Tuesday, February 26, 2013

How to Win at Tuesday

Busy morning here.  Tuesdays are usually long and awful for some reason.  I don't teach, the kids don't have school, our day unfolds into a shapeless void of endless free time, we all get sick of each other and start bickering and then someone calls Ryan and tearfully demands Chinese food for dinner.  I should really keep James away from the phone.

So today I decided to get out ahead of it and pack our pre-nap morning with fun activities for the whole family!  Since our (my) favorite breakfast place serves kids for free on Tuesdays, that was our first stop.  I haven't taken two kids out to a restaurant with waiters by myself in quite some time.  This is mostly because James is, how should I put this--unpredictable?  Moody?  Insane?--when asked to sit at a table for any length of time.  Except at preschool.  I have glowing reports about his behavior and generally cheerful disposition from his teachers that I have yet to see demonstrated in my own home.  But that is neither here nor there.  Free chocolate chip pancakes and heaping piles of migas were calling our names.

Breakfast turned out to be quite pleasant, mostly because they gave us a huge six-person booth in the corner which allowed for much more climbing shenanigans than I usually allow.  Once the pancakes came we were in good shape and everyone had a nice time.  Especially Wes, who I realized, far later than I should have, was eating his syrup- and butter-soaked pancake with his hands then wiping them on his pants after every bite.  His pants were/are covered in sticky, greasy blotches.  It is BAD you guys.  I gently suggested maybe we should skip the next thing then go home for new pants and go to the Y, but Wes was adamant about storytime, so we went.

Like this:

Wes was the KING of storytime.  He knew all the hand motions, all the songs, loved the parts where he was supposed to get up and WIGGLEWIGGLEWIGGLEWIGGLEWIGGLE!!!!  OMG SO MUCH FREAKING FUN!!!  It was kind of trippy, actually, because it was the same librarian who did storytime five years ago when I used to take Charlie the Only Child who got to leave the house once in a while.  James alternated between lying face down on the floor sobbing softly and sitting in my lap scowling at the other toddlers (this was toddler storytime.  Wes OWNED toddler storytime.  The actual toddler was mortified).  He'd had a massive flareup of his (non-contagious but horrible looking) Fifth's Disease rash, and between that and Wes's disgusting pants, we made quite the trio.  I tried to help James with the hand motions for "Where is Thumbkin" and he screamed "NO!" and glared at me scornfully.  So we probably won't do that again.  Unless Wes wants to go, which he probably will.  If you have the right attitude pissing James off can be kind of amusing.

The Morning-O-Endless-Fun continued with a trip to the Y for playroom (them) and lap-swimming (me, see: massive pile of migas, above).  We were still rashy and greasy by this point, but once you've done that in front of all the Super Moms at toddler storytime who really cares?  Plus: free childcare.  I had a great swim and the kids had a great time in their respective nursery rooms (from what I can tell) and they both fell asleep on the way home, right on schedule at 12:30.  They will probably stay asleep until it's time to go get Charlie, who will take over entertaining them when he gets home.  I WIN, TUESDAYS ARE AWESOME.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What is the reason for the appointment?

Some sarcastic answers I've considered providing when asked by the scheduler the reason I am making a sick appointment for my kid:

*His nose and eyes been running for two weeks and Tuesdays are kind of slow, so I figured what the hell?

*I'd like the children to contract the flu now so they don't have it on our vacation in March.

*I haven't spoken with an adult in two days.  How have you been?

*It's cold and raining and for our $15 copay we can watch movies in the waiting room as long as we want.  Way cheaper than the movies.  Also: wifi.

*I need an excuse to visit the Dunkin Donuts next door.

*One or more of the children have had a fever somewhere between warm to the touch and 103.5 recurrently for the last three to five days.  I cannot remember the details so I have chosen the sickest-looking child and will treat everyone according to the doctor's recommendations.

*I need blog material and locking myself in an eight by eight room with three small children never fails to stir up my creative juices.

*My older son needs five tongue depressors for a school project.

*Yes, please, I'd like one large with pepperoni and one veggie lovers for carryout...Oh, sorry, my mistake.

