Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Best day ever (according to Wes)

As I mentioned in my last post, Wes flew off his bike on Saturday and snapped an adult tooth in half. I was laughing about how nonchalantly I slipped that into the post, right after a breezy retelling about our weekend, but since we are not totally neglectful I made him a dentist appointment for yesterday morning at 8:00 AM.

I assumed that it would be a quick in and out, they would xray his mouth, shrug their shoulders, and send us home with a diagnosis of "shit happens".

Instead they xrayed him, looked him over, and declared him in need of a procedure in which they would create a new tooth on top of the old half-tooth using some kind of space age material. He would have to have gas and a shot to numb his gums. They wanted to know if they could do it right then or if we would like to come back later. Since we were already there and missing school and I didn't have anything better going on until my class at one o'clock I decided to go for it.

I don't know if you know this about me, but I have some MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF ANXIETY about dental procedures. But I've watched Charley get a filling before so I was unprepared for the overwhelming fight or flight response I experienced for the ENTIRE HOUR we were in that office.

(In retrospect, the cup of coffee I had helped myself to in the waiting room was a mistake. But it smelled so good. And it tasted so good. But it was my second of the day and instead of making me feel calm and alert, it propelled my cortisol levels into Mission Control during Apollo 13 levels. I know this now)

They gave him the gas and after a few minutes he started taking these weird long slow deep breaths and gripping the arms of the chair like he was having a bad acid trip. Then they gave him the shot in his gums and his lip looked really weird and I was certain he was going into anaphylaxis. I stood over him rubbing his leg protectively and staring at his chest rising and falling, just waiting for something to go wrong.

I tried sound casual when I said to the doctor, who was sitting nearby in a relaxed fashion, "So his lip looks really swollen..." "Yeah," she said nonchalantly. It's because of the injury and the shot I just gave him." I rubbed his leg protectively, standing awkwardly over the chair and wondering if it would be too much of a spectacle if I dragged the new age carpeted bench over from the other side of the room so I could hover in comfort. Or if maybe it would be OK if I climbed up into the chair and spooned with him.

The procedure itself was EXTREMELY ROUTINE. But I was a FREAKING MESS. It was totally beyond my control. I had to take frequent breaks to stare into my phone. Then I would rub his leg some more. And also don't forget the highly distracting awkward small talk I attempted to make with the dentist.

I don't even remember what we talked about. I only remember that at some point it was clear I had passed polite and sociable and had become annoying.

I spent several minutes wondering if I was strong enough to scoop him up and run out to the car. I wish I was exaggerating.

After approximately fourteen hours of terror, the new tooth was ready and they let him sit up. He jumped off the chair and gave he a huge hug. For me? For him? I'm not sure.

Then he told me "It felt like the chair turned to goo and I was sinking into it" which explains the desperate white-knuckled grasping onto the arms of the chair. It *was* a bad acid trip.

We got a school note and then went straight to Whataburger for a milkshake for him (doctor's orders) and a number one with cheese for me. At ten o'clock in the morning. I ate it like a caged animal in the parking lot. And then I took Wes to school and then I stopped at a bakery for a blueberry scone and a chocolate chip cookie.

After school Wes was angry about EVERYTHING. After lots of door slamming and stomping and yelling about every. little. thing. he mused "I think the gas makes me feel stressed out."

"Oh buddy" I said "that whole morning was REALLY stressful. I'm not surprised you are feeling stressed."

We read books together and cuddled up and then he went to bed (with more stomping and door slamming). Later I went in because his light was still on as I was getting ready for bed. I rubbed his back for a few minutes and he said "Today was the BEST DAY EVER." Because he got to play video games in the waiting room at the dentist, watch Lego Batman, have a milkshake, and miss three hours of school.

Best day ever, man.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Yesterday, man. Yes. Ter. Day.

