Friday, May 31, 2013

Teacher Note Outtakes

Dear Amazingly Patient Woman Who Cares for my Child Three Mornings A Week,

Let me begin by apologizing for all the times I forgot his lunch.  I'm not sure how that detail gets overlooked, but somehow it did, a number of times, and you were so gracious to assure me there was leftover food from the teachers' luncheon and it would be absolutely no problem to fix him a plate.  Also diapers.  Sorry about that.  Again, thanks for your patience with me.  And thank Jack, Molly, Sally, Dylan, and Sam for the diapers they must have provided James with, based upon the names I have seen come home written on his cute little diapered bottom in Sharpie.

James so looks forward to coming to school every day that sometimes I find him standing on the porch with his backpack on while I am still in the kitchen looking for the top to my $#@ %#@$ coffee mug.  Despite his (sometimes shockingly resolute) unwillingness to walk in from the car, he is always thrilled to see you and his friends once I get him in the building.  I have loved watching him confidently charge into the room each morning, leading with the tummy as always, flinging his lovey aside as he settles himself in a tiny chair, eager to get started with the morning's blocks or playdoh or My Little Pony activity.  There is no question that he feels happy and loved at school.

And also he probably loves having age appropriate expectations, playing with age appropriate toys, and being the same size as the other kids so at least he has a prayer when it comes to territorial disputes.

I will miss your cheerful greeting, the way you generously have never mentioned that crazed look I have in my eyes as I approach your classroom, gripping a miniature backpack so tightly in my fist that it is shaking ever so slightly as I pass it over the door. 

We will miss you this summer.  No really.  I will be doing everything in my power to resist calling you and inviting you over for coffee at my house at nine every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning.  I don't know what kind of magic you do in that classroom, but if you could be a fly on the wall at my house for a few hours there is no way you'd refer to my kid as "My Smiley Boy!!"

But you do, and it makes me so proud and happy to hear.

I hope you have a restful and enjoyable summer break!
(Because we are having another one and WE'LL BE BACK!!!)

With Fond Regards,

Becca and family

Thursday, May 30, 2013

This Morning's Babysitter Briefing

Alternative title: Two weeks into my eight week research project and things have begun to unravel...

Would you please switch the laundry over when you get to my house?  I finally dried that load I've been washing over and over for the last three days.  You can put the dry stuff in the pile I've started on the dining room floor between the compressor and the new bathroom sink.

There is now toilet paper in the kids' bathroom upstairs, so you won't have to use ours but you should probably not leave Wes up there unsupervised.

I cleaned both the toilets up there so it doesn't look like a truck stop.

And emptied the trash cans for the same reason.

The house smells weird because I brewed coffee with no water this morning.

Kids shouldn't be in the back yard alone today, there's a tile saw and a toilet out there and who knows what is living in the grass.  Ryan is mowing tonight.

Yes, James does have shoes in the car here somewhere.  Thanks for reminding me.

 Yes he's still wearing his jammies.

And errrrrm, you better take them out for lunch today.  I'll add it to your check because I have no cash.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Doing a little kitchen reno

So after I stopped just short of threatening to put a contingent offer on a bigger house while Ryan was at work, Ryan suggested we make some of the improvements we've been wanting to make to this house sooner, rather than later. Like, I could tile the kitchen, he said. Really? I wanted to know. It's a big job, are you sure you don't want to get a guy? He was visibly offended by the mere suggestion of having a total stranger come in to do work on the house, so I said I would LOVE it if he would tile the kitchen. So that's how I ended up sitting in the van drinking a milkshake with the kids at 8:30 at night while a forklift deposited an entire pallet of ceramic tile into the back.

That's also how I ended up holding James while the menfolk pushed the fridge into its new home in the dining room. Next to the island, which was also relocated. The kitchen was now a construction zone.

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Because *this* is exactly how I want my dining room to look for the last couple months of pregnancy, when my need for a neat and orderly house reaches clinical levels.

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And apparently, not eating in the kitchen means you can eat freaking ANYWHERE YOU WANT in the whole house, despite me carefully prepping the dining room table for daily use with some scratch resistant pads, a vinyl tablecloth, and many, many threats about being careful with the nice table. You should see the wood on our kitchen table. It's like we run a home for troubled youth. Also, this couch is now covered in jelly. Thanks for your contribution, James.

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The kids continue to be extremely helpful with the tile work, when I can no longer contain them in the living room side of the house.

