Girls Just Wanna Have Fund

I’ve been AWOL from the blog I suppose.  Work has been busy.  On top of that, I’ve entered into that sphincter-tightening state of mind in which one realizes that the holidays are careening headlong into one’s life.  I mean, Thanksgiving is under 2 weeks away.  We’re going camping for that.  A week later I’m hosting some ladies from Felix’s school for the annual cupcake exchange.  That means I have to clean.  I have to decorate.  And our house is a jumbled mess because we’re finally moving Will out of his man cave so that the kids can have their own rooms.  It’s chaos.  It’s total chaos.

And I feel like an ass for saying that after what happened in Paris.  I am an expert on changing diapers and cleaning buttered spaghetti noodles off the floor, not foreign affairs.  But it sucks.  It all sucks.  And I’m leaving it at that.

We also have finally received our product from the cookie dough/popcorn fundraiser.  All I can say is “what the fuck?”  This was the second fundraiser we were encouraged to participate in.  It was a prix fixe catalog, with everything being $16.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I was also simultaneously pimping candy for the school at my office, but we won’t mention that.  Oui Oui did pretty much all of the work for this one, selling to Will’s large extended family.  I hadn’t thought much more about it since.  The orders were submitted almost 2 months ago, and in the meantime FIVE OTHER FUNDRAISERS HAVE OCCURRED.  I’ll be honest: at this point, I put that shit straight in the trash.  It’s absurd.  It’s obscene.

But finally the cookie dough/popcorn arrived.  Oh, and since it’s frozen, you had to make arrangements to pick it up at the school between 2:30 and 4:30, also avoiding car pool/dismissal.  So not only were we responsible for selling the product, we had to take leave off of work to pick this shit up.  Never. Again.

Y’all, I was so pissed off and embarrassed when I saw this stuff.  The cookie dough was in a rather small box.  It doesn’t look like a $16 box of dough.  There was soup mix, too.  Also $16.  It looks like it came out of a dollar store.  But it’s the popcorn that killed me.  I actually ordered some, figuring I could put it in cute gift bags for Xmas.  I mean, $16 worth of popcorn ought to be pretty generous – like those big ol’ tubs they sell at Walgreen’s every year at Xmas time.  No.  It’s the size of a family-sized bag of Cheetos.  It probably cost $1.50 to make and package.  I wanted to puke.  I still do.

You wanna see what $16 worth of popcorn looks like?  Yeah.  Me neither.  (And this better be epic popcorn.  Like toe-curling good.  Somehow I doubt it.)

You wanna see what $16 worth of popcorn looks like? Yeah. Me neither. (And this better be epic popcorn. Like toe-curling good. Somehow I doubt it.)

Will finally took notice of it as I packed the stuff up to send to his family.  He hit the roof, demanding that we return it.  Of course you can’t do that.  But we have learned a painful and expensive lesson.  Never. Ever. Again.

So I send this message to the school and to all of you parents of future school children:  This is a racket.  It’s not cool.  If you want to shake down families for the supposed benefit of the school, at least make sure the product is reasonable.  Better yet, just ask outright for donations.  I’d be happy to cut a check once to ensure I don’t have to see all of these blasted fundraising catalogs.  I’m more than happy to send $2-5 when asked so my kid can have free dress on Friday.  Otherwise, you’re not getting another fundraising dime out of me unless you send your catalog home with a muscled man wielding a baseball bat.


Brevity Is the Soul of Whit(aker)

Dr. Whitaker.  That’s the name of my OB-GYN.  I saw her the other day at Wal-Mart.  I had a very strange and strong reaction to it. I don’t know why.  I suppose it was in part because she had been on my mind lately; I need to schedule my annual as well as my inaugural mammogram – a bullet I’ve thus far dodged due to pregnancy and nursing.  I guess seeing her seemed surreal there in the Wally-world pharmacy department amongst the lotions and Q-tips.  She was in her typical scrubs talking on her phone.  I half wanted to run up and hug her.  Instead, I sort of slunk away.  It was rather like seeing Jon Hamm on the street -looking dashing- while you’re without makeup in stained sweats – only without the element of sexiness to it. (I’ve finally been watching Mad Men.  Can you tell?)