*There are fluids.  That is all you need to know.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Saturday was the day we set aside to replace the ugly fluorescent light in our kitchen that had recently started to fill the whole house with a terrible burning electronic smell every time we turned it on. I got lots of mileage out of this situation on Facebook, what with the cooking in the dark (I'm LITERALLY the Pioneer Woman!) and the toxic burning plastic smell (Mercury fumes, y'all, I cannot be responsible for anything I say on here). We had the switched taped in the off position so the kids wouldn't forget to leave it off. And we all jumped on Charlie Valentine's morning when he got excited about all the balloons and turned it on by accident; even though it was only on for a few seconds, the burning smell lingered into the afternoon. Ahh, home ownership, isn't it the best?

So Saturday we lazed around for a little while, cooked some eggs in the dark, then trundled everyone off to Home Depot to buy some recessed lighting for Ryan to install.

There is always a lot of fooling around at Home Depot. Also a lot of inspiration for projects unrelated to the one we went in for. I don't think I can sleep at night until we replace our downstairs bathroom vanity, for instance. Or our carpet.


When we got home, Ryan turned on the broken light and went out in the garage to try and find the right circuit breaker to turn it off. I stood underneath it listening to the clicks and saying "Still on! Still on! Still on! Still on!" This went on for several minutes before gray smoke began pouring out of the light. "TURN IT OFF TURN IT OFF TURN IT OFF TURN IT OFF SMOKE SMOKE SMOKE SMOKE SMOKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" I shrieked, before nearly killing myself lunging for the wall switch in the kitchen. The light stopped smoking, but the whole house went dark as Ryan frantically tried all the breakers to find the right one.

Eventually, he figured it out and he came back in. As it turns out, it is good we were not using the light since it first started making the smell. You know how many times we've looked at each other and said "I am so glad that happened while we were both at home!" A lot of times. A whole lot of times.


Because, as Ryan the electrical engineer says, it definitely could have caught the ceiling on fire. And then the rest of the house. Because heaven knows I'd be too busy shoving the kids out the back door then running upstairs for the lovey's to even think about grabbing a fire extinguisher. Or turning off the wall switch, which also would have made the fire go out. Which would have been kind of an embarrassing mistake.

So after we stood together for a few minutes in the kitchen, silently considering what might have happened, Ryan measured out the light placement and started sawing some holes in our ceiling. I like to call that part "No turning back now." He assures me that even though the holes were large, there are no animals in the ceiling that would crawl through them and land on my head. So that's good.

Towards the end, Ryan and Charlie used our pipe snake to run the wires from the switch to the four lights.


When they were not "helping" with the project, Charlie and Wes were complaining that the TV wouldn't work, the XBox wouldn't work, and Angry Birds wouldn't work. I suggested they go outside and be grateful that the old light didn't burn up the kitchen while we were dropping them off at school.

Soon, it was time for the big moment. Ryan called everyone in from the back yard and turned the lights on. They are beautiful. Even James thinks so (this is the beautiful, bright after picture. For the before picture picture a black rectangle with a stove in the middle of it, that was my kitchen). After a couple of hearty "WOW!"s and "AWESOME!"s Charlie asked excitedly, "Does this mean the XBox will work again?" and he and Wes ran off to play Taz. Then we went out for dinner and to buy some last crucial parts to finish the job. After bedtime Ryan put the finishing touches on the lights and I wiped drywall dust off every surface imaginable and washed the sinkful of dishes it was so easy to ignore when we couldn't see it in the dark.


I think I've just about gotten all the scum stuck to everything that I couldn't see for two weeks because of the light issue, but otherwise I am very happy with the new setup. Even if it does make our linolium floors especially gross and in need of replacing.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Next time coffee first

The alarm went off this morning and Ryan pushed snooze.

And then it went off again and he hit snooze again. I wrapped the covers tighter around me and said "Charlie was coughing a lot last night and he seemed really miserable yesterday afternoon. Let's keep him home today."

Ryan said "OK, sounds good" and then turned off the alarm.

Two seconds later a door creaked and the kid we presumed was too sick for school, thereby giving us an extra twenty minutes of sleep, came bouncing into the room, chipper as can be. No hint of a cough. Not even a sniffle.

"I dreamed that I was Peter Rabbit and I had a huge net and I CAUGHT Mr. and Mrs. MacGregor in the net!!" He chuckled to himself, then added "I had the COOLEST dreams last night" has he trotted off to the bathroom.

Ryan said "I think he's OK. Let's send him to school."

Doing the right thing sucks when it's cold and dark outside.

