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.



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 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



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.


Topic ‘O the Morning to You

On those 3 days of the week when we have our “early” mornings, the kids and I often arrive at their school with a few minutes to spare.  I don’t mind.  I usually give them some fruit snacks and we hang out, sing songs, put lotion and chapstick on (Stella….Felix could give a rat’s butt about that stuff), and discuss random topics of Stella’s choosing.  This is often accompanied by visual aids provided by my iPhone, Google, and Wikipedia.

This is getting scary.  My 4 year old daughter is asking about some rather interesting topics.  We’ve been all over insects (their morphology including the abdomen, thorax, and mandibles, vs. arachnids, varieties of and diet/habitat), marine biology (varieties of fish, parts of the coral reef, zooplankton vs. phytoplankton), astronomy (including the moons of Jupiter and what variety of rock the moon is made of), and the social lessons we can learn from Spongebob (Squidward is a jerk-face).

Understand, I typically don’t prompt her on these topics, unless there’s something we need to discuss (don’t play with your nipples in front of other people).  She comes up with this on her own, including “zooplankton.”  She gets a lot this stuff from all the wonderful educational apps on her phone.  She’s learned music from some silly game; she’s started to pick songs out by ear on her piano and a xylophone at school.  Thanks to some boring quiz app, she now knows her elbow is a hinge joint (vs. a ball and socket joint) and her thigh-bone is also known as her femur.  But it’s staggering what she’s absorbed from these games.  She’s like Kal-El coming out of his space pod, fully educated as a young child.  Stella’s iPhone is the equivalent of his “smart crystals.”

I’m smart enough to keep up – for now.  But I’m screwed in the next few years.  I never took organic chemistry or anatomy.  I barely passed calculus.  This kid shall surpass her mother and soon!!

My amazing girl

My amazing girl

Done What May

This weekend was a real struggle.  I couldn’t tell you why.  I just felt so low and burnt out.  We spent much of Saturday helping at Stella’s school.  That’s actually pretty awesome.  The staff asks that families come in one Saturday a year to help with cleaning and yard maintenance.  I don’t mind a bit.  It feels good to make things clean and fresh for our kiddos.  By that night, I was just done in.  I couldn’t cook.  I wouldn’t cook.  The kids had hot dogs and apples.  I don’t think the grownups had that much.  Maybe some cereal?

By yesterday morning I felt worse – just very low and worn out.  I tried to tag out for a while – to lock myself in the back and take a power nap.  That’s when one of the cats started puking back there.  Yesterday afternoon was the egg hunt at a local “rural life museum.”  It’s usually a good time.  Will had amped up our foam/bubble machine for after.  Our nerves were just frayed.  Sure, it was crowded, and the kids both showed their behinds a bit.

I am kinda proud.  His "Easter basket" is his Darth Vader Halloween bucket, accessorized with some spring-like ribbon.

I am kinda proud. His “Easter basket” is his Darth Vader Halloween bucket, accessorized with some spring-like ribbon.

Stella wanted her face painted.  Rather than the cute bunnies or pastel eggs, she wanted to be “a monster.”  With her polka-dotted dress, it was quite the sight.   Sometimes I feel like she doesn’t get a fair shake.  The lady painting her face thought she was at least 6.  People don’t realize she’s only 4 with 4-year-old behavior to match.  I want to smack people when I see “looks.”  Sorry.  I guess I’m just sensitive about it.

Getting her monster on

Getting her monster on

The foam machine was amazing – even better than the first time we did it.  We’re planning on taking it to Stella’s school soon for all the kids to play with.

Parenting win.

Parenting win.



We were all exhausted by the evening.  Felix hadn’t napped and it was pretty obvious.  When I went to put him to bed, their room reeked.  Between going in to get their pajamas and bedtime, one of the damn cats had peed in Stella’s bed.  I cried.  Once I changed the linens and aired it out, Felix was out in a flash with Stella not far behind.  Then I drank wine and watched Downton Abbey.

I still feel rough today.  I’m not sure why life is getting to me.  I feel like a whiner and an asshole.  I need a vacation.

Yeah, son.  I feel you.

Yeah, son. I feel you.

Thanks for listening.  I’ll get it together.

Call’s Well That Ends Well

Stella has her own iPhone.  It’s not what you think.  A long while ago, Will found one abandoned with a shattered screen and no SIM card.  At the same time, we were getting tired of wrestling our daughter for possession of our own phones which were bulging with obnoxious games and covered with greasy Cheeto fingerprints.  We figured it would be worth the $70 bucks to fix the screen and load it with kid games.  We could keep our phones sort of clean and sanitized and actually use them whenever we wanted to.  We would have enough memory for our own apps and videos.  You know.  We could actually use and enjoy our own property.

It’s worked well, mostly.  Sure, there are those moments at stores or restaurants where the kids get restless and mommy didn’t think to pack Stella’s phone.  I do keep a token few games on my phone for such occasions.  This is when I find this sort of shit on my photo stream.

I never know whether to laugh or cringe at these.  There are dozens.

I never know whether to laugh or cringe at these. There are dozens.

And someone (dammit, Will) has taught her to take screen shots.  We were talking about dung beetles before school today.  I guess she needed to keep a memento.

Who wouldn't love a dung beetle? (Actual picture from my photostream.  Since I didn't take it, I can't give proper credit.  Sorry.)

Who wouldn’t love a dung beetle? (Actual picture from my photostream. Since I didn’t take it, I can’t give proper credit. Sorry.)

We did have a rather serious episode about a week ago.  Typically when it’s bedtime, I’ll take Felix into the kids’ room to get him to sleep while Stella plays on her phone in the “big bed.”  Will had had a bad day, so was off in his man-cave playing some game.  Stella suddenly came screaming down the hall for me, hollering in a panic about how her phone talked to her and she didn’t like 1

It turns out you can still dial #911 on a non-operational iPhone.  Technically, she dialed #999.  It diverted her to #911….twice.  I guess the operators asked her where her mother was.  How do we know?  To find out for sure, Will dialed the number back.  We apologized.  What else can you do?

Ouch.  Lesson learned.

Some Friday love.

Some Friday love.

Highway to Yell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That dress....

That dress….

Perfectly outfitted for rock-climbing

Perfectly outfitted for rock-climbing

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

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

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

Felix was riveted... Not.

Felix was riveted… Not.

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

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

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

Keep swimming.

Ren(aissance) and Stimpy

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

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

    Everyone is still so perky…

    Aaaaaand gone.

    Aaaaaand gone.

    Parades:  Better than Ambien.

    Parades: Better than Ambien.  One year ago.

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

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

    photo 4

    Good clean fun

    Good clean fun

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