Friday, August 22, 2014

I'm too sexy for my wrist splints

Well the good news is that I don't have some horrible exotic hand-eating disease as Google would have me believe. The bad news is that I have to wear my wrist splints full time for a while or kiss my fine motor skills goodbye.

It was a little embarrassing when the doctor asked how long it had been since I'd first noticed problems with weakness, tingling, and difficulty doing things like counting change and rolling cigarettes (kidding) and I said casually "Um, I'd say it's been about three months." I think reading and talking about ALS every time I open the internet for the last week was what finally made me call the doctor. The doctor thinks it's Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. Ryan expressed sympathy and I said "Well, if it's not going to kill me then it's not really that big of a deal." I mean, whose hands DON'T get fatigued while they're conditioning their hair? We all have crap we have to deal with.

But I'll wear the wrist braces for a while anyway because I heart sweating.

In other exciting news, Wes stayed home from school yesterday after coughing like a seal all night the night before. I took him to the doctor, who looked at his throat and did a rapid strep test and said it was the Justavirus. We sent him back to school today because no coughing! No fever! But then I was picking Ryan up for a magical special lunch ALONE and the doctor called--TURNS OUT HE DOES HAVE STREP HA HA HA! So Ryan and I picked him up early from school and took him to Freebirds with us. Being sick is awesome.

Not awesome: he has impetigo on his EAR. And James has it on his freaking TONGUE. GAAAAAAAAG GAG GAG GAG.

I can only assume that all this wonderful inside togetherness due to the weather being stupid hot is the reason we're passing strep around like a blunt at a Simon and Garfunkel concert.

Good news is that it's Friday... bad news is that I lost an entire week of work to STREP-ETIGO SUPER BACTERIA OF DOOM 2014 and also the textbook I'm using for my class is experiencing a publication delay and class starts on Monday. And Ryan leaves for a week on Sunday. So I guess I am telling you all of this to justify the bottle of shiraz I just impulse bought at the HEB.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Thirty minutes. We were at the park for thirty minutes.

James and Mary stayed home from school today because James has a super gross rash on his face and yesterday when I picked him up they said, in polite hippie tones, that I might want to get that checked out by a doctor, like PRONTO, and please don't bring him back until you do. Mary is unaffected, but taking three kids to school to drop off/pick up one kid seems like a lot of effort. We saw the doctor, it's impetigo. Do not Google this. Trust me. He's on oral and topical antibiotics and if that doesn't work we'll send him to the local leper colony until he recovers.

ANYWAY, it was pretty nice outside when I picked the kids up from school and everyone seemed like they had excess energy to burn off, so we went to a playground on the way home. I KNOW. Who do I think I am? A mother of two? I don't know if James and Mary even know that a playground is something that exists outside of school. Certainly not Mary. The one I chose has a large grassy area with a track for running next to it and a pavilion with a roof and benches for me and Mary, so I thought we could kill a couple of hours hanging out and then talk Ryan into meeting at a Mexican food place for dinner.

We'd been there for forty-five seconds when James first had to go to the bathroom. I had him go in the grass sort of off to the side in some bushes. Problem solved.

A few minutes later everyone was playing happily when James decided to jump from one of the climbing platforms, onto the mulch, barefoot. Once he did it he started screaming and limped the rest of the day. It seemed to be better right after dinner, but we'll see?

Next, another boy pushed Wes so crazy on the tire swing that Wes started sobbing and had to be held like a baby for several minutes.

I finally sat down in the shade when Mary started screaming. Poopy diaper. Rash. Misery. Fortunately, I had ONE LAST DIAPER in the car and MIRACULOUSLY, there were some wipes too. There are never wipes! Score! I got her cleaned up then returned to the bench.

And then James told me that he had to poop. RIGHT NOW!! Did I mention that there was no bathroom there? And getting in the car and driving home would have taken too long? Normally I would just slap one of Mary's diapers on him and told him to do his best to make it home, but I had just used the LAST DIAPER. I looked around. We were all alone. So I had him poop behind a tree then picked it up with a courtesy dog poo bag and threw it in the trash can. Top five of the most disgusting things I've ever done.

Three minutes later, Wes and the kid from the tire swing, whom Wes had forgiven by this point, gleefully ran down a steep embankment on their way to the open field adjacent to the playground and ATE IT at the bottom. Screaming. Tears. Blood. Refusal to walk or stand up. I left Mary standing up hanging onto a picnic table and ran down the hill to retrieve him and carry his fifty pound frame back up the hill to the pavilion where he refused to use his legs.

