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.

Early

Early

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 https://larva225.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/the-bum-will-come-out-tomorrow/ 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.

Insult to In-Jury


Or not.  I dodged that judicial bullet and got dismissed after the first day.  That doesn’t mean last week wasn’t action-packed.  It was so busy that I had no time for blogging.  Hence, this will be a blog-mash-up.  Sorry.

While I was stewing in the jury assembly room Monday, we had horrendous weather come through town.  It looked like midnight when I looked outside at 9:30 AM.  It was intensely uncomfortable, being so cut off from my kids or news of what was happening (cell phones were not allowed on premises).  When I ran home later, our house was ok, our back porch looked like Carol Ann’s closet (Sorry about all the Poltergeist references.  I simply cannot help myself.), and we had no power.  We had no power for 3 days.  We did our best.  Fortunately, the temps stayed low, so we didn’t swelter like we would after a hurricane.  I told the kids we were “practice camping.”  They did great, all things considering.  We had “campfire breakfasts” on our Coleman stove.  They liked the candles and flashlights.  They were pissed about the Spongebob moratorium.  By the end, we all were much relieved to have power back.  I was tired of selling “no power is cool,” and the kids were certainly tired of buying it.

Cross over, Carol Ann!

Cross over, Carol Ann!

Trying to rock out breakfast by headlamp and propane camp stove

Trying to rock out breakfast by headlamp and propane camp stove

Spongebooooooob!

Spongebooooooob!

Work has been extra special.  Thursday (fortunately I was telecommuting at home), we got notification of  problems with our water supply.  When I came back in Friday, these signs were everywhere.

No ambiguity here

No ambiguity here

It’s not even “Please refrain from drinking.”  It’s “Don’t Touch It.”  They have since claimed it safe to drink, but haven’t supplied any information about what happened and why the water became so discolored.  We do water sampling for our jobs, dammit.  We’re not dummies.  If any crowd needs a bit more information, it’s us.  I’ll be buying bottled water for a while up here.

This past weekend was the annual Farm Day we go to as well as a cousin’s birthday party in which we brought our foam machine.  I saw some buzz on Facebook later, speculating if we rent it out.  Hmmmmmm.  Maybe a way to earn some extra scratch.

Horsey love.  This was the "princess horse."

Horsey love. This was the “princess horse.”

Giddy up, dude!

Giddy up, dude!

They have lots of paint at Farm Day.

They have lots of paint at Farm Day.

Foam!!

Foam!!

Felix just isn't in to the foam.  He prefers more quiet, solitary fun.

Felix just isn’t in to the foam. He prefers more quiet, solitary fun.

Anyway, gotta go.  Work has fired up like crazy.  Next week, especially, I’m scheduled within an inch of my life.

Y’all have a good week.

Soup du Jury


It feels like we’re in a bit of a transitional period.  Will and I both are having some upsets – both good and mostly bad – at work.  Stella is already counting down to “big school.”  Crispi has left the area in her magical rolling house and we’re now prepping for other major kid events like Farm Day, Stella’s first dance recital, and the arrival of JoePop and Grammy, whom the kids haven’t seen in 8 months.

It’s time for the water park in the backyard, although the backyard would probably beg to differ.  It’s a swamp.  We have weeds that are easily 1.5’ tall, but you can’t cut the grass (the stuff that hasn’t drowned, anyway) because of the ankle-deep water and mud.  I guess a few loads of wading pool water can’t hurt much.  The kids are happy.  I had them out for 2 hours.

There is no shade at all in my backyard.  There is only sunscreen.

There is no shade at all in my backyard. There is only sunscreen.

Aaaaaand 2 hours later.  Couldn't even stay awake for snack and a story.

Aaaaaand 2 hours later. Couldn’t even stay awake for snack and a story.

Time always feels short.  I know that’s normal.  It doesn’t help that I have to leave all next week open for federal jury duty.  I’m a jury virgin.  I’m also a super-planner control-freak, so this willy-nilly “call the night before to see if you have to report and to receive further instructions” doesn’t sit well.  I also have an issue with the no cell phone rule.  I have 2 young kids.  I need to be able to check periodically to see that all is well (and make sure I can be there to pick them up from school and provide them with dinner and bath and…).  Sigh.  Just gotta deal with it.

