Thursday, October 11, 2018

Remember those SNL sketches about Hampshire College? Yeah.

One exciting thing about Fall Break is that the kids' Fall Break lasts an entire week while mine lasts only two days. Fortunately I don't have class on Wednesdays, so that only left Thursday and Friday as the weird days. Of course, yesterday was pretty weird too with PT for me, dentist for Charley, and then simultaneous therapy for Charley and tutoring for James. I also had a choir rehearsal, but something had to go and that was it. My parents came over so James could meet with his tutor and everything worked out in a slightly crazed, but doable pace.

Today we were all up bright and early for my statics class, which meets at 8:30. I can't tell you how relaxing it was for me to introduce first moments, cold, first thing in the morning, after not seeing the material for over a year, with four children staring at me from the back row. So relaxing.

On the way into the building I took this hopeful photo of them all looking extra loveable in their backpacks. They were super excited because to them college is a neverending funtown with unlimited pudding and macaroni and cheese, hammocks, bikes, pianos around every corner, and dozens of young women who think they are adorable.

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They blew off some steam after class by hurling this beach ball at each other in the student lounge next door to my office. It sounded like a rave in there. I was attempting to talk to a student about their exam and tune it all out when another faculty member who works on my hallway walked in and stared at them, then deadpanned "I'm glad you are here! Is your presentation ready?" then turned around and walked out laughing.

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When they started getting really out of control I declared it time to go for a walk and we headed across the campus to the music building to see my friend, the choir director, and to find an unattended piano to play. I had just intended to pop my head in and say a quick hello, but the kids invaded her office and played her piano and played with all the toys. I finally pried them away after they had played their entire repertoire and secured an invitation to choir rehearsal on Friday.

We saw a picture of Miss N!

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On the way back to my office, they helped create an interactive art installation to celebrate Coming Out day (university president also pictured in navy blazer).

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And that inspired them to create their own show of support on my office window.

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I love it so much.

We had to go give an exam in my afternoon class. For this they were rewarded with a couch and unfettered access to Netflix. This cozy arrangement lasted for nearly an hour before James and Mary had a loud spat about couch territory. I heard Mary shriek with anger in my classroom (even though I have no doubt that this fight was her fault). When I came back out to fix them with a withering stare, James had helpfully moved to the window sill to give her more room.

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And then, even though I usually like to power through an hour or so of grading after class, we packed up our stuff and GTF out of there. I bought them each a pack of gum and now we are home having unrestricted screen time.

My next class is at 8:30 tomorrow morning. And I've promised them the dining hall. So stay tuned.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Padre Island and poop holes

The kids have the entire week off for Fall Break and I was itching to get out of town, but I didn't want to spend any money because I'm saving up for a fancy water heater that heats water instead of draining it all over James's closet. Padre Island National Seashore is four hours away and since we have a fourth grader, we could all get in for free. AND, we could camp there for fourteen dollars a night. When I told Ryan that we could stop at our favorite Whataburger on the way, he was on board too.

On Saturday morning I called to see if they had any tent sites available and they told us that they had plenty of primitive beach campsites available. When James asked what a primitive campsite was, Charley's eyes lit up and he said "You get to poop in a hole, James!"

So after buying some biodegradable toilet paper, taking James to urgent care for a strep diagnosis, and swinging by the pharmacy for some amoxicillin, we were on our way.

(We didn't know James was sick until he told us offhandedly that his head hurt and his mouth hurt when he swallowed and his neck clicked when he turned his head. Apparently this had been going on for some time. I didn't want him to get worse while we were out of town, so I took him in just in case. Boy was I surprised when it was strep! We discussed briefly me staying home with him, but tonight he said "I knew there was a chance I would get better and you told me there would be s'mores, so. I'm glad I went.")

