Friday, May 30, 2014

The Five Stages of Finding Poop in the Exersaucer

1. Denial

What the...?  That looks like poop in the bottom of the Exersaucer.  It couldn't possibly be poop, that would be disgusting.  It must be something else.  I'll just continue merrily straightening the living room and assuming that's something besides poop.  What else?  I don't know, but it's definitely not poop.

2. Anger

Sniff...sniff... OK that's definitely poop.  WHY DO THESE THINGS ALWAYS HAPPEN WHEN RYAN'S AT WORK?  What is WRONG with these cheap grocery store brand diapers?  Why do I ALWAYS have to take care of these things?  My entire LIFE is DEALING WITH POOP!
3. Bargaining

Please don't step in it, Baby!  Please don't step in it!  No no no please don't step in it!  I promise I'll clean it up just DON'T MOVE ONE INCH RIGHT NOW.

4. Depression

I should just go back to bed.  This is a bad omen.  How good could a day that begins with a giant turd in the exersaucer possibly be a good day.  I will be cleaning up other people's poop for the rest of my life.  I want to go to bed and eat cookies with the TV on.

5. Acceptance

Sigh.  That's definitely poop and no one else is going to take care of it.  If she steps in it it will be ten times harder to clean up.  I'll get the Lysol and a rag and clean it up.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


I was having a great day today, feeling pretty in my black maxi skirt and black fitted tshirt, my hair finally long enough to throw up in a loose bun like everyone else in the universe does.  right after lunch I figured out a tricky problem I'd been having all week with some Matlab code I'm writing for a new project.  The new project was turning out to be challenging but manageable.  I was looking forward to taking the kids to the dentist and then having dinner with my parents.

I was starting to get sleepy so I walked over to the library for a book I needed about Extreme Value Analysis and enjoyed the sunny, warm afternoon.  This has been a really exceptional spring--86 in late May is UNHEARD of.  Gorgeous.

I found my book and checked out and was headed for the door when I saw a woman I knew from a workshop I did last summer.  I smiled in greeting and was just about to say hello when she peered around the books I was holding and said it.

"Hi!  Ooh!  Baby on the way?"

chirp chirp chirp

"No."  I said, curling my lips around my teeth and biting down, HARD.

chiiiiiirrrrp chiiiiiiirrrp  chiiiiiiiirp

I tried to leave but she continued talking and some horrible quirk of my polite upbringing kept me rooted to that spot.

"Oh.  Well."

"Heh heh heh" polite smile.  I NEED TO LEAVE.  I NEED TO LEAVE RIGHT NOW.

"How old is the baby, now?"

"She's nine months." Flat.  Emotionless.  Bordering on rude.  Eyebrows inching their way up my forehead and over the top of my skull.

"Well, it took me FOR-EV-ER to get the weight off after my last baby."

Me: now visibly horrified, mouth slightly agape.

"I mean, not the WEIGHT, but you know."

Silently: No, actually, I'm not sure what you are referring to, please go on.

"My figure."


She reached out to pat my arm but by then I was running out of the building, books clutched over my stomach like a thirteen year old girl.

I made it back to my office in record time and slammed my door for the cathartic Sending of Indignant Texts and Emails.  Within minutes my phone and inbox were full of "WTF?!" and "NO EFFING WAY DO YOU LOOK PREGNANT!" and my personal favorites, from Ryan:


and from my friend C:

"We should be daydrinking together right now."


Monday, May 26, 2014

I don't even know who we are anymore

After getting back from a whirlwind one-day road trip at 10:30 last night I was fully expecting the kids to sleep until AT LEAST eight o'clock this morning, especially Charlie and Wes who somehow managed to power through the entire two hour ride home without sleeping, even after spending more than four hours swimming Saturday afternoon, but instead, there was James at 6:30 on the nose, asking if he could go downstairs.


But since I wasn't really sleepy anymore and couldn't justify making Ryan wake up and go downstairs just so I could continue lazing in bed reading HuffPo, I went down to join James on the couch for some coffee and Sesame Street.

Imagine my delight when I clicked over to the radar and saw the looming MCS (large rainstorm) looming to our west and headed our way.  Several things made this especially exciting today: it is a day off of school and work, we had nowhere to go, and PBS Kids was on ALLLLLL DAAAAYYYY LOOONNNG.

