Monday, April 30, 2018

Tomorrow we only have two commitments after school

My schedule of the last week could be best described as an ONSLAUGHT. While this is not officially an advertisement for Google Calendar and all of its wonderful features like the way you can SHARE IT WITH YOUR SPOUSE and INSTANTLY SYNC IT UP ON BOTH OF YOUR PHONES is officially the reason I am still standing here able to function and have not dropped any of the numerous balls (unless you count laundry and personal hygiene among the balls) (yet) (can anyone else not say "balls" without looking behind them to see if an eleven year old is giggling? Just me?).

Saturday we had commitments at 8:00, 10:00, 2:15, 3:00, 4:00, and 7:00. I went to a rowing clinic at 8, then met Ryan and the kids at a birthday party on the way home. Ryan arrived with four fresh-looking kids who had enjoyed a breakfast of scrambled eggs before heading to the store to buy presents for all the birthday parties. He is THE MAN. Then, we went home for lunch and mandatory relaxation before parting ways so I could handle the 2:15 Pump it Up event with James and Mary while Ryan manned the 3:00 and 4:00 piano studies spring pool parties. We met up once again at 5:00 to pick Charley up and go out to dinner before James's guitar recital, which started at 7:00. Got all that?

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Mandatory relaxation included farm chores, like using a water gun to water the garden.

The internet found us an affordable brewpub near the recital hall with outdoor seating, patio games, live music, and a kids' menu. We all ate for THIRTY FIVE DOLLARS and NOTHING HAD TO BE TAKEN OUT OF A PAPER BAG.

Also provided, photo ops.

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James: "I'm worried about everything, Mom. Like, everything." He did an amazing job playing "La Folia" and "Sonatina on a Confection" (Hot Cross Buns).

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Sunday after church we bribed all the kids with a trip to the candy store and managed to knock like three niggling items off my to-do list. We even had time to linger on the back patio of the candy store (!!) for half an hour and now that I know I can spend ten bucks on penny candy (them) and chocolate haystacks (me) and hang out playing games for two hours all my summer angst is GONE. Mary was looking so sweet sitting on this bench so I asked to take her picture and she did this.

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And then Charley and I went out on a boat with his youth group. I tried to deliberately hang back and let him find his own way, which he did, making a couple of friends and hanging out with them, dancing along to all the funny youth group songs that he inexplicably knew the hand motions to, and being among the first off the water slide into the sixty-seven degree water. But that didn't stop him from coming to find me for a hug once or twice. Talk amongst yourselves.

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And that brings us to today. This morning I had rowing at 5:45, an ARD meeting at school at 8:15, an orthopedist visit for Wes at 10:00, and therapy for Wes at 12:00. I just finished teaching my class, which began at 2:00, and tonight we have piano for Charley and Wes starting at 4:30, guitar for James starting at 4:45, my Girl Guitar class, which starts at 7:00 on the other side of town, and a Boy Scout meeting that starts at 7:00 near our house. This is being accomplished via a careful plan involving crockpots and carpools and some lofty expectations for everyone's behavior.

But the good news is that WES IS DONE WITH CASTS!

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Apparently those lines indicate a strong place where the bones have healed and not perforations, which is what they look like to me. #bubblewrapmybaby

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Before our appointment we encountered another family with a broken arm in the Starbucks next to the medical office building and Wes struck up a conversation about casts. This kid still had the split cast all the way up his arm. Wes told him all about what to expect. I talked to the mom about sealed casts and giant foam blocks and growth plates (I suppose this is the big kid version of talking about sleep and feeding schedules and pacifiers).

Later we exchanged tired smiles as we passed them in the waiting room, Wes in his new splint, them waiting to have their cast sealed. The mom sighed when she looked at Wes's sleek new splint and said "You guys have already done your time!"

It doesn't take much to bring back the pit of the stomach feeling I had when I looked at Wes's first xrays. It's amazing how fast the cast became a non-issue. And now we are both going to miss it. Wes asked the nurse, the PA, and the orthopedist all if he could have another cast, since he will be doing swim team starting next week and doesn't want to mix it up in the pool with a bunch of other kids and no cast (A REFRESHINGLY SENSIBLE POSITION FROM THE SEAN WHITE OF THE MONKEY BARS). The doctor insisted he would be fine with no cast and suggested he buy a brace at CVS to wear in the water (in addition to the other brace from the office that he has to wear for six more weeks).

In closing, I leave you with this picture, in which I discovered that James takes off his right shoe every time he goes upstairs. Very curious.

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Mommy Meltdown: An Examination

I awakened from a (finally) restful night of sleep (no really!)  Sunday morning to the happy hubbub of children building a fort together (as you will remember, they lost screens until Monday after the Incident in the car on Wednesday.  Interestingly, they have been playing together creatively WAY more than normal and I am considering taking the TV away for ever, not really).  We had forty five minutes to get ready and get in the car for church; since Charley was acolyting, we would need to leave fifteen minutes early so he would have time to suit up.