Everyone was hot and tired and hanging around ME, so I called James over and said it was time to go. James ran happily over to me and said "Mama, look what's stuck to my shirt!!" I looked down and saw a hornet the size of a songbird clinging to his chest. Holy. Crap.

"Is that a... bee?" I asked stupidly to no one in particular?

Charley's eyes got huge. YES. OH YES THAT'S A BEE. He helped James remain calm by yelling "DON'T MOVE OR SCREAM. IF YOU MAKE IT ANGRY IT WILL STING YOU AND THEN YOU COULD DIE."

I freaking hate freaking bees.

Armed with a half-sheet of paper from Mary's diaper bag, I ran over to James, who was starting to freak out, somehow managing to control the SERIOUS heebie jeebies I had going on. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do. I didn't want to make it mad because the stinger was like eight inches long and James is so CUTE AND LITTLE. The bee just clung to his shirt like a bad Homecoming date while James whimpered nervously and Charley yelled about anaphylaxis. With horror I wondered if it was actually STUCK to his shirt which would have meant I had to TOUCH IT, which NO.

Several seconds of deliberation later I decided the best plan would be to be flap my hands ineffectually while shrieking and dancing around. Eventually I got close enough that the hornet knew I meant business and flew away.

And then we went home, closed and locked all the doors, TURNED ON A MOVIE AND MADE BLONDIES. Because sometimes you just have to let the universe win.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Pictures of the Kids doing Things

Today was a weirdly tranquil little afternoon/evening. Provided with nearly seven hours of independence each day in the form of school, the children have once again discovered the meaning of family, and home, and how to act like a not-criminally-insane person when faced with idle time. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder!

It also struck me that, except for a tense thirty minute period when Charley and Wes wanted to watch Wild Kratts and James and Mary wanted to create an In A Gadda Da Vida cover in the kitchen with stainless mixing bowls and wooden spoons, our downstairs was MORE THAN ENOUGH ROOM for five people working independently (something that is not immediately apparent when everyone is screaming, running, and spilling things).

Mary likes to unwind by stripping down to her shorts and doing a little reading slash mutilating of a popup book. She had her eyes on Charley's magnatile creation in the background but I managed to quickly scoot it out of the way without destroying it, thereby preserving family harmony for another several minutes (Do you know how many times a day I think "Oh, right, I have a toddler again." A lot of times!). Moving things to the other end of the coffee table won't thwart Mary for long, though, as you will see!



I'd like to pretend that I created this cozy little nook for the kids' project supplies, coloring books, and crayons, but really I bought that mat so they would stop tracking so much freaking mud inside the house. I absolutely love it when they do this. Come to think of it, it's very similar to the prayer rug work mat James uses to define his workspace at school except dirtier. It's almost as good as having a second living area AND it only takes up twelve square feet! This is way cheaper than adding on. But we might be in trouble if we ever need to get out quickly in case of fire.



When multiple kids want to use the doormat, hierarchy dictates that James gets displaced to the dining room table. There he placidly worked on a stamp activity for many MINUTES in a row. I feel kind of bad that I didn't engage him more, because he was being really sweet with his farm animal stamps, but I was just so amazed that everyone was happy AT THE SAME TIME that I just kind of wandered from room to room trying to soak up every detail of this moment when the family was acting normal so that I could draw strength from that memory the next time someone ripped his brother's pants off in the Y parking lot (for instance).



When I returned to the living room, Mary had learned to access the top of the coffee table and was Godzilla-ing Charley's house. James tattled on her and Charley responded cheerfully from the kitchen "That's OK, I can build it again!" SO WEIRD.



So I guess that means we're moving forward with the gross motor skill development. Clear all the low tables! Nothing is safe! Batten down the hatches!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

So you want to work out

Right after Ryan left to sell Cub Scout popcorn with Charley and Wes this afternoon, I put the little ones down for a simulnap (why did that used to be so elusive when Charley and Wes were the only ones? Now when I put James down, I put Mary in her crib too like "see you in a couple of hours!" and she is quiet!) ostensibly so I could get some laundry done, but PLEASE, how often do you get two quiet hours in your house ALONE with no "my kid is at daycare I should be working" guilt?

So after I became bored with the internet, which took about thirty minutes, I decided it was time to start getting in shape for the girls' weekend I have planned in mid-October. Yes, I realize I should have started about six months ago.

Since I couldn't go anywhere and it is like Mercury outside I decided to do a yoga video in my living room. Again, NO ONE WAS HOME! THIS NEVER HAPPENS!

