Friday, October 30, 2009

Why the hate, lady?

Dear Lady in the Silver Tahoe,

Hi! It's me! The bed-headed mom hag in front of you who was trying to cram coffee cups from three different fast food restaraunts into the drive-up trash can at Sonic.

You know what? Lay the heck off. OK? If you, like me, are too lazy to actually get out of your car to throw away your cups from the coffee you were too lazy to make, then you can patiently wait your turn.

The reason it took me so long is that I parked my car several feet away from the trash can, and when I tried to hurl my Dunkin Donuts cup into the chute it hit a McDonald's bag from the last customer and bounced out. Believe me, you are not the only one who was muttering under her breath when I had to get out and pick it up.

So, please save your dirty looks and sighs of exasperation for someone else. Like the seventeen year old barista who takes too long with your next venti-non-fat-extra-foam-soy-caramel-machiatto-no-whip. Or maybe for your son (?) Brentley who plays lacrosse and tennis, according to your rear windshield.

Happy Halloween. Try not to give any little kids the stink eye if they take too long on your porch.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I'm too excited to wait another SECOND

One of the things I am contractually obligated to do now that I am a SAHM in the suburbs is make Halloween costumes. Charlie wanted to be a fireman and I just didn't like any of the costumes I was able to find in stores, so I sucked it up and bought all the materials I needed to make his fireman suit. And then they sat in the Target, Michael's, and Hobby Lobby bags on the dining room table right next to my sewing machine for two weeks, taunting me and taking my procrastination ability to new levels.

Sunday night at nine I decided I just couldn't wait any longer. This was fun for Ryan because I am at my most patient and calm just before bedtime and I am like the John McEnroe of crafting. But with Turret's.

An hour in, I had re-threaded the machine three times, ripped out tangled bobbin threads more times than I can count, and possibly caused the neighbors to call 911 to report a domestic disturbance.

But the costume was coming together and, as it started to take shape, I started having fun and getting really excited about the finished product.

At eleven, I carefully packed everything back up so Charlie wouldn't see it and then went to bed. Yesterday after school I just couldn't take it anymore so I got the costume out and showed Charlie. Before I could even tell him what it was he shrieked "WOW! GOOD!!"

I put the finishing touches on last night and let Charlie try it on this morning. I had to bribe him with donuts to get him to take it off.

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I don't know who is more excited.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Patient Zero

Infectious?

Wes had an appointment today (in addition to the two flu vaccinations and one well check I have coming up in the next seven days) for eczema on his legs and when I went to get him after his nap so I could take him to the doctor he had a fever! Special! So, even though eczema isn't contagious we got sent straight to the sick waiting room where Wesley wore his mask for approximately nine seconds before he realized he couldn't suck his thumb and ripped it off angrily. Needless to say I Purelled the heck out of his hands after we were moved to an exam room. Doctor says the 100.4 (ancillary) fever is barely even a real fever and to call him if it tops 102. Which it won't be doing, right little buddy? Right?

Friday, October 23, 2009

It was quiet. Too quiet.

Time for "REALLY?" With Academomia

A long time ago we went to Wesley's twelve-month check-up where he received his seasonal flu vaccine, among other twelve month vaccines. Pediatrician Man told me that he needed a booster in one month and that he needed the H1N1 vaccine, but that they didn't have it yet. He told me to call on the fifteenth of the month because they would know more then.

In the mean time I had a couple of issues I wanted advice on (giant swelling bugbite of mystery, ear trauma) and tried to call Pediatrician Man's nurse, but ended up being on hold for so long I gave up and started treating every problem with Benadryl (for the children) and empty calories/caffeine (for me). While this served the temporary problem of not enough hours of sleeping children during the day, it left me a little uneasy that I couldn't speak to the doctor when I needed to.

So the fifteenth rolled around and as usual I had totally forgotten what day it was. I was in my Mom's Group at church when Labmama called and asked what the doctor had said about the vaccine. I called them right away and the receptionist was so nasty to me on the phone that I accidently used the B word right there in front of all the nice church ladies (to no one in particular, not to the lady on the phone). Klassy.

Basically she told me that although I was told to call on the fifteenth, I should have magically known to look at the website instead, where I would have learned that there WAS no vaccine to be had right now. This left me in a bit of a predicament since Pediatrician Man said very gravely "I would hate to send you into the end of October without vaccinations."

A week or so later, a single sentence appeared on the website "H1N1 vaccine now available for 2 and 3 year olds ONLY."

OK.

Still no seasonal flu for Charlie or seasonal booster for Wes.