I think the really thrilling thing about teaching a new class in an unfamiliar subject that begins at 8:30 on Mondays is the seat of your pants feeling you have all weekend when you are refereeing sibling squabbles, scrubbing toilets, and (at last) chilling on the front lawn with your husband because THE KIDS HAVE OFFICIALLY TAKEN OVER THE HOUSE instead of preparing for class.

This is a good way to look at it because the alternative is to be COMPLETELY OVERWHELMED ALL THE TIME.

Fortunately, I attended a research talk at Bigelow Labs this summer while we were in Maine and it made an EXCELLENT introduction to food webs. Class was kind of awesome today. I was a little bouncy when I left.

Our row (5:45 AM) was also awesome this morning and then I felt so good that I blow dried my hair and took a selfie in the parking lot.

This is as swingy as my hair gets when the dewpoint is 75F.

I am really loving this semester, actually, in a totally weird non-sarcastic way. I mean. Half the time I am teaching OUTSIDE. On Thursday a faculty member who saw me outside with my class on Tuesday encountered us outside again and said with a smile "Don't you ever teach in a classroom?!" It was a great moment. I should probably have asked him to put that comment into an email directed to my chair.

Things that are not going well? Yesterday. Holy dang, you guys.

Ryan was singing at church, which meant I had to get everyone up and going to arrive at 9:30. This seems simple because despite the way we have to drag their comatose forms from bed every single weekday, they spring out of bed fresh as daisies at 6:15 on weekend mornings because the first kid downstairs gets control of the remote. But they were SO SQUIRRELY! And James and Mary got into a fight over TOAST!

James got ready extra fast because he knows he can use extra time to skateboard.

(Charley is older and wiser and knows to sleep late, which meant that I was shaking him awake at 8:40 like GET UP GET GET UP GET UP!)

Church was great because the kids were up and down the whole time. Wes got his third grade Bible, Charley went up to be recognized as a future acolyte, and Wes went up for the birthday prayer. The other kids made an annoying mess out of paper but were otherwise quiet.


After a third grader celebratory lunch at church we headed separate ways--Ryan took Wes to a scout meeting and I took everyone else. We were supposed to be going to the store to get a week's worth of groceries, but instead had a big fight about shoes in the parking lot of the store and went home all huffy. I angry-cleaned all the bathroom counters and floors in the house and did two loads of laundry. Ryan got home much later than expected from the scout meeting and settled in to bicker with the kids about homework while I took Charley to the car wash with me. I've been meaning to take the car in ever since we got back from our huge road trip and it finally reached the level of disgusting where it seemed worth sitting at the car wash for however long it took to get it somewhat presentable again.

Friends. They took it back and forth between the washing station and the vacuuming station THREE TIMES. This would have been hilarious (because OMG GROSS) except that it took AN HOUR AND TWENTY MINUTES.

It looks beautiful now. There are no brown smears all over my cupholder and I don't hear a loud sloshing noise as pea gravel slides from one side of the car to the other every time I go around a corner. It's an amazing transformation. But still. AN HOUR AND TWENTY MINUTES.

This meant that I was completely undone by the time we got to the grocery store, scrapped my plan for a healthy dinner, bought a bunch of hot dogs and boxed mac and cheese instead, and got home. Walking into, in that state of mind, to the Epic Homework Battle for the Ages was not ideal.

By the time the last kid was tucked in and I had used all remaining emotional control to make sure everyone felt safe and loved and listened to as I tucked their covers in tight, I was DONE.

Then I walked downstairs and Charley asked me "Was I bad today? I heard you say something about what a terrible day it was." Oof. I gave him all the hugs. And then I didn't even see them this morning because I was rowing. #MOTY Early bedtime for me.

In other news, Mary and I went to brunch with my sister, mom, and niece on Saturday morning, which was delightful and girly and fun. Mary was SO PROUD to be out with the big girls that she sat up a little straighter and smiled adorably every time we made eye contact. CUTEST THING EVER.

