Everything’s Just Fine and Dandelion

I’ll be honest: we really don’t care much about our yard.  We’re working on it, sure, but that’s been one of the things that as working parents of 2 young kiddos we’ve had to “let go.”  Will cuts the grass and weed eats and we usually attempt some random haphazard “garden” of mixed edibles and ornamentals with zero thought whatsoever into their placement or aesthetic value.  And the grass itself?  It can go straight to hell.  I care not for grass, provided it’s not prairie-like to the point that I see the neighbors pointing.  With that in mind, I typically scoff at the putzes that spend a mint on weed and feed – especially if they bring out one of those tanker trucks.

So with all that being said, it’s probably strange that I’ve started to notice dandelions in our yard – lots of them.  Personally, I don’t care about dandelions. I find the yellow rather cheerful, and I know the greens can be edible if there’s ever a zombie apocalypse.  I also know that most homeowners find them to be a scourge, spending lots of money on the aforementioned chemicals to get rid of them.  Like most children, my kids love dandelions, especially when they’ve gone to seed and are nice and white and fluffy.  Felix will even travel the yard collecting individual white seeds, coming back with a handful of “wishes.”  Small wonder I’ve got a bumper crop of dandelions right now.

I know I’ve told y’all about our snooty neighbors Todd and Margo, right?  They love spraying chemicals on their yard. In the summer, I swear their lawn gets cut every three days. You could host Wimbledon in their front yard if it were a bigger, I tell you.  You know what I bet they hate?  Dandelions.  I may load my kids up with the white fuzzy ones and send them up and down the sidewalk in front of their house blowing.  It’s like suburban biological warfare. Don’t feel bad for them. They seem like really awful people. And I guess I’m doing them a favor in case there’s ever a zombie apocalypse. Maybe they’ll survive with my thoughtfully-provided food source.

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Things Aren’t Always What They STEAM

I’ve found another layer of “mom-guilt:” the variety in which by doing good for an organization or institution that your kid is involved with you miss actual involvement with your kid(s).  Last night, Stella’s school had a STEAM night.  STEAM is all the rage in schools these days, and being a science-type I’m all about that.  Therefore, when the emails commenced soliciting volunteers for the event, my virtual hand shot up.

I was in charge of the “Butterfly Garden Photo Booth,” which was fun and cute.  The sad part is that I never even got to see what else was there.  The event was packed; a free dress coupon was the prize for visiting all required stations and getting stickers for participation.  Will’s parents brought my kids and took them around.  Felix was in hog heaven.  I think he got even more out of it than Stella did.  Apparently there was some kind of station where they hooked electrodes up to your arm and when you flexed it made “music.”  He loved that, and woke up this morning still flexing his “musical muscles.”  There was also some kind of moving cockroach leg activity that he was enamored by.  Both kiddos liked the Lego activities.

Lego butterflies

Lego butterflies

Felix's musical muscles

Felix’s musical muscles

Looking at the pictures that Oui Oui and Stella’s teacher sent me, I felt kind of sad that I wasn’t there to see it.  I felt great about volunteering, but would have loved to experience that stuff with my kids.  It’s another example of not being able to do it all.  I feel confident that this will be an ever-growing theme.

My photo booth

My photo booth

In other news, holy crap it’s Friday.  How can it be Friday already???  I mean, sure.  It’s been a busy week (speaking of ever-growing theme).  There were doctor’s appointments on Monday.  I had my 2nd ever mammogram.  Nope, still hate it.  I also finally got to ask my GYN the question that had been haunting me for 4 years: If a woman is having a c-section and the doctor is pulling the uterus out anyway, and that same woman has requested her tubes be tied (i.e. she is not having any more children ever), why would you put the damn thing back in????  The answer was pretty obvious once I heard it: the blood vessels are too enlarged after carrying a full-term baby, so that for vascular reasons alone it would be too dangerous.  Ok.  I buy that.  Best of all, I didn’t act like a freak this time.  Last year I got all weepy seeing all the pregnant ladies and had one of those “I’ll never have that experience again” moments.  All of that probably justified my request for Wellbutrin.

