Sunday, June 29, 2014

Dancing all night (until 10 pm) and buying furniture at yard sales. Just like undergrad.

Big weekend around here. Saturday morning was the morning of the long-anticipated garage sale my university was having to discard a bunch of old science equipment and furniture ahead of a big renovation. I've had my eye on this giant microscope cabinet for two weeks but they wouldn't sell it to me early so I had to get up there right when the sale opened on Saturday to make sure no one took it. Luckily it was still there because I was becoming obsessed with paint colors and decorative knobs for the cabinet doors and staring longingly at the place in my house I will be putting it when I'm done fixing it up, imagining alllll the things I could put away in ALL TWENTY of those individual microscope lockers (DVDs, games, cards, kids' backpacks, winter accessories. It's going to be glorious.

With a little elbow grease.

Our new family catchphrase is "I trust your vision," which is what Ryan says to me now when I say things like "Let's put a fifty year old plywood microscope cabinet IN OUR LIVING ROOM!"

It's also what I said to him when he excitedly purchased a seven foot long double-sided whiteboard.

It's good he bought the whiteboard because I would have felt silly renting this pickup truck JUST for my cabinet (when it became clear that my plan to throw it on top of the van was both impractical and possibly dangerous to everyone else on the Interstate).

And also, my husband can tie cooler knots that your husband.

While Ryan was getting the truck and picking up our new treasure I forced the kids to go outside and eat popsicles. That relatively tranquil activity turned into this, slightly more likely to end in disaster, fun time (it did not end in disaster).

The pickup truck killed a good ninety-minutes of weekend summer malaise which was good because Ryan and I were saving our energy for our friends' double fortieth birthday blowout that evening (which was exactly as much fun as I imagined it would be when we arrived and saw the *DJ* setting up his stuff, OMG. Crazy kid dance party (seriously you haven't lived until you've watched a pack of sweaty kids doing Gangman Style and Cupid Shuffle) turned into crazy mom dance party. Also, somewhere there is a picture of Wes perched on top of a Little Tykes playhouse wearing a Davy Crockett fur-trimmed vest and brandishing a crossbow. Happy sigh, I have not had that much fun in a LONG time).

We got home at ten and told Miss N (who came to the party halfway through to pick up Mary and James. This is a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED IDEA) that we probably wouldn't see her at church in the morning because, WHOO BOY, BIG PARTY and also the kids were up super late, but GUESS WHOSE SMOKE ALARM WENT OFF AT 6:45 FOR NO REASON AND WOKE UP THE WHOLE FAMILY?! Yeah that was fun. Early bedtimes for everyone tonight!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Quick Dip

OMG you guys, let's talk about THE POOL some more.

When I went to camp as a kid we did something every once in a while called a "Quick Dip" where my whole cabin of girls, led by our two counselors, would run down to the waterfront right before bedtime in our swimsuits, kick off our sneakers and socks (no Crocs/sandals at camp, yo), and run into the water for ten to fifteen minutes of aquatic merriment before someone blew the whistle and we all ran out, put our sneakers and socks back on, and ran shivering and happy back to our cabin to put our jammies on and get into bed.

I loved quick dips.

Which is why I attempted a quick dip right before dinner last night with the kids.

Obviously, those happy memories of camp quick dips clouded the memory that I HAVE NOT DONE ANYTHING QUICKLY SINCE November of 2006 (Except showering, dressing, and going to the bathroom by myself and my ability to do those things fast rivals that of a plebe at the Naval Academy).

So yesterday when I grew tired of reading about extreme value analysis and the peak over threshold approach I decided it was time for some mandated family fun time.  Mary and James were asleep and our sitter was there so I announced to Charlie and Wes that "HEY GUYS GET YOUR SUITS ON WE'RE GOING TO THE POOL FOR A QUICK DIP!"

My words and enthusiasm barely penetrated the Wild Kratts haze.

"Come on guys!  Let's go to the pool!"

Wes slowly turned around with a bored expression.  "The pool?  The one with the slide?"

"Sure!" I replied.  "Get your suits on!"

Twenty minutes later the TV had finally been turned off and they were milling around in the kitchen.

I gathered up swimsuits from the pile on the laundry room floor, tossed them in their general direction, then changed into my own suit in the downstairs bathroom while yelling commands from behind the closed door.

"Put your suits on!  We don't have much time!  Miss E is coming over after dinner!  This is a QUICK trip to the pool."

When I emerged Charlie was wearing his suit and Wes was standing in the kitchen, naked and fidgeting with the refrigerator magnets.

After I loudly reminded him to put his SWIMSUIT on so we could go to the POOL I realized my mistake.

"Are we going to da pool?  I want to go to da pool!" asked a small voice from the top of the stairs.

And then Mary squawked over the baby monitor.

OK, *EVERYBODY* get in the car.  We are *ALL* going to the pool!  Won't that be *FUN*.