The day just got way more fun.

I happily puttered around all morning, making the kids the awesome Pioneer Woman Cinnamon Toast we all love, loading the dishwasher, reading, changing someone's pants here and there, and obsessively checking the radar every five minutes.  Then I thought "Hey!  Since we have this whole day of doing nothing I'm going to catch up on the laundry!

So I loaded all my trip clothes from my suitcase into the washer and started it up.  The rain started falling and soft thunder rolled in the distance.  I made a cup of coffee and sipped it slowly, leaning back against the counter, enjoying the cozy lamp-lit living room and happy kid-noise.

(Mostly it was quiet because I told Charlie and Wes no one could play xBox without first taking a forty-five minute nap.  Because they got 65% of their normal sleep and it SHOWED.  No one slept but Charlie discovered the joy of reading in bed on a rainy day.)

It was in the midst of this tranquil scene that I opened the lid of the washer to switch the clothes to the dryer and found them STILL FOLDED AND CAKED WITH DETERGENT.  Feeling somewhat less zen, I grabbed the pair of jeans I had planned to wear today, which was completely covered with gooey detergent paste, and stalked out to Ryan in the living room.


"Sure!" he said.  And pointed his browser to the website of a large appliance retailer.

"Because if I have to now run the WASHER twice in addition to the two times I already have to run the DRYER I am going to LOSE MY EVERLOVING MIND."

This moment has been coming for some time.

"Do you want one with higher capacity than we have now?  Or do you like what we have?  Front loader or top loader?"

I thought he must be mocking me.  I asked him if he was and he said no, he's been thinking about getting a new washer and dryer for six months.  THIS was a plan I could get behind!

Charlie was distraught because he is unaccustomed to us spending money.  Most things normal people buy at stores come into our house via a family sharing network that rivals that of the Mafia.  Need a fridge?  Aunt so and so's neighbor was renovating and has this one she can't use anymore, would you like it?  What about a car?  Well great-aunt someone just gave uncle someone else her car so now he can pass his to your dad so he can give his to you.  We really only buy food and toothbrushes new.

I was... confused... because any large outlay of capital typically requires several weeks of tension, myriad discussions, hours of Craigslist browsing, and threats to just buy the fridge/car/couch/house while you are at work if you can't just make a decision already.

After a fifteen minute conversation with Charlie about how we save money MOST of the time so that when we need something big and expensive SOMETIMES we can buy it without worrying about it.  We also explained that we got this washer and dryer used for FREE TWELVE YEARS AGO when my parents' neighbors moved out of the country and that Ryan's been nursing it along with a new motor here, a dubiously safe rewiring job there for the last seven years.  And let's not forget about the six-month period after James was born when we had to DIAPER THE WASHER WITH A BATH TOWEL LEST IT LEAK GALLONS OF WATER ALL OVER THE FLOOR.  And that now we have to run every load through each machine twice which is, obviously, quite wasteful in terms of time and money and Mommy's mental health.  It is time to REPLACE THE FREAKING WASHER.

Ryan narrowed his preferences down to two models, I picked out the one I liked best, and he added them to his cart. 

They will be delivered a week from today also known as ten loads of laundry from now.  That's a day after my birthday but Ryan would like you all to know that this is NOT a birthday present.

Other good news: more rain is headed our way overnight.  CHRISTMAS MORNING, YOU GUYS.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

It's CLIMATE WEEK you guys

I am in Washington D.C. for a workshop about teaching climate change this week.  I have been looking forward to this for more than a year and it has been excellent, but MAN.  You know how you feel after three days of using caffeine to power your body instead of adequate rest, sunlight, and physical activity?  Yeah, that.

And also, I miss the kids.  I think this has been a much-needed reset after Ryan's trip, but MAN.  I miss them now.  Ryan says they have been awesome for him, which just confirms that I am the one they reserve their extra special fighty hellbeast behavior for because while Ryan was gone it was All Thunderdome All the Time.  But HEY!  I'll take happygrams from teachers ANYTIME.  Even when I am not their to enjoy the angelic behavior in person.