Ryan got in the shower and I headed downstairs to nudge everyone into the kitchen for some breakfast and all the various medications (two kids with daily meds plus one more with an inhaler, it's like that scene in Orange is the New Black were everyone lines up at the med cage).  I was feeling rested and the children were happy and calm.

I hugged each of them hello and inquired after their dreams.  We discussed the fun events of the weekend and what we were looking forward to the rest of the day.

I tell you all of this to set the tranquil domestic scene which existed at the beginning.  And also my cheerful, content mood.  This will provide needed contrast to what came later.

I think it's important to evaluate things this way--did I start out bitchy or did the bitchy develop as a reasonable reaction to recalcitrant and inconsiderate children?

Things began to unravel when I imposed the completely unreasonable expectation that everyone eat breakfast and put on clothing.  They milled around me in anxious circles as I made coffee and slapped together a few PB&Js.  I had to remind each of them approximately six million times to sit at the table and eat instead of orbiting the kitchen island talking to me and gesturing with their sandwich.

If there is anything that makes me tense, it is restless children in the kitchen and having to remind people of things.  Especially first thing in the morning.  The worst.

Blood pressure beginning to rise, I noted that it was 8:20, which meant we had 25 minutes remaining.  I herded everyone up the stairs to change into clothes.  They were SUPER SILLY and slow on the stairs and I was officially OVER IT.

On the way upstairs I nudged the giant lug of a preteen out of bed and told him he had twenty minutes to dress himself and eat something because we were going to church early so he could acolyte (which to him is a treat).

Upstairs I sat on the couch with my coffee and provided air traffic control in the form of reminding kids about every single article of clothing they needed to put on.

"Good, OK, shirt next!"

"OK, one shoe is on, where is the other one?" .... "Well FIND IT!"

"Undies.  Always.  You always wear undies.  Even with long pants."

"Shirt.  Shirt.  Shirt."

"That shirt is dirty."

"Pants.  Find some pants, please.  Any pants.  PAAAANNNNTS"

At 8:30, Ryan wandered out of the bedroom, freshly showered and dressed.  At last it was my turn to get ready to go.  I had fifteen minutes, so I skipped a shower and hair brushing and focused on choosing a dress and shoes and brushing my teeth.

About halfway through this process I got SUPER IRRITATED that I wasn't going to get a shower and perhaps irrationally this turned into white hot rage.

I don't even like showering every day.  I had showered during the late afternoon on Saturday.

It was the principle of the thing.

Dressed, but feeling grungy, I walked out of the bedroom.  We had ten minutes before we had to leave and the kids were still milling around half-dressed.

In retrospect I should have just called it then and there, put on a movie, and taken Charley to church alone.

Instead I got really huffy and took my irritation out on Ryan and the kids and stomped down the stairs.  Stomping down the stairs in a pair of nude patent leather ballet flats is not terribly impressive as a show of annoyance.

At 8:40, with five minutes to go before we had to leave, I walked into the kitchen to find Charley SITTING AT THE TABLE IN A PAIR OF BOXERS CASUALLY DRINKING A CUP OF TEA.

KA. BOOM.

It's amazing how fast kids can move when you use that scary shrieky voice.

We were all in the car and dressed in five minutes' time.

I wonder if I should just start with the shrieky voice next time.


They redeemed themselves with cute sprinkler play that afternoon.

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And yes, later in the day I got my shower and took extra time to shave my legs and blow my hair out.  Wanted to look my best for the Pump it Up party I was attending that afternoon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Holy testosterone, Batman

Yesterday was like a magical fairy tale of a day the likes of which we have not seen in at least several months.  Today was like that too, except the opposite.

Yesterday Ryan texted to tell me that after he picked the kids up from school, he planned to take them to the pool.  Would I like him to pack a picnic and a couple of beers so we could make a night of it?  The answer to that question is always yes, so I eagerly jettisoned the work I was doing and jumped in the car.  I did not get in because it was like swimming around in a recently melted popsicle, but the kids had a blast.  We spent a pleasant ninety minutes there and then wrapped our shivering little bundles into towels and walked home.

Everyone got ready for bed cheerfully and we read books together.  Wes and James wrestled good-naturedly on the floor for a few minutes.

It was a weird unicorn of a night where you have to tear yourself away at actual bedtime because you are having so much fun.

Tonight the kids rushed at me to tattle the shit out of each other before I could even put my bag down.  They all had so many grievances it was impossible to tell who was at fault or if this giant three way fight just erupted spontaneously in the EIGHT MINUTE ride home from school.

There was hitting and scratching and punching and one kid told me another kid "shook him vigorously."

I finally sharply told them to knock it off long enough for our nanny to tell me about it.

She used polite terms, but I could see the truth in her eyes.

After she was safely out of earshot I let them HAVE it.

Them beating each other in the car has been a problem for YEARS.  We have tried EVERYTHING and I am DONE.  We have no good options--waiting for them to mature, making them walk three miles along the highway to school, taking video and becoming overnight superstars on Youtube.