We arrived after dark and had no idea how the park worked, so we found the beach, found a cozy nook between two giant RVs, and set up our tent, using our van to block the CONSIDERABLE amount of wind coming off the Gulf of Mexico. Like I always say, before you decide to marry someone, you should definitely try to assemble a dome tent in the dark in a twenty-five knot wind together. Preferably while trucks drive by in the darkness, kids run around willy nilly, and the picturesque, but deafeningly loud ocean is about fifty feet away. If you don't have such a setting available, you could also try to to a jigsaw puzzle on Mount Washington. While Ryan and I wrestled with the tent, the kids dug "emergency poop holes" in the sand for the next morning. And then we put the kids in their sleeping bags and cracked open a couple of Hopadillos because DAMN.

When it started raining lightly at midnight, Ryan and I both popped out of our sleeping bags and ran around outside in the sand to put the rainfly on. I slept fitfully in my slightly damp sleeping bag for the next couple of hours until the crazy wind started to collapse the tent around us. I ran outside in my jammies and socks and tried to stake the rainfly down in the upwind direction, but the stakes wouldn't hold in the sand. So I ran back inside and asked Ryan to help me drag this big bin of cooking utensils against the wall of the tent to shore it up. When he saw how bad the whole thing was leaning over, we decided to take the rainfly back off. That helped with the collapsing problem, but two hours later when it started legit pouring, that was a problem. So we were back outside again fumbling with the rainfly in the dark wind and rain. I stripped my saturated shirt off, put on a dry one, and then laid on my wet, sandy sleeping bag and wet, sandy pillow to help Mary get back to sleep for the third time of the evening. The rest of the details are hazy, but eventually the sun came up and Charley and Wes had already wandered out of their tent and were itching to explore, so we were off and running.

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Since we had arrived after dark, the morning scene was completely magical. There were pelicans flying and swooping over the surf and a beautiful sunrise.

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After an hour of frolicking it became apparent that we were not cut out for primitive camping. Mostly because of the water. We had, for the six of us, several ounces of water in the bottom of a topo chico bottle that James had last used, rendering it a biohazard for the rest of us. We couldn't make the pancakes we had planned on and we couldn't even make COFFEE for goodness sake. There was also no surface for twelve miles that was not completely covered in sand. Sand was everywhere, including my teeth. I couldn't go to the bathroom because there were no trees to hide behind, and THERE WAS NO COFFEE. Ryan and Wes went off in search of water (this sounds like Oregon Trail BECAUSE IT IS) and possibly a more civilized campsite. They came back having procured both water and a campsite, so we packed everything up and headed off.

New camp: less sand, more fresh water, and a picnic table. Sadly, we had to leave the poop holes behind.

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The kids picked up where they left off.

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We took the boys fishing and Mary fell asleep on the disgusting pier in the pretty Tea Collection dress she had carefully packed in her Barbie suitcase.

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Made some smores after dinner.

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This mornign we drill sargeanted everyone through the Packing Up of the Campsite then headed to the Laguna Madre for paddling, more fishing, and swimming.

James showed me his insane kayak entry technique.

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He did perfectly four or five times in a row until the time when he showed Ryan, when he capsized and momentarily became stuck under the kayak before popping up on the other side and exclaiming. "WOAH."

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Charley took this picture, which looks really sweet, but is actually a moment when Ryan was whispering a funny but rude remark about this guy who was windsurfing nearby who kept yelling rude things at the instructor.

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The drive home was LONG and RAINY. Giant thunderstorms every few minutes. I slapped some breakfast tacos together for dinner while Ryan made everyone take a shower. When I got upstairs for family reading time all four of them were wrapped in blankets sitting together on the couch. They get so snuggly when they have been through an adventure together. And it was so good to get away to do something fun. We all needed it. Seeing the kids so happy doing things they love so much, relaxed and laughing and happy, was really really good. Schmoopiness aside: bedtime was early and now it is time for wine and "The Good Place" on the couch.

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Monday, October 1, 2018

Serendipity Weekend. More relaxing than Spreadsheet Weekend.

This weekend DID NOT require a spreadsheet, you will be happy to know. In fact, it was so open we were able to have our regular Saturday morning Power Hour, in which we all mobilize and clean the house for an hour before we start our weekend in earnest. The kids are responsible for their rooms and only have to address four areas (trash, dirty clothes, toys, and books) and get it to the point where I can vacuum and they can safely evacuate in the event of an emergency. Maintaining some civility in the house that we (I) can live with (barely tolerate) during the week is much easier if we push it all back on weekends. While they did that I wiped down the entire kitchen with PineSol, including all the graying fingerprints and mysterious drips on the cabinetry. It looks amazing.

