Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Biped 4.0

Mary is being punished for learning to walk by being moved from the baby room at school to the toddler room.  She has a week left in the baby room and then she will be ripped from everything she has ever known and moved to a room with no sippy cups, formal "work time", and probably a perfectly nice, loving teacher, but certainly not Miss Laurie, who I want to come live with us.

Miss Laurie and the director briefly conversed regarding Mary's readiness for the "snapdragon room" as it is called.  The older toddlers are fast, they said!  But she has three older brothers, they said!  Ultimately it was decided that a week was enough time for her to gain some confidence in her walking, pick up a little speed, and learn to move pom poms from one tupperware to another with little tiny tongs.

And let me tell you.  We let her roam free a little bit on Saturday at our Sunday School class's annual chili cookoff, which was held in the fellowship hall.  One half of the room was tables and chairs and calm adults chatting nicely.  The other half of the room was kids zooming around on various wheeled toys and teenagers shooting baskets and shoving each other.

Mary was like Mr. McGoo, shuffling through the chaos, completely oblivious, Frankentsein jazz hands at the ready.  This went on for what seemed like twelve days but was probably more in the neighborhood of fifteen minutes.  Fifteen minutes I spent having a lively internal debate:  should I go rescue her?  Would I have rescued the boys at this age?  Is the only reason I want to run over there and snatch her up into my arms because she's a girl or because she's a toddler and people are throwing balls around?  If I rescue her will she one day avoid risks and hate math and not choose a STEM career?  But someone is going to run her over or bean her with a basketball and then I will feel like a jerk!  But if I pick her up she will never be an astronaut!

At last reached her goal--the Cozy Coupe at the far end of the gym--and I was liberated from the existential self-talk and free to discuss the merits of ancho chili powder and beans vs. no beans with my friends.  She stayed in the protective cage of the Cozy Coupe for some time before swinging a leg out and getting stuck in a half standing-half kneeling position that caused her to shriek so ferociously that the whole gym quieted momentarily.  Then I strapped her in a highchair and stuck a bowl of chili in front of her.  Which she didn't eat but instead spooned from one bowl to another before asking for dessert.

(In the end, Mary ate two pieces of cake for dinner.  Wes was rarely seen without a bowl of ice cream in his hand.  My friend Peter found Charley in the vestibule of the fellowship hall woozily leaning on a piano.  When he asked Charley if he was alright Charley replied "I just ate a lot of ice cream" and when Peter said "Are you sure you're OK?" Charley looked him right in the eye and repeated "A LOT."  There were unconfirmed reports that Charley had stuck a straw in the tub of ice cream and sucked all the melted parts out.  I have no idea what James ate for dinner.  Maybe a couple bites of chili, several pieces of cake and some ice cream?  Also everyone went to bed well after nine o'clock.  If you would like any parenting advice, feel free to contact me using the email address in the sidebar.)

(The next morning was QUITE SOMETHING in the behavior department, as you might imagine)

ANYWAY!  All this is to tell you that Mary walks now!  Which is amazing to watch and also makes dresses fit a lot better.

Monday, January 26, 2015

House Hunters

Yesterday some amazing friends of ours whose kids are all in college picked up all four of OUR kids after church and took them to our house so that we could enjoy a few hours of kid-free free time.  We headed out for a nice brunch at a kid-unfriendly restaurant and then after that drove around looking for open houses.  Not because we are looking to move, though the thought crosses my mind routinely, particularly when I have to move FURNITURE to make a spot big enough for my yoga mat, but because we are nosy and enjoy looking through other peoples' houses when they are not there.  Who's with me?

The first house we went to is in a neighborhood adjacent to ours that I have always referred to as "fancy" because of their golf course and legendary high HOA fees.  And also the large-normous houses that are out of my price range or any price range I would ever consider.

I was expecting the house to be beautiful and clean and spacious.

I was expecting to feel smugly satisfied that while, yes, this house is gorgeous, it is not homey and warm.  Our (rapidly shrinking) house is so warm and lovely and I just want to live there forever!  No, I could never feel at home in this house.

I was not expecting to OMG FREAKING LOVE THIS HOUSE.