Work gets crazier and crazier somehow, absorbing way more of my brain-space than usual.  What a drag.  Despite feeling over-scheduled, I’m still trying to make time for stuff other than work and children: meeting new friends for coffee or lunch, reading, getting out and walking.  I often look at my calendar and think “in 2 weeks things will calm down – I have nothing scheduled” but then my calendar fills up again.  It’s stressful but kind of invigorating.  I guess it’s good that I feel that way, since I don’t see any of that changing.

Have a good weekend, y’all, and happy Mardi Gras if you’re into that kind of thing.

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One Is the Onliest Number?

“No, Stewwa!  Nooooooooo!”

That’s the sound I hear just before the true jackassery begins – the chasing around the couch, the screaming, the inevitable injury and associated howling.  This is all very familiar now.  This does not make it any less irritating.

You see, I’ve learned something.  Kids love to fight. They love to fight about supremely dumb shit.  The dumber the better.  My kids fight over who gets to use the red cup, a broken clothespin, a paper clip through which nuts and washers have been affixed (this is currently ongoing, BTW), who is a winner, which is superior – Mighty Machines or Teen Titans Go, who is older, who likes They Might Be Giants more.  If one of them is quietly engaged in something, the other will invariably attempt to join in by attempting to occupy the same square foot of floor space causing the most diabolical and unearthly screeching this side of Hades.  And if it’s a weekend morning and they wake their father up?  All the drama.


I hadn’t expected this.  The squabbling.  The noise.  Will and I both have younger brothers, but in both cases they’re nearly 10 years younger.  In my case, my (half) brother and I rarely lived under the same roof.  I had the best of both worlds: having a sibling yet pretty much being raised an only child.  I experienced a peaceful, serene childhood.   There was no one there to steal my milk or invade my room or burp in my face or fart in my presence just to be irritating or to be angry when it was my birthday and they didn’t get presents, too.  

I certainly didn’t have couch brawling.


(Now they’re arguing about who ate all the cinnamon rolls that we don’t have.)

I often think of how much quieter households with only children must be.

Does this ever stop, or am I in for roughly another 12 years of this deafening nonsense?  

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If At Worst You Don’t Succeed…

I’m sorry, y’all.  I have simply been too busy to read much less write.  At this point, I feel like a giant zit about to pop.  I can never catch up and write about everything that’s happened.  So I’ll share some tidbits in no particular order.  At the very least it’ll demonstrate that I’ve not been a lazy bum.

1. Felix turned 4.  There was a party.  It was a pretty good party.  He was very happy and excited.  And I had one of those “no shit” moments when I realized I have produced 2 children and kept them alive for a significant amount of time.  And they both really like me.  Felix calls me “MyMom.”  Just like that.  Not “mom,” “mama,” “mommy.”  I am MyMom.


2.  I helped throw an actual grown up party and it was awesome.  It was for my boss who was retiring.  We had over 50 people show up, some even from out of state.  I had so much fun.  It had been years since I had been out with friends like that.  I felt kind of alive.  Now I’m wondering what other kind of event I can plan so I can get out of the house again.
3.  I tried eyebrow threading.  Holy shitballs that hurts.  It’s like being stung repeatedly by seriously pissed off wasps.  If men had to do that the Frida Kahlo look would be all the rage.  I’ll be returning to boiling wax, thank you very much.
4.  Some jackass went through our cars last night.  There’s nothing to steal but they looked anyway, spilling all the crap out of the glove boxes.  What an asshole.  Seriously, if y’all could see my house, you would not think “I’m sure those are rich folks who have a bunch of valuables.  This 2000 4Runner is just a clever disguise for all the wealth that they possess.”  I hope they stuck their fingers in some kid boogers.  I really do.

Observe our “pools.” All the rich people have them.


5. Work.  Soul crushing and anxiety-producing.  I do truly enjoy some of the people.  That helps.  Misery does indeed love company.  But dammit I wish Will could triple his pay so I could be a full-time PTA mom.
6.  Felix still talks about his “tail.” Stella has been demanding to see pictures of me knocked up.  I feel a disturbance in the Force.  I’m going to have to answer some of “those” questions soon.  Dammit.

What is it they say about jackrabbits?


