Friday, February 27, 2009

The answer is blowing in the wind

How many times will I reheat my coffee before I drink it while its hot?
How many of those times will it have never left the microwave?
How many times until remember I already put sugar in my coffee?
How many times will I drink cold sweet coffee and just think its easier that way?
How many times to I have to wash the couch cover before it stops smelling like dog?
How many snacks will I allow before "snack time"?
How long until I stop pretending there exists a "snack time" that is not all the time?
How long would it take if I picked up everything that's on the floor and shouldn't be with out stopping?
How long until I learn to never say "playground" until we are actually on our way there?
How long until I find out if someone showed S that her pacifier should be washed when she finds it on the ground, or if she deduced this herself.
How long will I listen to her screaming next to the sink before I wash it? Again?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Its only Kindergarten.

I am censoring myself from myself and trying to dig out of the bullshit to investigate what it is I am truly feeling right now.

We've done it. We've signed H up for the friends school I always knew we'd find a way to send her to. I am still not sure about 'the way' we will do this, but we have signed a contract and put a deposit down that we will find 'a way'. Luckily they didn't ask us details about 'the way'. Smoke and mirrors, and probable statistics. That's the plan we're working on. Hope and Probability. Incorporated. That's us.

I made up my mind where H would go, with out really considering anything else. I went through some motions, hemmed and hawed, weighed options, but all along I knew she'd go to this school. Its too personal, this school. This religion, as it turns out. Who knew? Who knew I would actually become what I was "raised" (I can hear my sister saying "we weren't raised...") The school seems like an extension of me. How egotistical is that? It embodies everything I think is important. They teach the way I try to live. They have the same values I do. They teach the world.

I wanted to be happy when she got accepted, and I was, but...
I wanted to be happy with their generous offer of financial aid. Award they call it. I was, but...

I am happy H will be going there. No really. No, really, really I am. Its just that is much more complicated that I thought it was going to be. I thought you just fill out the forms, wait, wait, wait some more, if the numbers seem reasonable you do it. (Reasonable here is relative. Its like bridal money, the cake costs 1,000? Well thats reasonable, considering I just read that this other cake costs $5000.)

H is happy, I told her that she'd be going to kindergarten at the same place we go to Meeting. Where she went that day to play (for her evaluation) She lit up, "I didn't know that was a school! I like it there!" So thats good. She's probably happy I am addressing the topic of kindergarten, finally. I haven't really talked to her about it before, I realized today. She hears all this kindergarten whispering going on, they talk about kindergarten at her school- I image kindergarten in her mind as this big looming future event. That stresses her parents out beyond belief.

I know its our decision, but I felt the need to bounce it off everyone I know. Very few are bouncing it back positively though. I'm finding an elitism towards public school. I'm finding lashing out of those who have chosen public school. I feel myself being called a hypocrite, a snob. (Ok. By one person. Indirectly. But it stung. I'm taking it personally.) It has never come to pass that I'm in line with the masses, doing what most people are doing, and this time I'm not even going against the grain on purpose. Somewhere around here, private school became evil. I don't know, maybe its the cost. Maybe its the community. Maybe its the under dog mentality of where I live.

I know its right, but why does it still feel hard?

I wasn't expecting sending my daughter to private school would feel so much like I'm swimming upstream.

Seriously, if I didn't have a spin class today I would be stuck to the ceiling. All this school shit has me wound so tight I can't breathe. Then I get stressed wondering how I'm going to vomit if I can't even breathe. Because I am so stressed from not breathing that I get nauseous. Then I get stressed that I'm so stressed and so on. And over and over. So thank god for the spin class, because I felt pretty good after that. I could breathe, and I could have even vomited if I wanted to, but I didn't feel the need. Brilliant.

But then I went to get my poor abandoned angle baby from the child care room. Still sitting in the chair where I'd left her. An hour earlier. She didn't eat her snack, and the tv wasn't even on. She just sat there, probably holding back tears. So brave! For. an. hour. I don't know what I'm going to do about this. I'm going next week, if she sits in the chair for a solid hour again I'll have to come up with a new plan. Maybe I'll go at night. When I'm supposed to be working. Or maybe I'll re-embrace the craziness and learn to love being on the ceiling.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Eggs benedict

I love it when I go to great lengths to make an actual breakfast, and am met with hair raising blood curdling screams and head banging.

The tantrum is always evolving and now has a wrestling move. I don't know what its called, you know the one where you jump in the air and the sit down hard on your opponent? That one.

I made eggs, with cheese, and bagles for myself and S, instead of just opening the fridge and putting together a concoction to pass off as breakfast as per usual. I even got it all ready by the time Sesame Street started. Eggs in front of the tv on a tuesday? Thats awesome right?

My critical error: opening the refrigerator to get the cheese out. S spotted the yogurt. She had to have the yogurt. Why didn't I just give her the yogurt? I had already cooked the eggs, so THAT was what was going to be eaten. The problem is I'm as stubborn as my children. Thus the tantrum and almost burnt eggs.

I ate my eggs and watched sesame street by myself while keeping the dogs away from S's eggs. S screamed on the kitchen floor. Don't feel bad for her. This tantruming is out of control. We don't only tantrum when we don't get our way, but also, this just in, when we are frustrated. S gets very frustrated very quickly. If I'm slow to understand what shes saying, if she can't find something.. let me rephrase, if something she wants isn't in her hand as soon as it occurs to her. "Find something" insinuates she looks for it. No, straight to tantrum. We all need body armor around here. There is constant flailing and being flailed upon.

S did join me for breakfast, eventually, and was promptly horrified by an elephant puppet on TV. Its a good thing S wasn't a part of Sesames Streets original focus group. She was stubbornly refusing to eat the eggs, which she normally would inhale. And giving me sulky brow furrowed glares.