This house checked EVERY SINGLE BOX on my list of "Things a house would have to have to make me want to move."  It had three bedrooms and two bathrooms upstairs, meaning Mary could have her own bathroom while Charley, Wes, and James could enjoy SLOBTOPIA in private.  It had a master bedroom downstairs, far far far away from Slobtopia.  THERE WAS A COUNTER IN THE KITCHEN JUST FOR THE KEURIG.

It was also:

Not obnoxious in size or scale.

It was also:

100K over the highest high end I would ever dream of having as a price range.  So obviously it's a no go.  Plus the fact that one doesn't just move when they have a kid with an anxiety disorder and a sizeable community of frog "pets" living in the water meter.

I may have overdone gushing about the house because Ryan got out of the car in a fast hurry to take Charley to Scouts while I continued my afternoon away by having a long-overdue haircut alone by myself alone.  It was really lovely.

And then I returned home to four happy kiddos, a clean stovetop, and a bag of groceries in the fridge with the explanation "we found this bag of food tucked behind one of the seats in the car and didn't want you to get home and realize you were missing a dinner ingredient, so we went to HEB and replaced everything."  And you guys, it was the CHEESE BAG.  Next to meat, that is the most expensive bag (hmm, maybe we shouldn't be talking real estate if I am lamenting the loss of a $3 wedge of Parmesan cheese)!

The whole afternoon was SUCH AN AMAZING GIFT YOU GUYS.

Ryan and I enjoyed a dinner of beef stew in wine gravy that was delicious but that the kids abhored then put everyone in bed, made lunches and cleaned up just in time for Downton Abbey.  After that he went for a run and I did a yoga video* because we are thirty-somethings and it is the month of New Year's Resolutions.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Chocolate Chips. LOTS of 'em

I've become, perhaps, a bit overconfident recently, believing that we were HANDLING the Old Testament scale of our family. We were handling the s*** out it. I mean, just yesterday, we managed three separate kid activities, two that happened simulataneously, and still managed to clean out the garage, give the children multiple hours of good old fashioned outdoor unstructured playtime, and still have dinner together at a sit down restaurant that we all enjoyed, EVEN THE PEOPLE SITTING IN ADJACENT BOOOTHS. BOOM.

But just like when Icarus flew too close to the sun and got burned to a crisp, we flamed out in SPECTACULAR fashion today.

Today began with us dropping Charley and Wes off in front of the church because I thought if I heard one more song altered to include the words "fart", "poop", or "butt" that my head was going to shoot right off my body and explode like a Roman Candle. They scampered off to Sunday School and I parked the car without having an anyeurism. Win win.

We (foolishly, possibly, but it was so, so good as always) hung out for an hour or so after church talking to our friends while the kids ran around the courtyard outside. This meant that we had to cram a trip to Lowes and a weekly grocery store trip in along with lunch and Mary's nap to about an hour-long period between when we got home and when we had to leave again. Ryan slapped together some lunch while I managed the grocery store. I only had thirty-five minutes and I would have made it too except they moved the fish sticks to a different part of the store and I lost about ten minutes trying to figure it out based on some bad directions from the sample lady. I have a thing with Being On Time, so this was possibly much more stressful for me than the situation warranted.

When I got home we had exactly five minutes to gather all the children into their various cars, wrap two birthday gifts, load up all the Cub Scout stuff into Ryan's car, unpack the groceries, put the cold stuff away, and wake Mary up and unceremoniously stuff her into her car seat. She was quite screamy but I thought lunch and some fun party playtime would help. I was wrong.

Mary whimpered all the way to the party, which was at an adorable local playplace. James and Wes quickly settled in, raiding the juiceboxes (important later) and climbing up the pretend tree house in the corner. Mary ate her lunch (pasta and sauce) with her hands because I didn't have a fork, then screamed with real tears in her eyes when I attempted to put her down next to an inviting basket of multicolored balls. She screamed all the way to the car where I took her to change her diaper, thinking maybe that would make her happy. I asked her what she needed and she sniffled "Papa". Awesome.