Somehow, we all got into the car (somehow's name is Miss N and she is our wonderful sitter who joined us at the pool), and then from the car to the pool deck where Charlie and Wes disappeared to the slide and James and Mary huddled together on the steps of the shallow end, both fully clothed in suits, rashguards, and hats under the UV-protective awning.  James was also wearing a lifejacket.  For a moment, I appeared to be a Good Mother.  Until Charlie returned to the shallow end long enough to pull the swim trunks off a helplessly floating James--literally a sitting duck.

Twenty-five minutes of honest-to-goodness aquatic merriment and one timeout later:

"OK guys!  It's time to go!  Remember this was just a quick dip!  Time to go make dinner!"

This announcement was met with surprise and dismay.


Charley's "one last trip down the slide" ended with him hopping on one foot alllllll the way from the deep end to the shallow end where our chair was.  This took only slightly less time than Pluto's orbit around the sun.  Wes used the time to beg for fruit snacks out of the vending machine.  Mary screamed in indignation at being left to sit on a lounge chair while I wrapped a towel around my waist and put my flip flops on (an outfit I wore to the pharmacy on the way home, God Bless Texas, and drive through pharmacies).

Quick dip took just over an hour.  Next time I'm just going to bring dinner and shut that place down.

Friday, June 20, 2014

This post says 'summer' so many times I can't get that damn snowman song out of my head

YOU GUYS, I feel like summer is simultaneously ALMOST OVER and JUST BEGINNING.  This combination has led to a lot of "Woah, Mom is so much FUN all of the sudden" type of activities for the kidlets (No really, even Ryan made a comment about how much happier I have been lately).  Like, everyone is grouchy and would probably not put up a fight if I put them to bed right now but "SUMMER IS ALMOST OVER LET'S PACK UP AND GO TO THE POOL RIGHT NOW!"  At 6 pm.  MADNESS.  We swam for two hours, even James and Mary who both skipped their afternoon naps. 

There comes a moment after the birth of every one of the kids where I sort of wake up and look around and think "Huh.  We're a FUN family again!  We can have fun!  We can leave the house spontaneously!"

I think this is happening now.  It takes a while with number four.

It also helps that two of the children can A) Dress themselves in their swimsuits, B) Carry things in a manner that is actually helpful, and C) Be in a pool area without drowning, so impossibly, a baby and a preschooler plus two big kids (now) is easier than just a baby and a preschooler (sometime in 2010).  That's the new math for you.

And then last night my friend and I were standing in the living room laughing hysterically about something with kids milling all around dirty and in various states of undress (and some were still in the wading pool, probably) when Ryan came walking in the front door and I felt like I had been caught doing something wrong.

"OH HI!  You're home early!  What a nice surprise!" I managed when I remembered that FUN is ALLOWED.

He looked at me curiously and said "It's six-fifteen."


You guys, I have never before IN MY LIFE lost track of time when in direct supervision of the children.  Usually I can tell you the exact number of seconds until Ryan is due home starting around three o'clock.  If he's not home by six ten I start getting twitchy.

And then, this morning they all slept until EIGHT O'CLOCK.  WE FINALLY FIGURED OUT SUMMER.

Which makes it all the sadder that summer ends August 11 for us.  The kids' new school starts two weeks ahead of the district schools and then makes up for it with a week-long fall break and extended Thanksgiving Break, a policy I wholeheartedly supported back in February when I first heard about it but now am like "What, what?  But, SUMMER."

Hence the late-night trips to the pool, watermelon binging, and neverending movies and neighborhood playtime.

Less than two weeks left of my summer research project* and then I have a MONTH off.  And then I am sure August 11 will sound far away again.  But for now, GAH SLOW DOWN.

*Summer research project is AWESOME by the way.  Great students, cooperative data, a fun and valuable trip to the field site, lots of time to work on my other research projects too, I AM NOT PREGNANT THIS YEAR AND NEVER WILL BE AGAIN.  So glad I am doing this program again and so glad the schedule is flexible enough that I can blow off an afternoon here and there and eat popsicles with my feet in the pool.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


All that's standing between me and a lovely afternoon sitting in the shallow end of the pool with Mary while the big kids frolic themselves into a sun-kissed, chlorine-scented stupor is:

--A trip with all four kids to the community center to buy pool passes.  Technically I could avoid this for another day and just pay $12 to get us into the pool but SOMEONE in my family frowns upon this kind of lazy (and expensive) behavior.  *cough* Ryan *cough*

--A trip to HEB with all four kids for sunscreen because James sprayed our entire can onto the grass while attempting to kill a bug.

--The Great Search For Swimsuits and Rashguards, which I should really adapt into epic poem form one of these days.

--Wes has some kind of low-grade virus/strep/tonsillitis situation going on that probably means he needs to rest inside.  But you know, YOLO.

--Charley has Cub Scout plans this evening and thus cannot fall asleep by 6:30.