It’s crazy.  I know.

I came to Dr. W when I was in a really bad place.  I called her office literally days after my miscarriage, devastated, hormonal, and seething at the way the staff of my previous OB’s office had treated me.  I mean, gosh!  How dare I miscarry on a holiday weekend? Long story short, I was knocked up again by the time I had my first appointment not quite 2.5 months later.  She was awesome.  I was neurotic – more so than usual- and hormonal, terrified something would go wrong again.

The blogs are there if you want to read them.  Dr. W got me through 2 pregnancies and 2 c-sections, including that first agonizing one where I had to make the choice to go that route.  She countered my neuroses with calmness and humor.  After both deliveries, I always felt a bit sad at the thought of not seeing her weekly anymore.  Doctors to me had always been quacks.  Not Dr. W.

Dr. W and Felix, several seconds old.  My hero and the final occupant of my uterus together....

Dr. W and Felix, several seconds old. My hero and the final occupant of my uterus together….

So I felt like a ninny at Wal-Mart. I  was reminded of something that I try not to think about: I’m never having another baby.  And dammit- that makes me so very sad.  As crazy as it sounds at 42 years old, having barely survived the past 5 years with my sanity and family intact (and some days I wonder about that), if age and money weren’t an obstacle – oh yeah, and if I hadn’t asked to tie my tubes- I’d totally be down with another baby.  Or two.

So yes.  I admit it.  Some days, I regret shutting down the factory.  I’ve even thought once or twice when I thought I might be late that maybe I was one of those freaks whose body scoffed at tubal ligation and wouldn’t that be wonderful.

I thought about all that stuff again while putting mayo and mustard in my cart for Halloween-ey deviled eggs for my kids’ school parties.  And I’m still not sure why I hid from my doctor.  She’s sort of my hero in a strange way, I suppose.  The reality is that as shitty as it is, I’m closer by far to menopause than any further excursions into motherhood, even if that were non-surgically possible at this point.  And THAT is a kick in the ass.  Most of the time, I still feel like a clueless kid floundering about in the world.  I hope Dr. W, my hero, is ready to help me with that.

I Put a Spell(ing) on You

As she gets in touch with her sass, Stella is using her new-found ability of spelling.  Instead of just yelling or telling us “no,” she’s spelling her way through it.  It’s not enough to say “no,” it must be spelled out.  Every time.  And yes, I know that’s not a big deal – hell, Felix can spell no.  But lights and shoes must be “O – F – F.”   If you ask her if she knows something, often she’ll toss her head and respond that yes she knows XYZ and furthermore she knows that know starts with a K.

What in the world are we going to do when she’s a teenager?  I guess I’ll teach her to spell G R O U N D E D.

I am happy that she wasn't too prissy to disembowel the pumpkin!

I am happy that she wasn’t too prissy to disembowel the pumpkin!

photo 2photo 4


I may soon need some medication for anxiety.  I simply cannot keep drinking boxes of wine to relax.  In addition to the usual stress – work, housework, meals, laundry, doctor appointments, dance classes, oh yeah and I’m being deposed at work – we’re now running into holidays.  While fun, these are bringing new varieties of stress that I’ve not yet had to endure.

For instance Halloween: I have 2 kids.  Duh.  Now they’re at different schools.  And of course each school is having special events.  This does not compute.  I cannot possible be 2 places at once.  This stresses me out and breaks my heart.  Do I skip Felix’s?  Stella – we’re learning the hard way – does not do well when other parents are there and we/I are/am not.  Felix seems more easy-going.  But he’s my little bitty dude.  My last baby.  What in the hell do you do?

And then some brainiac decided that Stella’s school should have “grandparents’ day.”  That’s well and good but on this particular occasion, Stella will not have an available grandparent within 1,000 miles.  Will she flip out?  Should one of us go as a surrogate?  I just don’t know.  On days like that, I wish I could just bring her to the office with me and avoid it.

I know this only gets harder and more complicated.  Parents of more than one kid: how do you do it?????  I need hints that don’t involve alcohol or pharmaceuticals.

It does seem terrifying sometimes!

It does seem terrifying sometimes!