And when that was over, I heard about a car show at a church near us that we could go to for the cost of a can of food each. We gathered up as many unexpired cans as I could find and headed over to discover that NOT ONLY was the car show fun and free, there were ALSO bounce houses, snow cones, magic shows, Bingo, pony rides, a petting zoo, AND LUNCH. And the kids got free cupcakes. We got there about an hour before a massive thunderstorm and made sure to hit all the outside fun before it started pouring. I used my ticket to pick out a free plant, the kids tried all the bounce houses. Mary rode a pony. Ryan and Charley checked out all the cars. I didn't know where anyone was for much of the time. Classic.

It's gotta be some kind of milestone when your kid suddenly looks too big for the poor pony. Thank goodness James wasn't interested.

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Ryan and I were lingering in the gym where we had lunch while the kids ran helter skelter and did things. When it was time to leave we couldn't find Charley anywhere. Ryan went to look for him and then came back smirking. "You have to see this" he said. He led me down the hallway to the Parish Hall where Charley was happily playing Bingo between a pair of elderly ladies.

After that we were all scheduled to go to a birthday party for two of the kids' friends. Only when we got there we discovered that it was actually a dropoff party and the hostess insisted we leave ALL FOUR OF THE CHILDREN there. FOR THREE HOURS. "Go have fun! You guys need it!" she said.

On the way out her husband reassured us that they can handle anything our kids can throw at them due to them having met working with kids with occasionally violent behavioral problems. "As long as one of them doesn't try to bite us, we should be good" he said.

We went straight to this bar we like where they had a live Polka band and ordered tacos and giant pretzels with beer cheese, and beer in souvenir steins. We sang Polka covers of "Sweet Caroline" and "Mama Don't Let your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys" and then sang a German toast IN GERMAN and now I can cross communal singing with my beer stein in the air off my list of life goals. I didn't know I could still have that much fun. Polka cover band.

After that we went to the library to replenish our supply of weighty YA novels (for Charley) and submarine non-fiction (for James) and then picked up the kids, who were all sticky and sugared up and definitely ready for showers and bedtime. After bedtime I refilled my souvenir beer stein and folded six loads of laundry while I watched Anchorman.

So I call Saturday a WILD SUCCESS.

But the real point of this post is that WES IS TEN! I don't know how or when that happened. He has had a tough year and has clawed his way back to health and he HUGS US AGAIN and not just hugs us, but hugs with his arms and his legs and holds on so tightly that you can let go and he will just hang there like an enormous barnacle. We love him so much and I will never again take his easy smiles and laughter and hugs for granted.

One thing I will always remember about his tenth birthday is that I hastily wrapped all his presents in scarves from my closet because we were in a hurry and the wrapping things were downstairs. He opened all his presents with great excitement and then admired the scarves for several minutes. Then he put on his favorite. Later when his friend Tommy came over Wes carefully selected a scarf for him to wear. He is so happy with all his new scarves. This was... not what I originally intended? But I am so happy to let it go on as long as he wants.

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And we finished the day with a giant spaghetti dinner for Wes and his best friend Tommy's family. All ten of us squeezed into our breakfast nook eating and laughing. It was the best. I celebrate Wes every day. But it was especially nice to do things Wes's way for a day. He is a wonderful boy and we are so proud of him. Happy birthday to Wes. MANY happy returns.

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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Spreadsheet Weekend

This weekend was so jam packed with activities that on Wednesday I took a few minutes to plot it all out on an Excel spreadsheet.  The spreadsheet had half hour time increments and two columns for each day--one for me and one for Ryan.  Friday afternoon I picked up all the kids at school and took all of them to Charley's swim meet.  Yes, all of them.  I had a perfectly sane arrangement made with our nanny to meet me at the pool with Charley and then to take the rest of the kids home where they could be their squirrelly after-school selves in the privacy of my house.  But then Wes insisted that he wanted to see Charley swim, so I took them myself.