So I called and got Charlie an appointment for H1N1 vaccine today. In the END OF OCTOBER! DOOOOOOOM.

Yesterday I checked the website again and learned that they now had seasonal flu vaccine! Hooray! I called the (now very friendly because she had good news! And also probably a different woman, the other one having probably gone into early retirement/disability after having to deal with all the angry/confused mothers of South calling ON THE FIFTEENTH) receptionist and asked if I could add seasonal flu to Charlie's regimen for today, because we were already going to schlep everyone in there to be exposed to who-knows-what TODAY.

No. Today is H1N1 ONLY. Of course it is.

So, long (loooong and not that interesting) story short, I have four doctor's appointments for the boys in the next week. Charlie H1N1, Charlie seasonal, Wesley seasonal booster, Charlie well check. And they couldn't figure out how to combine any of those. AND Wesley still won't be getting H1N1.

REALLY? REEEEEAAALLLY? This is the MOST SIMPLE WAY to do this?

Whatever your opinion on vaccinations in general, I am sure you will agree that this could have been handled so much better.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Unexpected

Charlie had a really terrible day.

Those of you who know me on Facebook were treated to a delightful play-by-play of my day, which included threatening to mail one of my beloved offspring to Pakistan (where his skills of manipulation and resistance would surely be useful in fighting the Tal*iban). Before 8:00 this morning, Charlie had already been exiled to his room once, for kicking Wesley, totally unprovoked, Wesley had already had a number of back-arching, screaming tantrums over not being allowed to scale my desk like a sherpa, and Charlie had had a potty accident (which I don't think was an "accident" as it occured during a time out).

Ryan was apologetic as he left me alone in the lion's den, but I swear I saw him kick his heels together as he walked to his car.

I'd list all of the conflicts we had today, but it would be easier to say that he fought me over every single thing I asked him to do that was not "eat an entire block of cheese for lunch and wash it down with a bottle of chocolate syrup." And even then he whined because I made him use a glass.

He screamed from his room about who-knows-what for forty-five minutes after bedtime. During that time I sat on the couch getting angrier and angrier because he had been doing this ALL DAY LONG! Why couldn't I get ONE HOUR of quiet time before bed? That is not a lot to ask! Finally I stormed up the stairs and around the corner to his room. I picked him up and dumped him unceremoniously on his bed, pulled the covers up to his armpits, and laid down next to him.

Still angry, I held him until he calmed down. He lay there hiccuping quietly for a few minutes then squirmed way over to the wall so we weren't touching as if to make a point that he was angry too. I fought back tears of frustration.

He yawned again then said "Tell me about Maine."

After a few minutes of talking about lobster boats and the ocean and Marmalade the Cat and staying in a house with Grandma and Grandpa and his special bed in the room with the slanty ceiling he had rolled across the bed so he could hold my hand. Our faces were an inch apart as he excitedly whispered about throwing rocks in the water and looking for hermit crabs and swimming in the ocean.

I kissed him and told him it was time to go to sleep and that I'd see him in the morning. As I gently pried my hand away from his grip and walked out of his room, he was still talking about lobster and tug boats and ice cream on the porch.

And I wasn't angry anymore either.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Monday Science Corner

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Ryan found my old lover underneath a VCR in a long forgotten moving box in the closet where we keep the diaper pail.

We each got one for Christmas from our respective parents when I was a sophomore and Ryan was a junior (I think, who can remember anything anymore). That was probably the dorkiest Christmas afternoon college boyfriend phone call of all time. Standing in my kitchen in my flannel pajama bottoms wrapping the phone's cord (!!) around my finger as I described the brand new calculator I got and how incredibly excited I was. Only to learn that he ALSO got a calculator from HIS family.

Well. I don't think I have to tell you that we knew it was meant to be right then and there.

No Longer Satisfied to Merely Watch the Football Players Tackle Each Other

Alternate title: "Why I am Confused when People ask if I Want A Third Child"


Charlie tried to engage Wes in a friendly little game of full-contact living room football on Saturday while we watched college football.

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Fearing someone was about to get bitten by our defenseless little warewolf who could not for the life of him figure out why Charlie kept jumping on him, Ryan jumped in to moderate.

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But then Wes dragged Ryan back into the fray.

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I read somewhere that boys and men show affection through rough play. It's going to be a long eighteen years. They're like puppies, I tell you.