Especially when starting your morning routine ten minutes later than normal somehow throws the whole universe out of alignment. And makes you thirty minutes late for everything else (Not elementary school dropoff, though, made that with four minutes to spare). And you have to go there in a dirty pair of jeans and a sweatshirt because there is no time for a shower when you have to spend half an hour arguing with the two year old about whether we can open the fifth can of PlayDoh or not. And why you cannot eat your packed school lunch for breakfast. And why you have to take your jammies off (It is surprising how well a barely-verbal child can argue). And THEN you have to clean up the kitchen from last night's dinner (because everyone fell asleep watching a movie) before you can even reach the coffeemaker. And then you realize you have to leave in five minutes and no one is wearing shoes and the four year old is staring slackjawed at the TV in a pair of footie pajamas.

Not sure what the moral here is. Let your kid skip school over "the sniffles"? Clear a path to the coffeemaker before going to bed? Only eat take out?

Monday, February 11, 2013


I had another meeting via Skype today, this time the purpose was for someone to walk me through the process of downloading data from the NCDC onto the server at my old school and then using UNIX commands in some acronym acronym acronym command line thing to get those files on my computer where I could use them to do something useful.  It was extremely helpful and informative and I am miles ahead of where I was an hour ago which was opening a DOS prompt on my PC and typing in the commands they told me to use and then giving up and browsing recipes on the Food Network website.

Couple of things. One: I am going to love being a part of a research group where it's totally cool if your dog sits in your lap and is visible through the entire meeting.

Two: This is my Skype face. Be jealous.


That, my friends, is a look of concentration. Also my UNIX face. Also my "You did what to the sink upstairs?" face. Also my, wow, this shirt is actually quite conservative but it really looks like I'm rocking the J-Lo deep V here face. Scarf next time?

Third thing, these are my (some of my) (barely comprehensible) notes. Ooh, look how technical and complicated, right?


Well, during breaks in the call when the other person had to fix things on their end, I did a little multitasking. This is the other side of the same page.


Worlds! Colliding!

Most productive preschool morning EVAR.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Special Family Dinner

5:30: We all sit down for the delicious fajita dinner Ryan made.

5:31:  I have just finished putting pico on my fajita when Wes shrieks "MORE MILK PLEASE!"  I sigh, put down my dinner, and go to the fridge for milk, wishing I'd made the cutoff one glass of milk instead of two so he would be up getting water right now by himself and I would be eating.

5:35:  James, please lower your voice.

5:37:  "MORE MILK PLEASE!"  Charlie this time.  I ask him to please go get the jug out of the fridge and use two hands this time.  He slides it off the shelf with one hand and as it falls, it swings him around in a complete circle after which he artfully steadies the jug with the other hand.  He gives me a bemused smirk.  I pour the freaking milk.  "OK guys, you've each had one refill.  Water from now on!"

5:40  "Wes that's enough sour cream.  Wes.  Wes.  Wes.  That's enough."  There's a mound the size of a racquetball perched on top of his rice.  "Give it to me, please.  Give it to me.  Now."  I rip the sour cream from his hands.  He sniffs angrily.

5:42:  "Muh MILK Muh MILK Muh MILK Muh MILK!"  Slam slam slam goes James's cup on the table.  Ryan makes him say please then pours him another glass.

5:43:  "Boys, stop touching each other and eat."

5:44:  "Please stop touching each other and eat."  Now they are full-on wrestling while still seated at the bench.

5:45:  "MAAAAHHHHH!!!  MAAAAAHHHHH!!!  TANK YOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" screams James as he flings a handful of fajita to the floor for Rossby .  I meet Ryan's eyes at the other end of the table.  "When people's kids go to college and they complain about the house being too quiet...?"  He just laughs and looks tired.  That's a long way away.

5:46:  "KNOCK IT OFF!"  Charlie has Wes by the wrist and is making Wes smack himself in the head over and over.  Cannot hide my amusement.

5:47:  "STOP TOUCHING EACH--" stand up and physically remove Wes from the bench, put him in my seat, join Charlie on the bench.

"James, please lower your voice.  I know you are finished with your dinner but we're all going to stay here together for a few minutes."  He throws his fork on the floor and pouts.  Then resumes yelling nonsense, which causes Charlie to lose his train of thought mid-sentence, which causes him to become frustrated and slam his fajita back onto his plate where he begins eating with his face like a dog.

5:49:  "Charlie, use your fork.  Use your fork.  Fork!  Thank you.  Wes, you have had enough sour cream, stop it!"

5:50:  James throws up.  No one bats an eye.  Ryan wipes him down with a dishtowel and takes off his shirt.