The Life of Pi(ergalini)

Once upon a time when I was a sophomore in high school, I had the best science teacher in my young life – a man named David Piergalini.  Everyone called him Pierre.  He taught biology.   This man was a maestro at teaching.  I can still remember his lessons on evolution and stories about “Chuck the Duck” and his webbed feet illustrating the principles of adaptation.  Over 20 years later, I can still hear him talk about that.

I was fortunate in high school to have loads of wonderful teachers, but Pierre was the best.  I’ve since tried to look him up and find out what happened to him but could never find a thing.  He’s one of those teachers you’d love to reach out to and say thank you for having such an impact on my life.  He’s probably part of the reason I gravitated towards science.

I’ve also had crappy teachers.  I can remember Mrs. Daniels – my 2nd grade teacher.  She was a mean bitch.  I can remember putting my head down on my desk and crying the first day of school, as she threatened to pop us with a bolo paddle if we misbehaved.  I also had Mrs. Knode in 3rd grade.  In true jerk-face kid tradition we made up rhymes about Mrs. Knode and the commode.  She had it coming, though.

Every school year is a gamble.  I hadn’t thought about that in years until recently.  I’m happy to say Stella and the Harpy seem to be reaching some sort of stasis.  Her behavior charts have been damn near perfect for weeks.  I just crunched the numbers (data driven monster that I am)  and out of 155 data points, only 1% are red, 11% yellow, with a whopping 77% green.  We’re now shifting our attention to making sure she completes her work.

I'm happy to say Stella is making friends at school...

I’m happy to say Stella is making friends at school…

as illustrated by Sunday's Chuck E Cheese birthday party.

as illustrated by Sunday’s Chuck E Cheese birthday party.

I'm accepting - not so graciously - that there will be many more of these to come.

I’m accepting – not so graciously – that there will be many more of these to come.

I still think Stella and the Harpy are not a good fit.  But I don’t get up every school day with a sense of dread.  I now wait until I’ve left school property to fish out her behavior chart.  We may actually survive this.

But please oh please, gods of the classrooms: give my little girl a Pierre next year, ok?  I think we’ve earned it.

Mermaid in America

We took a brief break from all things Halloween to take a special trip down to the aquarium in New Orleans.  The reason?  Some of the Weeki Wachee Mermaids were making a guest appearance.  And anyone who’s read my blog for a while knows that Stella has had a deep and long-running love affair with mermaids that goes above and beyond any affection for the Disney princess version for years now.

So Saturday morning we loaded up, Stella in her now-way-too-small pink mermaid costume (Note to self: we totally need a new mermaid costume, particularly since the side seam of this one gave up on life on our trip), and hit the road for NOLA.    We kept it a secret so that she thought it was a typical trip to the aquarium.  Her little mind was blown.

She stayed glued to that glass for at least 15 minutes

She stayed glued to that glass for at least 15 minutes

Note the divers nearby...

Note the divers nearby…

with sticks, to discourage any sharks or larger fish that become a bit too inquisitive!

with sticks, to discourage any sharks or larger fish that become a bit too inquisitive!

I was a bit disappointed, as I had wanted to get that look immortalized on camera – her expression when she first saw the mermaid swimming in the huge Gulf of Mexico tank alongside sharks and turtles.  The way the room was set up, it just wasn’t possible.  But she was so excited.  So to any Weeki Wachee readers out there, thanks for letting us borrow some mermaids!  It was a once in a lifetime experience for my little girl.

This guy was a hoot.  Felix thought the beard was Santa-like.  I said "yeah, like Santa with a fish tail."  Neptune was a good sport about it.

This guy was a hoot. Felix thought the beard was Santa-like. I said “yeah, like Santa with a fish tail.” Neptune was a good sport about it.

Stella totally thinks mermaids are real now.  And you know what?  I’m not inclined to burst that bubble.  She believes in Santa and the Easter Bunny after all.  Why not mermaids?

This was so worth the trip!

This was so worth the trip!