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And then Wes became overwhelmed and called a blankie time out.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

All's well that ends well! (said the guy whose kid didn't almost sever his ear)

Today started with me standing barefoot and pajama clad in my kitchen when Charlie lost his balance on the stairs (because he was trying to throw a blanket down into the kitchen) and did a slow-motion cartwheel down to the bottom. But instead of turning on his hands, he used his head. I caught him before the revolution that would have led to him actually hitting the hard kitchen floor, but he had done something terrible to his ear. He held it, screaming, and as I rubbed his back and whispered in his ear I was thinking "How the heck am I going to get my bra on while I'm holding him so I can take him to the emergency room?" and then "I should really have drunk my coffee faster because I need to concentrate right now and I don't think I can."

So I carried him to the couch hoping I wasn't aggravating any spinal cord injuries he might have incurred and held him until he calmed down. His ear was red and swollen, but not bleeding anywhere, so I tucked him in with a quilt and went to get some ice. He refused the ice and asked for Phent. And George.

I didn't even bother calling Pediatrician Man because the office has been so swamped with flu calls that I haven't been able to talk to a human in at least four months. So I went to Dr. Google. I'll tell you what, there is no more useless search term than "broken ear." Based on my research I prescribed Tylenol and a sippy cup of milk. And also lots of TV so I could post a lot of sarcastic status updates on Facebook about not falling down the stairs before I've had my coffee. Because day-um that was scary.

His ear is still very tender and red tonight but the swelling has gone down enough to really look at it and wonder how close he came to almost ripping it off a little. Gag.

It's good he didn't rip his ear off because tonight was Open House at his school and he was Very Excited. Like, he saw the dress shirt and pants I picked out for him and abandoned his dinner to put them on and then stood by the door to the garage impatiently while I got Wes ready.

We arrived really early so we killed time taking magical special pictures in the pumpkin patch (these are in order so you can watch the crazy unfold).

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Remember last year?

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Wesley is bigger now. My arms, I am happy to report, are smaller.

When Ryan arrived Charlie took us to his classroom, excitedly leading us down the hallway and pointing out points of interest along the way--the water fountain was a big highlight. I've never seen him so proud. In his classroom he showed us his art portfolio, which was wonderful. His teacher is so creative and thoughtful and I know Charlie loves her and their projects. He was buzzing with excitement as he showed us his apple tree, his apple stamp art, his autumn wreath, and his soap bubbles.

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Giant forehead bug bite of mystery also self-treated with oral Benadryl after unsuccessful attempt at reaching the phone nurse. Fortunately it stopped swelling before it started impinging on his brain!

And Wesley aged approximately seven months in the time it took me to put him in long pants and a real shirt.

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Charlie's teacher had so many great things to say about Charlie that after Wes went to bed Charlie got to stay up for hot chocolate.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Housekeeping Guide for the Rest of Us

In exchange for Charlie's on-again-off-again afternoon nap battle of misery, Wesley takes epic naps on the days Charlie is in school. This leaves me with a large block of time Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning when I am not caring for a child, but cannot leave my house. It was during one such block of time on Friday, that I decided to test something out that had been bothering me.

You see, in my mom group at church, these two ladies had a lengthy discussion about housekeepers. What do you pay them? How many (!!) come to your house and how often? How long to they clean?

I have nothing against hiring a housekeeper. I think it would be AWESOME. However, it's not something I want to pay for at this point in time. Because I think (thought) my problem is mostly clutter, which is not something the housekeeper is there to handle.

One of the ladies, who intimated that her house is nearly twice the size of mine, said that it takes one housekeeper FIVE HOURS to clean her house, every two weeks. FIVE HOURS! No wonder my socks turn black when I spend a day working in my kitchen! I've never spent more than an hour at a stretch maintaining my house. And in spite of the evidence to the contrary (funky smells of mystery from the kitchen/bathroom/playroom, a shower door you could etch your name into), I've always felt that it's fine. If people come over unexpectedly, I can always invite them in and feel confident that no one is going to contract staff from my kitchen counters. Thankfully, most non-family guests have the good sense to not go poking around upstairs where the double black diamond Laundry Pile of Doom is.

So Friday while Wes was sleeping I thought I would clean everything I could possibly think of and see how long it took. And, I thought smugly, there is NO WAY it takes five hours to clean a house.

I started in the kitchen/bathroom/laundry room area, which takes the most abuse and shares the same gross brown linoleum floor. I emptied the trash cans, shook the rugs out in the back yard, swept everything carefully (since I was trying to do this in a professional manner, I actually moved all the chairs into the other room to facilitate thorough sweeping, but I usually skip that step, which is why we only have to feed our dog once a day), wiped down all the really gross sticky spots (behind the dog bowls, high chair, and trash can) with a wet rag, and then mopped the heck out of that sucker. I also dried it with a bath towel because Rossby and I were leaving dirty footprints all over the place and I didn't want to wait for it to dry.