I think next time I'll make eggs for the dogs, if I'm in the mood to be appreciated, and just let S have her way with the refrigerator.

Special is as special does.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Spinning towards sanity

I have been slowly, over the period of a few weeks, coming to the realization of something I've known all along. When I exert myself physically, I get the crazies out. I have held the "hey, what a coincidence, I feel great after mountain biking" next to the "Hmm, I feel kind of insane and a little bit like I can't go on when I don't get a chance to go mountain biking" and know that I do feel better when I'm able to work it out physically. Then I take that knowledge and ignore it. I was seeing a therapist for a while not all that long ago, until I reached the end my insurance allotment. The good doctor said, head lowered and looking at me over her glasses, with the conviction of a fortune teller, "exercise is going to be very important for you." Yep, I said. I know. And did more nothing about it.

Its taken me, oh, 5 years give or take to even try to get some kind of exercise regime going on. I am an excellent excuse maker. Today I took giant strides and passed my best excuse ever, leaving my kids in the child care room at the Y. I did it! I left S there while I took a spin class this morning. I went in, gave her a guilt cookie, and put her in a chair at the table. I came back and hour later and she was still in the same chair. I asked if she had been there the whole time- yes, she had. There was a tv on, so I hope she was distracted at least and not just sitting there frozen in fear of abandonment.

When H was a baby, probably 10 months old, I tried to leave her in the child care at the Y. I had to cancel my membership because I couldn't do it. She was walking at 9 months. I knew she wasn't going to sit in one of those excersaucer things- that were the fate of the other small kids there. She never sat still at all. Still doesn't. I was afraid she'd escape. Or eat all the tiny toys that were all over the place. There was one kid there eating raisins, which I had just learned were a choking hazard, another kid eating choking hazardous popcorn, and then... there was ham on the floor. These days I would probably just shrug and ask how a little floor ham is going to harm any one- but at the time that was the deciding factor.

They've re done the child care room- it pretty big, nice, has a lot of toys. There was no ham on the floor. S didn't cry, which was very awesome of her. Once I got back, she didn't want to go. Then she wanted to play and flipped her lid when I made her leave. I'm hoping she'll come to like being there, and will move past sitting in a chair for an hour. But, not bad for the first time ever being left in a room full of strangers. (my baby! I am fighting fighting fighting feeling horrible. I was doing really well, but forgot to concentrate on not feeling bad, and now I feel bad.)

Despite that last sentence, I am actually no where near as tense and stressed as I normally am by this time of the day. But I am exhausted. I am wondering if I need that craziness to propel me through the day. There is stuff everywhere, and I am making no motion to put anything away. I am not even delegating. I am waiting for the magic school bus to come on as eagerly as H is.

So, sane and exhausted, crazy with just enough energy to run around all day. Which is the way to go here?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Long distance

My father in law has been in Pakistan for a month. He comes back next week. He goes every year, for about a month, it is integral to his being- he needs to go, but the truth is he can't handle being gone.

The calls start from the airport, before he's even en route. "How are the girls? Oh they sound so big!" He calls everyday- just as he would if he weren't away. Night for him is our day time, he stays up late so he can hear H tell him about her day at school (more than she tells me, by the way) so he can listen to S try out her new words and listen to her point to things over the phone.

Today I looked at the girls and thought, good God he is going to freak out when he sees them. They have gotten so big. Again. They have gone on a simultaneous growing spurt- you would think I would come to recognise these things by the amount of food trafficking around here- but I am never up to speed. I get sucked into the grocery vortex and by the time I come to the girls are bigger.

I am grateful to tears that they have him in their lives. My heart grows and hurts a bit. One of my favorite things is to watch my father in law with his grandchildren. He wears head bands. He paints toenails. He does anything they ask without hesitation. He adores them, its magic, really.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Last night we had some friends over for dinner. They have 2 boys roughly the ages of H and S. Our plan was to plop the kids in front of a movie while we hid in the kitchen and drank wine. It was semi-successful, but we all ended up watching the movie- which then had to be part one-d as it was getting late and small people were falling apart from exhaustion.

Towards the end of the night, a box of music makers was brought out (not by an adult, I'll tell you that) and the brothers were on the verge of a major squabble over who would play the squeeze box. H ran to the box of noise makers and riffled through it until she found a pair of maracas, and ran back over to give these to the younger brother so the older brother could play the squeeze box and no one would be upset. And no one was upset.

I was kind of amazed- and realized this is what we do all day. If H wants something from S, I tell her to get her something else for S to play with. After I got done being impressed at my daughters conflict resolution skills, and impressed that she was the only one in the room of 4 parents who thought on her feet and saved us from a major melt down, I had a moment of major parenting doubt.

I had flashes of moments in my life where I'd done a similar thing. This is what I'm passing on? An example: When we were kids, convincing my sister to be the one to ask to stop at McDonalds so I wouldn't have to be the one to ask. Really believing I could will a cheeseburger and fries to happen. Obviously it wasn't my will that made it happen, it was my sisters asking. That I arranged behind the scenes.

What are H and S learning from this tactic? Is this the beginning of not asking for what you need/want? I know that I am often indirect in saying what I want, which has led to me often not knowing what I want. I'm the first to call someone out having a fear of confrontation, but it is becoming more and more evident that I have my own fear of confrontation. Just keep everyone happy. Appease the masses. Give them another toy. Should I be encouraging more aggressive less passive behavior?

Then again, neither of the girls seems to have a problem asking for what they want- repeatedly and not taking no for an answer. Earlier today, when J and I said no to buying 2 boxes of band aids (we need one for upstairs and one for down stairs! Thats what we ALLWAYYYS DO!!!) we were appointed by H "the meanest mommy and daddy in all the meanest TOWN!" No passivity. Pure aggression.