Lesson Than Zero

It happens every October: we get scheduled to within an inch of our lives.  We go from having absolutely nothing to do in August to a fairly active September to a crush of activity in October.  I wish there was some way to spread it out so we could do more. Last weekend we boo’d at the zoo and had a Halloween-y/science-y play date.  This weekend will be mad.  So mad, in fact, that I’ve had to draft a surrogate parent to help  me take the kids to a haunted swamp hike.  We’re doing a special surprise activity tomorrow, and Sunday, after a birthday party (at Chuck E Cheese *groaning*) we’ll try to hit a historic museum’s Halloween gig.  Hell, we’re so busy we haven’t even had a chance to carve our pumpkin.

Zoo train selfie.  Damn.  I may need one of those stupid sticks.

Zoo train selfie. Damn. I may need one of those stupid sticks.

Science princesses

Science princesses

Introducing Princess Captain America and Regular Captain America.

Introducing Princess Captain America and Regular Captain America.

And then there’s the more mundane stuff, but stuff that needs to be done nonetheless.  Just yesterday we took both children to get their flu shots.  Yeah, that sucked.  That sucked bad.  Stella now knows what you’re doing.  And despite the fact that she’ll start laughing as soon as it’s over, she’ll holler and caterwaul up to that point.  And of course you’re back there waiting for 30 minutes while she screams and cries and Felix climbs the walls chattering about wheels and sticks and suckers.

I blame Daniel Tiger and those stupid episodes about shots.  My kid used to be a shot boss.  Now she’s afraid BECAUSE DANIEL TIGER TOLD HER TO BE.  Stick it up your ass, Daniel Tiger.  Thanks for using the Force on my kid and implanting dark thoughts and fears.  You’re an asshole.

Stella has been improving at school, or at least I think she has been.  We continue to monitor and chart absolutely everything.  I’ve also taken to drawing little cartoon characters based on “issues” we’re having on our white board every morning with encouraging messages.  She loves it.  She gets angry if there’s not a new drawing and message before school every day.  Her favorites are the Happy Un-Scary Potty (don’t ask) and The Incomplete.  The problem is I cannot draw.  I suck.  It’s painful.  If only I had time, I’d take some art lessons.

Who am I kidding?  I’d take a nap.

The Pen is M.I.T.ier Than the Sword

Sorry I’ve been quiet.  It’s been a wild week or so.  We also just got back from our annual beach vacation which we desperately needed as you’ll see.

Beach!!!  And nary a Harpy in sight.

Beach!!! And nary a Harpy in sight.

Annual family selfie at the Purple Octopus

Annual family selfie at the Purple Octopus

We always do Halloween at the beach. This may be my favorite pic ever.

We always do Halloween at the beach. This may be my favorite pic ever.

So, school adjustment has been rocky.  What I’ve learned so far is that we really did just draw the shortest straw possible with the Harpy.  I’ve now had a chance to hobnob with other parents – past and current – and this woman is universally panned.  Stella’s behavior charts are now almost entirely green.  I’ll be very interested to see A) what her first progress report will show, and B) what the feedback will be in our next conference.  It’s not yet scheduled, but you’d better believe it’s coming….

As for hobnobbing, this is occurring with nauseating frequency because of the high level of events and tasks that are thrust upon us.  Let’s see – what’s happened so far (not even including conferences and phone calls, of which there have been plenty)? Open house, 2 fundraisers, 4 days off school, 1 random early dismissal, “wildlife warrior week” –during which each day required a special something or the crafting of something else – a field trip, another field trip for next week which I just found out about, and….drum roll please, college day this Friday with Moonlight Garden Madness that night.

I AM EXHAUSTED.  It’s only been 9 bloody weeks.  Seriously.  College day????  We had to have a pennant decorated for today and the kids are supposed to be in college spirit-wear for Friday.  Worst of all, this pennant?  They sent home a stupid flimsy paper triangle.  I suck at arts and crafts and Will was too busy to help.  We don’t do college sports.  We don’t do sports, period.  Stella wouldn’t know a college if she ran a bus into one.  This is nonsense.

Yeah, YOU try getting burgundy out of this crap....

Yeah, YOU try getting maroon out of this crap….