I stood back and admired my work and noticed that nearly an hour had passed. Hmm. Next was the toilet and bathroom sink and mirror, which took about fifteen minutes (most of which was spent on the toilet thanks for nothing potty training). And then the kitchen, which required unloading and loading the dishwasher and clearing out the drainer before I could get started with the actual cleaning (see "clutter" above). The drainer side of the sink was completely stopped up with who knows what in the drain. I think it was food at one point. I lost five minutes trying to scrape it out with a spoon and another two minutes doing deep breathing exercises in another room in an attempt to compose myself. Once I wiped down the counters and the appliances, I think the kitchen alone took almost an hour and a half. And Wes was still sleeping.

So I started washing the windows. I've always found window washing to be a particularly satisfying chore because our windows get really, really disgusting what with the six sticky little hands/paws and three wet noses that leave slimy marks all over them. Plus I like the way Windex smells. When the windows were done I picked up all the toys and vacuumed. And--got out the hose attachment and did the baseboards--professionalism, remember?

Two hours in I was only done with the first floor and I was exhausted.

Wes was still sleeping so I had to keep moving along with the experiment. Upstairs I went to put away the laundry. There was clean laundry folded neatly (or at least it started that way before Charlie performed his one-act play "Naked Tornado" before bathtime one night) in baskets in the hall and our bedroom and at least three other random piles that I had to smell to figure out where they belonged. Would you judge me if I told you that putting away the laundry took almost forty-five minutes? By the time I did that and made Charlie's and my beds Wesley was awake. THANK GOODNESS.

All told I spent almost three hours non-stop cleaning and STILL wasn't finished! I estimate another hour of work remains including vacuuming upstairs and cleaning the upstairs bathrooms, neither of which can be done while a child is sleeping, which is why those jobs get done approximately once a fiscal quarter.

In conclusion, when all my little birdies fly the nest, Ryan and I will be moving to an efficiency with a shared bath in the hall.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Wha Happened to Him?

On the way to church this morning Ryan and I were talking about our university's quarterback situation in which we lost a bunch of games, our starting QB was injured and taken out of a game that was not supposed to be that big of a deal but that we were barely hanging onto, our second string QB was put in, and we scored like a thousand points inside one quarter.

Ryan made the giant mistake of saying "Poor starting quarterback, that's a tough deal."

Charlie piped up from the back seat. "Wha happened to him?"

"Uh, our quarterback got hurt playing football."

"Wha happened to him?"

"He fell down during a football game and got a booboo. Now he is all better but the coach has to decide which quarterback is going to play the rest of the season."

"Wha happened to him?"

"Our quarterback fell down and hurt his leg, Buddy. He's fine, but now there are two good quarterbacks and the coach has to decide who gets to play."

"Wha happened to him?"

"Charlie, why don't you tell me what I've told you so far?"

"I don't know."

...

...

Ahhh.

"Wha happened to him?"

Sigh. "Our quarterback fell during the football game and hurt his leg. His mommy wrapped him up in a quilt, gave him some milk, and let him watch TV. Now he feels better."

"Oh."

Later after we picked him up from Sunday School Charlie skipped down the hall saying "The football player fell down and got a booboo and now there are two quarterbacks and his mommy wrapped him up in a quilt and let him watch George and that was SO NICE of her and now he feels ALL BETTER!."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Who knew a coffee addiction would be such an asset?

At an impromptu job interview over Thai food at a cutie little place in the town north of South I was using my chopsticks to soak up some soy sauce with a bite of rice when the department chair asked me "How would you involve undergrads in research in a meaningful way that might lead to their names being included on publications?"

I swallowed thoughtfully then replied.

"Every research project has aspects that are challenging, yet within reach of a 'beginner' like an undergrad. Those jobs are often repetative and time consuming, but important parts of the project. For example, as an undergrad assistant, one of my jobs was to create histograms for four parameters for each of our datasets. My advisor didn't want to spend two days making sixty-four histograms, but needed the charts. Handing that important, yet basic task off to an undergrad is a good way to introduce less experienced students to a research project."

The department chair smiled and said "Very interesting. Deans like to have undergrads involved in research, and it's a good thing to do, especially at a liberal arts university like this one. I mean, everything takes twice as long, but it's still good."

I smiled as I thought of Charlie helping me unload the dishwasher. How the "extra help" turned a five minute job into a twenty minute job. Boy did I know what he was talking about.