Yesterday I left the hotel on foot on what I *thought* was going to be a six-ish block walk based on some hasty Google Mapping to go find the house I lived in until we moved to Florida when I was James's age. About thirty minutes later I had FOUND it, but I am pretty sure it was more like NEARLY A MILE but STILL.  How cool.  It is a beautiful house.  I would live there now in a HEARTBEAT.  Especially considering the neighborhood is gentrifying and there are a Whole Foods and a Metro stop like four blocks away.  And a Ben and Jerry's with a splash pad out front.  WHAT MORE DO YOU NEED?

I remember the front steps really well, for some reason.  I seem to remember playing in the space between the right side of the steps and the bushes and thinking the steps were REALLY REALLY TALL, which I guess they are, if you are James's size!

After finding the house I had like forty-five minutes to hit Panera for my breakfast and coffee and get back to the hotel before our field trip to NOAA NCEP, where all weather forecasts for the United States and the surrounding ocean areas begin. Here is the Ocean Prediction Center. This was a cool field trip (I say as I push my glasses up my nose with my index finger).

After that field trip they took us on the Metro down to the National Mall and dropped us off to do things like act like huge nerds in front of the national monuments.

We went for a several mile walk around the area to see the MLK memorial (excellent) and the Lincoln Monument (great as always). While we were standing at the feet of Lincoln a park ranger started telling us how tall Lincoln was (6'4") compared to the average man of his day (5'8"). He was so friendly and helpful that I half-jokingly said "Now can you recommend a good place to go get a beer after this?" and he put his arm over my shoulders, walked me out to the top of the steps and pointed to the Washington Monument in the distance, saying "Walk all the way past the Washington monument and take a left. Go past the White House and Treasury. It's on the right." Best directions EVER. And the DC Brau was totally worth the walk. YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK.

I got a distant glimpse of the White House on the way. I did not see Obama, sadly.

And then today we had several interesting talks and some time to work in our groups and tomorrow we go to NASA and a university climate research center. IT'S LIKE SUMMER CAMP! Still, I will be excited to get home on Friday to see the fam. Eating decadent dinners and having someone else make my bed every day would get really tiring. Eventually. I'm sure.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Workshop Packing Liveblog

Am hoping "funky" is an acceptable aesthetic for a professional workshop in D.C. but suspect that it is not.  Will have to do given any hope of "professional dress" went out the window four babies and one liberal arts adjunct position ago.

Vera Bradley? Summery woven straw? Serious black leather? Crocheted? No purse? Do not want to look like a moron.

Oh shit I'm going to miss the kids like crazy.

OMG Mary!!

Really wish I could go to church with the kids tomorrow.  And Charlie's piano recital.  And Wes's kindergarten orientation.  And Wes's preschool graduation.

Eff this. Leaning in is for suckers.

OK, so I do have plenty of things to wear that actually fit thanks to my recent trips to Savers.  Sort of regret hysterical freakout this afternoon.  In my defense: the cut of those Old Navy khakis would cause Heidi Klum to have a hysterical freakout.

Note to self: go back in time and eat fewer donuts.

I hope I remembered to bring all my books home from work.  But if they're used to dealing with college faculty I'm sure it won't be a big deal.

Maybe the kids could come with me?


OK, maybe I'll be OK in my quiet, quiet hotel room.

Yellow raincoat or field project windbreaker.  Is wearing ten-year old field project swag like wearing your letterjacket to college?

If I bring a book will I be able to work on the plane or will the pull of the last two hundred pages of The Chamber of Secrets win out over finishing my Malab code and starting the proposal?


Oh, right there.

How many pairs of strappy sandals is too many?  Because I'm taking three no matter what you say.

Three pairs of sandals, sneakers, ballet flats, and moccasins.  For five days.  When did I become this person?

Would you all please stop trying to look so loveable?  Seriously.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Do you get invited back when your kids get naked in the hot tub?