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Despite the slight inconvenience of having the kids eat three meals a day over carpet and having a living room like a Cambridge three-family packed with undergrads, things are looking AWESOME in the kitchen. In addition to the tile, Ryan has painted the kitchen green, in his free time. Which, as it turns out, is between midnight and four o'clock in the morning. Some people might call this nesting. I call it, my husband is AWESOME.

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Here's the view looking the other direction, where you can see just how lovely the green looks when compared to what I refer to as the horrible beige/pink non-color that the last residents painted on top of what appears to be GREEN PAINT, probably in the name of staging. Staging fail! Also, to review, we had BROWN vinyl flooring, BROWN cabinets, and BROWN walls. This house was built in 2005. I am just saying what is with all the brown. And how did we live like that for five years?? Now that we have tile and green walls the cabinets look really pretty. Where there is not food stuck to the doors. I will work on that one day.

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And when Ryan told me he'd need to take the plumbing fixtures out of the adjoining bathroom so he could tile in there I informed him that we would not be reinstalling the fugly pedestal sink that I have never liked and that we would be buying a real vanity with a cabinet to put in its place. Because we are having a girl and girls need bathroom cabinets, if you know what I mean.

Watching that sink be carried off to the garage was like getting a massage. The new vanity sat in there for a couple of days so we could see how we liked it and I'm not going to lie to you, I spent several minutes sitting on the lid of the toilet admiring the pretty dark stain, the brushed nickel hardware, the clean white counter, and thinking about how nice it will be not to keep a basket full of girl products out in the middle of the bathroom floor after the baby is born.

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Sunday, Ryan took the toilet out of there. When he got down on the floor to scrape the old silicone caulking off he recoiled in horror and said "Bec? I think I know why you can't ever get the pee smell out of here." O.M.G. Apparently silicone caulk absorbs urine. You're welcome. The toilet is in the back yard. I'm hoping it will be back in the house soon, so I won't have to go upstairs to go to the bathroom, but I think Ryan is enjoying giving the HOA the finger too much and will draw it out until the end of the week. In the mean time, the kids are making do. Charlie gleefully reported to me after work that Wes pooped in the compost bin this afternoon.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Food, Glorious Food!

One of the best things about working on campus this summer is that they condense the whole dining hall into a small campus coffee shop where they offer a small lunch buffet every day for $4.

This is beneficial to me in two ways. Number one is that it is a BUFFET. As in, all you can cram into (and balance on top of) your styrofoam box, is YOURS. And let me tell you. I can cram $4 worth of food into that box NO PROBLEM. Today I chose a grilled cheese, fries, pineapple slices, about a quart of strawberries in basil vinaigrette, an iced tea, and an enormous piece of chocolate cake. I was about to pile a couple of cookies on top of the cake but I saw my students headed in my direction and thought better of it. Plus the cookies didn't look as fresh and chewy as they normally do. I mean, I *could* have hidden them inside the box if I'd really wanted to.

(Also, I passed the gestational diabetes screening, did I mention? Par-tay time!)

Yesterday it was a hamburger and fries (duh!), Cesar salad, seven pounds of fruit salad, iced tea, and a handful of (rather large) chocolate chip pecan cookies.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Probably Ryan, with raised eyebrows, wondering aloud if I really need to spend $4 a day on lunch out and what about that leftover chicken? To which I will say, OK, please go to the store tonight, buy a chocolate cake, an entire watermelon, some canteloupe, several quarts of strawberries, an iced tea machine, some way to make deliciously amazing french fries, and a different entree for every day of the week. I'll take that tomorrow.

The second, less important, reason that the lunch buffet is good is that I have to walk approximately two hundred yards across campus from my office to get there which marks the sum total of my cardiovascular activity at the moment. And also, "walk" might be a bit of an exaggeration. Lumber? Waddle? I forgot to wear my baby girdle today so I was definitely waddling and eyeing those golf carts the landscapers drive around in. It's nice to get out in the sun and think about how leafy and pretty the campus is for a little while instead of storm surge and wind and destruction. And sometimes other faculty wave at me, so you know, human contact.

The party ends on June 7 when the summer camps start taking over the residential part of campus and I start wanting to avoid large packs of tween girls in volleyball jerseys and booty shorts. Because it's hard to enjoy your Henry VIII lunch when you are massively pregnant and sitting next to a ninety pound teenage girl in booty shorts.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

If you think the thought of the fridge being in the living room all week is making me twitchy then you don't know me at all! (sarcasm)

Had a little bit of everything this weekend. Plumbing emergencies, bleeding mouths, teeball, Grandma and Grandpa's house, lots and lots of takeout, and through it all, Ryan was tiling our kitchen floor. We've wanted to tile the kitchen and the adjoining bathroom and laundry room and replace the gross, cracked brown vinyl ever since we moved in and figured that two months before the new baby and right now before I start on the hardest work thing I've done in a long time is the perfect time to tear the kitchen apart.