7.  Valentine’s Day was full of sugar.  I helped with the party for Stella’s class.  Even the first graders were moaning about too much sugar.  I also attended a “Valentines Day Social” the previous Friday night.  Now, when I hear of a “social” I think of quiet, murmured conversation with tea and biscuits.  That is not what this was.  It was a hybrid between a mosh pit and a discotheque. We walked in to the Chicken Dance.  That was chaotic and loud, but cute.  Then they played Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off and y’all the room blew up.  In the short time we were there, I saw one kid get knocked in the face resulting in a nosebleed and another girl gash her elbow open.  It was madness.  My Bloody Valentine, indeed. 


I think that’s it.  Looking at my calendar, things may calm down in the next week or two.  Maybe.  I do miss “talking” to y’all.

MyMom, signing out.

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Members Only

“I have a tail!” Felix excitedly tells my mother.  They’re FaceTiming each other.  In an unusual move, he requested it.  Usually Stella is the FaceTime fan, yammering on about all manner of arcane topics – how on one version of Nyancat on YouTube she was farting out pink glittery swirls rather than the usual rainbow and in another version she had a waffle for a body instead of a pop tart – while Felix does flybys.  This day, Felix craved it. Maybe because his fever virus popped back up randomly after a 2 day sabbatical (dammit) and he was feeling pitiful.

“You have a tail?” my mother asked in that grandmotherly way that they have  which suggests that they would be riveted by an hour-long discussion on the diet of the planaria worm, provided it’s coming from one of their darling grandchildren.

“Yes!  I can shake it.  It’s my penis part.  It sticks out of my butt!”  He’s so proud.  My mother proceeds to choke herself laughing so hard.  The same discussion happens again with my father about 5 minutes later.  My dad’s iPhone is an old piece of crap such that the audio cuts in and out.  I think he was laughing but I can’t be sure.

(Oh and Uncle Josh?  You and Emma were next on his FaceTime call list but I lied and said you were at work.  Otherwise you would have heard about his “tail,” too.)

I suppose I should be grateful he’s only discussing his tail rather than trying to show everyone how it sticks out and he can wag it. 

Shake it, son.

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Hear and Now

Saturday morning transcript:

Stella: “This is a puppy.  You have to marry her and read her this magazine.”

Felix: “I’m going to scratch this couch.  Gaaaaaaahh!”

Me (to self): What kind of interspecies bullshit is this?

Stella (singing off-key to the tune of Jingle Bells): “I have to get this hair out of my ukulele.  It’s going to be her crown.”

Felix:  “We ran out of triangles!”

Stella: “I want to go to the mall.”

Me: I want to go to a bar. “Why do you want to go to the mall?”

Stella: “If you like that magazine, Felix, you have to marry her until she dies.”

Felix: “What happened to my ice?!?!  Why did it melt?”

Stella: “Are you going to forget her when she dies?”

Felix: “Hey my mom!  I made a friend.  It gets super weird.” 

Stella: “I hurt my finger.  I hope it doesn’t bleed.”

Me: Holy moly it’s only 8 AM.

Stella (singing off-key to the tune of Smoke on the Water): “I want to go to the mall to buy a dress.”

Felix: “Stella!  We’re out of battery juice.  We have to tell daddy we’re out of battery juice.  Welcome to my shopping mall.”

Stella: “It’s my turn to wear the Lightning McQueen beanie.”

Felix: “Nooooooooooo!”

Me: Dear glob these children would fight over a piece of garbage in the middle of a landfill.

Felix: “It’s Mr. Rollypants.  He’s a machine.  He has a fever.”

Stella: “I have lego fever.  I feel like I’m playing with legos in my brain.”

Felix: “Actually my mom.”

Stella: “She’s your best marry-er.”

Felix: “Happy birthday to you!  Happy birthday dear Felix…”

Me: “You will clean up this other stuff before you get out legos.  Get rid of that clump of hair and the ukulele.”

Stella (shouting): “OK MOM! I  WILL LET YOU HAVE PEACE AND QUIET!”

Felix: “I don’t have enough space.  I need a Q-tip.”

Me: This cannot be any stranger than what one might hear in a mental health facility. 

