Monday, April 14, 2014

Two-kid weekend

Slow weekend around here for me, James, and Mary because Ryan and the big kids went on a Cub Scout campout Friday afternoon while the little ones were napping.  I finally got bored with the quiet house and woke them up around 6 so we could go pick up some pizza at my favorite place for dinner.

We got the pizza and then got back in the car and then James asked if we could go to the playground I said "SURE!" much to his utter surprise.

We don't do fun and creative things anymore now that we are living in a permanent state of survival mode.  But OF COURSE I CAN TAKE TWO KIDS TO THE PLAYGROUND.  Some things just don't seem as hard as they once did.  So we had a pizza picnic on the playground and it was lovely.  I didn't bring Mary anything for dinner but she managed to inhale an entire piece of James's froufrou coal-fired oven gourmet cheese girl pizza, one pea-sized bite at a time.

My sole responsibility all weekend. Their needs are delightfully simple.

I was putting the (TWO) kids to bed when my friend C texted to say "I'm on my way over, what kind of wine do you want?"  Which was AWESOME.  She even brought POPSICLES.  I do NOT like being alone in the house at night and we had SO MUCH FUN.  Even more amazing is the fact that she is a self-proclaimed introvert and lives thirty-five minutes away. 

Saturday morning we were due to go to the church to plant flowers in preparation for Easter Sunday. James was highly excited about it and I planned to spend the whole morning there and then have a picnic before naptime. The first thing that happened when we got there was that James had a massive potty accident in the cry room bathroom because he couldn't find the light switch. The rest of the ninety minutes he spent wandering around complaining about being cold and bored and wanting a second donut. Somehow I managed to plant a flat of pansies and weed a large flowerbed before Mary started flipping out and I decided I was going to beautify the church by taking my children home for a nap. James complained the whole way home because "I wanna plant fow-wers at chuch!" Headdesk.

Saturday night we had dinner with a friend at a cool restaurant with a slide and by Sunday morning I was starting to feel sad every time I came across a Harry Potter book or an enormous Croc or a superhero costume. Luckily the other half of the family made it home around nine thirty seeming taller than ever.

James helped Mary with a snack while I made dinner. Does not do justice to the amount of Cheerios on the floor.

No one came when I called the big kids in for dinner so I went into the living room to find this:

Charley's car was careening driverless around the track while Wes's was smashed up against a guardrail. Drowsy driving kills. Charley woke up and ate dinner but Wes slept through until eight fifteen this morning, fifteen hours later. Camping is fun and exhausting. Possibly because they had an Easter egg hunt IN THE DARK.

And did...this...whatever it is looks like fun.

This morning we woke up to thunder and then the temperature dropped from 71 to 55 in a matter of thirty minutes. By the time we went to preschool dropoff it was pouring torentially with intermittent hail, thirty-mile per hour winds, and frequent lightning. I had to throw my shoes back into the car and drop the kids off barefoot because there was a six inch deep puddle covering most of the ground between my car and the school. It was chaos, but now I am home and Mary is sleeping and I've made a cup of coffee and thrown in a load of laundry and plan to outline a lab book for my spring course that I am super geek-excited about. A lovely morning is in store, in other words.

Update: It is now FORTY SIX DEGREES. What in the world.

Monday, April 7, 2014

So very sleepy

Got up way early this morning because Mary woke up at 5:00 and decided NOW IS THE TIME TO ROLL ONTO MY BELLY AND ATTEMPT TO GET UP ON ALL FOURS.  And then when she couldn't get back onto her back she screamed hysterically until I arrived to feed her back to sleep.  And then I couldn't go back to sleep.  Ninety minutes later I had just conked out when my alarm went off.  I hit snooze, but five minutes after that James was standing next to my bed asking "I can come out of my room?  It morning now?  I can get up?"  He finally wandered off but was back ten minutes later asking Ryan "I can eat this huge cracker?  I can eat this?  Papa I can eat this?" as he waved a graham cracker at Ryan's sleeping face.

Then Ryan got in the shower and I went downstairs to be verbally abused while I made breakfast and lunches.  It was a good morning.

(Charley was cooperative.  Wes and James could've used an espresso or two.  Or should've gone back to bed.  Or just to stop yelling and throwing things.  James whipped Wes with his pajama top so many times I ripped it out of his hand and threw it in the trash can.  And then I took five minutes to make a cup of coffee because that may have been a slight overreaction.)


I think this was on Saturday.  LOOK HOW NO ONE IS FIGHTING.  Ahhh.  (Things did not stay this placid on Saturday OMG)

Not suitable for children under 3 (who are only children).