We were on our way to my house to hang out some more with my sister when I got a text from Ryan saying that Wes had fallen off his bike at the scout bike rally and hurt his mouth. We met them at urgent care where Ryan got out of the van and handed me a piece of tape that was holding PIECES OF WES'S ADULT TOOTH. His lip was huge and swollen and bleeding and his tooth was...interesting... but the doctor said there was nothing else major broken or injured and referred him to our dentist. Wes perked up quickly with some cat videos and soft mac and cheese and ice cream for lunch but Ryan may never recover. That night Wes took off his shirt to go to bed and we all discovered that his chest was also covered in scratches. Poor kid! It must have been quite the spectacular fall (He was in a different group than Ryan and was riding with a couple of other dads and kids. One of the dads offered to give us Go Pro footage of the fall. We declined. They took good care of him and he was eating a popsicle when Ryan got there). If you see Wes he will probably show you his tooth. Or what's left of it. He is so proud. Yeesh.

Now I'm gonna grade grade grade grade (do you also hear "all I do is win win win win" when you read that?). And get ready for tomorrow's research meeting. I feel like such a real professor. Crazy, you guys.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Someone remind me to pick up the children at school


All good things, but it was a really freaking busy week. And I've taught outside three times, which is super fun, but also tiring in a two-mile-walk in a 100 degrees kind of way.

Monday my friend C came over and we worked on needlework together. It was as fun as I thought it would be, which is very.

Tuesday was an event I have been looking forward to since I was born called "Beer and Hymns" at a local brewery.

It was good. Very very very good. Beautiful, meaningful music and lots of enthusiastic singing (too enthusiastic, in my case, because I was hoarse when I got home). As you know, sing a longs and hymns are two of my favorite things and I've always wondered why as a society have stopped the kind of hearty collective singing in bars that you see in pirate movies. So this was something I would have only dreamed of attending, until someone MADE MY DREAM A REALITY. Also it was the kind of relaxed, friendly, casual, happy thing that church should be but sometimes isn't because we make it too fussy (possibly because we take our children there?). A bunch of friends were there. My friend Pastor K worked the cash register for a while. Then she led the band for a song. She has many talents. Beer and Hymns was one of those things you do where you wake up happy the next morning (and then find yourself humming hymns all day). I lovely oasis in a hectic and noisy world.

Wednesday night the boys gave Mary a ride on the go kart they made out of an old lawnmower deck and she got engine grease all over the new mini-Boden dress I found for her at a consignment store. I don't mind the lawnmower deck riding or the grease, but I would have rathered it not be on her new dress. Facebook came to the rescue and gave me about ten different home remedies for when your baby girl gets ENGINE GREASE ON HER DRESS (which probably was more like, what to do when your husband gets engine grease on his shirt, because most four year old girls aren't RIDING AROUND ON LAWNMOWERS) and PLAIN OLD DAWN came to my rescue. (She was wearing the dress because she had just returned from children's choir, which she finally gets to attend "like the brothers". She takes this so seriously that she likes to dress up for the occasion.)

Engine grease on dress. I must teach her about play clothes.

The other day after work I took a picture of my grocery order because it was all alcohol and hot dogs and macaroni and cheese and cookies. Yesterday morning I took a quick trip to the store between a doctor's appointment and work and bought some things for dinner and was struck by how nutritionally optimistic I was feeling relative to my after-work self. I mean, PARSNIPS FFS.


I turned all of that into a delicious sheet pan supper that everyone actually seemed to not hate. WIN.

I know you are supposed to mix everything together for a sheet pan supper, but I do it this way to facilitate picking by the various food snobs in my family (no veggies, no meat, no carbs, no touching).

Finally, it feels like the semester just started but it would appear from looking at my desk that it is in fact "mid-semester," when the volume of paper threatens to tip over and crush me to death. And this is with one class turning everything in digitally!