When H was born, I would look at her so tiny so pure and cry that I was going to screw her up. Then I did the same thing when S was born. Only that time I cried longer since I had already started screwing her sister up and knew it was inevitable that she too be tainted.

I am slowly learning that I don't have the power to single handedly screw anyone up. Although I also believe that every parent screws up their child. See what I mean? I don't know what I believe. I believe it all.

(Ok, interlude for something I really don't believe at all- while I have been glued to this computer, H ate a whole bag of soybeans.)

Maybe, at least, I can control H and S from thinking they can control everyone's outcome. That they don't always have to keep the peace. That they can continue to ask, which doesn't mean they'll get. That they'll believe in the power of nice. That they'll know the difference between being nice and avoiding confrontation.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The sun also rises

This day.
This day started at 6 am with both girls simultaneously screaming.
H "Is it MORNING? I was to eat BREAKFAST!
S "MooooOOOommmMMMMEEEEEeeee!"

me "no, its not morning yet. Let me take a shower."

While this was going on (and on) I had gotten S out of her bed, and dumped her into ours with J. I shot him several filthy looks for having the nerve to still be lying down.

I got into the shower, with H still screaming about morning and breakfast. When I turned off the water I heard continued wailing from H. "You said you'd be fast! That was NOT A FAST SHOWER" then "I WANTED TO EAT BREAKFAST WHEN ITS STILL NIGHTTTTIIIIMMMMEEEE..." (and again. and again.)

Apparently the sun rises with my shower, which explains a lot for those days when I don't get a shower.

Then this gem from H: "I WANT MOMMY TO GO BACK TO SLEEP"

Oh. Really? Is this a test?

Finally, J says to me, "Its night time when you're still asleep" Thus the breakfast at night time.
All this because she wanted a Daddy breakfast.

Too bad, I told her. I'm awake now. (See? See what happens when you jolt me awake at 6 am? You're stuck with me. I don't do back to sleep well. I can't nap either. Its too hard to wake up the first time.)

The sun rises when I shower. Morning comes when I arise from slumber. I have spoken.

I will have to tell the rest about this day tomorrow- as it took me the entire day to describe my morning.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mine! No!

We are taking massive strides backwards with the pacifier. I haven't been able to admit to my defeat until now- but I am defeated. I lost. S will be packing the pacifier when she heads off to college, I'm sure of it. She used to call it 'that' which I image she got from me saying "you don't need that" multiple times a day. Now she calls it something that sounds a lot like 'daddy'. Maybe she is calling it daddy, but I find that perplexing and slightly disturbing- so for now I'll tell myself that she may be saying 'paci' which is what I call it when I'm not calling it 'that'. I will also remind myself that we're in the indecipherable land of new speakers. For example 'kin-kee' might mean stinky, as in need a diaper change, or thirsty. Or Monkey.

I love this part of learning to talk- where you feel like a master of rare languages because you know that "doh! myne kon kee, Mommy!" means "Lets go! That's my monkey, Mommy!" Sentences like this that don't make sense actually do make sense in this rare new language. Trust me, I'm a master. If one touches anything that belongs to S, or anything that she even likes, the word MINE appears. Just like that.

Inevitably you learn things about your own speech patterns during this rare language stage as you have implanted many of these statements. When H was learning to talk, I learned I say HEY! All the time. It has recently been brought to my attention by a small mimic I live with, that I say "let's go!" all the time. To the dogs. To the girls. And now its said to me. All. The. Time. Theres also the stern dog training 'No!' Both girls with that one. H says it to S all the time. She's mastered it. S does the dog training no, too- and I do take blame for that one- but S has a "NNNeeewwwO" all her own.

Anyway- back to That Daddy Paci. I can't get rid of it. The problem is that even when she has it, S still screams and tantrums. So why bother? Because its a thousand times worse and we don't stand a chance with out That Daddy Paci. I tried, again this morning to limit its use- but we had to get out the door to get H to school, and I failed to be consistent with my stupid paci rules. We had already had repetitive tantrums. I was already on an inconsistency jag after letting H wear shoes to school that are a size too big. I told her she couldn't at first, and then recanted. She is not quiet victor, either. "I love it when you say I can do things, Mommy. I love it when I can wear my shoes even if they're too big." Ugh. I swear I stick to my guns most of the time.

S added something new to her tantrum repertoire today. Yelling "OW OWWW OW!!! NOOO NO!!" So that it seems to the casual observer that I am actually hurting my child instead of just wanting to. And foot stamping, that's new too. She a one kid tantrum machine. I should hook her up to a drum set, but a harmonica in her mouth and train the dogs to pass a hat. Gotta earn those pacifiers.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

crash bang

My worlds are colliding. I registered for a critique (and conversation!) with a curator who I've been wanting to meet for some time. Turns out the date for this thing is on S's birthday. Where does this crazy guilt come from? I feel like I'm worshiping at the alter of my children sometimes. I can honestly say that the two most (equally!) important days of my life was when H and S were born. I am so very very thankful, but its a day. I have always been like this about birthdays- I don't know why. I know, as J says that S will be 2, and have no idea that I'm not there- its for 2 hours in the evening, she'll likely be going to bed, its a Wednesday so we won't be having a party that day- but I can't shake the feeling that I should be mediating on the birth of my child all day. Is that crazy? Yes.

More guilt. We're skipping H from school today to go to visit her grandmother. I'm sure this is not the way to instill the school values I expect, but so be it.

Whatever, all around. I'm done. I've guilted myself out. But it regenerates at the speed of light.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I have no idea who I am anymore.