We impulsively got in the car and went to Orange Leaf Sunday afternoon then realized it was 5 pm.  Oops.  ICE CREAM FOR DINNER, EVERYONE!  Charley was pretending to be a bird.  CAW CAW!

More Orange Leaf.  Mary did not have ice cream, sadly.  Though she did eat another half cup of refried beans this weekend.  She seems to enjoy them more than applesauce.  Texas baby.

Aww, look how nicely they're sitting!  And look how grown up James looks!  (Shortly after this was taken all three of them were fighting over my lap.) Every Sunday the head pastor approaches Ryan as he processes out during the last song and says "PHEW! Made it one more time!" Indeed.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Aaaaand mike drop

Charley had kind of a rough afternoon yesterday.  He couldn't even bring himself to eat dinner at the table with the family because he knew he'd say something rude and get himself in trouble so he sat at the island with his face in a Boys' Life magazine.

After dinner I sent him off to practice piano thinking the food would have improved his mood but when he made a single mistake on one of his pieces and then started throwing music all over the dining room I suggested loudly that he go upstairs and cool off.  On the way to the stairs he knocked over two dining room chairs and the vacuum cleaner.

He came down about thirty minutes later to try again but after multiple rude and angry outbursts directed at various other family members I told him he was done and needed to find a book and get in bed for the night.  It was ten till six.  NIGHTY NIGHT!

At eight, he was calm but still awake so I went in to check on him.  He said something about being nervous about the new school.  I rested my chin on the rail of the upper bunk and told him softly while rubbing his back "You know what's great about the new school?  You'll get to go there until you're in twelfth grade!  You won't have to change schools again until you are in college!"

He said "Can I go to college there?"

I said "No, it goes to twelfth grade, which is the end of high school.  You can go anywhere you want to college."

"College is optional" he replied.

"Yes, it is.  You can do whatever you want after high school.  You'll be an adult!"

"I'm going to go to ALL the schools" he said sleepily.

"Yeah?" I said, smoothing his sweaty hair with my hand.  "You want to go to grad school like Papa and me?"

"Mmm hmmm.  Are you an adult when you go to grad school?"

"Yes," I said "Papa and I were in grad school when you were born!"

"Wow" he said.

We stood there in silence for a moment.  It was a peaceful, happy time.  I wondered what he'd like to study in grad school.  I thought about how proud I am of him for working so hard on his behavior chart this semester (an entire MONTH of smiley faces!).  Yes, he's going to be just fine.  Will he be an academic?  A doctor?  A teacher?  An engineer?

I thought he was falling asleep, but then he spoke.

"One time I held poop in my body for TWO DAYS."

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Well that was bewildering

As we all know, putting kids to bed SUCKS.  It's nothing like you envision when you are expecting your first child and spend hours sitting in their room imagining yourself reading them stories and kissing their freshly washed hair before they gently sigh and fall to sleep.  Even on the best of days it's a dead run from dinnertime until Jon Stewart.  The worst days are more like that scene on The Perfect Storm where the crew works feverishly through the night only to have a giant wave smack the ship over sideways.

Tonight was no exception.  We had a reasonably good time having dinner together and getting jammies on.  Wes lost his books for not cooperating with changing his clothes, but everyone brushed their teeth and we had them in bed at the usual time, between seven and seven thirty.  And that's when the shenanigans began.

We were attempting to relax downstairs when we heard the pitter patter of little feet on the floor above our heads and then voices.  Ryan went up to investigate.

Wes was helping James put his diaper back on after James had gotten up to use the potty.  Go James!

Then Charley appeared downstairs.  "I'm not tired and it's still daytime."

"Back to bed" I said firmly without looking up from Facebook.

Then Wes was out of his room again, running around the upstairs hallway.  Ryan made him go back in.

Then there was commotion in the bathroom again.  James had to go potty again.  A likely story.  I put him back in his room and closed the door.  He screamed and kicked the wall for at least fifteen minutes.

Then Wes was out knocking on the wall at the top of the stairs to get our attention.  He wanted a stuffed animal he had left in the car.  I said no.  He returned to his room to scream.

Then Charley came out of our room where he falls asleep so he and Wes don't keep each other up.

Then before I could even get back downstairs Wes came out again.

This time I had HAD it.  I ran down to the kitchen and got two wet rags.  At the top of the stairs I handed them to Charley and Wes and said "You may sleep, or you may clean the bathroom floor."

To my surprise they merrily skipped off to the two upstairs bathrooms.

I heard rigorous scrubbing for about fifteen minutes while I sat on the floor in the hallway feeling a little guilty about punishing the kids for not sleeping by making them clean bathrooms.  How very Mrs. Hannekin of me!  I felt less guilty when I remembered that the choices I had given them were SLEEP IN YOUR COZY BEDS or clean the bathroom floor on your hands and knees.