Finally finally, I have to remember to pick the kids up at school today because our sitter is out of town. I am actually looking forward to this, but since it is a change in routine I am slightly stressed that I am going to forget and get an angry call from the school. TGIF!!!!!!!!!

Monday, September 11, 2017

I need a snooze button

I keep wondering aloud why I'm so dang tired all the time, but then Ryan reminds me that I got up at 4:45 on Friday morning to row, worked all day, took the kids to the campus family beginning of the semester celebration, and then tried to sleep unsuccessfully between 9 pm and 1 am, when I finally demanded Ryan rub my back until I fell asleep (works for toddlers and me, apparently). And also that I have been surviving on a concoction of arthritis medication, Tylenol Cold, and beer that is probably pharmacologically inadvisable.

Today I managed to drop the Tylenol Cold, but I did get up and row (we have started distance-training, which is just like it sounds only harder, so I'm actually starving and the dining hall opens in 33 minutes, which is why I am blogging instead of programming), so I'm slightly more coherent but just as sleepy as usual.

I have a friend coming over tonight and we are going to do needlework together. And possibly drink wine. It's a stitch n'bitch. I am SUPER EXCITED about this. Since I am an extrovert the social part will help me power through the MASSIVE fatigue.

This weekend was nice and gloriously unscheduled. The kids have rediscovered skateboarding, which is fun and also has led to lots and lots of bruises and scratches. James took a header off the new babysitter's longboard and has a scab between his upper lip and nose that looks like a mustache.

I bought this mirror on Craigslist Saturday afternoon with the intention of chalk-painting it this cool yellow-green color I'm in love with because I think it would be just the touch of color my bedroom needs. But the thing is I have totally lost my nerve on the painting because it is SO PRETTY. My dad has instilled in me an aversion to painting pretty wood, even when it's say, an aging sideboard that would look SO PRETTY in a cranberry color in my living room. So now it's a touch more traditional than I was hoping for, but I still really love it. I haven't had a full-length mirror since we moved out of our grad school house!


I realized the other day that we treat the kids as a pack of children and do not always adjust our expectations to the fact that they are in four different stages of development. This often works, since they are largely pretty capable and independent. But we don't think Mary realizes how much littler she is than, say, Charley, so she sometimes bites off more than she can chew.


She also has taken on some pretty challenging reading.

"Hatred of Democracy". Timely.

Homework has gotten better since they started hanging out with a bonafide elementary school teacher in the afternoons but it is still a major PITA.


Last night we got out a guitar and song book before bed and spent some time "helping James practice" and also singing some Bob Dylan. We have decided to work up a few "bedtime songs" and teach them to the kids. Is this a little too too? I think so but I love it so we're going with it.


James told his Tiger Den yesterday that this summer he "traveled to Maine and went skinnydipping." Apparently that was a formative life experience for the kids. They had no idea that was even a thing. And now they do. I am so proud.

I will end with this sweet story. Last night at dinner Ryan was thinking out loud about someone we know who was getting married and he said "I guess they've been together for two years," and James thought for a minute and then said "Hmm. I've been with Charley for, like, six years?"

(I'm about to push publish on this, but wanted to document for the record all the warm fuzzy feelings I have about the kids right now. Sure homework is a pain and they watch total garbage on TV. And their feet smell like death poop. But they are funny and clever and loving and they are just the BEST. Weekends are so sweet. I love our cozy time at home together. I really miss them when we are all at school and work during the week and it is just SO WEIRD to be here after all the years of constant WORK they required to get to this point. I mean, there is still lots of work to be done, but all of them have morphed, sometime when I was not looking, into these funny, awesome people I really like hanging out with. I can sort of understand what those ladies in the grocery store are thinking when they look starry eyed at my grungy crew begging for candy and bickering in the checkout line. These are the days I will miss. They won't always be hanging all over me like a bunch of puppies when I read books! Some people want to freeze time at the baby stage, but I think I'd rather freeze this time here.)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Many Quick Takes

I had like twenty-seven different brilliant thoughts about what to write while I was in the shower this morning, but then I got in my car and drove to work and POOF! Gone! I will give it a shot.