Saturday both our nannies graduated from college (Brown-hair Miss N and Red-hair Miss N).  Obviously, this was a bittersweet day for us.  We are so incredibly proud of both of them (One makes amazing pottery and paintings and the other is a very talented French horn player.  And this is on top of their academics and the heroic job they do here of keeping all four kids from killing each other while I am at work.)  On the other hand graduation means one of them is moving to the west coast and the other is going to be leaving us for a job at the end of the summer.  This is the part I try not to think about too much because these two people have become part of our family over the last three or four years and we will miss them.  The KIDS will miss them even more, judging by the way Charley wouldn't even look at one of them as she walked out of our house for the last time on Tuesday of last week.

Instead of dwelling on the inevitable we decided to take them both out for a grownup dinner Friday night at a restaurant we've been wanting to try.  The kids went to the Y kids' night out because WHO DO YOU ASK TO BABYSIT WHEN YOU TAKE YOUR BABYSITTERS OUT FOR DINNER?  OMG you guys, SO MUCH FUN.  A bottle of wine, some guacamole, lots of delicious food.  Two solid hours of laughter and sweet stories about the kids, some of which I've never heard.  Reminiscing about college.  Talking about future plans.  Ryan and I reluctantly peeled out of the parking lot with about five minutes to spare before the Y would start charging us a dollar a minute to get the kids back.  The next time I saw them was at graduation.  So exciting.

And then we went to one of their family graduation celebrations, which was at the house of Red-hair Miss N's aunt, who we met for the first time at the party.  We politely brought an assortment of spring-themed cookies for the table and coerced the children to make eye contact and say hello, but the politeness ended there.  The first thing I noticed was the hot tub on the back porch.  *I* wasn't actually the first one to notice it, the kids were.  NOBODY TOUCH THE POOL I warned as soon as we got to the house.  But sure enough everyone had to take a swipe at the water as they passed it on the way to the basketball goal.  They played basketball for a while.  And then they ate dinner.  And then they stood around looking angelic and fidgety next to the hot tub and soon, at the hosts' encouragement, SPLASH.  Everyone was in the hot tub.  In various states of undress.

Wes was wearing a pair of boxer briefs.  Charley was sensibly commando in his gym shorts so he could wear his dry undies home and James started out in his undies but took them off and threw them onto the porch after a prolonged period of complaining that "My undies are wet."

Five minutes later Wes had to poop.  I carried him, dripping and naked, through the breakfast nook and into the powder room off the kitchen much to the delight of the teenagers assembled around the kitchen table.  James was clearly drinking the pool water judging by the fifteen minute intervals between trips to the bushes to relieve himself.

They played for hours, stopping only to eat cookies and rehydrate from the stash of bottled waters conveniently placed next to the hot tub.  Then I realized with horror that it was nine PM and the spell was almost certainly about to be broken if we didn't get out of there in a fast hurry.  To my surprise, there were no theatrics, no drama, and no screaming.  The only mishap was when we couldn't find Charley for a few minutes only to discover him on the back porch, not wanting to come in and drip on the wood floor.  IT WAS SO WEIRD YOU GUYS.

Mary had a blast too, only permitting Miss N hold her the entire time we were there, until finally I brought out a bottle and she consented to let Miss N's loving grandmother hold her for the duration.  She also enjoyed the fruit and dip platter.  She's a party animal.

I wondered aloud to Ryan that maybe what the kids are missing out on is FUN.  Maybe they would be this delightful all the time if we allowed them to have fun.  I think it's worth considering.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Pants Saga

Charley had Piano Guild audition today after school so I packed up his music and a snack and some nice clothes to change into before going to get him at school.  Somehow we have slid backwards, kicking and screaming into this whole "overscheduled child" thing where once in a while we have back to back activities like this.  So I picked him up at school and pulled into the parking lot of a karate studio down the street so Charley could change into his nice clothes in the car.

Once he got his shirt on, which took about fifteen minutes because BUTTONS OMG, he started on the pants.

"I think this is the last time you'll be able to wear those pants!  They were alllll-most too tight the last time you wore them to church two weeks ago!" I said brightly, hoping he wouldn't freak out due to some irrational attachment to a nondescript pair of khaki pants.  This has been known to happen.  Much to my relief he laughed.

He kept laughing when he got his shorts off and realized that he was still wearing his T-rex jammie bottoms and had been wearing them under his shorts all day long at school.