5:55:  "Charlie!  FORK!"  He looks at me smiling with a mangled piece of sour cream crusted tortilla hanging out of his mouth.  I stand up and say "OK, I'll clear the table.  JAMMIES.  NOW.  BOTH OF YOU."  They scramble upstairs.

6:00:  They are definitely not in the shower.  They are definitely jumping on my bed.  "IF YOU GUYS ARE JUMPING ON MY BED YOU EACH LOSE ONE STORY!" I call up the stairs, just like SuperNanny Jo Frost would advise.

6:05:  They are still jumping on the bed.  I run up the stairs both guns blazing to find them jumping on top of a pile of clean, folded laundry.

6:05:30:  Count to a million.

6:07:  "ONE.  STORY.  GONE!  JAMMIES.  NOW!!"  I have turned into a caveman.  Articles and verbs are for people with two daughters.

6:10:  "Here are some jammies " (that I retrieved from the dining room table) " put them on please.  Right now."

6:12:  "OK!  Now you just need the pants!"

6:14:  "Wes!  Jammies!  Put that game down or it's mine tomorrow."

6:15:  "Give me the game.  Give it to me right now and put on your jammies."  I wrench it from his grasp then shoo him in the direction of the bathroom where I stuff him into his jammies against his will.

6:20:  "Teeth.  Brush.  Keep brushing.  Stop spitting you're not done yet.  Brush.  I can't hear the noise!  Gotta get those germs!  Keep brushing!  Brush-a brush-a brush-a!"

6:25:  Argument between Wes and me about who reads stories, me or Charlie.  I let Charlie do it.  They both snuggle into my lap and Charlie reads a long, LONG story from the original Curious George.  Wow, these guys are pretty cool, I think, and pull them a little closer.

6:50:  Lights out.  But don't tell them what time it was.  Have not heard a peep!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Panic time

When I last posted I was in the middle of a DEFCON 4 Household Meltdown. We had: a vomiting child! A flat tire! A smoldering kitchen light that threatened to fill our house with toxic mercury fumes. It was--overwhelming. Add in the lecture I was supposed to deliver for a friend's class via Skype Wednesday afternoon and I was a bit tense, as you might imagine.

I responded to that tension by baking cookies and joining the children on the couch for the PBS Kids Marathon we had going on for the first part of the week. It's been a while since any of us has watched Barney. It still sucks.

Thankfully, our babysitter read my increasingly panicked Facebook updates on Monday morning and offered to come over on Tuesday to watch everyone for a few hours so I could work. YES YES AND MORE YES I REALLY HOPE YOU WEREN'T JUST BEING POLITE.

And then Charlie started complaining that "it felt weird to breathe" periodically and when I nonchalantly mentioned this and his other symptoms to the phone nurse she quickly, and with more alarm in her voice than I think the situation warranted, scheduled an appointment for him Tuesday afternoon. This was good because I already had a sitter and wouldn't have to repeat Charlie's hellatious dermatologist appointment last week where the younger boys' behavior was so horrible I can't even begin to think of how I would turn it into something funny and endearing. This was bad because I HAD SO MUCH WORK TO DO.

So, I squeezed in an hour of prep sitting on my bed with Charlie's pitiful, sweaty head in my lap and the TV on, Wes playing Angry Birds at my feet, James napping, mercifully, before Charlie's appointment. Then I drove Charlie to the doctor where he experienced a miraculous recovery and acted perfectly healthy for the whole exam.

The next morning after dropping everyone off at school (HOORAH!) I opened up my laptop to put the finishing touches on my slides and noticed it was almost out of power. So I found the adapter and plugged everything in and continued working.

And then I looked down and realized it wasn't charging.

Crap. I unplugged everything and plugged it back in. Nothing.

I unplugged it, took the battery out, put it back in, and turned it on. Nothing. No battery. No charging. TWENTY FREAKING MINUTES TO DEAD COMPUTER TIME.

I called Ryan and started crying. It was highly professional. He walked me through some troubleshooting steps. They did not help. He asked me to plug it into a different outlet in the house. I did that and it did not help. Panic was rising in the back of my throat. Finally I asked him to Google the number for my school's library (BECAUSE MY COMPUTER NOW HAD 15 MINUTES TO LIVE) so I could ask them about another computer equipped with a webcam and Skype that I could use in three hours. There was nothing. I called IT. They had no idea.