The first step was to find the DVD. It took about five minutes of sorting though Disney/Pixar's entire 1985 to Present collection, my old Storm Chasing video from college, and a handful of duds from the library (including a highly disturbing non-musical animated version of Oliver Twist that the kids can't get enough of). I had multiple thoughts about how I should be spending this time cleaning out the TV cabinet instead of doing yoga, but then I remembered that thing Mary did to my abdominal muscles and decided I could spend forty-five minutes on myself, just this once.

DVD in hand, I set out to look for the remote for the DVD player. One thing that will never stop being annoying is the way you can't use DVD menus without the DVD remote, which is perpetually lost. This means that you can only keep pressing "play" and selecting the first option. This is fine for the kids, who don't mind watching Shrek in Espanol occasionally, but I really didn't want to do the pre-bed relax Yoga that comes up first on my DVD. I mean, I did, but, you know, ABS. So I took all the couch cushions off and found lots of pens and some empty water bottles but no remote. I finally hit paydirt when I took the cushions off the first of two club chairs on the other side of the coffee table.

So then I had the remote but no batteries.

The search for batteries took me to the garage where the box holding the original contents of our junk drawer (which fell apart under the strain of being an overpacked junk drawer) lives. I dug through layers of breastmilk storage bags, the glue gun, needles and thread, some scissors, and the camera charger.

I thought about how going through the layers was like digging through rock strata to examine historic geologic conditions. This made me think of paleoclimatology, which made me think of course that I should be getting some work done.

But then I found two elusive AA batteries near the bottom of the box. Hurray! I am saved from wasting a simulnap on WORK!

Fortunately the search for my yoga mat was much easier, but only because I had happened to be in the room the moment James wadded it up and shoved it behind a bookshelf in my room.

The final step was to move the following items out of the way to create a calm, Feng Shui appropriate space in which to practice yoga: The exersaucer, a rocking chair, a large plastic dinosaur, three string cheese wrappers, an empty yogurt tube, three diminutive sneakers, a froggy rain boot, a pair of children's underpants, my purse, my phone, and a onezie.

And after all of THAT, I began my workout. This is why I never work out.

Friday, August 15, 2014

First week DONE, TWENTY NINE TO GO

Well, we made it! One week in which we had to get all six of us up, fed, dressed, and in the car by 7:20. This was by far the hardest morning. You'd think that hitting the ground running at 5:45 because James didn't quiiiite make it to the potty and left poo footprints all over the upstairs hallway would mean we had plenty of time to get ready, but it didn't work out that way. Turns out when one parent is occupied Cloroxing the entire upstairs of your house (so that you do not LITERALLY live in a shithole), that leaves only one person to force-dress, force-feed, and force-backpack-pack the four kids, who all thought this school thing was pretty awesome on Monday but have since changed their tune. THE THRILL IS GONE MY FRIENDS.

I did get a shower, though, and that was nice.

I also made my bed because seeing my bed unmade in the middle of the day stresses me out and spending five minutes in the morning to avoid afternoon stress is a good plan.

So now my bed is an island of order in a room FILLED WITH a) clean, folded laundry, b) dirty, piled up laundry, c) books, d) children's books, and e) two enormous upholstered chairs and one ottoman that DO NOT FIT IN THE ROOM BUT HAVE NOWHERE ELSE TO LIVE.

Ryan and I have decided to stop dreaming about another thousand square feet and try to keep house clean instead. IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE. Which is why I'm writing this and not taking care of the laundry-folding job on the kitchen table?

Yesterday was a special day in which I got an angry note on my windshield about my (perfectly adequate) parking job. The note (which was written in purple glitter pen on a McDonalds napkin, so do with that information what you will) indicated that I was "taking up two parking spaces" and that was "not cool." Well. Since I don't drive an extended cab pickup with a trailer, it is physically impossible for me to LITERALLY take up TWO ENTIRE parallel parking spaces. I think what she MEANT to say was "Your back bumper is six inches over the line to accommodate the handicap ramp on the other side and my inadequate parallel parking skills mean that I cannot maneuver into the still, perfectly reasonably sized, parking space behind you." I see this now, but yesterday, after Charley had a HORRIFIC DAY on Wednesday, sent me into a tailspin.

Fortunately, I had already planned to meet Ryan for lunch yesterday.