It was shortly after we got back inside that James had his first emergent potty visit. Kid just can't hold his Capri Suns like the older kids. He made it that time, and the time after that, when we had to run in from the playground, and the time after that when we all came in from the playground for pizza. But he didn't make it the time after that when I became momentarily distracted by talking to a friend and assumed that after four visits he could find the conveniently located child-friendly bathroom himself. I left Mary sitting on a stage eating Goldfish off the floor with vague instructions to my friend to give her more Goldfish if she got fussy and ran out to the car to look for an extra pair of pants for James. The only pair I could find was a pair of sweatpants in size EIGHT. BUT THEY HAD A DRAWSTRING, SCORE! I took the pants back inside, checked Mary's Goldfish supply, and led James back to the bathroom to change where HE WENT TO THE BATHROOM FOR THE SIXTH TIME IN SEVENTY FIVE MINUTES.

In the next thirty minutes he had two near poo accidents that I averted only by dropping everything and RUNNING him back there when I noticed him frozen on the kiddie dance floor with a thousand yard stare, hanging onto his bottom. We honestly would have gone home early if not for the promise of delicious delicious sheet cake. I heart birthday cake.

Meanwhile, Mary was busy making sure I developed scoliosis by refusing to let me put her down continuously for nearly an hour and a half. She finally consented to sit on the stage with her Goldfish long enough for me to take James to the bathroom, check on Wes, who was having a lively pool noodle battle with an old preschool friend, and have a brief conversation. I was starting to relax when Mary suddenly stood up and FREAKING WALKED. She walked over to a table where another little girl was reading a book. I thought she was going to pick out a book and sit down to look at it but instead the baby who has never willingly taken more than five consecutive steps in her life PICKED UP A PLASTIC HAIR, HELD IT OVER HER HEAD, AND ATTEMPTED TO WALK BACK ACROSS THE ROOM TOWARD ME. This was FREAKING AMAZING and I held my breath waiting to see what would happen. She made it an astonishing TEN STEPS before, in slow motion, she keeled over backward and hit hear head on the (carpeted) floor. The chair hit her square on the cheekbone and left a nice mark. I had to run her to the back of the playplace lest the hysterical screaming drown out the Happy Birthday song. A piece of cake helped her calm down. Just like Mommy already.

I was delighted to make it home with no further incidents. Looking forward to relaxing and eating the dinner Ryan was working on I walked into the living room to find Charley reading on the couch. He slowly lowered the book and said "I lost a tooth." I was right in the middle of getting all excited for him when Ryan poked his head around the corner and looked at me with the Look of Consternation. "Is this...bad?" I asked nervously. He nodded.

Apparently, while Ryan was cooking, Charley and the two kids next door were playing in the (completely dry) retention "pond" near our house. They are not supposed to go near this huge concrete storm drain on one side of the pond, because if you go near it you might do something stupid like, ATTEMPT TO CLIMB A CONCRETE WALL, SLIP, BASH YOUR MOUTH, AND KNOCK OUT ONE OF YOUR TEETH. FREAKING HELL. The way he fell meant that our neighbor, who happened to be outside, had to climb over something and help him get out because he was stuck? was going crazy? (details are hazy because I heard everything from two people with XY chromosomes). Ryan came on the scene moments later to find Charley looking absolutely mortified. Ryan thinks LOSING A TOOTH will teach him the consequences of not following our rules, but I am considering never allowing him to leave the house again. MISSING TEETH have a way of causing me to lose my perspective and sense of reason in these matters. Thank goodness it was a BABY TOOTH.

We were going to go hiking tomorrow but now we are going to the dentist. And the liquor store. And then I'm going to put on a movie. Or six.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Flippity Flappity Floo

I know you are all wondering how the #flap is doing. I got back from my conference on Thursday afternoon but saved the trip to after hours to have the stitch removed for Friday because the kids wanted to watch. So Friday I picked everyone up at school, drove to the clinic so everyone could watch the doctor cut the stitch out of my thumb, then we bought pizza and went to the grocery store.

Things looked like they were healing up nicely for a little while, meaning there was no flap, but more recently the freaking zombie flap has come back. I think it's DYING based on what the original doctor said MIGHT happen when she originally sewed it up and the fact that IT LOOKS LIKE IT IS DYING. And I would just, you know, carefully remove it, except that the back half is attached to a robust section of LIVING SKIN. So it remains in a disgusting kind of flap purgatory until something happens to force the issue, like I get careless and rip it off by accident or it shrivels up and disappears. Clearly the second choices is more appealing to me, so I've been keeping a bandaid on a lot, which makes texting kind of a nightmare.