You may remember that we figured it was also the perfect time to tear the upstairs apart before James was born. We moved into this house during the first trimester of Wes's pregnancy. I did my qual during month eight of Charlie's. So this is more of an unsettling pattern than a crazy whim, I would say.

Saturday was teeball and as I was running around upstairs trying to find everyone's shoes I noticed a worse-than-usual smell coming from the boys' bathroom. I peeked in to find the whole toilet STUFFED with an entire unspooled roll of toilet paper. I knew it was Wes immediately, because it's the third time he's done it this month. This time there was no mercy. I sat on the bathroom counter and watched him pick every last piece out with an old pair of grill tongs that we will be keeping just in case this ever happens again. When he said "This is so gross, there's POOP in here!" I didn't even look up from the cuticle I was fussing with and said "That is why we use a normal amount of toilet paper, so we can FLUSH POOP DOWN THE TOILET." OMG you guys, the smell was unimaginable. I think it had been sitting there all night. He continued to work until it was all out then I threw the whole trash can into the big trash can outside. Parenting tip: bathroom trash cans from Ikea are only $3. We've already been through six.

I took all the kids to teeball alone because usually whoever isn't playing in the game plays on the playground the whole time and it's really not that hard to keep track of everyone and I wanted to give Ryan those two hours to work on the floor. The first game went really well. Wes played great and had a great time and got a nice cupcake at the end. Then during the second game (Charlie's) he and James were in the tube slide together and James whipped Wes in the face with his teeball metal. I heard the scream and saw Wes start to move toward the exit to the slide, but didn't really know how bad it was until he turned to face me and I saw the blood running down his chin like a zombie. I was ready to dramatically rip Charlie out of his game to take him to urgent care, but when he finally let me touch him the bleeding had almost stopped completely and I could see that the scratch wasn't too awful. He wanted to go back to the playground and James looked contrite after I gave him the "LOOK WHAT YOU DID TO YOUR BROTHER!" routine so I just let it go. Turned out to be no big deal. Except for a lot of blood left on his chin that he wouldn't let me clean off.

That afternoon we had lunch with Charlie's team and a trip to the splash pad with all the kids and one of Charlie's friends. I'll tell you what, four kids is a lot to keep track of on a splash pad. Do you even know how many blue and red rash guards there are out there? A LOT. Next time, I am buying all orange. I had a lot of time to think about this as I stood there in the sun counting to four over and over for forty-five minutes. Even James is apparently now confident enough to zip off across the splash pad to mix it up with kids three times his age. Probably because of his forty-eight months of personal care skills.

Today my mom invited us over after church and after the outdoorsy chaos of Saturday it was so nice to have everyone together inside an air conditioned house doing puzzles and watching movies. A little breath-in time for all my Waldorf friends. We needed it.

Ryan has worked for two days solid on the tile and is about halfway done. The part that is over by the table looks beautiful and I can't wait to see the finished product. Unfortunately what is standing between me and that great moment is an unknown number of days prepping meals in the dining room and storing the fridge in the living room. I put the pads on the nice dining room table and wrapped it in a vinyl tablecloth so the kids don't destroy it but I wasn't able to do anything for the carpet. I should be able to use the counter tomorrow to "cook", but we can't get any food in between the tiles so until they're grouted (next weekend?), there will be no eating in the kitchen. Or breathing in the kitchen. Or walking. Why don't you just climb out that window and go potty in the back yard, OK?

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Kids are incredibly helpful with the tilework.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday Fast Blog

So!  Today is the first official day of work for my research students this summer.  I have never done this before.  Usually I only inflict my incompetence on my own family, so this is new.  I was really impressed with all the questions they had to ask about the papers I gave them to read and their enthusiasm for the subject.  Never thought I'd hear someone say "That paper about the decay of hurricane winds over a narrow island was really cool!"  But yes!  I agree with you!  Go with that!  I need to reread that paper!

I like these guys a lot and I think it's going to be a great summer.  We spent a couple of hours in my office downloading all the software they will need and then I sent them on their way to "figure out how it works" for the rest of the day.  This side of the desk is pretty awesome, not gonna lie.

I have not worked all week because our nanny has been out of town and I thought it would be a good time to whip the house into shape so we can coast for the rest of the summer.  It's been kind of a mixed bag.  I've done a bunch of laundry and cleared out the nursery closet.  I also gathered an entire tall kitchen bag of trash from the upstairs that does not include what was in the trash cans, so that's nice.  Every time I walk around the upstairs now I marvel at how much less it looks like a crackhouse in the opening scene of Law and Order.  Related, I've started making my bed again.