What is wrong with me that I want to cancel my daughters birthday? She will be 5, and I have my head so far up my ass of anxiety about planning this party coupled with disgust for money spent and expectations of 5 year old birthday parties. Whats with all the THEMES? Where the hell was the forethought for a summer birthday? We could just do this shit outside like you are supposed to. Why can't I control the god damned weather and demand a not snowy day in the middle of march? Shit, well now it will definitely snow.

I can't stand all the preciousness that accompanies these birthday parties- seriously it makes my head want to spin around. I feel like such a mark even looking into this. In my mind it is somehow up there with having your butler serve your white fluffy cat from its own crystal dish at your mahogany table. Good taste is easy to recognize.

J is so much more sane than I am. The proof is that I'm putting that in writing. I settled in on having the party at the Y. But they weren't available. So I called him, so annoying, I am. gasping for air. WHAT.ARE.WE.GOING.TO.DO. Tell me now. He found a bunch of places and emailed them to me. I glanced at them and called him back.
me "These will never work"
J "Did you look at them"
me "No, I just know. Why does she have to HAVE a birthday?"
J "I'll talk to you later"
Me, to the dogs, "can you even BELIEVE him? He practically hung up on me!"
He's got his, don't get me wrong. But today I'm not sure how he deals with me.

So all that and I join the ranks of the stupid fluffy parent with the precious precocious annoying birthday planning booking a month in advance. Oh what EVER.

We're trying to book Bounce Town. Which is just what it sounds like. A town of bouncing. We are BOOKING a VENUE for our 5 year old. But we have to wait for CONFIRMATION. Good lord what have I BECOME? butitsactuallynotasexpensiveasithoughtsoitsokright?

When I say WE I really mean J. I found the venue, and signed off on it, as it were, but its J who is doing the phone leg work, because I am too uptight to discuss a five year olds party on the phone with another person.

Soon I will think about the real preciousness of this day- I can't believe my baby will be 5.
But right now I can't believe we're booking her a venue.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Pre Valentines

I used to stay up late to do work. Or to hang out with friends. Tonight I stayed up late baking heart shaped cookies, after H asked if I had made a valentine for the whole family, with that sideays raised eyebrow look that says "I made a valentines for the whole family. Just sayin." This morning as we were going to school, H sighed and said "Mom. Its valentines day tomorrow and we haven't even decorated." When did Valentines day become a major holiday? I was shamed enough to go out to the dollar store to try and find some kind of valentine decor- but they were all sold out. Just an empty aisle where the hearts used to be. Don't worry, I did find glitter hearts at CVS for cheap, on clearance the day before valentines day, as everyone else in this part of town has already been decorated for a few weeks.

Where I live, you must decorate. People go all out for the usual Christmas and Halloween stuff, but Valentines day, Easter, and Saint Patricks day too. You must also decorate in the interum between Halloween and Christmas- unscary fall decor. (I draw the line at Saint Patricks day. I don't do Easter either. Or at least I haven't yet.) H is probably right that I was violating some local code by not having my glitter hearts up in a timely fashion. But, they're up, sparkling away. Maybe you'll get me next time, grim reaper of porch decor.

I took H to school, valentines day party, all the other kids were dressed in all red. She told me a few days ago that she couldn't wait until the valentines day party because she was going to wear all red and pink- but what she wore today was red pants with tulips on them, a long sleeved purple shirt with a black short sleeved shirt that had a rhinestone heart on it on top. And an orange sock and a turquoise sock. She seems to not feel the need to follow the crowd, which makes me want to cry tears of joy, but every now and then I wonder. She will never hear from my mouth "... everyone else is.." but every so often I wonder if I'm the problem here. Yesterday at gym class the teacher looked at H and said "what did you have today?... crazy day?" and then caught herself as soon as she said it. "No", I said , "she just dresses that way." She's been in this class for 2 years now? But in the gym teachers defense, she did have a lot of different patterns going on. Many of the moms jumped to my/her defense though- assuring me that they thought "she always looks cute." I really did appreciate hearing that.

H got her first real valentine today from a friend of hers at school. And gym class. If my camera worked I would post a picture- some how "H, I love you. Love, Matt D" in four year old scrawl brings tears to my eyes every time I read it. Which is not all that often. I am not some wacko reading and re-reading my four year olds valentines.

I want her to love who she is, to have the confidence to express herself. It is sometimes hard to live by example of that. I wonder where it will go. Will she one day rebel and only wear beige?

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Sometimes I say that there are things that happened when I was growing up that I took as normal everyday occurrences. Not until much later in life that do I realize, hey, maybe that.. wasn't.... so... normal. I am often unable to provide an example of one of these things, but today while doing H's hair, I remembered a good one.

When we lived in Mexico, my mom had a friend. (I am resisting the urge to write "friend". Friend, boyfriend, I don't really know- he was at the house all the time and they hung out a lot for many years. We'll leave it at that.) The friend was a vet student in the beginning of their relationship, and a vet at the end of it. We had a ton of animals in the house. You can see where this is going.

So, one day, I was 15ish, I was on the way into the kitchen to get a drink, only to be diverted my my mom and her friend who were neutering my cat on the dining room table. Our kitchen had 2 entrances, I was advised to go around. Not through the dining area/operating room. Come to think of it, we ate dinner there not so long afterwards. There was a stainless steel operating table in the tv room. Why didn't they use that? (I forgot about the operating table until just now. Its all coming back. Yikes.)