I've met with two department chairs these last two weeks and I have been upfront with my time limitations. Both asked what sort of work I was interested in. Each time I said "I would like to teach or do research part time because of my family obligations." I was concerned about how that might sound to a department chair, a potential boss. Would it sound like was spread too thin? Uncommitted? Unmotivated? No advisor would have ever told me to be so forward with that type of information. After all, it is illegal to deny employment based on personal details like having a family. But in the end I figured I am not willing to take on a full-time job right now and it is because of my family and there is no sense in pretending that I would just to make a good impression.

It is because I am committed to doing an excellent job that I am seeking part-time work. It would allow me to be fully present during my work hours, focused only on work. It would reduce the juggling, missed meetings, and unpredictable hours because of sick kids, preschool dropoffs, and childcare mixups. It would mean that Charlie could stay in his preschool and we could hire a part-time sitter for Wes. In general, this would result in fewer sick kid days since no one would be in daycare. And when someone does get sick, it would be much easier to cover four hours of care than nine, meaning that I would be less likely to miss work. And, fewer sick kid days means fewer sick ME days too!

It was a gamble, I realize, especially in two male-dominated departments, but it paid off. As it turns out, both department chairs I spoke with were in the position of too many students and not enough money to hire full-time instructors. "It's a good time to be looking for adjunct work" said one as he walked me across the beautiful (so incredibly beautiful. I wanted to lie down in the grass and read a Jane Austen novel) leafy campus to the coffee shop to buy me a cup of coffee ("Order anything you want," he said. I ordered regular coffee with skim milk. He ordered the same. I admitted to my coffee habit, he confessed to his. The stars, they were aligned at this meeting).

I still don't have a job, but I have a strong maybe from one institution for teaching one course in the spring and maybe, if things went well in the spring, another course in the fall. One course! It would be a dream come true.

Disclaimer: I know how incredibly lucky I am to have this choice, to work part time. It will allow me to continue to grow professionally while maintaining the calm pace at home made possible by having one flexible adult. We are lucky that Ryan's job can support all of us. I KNOW. Charlie was in daycare for his first two and a half years and I am a big believer in the benefits of daycare. But he is in a new preschool that he LOVES. Like LOOOOOOVEEES. And I don't want to move him again. And I don't want to go back to paying four times as much either.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Forty-eight hours in which the only bathroom needs I was concerned with were my own

Did I mention that my friend Abby and I were leaving our respective families behind in the tender-loving-care of our husbands and flying off to DC to visit our friend Godmother for the weekend?

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It was hard to close the car door and walk away when Charlie's lower lip started quivering on Friday after we sprang the news on him. Ryan said they both cried almost all the way home from the airport. That made me a little sad until I called them from here:
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to learn that they were eating waffles for dinner having just come home from a late bike ride. Everybody wins!

We stayed at the restaraunt until we were the only ones there and then we went to Godmother's house, put on our jammies, and watched some really classy reality TV. In a word: Perfect.

I took Blue Bear along at the last minute, thinking it might be a fun way for Charlie to learn about our nation's capitol when I returned home. I got some strange looks taking these pictures all over town, but it was so much fun to show them to Charlie today.

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Blue Bear says "I don't know about public options and town hall meetings, I just hope that if my arm comes off again I'll be able to see a qualified physician in a timely manner!"

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Break time!

There are more pictures, but Flickr is acting kind of funky. We covered a lot of ground on foot--from the Starbucks on 5th and C to the Capitol to the Washington Monument to the World War II Memorial to the Lincoln Memorial and then to a convenient taxi that took us back to the car. Heh.

Godmother took us to a neat section of town for pizza and book shopping after we'd had all the sightseeing we could handle. I don't think I was actually cool enough to be in this bookstore so I headed for the coffeeshop, ordered the coffee of the day, and pretended to be a brooding intellectual as I perused the Bargain Kids section.

From the bookstore we realized we were just a few miles from the house I lived in from ages zero to three, so we punched the address into the GPS and found it looking exactly as I remembered it except much, much smaller. After getting followed briefly by a bright purple Cadillac and encountering a friendly neighborhood man wielding a half-full bottle of Wild Turkey we quickly headed back to the suburbs. I tried to explain our experience gently to my dad, because I didn't want him to be disappointed that the old neighborhood had gotten a little rough around the edges, but he said fondly "Hasn't changed a bit!"

Then it was time for college football and Chinese food back at Godmother's place. Perfect!

And when I got home today everyone was still dressed nicely in their church clothes, the house was beautifully clean, and Ryan had GOTTEN PEOPLE TO COME FIX THE GARAGE DOOR AND SPRAY FOR DEADLY STINGING INSECTS. I think I'll marry him again. Twice!