So, how'd your talk go, you might be frightened to ask... It was...fine. The talk itself went well and I got some good feedback but after spending seven hours sitting on my hotel bed Tuesday afternoon before dinner and several more after a lovely Thai dinner with an old friend and colleague and also some wine, let's be serious, it was clear that I really REALLY had a lot more work to do in the way of understanding the problem and data and experiment. This is what ten hours of research panic does to a person by the way:

I made good on my promise to pick up sushi after my talk and I bought so much food that they gave me two pairs of chopsticks and then went back to the hotel and gorged myself while sitting criss-cross on my bed in front of the TV. Also I spilled soy sauce all the hell over the place.

And then I took a thirty minute shower and used an obscene amount of the wonderful Aveda shampoo and conditioner the hotel provided just because I could. And after all of that it was only nine o'clock so I went to bed. GLORIOUS.

BUT IT WAS SO GOOD TO GET HOME THE NEXT DAY LET ME TELL YOU. Even the endless supply of Aveda haircare products couldn't compare to the way Mary's entire body shook with joy when I walked through the door or the way the boys tackled me in the foyer. Mary didn't let me put her down for over an hour. James kept looking at me and laughing then running over to kiss me. It was GOOD, you guys.

Other tidbits:

Wes started soccer! He SMILED for LITERALLY the entire game today. Wes LOVES SOCCER. He might still be wearing his shin guards tonight while he is sleeping. Also today, Charley had a pinewood derby car race for Scouts. Both things happened at the same time, so Ryan went to the race and I did soccer.

James has taken an interest in cooking ever since we gave him a kid-proof knife for Christmas. He and I made tortilla soup last weekend. You'll be happy to know that I cut the onion without further dismembering myself.

Finally, THIS IS HAPPENING. The final, last, for sure last, baby ever to live in this house is starting to WALK. She is still rather unsure of herself and will only walk about five steps in a row under extreme duress, but she can stand in one place for MINUTES at a time. I cannot help but mentally extrapolate this development several years down the line to a day when we are done with diapers and sippy cups and reading stories at night and long afternoons playing in the front yard and NOPE, this line of thinking is why we have Mary in the first place. So I am just enjoying it and thinking about what a cool kid she is turning into. Tonight at dinner we all raised our glasses for a toast to Charley's successful nursing home piano recital and she picked up her plastic cup and joined right in. She loves dipping her food in things, which she learned the night we had French dip sliders for dinner (tonight she kept trying to dip her quesadilla in the salsa, which was far too spicy for her, so I made an offhand suggestion that she dip it into her beans instead AND SHE DID IT because she KNOWS WHAT WE ARE SAYING. TRIPPY.


Babies like Mexican food.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Mind the Flap

I have an hour until my presentation and I am here in an attempt to stop myself from having a full-on panic attack about it. The data are not looking as good as I had hoped and I don't have a chalkboard to help me explain anything better, but HEY! The thumb flap turned from white back to normal thumb color so HURRAY! I will not be permanently disfigured!

What else... let's see... OH! The first night I was here I was having dinner with my workshop people and having a very nice professional conversation like a grown up when someone said something I wanted to remember and I got out my phone to jot it down. Only when I turned it on I had a text from Ryan: "Wes 103.1."


By the time the entrees arrived Ryan had orchestrated a nurse phone consultation and urgent care visit for the next morning and I had arranged for my mom to come watch the other kids. I did this all under the table while pretending to participate. Special.

THEN, just as I was turning off my computer for the night, I had an email from Ryan showing Wes with a hugely swollen neck. HE LOOKED LIKE A BOXER. Apparently the doctor had seen the neck swelling and told Ryan it was NBD. But seriously. Ryan barely talked me down from getting the first flight home. BARELY.

I've been spending my nights and all afternoon yesterday putting the finishing touches on this freaking project, taking breaks to have fun dinners with old friends/colleagues that I know, where I can't escape talking about rain and radar and return periods and LALALALA. I have not taken advantage of the cable in the hotel yet, but tonight is the night for that. I have big plans to walk straight from the meeting room where I'm about to be publicly humiliated, go straight to this sushi restaurant I found, get a BIG bag of takeout, then head for the hotel to order some wine from room service, then curl up with a Law and Order marathon and my textbook for this semester.

This plan is the only thing keeping me from vomiting on my shoes right now.

Did I mention I'm going home into AN ICE STORM? Should be neat.