Dagnabbit.

Dagnabbit.

P.S. Because it doesn’t necessarily need a post of its own, but I still want to  mention it,  I won a cookbook from Robert Irvine!  I never win anything.  He has this “Flat Robert” character that he asks for creative photos of engaged in different activities.  He asked for an April Fool’s pic.  I dug out my pics of the time I put 6 boxes of rubber lobsters in a colleague’s office and Presto! Sorry.  Nerd alert.

I'm such a dork.

I’m such a dork.

P.S.S.  Will set Stella up her own email address.  This could be fun. I sent her one from my office this morning, showing her how serious my business was.photo 6photo 8

Puppet Maestro


I can’t be the only person who’s noticed this, but I believe that living with a child is akin to living with someone suffering from multiple personality disorder.  It’s like the United States of Tara minus the cursing and sex.

My son is the sweetest little dude.  I still get all gushy mom-like just thinking about him.  His latest?  He’s enamored with Beethoven.  We watch Beethoven flash mob videos on YouTube all the time.  He points out the cellos, the violins, the oboes.  He conducts.  He headbangs to Ode to Joy in the car, immediately demanding “more Beethoven” when his favorite part ends.

Sorry.  Gushy, as I said.

He’s generally sweet, sunny.  He’s damn cute.  He flirts with everyone.

See?  Just happiness and cute.

See? Just happiness and cute.

photo 4photo 5

And then something happens, and out comes the tempest.  This  morning, he howled most of the way to school.  Why?  Because I wouldn’t let him bring his giant-ass Lightning McQueen pillow pet with him.  He’s never brought it with him before.  It’s not like suddenly I became Asshole Mom who is separating him from his beloved McQueen.

Napping with Lightning

Napping with Lightning

McQueeeeeeeen!

McQueeeeeeeen!

After about 12 straight minutes of hysterics, I put on Ode to Joy.  I had to do something.  Stella was alternating between clapping her hands over her ears to drown out the screaming and staring at her brother, obviously trying to decide whether or not to smack him upside his head.

Thank god for Beethoven.

Blonde Momshell


In keeping with my theme of getting back into the world and away from romper room, my mom and I did something pretty daring (for us):  we ditched the kids and husbands and drove down to New Orleans.  There were no major plans.  We would just cruise the French Market, hit a few cute shops, and eat somewhere that children or husbands may not willingly dine.

For those of you not local or otherwise tuning in to the Weather Channel, we’ve been hammered by rain here.  Like blinding, 1-3” per hour rain.  For days.  Hell, for 2 weeks.  Everything is flooded.  New Orleans is below sea level.  Us driving there during a flash flood event would be akin to Noah steering his ark toward Venice looking for dry land.

It rained the whole way.  As we were inching along the interstate, my mother kept saying “holy shit.”  I finally told her if I did a shot every time she said “holy shit,” I’d be wasted before the Superdome was visible.

We're on the way.  Holy shit.

We’re on the way. Holy shit.

It rained on us the whole time we slogged around.  We were both grateful that we had no open wounds on our feet, as more than once we were ankle deep in water.  It is the French Quarter, after all.  There was so much rain that water was bubbling up from around building foundations.  Gutters and rain spouts were geysers.

A little damp

A little damp

Vieux faithful

Vieux faithful

We had fun.  Despite it being soggy, we both found vintage kimonos straight from Japan.  We hit Café du Monde.  And while we were too bedraggled to eat anywhere with linen napkins, we still had a fine lunch in Jackson Square.

Powdered sugar.  Oh yeah.

Powdered sugar. Oh yeah.

photo 7

I'm not sure what Crispi is doing with her hands.  Soaking in it?

I’m not sure what Crispi is doing with her hands. Soaking in it?

We’ll go back.  Next time we’ll ride a streetcar.  Maybe next time we won’t need hip boots.

Returning home a bit worse for wear....

Returning home a bit worse for wear….