1. As you know, a hurricane devastated most of the coastline of my state. I had to contribute by staring gape-mouthed at the forecast, the models, and the video coming out of Rockport and Houston and feeling utterly horrified and helpless. The sun finally came out in Houston late yesterday, but unfortunately they are just beginning a long road of rebuilding. Austin looked to be in for some heavy rain too, and it did rain a lot, but it was not scary in any way. We bought a few days of extra groceries and planned to stay in all weekend but took advantage of a lull in the rain to get outside for a bit and take some wind speed measurements with the Kestrel I borrowed from work.


2. Sunday we had crazy rain and wind but we ventured out for church because everyone was starting to turn on each other and we thought it would be fun to fight out in public for a change.


3. And then we went to lunch with some friends at a hamburger place where we usually eat on the patio. The three boys all still wanted to eat on the patio and play in the wet sandbox and I was like "You want to eat outside in the rain while I eat inside in the quiet?! YES YES YES." They thought it was the best thing ever.


Some of the friends we were with arrived after we did and had already told their kids that they couldn't eat outside and arrived to see my kids cavorting around in the wind. Oops.

4. I got two new pairs of glasses. One of them is BLUE blue. Ryan's cousin had these awesome blue glasses on the last time I saw her and I went to the same website and thought I ordered the same pair. Hers were less day-glo, but OMG I LOVE THESE FREAKING GLASSES. It took some getting used to, but the sensible tortoise shell ones I bought at the same time have remained in their case in my purse the whole time because BLUE GLASSES MAKE EVERY OUTFIT LOOK COOLER. They also make my haircut look better, oddly. I CANNOT QUIT YOU BLUE GLASSES!


5. They made me move offices this summer, which was annoying, but actually turned out to be a good thing because this office was NEVER USED AS A CLOSET. I brought in a dog hair-covered rug from my house (our dog died two years ago) and some things for the walls and I really love it.


Best things about it are that it is not currently undergoing asbestos abatement and it has a proto window that opens onto the hallway that has another window that goes OUTSIDE.


6. Bedtime never really stops being a total PITA, right?


7. We have a new after school nanny that is working out SPECTACULARLY WELL. She is some kind of magician who can get the kids to do homework and practice their instruments and still have time to play before I get home. She has put on Charley's rollerblades and shown them some tricks. She took them to a skate park yesterday. It is SO AWESOME. Which is why it was extra mortifying yesterday when I fumbled my phone on my way home, called her, and left a MINUTE-LONG MESSAGE of me belting out Hamilton in the car.

8. Finally, my new role at the university requires that sometimes I put on steel-toed thigh boots and wade into a cattail pond to get water samples. I was all in on the boots and the trucking through the cattails. I was less enthusiastic about reaching into the snake-infested water with my bare hands to get the sample. But it was great to be back in the field again.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

House tour!

Like one person asked me for pics of the new house so HERE THEY ARE! Thanks one person!

Here is the view right inside the front door. When I came to scope out the house before we looked at it with the realtor, I peeked through the window by the door and could see all the way to the back of the house and I liked it so much I forgot that I was in the middle of bringing a sick kid home from school.


Here's the other side of the foyer. That's the table where we keep our rollerblades, random boxes, and junk mail.


To the left of the front door is the dining room, which for us is the piano room and homework/project overflow room. This is one of the reasons I liked this house so much. Now the kids have a place to do table things without having to clear them off so that we can eat dinner! Alternatively, it is a place where someone can go do their homework when they can't stand to sit near another person who is, I don't know, breathing wrong and causing them an intolerable level of irritation! My favorite part of this room is the "Birds of North America" print that my friend Rosa gave me as a house warming present. I *treasure* it. IMG_5784

To the right of the front hall is Charley's room, which he is supposed to keep looking nominally nice, since it's downstairs. He is doing a pretty good job. Sometimes. My favorite part of his room is that he now has a full-sized bed but loves his cute little twin-sized patchwork quilt that he won't give it up. I helpfully put an old queen-sized quilt in there the other day and found it stuffed into the coat closet. Message received!