Unfortunately, later I got yelled at by a cop for blocking the driveway of what appeared to be an abandoned warehouse while I was waiting in the pickup line at the kids' school. NOTE that I was IN MY CAR AT THE TIME. A simple "Please don't block the driveway" would have worked nicely, but instead he chose to gesticulate WILDLY at my closed window until I noticed him and opened the window, totally confused, then shout "DID YOU SEE THAT SIGN?!!" and when I indicated that I had not seen the sign he yelled angrily "IT SAYS DON'T BLOCK THE DRIVEWAY! THIS IS A BUSINESS! IT'S *SIMPLE*!" What's ironic is that the reason I didn't see the sign was because I was distracted by the way he was driving like fifty miles per hour through the parking lot, flying around corners on two wheels, and slamming on his breaks right by the driveway and I was distracted! PROFESSIONALISM, it's a THING.

After that incident he spent the next twenty minutes speeding up and down the street next to the car line, making dangerous Uturns, and pulling people over for various things. CHILL THE EFF OUT DUDE.

Later things got better. The kids had a great day and came out of school happy and fun! We went to the store for dinner things and had a nice time together! When we got home, our neighbors were out playing with their blowup waterslide, so we went over there and had a wonderful hour of fun with friends, then came home for a movie and then some dinner. Bedtime was cozy and sweet and easy and everyone went to sleep quickly. Deep breaths, it's going to be OK.

AND IT'S FRIDAY! PIZZA FOR DINNER AND NO MORNING ROUTINE FOR TWO WHOLE DAYS. HALLELUJAH!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

First day of SCHOOL!

Yesterday was the day Wes has been waiting for ever since we dropped Charley off for his first day of kindergarten all the way back in 2012. KINDERGARTEN DAY. They both popped out of bed and dressed quickly, which was new and exciting, possibly something to do with all the uniform stuff they've had in their room for three weeks but were not allowed to touch. I made everyone a nice breakfast of blueberry muffins, Greek yogurt, and bananas, which they plowed through halfheartedly before dashing out the front door for a begrudging series of pictures. They were buckled into their seats, backpacks in hand by 7:08. This has never happened to me before.

Guess which kid is REALLY REALLY EXCIED about school and which kid is like "Dude. Relax. It's just school."









And then, finally, "Oh COME ON guys! Grandma's going to see these! That's better."



Our first stop was to drop off the little kids at their school, which is conveniently right on our way to the big kids' school. Ryan got stuck at a red light and by the time I got outside after dropping off the little ones (and sending the big kids back out to the car for rowdy behavior) Charley and Wes were jumping around the inside of the van like ping pong balls. We finally got them corralled back into their boosters and headed the three blocks to their new school (where they will be going until they go to college, trippy!).

Of course we paparazzied them on the way into the building.





And at their desks.





Charley's teacher asked him if he'd like a hug, a handshake, or a high five and he chose a hug(!!). He was smiling when we last saw him in his classroom. And then we walked away and left them there all alone in that beautiful building filled with talented, energetic teachers and cute, friendly children.

I walked out to my car kid-free for the first time in a LONG time, like "now what"? So I went to my office and started working on my fall class, which doesn't start for two glorious weeks. Then I went home because I'd forgotten my car tag (the one you have to have to pick up your kids or I don't know what happens, but I didn't want to figure it out on the first day) and let Ross out because I was pretty sure that little detail had been overlooked in our frantic sprint to the car that morning. I also ate lunch and made the kids some cookies for an afternoon snack. And then I just, sort of, looked around the house and thought about how quiet it was.

Which is why I left early for pickup and sat in front of the school for thirty minutes like a giant "That Guy". And also because a huge thunderstorm was coming and I wanted to get there early in case it was crazy. I ended up pretty close to the front, which was good, because by dismissal time it was raining torrentially and lightning was striking so close to the school there was virtually no interval between flash and boom. I had some awesomely bad pop music cranked up in my car and was having the time of my life, except that my gas light was perilously close to coming on and I had to run the AC because the windows had to be closed (I tried cracking them just a tiny and so many raindrops flew in sideways through the half inch gap that my dashboard was immediately soaked). Very exciting! I took a picture to show you how I couldn't see out my windows but I didn't have my memory card because I have limited practical skills.

Finally, I was at the front of the line and an administrator wearing a suit and a raincoat escorted Charley and Wes out of the building, holding an umbrella over their heads the whole way. They walked close together with their backpacks over their heads for protection. The whole thing was adorable. When they got in they said "We saw each other THREE TIMES today!"

The next stop was the little kids' school and OH HOW I WISH there was a way for me to pick them up first because HOO BOY is there no good way to do that with the Self Control brothers rattling around in the lobby (I could pick them up first but then James would miss snack, which I have learned is NOT AN OPTION). Today when I came out of James's room Charley was carrying Wes around the hallway and Wes was screaming with excitement. Like SCREAMING. I was gone for forty-five seconds. It's not cool to scream at your kids in front of all the nice Montessori teachers, who have chosen for their life's work to be a calm influence in children's lives, so I had to scary-calmly tell them something along the lines of "That is not appropriate behavior for a school." But the way they swarmed Mary with love when we went to her room was quite touching. Gotta take the good with the completely freaking insane, I guess.