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Happy Daze

I feel good.  There is plenty I could feel bad about – work things, personal things – but that is overshadowed by the good.  The sun is shining.  And I just got a text and picture from Stella’s teacher that almost brought happy tears.  I believe I’ve mentioned that one of my more glaring lack of mom skills involves hair.  I just can’t do it well.  I can’t do my own well.  I’m usually a mess.  Well, when I picked Stella up Friday, someone else had clearly done her hair.  It was in a lovely French-style braid.  It was a braid that there was no way in hell Will could have managed that morning.  Stella confirmed that Mrs. S had done it, and I texted her, admiring her skill.  Today, Mrs. S did an even fancier style and sent the cutest pics of the two of them together.  She said she loved “special morning time” with my kid, and that she “would soar.”  I’d show the screenshot, but I would never do anything to jeopardize her privacy.  But how amazing is that?

The only sad thing this weekend was this kitty.  Apparently it's out of candy.

The only sad thing this weekend was this kitty. Apparently it’s out of candy.

The weekend was busy and good.  No drama.  We got to visit the Asian market and see the annual lion dancing for the lunar new year.  We ran into several other friends there, and everyone but Felix loved it.  It just isn’t his thing.  Even though this year we remembered hearing protection, he spent most of the event clinging to my neck like a terrified monkey.  The rest of the day he looked reproachfully at me and complained that he “got gassed” at the lion dancing.  I didn’t think firecracker smoke qualified as gassing, but who am I to judge?  And in preparation for the event, I had resurrected my “Countries of the World” binder, choosing Vietnam.  I had found information on some of their customary dresses/uniforms, as well as traditional new year celebration foods.  We got to see and try some.  It was a full-on sensory lesson.  I love it.

I was determined not to damage my children's hearing this year.

I was determined not to damage my children’s hearing this year.

Lions dancing

Lions dancing

Felix begrudgingly feeding the lions

Felix begrudgingly feeding the lions

Stella enthusiastically feeding the lions

Stella enthusiastically feeding the lions

These are traditional cakes made of sticky rice, mung beans, and I have no earthly idea what the stuff in the middle is.

These are traditional cakes made of sticky rice, mung beans, and I have no earthly idea what the stuff in the middle is.

At the risk of sounding culturally insensitive (and maybe we just didn't eat it right?  Maybe you need sauce?), it was like a giant piece of really gross sushi.  But Stella and I get mad props for being open-minded and trying it.

At the risk of sounding culturally insensitive (and maybe we just didn’t eat it right? Maybe you need sauce?), it was like a giant piece of really gross sushi. But Stella and I get mad props for being open-minded and trying it.

I pimped my husband out to build  carpenter bee and butterfly houses for my Daisy Scout troop.  I think he enjoyed it.  Both afternoons, he and the kids just kind of hung out outside.  We grilled out.  We cooked hot dogs on a campfire in the backyard.  We were going to go to a museum event Sunday afternoon, but everyone seemed chill to  stay home. We just stayed outside.  It was pretty damn wonderful.

Carpenter bee house and butterfly house (minus the front panel)

Carpenter bee house and butterfly house (minus the front panel)

A byproduct of woodworking are scraps.  These scraps are either burned in the fire pit or, with the assistance of daddy's nail gun, turned into fabulous "machines."

A byproduct of woodworking are scraps. These scraps are either burned in the fire pit or, with the assistance of daddy’s nail gun, turned into fabulous “machines.”

I’m posting this, despite it not being terribly interesting or amusing, because some days it IS damn hard to think positive, to feel positive.  There is plenty that I – that we all – could worry and obsess about.  But worrying and obsessing rarely does much other than raise your blood pressure and anxiety.  Bad shit happens.  Bad shit gets handled.  But good shit happens in between.  Let’s try to have a good week, shall we?

Stop growing dammit.

Stop growing dammit.

 

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Braining the Swamp

I’m stressed out, y’all.  There’s too much going on these days.  My mind is in a constant state of list-making, always planning.  And the venom and bile out there.  The politics.  I just can’t deal with that right now.  Will any of this ever settle down or are we all going to stay pissed off until the end of time?  Isn’t the world tired of arguing yet?