They bickered THE ENTIRE TIME until Ryan got there with pizza and saved the day by TAKING THEM HOME OMG.

Charley had a single event on Friday, and it was three hours after the warm up AND serendipitously, my high school was playing another team and the game was ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PARKING LOT.  So Charley and I walked over and bought tickets and watched the first half.  Immediately after we sat down my old high school scored a touchdown and the band began playing the fight song and YOU GUYS, I still remember the bass drum part.  I haven't been to a game in TWENTY YEARS.  And it was in my old home stadium.  Trippy.  But awesome.

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We returned to the pool and watched some of the older boys swim the 500 under a spectacular lightning show (erm) sweated it out through the girls' 50 free event, and then finally it was Charley's turn.

Did I mention that I was wearing my work clothes through all of this?  And that my work clothes were a pair of skinny jeans and a buttondown?  I scrounged through the car and came up empty for better pants, but did find a tshirt and a pair of Charley's sneakers to put on and was much more comfortable.

Charley swam his event at 9:30 and then we headed for home.

Saturday morning we had the Cub Scout bike rally, which Ryan was leading and James and Wes and Mary were riding in, so they were up and out by 9:00.  Ryan texted me around noon to exclaim happily that everyone came home with all of their teeth! (this was not true last year).

Charley's swim wasn't until 12:30, but the coach wanted him there by 11:30.  After a couple of hours at the pool he was done again, but he was so wigged out with anxiety about his swim that I let him decide where to pick up lunch and he ended up choosing a hamburger restaurant that is a good twenty minutes in the wrong direction from home.  The things we do for love.

We got home and Ryan and I gave each other a perfunctory high five as he walked out the door to take Wes to a birthday party (which was in his column).  I stayed home and helped Charley get ready for his first school dance.  This was a big occasion, which was certainly deserving of more than the assortment of freezer food I thoughtlessly slapped down on the table for dinner and the hasty words of advice I imparted in the car on the way to school (Just have a good time with your friends, and dance because no one knows what they are doing and it's more fun than standing around).  They had to dress like a movie character.  He made this with one of Ryan's undershirts and a sharpie.

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The best part of the dance was when he came home all flushed and happy and snuggled up on the couch to tell us all about it.  Something I've learned: Tweens do all their best emotional processing after nine PM.

**I just had to stop working on this to break up an ENORMOUS screaming fight between Wes and Mary.  She is asleep now.  So is Charley.  Spreadsheet weekend has taken its toll.**

Today Charley's swim was at 11:08 or something and Ryan and I decided that if we adhered to a rigid itinerary similar to that of a state visit, we could go to church as a family before the swim meet.  All that had to happen was that church, which began at nine, was an hour long and not a second longer, and that they put the donuts out immediately after the service, and that we didn't get stopped by the welcoming committee before we got to the exit.  That would give us approximately eight minutes and thirty seconds to make it to the pool with a comfortable margin before Charley's event.

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Our arrival at church was just as hasty and disheveled as our exit would be, but at least we had our sparkle on.

At 9:50, the homily was just rounding up and the minister took off his glasses and invited the new spiritual directors up to be introduced, a process that involved another short homily, before communion.  I slid Charley's speedo out of my purse and hissed hasty directions to the men's room, so he could go put it on under his clothes.  I was on the EDGE OF MY SEAT until it was our row's turn to go up for communion then slipped away on our way back to our seats to find Mary in the ladies' room.  By now it was rounding 10:15.  When I came out of the bathroom with Mary Ryan had already gotten all the kids out to the parking lot.  I told Mary we needed to leave and she began WAILING because we had promised donuts at the post-church coffee hour.

Important information: this church is TINY, so this entire family drama took place literally in the middle of the sanctuary.  It was QUITE the spectacle.

She and I ran out to the parking lot to find the three boys, who had FILLED THEIR POCKETS with pastries off the counter as the walked out of the church early.

We can never go back.

We all jumped in the car at TEN TWENTY FIVE and squealed out of the parking lot on the way to the (thankfully very close) pool only to realize when we arrived that Charley had NO GOGGLES BECAUSE OF COURSE, so Ryan ran with him through the front gate to buy a pair while I parked the car.  I parked about six miles away, scooped Mary up and we all ran to the pool.