Today was more productive at work because I remembered my car tag and didn't have to come home. Oh, except that someone (the details are hazy, like most of yesterday afternoon, because of the kids' need to blow off MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF STEAM after being at school yesterday) spilled water on my laptop and now instead of turning on it makes an angry beeping noise, so I had to go "borrow" a desktop from the lab and sneak it into my office all stealthy-like so I could get some work done today. I ended up the morning really excited about the first week of class and really proud of the lab assignment I developed, which was really great confirmation that I'm Doing the Right Thing with regards to James and Mary and their school and all of our new schedules this fall. Which is good because I have had many, MANY "this would be so much easier if I didn't work!!" moments in the last couple of days WHICH IS SURPRISING because I was pretty sure their behavior last week was going to send me to some kind of residential treatment center. Jitters seem to be worked out now, for everybody. Now. When is Thanksgiving Break?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

SO MANY THINGS ARE HAPPENING AT ONCE!

The real reason we had a party last weekend was to distract ourselves from the fact that ALL



OF



THESE



CHILDREN



ARE GOING TO SCHOOL VERY VERY SOON.

And Monday and Tuesday of this week we had Meet the Teacher events for ALL OF THEM. Monday afternoon I dropped Charley at his LEGO robotics camp (looks like Charley found the mothership!)...



... and took the other three to the open house at the Montessori school (I can finally spell that word right on the first try, HIGH FIVE) where James and Mary are now going as of Tuesday...



I am kind of intimidated by this whole Montessori thing. Like, when it's time to leave James's teacher smiles at him and says "Good bye, James! Have a nice afternoon!" and he's supposed to gather his items by himself and follow me out, which on the one hand, after ONE SINGLE DAY of Montessori school he put his lovies on the stairs instead of immediately behind my feet on the kitchen floor which is an annoying habit I've been trying to break for the last year, so YAY EVERYTHING IN IT'S PLACE! On the other hand, James can't go six hours without physical warmth. Are they allowed to hug him? I do not know.

The only answers I've gotten from him are "We get our own snack, I put my shoes back on at good morning time." After we left the open house I asked him WITH MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF ENTHUSIASM, "Did you like your new school?!" and he responded softly "No, I want to go to my other school, the one that is NOT NEW." And also today he POURED MILK FROM A PITCHER and used a spoon to get a modest portion of Goldfish out of a tray. WHO IS THIS CHILD.

Mary is doing well too. So far she has "worked" with books and the sensory materials and enjoys rolling balls. During the open house she was a little bit tense and began FREAKING THE FREAK OUT when one of her teachers playfully (and very gently) touched the end of Mary's fingers with a soft play broom. Her teachers are wonderful and seem to really enjoy having Mary there. She naps on a MAT and eats in a TINY CHAIR!

Monday night Wes got to go to his new school to meet his kindergarten teacher. The second we hit the door of the classroom Wes did what Wes does best, began to make friends. He played for half an hour with this boy named Reid and then gave him a hug when it was time to leave. We think he's going to to just fine. If we can survive the rest of the week--the jitters are making him act WEIRD. I just got up to refill my water and glanced up the stairs to see him lying on the floor at the top, completely naked, when he is supposed to be sleeping. So special.

Charley met his teacher on Tuesday night. His teacher is AWESOME and he loved the school, especially the hallways and the windows. He is VERY excited to go to school, which is kind of amazing considering the way last year went. And by kind of amazing I mean HIGHLY UNEXPECTED. Did I mention his teacher is awesome? She engaged Charley IMMEDIATELY. He built a robot out of blocks and immediately brought it to her to show her and was SO PROUD. The teacher found another student who was also building a robot and introduced them.

He was CHEERFUL, and RELAXED, and PLEASANT! He, um, did not willingly speak to his teacher for most of last year. THIS IS HUGE.

Perhaps the biggest news of all, which probably deserves its own post, but you know, fourth baby, is that MARY TURNED ONE TODAY!!

Sweet girly girl at breakfast!



And her birthday photo shoot:

I call this expression, "The James"...



Thinking about maybe trying to fall off of this step...





SO BIG!! Or as Charley and Wes call it: "We have the house surrounded. Come out with your hands up."



To put it mildly, we are all SO GLAD she is part our family! More birthday pictures in the next post.