"AT LEAST I WON'T BE NAKED IN THIS PARKING LOT!" he cackled from the back as he shoved his feet into the pants.

"These are really, really tight!  Are you sure these aren't James's pants?" he said.

"I know, just do the best you can" I encouraged, examining my cuticles and wondering if we would still be in this parking lot come dinnertime.

"It's just really hard to get dressed back here because of all the garbage."

"What garbage?"

"Confetti, some shoes, pants, a hamburger.  Garbage."

He started crawling over the middle row of seats, khaki pants half on, T-rex jammie bottoms sticking out over the top like the most adorable gangster you've ever seen.

"I think I'm going to need some help!" he screeched, laughing.

"Okay okay, they're not THAT bad!" I laughed from the front seat, turning around.

While he stood in the middle row I grabbed the pants by the waistband and pulled.  Nothing.  I checked the zipper.  It was completely down.  I pulled as hard as I could until I had completely lifted him off the ground and he bumped his head on the ceiling of the van.  The pants were locked around his hips and going nowhere.  Up or down, I feared.

We now had fifteen minutes until he was due at the audition.  Our choices were: ratty cargo shorts he'd been wearing all day, khaki pants that wouldn't go past mid-thigh (DESPITE ACTUALLY GOING ON AND BUTTONING NOT TWO WEEKS AGO), and running home to get BIGGER PANTS on the way to the audition.

"HANG ON CHARLEY WE'RE GOING HOME!"  I threw the car into gear and began inching across the parking lot.

He flung himself over the middle row seats in an attempt to get into his seat wearing his gray-striped oxford and his shortie T-rex jammie pants but got tangled up in the too-small pants and the head rest for the middle seat.  I could see his T-rex jammies in the rear view mirror.  Finally he struggled out of the khakis and flung himself into the way back.

He was hysterical.


So I stopped the car right next to a group of fifth graders having a Coke in the parking lot.


So I pulled ahead to a woody area so he could collect himself and buckle in.

Then we went home where he waited in the car (I'M NOT GOING IN THERE NAKED!) while I unearthed a pair of size eight pants I bought for his school uniform in the fall.  Pants that look like they would fit ME.  HUGE PANTS.  He managed to struggle into those while wearing his seatbelt and musing loudly about how he needs "Infinity Megladon Pants" that you can adjust to any size at all so he'll never have to buy pants again.

If he keeps growing out of pants every week, we might have to look for those.

Sunday, May 4, 2014



When we last spoke I was prattling on about my broken effing toilet because that and day drinking were the only things I had left to talk about after two weeks of going it alone with the Fighty McFighterson brothers. But FRIDAY NIGHT CAME AND WITH IT CAME RYAN BACK FROM HIS TRIP. I immediately excused myself indefinitely from the bedtime routine because DAMN.

On Saturday morning everyone woke up READY FOR FUN. So we spent half an hour finding everyone shoes and undies and extra clothes and got everyone in the car to go to a hiking place that everyone has told me is really fun but I have never had much luck with. As luck would have it, though, the trailhead we normally use was under construction and we had to go kind of a long way around to another one. This turned out to be a great thing because we found this place not a hundred yards away from the car. JACKPOT.

The kids immediately commenced getting their shoes really, really wet. I found a comfy spot to sit in the shade because there was no way anyone was going on a nice invigorating hike when there was a ROCKY STREAM to play in.

Mary was NOT A FAN of putting her feet in the freezing water.

Once the shoes were really soaked it was time to strip those off and really go for it.

And get IN the water, get OUT OF the water, get IN the water, get OUT OF the water...

Aaaaand then Charley started sliding down this waterfall into the pool.

SPLASHDOWN. Quite possibly the happiest moment of Charley's life since the time he finished Harry Potter 2.

It was all just too much for Mary so LIGHTS OUT.

We played for a couple of hours and even ran into a good friend from church who was out for a hike with a friend. Then we had lunch at one of our favorite restaurants nearby and drove all the sleeping children home. We ate dinner outside that night and put everyone down early because SO MUCH OUTSIDE TIME. And I can't even tell you how much better behaved the children are now that Ryan is home. WORDS FAIL ME. SO FREAKING HELPFUL, GUYS.