A little while later, I went towards the kitchen again to get something else, my mother came running out of the dinning area holding cat testicles cupped in her hand. I think she was on her way to bring them up to my room to show me. I still have no idea why she was so excited to be holding cat testes, or why she was so eager to show them to me. And this is just the kind of thing she'd deny ever happening. But it is etched in my memory. The image in my memory looks remarkably like this:

For some time now, whenever I do H's hair using this particular apparatus, I think "cat testes". This morning I said to myself, hey wait a minute.. maybe its not.... so... normal.. to think "cat testes" this frequently while making pony tails.

Thats my normal abnormal tale for the day. Believe it or not, none of this struck me the least bit odd at the time.

(Excuse the crappy photo! My camera refused to participate in hair elastic/cat testes, and broke when I tried to take this picture. I had to use my phone, which apparently isn't as particular about subject matter.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The frogs

Earlier this week I broke up with the cleaning service.

Yes, I had a cleaning service.

Thats what it takes to get my house clean. Someone else. I hired a cleaning service all the way back when I was pregnant with S. I was working on a show, keeping H busy and was tired and crazy from being pregnant- something had to give, and it was cleaning the house. (and the timely paying of bills, but thats another story) I have never been a very good house cleaner, and probably have a different definition of 'clean' than most people. I was embarrassed at first to let anyone who cleans for a living see my filthy pit of despair, and then there was the issue of the dogs, and the kids, and the fact that I'm home all day, and then the whole 'since I'm home all day' isn't house work part of the gig? Had I not been pregnant, I probably wouldn't have ever called the cleaners, but being pregnant can be a great enabler.

The cleaning service is called Dos Funny Frogs- which is funny in itself, but provides a nice cover. Its nice to be able to refer to your cleaning service as the frogs in areas where you might not want to advertise that you have a cleaning service. Plus it feels better, more mythical, to me to say "are the frogs coming today? that it does to say "are the cleaners coming today?" I have guilt about the frogs, obviously.

I'm not sure about the message having a cleaning service sends to the kids. One of their favorite games in the tub is to play 'cleaners' and wash the walls with their wash cloths. I have neat freak children, and they love it more than I do when the frogs come. They usually come while H is at school, she'll walk in the door like shes entering wonderland, and gasp, "Mommy! Its so clean!" This is a kid who cleans her room for fun. I was telling this story to a friend who said "wait a minute, aren't YOU supposed to be the one who gives THEM a cleaning complex?" Yes, that is the order of the universe- but we do things a little differently over here. My kids make me feel like a slob. Whats up with that?

The lead frog, Alex, went to medical school in Cuba. I know this because he was giving me advice when I was pregnant with S, and afraid I would go into labor while they were here. He delivered his nephew, he told me- and then suggested some exercises I could do to prepare my uterus. It wasn't until he said "You give her de bress? De bress is bess, for as long as you can.." that I slowly backed out the door. Now, I suppose one could be relieved that they have a cleaning service guy who can not only rid the house of its filth but also deliver a baby- but discussing ones uterus and breasts in the form of small talk is a little weird.

Also, part of the frog team is Alex's 80 something year old mother who raised 7 kids and who, I'm willing to bet, didn't have a cleaning service. More guilt.

I have been saying I am going to quit the frogs for some time now. I had only intended to keep them on until S was born. That was almost 2 years ago. So, finally, with applications to private school, with looking into our finances up close and personally, with me feeling helpless about not contributing income to this family- I thought- this is something I can do- I can quit the frogs.

My heart was heavy after I sent the email saying I had to stop the service. Not because my house will go to hell, which it will, but becasue I actually do really like the cleaning service people. I have gotten used to seeing them over the years, and will miss them. There is also a possibility that this is adversion to change gone way way out of control.

I received this email from the frogs in return:

Please allow me to provide you with a final free cleaning. We will miss you, your family and your home. If budget is an issue let us know and I am sure we can work something out. Everyone is having hard times, but to my loyal customers I am willing to go down in price.
Have a nice day!

J practially had to shake me to make me stay true to my original intent and not be lured back into the comfort of someone else cleaning the house, and then he did his best to force all feelings of guilt and responsibility from me. No small task, that. I took a ridiculously long time and a lot of anxiety coming up with this response:

I really appreciate your offer- but I already feel you do such a great service for your cost, I am not comfortable asking you to go down in price. Its true that everyone is having hard times- we also have a lot of new expenses coming up and need to take this time to regroup our finances- so, for now at least, we need to stop the service.
I appreciate the offer of a free final cleaning, and welcome it if you are still able to, if not I understand.

This morning I recieved this final email:

We want you to know my crew and I will be stopping by around mid day to provide you with a final free cleaning. We love you and your family and we will miss you a lot. You were one of our very first customers.

Come on! They love me? I can't take it. I was never good at breakups. I was so sad this morning! J made a collosal amount of fun of me. He said," Are you going to bake them a cake? Are you going to take pictures of them with the kids?" When I told him that just because he doesn't have a heart he shouldn't make fun of mine- he patted his chest and said "tin man."

I wrote back to the frogs and said I'd try to be home when they were here- although- why? Then I actually wrote them a card saying how great they are. It turned out I wasn't here when they were- it is unseasonable warm today and I took the girls to the park after school. I don't know what I would have said if I saw them, and I don't need to be crying over the cleaners. My house looks great for probably the last time. I'm imagining them sitting back, fingers laced behind their heads, feet on their desks... saying to themselves..."she'll be back. She can't handle her house."

Anyway- Dos Funny Frogs. They are great, and nice. They clean really well. They can deliver your baby. They're the cleaning service that loves you back. If you're in this area, give them a call. Tell them I sent you. Help me chip away at my guilt.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dogs, dogs, dogs

Should be going to bed, but can't wait until tomorrow to see who's best in show. Yes, Westminster, yes I'm a dog geek. I like the Scottish deer hound, but I'm betting on the schnauzer. J has gone to bed in disgust, exhausted from rolling his eyes at my oohing and ahhing over all the dogs. He did last for a while, though- and did his best to seem interested.

