t think anyone can argue that point, at least.  So I haven’t been reading – or writing – blogs.  I’ve been staying the hell out of Instagram and Facebook for the most part.  If you  know that something is going to make you feel absolutely horrible, why do it?  I’m hoping it’s safe to start venturing back out.

I want things to get back to normal.  I want people to chill out and stop being so freaked out.  It’s over.  Can we start to feel a bit of holiday spirit?  Just a tingle?  A twinge?  At the very least can we be happy that this kinda crappy year is almost over?

A good real-world example: we had fun at the beach even with a hurricane coming.

A good real-world example: we had fun at the beach even with a hurricane coming.

All of this has sucked a whole lotta energy out of this world.  It’s like being around someone who is chronically depressed or otherwise negative.  You can have the best outlook and energy but being around someone like that sucks the life right out of you.  No matter how hard you try, it starts to affect you.  It’s vampiric.  You get tired.  You start to feel sad or pissed off yourself, even if there’s no obvious trigger.

My kids (well, mainly Stella) playing a cool game called Suspend by Melissa and Doug.

My kids (well, mainly Stella) playing a cool game called Suspend by Melissa and Doug.

Physics!

Physics!

So as trite as it sounds, I’m “faking it until I make it” right now.  I’m going to smile, dammit, even if the twinkle in my eye means I’d like to clothesline someone. I’m going to start taking my lunch outside when I’m at the office to take advantage of the fresh non-100-degree air.   I’m going to enjoy my daughter watching something like Nyancat with it’s goofy non-stop song and the rainbows coming out of its Pop-Tart butt.  I’m going to make a point to feel grateful for the stuff that IS good and beautiful and right with the world.

So there.

Talk about learning through play!

Talk about learning through play!

Felix just watched and kept trying to Precious the pieces.

Felix just watched and kept trying to Precious the pieces.

From Bad to Curse


I suppose it’s appropriate that it’s beginning to look a lot like Xmas since I’ve just totally had a Christmas Story moment.  Let me explain.

Felix has decided that he’s into having ponytails these days.  They’re more like little nubs of hair sticking up from tiny rubber bands.  He asked for some last night and has been sporting them ever since.  He even slept in them.


Just now as I was cooking dinner, my kids were doing the usual on again – off again squabbling.  I thought I heard Stella call her brother something – something unacceptable.  But surely not. Surely she didn’t say that.

I whirled around and asked her what she just called her brother. She froze at first, big blue eyes wide as she said “nothing.”  I gave her my mom stink eye until she fessed up. “I called him a ponytailed fucker.”

Dammit.

So, we had the discussion about certain words being grown up words and are therefore not acceptable for kids to say. She responded that she was almost as tall as some grown ups (true).  I replied that a person had to be 18 years old before they could say that without getting in serious trouble.

Nope, she didn’t say “fudge.”  Where’s the soap?

There they are, not being fuckers.

Let Hot Your Heart Be Troubled


I love Halloween.  It may actually be my favorite holiday.  Xmas is pretty awesome, but there is way more fuss, stress, and drama that goes along with it – picking out the perfect gift, decorating, menus, money woes, trying to capture that Xmas spirit, and making memories that will live on forever in that warm fuzzy place in your brain.  Halloween is easier.  Sure, there’s decorating involved, and picking out that perfect costume (or as perfect as you can get).  There may even be food or treat preparation.  But it’s easier.  Except for one thing: the weather. Specifically, the temperature.  Y’all – it’s been hot.  It’s been summer hot.

Waiting on the parade.

Waiting on the parade.

Now I know.  I live in the deep south.  That means it’s not exactly chilly most of the time.  I get it.  But it’s the end of October.  It shouldn’t be pushing 90.  And as much as it used to suck as a little kid back in Pennsylvania trick or treating in those godawful plastic costumes with the hard plastic masks (I can still remember how bad those masks would smell after being breathed/spit/snotted on out in the cold for several hours) with a coat over it, I can say now with some authority it’s worse for a kid baking in a heavy costume in the burning sun in 90 degree heat.

Stella has it easier.  Most of her costumes consist of cute little dresses with various hand and/or head pieces.  It’s perfect for warm days and nights.  If it does happen to get chilly, she can wear legging underneath or even a  long-sleeved shirt.  It’s tougher for boys.  Most little boys’ costumes are full body suits with neoprene muscles built in.  They’re cute as the dickens, but that’s not exactly something you’d see on the beach in the Bahamas.

This weekend was tough on those of us with Halloween in our hearts. We had parties and parades and festivals.  Saturday, we spent most of the day downtown going from event to event.  I realized before we left the house that Felix couldn’t be Batman.  He would melt away to nothing in the heat.  So I tried to make do by using one of my insulated bags from Blue Apron, turning him into a quick “robot ghost.”  Add some impromptu antennae and some black and silver eyeshadow on his face for a metallic look and voila!  He loved it.  He even insisted on talking like a robot for about an hour.

It was cute in theory, if not in execution.

It was cute in theory, if not in execution.

Then we got out and about.  After about 20 minutes, he started kind of listing to one side.  I realized my son was basically sitting in an oven and the foil coating was reflecting light back on to his face like one of those goofy suntan cones freaky people used to use.  We stripped him of his robot costume, leaving only a dirty-looking little boy due to the makeup on his face.  Maybe that provided some sunscreen benefits, because none of us were wearing any.  Who puts on sunscreen on October 29th?!  It’s not even on my radar this time of year.  It shouldn’t be on anyone’s radar in the northern hemisphere.

Will pulling Hello Kitty and Pigpen up the levee.

Will pulling Hello Kitty and Pigpen up the levee.

But we successfully Halloweened all weekend, including pumpkin carving yesterday.  Stella drew both faces and carved her own and not a drop of blood was spilled!  Damn, we’ve come a long way.

Stella was really into the guts.

Stella was really into the guts.

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Trick or treat out there.  Have fun and be safe!

Stella has obviously inherited her mother's pumpkin carving gene.

Stella has obviously inherited her mother’s pumpkin carving gene.