Bug O’ War


We’re sort of a nature-y, naturalist-type family.  Will and I used to spend loads of time in kayaks and tents (pre-kid), and we hope to incorporate more of that sort of thing now that the kids are getting older and easier to herd from activity to activity.  Along that vein, we like to take time to smell the flowers.  And study their structure.  And see what’s living/dining on them.  And hey!  What’s living under that paving stone?

Recently turtle encounter.  Reptiles are our friends.

Recent turtle encounter. Reptiles are our friends.

Shot from work. I wish the kids could've seen this one.

Shot from work. I wish the kids could’ve seen this one.

We have snakes in our yard.  Quite a few.  We take pains to show them to the kids.  They’re mainly garter/ribbon snakes, so they’re harmless.  I found one living in a hole next to our dryer vent.  Stella and I crept out and watched it for a good long while.  She thought it was neat.

One of our friendly back yard residents.

One of our friendly back yard residents.

Same thing with bugs and spiders.  Stella is entering in that age where I think lots of her comrades are prone to screaming and running away from any bug.  She has done that more than a few times.  We’re trying to teach her not to be reflexively afraid of bugs.  Most are harmless (with the notable exceptions of fire ants, stinging caterpillars, and wasps). Either way, you can observe them and leave them be.  We caught this cool (and rather large) wolf spider recently.  We had a nice discussion about it at dinner. She wanted to name it.  I suggested “Free,” since we were about to set it free outside.  I was told that “Free” wasn’t a name.  We went with Liberace.  It was the closest thing I could come to Liberate.  She dug it.  We’ll deal with the pianist later.

World, meet Liberace.  Liberace, meet the world.

World, meet Liberace. Liberace, meet the world.

Roaches are hard for me.  I’d rather deal with snakes and spiders than roaches.  Yes, it’s totally irrational.  I do recognize that this is the same behavior I’m trying to teach my kids not to express.  Hypocrisy aside, I have managed to squelch my own would-be reactions to these things and react more calmly.  Yes, I still kill the sons of bitches.  But I try not to scream, cuss, cry, and shudder while doing so.

This is the way I secretly feel when I'm killing roaches.

This is the way I secretly feel when I’m killing roaches.

There are enough real things to be afraid of in this world.  We don’t need to waste the energy being afraid of things that can’t hurt us.

Stella and her daddy looking (safely) at a gator.

Stella and her daddy looking (safely) at a gator.

Mad Chatter


Holy moly, it’s been busy.  I just realized I haven’t posted in over a week.  What’s been going on?

Easter.  It was good.  It was more manageable this year, in that E. Bunny didn’t go way overboard.  Less toys, less candy.  More fun.

We made the kids work for their candy this year.  E Bunny's basket had a hole in it and dropped their candy.  Fortunately, he left Stella note telling her he thought the rupture occurred over at the park.

We made the kids work for their candy this year. E Bunny’s basket had a hole in it and dropped their candy. Fortunately, he left Stella note telling her he thought the rupture occurred over at the park.

We’ve been doing a lot at the kids’ school.  Will took our foam machine over there recently.  Let’s just say we either left the kids with a huge amount of joy or great nightmare fodder.  Regardless, they want us to come back sometime this summer.  Hells yes.

Final tweaks for Foam on Tour.

Final tweaks for Foam on Tour.

Foam for All

Foam for All

Crispi has been around, and my 2 aunts came through for a quick visit and some furniture refinishing.  Good times, good looking results, and yet more activity.  We’ve also dragged Crispi around a lot, such as to a recent trip to the strawberry patch.

Felix was delighted that in addition to strawberries, the farm had diggers.

Felix was delighted that in addition to strawberries, the farm had diggers.

I have discovered CostCo.  It’s amazing.  Will got so pissed at me when I wouldn’t stop raving about it that he tried to forbid me from saying “CostCo” one more time.  Hence, I’ve named it Voldemart.  He asked me: “you think you’re a pretty funny shit, don’t you?”  Why, yes.  Sometimes I reckon I do.  That’s what he gets.

The dude eating a carrot.  I didn't buy this at Voldemart.

The dude eating a carrot. I didn’t buy this at Voldemart.

I’ve gotten totally into making sandwiches lately.  No clue why or why I felt the need to mention that.

Work has been crazy.

And best of all: GAME OF THRONES.  And with that, I’m off to order HBO Now.