So I called my dad. He had a computer with Skype! He could bring it over! The day is SAVED! I emailed him my presentation so he could make sure his computer had Powerpoint and he told me he'd be here soon.

Well, he arrived while I was away getting Wes and James from the preschool. When I got home The IT Department had come to my bedroom. Ryan and my dad were surrounded by about five different computers when I got there and NONE OF THEM WOULD WORK.

My dad's computer wouldn't connect to the wifi, the desktop doesn't have a wifi card, my stupid busted hate hate hate computer which has both Skype AND a webcam as well as all my materials on its hard drive had FIVE MINUTES TO LIVE.

They typed and tried and downloaded and monkeyed around for fifteen minutes while I stalked around the room muttering about my computer like a caged tiger with Tourrette's. I asked cautiously "Is it time for me to call and say I can't do it?" afraid of the answer. Ryan was downloading Skype on his work computer as fast as he could. My dad responded "Almost!" The panic began to take over. I forced myself to say "This is such a pain, I sure hope it can be fixed" instead of "I want to throw that piece of shit out the window" because the kids were in the room with us and I didn't want them to *actually* throw the piece of shit (or any piece of shit) out the window. There was still a chance I could sell it on Craigslist as a paperweight.

Lots of people, lots of computers, lots of tension in my bedroom; it was like Mission Control, except angrier and more ridiculous. I mean, who do you have to piss off to have every computer thing in your life go bad half an hour before an important Skype lecture THAT I WAS GETTING PAID FOR.

Finally, with minutes to spare, my dad plugged his computer's power cord into my computer and turned it on and IT WORKED. I could not believe it.

The call itself went fine even though my systolic blood pressure was still somewhere in the 200s and the slides were still in the state I left them in Tuesday night at midnight when I was falling asleep on my keyboard (which is to say: not good). It was hard and intimidating, but fine. I even managed to maintain my focus (mostly) when I could hear the thump thump thump of the kids playing basketball outside my window or the clomp clomp clomp of big feet running through the kitchen to get water. The other professor described it a great presentation and exactly what she had hoped I would talk about.

Ryan ordered me a new power cord. It should be here tomorrow night. I'm too tired to think up something satisfying to do to the old one (revenge) so I'll probably just throw it away.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Just enough sleep deprivation to make this seem possible

S%$#'s hitting the fan with regards to my schedule this morning, friends.

Last night's cozy family Superbowl party turned into Vomitfest 2013 when Charlie's "my tummy feels funny" turned into something much much worse. Watched the Superbowl snuggled up on the couch with him, an episode of "Pingu" playing on my laptop for distraction. He finally fell asleep for a couple of hours only to be up and at it again around 10:45, about fifteen minutes after I'd gone to bed. I finally called Ryan home from work at 1:00 (cuh-razy project finishing up right now) when he had thrown up six times and I was worried we were headed to the emergency room. Ryan called the nurse and she said to wait it out overnight and though he was sick several more times, he is sleeping now and I think we are through the worst of it.

So he's home today. Wes and James are ALSO home today because of a random preschool holiday which I wasn't exactly expecting despite it being printed there in black and white on the school calendar which I keep close at hand beneath a pile of junk mail and kid art projects on the kitchen counter.

So everyone is home today! Yay long weekend! Yay, Charlie is feeling better!

Except I had kind of planned on having this morning to get the bulk of the planning done for a webinar I have to do on Wednesday on the effect of burning coal on the atmosphere for a group of environmental studies students in North Carolina (a history seminar about coal and Appalachia that a friend teaches). I've been looking forward to this for a while, but the timing (three kids home! Up all night! Ryan extremely swamped at work!) is going to be tough.

Bring on the coffee! Videos! Naps! XBox! Babysitters who are willing to expose themselves to Doom Virus 2013!

UPDATE: The horrible smell in the kitchen I thought was coming from the compost bowl was ACTUALLY COMING FROM OUR UGLY FLUORESCENT LIGHT! WHICH IS MELTING DOWN AND ACCORDING TO THE INTERNET, LEAKING BAD THINGS! Super duper. I predict a drive through in my future. Though, Ryan (a.k.a the facilities department) has removed the light and isolated it in the garage, so it is probably safe to use the kitchen again for things besides coffee and leftover King Cake.

UPDATE UPDATE: Ryan tried to leave for work and has a flat tire. I'm off to cover myself with sackcloth and ashes because apparently the end is near.