But you can’t not do it.  It becomes more of a parental pissing contest than it does anything the kids enjoy or understand – at least at the kindergarten level.  When I asked Stella what she wanted to be when she grew up, she replied “ballerina.”  Well Juilliard didn’t have T-shirts I could order online for under $50 which would arrive in time for Friday.  MIT did.  MIT it is.  She likes science.  So last night I was mixing fluorescent Crayola washable paint colors trying to achieve something resembling maroon.  I suck at this stuff.  Sorry, MIT.  I would be totally ecstatic if one/both of my kids end up there. At least the T-shirt is cute and professional.  So Stella will be spirit-like on Friday. And the pennant may be marginally better than the “Possum Princess” mask I threw together in 30 minutes for wildlife warrior week.  At least I used an actual picture for my glitter-glue and pompom helium atom.

Sorry, MIT.  Please don't disqualify my children based on the craft faux pas of their mother.

Sorry, MIT. Please don’t disqualify my children based on the craft faux pas of their mother.

But we’re not going to some damn Moonlight Garden Madness thing.  Will has to work.  I will have both kids.  And you know what?  It’s a damn fundraiser.  At this point, I’ve given enough time and money for my kid to go to kindergarten.

So to you schools and educators out there:  I know your resources are thin.  I get it. I want to be involved.  I want to help.   But I have to work.  I have a full-time job.  I have another child to care for. My children require baths and meals at night.  I cannot be a full-time kindergarten mom.  When did sending a kid to elementary school become so complicated and time-consuming?  When did it require 2 weeks of leave during the school year – not counting real holidays?

(As an aside, I’ve decided to harness my angst for the power of evil.  Since the Harpy has been less-than-delightful, I shall send the most sugary, messiest, and obnoxious snack I can think of when it’s our turn again in 2 weeks.  Pinterest is showing me the way.  She will pay.  Oh yes.)

Donuts and Bolts

My son’s strange obsession with random objects continues. It drives my husband crazy.  I think it’s pretty funny, although the meltdowns when the Precious du jour becomes misplaced or somehow damaged are severely irritating.  What I have noticed is that the duration of Preciousness seems to be getting longer.  A month or so ago, an item might have been a Precious for 30 minutes.  Now things are Precious for a long long time.  Some examples:

Meet Blue Donut and Yellow Dot Donut.  Original (green) Donut is in the middle.

Meet Blue Donut and Yellow Dot Donut. Original (green) Donut is in the middle.

  • The Donuts: Yes, now there are 3.  I must say, however, that he no longer insists on sleeping with them.  Now they are mainly used as tower fodder or materials for building tunnels or foxholes.  I dig it.  I think within another month or so, I may be able to “disappear” the Donuts one by one.

    Felix in the Donut box

    Felix in the Donut box

  • Teeny tiny whisk: This is exactly that: a miniature metal whisk from a play kitchen set at Oui Oui’s house.  Teeny tiny whisk has enjoyed many baths, bedtimes, and meals.  Teeny tiny whisk brings great displeasure whenever it disappears (it’s currently in his daddy’s car and mean old daddy won’t get it for him) or food becomes lodged in it.
  • Slinky: For some harebrained reason, I bought him a slinky at the store. It’s now a Precious.  He has had a death grip on it for days, howling whenever his sister wants a turn (I don’t know how many times this past weekend I had to holler at them for playing tug of war with it and then soothe bashed up fingers whenever one end of it was abruptly released) or when it gets the inevitable small kinks in it.  I’m actually amazed it hasn’t yet knotted up.  I’m also grateful that Teeny tiny whisk is missing, as no doubt it would have been combined with Slinky to form a super-tangle.
    Slinky on its way to bed

    Slinky on its way to bed

    Slinky as makeshift food container

    Slinky as makeshift food container

  • Random food: Yesterday a small bell pepper from my garden became Precious for about an hour. I distracted him with a new Mater video.  Otherwise, it may have ended up in bed with him.  He’s also fond of uncooked spaghetti noodles.  Until they break.  Then he screams.

    Teeny tiny whisk and a spaghetti noodle - pre-fracture.

    Teeny tiny whisk and a spaghetti noodle – pre-fracture.

Who knows what the next Precious will be.  I only hope whatever it is that it’s robust and inorganic.