One of my favorite yearly occurrences is watching Westminster, and calling my mom when the lab comes on and then critiquing. Then doing it again for the viszla.
"She had a cute body, but I didn't like her face" about the viszla
"I liked him, he was so barrel chested!" about the lab.

Then, since nothing is safe from the kindergarten infiltration of my every waking moment, I read the cover letter that accompanies my tax forms to be submitted tomorrow, thus ending my part of the financial aid process. (I've done my part, I have no money. Now you do yours and give it to me.) I am tangled in forms and form letters to the point where I have no idea what I'm saying anymore. Mom! Help!

Oh I forgot about the brussels griffon. He might get it.

Back to financial aid- my mother did her motherly duty and told me I wrote the perfect letter how could I even have possibly said any of what I was saying better than I did? I don't care that shes my mom and bound contractually to say nice things, I'll take it. And by the way shes a teacher, so she'll at least call me on the sloppy grammar and run on sentences I'm so fond of. Unfortunately she can't spell check me over the phone.

Wait, there they go with the ribbon... the suspense.....

The sussex!!! Wow. Well, good for him. He's cute.

Now I need to wake my dogs up and go to bed.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Cooking porn

Its happened. S can open the refrigerator. Lock up your eggs, hide your catsup. Bolt down the milk, and don't even keep the yogurt in there anymore.

Yesterday, while my children ate an entire cantaloupe at one sitting, I re-marveled at what and the amount they eat. I remembered an idea I had a while ago to have a cooking with kids show. My plan was to film myself making dinner with my kids every night. I thought of it as porn for parents. My kids will often devour the raw ingredients as dinner is being made (no, I don't feed them raw meat, although they'd probably eat it). They eat uncooked pasta, molasses, whatever. Tonight, for example, H ate fist fulls of raw asparagus, and licked the onion I had just sliced, ate a lot of feta, and stuck her finger in the smoked paprika jar. (S was napping. But she actually ate the cooked version of the dinner. H was pretty full once the cooking part was done) I still think its a good idea, but I am massively uncomfortable in front of a camera, and I don't know the first thing about film or video. For now, I'll just continue to write about it.

Yes, my girls love food. And I love that they love food. They are fun to go out to dinner with.


Last night, we all went out to dinner. It was a playing with fire dinner- we had a very busy day, full of activities that required restraint from the girls in one form or another. We had been to meeting, a children's book presentation, to the Y to sign up, and to an art opening.

We went to a bar that has good food- now that there's no smoking in bars here it makes it much easier to take your babies to bars. Not that I have always strived for this or anything- but sometimes nothing beats a dive. And if you have to drag your kids along, I'm ok with that. At the right dive. I imagine bar frequenters with out kids find this irritating, to have babies at the bar, but now that I have kids, I think we should all be tolerant. I won't give you stares for swearing in front of my kids, (although I might avoid you if you're doing jello shots) and you won't give me looks for bringing them and their entourage of stuffed animals and books and other distraction devices. Deal?

We got in, got a table. Ordered, began to relax as much as you can when dining with children. Then it happened. S decided to kick the table, and even though she is not even 2 yet, she would have knocked over the whole thing had J and I not steadied it. J had one hand on his plate of food, the other on the table, I had one hand on the table, the other grabbing S who was about to fall out of her chair. J and I both watched helplessly as J's full pint of beer teetered in slow motion before falling to the floor. Yes, we all wanted to crawl under the table, J and I to escape the situation, S and H because hey why not? Its dark and sticky down there. The whole thing went relatively unnoticed, between the bar noise and the fact that thankfully the pint glass just cracked instead of shattering. They were nice enough to not charge us for the spilt beer. Best of all was that J and I laughed instead of melting into a puddle of anxiety and shame and why do we bother going out ever anyway?

I'm not really sure why we bother going out anyway- but I'm glad we do.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Ralph Rocks! Really!

There are many things I do now on a daily basis that if told about years ago would never have believed I'd be doing. Like wiping runny noses with my bare hands and not even being grossed out by it. Yesterday I did one of those thing: I had a really good time at a kids rock concert.

I admit to a problem with music marketed to kids. I refused to purchase kids music for many years and made my kids listen to The Beatles and WXPN, a public radio station here that is really awesome. This is hardly torture- they liked what they heard- I didn't feel that I was creating a musicless void. I think it was the Christmas before last that my sister in law gave the girls a Ralph's World CD. She had interviewed him and thought he was great. We listened to it a few times, and then kind of forgot about Ralph's World. A few months ago, I found the cd, dusted it off, and thought wow- this is highly listenable, and enjoyable. The girls LOVE it, and I kind of do too. Its catchy as all get out, and I don't even mind that these songs are looping in my head.

I went online to see if Ralph's World had a new cd out, since we all love the one we have, but one of the 3 of us frequent listeners was getting just slightly hungry for some variation. Not only was there a new album, but Ralph's World had tour dates, and was playing here soon.

So we bought tickets, and H had been counting the days until the show. We bought the new cd, so we'd know the songs. H got fancy, (pink ruffled skirt, pink, white and black leopard tights, red short sleeved t-shirt on top of a long sleeved T with black owls printed all over. And silver sparkly shoes) We waited in line for the doors to open. It gave a complete new meaning to 'all ages show'.