Then Charley came out and handed me his rag.  "I'm done in there" he said.  "OK, do you want another job?" I asked, very surprised at how cooperative they were being.  He did, so I sent him down to work on the playroom, a job I ask them to do nearly every single day that results in so much histrionics you would think I was tearing them limb from limb.  And the playroom was a MESS tonight.

He headed downstairs without another word.

Wes was done with his bathroom moments later so I set him to work putting all the books back in the bookshelves in their room, a chore I've needed to do all week after moving them out for the big room overhaul last Friday.

He CHEERFULLY AND WITHOUT GETTING DISTRACTED shelved an entire laundry basket full of books, stood up and said "I think I'll go to bed now," then climbed into his lower bunk, pulled up the covers, and asked me (very nicely this time) for his stuffed animal from the car, which I happily retrieved.

Meanwhile Charley was doing an AMAZING job on the playroom.  He got everything up off the floor.  When I went in there to put an action figure away he said "Oh, here's the action figure bin I set up."  When he was done with that room he swept through the living and dining room picking up toys and dirty clothes.  Toys went in the playroom (in their appropriate spots) and laundry went in the washer.  He put a few things on the island and when I asked about that he said "I thought you could help put those away since you're the experts on going into James's room at night."

And then he said he was done, bounced up the stairs and into our room, turned out the light, and got into bed.

 SO WEIRD, you guys.

And I have not heard a PEEP out of them since then, about an hour ago.  And the house looks amazing.  This is REVOLUTIONARY.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Does this happen to anyone else?

You know how your hair grows in really nice and thick while you are pregnant?  And then how it falls out by the handful for the first year of your baby's life?  Or possibly the stress of living in a frat house/zoo while attempting to create a career out of thin air is making my hair fall out?  Either way, I've been finding enough stray hairs on my clothes to knit a sweater.  A hair sweater.  Cozy!

But the worst part of shedding like a golden retriever in July is the way the loose hairs always seem to find their way INTO MY BRA.

You know how it is.  You're teaching your class and feel this absolutely unbearable itching/tickling sensation in your cleavage area and have to use every ounce of will to not start wildly scratching your boobs.  Then as soon as the last "I'm sorry I was late did I miss anything important (!!)?" leaves you tear down the hall to the privacy of your closet-office (cloffice) to jam your hand down your shirt and pull out the ONE SINGLE HAIR that was somehow causing that much discomfort.

It also happened during a university ceremony in which I was wearing a cap and gown and subject to intermittent jumbo-tron filming.

That ceremony was ninety minutes long but I made it.  I could be a sniper.

Today I was talking to Wes's science teacher at dropoff when I couldn't take it anymore.  I didn't even try to be discreet as I pulled what appeared to be a small hamster out of my shirt.  I would have been embarrassed if I wasn't so relieved.

I'm not sure what the solution is but I'm thinking either a short summery haircut or a trip back to 1987 to get some of those turtleneck tank tops.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


This morning at dropoff Wes's teacher asked me if I'd remembered to bring him a plastic water bottle for a project and when I replied that I hadn't she said "That's OK, I have an extra right here!"  I apologized and told her that I'd been home for about forty-five minutes total yesterday, but that it was all good stuff, just a LOT of stuff.  She said "You know, whenever I have a busy day I think 'At least I'm not Becca!'"  HA!!

I love our preschool.  We've been there since Charley was two and loved every minute of it.  We've made it work, through many different and complicated arrangements involving various grandparents and nannies, since I started working part time four years ago.  I love the teachers, the playground, the building, the traditions.  The sweet chapel song they sing as they process out every Monday morning.  The Thanksgiving feast.  The cute graduation Wes will be part of in May.  I love our preschool.

But last month my chair came to me and told me they were adding a FOURTH class section to my schedule for fall (a change I welcomed).  And then I was talking with another faculty member in my department who told me that THREE sections was a full-time load.  THREE.  And that's when a lightbulb blinked on in my head.  I am going to be teaching (more than) full-time and this means I need full-time childcare.

This was a bittersweet realization, because I LOVE our preschool.  But it's twenty minutes away in the opposite direction from my house and starts at nine which means that after driving the kids to school, walking them in, and then driving to work, it's quarter to ten!  Which gives me fifteen minutes to rip off my coat, pee, and open my powerpoint, which is HOPEFULLY (BUT NOT USUALLY) ready.

This makes for a stressful morning.