Planes, Cranes, and Automobiles

Yesterday Stella’s class went on their first field trip.  This was a big damn deal, so when it came time to sign up, you better believe I signed up as a “parent volunteer” to go.  This was also a golden opportunity for me to spend an entire day with the Harpy, observing her.

On the bus!  At last!!

On the bus! At last!!

We loaded up for the roughly 1 hour and 20 minute drive to the Insta-Gator Alligator Ranch.  I had no idea what Stella was going to want to do – whether she would want to sit with her square old mother or would want to sit with her classmates.  I was allowed to sit with her.  HOLY MOLY HAVE ANY OF YOU BEEN IN A BUS LATELY?????  There is no leg room.  Not at all.  I couldn’t even sit upright with my knees pointing directly front.  And then we had a big bulging backpack with our lunches and drinks.  Think of the worst flight you’ve ever been on and decrease your leg room by 40% and increase the size of your carry on luggage by 25%.

Anyway.  My kid was so excited.  All of the kids were.  Many of the parents chose to ride in their own cars, but there were a handful of us that braved the bus.  2 little boys were in the seat in front of us, and one of them – a sweet little black boy named after one of the Chipmunks – adored Stella.  He kept professing his love for her and informing me that she was invited to his slumber birthday party (oh really?) but that Stella would have a good time, since he’d have “girl ice cream” available.  It was cute.

Then something happened.  For some reason I had pocketed a pack of post-it notes on my way out of the house.  Stella was doodling on them in typical kid fashion.  She’d write or draw a few little things, then give me the used post-it in favor for fresh paper.  I started folding paper cranes – something very difficult to do on small paper with adhesive in a moving vehicle with no major flat surface to work on.

One of Stella's sweet little friends and her crane.

One of Stella’s sweet little friends and her crane.

I became a parental celebrity.  Every kid wanted a crane.  I folded as many as I could on the way there and had to promise I’d make more on the way home.  Stella’s boyfriend wanted piles of them.  Who knew my origami problem would pay off?  Stella had the “cool mom” who made the neat birds.  On the way home, I think this irritated the Harpy, as the birds kept “taking flight” in the wind rushing in the open bus windows, causing their owners to leave their seat in the scramble to catch them.  Even better.

The gator farm was cool.  I learned a lot.  We handled loads of babies and smaller adolescents.  Stella and her little people did really well, only unraveling a bit as the tour went way overtime into their lunch hour.  Those poor kids were starving.

Yep, that's a gator.

Yep, that’s a gator.

Yep.  That's another gator.

Yep. That’s another gator.

That's a bigger gator.

That’s a bigger gator.

Did you know gators can open and close their ear flaps?  You do now.

Did you know gators can open and close their ear flaps? You do now.

I’m so glad I went.  My daughter had the best day, and it did my heart so good to see that.  I also feel so much better seeing that her classmates really do like her.  I got the sense that they recognize that she’s a little different, but she seems to be accepted and loved anyway.  The little shit that’s been giving her problems  has apparently been identified by one and all as a mean kid; I don’t think the other kids will follow his lead or even tolerate his behavior.

And after a day with the Harpy?  Yep, she’s a Harpy.  But she’s a Harpy to every kid.  There was another teacher there that I wish like hell could be Stella’s, particularly after we got placed in her group.  She was kind, patient, and was obviously aware of which kids needed a little extra supervision or support and she made sure they got it without being overbearing or belittling anyone.

I got suckered at the gift shop.  I honestly don't mind having a souvenir from the day.

I got suckered at the gift shop. I honestly don’t mind having a souvenir from the day.

At the end of it all, I’m so grateful for yesterday.  I feel more peaceful sending my daughter to school today – more peaceful than I’ve ever felt since she started school.  Our struggles aren’t over; today could be a rotten day full of red dots.  But I know my daughter has friends.  And I’ll do my best to help.  I’m already getting on Pinterest so I can pimp our snacks the next time it’s our turn to bring them, and origami crane name tags never hurt, either!

Cranes, cranes, cranes.... This is the garland from our summer party, still festooning our carport.

Cranes, cranes, cranes…. This is the garland from our summer party, still festooning our carport.