But on the flip side, last night I fell asleep while the kids were watching TV and woke up (in a puddle of drool) only moments before it was time to leave for teeball practice (the last one thank goodness).  So there was no dinner.  None at all.  I had to call Ryan and ask him to bring Sonic to the field.  MOTY.

Today began with a giant Wes and James fight/meltdown that lasted from the time Ryan and Charlie left until pretty much the moment they were strapped into their seats, out of hitting range of each other.  This on the only day this week that I actually needed to take a shower and look presentable.  I muddled through with a mixture of locking James in the bathroom with me, threats about turning off the TV, and doing a really half-assed job of getting ready.  Fortunately I remembered deodorant at the last minute and ran (an exaggeration if there ever was one) up the stairs to take care of it just as James took off a shoe and threw it at Wes as retribution for Wes taking the chair closest to the TV.  Thank goodness I can look however I want to at school because yoga pants and Ryan's old teeshirt were looking like a viable option for several minutes there (I managed a skirt and tshirt.  BARELY).

Also, yesterday I bought Charlie a new booster seat so Wes can have his old one (he packed on four pounds seemingly overnight and is now well above the forty pound recommendation for a high backed booster, also, leaning into the back of the van to unbuckle him was almost definitely going to send me into preterm labor, this is a good change).  James moved up to Wes's big Britax and just for grins I left his big clunky toddler seat strapped into the middle of my car.  That's FOUR carseats in my car at the moment.  CAN YOU EVEN?!

After that moment of verclemptedness I put James down for a nap and when I walked downstairs Charlie was sitting at the island making himself a PB&J and a glass of OJ for a snack like like some kind of independent human person.  So awesome.  Also, whathowwhen?

Oh, and I really need to go get the boys, but remind me sometime to tell you about James's ENT visit, which involved the doctor pulling approximately seven ounces of wax out of James's left ear.  He ACTUALLY SAID "Well, this could be part of the problem" with regards to James's speech delay.  So not only are we not talking to him enough, HIS EARS ARE FULL OF WAX.  James screamed his way through the procedure and it was about the most horrible thing I've ever had to do to him.  Still waiting for him to start speaking in complete sentences.

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Pretty sure he's saying "shhhhhhoooooooeeeeee" here.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The holiday Charlie calls "Dia de Mama"

Fun Mother's Day around here. Fun weekend really. Really the only bad thing was that we had to take Charlie to after hours care to see a doctor because he whacked his head on the playground Thursday at school and has had headaches on and off ever since and has a huge bruise on the back of his head. Turns out he has a very (VERY) mild concussion (he had to do, no lie, a field sobriety test, which he passed thank goodness, I mean, it was only one beer over dinner!) that should stop bothering him by the end of next week. And he hasn't complained about it since then, especially since it got him out of teeball Saturday morning, so I guess he's feeling better.

We spent the rest of the day having my mom over for a Mother's Day lunch and going to my niece's dance recital (adorable) before heading to my sister's for pie and baby pool time. A perfectly nice, relaxing day.

Today began with a flurry of handmade crafts from Charlie and Wes. Those kids were busy. And sweet! Wes made me a potholder with "A picture of me and you and two hearts because we love each other" (he kills me) and Charlie with a nice card, several pictures, and a personal interview about me. (What does mom like? Tacos. What does Mom not like? When I don't follow directions. Indeed.). Such incredibly nice kids. I am so lucky.

After that we went to my new favorite taco place for breakfast (ha. I really do love tacos right now) where I explained to Ryan that for my present I wanted to order a migas taco and a brownie and I didn't want anyone to ask for a bite or judge me. Everyone cooperated (except James who kept trying to narc me out about the brownie hidden in my purse by yelling "eat! eat! mmmmm! mmmm!" So glad we are teaching him to talk) and breakfast was yummy and funny and great.

After that we did the usual Sunday School-church gauntlet of shh shh shh stop playing with that face forward you do NOT want me to take you out of here and then went home for James's nap and lunch.

But my FAVORITE part of the day was when we packed up a picnic dinner and headed to the natural spring swimming pool here. The kids have never been, but it is a place Ryan and I love and have spent lots of time (pre-kid time, obviously).

I thought to take a "before" picture, which is good because at the end everyone's lips were blue.

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James was happy to stay on the ramp, but had to wear his lifejacket because there are three of them and only one ablebodied kid-chaser.

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Sometimes he got thirsty.