I am a really big sap, who gets sappier as time goes on. The thing that makes me the most sappy lately is seeing people who do what they are meant to do, and do it really well. Seriously, Ralph was amazing, a great musician, great with kids, and really, really nice. He hung around after the show, to have his picture taken and sign T-shirts, or anything else you wanted him to sign. I was expecting him to be hurried, on to the next- but was there standing next to him long enough for me to feel completely awkward and not know what to say. (which really doesn't take long, but we were there for a while!) He got H to give him a high five- which is impressive- shes not a bit shy, but she's very skeptical of even awknowledging you until shes had some time to adjust. Although he read her enough to make me get in the picture with him too. Then someone in line volutunteered to take a picture, and this is what happened:

I already liked Ralph, of Ralph's World, but meeting Ralph and seeing him and the rest of Ralph's World in action- I may be in danger of becoming a kids rock star groupie.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

You want it WHEN?

Why does everyone want it at the same time? Attention, money, lunch... its been all or nothing around here for so long. I am loosing layers people, I can only be at so many places doing so many things at so many times. I don't mean to sound like a superhero, but like most mothers I know, I have a healthy pride in my ability to multi-task. Its getting to the 'stop the world I want to get off' place, where the tasks I'm multiplying are morphing into one task and making a task sandwich. Growing into multi-task skyscrapers. I am rapidly approaching complete loss of sky.

I just called a credit card company to transfer the balance from a different credit card company- was on hold for 20 minutes. I can conceivably wait that long, but try getting a word in around here after 20 minutes of me not paying full attention to everyone. And H isn't even here! 20 minutes is the limit. I have 2o minute intervals to get anything I need to get done. And thats on a good day.

After 20 minutes of holding and listening to muzak, a very soft spoken woman came on the phone to ask why I wanted to transfer balances and so on. S has figured out how to turn the volume down on all the phones, and I'm not all the way sure I won't disconnect the caller if I turn it up, so I couldn't hear anyway. (Actually, I DO know it won't disconnect the caller, but what if? I can't spare another 20 minutes on hold.) Once off hold, the dogs who were out, wanted to come in, separately of course. That was 2 loud poundings and barkings at the door in the middle of me trying to recite account numbers. Once in they (loudly) ran around and chewing each others heads in excitement that its snowy and cold out. S cried (loudly) 2 seconds into the call, I had put sesame street on to try and extend my 20 minute window of accomplishment. Cookie Monster is now added to the growing list of things that scare S. (also on the list, Swiper Fox, Thomas the Train, and anyone on Word Girl)

I did somehow manage to transfer the balance, but I'm not entirely sure how.

This is just a blip in the day- but things are mounding. I'm waiting to hear if my work has been accepted into a show that ordinarily I wouldn't care about, but my work ship is sinking, I need a fix of positivity. The taxes, the taxes, the taxes. The fact that the tax preparation is directly linked to the financial aid process for H's potential kindergarten. The fact that it is all out of my control. Things are just flying around where the current takes them, I am standing here pretending I have 8 arms and a giant butterfly net to bring things into balance. Pretending I'd know what to do with these things if I could catch them in the first place.

Fake it until you make it? I am the picture of calm. I have it all an arms length away. I only need 2 arms. I only need one tax form, I only need one kindergarten. Its not working.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Winter mix

Another snow day. But its early and we've already been outside which bodes well for my sanity. Its sunny, and the snow is light and powdery.

I owe the girls some decent sledding- and this is the perfect snow for it. Yesterday, when the snow started I got a bit premature about the sledding and took them to the park after picking up H at school. It was warm, (for February) the snow wasn't sticking, and the park was muddy. The snow was acting like rain- we were the only ones in the park. Thats ok, I'm happy to be crazy mud sledding mom. There was a woman walking by as we were getting out of the car- she had a huge coat with a hood that she could barely poke her face out of, and she was carrying a large painting that looked like it came from a thrift store. She smiled and I defensively said, "I know, I'm crazy being out in this" she assured me, "no, you're not crazy, I did the same thing with my kids." Nice to know I have company. I'll remember that next time I decide to take my painting for a walk in the snow.

My question now, do we walk to the park?

In my usual half assed scatterbrained way, I forgot I was writing this, left it unfinished, and walked us all to the park.

Seemed like a good idea at the time.

It was pretty awful. The way there was fine- once at the park the snow was deep and hard to maneuver. There were big kids snowboarding- although they were pretty good- aside from yelling FUCK really loud all the time. I think I will never take S sledding again. What I needed was another grownup- I didn't have enough hands or pressence of mind to handle the deep snow, 3 sleds (one toddler sled and 2 small slider things- 3 sled sounds like much more than it was. But THREE sleds! Uphill both ways!) and every ones gloves and hats that kept flying off at odd intervals. I couldn't really sled with S, and our "sleds" (the slider things) suck. S was bored, she was cold, she thought we were going to the playground, (this I deduced from the arched back screaming and pointing all limbs in the direction of the playground. Genius) S wouldn't keep her mittens on. Her nose was running. The wind was blowing snow from the trees into her face. She was pissed. S is not one to be pissed quietly, so she started to FREAK the fuck out. I knew she was just mad, but the parents on the hill thought surely she had frostbite, or had lost a limb, or maybe I'd forgotten to feed her for days. They were sure she was being tortured. And thats what she was telling everybody, who are they to not believe her? S was so convincing that I started to worry that something was very wrong, so I fled the hill. The walk of shame, down the sled hill, praying you don't fall down the hill or get hit by a snow boarder.