Charley was event sixty-four and when we ran through the gate I looked up at the clock and saw that we were halfway through EVENT SIXTY TWO.  Ryan was still looking for the emergency goggle store so I pointed him in the right direction then went off to find Charley, draped over a folding chair, still in all his clothes, a BALL of anxiety.

I helped by shriekily demanding that he take his clothes off and get to the ready bench now now now run we are SUPER SUPER LATE.  Ryan slapped a brand new pair of goggles in his hand as he walked, I tightened them a couple of times and then he was OFF.

He made it to the ready bench in the nick of time (halfway through event sixty-three, hello anxiety, thank god that event had twelve heats because I'm not sure he would have made it otherwise) and Ryan and I found a spot on the bleachers, trusting the collective to raise Mary and Wes, who had disappeared into one of the tents to find some friendly kids with electronics.

Charley had an awesome swim (his other two swims at this meet did not go like he wanted and he was incredibly stressed out about it, so this was a Very Important Swim and it was GREAT).  I was so happy we made it and so happy Ryan was there to see it.  He looked so good, you guys.  I still can't believe we made these people who can do these hard things like swim in a race and look amazing and relaxed and keep their head on straight and not flip the flip out in the middle of the pool (like I would in the same situation).  His coach came by and patted him in the head and kind of chucked to himself because I was full on bear hugging a soaking wet Charley in my church clothes (WE CELEBRATE EVERYTHING IN THIS FAMILY, THANK YOU VERY MUCH, HE ALSO WENT TO HIS FIRST DANCE LAST NIGHT AND IT'S JUST A LOT, OKAY?).

And then we went to the good donut place on the way home, because obviously, and now Ryan is at a den meeting with James (his column) before we all meet up at another friend's birthday party (merged and centered).

No one did homework, practiced their instrument, or showered this weekend.  Mary and Charley are both asleep.  But we did it.  ALL.  Everything on the spreadsheet.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Feeling more like a real professor every day

I have three lecture courses this semester. I usually have two lectures and a lab, which should be the same amount of work, but really the lab part is always fun and already planned and usually only meets once a week, so this third class is feeling really heavy right now. I'm making it, but it is definitely feeling just like, MORE, you know?

I assume that is why by nine o'clock every night I find myself sitting stiffly on the couch with a thousand yard stare for several minutes before half-watching an episode of Father Brown before dragging myself up to bed around ten. Tonight I might try skipping the Father Brown part and just going to bed at nine. Actually I have plans to hang out with a friend at her place tonight. But it's a good friend so she'd probably not mind if I fell asleep. #thisisthirtysomething

In the midst of all the overwhelm, this morning was a microcosm of the chaos that has become this semester. I row on Fridays, so I set my alarm for 4:45. I conked out about 10:15 last night half hoping for a massive thunderstorm over the city around 6:00 in the morning.

Instead I awakened to a completely clear radar and a mysteriously clogged right ear that was ringing loudly even though I couldn't hear normal sounds out of it. I stuffed myself into my workout clothes and blearily made my way downstairs to find the coffeemaker, which had been programmed the night before, out of water. Filled it up and restarted it while I stuffed two of the kids' granola bars in my mouth. Got my coffee and grabbed my purse and headed out to my car, WHICH WAS NEARLY OUT OF GAS. Like, the indicator said I had FIFTY MILES TO GO. It is NINETEEN MILES to rowing and another TWENTY-FIVE back to school and those two numbers add up to WAY TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT. But there was nothing I could do because of the coffee situation making me slightly late already, so I figured I would just deal with it later.

We all showed up and hopped into the boat and had a nice technique coaching session all the way down the lake to alllllmost our turn around point when we started seeing LIGHTNING to the south. So we turned around and hauled butt all the way back to the boathouse. It ended up being a pretty good row and we got back twenty minutes early, which was exciting given the EIGHT THIRTY start time for my Friday class.