Love

Love

My workplace is about to go through a pretty severe upheaval.  My direct boss is retiring (more on that in a minute), we just got a new boss’s boss.  We will be packing up and moving to another floor in the building yet again – it will be my 6th office in 10 years.  At least the crappy cube walls will look the same.  Continuity and all.  I will eventually get a new direct boss.  I just want to be left alone to do my job.  Silly me.

And I’m planning not one but two damn parties.  I’m not an entertainer.  I’m a wallflower.  This freaks me out.  But my boss deserves something special and it just kind of fell into my lap.  I suck at this.  Kids’ parties I can kind of handle at this point – and gee, Felix’s birthday party is 2 days after my boss’ party.  He’s only turning 4, so his expectations are still pretty low.  He even wants another Lightning McQueen party.   Bingo!  This will be my 3rd.  Hell, I still have napkins left over from last year’s McQueen party and a bulging Pinterest board.   I was getting really nervous for a while when he kept asking for a Beethoven party.  That would have been tougher.  McQueen pinatas are a dime a dozen.  Beethoven pinatas not so much.   But my boss?  It’s an after-hours thing at a bar.  It’s going to be huge – at least 50 people, methinks.  I have young kids.  I don’t go to bars. Gah!

We did have a pretty good weekend.  We had a birthday party Saturday.  Then the kids and I hung outside for a good long while.  I threw the frisbee with Stella until she got it stuck on the roof while Felix made “carbohydrate rosemary soup” for my car.  Don’t ask.  Yesterday was action-packed.  We went to an arboretum and broke their “no picnicking” rule.  Bunch of fascists.  I gave each kid a paper bag so they could collect things to bring home and check out under the microscope.  Felix collected so much I thought the damn bag was going to rupture.  img_9610img_9609

Then we crossed the river to see an art exhibit I wanted to check out – Walter Anderson.  We had an hour to kill before the museum opened, so we just kind of hung out in their “square.”  It was a strange place.  It almost had a Star’s Hollow/Gilmore Girls vibe but without the pretty scenery or diner.  We grilled burgers for dinner and Will’s brother came by.  I love that, as he “gets” to read to Stella before bed.  It was an extremely well-rounded day.

Poseur Star's Hollow had giant gears.  Felix was ecstatic.

Poseur Star’s Hollow had giant gears. Felix was ecstatic.

There’s just always so much to do.  Retirement party, birthday party, oh crap Valentine’s Day and associated school events, trying to get Felix into pre-K (y’all cross fingers and toes for me on that one), teacher appreciation luncheon, summer camp planning, Daisy Scouts (and I’ve volunteered Will to build carpenter bee and butterfly houses and I’m trying to find a volunteer from a dog rescue organization to come talk to the girls).   I gotta find a way to chill out a bit.

Sorry.  This blog was awful.  Guess I just needed a brain dump.  Have a great day!img_9588

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The Lion, the Switch, and the Wardrobe

You know how we all get these epiphanies in our lives – which seem to come with greater frequency as we get older – when we realize how much our lives, expectations, and goals change?  I think for most of us, it’s not necessarily an entirely happy epiphany.  I’ve been having  lots of these lately.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe it’s in conjunction with a new year (although I’m a notorious scoffer about resolutions).  Regardless, I feel like I’m having one of those mini-Renaissances we all seem to have from time to time.  Some of it’s big things, some of it’s little things.  I just hope it continues.

For instance, I am owning and recognizing how differently my style of parenting is than I ever would have thought.  Hell, I never really thought about it until it was happening.  If you had told me that I’d be all about attachment parenting and co-sleeping, I would have laughed while I punched you in the ear.  Yet here I am.  I guess this is a thing now as we’re having one of those internal domestic spats in which a portion of this is up for discussion.  Essentially, Felix still likes to seek me out at night, usually around 4:00 AM.  Some nights he looks for me much earlier.  Some nights not at all.  But in order not to disturb Will (and to allow the most uninterrupted sleep for the whole household), the Dude and I will snuggle on the couch until either I have to get up for work or the kids start stirring.  Will hates it and thinks I should “pull the bandaid off.”

I don’t want to.  I’ll admit: snuggling with my little boy is one of my greatest joys, and it’s one that is coming to an end fast.  When he curls up against me, he’s all warmth and softness.  There’s none of that rowdy, loud, “pew pew” little boy crap.  He’s still my baby.  So as far as I’m concerned, that bandaid can stay right where it is.  I’ll even buy a new box.

