Thursday, September 18, 2014

This is kind of inappropriate

I think today is going to be a good day.  It didn't seem that way during the morning "routine" which is like a cross between a NASCAR pit stop and cage fighting in its tendency to bring out all of our worst impulses--me: yelling, empty threats, them: shoe resisting, shirt resisting, pants resisting, bagel resisting, screaming, screaming, and more screaming--but later, once everyone had been wrestled into their respective cars and perfunctory haveaniceday kisses delivered, we both collapsed into our respective driver's seats relieved that at least Gauntlet Number One for the day had been overcome.

Mornings: they're light on warmth and tenderness and high on efficiency.  We've tried it both ways.  The outcome is always the same: nobody wants to go to school/work.  So we make it quick like a bandaid.

Then we turned on our cars and both our radios were tuned to the same station, which was playing Justin Timberlake's "Sexy Back."

Now.  I know some of you have been wondering how we get four unwilling children out of their beds and into their schools every morning.  I will tell you.  We have found inappropriate dance music to be extremely effective.

The other day I got James to eat an ENTIRE APPLE by cranking up Iggy Azalea's "Fancy" and dancing around the kitchen like a moron.

So Ryan and I were sitting in our cars this morning when we heard the song that made the term "Wardrobe Malfunction" a thing.  And we looked at each other.  And smiled.  FIRST SMILE OF THE MORNING.  And we CRANKED THAT TRASHY SONG UP LOUD.

And all six of us danced in our seats until the song was over.  Charley and Wes cut it up in the back seat of Ryan's car.  Mary bobbed her cute little rear-facing head.  James did the full on "Elaine", thumbs in the air.  Ryan and I did our best aging suburbanite Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake routine (while still seated in our minivan and sensible sedan, respectively).

It was a delightful start to the day.  For us.  Possibly not our neighbors, but we've long stopped caring what they think of us and they've long stopped wondering aloud when Ryan's going to replace his beat up car and when we're going to maybe take the scooter/empty juice box/toys/underpants off the front porch and start behaving like respectable adults.  Still, hearing "I'll make you whip me if you misbehave" issuing from my open minivan windows at seven AM was probably not how they were expecting to start their morning commutes.

But the whole family left LAUGHING this morning, instead of arguing, scowling, complaining, and/or sobbing inconsolably, so I call it a win.

But I'm definitely going to get a note from someone's teacher today.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Dinner smells gross and my car is nearly out of gas. Not a metaphor.

Big day for me. First, after spend the whole weekend getting ready, and grading, and grading some more, and planning my class for several hours, and staying up until after midnight G-R-A-D-I-N-G (seriously, whose idea was it to assign a weekly writing assignment to FORTY THREE STUDENTS? OTOH, there was some comedy GOLD in that first batch. Like the kid who attributed the phrase "There is nothing new under the sun," which is from Ecclesiastes in the Bible, to a scientist working for the American Meteorological Society in 1959. You laugh so you don't cry) and getting stuff ready for today around the house, class kind of SUCKED today.

I planned to do this demonstration during class that would require four students to take data for ten minutes, then four other students to come up and take data for ten more minutes. That part went well, if not a bit awkwardly because ZERO PEOPLE wanted to volunteer and I had to threaten to turn on club music and have a five minute dance break to loosen them up just to get the first four people out of their chairs. So that was an unorthodox approach (It totally worked on James this morning, however when he wouldn't settle down and eat breakfast and I blasted "Fancy" from my computer and sang "Eat your apples!" instead of "I'm so fancy!" That song is totally stuck in your head right now, you're welcome).

Even more awkward was the moment I thought "Hey, I can either lecture while those students are taking data and they will miss that material, OR we could all just sit around staring at each other which is weird." Ultimately I chose something in between, which was AWFUL AND WEIRD. And THEN, the data came out totally freaking BACKWARDS from the way it was supposed to, so I just stood there looking at the screen like "Huh. Not really sure what to say about that. How about I talk sideways about it for fifteen minutes and ask if they have any thoughts forty-seven times? Class ended twenty minutes early and I felt like a moron. But at least I'm pulling down eleven cents an hour.

Fresh off of the "I suck at teaching" wave, I showed up to Charley's teacher conference at 1:25 only to find out that OOPS! 1:25 was actually the END TIME FOR THE CONFERENCE YOU WORTHLESS SKIMMER. But it was OK because though the teacher needed to get back to class, the assistant principal, with whom Charley is fairly well acquainted, also needed to talk to us. IT WAS NOT A POSITIVE CONVERSATION. Silver lining: made it allllmost back to the car before I had a giant purse-throwing tantrum then drove off without saying goodbye to Ryan.