Took a fast shower and blow-dried the underlayer of my hair so it would be suitably puffy for a proper southern lady, got in my car AND REALIZED THAT I HAD CHARLEY'S BACKPACK AND MARY'S BACKPACK and BUM BUM BUM! MY WOOOORRRRKKKK BAAAAGGG WAS AT HOME!!!!!

No problem, I reasoned, I will just ask Ryan to bring me my work bag, we can meet at the gas station by the school, I will get gas, we can switch bags, and then I will have plenty of time to get to school, prep for class, and go.

So I got gas and waited for them, feeling like a freaking logistical wizard and happily scrolling through my Facebook memories. Ryan and the kids arrived and pulled up beside my car. I passed the kids' backpacks to them through the windows and smiled expectantly at Ryan.

There. Was. No. Work. Bag.

And this, readers, is where you admit defeat and cancel class.

This is not ideal, but I have PLENTY OF WORK to do. And I will do it at home. Until my lunch meeting.

Actual picture of my current mental state:
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Apropos of nothing: I want a dog real bad. I great big, stupid, annoying one that sheds everywhere. This is probably just a manifestation of my extreme aversion to writing a letter of interest for a proposal that for some reason has fallen to me even though I am remarkably unqualified.

I should probably get started on that. Back on the horse.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Falling into fall. Or not-falling into Fall for Wes.

It's been a while! How have you been? Kids doing well? And work? Can I get you some more coffee? Of course I have half and half!

The last little bit (lot bit) has been a collection of triumphant moments of family harmony (to wit, Friday, after the kids watched Peter Rabbit, Ryan and I turned on the Leonard Cohen special on PBS and listened to the beautiful music as the kids played contentedly at our feet. Mary and Wes built a village out of Duplos. All four kids climbed into my lap for a snuggle at some point in the evening. Yes all of them, even the one who weighs almost as much as me. It was like the universe was patting my hair and telling me everything is going to be OK) and public fights that would make your hair curl (I made Wes order off the kids' menu at a Thai place and no matter how much I told him that Lo Mein is NOODLES he insisted I order him the something something beef noodles, which cost twice as much, and I finally told him to just go sit down, ordered the damn Lo Mein and sat at the other end of the table with my friends while he radiated anger and refused to eat and picked fights with his siblings. TLDR: after much ignoring, he ate the damn Lo Mein and a handful of egg rolls and then pouted until we finally put him out of his misery with a melatonin and seven o'clock bedtime. God bless it).

Compound sentences aside, I sort of think Wes is on a slow upward trajectory and am cautiously optimistic that we have landed on the right combination of meds, therapy, and teacher placement. I noticed myself laughing with the kids the other day and thought "How long has it been since I had a genuine belly laugh with the kids?" A long, long time. It has been a stressful summer in many ways. And an absolutely magical summer in others. Family life is complicated. Family life with our unique combination of DNA and brain chemistry is extra complicated. But these kids; They are awesome. We will persevere.

(Yesterday morning, Wes went into Charley's room and crawled all over his bed meowing and beeping to get Charley to wake up. They were both giggling by the end. Ryan and I stood just outside the door and looked at each other, gesticulating wildly and mouthing "HE'S PLAYING! SPONTANEOUSLY! HE IS BEING SILLY AND GOOFY AND HAVING A GOOD TIME! THIS IS AMAZING!"

And that will conclude the vulnerability portion of the blog post! Let's look at some random pictures off my phone!

We had convocation. I went in with the appropriate amount of cynicism but found myself loving the speakers and getting a lot out of it. Also, it's one of two times a year I get to wear this awesome outfit.

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The female child school uniform has been EXACTLY AS MUCH FUN AS I DREAMED IT WOULD BE. One word: Kneesocks. Dead.

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And on weekends she super-glams it up. Fitting seven days worth of tulle and sparkle into two is a real challenge, but she's managed well. That's why god invented tiaras, kwim?

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Here is an artsy photo someone took of a half-eaten cookie. We are so perceptive and hip.

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I made parfaits for a friend's baby shower and needed to cut up four pounds of strawberries. I bet three pounds actually made it into the recipe.

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James had a friend over and they spent most of their time sitting on this post in my neighbor's yard.