H by the way, was fabulous. She was sledding like a pro, hitting jumps, going backwards, having a blast. I really wanted to sled with her, next time we leave Miss buzz kill at home. Luckily, just before S's freak out, I trusted the premonition I had and told H that was her last trip down the hill, so when I met her at the bottom, at least she didn't freak out. H did insist on being pulled in the sled S had been riding in, but was now refusing to sit in, she was also refusing to be put down. H wouldn't get out of the sled. I nearly threw myself on the ground at that point- go on! save yourselves! I can't make it..much...further... but I pulled it together- forced H out of the sled, forced S into the sled, which thankfully has a belt. I gave H the sternest look I could muster and growled that she better stop whining, then made her feel guilty that something may be wrong with her sister- (I really was doubting S just being mad at that point) and I dragged us home. Very, very, very loudly. We got in, S was ok- nothing very wrong with her at all, she was just tired of being there. And pissed.

But heres the thing, I don't trust my judgment sometimes, in my eagerness for everyone to just push through and deal with their discomfort. When do I stop? Oh you're fine it just a surface wound. Oh you're fine you still have 4 fingers left... I can't sift through the wolf crying.

Hours later I was coming home from taking H to the dentist (and buying cat food*) and my neighbor says, "ya go sleddin?" He saw me leave, he knows we went sledding. I have to acknowledge the screaming he heard all the way down the block. I say that S didn't have any fun at all. "yeah, she's too young for that" he says. Yeah, yeah, I know. Well, not to young to sled, but too young to appreciate our sledding mission. But H had fun, and for that it was worth it. And I couldn't possibly bore the neighbors.

* I hate buying cat food. Its the least frequent food I need to buy, but for some reason I am always inclined to feed the cat scrambled eggs, cereal, anything, to avoid buying more cat food. In the pet food aisle, we had to say hi to EVERY kitty and doggie we saw, on every can, on every bag. H says to S, "Can you believe all this stuff made from kitties?"

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

not a haiku

costs money
dont have it
have to apply for it
have to wait for the forms
have to pay for the forms
have to send the forms
probably should write a letter

I am having a hard time having one thought at a time.

Monday, February 2, 2009

kindergarten-da-vida, baby

The stress of kindergarten. The school in the woods open house was ok- sounds so quaint, but its not all that quaint. Its muddy and a lot of the staff have lyme disease, apparently. Anyway- in and out, down the pot hole strewn road, got the application and the number assigned to it. Learned that the 200 or so of us there were competing for 13 spaces.

I don't know that I liked it there anyway. The school is set in 300 or so acres of woods, (which I DID like) the push of the school is science, they are big on the environment, the kids hike for hours- that all sounds great, but it seemed like all they do. I like tadpoles, but I don't want to do my reading, math, science, art, do they have music? all about tadpoles. I think I would stop wanting to learn anything if I had to relate it all to a tadpole. I love, love, love the woods, I am not anti science, or anti environment- or anti tadpole- but the school did not seem so well rounded to me.

It was a reunion of most of the people I know, who I have been sharing kindergarten stress with. Public school? private school? Financial aid for kindergarten? Everyone with their version of the same stress, their babies starting kindergarten in a city where the public school system is broken. I really like the kids H goes to pre-K with and I'm sad that they are all scattering to different schools.

The public schools around here are ok, but I don't think they're good enough. I've struggled with just saying that, but there I said it. I worry that I'm not being realistic, I worry that I'm over sheltering. Or that I'm stereotyping. Or that I'm not being true to the community feeling that's snuck up on me from living here for longer than I meant to. Or that I'm part of the not-my-child problem with the public education system. Mainly I worry that I don't know what I'm talking about. I hate the idea that with private school you're paying for who your kid goes to school with. Although there is some truth to that, I have come to learn you can always find an asshole somewhere. Just as you can find a saint in a shit hole.

Going to these open houses is like going through the motions to me. I know where I want H (and later S) to go to kindergarten. I have no doubts, save for how I will pay the tuition for this school. H has been accepted to the school, I should hear about financial aid soon, in a week or two. Its a friends school, where my family, and now MY family, as is US, WE, have been going to meeting. My mother and grandmother are Quaker, they have been going to meeting at the meeting house associated with this school since the 40's. I was raised Quaker- and its only now that I'm realizing the truth to that. I've said for as long as I can remember that I was raised Quaker- but that was mostly my yearning to say I was raised something. I didn't know that I really was raised Quaker until I started going to meeting- it was all so familiar, and felt so right. Sitting there in silence with people who felt the same way I do, not about everything certainly, but who care about a lot of the same things I do. I sat there thinking, Wait! Am I going to be one of those people with the inner peace? I feel inner peaceful! So, there, now I've said that, too. I am apparently a Quaker. And am excited to raise my girls Quaker, too.

Jungle fevah

Last night in the bath, and again this morning, H has been singing, loudly, "Jungle feeevvah...jungle fevah" with a little hip shake and hair toss. I KNOW its innocent (enough)- but I am at a loss for how to handle this, or if it needs to be handled at all. I'm thinking it doesn't- but shes already asked me if I know about jungle fever- what if she starts asking around? Thanks a lot Spike Lee.

Perchance you are wondering where a child of 4 would hear a song about jungle fever. I'll tell you from where. From the toddlers favorite sing along version 3 CD that my mother in law gifted the children. So they can learn all about jungle fever. You should hear the x-rated hokey pokey on this CD! The part where you put your back side in and shake it all around? This creepy guy comes into the song at that point and says "Oh Yeeaaaahhh, I like the hokey pokey! Heeeeeheeeeeheee" I'm telling you, its not right.

In other news, I am going to an open house tonight at a charter school in the woods. They think they are the cats pajamas AND the bees knees at this place, and you must attend their open house and presentation on how great they are before you can wrestle the other desperate mothers of kindergartners to be for an application for one of the 10 spots they have available. And yes, it really is in the woods. Down a dark winding road. Well, its not so dark in the day time of course- its not the blair witch school. I am in the midst of the kindergarten freak out. More about that soon. Really. More than you want to know.