Oh and I nearly crashed into Reference 1-4 from my talk this afternoon as I came out of the ladies' room. REALLY hoping he was on his way to the bar and not to my talk. And speaking of ladies' room, do you have any idea how hard it is to button up suit pants with one thumb while your shirt, suit jacket, and name badge are in the way? Why does everything have to be so hard??

Saturday, January 3, 2015

News from the desert (not the dessert, sadly)

Let's see, where were we?

I will tell you about our great Christmas later, but right now I am in Phoenix ALONE for a conference.  THE conference that has been stressing me out like nobody's business for the last couple of months.  And no the project is not completely done, but it is close enough and I have until Wednesday afternoon before I have to present SO STOP BUGGING ME ABOUT IT.  Kidding.

The reason it is not more done than it is is because our entire family has been felled by what I like to call The Plague.  It started with me.  I was struck down while we were out of town visiting Ryan's family.  What started out as "bad allergies" quickly morphed into "uh oh."  And I spent the next two days in bed in our hotel room debating whether I had the energy to walk the two-hundred yards to the adjacent grocery store for a cup of soup (answer: nope).

I started to feel marginally better around the time we left to come home, but missed a really fun visit.  Meanwhile, Wes came down with a giant fever of doom the night before we left to go home.  I knew when I saw him asleep in the fetal position on the living room floor at five o'clock that something was amiss and sure enough, he had a big fever.  James is sick too.  The night we got back he was up until midnight screaming with ear pain.  HAPPY HOLIDAYS.

And then on New Year's day I nearly cut the tip of my thumb off while slicing an onion for some chili I was throwing together for dinner. Ryan was upstairs vaccumming and because I lost my brain and ambulatory abilities in addition to a bunch of skin on my thumb, I stood in the kitchen yelling stupidly for James to "GO GET PAPA! GO GET PAPA! GO GET PAPA!" while I held a dubiously clean dishtowel to my bleeding thumb. Ryan finally heard all the commotion and came running downstairs. He got everyone in the car, dropped me off at urgent care, picked up a pizza, went home to feed the kids, SLICED UP THE REST OF THE ONION AND PUT IT IN THE FRIDGE, then came to pick me up after they stitched me back together and gave me a tetanus shot. It was a great moment, you guys. The best part is that I get to walk around all week with a piece of string sticking out of my thumb and firm instructions to "Don't bump it, don't catch it on things, don't get it too wet or the FLAP WILL DIE." GAG GAG GAG. Yesterday, I followed those instructions TO THE FREAKING letter as I managed multiple in/out of the car trips with associated buckling/unbuckling/carrying/lifting, several loads of laundry, and yes I finished the chili. Things aren't looking too good for the flap. THUMBS UP!

Today we got up early and everyone took me to the airport for my flight. Instead of working in the gate area I breathed through my nose and tried not to ugly cry TOO much. I do not like leaving by myself, contrary to what you might expect. And Wes was still sick. And Charley was visibly crushed that I was leaving. And they start school on Tuesday. And I am terrified about All The Professional Things which will be required of me in the next few days. It was haaaaard, you guys. But then I called after we boarded and everyone was having a lovely time playing xBox at an electronics store. I think they'll be alright.

My flight was fine, well, it was fine once I got my carry on in the overhead bin, which required removing a giant fistful of my incredibly sexy Hanes cotton underwear and a hot pink sports bra from the outside pocket of my suitcase and cramming it into my backpack in full view of the back half of the plane. It took a couple of tries to get the bra completely tucked away because I had to be careful of my thumb flap. You definitely want to travel with me.

After we landed I took a very easy light rail train trip to get to my hotel because it was only $2 instead of the $25 cab ride and I figured had a similar record in the abduction/murder department (which is to say, LOW RISK unless you watch too much Dateline like I do and then you will know that Phoenix is near the desert, which is where ALLLLLL the bodies end up). Thanks to a friendly law student with blue hair that I befriended at the ticket kiosk, I got off the train about ten feet from the door of my hotel. WIN. And then I found the CVS for my forgotten dental care items and a Chipotle for my lunch and took a really amazing shower and now ALL IS WELL. Except now I have to work. Like a lot. And not go ice skating at the place I found down the street. Or watch HGTV all afternoon. Being a grown up is kind of the pits.