See?  At night he's still and quiet and not covered with dirt and goo.

See? At night he’s still and quiet and not covered with dirt and goo.

Then there’s me.  Like most moms, I’ve let myself go, big time.  Not only is my appearance godawful, I haven’t done anything meaningful for and with myself in about 7 years.  So I started another stint on the Whole 30 Plan on January 2nd.  I have 11 more days to go.  As hard as it is, it feels good to do it.  I’m trying to move around more.  I’m trying to take more care with my appearance.  I read a book.  One that I wanted to read just for fun.  Y’all, that’s huge.  I used to be a voracious reader.  When Stella was born, that stopped.  Sure, I managed to slowly claw my way through the Game of Thrones books, finishing the last one shortly after Felix was born, but that’s it.  Everything else is either a kids book, a book on parenting, or stuff about groundwater contamination.  So dagnabbit (Felix and I both are working on our swearing), I’m making time to read.  I deleted a bunch of those goofy iPhone games which turn into obsessions and time sinks, yet yield nothing of value.  I’m thinking about experimenting with some sewing projects.  I’m knitting Stella a scarf.

And I/we need to shake off cobwebs and start doing more stuff – both productive and just for fun.  Today I’m on absolute cloud 9: I  managed to get Radiohead tickets for New Orleans.  I used to adore going to concerts.  I practically lived in New Orleans’ concert venues for about a decade.  Now?  I haven’t seen a concert since the Cure in 1998.  I’ve gotten rid of most of my old beloved concert shirts.  And dammit, I’m going to buy a Radiohead shirt.  I don’t care what Will says.new2

I’ve got to get productive about being happy.  I’m tired of just eking by.

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Chuck In the Middle With You

Last week, something kind of awful happened.  Stella came home bearing 2 birthday party invitations – both to Chuck E. Cheese, both the same weekend.  One Saturday, one Sunday.  Yikes.  That’s a lot of Chuck.  That’s a lot of tempting pizza I cannot partake in, as I’m only on day 18 of another round of the Whole 30.  That’s not one but two gifts to buy, right as we are attempting to make right the installation of our new AC system that went in last week.

The Saturday invitation was for Stella’s BFF, the little girl she’s grown up with.  That’s a no-brainer.  We will attend that one cheerfully.  But the Sunday dose of Chuck?  That was for a random girl in her class that I don’t know well.  And to be a bit snarky, her mother didn’t RSVP for Stella’s party, nor did they show up.  I’ve reached a point where that’s a big throbbing nerve within the etiquette center of my brain.


Last year, we would have gone.  We had such a shitty year in school – her behavior was often so gnarly – that I jumped at any chance for her to get together with her peers away from the Harpy.  We went to every birthday party we were invited to – quite a few, since we’re still in the “you must invite every child to the party” phase of school.  But this year?  Not so much.

Y’all, it sounds stupid, but this was a huge epiphany.  We don’t have to go to every stinking birthday party.  I can relax.  Stella is ok.  She’s more than ok.  Granted, she still is rather immature compared to many of her peers.  She still acts a bit nutty at times.  Maybe it’s the ADHD.  I don’t know.  Regardless, while she may not have lots of friends, she has some.  And sometimes she just digs being on her own, and I can totally respect and understand that.  


I ask her every single day who she played with at recess.  Sometimes I get names.  One day Sarah was her best friend and they played tag.  Other days she’s played ball with a group of boys.  But much of the time, she says she just hangs out by herself.  When the worried  neurotic mom asks if that’s because no one would play with her and ohglobtheyhateherbecausesheactsweirdsometimes, she always replies that she just felt like doing her own thing.

And it’s ok.

It’s like a weight has come off of us, at least for now.  For starters, maybe there won’t be as many Chuck E Cheese parties in my future as I expected.  On a serious note, I have no doubt as she gets older and becomes more aware – as the era of “you  must invite every child” comes to an end and she starts hearing of parties and events that she was not included in, there will be tears.  Hell, I’ll probably cry more than she will.  But she’ll be ok.

(Right?)

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