--Two to three more hours of work that I should really be doing right now instead of typing this, but since I started getting punchy and naming variables things like "normfreq" I thought a break was in order.

--The fact that 3/4 of the children are perfectly happy to splash around in the back yard grocery store blow up pool and the other 1/4 of the children will probably have a massive freakout at the real pool because his goggles won't work right.

--We don't have any coconut popsicles or watermelon so WHAT IS THE FREAKING POINT.

--I lack the upper body strength to pull last year's swimsuit over my hips

So that's it, really.  WHO WANTS TO GO TO THE FREAKING POOL?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

My Grandfather

We said goodbye to my grandfather yesterday. He was a member of the Greatest Generation in every sense of the word. A veteran of World War II, a patriot who once moved out of a condo because they wouldn't let him fly an American flag. A mechanical engineer who worked for Standard Oil. My loyal grandmother, his wife for sixty-six years was by his side, as well as his youngest daughter, my aunt.

He loved his family and had four great kids. My sister and I had such fun visiting them at their house in Cape Cod. We loved the hammock in the back yard and the trail through the woods to the elementary school playground, having lunch together at the beach (he always had a PB&J), and going on adventures like whale watches and hikes with friends from the senior center. He and my grandma always planned a fun itinerary for our visits. We spent my grandparents' fiftieth wedding anniversary at Disney with all the aunts, uncles, and cousins.

He had a beautiful garden behind the house that he took meticulous care of. He loved oatmeal for breakfast and oatmeal-raisin cookies anytime. We named James after him (when my grandma told him that he told her "I like to be called Jim." Ha! I've called James "Jim" a couple of times but it hasn't stuck!).

We are so sad to say goodbye, but happy that he is finally free from his bed. He will be dearly missed by many people.

With two year-old Charlie and baby Wes

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Actually it's kind of a relief that they are getting sneakier

I had to pick up a rental car on the way home from work yesterday and the timing and various locations of everything meant that I had to pick the kids up at camp before I got the rental car.  This of course means that I had all three of the boys with me at the rental car place which is usually hope to A) A long line, B) A water cooler, and C) retractable line dividing things that are INCREDIBLY TEMPTING PLAYTHINGS FOR MY KIDS.  Add in the facts that they were exhausted from camp and I have not willingly taken them anywhere further away than my front yard in about three months and I had some misgivings about the situation.

We parked at the only available space in the lot, which was across a veritable deathtrap of a parking lot/demolition derby type of arrangement where people were returning and picking up rental cars and NOT PAYING ANY ATTENTION AT ALL.  After yelling at James sharply to STOP RUNNING OMG after he jumped out of the car and trotted around to the rear tailgate, we made a cute little chain of people holding hands and somehow made it into the lobby without incident.

I tried to head off trouble at the pass.

I smiled and used a cheerful voice.  "I want you guys to go wait in those chairs over there and be very quiet.  You may have ONE glass of water from the water cooler, but only ONE GLASS.  ONE GLASS OF WATER."

They obediently trooped over to the water cooler then returned to their seats while I stood in line.

Finally I got up to the front.  I was signing the papers when James approached me and said in a stage whisper, "CHAR-WEE HAD TWO GLASSES OF WATER."

I turned around to find Charlie and Wes whispering to each other pleasantly.  "It's fine, James.  Go sit down."

Then Wes stood up and said "I'm going to go get more water.  Charlie said I could."

Charlie "shhhh-ed" him loudly.  Much louder than Wes had been talking.  Wes gave up on water and begain pulling the line marker out, out, out, out of the stand.  He was poised to let it snap back again when I shot him a look and he carefully released it.

Finally they told me they would bring the car around for me.

I turned to the kids again, bent down to look them all square in the eyeballs.

"I have to go get the carseats out of the van.  I want you to sit right here and DON'T. MOVE. A. MUSCLE.  Be quiet, whisper, and NO MORE WATER."

It took me approximately fifteen seconds to dash across the parking lot, unhitch James's seat, remove Charlie and Wes's booster seats, and spirit the whole mess back across the lot to the sidewalk where I dumped everything in a loud pile and ran back inside.

I sat in a seat between Charlie and Wes and told them what a GREAT job they were doing waiting and being so calm and polite!  Yay!  What GOOD BOYS.  You guys are the BEST.

James approached me from... somewhere in the waiting room and said loudly in his inexplicable New England accent


I and everyone waiting in line snickered.

"Let's talk about this in the car, James." I said brightly.


His eyes flashed with joy.

Finally, we got our car and crammed all the carseats in for the ride home.

Epilogue: I had the following conversation with Charlie, hours later, when I was telling Ryan about how good everyone was at the car place.

C: "I spilled some water."

Me: "You did?!  How much?!"

C: "It was a whole cup."

Me: "WHERE?"

C: "On the chair."

Me: "Did you clean it up?"

C: "I couldn't find any napkins.

I think I'll use the after-hours dropoff when I return the car.