I did not know where to go because I have to be back at school at 3:30 for Wes's conference and I didn't want to go back to my office, so I came home. When I walked in the door I was greeted with the delightful smell of a Major Crockpot Fail ongoing in the kitchen. I tried to make minestrone soup. It smells like two tomatoes went to CrossFit and then caught on fire. I think I am going to throw the whole thing in the trash and have wine for dinner.

And now I have to get ready for tomorrow morning's meeting with my TA for the spring, which means finding the textbook I plan to use and reacquaint myself with the table of contents enough that I sound sort of intelligent tomorrow, which we now know is NOT ONE OF MY STRENGTHS.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I am writing this under duress

It's been a while, you guys. I'll tell you what happened: Ryan went out of town during my first week of class. Uh huh. Thankfully my parents swooped in to the rescue. WE RAN OUT OF DRAWER SPACE THAT'S HOW MUCH LAUNDRY WAS DONE ALL AT ONCE. That has, uh, never happened before. In fact you wouldn't know the kids HAD dressers by the look of the upstairs hallway. They also straightened the garage and created a That 70s Show-esque living area for the kids and their cohort out there, cooked dinner multiple times, and gave the kids SO MANY BATHS. Everything is super clean around here. Or it was until I was back in charge and then pbbbbbth. It was a fun week. And it wouldn't have been that way without their help.

Before Ryan left on Sunday he went to urgent care and was diagnosed with strep, making him the third family member on antibiotics in four days time. He came home to find me completely overwhelmed and suggested to the boys that they take me out to a special breakfast instead of going to church. Fighting through an hour-long worship service only to go home and go it alone for the next seven hours until bedtime was making me kind of despondent. Breakfast was the perfect suggestion.

About twenty minutes in we realized that we hadn't taken the kids to a waiter restaurant in a long, LONG time. AND IT SHOWED.

Wes turned his muffin appetizer into a cupcake with frosting made of straight butter. Mmmm delicious.



Mary drinks out of a straw cup just like a person now. I find this hilarious.



Not pictured: My eggs benedict or pomegranate mimosa. It was a good way to start the day.

Monday afternoon Charley came home complaining of a stomach ache and nausea and finally admitted to SWALLOWING A DIME. I only halfway believed him but our pediatrician's nurse said it would be best to go to the emergency room because based on his symptoms it could be causing a BLOCKAGE.

I believed him more when he almost hurled in the xray room and even more still when the xray popped up on the screen and THERE WAS THE DIME. The doctor said it was past the danger zone and would pass naturally so in the end we spent a hundred bucks for Charley to lie in bed watching TV and enjoying freshly warmed blankets for a couple of hours. That's about what we pay for his therapy, though, so we'll just call it an extra session. On the way home I told him to let me know if he noticed the dime in the potty and he said "Why, do you need it back?" and I said "No, we can find ten cents an easier way" and he said "Five cents" and I corrected "Ten cents" and he said "No. Five cents." And I asked him "WHAT THE HELL KIND OF COIN DID YOU SWALLOW?! THE LITTLE TINY ONE OR THE BIG THICK ONE?" He couldn't tell me and I almost called the doctor because he had emphasized the smallness of the dime SO MUCH that I was worried the larger nickel could have been more of a problem. In summmary: I did not call back. The coin has not been reported. I am not interested in knowing the details thankyouverymuch. MOVING ON.

Bright side: My friends are stinking HILARIOUS. Facebook was a funny, funny place for a couple of days during DimeWatch2014.

Mary's teacher gave her PIGTAILS!!



Attempts to recreate this look have been unsuccessful. Baby girl's lucky she has a cool aunt who lives nearby.

Charley has been a DELIGHT with the younger kids recently. Today Mary crawled into his lap and put her head down. SWOON.



Ryan took the kids to a barbeque place near their school for breakfast tacos this morning as a treat. I asked Charley if he's gotten his usual potato egg and cheese taco and he responded "Yeah, with a side of spicy chop!" Then he told me he could smell the smokey barbeque place smell on his clothes all day and it had made him happy every time. My little Texan!

After dinner Wes went to choir and the rest of us went out front to enjoy the absolutely frigid ninety-five degree weather by playing catch. It's NOT A HUNDRED! FALL IS COMING! I feel like we should prepare some kind of pagan Equinox festival. Anyone know where I can buy a large wicker cage? Amazon Prime?

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!