I power ate my dinner (hot dogs and mac and cheese, which she made, plus a bag of chocolate eggs and kind of a lot of potato chips) then went outside where Ryan had just arrived home.

We decided to keep them home from choir, which they love, because they have shown us they are not capable of riding in the car.

It KILLED me to do it, because they have their final performance in a month and they love choir, but OMG.

As part of their punishment, I had them each compose an email to their director.  Charley's said "I lost car privileges because I was being an ass----" before I made him change it.

And then we put them to bed at 6:30.*  You don't have to sleep, but you have to lie down and be quiet.

*James went to bed earlier for OUTRAGEOUS rudeness to Ryan while he was practicing his guitar on not the first but the first AND THE SECOND chances we gave him.  Then he slammed his door so many times I was literally considering how hard it would be to take it off the hinges.

Tomorrow is another day.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Nothing to See Here!!!!!

I was on my way out of my Friday afternoon class when I encountered a work friend in the hallway with some students.  They were all eating those ice cream pops where there is ice cream in the middle and a hard chocolate shell around the outside.

"Ooh, your meetings have ice cream!" I said.  So they offered me one, which I gladly accepted.

I couldn't possibly wait the five minutes it took to cross the street, walk across the building, and get to the privacy of my office, so with great difficulty I managed to shimmy the wrapper down one handed, without dropping my laptop or armload of papers.  I was walking across the street when I sank my teeth into the top of the ice cream and it did that thing where the chocolate shell fractures and starts sliding down.

It was fairly easy, though not neat or polite, to keep up with the sliding slabs of chocolate as I continued my way across the grass towards my building--I managed about as well as any toddler would, or maybe as well as a drunk toddler would--but as I rounded a corner a gust of wind blew a chunk of hair directly into my mouth, which was full of chocolate and ice cream.

Which is how it happened that I was standing outside my building with my head turned sideways trying to use my teeth and tongue to not only prevent further chocolate slippage, but also to expel a bushel of hair from my mouth when A TOUR GROUP OF PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS WALKED BY.

DOES ANYONE WANT TO TALK ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE?

I managed to wait until I was safely in my office before licking off the back of my chocolate covered hand.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Easter Hams

I hope I never forget Mary saying in her sweet little voice, "Tomorrow is Easter! The Easter Bunny will come and then we will find eggs! And then we will launch a balloon! And then we will go to Grandma and Grandpa's house for lunch!" Because how many kids spent their long Easter weekend launching weather balloons? The answer is actually kind of a lot, because I invited all the faculty to our first launch on Friday and they all brought their kids. It was SO FUN. I have been preparing for these launches all semester and it was SO GRATIFYING to see that first balloon take off.

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KIDS!

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MY KIDS!

Ready for launch!

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We launched a second balloon the following day. That one was a family effort, with Charley, Wes, and Ryan playing a major role in getting the thing off the ground (Ryan dragged the huge helium tanks outside from the workroom, which is practically HEROIC). It was super windy and the balloon kept rocking around while we inflated it, so we grabbed a bystander who was watching us with his family, threw him a pair of gloves, and asked him to help hold the balloon still. His wife helped spot us as we negotiated the balloon through two stands of crepe myrtles. We finally got the balloon out in the open and ready to launch and took a few pictures with some iconic campus buildings in the background, as you do when you are trying to continue university funding, and then we let it go.

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My research assistant told me yesterday that Wes approached her on Saturday and asked quietly "The instrument hit me in the head when the balloon took off. Do you think it's OK?"

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My other research assistant.

Charley watched the balloon for as long as he could see it.

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Mary was sad that we didn't launch on Sunday, but she was excited that the Easter Bunny came! There are no pictures of the Easter egg hunt in our house, which was great fun, because two of the children refused to dress themselves and spent the morning languidly eating Cadbury Cream Eggs in their boxer briefs. Not too shabby. Once they finally deigned to put on pants, I did manage to get them outside for the traditional Easter Front Yard Photo Shoot. Hilarity ensued.

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I suppose each of them is smiling and looking normal in at least one of those, so perhaps I can composite them?

We went to church (where the haminess continued--Charley was an acolyte and he and his friend Sara, the co-acolyte, danced down the aisle with the candle lighters, bopped around as they lit the candles, and danced in their seats. Charley smirked and blew out his candle lighter as he crossed the stage)

And then we went to my parents' house for a great brunch. The kids had a second egg hunt.

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Yummy kid hors d'oeuvres.
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Low-key goofiness.

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James and my cousin Sam got James's plane stuck in a tree and Sam and Ryan got it out with an extension ladder. My favorite part of this shot is Sam's girlfriend running for safety.

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James serenaded us all with his repertoire.

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And then on the way home we encountered a traffic jam getting into our neighborhood because apparently we had a good safe patch of bluebonnets for pictures. We are almost never near bluebonnets when everyone is clean and we actually have time, so we took advantage.

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And finally, Wes got his long cast off and was promoted to a short cast, which he got in orange because he is now a fan of the large university where we live now, rather than OUR ALMA MATER. But he can bend his elbow and take showers now, EVERYONE WINS!

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