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And! Six months later, Wes's arm is FIXED! He has been SO HAPPY to be back on his bike and SO NERVOUS about this happening again. He has said he will never go on monkey bars again. The trampoline at his buddy's house, OTOH. Hrmm.

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So that's it? I've been spending most of my time rowing, cross-stitching, sitting in the front yard drinking wine with the neighbor, writing, Matlab coding, prepping class, snuggling, reminding, cooking, driving driving driving, and LET'S NOT FORGET THE CLEANING. School started for me on Monday. I have three lecture classes this semester, which is new for me, but they are all classes I know well and have taught multiple times before. We're going to spend a lot of time outside, a lot of time working on things together, and do a lot of reading. The students are cheerful and energetic and have not reached that angry slumpy stage that happens between Fall Break and Thanksgiving. TIME TO SEIZE THE DAY. On that note, Wednesdays are my research days and also one of the rehearsal days for the FACULTY CHOIR I joined, so I'm really looking forward to it.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Is there anybody out there?

After ten solid weeks of near constant noise the kids are now in school for approximately fourteen hours a day and I am starting to go a little nuts in the solitary confinement of my office. College campuses are pretty pretty quiet without the students.

Our schedule is a bit different than it has been in years past because Charley is in middle school. This means that he gets out thirty minutes later than the primary kids, who wait for him in the cafeteria. At the end of Charley's school, he has to walk over to the primary school and gather all the siblings together to wait for my arrival. So they get dropped off early in the morning for the primary start time, but aren't ready to leave until shortly after the secondary dismissal time, which is FOUR O'CLOCK. And the pickup line the first week is extra slow, so we haven't been getting home until almost five.

Why is there no middle ground between twenty-nine hours a day of Special! Family! Funtime! on the one hand and a single angry hour of barking orders about signing folders and brushing teeth on the other?

At least I have this six-hour email chain about the university's helium supply to keep me company. And a rather demoralizing New York Times article about our missed opportunity for avoiding climate apocalypse.

Meat makes Charley angry.

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After school one day the children came home and shucked corn together. This will be my first and only post in the new lifestyle blog I am writing about the wholesome, organic, screen free, and sustainable activities I provide my children after subjecting them to a long day of state-sponsored education.

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Kindergarten is no joke, man.

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Charley had a makeup swim practice on Saturday. I looked up from my phone at one point and tried to find him in the water. I looked and looked, but only saw this teenager talking to the coach. Oh.

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This weekend we showed the kids The Princess Bride and we all laughed so hard for the entire two hours. And now the kids keep saying "Inconceivable!" to each other. James made two new neighborhood friends by climbing up another friend's tree, over his fence, and down into the new friend's yard. He was briefly concerned that he would not be able to climb back, but asked the other mom for help (!!) and made it over. Yesterday we tried to find the FRONT of the house he had visited and I think we figured it out, but they not home. Wes discovered Tuesday night that a school friend lives two blocks away and was so excited that he did not tell us where he was going. After a brief search, Ryan spotted him merrily skipping back toward our house. More comprehensive communication plans have been established. Mainly, Charley knows where the house is so he can go there as part of his nightly dinnertime sibling roundup. Also on the slightly unorthodox socialization front, I discovered that a high school friend (two friends actually, since they are now married) lives next door to where the kids take piano. On Monday after I dropped the piano kids off I figured "What the hell?" and knocked on their door. They invited me in to be amid their crazy evening family dinner prep time, gave the kids animal crackers, and let us help ourselves to their jungle gym while my groceries slowly warmed, forgotten in the trunk of my car. I had a blast catching up and the kids can't wait to go back. There will be another eighties-style unannounced drop in in the future, I can tell! I spoke about my research at a meeting with a state agency yesterday and afterword we went to lunch, me and seven men. After we ordered our sushi, three of the guys pulled out their phones and exchanged pictures of their kids. I joined in. That was weird and fun.

And now it is time for me to get back to that helium email and maybe possibly some class prep and figuring out what to make for dinner and then after all of that I have my needlecraft group at my friend Christina's house. A nice little afternoon, if you ask me!