Living room, featuring THE GREEN COUCH (which is slowly getting kid-ified since it is in the only room with a TV)!


This is the kitchen. I love it, but I will always hold a special place in my heart for the one Ryan built with his own two hands. Still, this one has a cabinet JUST FOR THE CROCKPOT. Cabinet space heals all broken hearts.


The other side of the kitchen and the little counter height windows that sold the house. And like fourteen wine bottles.


The other real reason we bought this house is the UPSTAIRS FAMILY ROOM. It is all of our favorite rooms and we hang out up here after dinner most nights. The first time I had a bunch of moms over after we moved in we all noticed how quiet it was and that was because HALF THE KIDS WERE PLAYING UPSTAIRS. That is a beautiful beautiful thing.


Mary's room! She was helping me take pictures.


James's room (is not usually this clean!)!


Wes's room!!


The master bedroom, which needs some things on the walls.


Annnd, my desk on the other side of the master bedroom, which is my other other favorite part of the house.


So there you have it! My house on the only day this year it will be this clean!!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Dispatch from testosterone-land


Today I am taking my three boys plus one friend boy to a WATERPARK by myself.  It opens at noon, so in a few minutes I am going to gather them and run to Target for lunch boxes and other random school necessities (like beer) and then we are going to go to Torchy's for lunch so we can be standing at the gate when they open at noon.  School starts tomorrow, so we are pulling out all the stops today.

But still.  Four boys.  Target.  Lunch.  WATERPARK.  Lord, hear my prayer.

A couple of randoms before I go...

On the plane home, we sat in two rows.  Charley, Wes, and Mary were behind James and me.  Also in my row was a man who told me excitedly that his wife and two children were seated in another part of the plane, so it should be a quiet flight for him.


Highlights included James fourteen bathroom trips, my repeated need to hiss instructions to the other kids by putting my mouth three inches from his ear and yelling between the seats.  Mary screaming with indignation every time her headphones came off.  Me hanging my entire body over my middle seat to help her adjust her seatbelt, put her headphones back on, and open her applejuice can.

But I'd say the best moment in the flight for him was after they turned the seatbelt sign on.  Mary started screaming, like SCREAMING, and I had to give him a brief lap dance as I propelled myself out of my seat, quickly threw all the debris off Wes's tray table, and sat next to Mary.

Did I mention that we got up at ONE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING to drive to Boston to get on the flight?  And Mary went to bed at TEN?  And did not sleep in the car OR the plane?  It was ugly.


I wore sandals and went barefoot pretty much the entire time we were in Maine, so my heels are so disgusting that they act like the scratchy part of Velcro.  A random sock stuck to my foot the other day and it stayed there as I walked across an entire room.


This morning we went to the kids' school to find out who their teachers are and to get our pickup pass.  After several minutes of polite chatting with the office staff, Wes volunteered that he'd gotten to cross something off his bucket list.  The woman asked "Oh yeah?  What was on your bucket list?"  Wes smiled and said excitedly: "SKINNYDIPPING!"


The boys are all back inside.  I offered them a candy bar each in exchange for taking out the trash and washing out our disgusting trash can.  It was music to my ears hearing them working at the large trashcan below the window by my desk, screaming and yelling about the how gross it was.  Then they took turns spraying it with the hose.  #happymemories

So that means it is time to locate our bathing suits and get this party started.

Updated to add: after ignoring the background noise of four boys messing around with who knows what, Wes came running upstairs.  I was about to tell him to give me a few more minutes when he exclaimed "CHARLEY BROUGHT MAGGOTS INSIDE."  NOPE.