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Wes got braver and braver and eventually walked way out to the middle with Charlie. It was up to his chest and the water is FREEZING.

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Charlie paddled around for some time before he ran past me saying "I don't trust this water!" and wrapping up in two towels.

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When you say "Who wants to go eat our picnic?" James says "MEEEEEEE!" and raises his hand.

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We had a picnic overlooking the pool (the kids had standard lunch fare, but Ryan brought me a caprese salad sandwich for the holiday)...

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...then watched teenagers show off to each other on the diving board and then just when I thought we were home free, all three kids said "Let's get back in the pool!" So we trooped back down there and everyone (but me! hooray!) jumped back into the freezing water for a last quick dip before we left. The sun was setting and we had the place to ourselves. So much fun. We changed them into jammies for the ride home and stuck 'em right in bed as soon as we arrived (we were out so late! On a school night! Can you tell we're ready for summer to come already?!). Couldn't have asked for a better weekend!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Monday, May 6, 2013

MLS betrayal

Last week Ryan went out of town for work.  He was only gone for one night and came home late the next day, after kid bedtime.  But when the cat is away, the mice will play, as they say, and while my sweet, loving, hard-working husband was freezing his buns off working outside all day in the unseasonably cold weather, just trying to earn us a decent living and some health insurance, I was sitting in our comfortable living room engaged in the most treacherous act of betrayal.

I was browsing real estate online.

It started innocently enough, with a joke on Facebook that if Ryan didn't come home soon I was going to find a five bedroom house for us so I could lock everyone in their own cells at night instead of listening to the frat party that happens in Charlie and Wes's room every night.  I wasn't actually expecting to find anything.

There is a lot we love about our current house.  It's a good size, we have a big yard, we live on a quiet street with a culdesac at the end, which gives the kids a ton of freedom outside.  I don't know what I would do without that freedom, honestly, their energy level would be completely unmanageable.  Both of our commutes are pretty easy and the grocery store is very close by.

There are only two things I would change about our house if I could.  Since we are adding a sixth person to the family, I would love to have a second living area.  Our current arrangement is working well, but the big kids aren't going to go to bed at 7:30 forever.  It might happen that there will be nights when some of us want to read a book and some of us want to watch a movie and some of us want to play a game (DANG that's a lot of "some of us-es").  Or have a friend or two over.  Or watch something rated PG, where people can say "hell" and there isn't an NSF-mandated educational component.

The second thing, and this is the biggest thing for me, is that we are twenty-ish minutes from our church.  And we are there ALL. THE. TIME.

The kids' preschool is there (2 visits a day, 3 days a week), children's choir is there (dropoff/pickup one time per week), then of course there is Sunday morning, monthly board meetings, social gatherings, family nights, and mom club.  And in the future we will add any number of kid activities to that.  That's a lot of commuting.

So I looked.  And I found a house.  It's beautiful.  And it's five minutes from church.  And it has three living areas.  And don't get me started on the counter space.  And it's two minutes from my sister's house and twenty minutes closer to my parents.

I texted my sister.  "I am in love with a house down the street from yours."  She asked me for the MLS.  A few minutes later she replied "DO IT!!  We have great schools and they're all really close!"  She is an enabler.

So I left it up on my computer and mentioned it casually to Ryan, who checked it out and said to me, "It's very nice", before changing the subject.  Undeterred by his clear desire for me to LET IT GO, I sent him an email the next day breezily asking him if he'd like me to set up a showing this weekend, just to take a look.  He responded almost immediately with "I'm not ready for that."  No "Sorry," no "love you, see you at home," no "let's talk about it later."  He SHUT IT DOWN.

But I just couldn't make myself close that tab on my browser.  And today on my way home from preschool dropoff I drove past The House.  It was a mistake, I realize, now that I can't stop thinking about the beautiful live oak tree in the front yard and the long, flat driveway just begging for a basketball goal.

But.  I have to stop the madness.  Instead of mentally arranging our furniture in the beautiful sun-lit, wood-floored family room, I will think about how nice it will be not to have to get our own house ready to sell.  Instead of making passive aggressive comments about how nice it would be to have a shower on the first floor, I will think about how lovely it is to not have to pay two mortgages and stay up all night wondering if our current house will ever sell.

 I mean, I think we have enough stressful life events in the offing.  Why go seeking out more?  Possibly for three living areas and hours of my life not spent in the car, but just think of all the things the kids are learning spending twenty-four hours a day within touching distance of each other.  And who can put a price on the ability to carry on a conversation with a kid who is sitting on the potty without ever leaving the stove?  So many magical childhood memories.