So, that day, on the advice of a friend, I checked out a sweet little Montessori school that's midway between my house and work.  It was lovely, affordable, started at eight o'clock every day, and had spots for both James and Mary starting in August.  I went in the next day to sign the paperwork and breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Telling our current preschool was very hard.  Because I love our current preschool!  But I think this will work much, much better given the amount of hours I expect to work in the fall.

There's more exciting news!  You guys know a bit about the struggle we've had at Charley's school, yes?  Well, Ryan and I learned about another school.  A charter school nearby that had a different approach.  It's inquiry based and centers all its instruction around broad themes of global awareness, social justice, and environmental sustainability.  It's highly recommended.  It's FREE.  They wear UNIFORMS.  It goes all the way to 12th grade!

It's also...hard to get into...especially for grades above kindergarten.

I went to the info session in February and nodded along with every word, mouth slightly agape, then considered offering to write a check for WHATEVER FREAKING NUMBER YOU TELL ME JUST PLEASE LET US INTO THIS SCHOOL.

But that's not how it works.  There is a lottery for all available seats.  So we applied and waited.  And waited.

And then, the Monday of Spring "Break" I drove up there to check the results.  There were pages and pages of names taped to the windows at the front of the school.  One side said "Congratulations!!!" and the other side said "Waitlist".  I checked the kindergarten list first on the "Congratulations!!!" side.  And there was Wes's name!  OMG!!

Then I checked the very, very short list of accepted 2nd graders.

I almost screamed when I saw "Charles Academomia" about halfway down the page.

You guys they had SIXTEEN spots for 2nd graders.  SIXTEEN.  And over a hundred kids on the waitlist.  We are so, so incredibly lucky.  Lucky and excited.  This is going to be a good thing for them.  For us!  I can hardly wait.

I'm not sure I can convey how desperate we were for this to happen.  This has been such a hard year for Charley and due to the way the school handles the 1st to 2nd grade transition and host of other things, we would not see any relief from those difficulties for at least another YEAR.  We know many, many kids who are thriving at the current school (and we've also had some great experiences there, he's learned so much this year), but our kid was sinking.  Our smart, happy, funny, usually very nicely mannered boy was SINKING and nothing we could do was helping (and we did a LOT OF THINGS last semester).  This semester his mood and attitude have improved dramatically and he's getting "smiley face" after "smiley face" in his folder which is kind of amazing to me but has not resulted in any improvements in the behavior category on his report card or any kind of acknowledgement from the teacher, who sent negative email after negative email last semester when he was SEEING A PSYCHOLOGIST AND WISHING HE'D NEVER BEEN BORN.  Infuriating.  But at least he's happy and seems to be thriving.

The icing on the already awesome cake is that Charley and Wes's new school is about a mile away from James and Mary's new school and BOTH ARE ON THE WAY FROM OUR HOUSE TO RYAN'S WORK AND MY SCHOOL.  will pick everyone up around three and head home for outside play and dinner prep! We are thrilled.

 The catch is that Mary needs to be walking by August 4.  We've been giving her a LOT of tummy time.

I was only home for forty-five minutes yesterday but it was a GREAT forty-five minutes.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Things that are annoying: Ikea furniture, temperatures below sixty that occur after February

We finally bit the bullet this week and bought the kids some bunk beds at Ikea.  When I say "we" I really mean "I did it" because I am impatient and couldn't wait the three more days it would have taken Ryan to have a free moment to go to the store to buy them.  I began to regret my decision as I rolled the two giant boxes, along with a kiddie picnic table I found in the "as is" section and some dishtowels, across the parking lot (down hill in a stiff thirty mile per hour tailwind) toward the van, but folding up the seats and sliding the boxes inside was fairly straightforward, except for the part where I tried to push one of the boxes with my leg and twanged my kneecap a good two inches out of place causing me to swear audibly in the crowded parking lot.

Ryan hid the boxes in the garage and on Friday my dad came over to help me assemble them.  The original plan was that Ryan and I were going to let the kids sleep on the floor in our room the night before under the guise of "we're getting the carpets cleaned tomorrow" so we could take everything out of the room the night before, but *someone* was uncomfortable lying to the kids, so we left everything where it was.  Ultimately, this made for the most satisfying element of surprise later, even if it meant doing lots of furniture moving and heavy lifting immediately before assembling the most complicated Ikea product in the history of the world.

Once we had cleared out their room and vacuumed we opened up the two boxes to reveal a huge pile of nondescript looking wood and about forty-five thousand assorted screws.  My dad (BS in Mechanical Engineering) and I (same) spent several long minutes looking from the pile of wood and back to the directions saying things like:


"Maybe this one goes over...?  No...?"

"Oh but maybe this goes like this?  Wait a minute."

"Here it is!  Oh no, whoops."


Finally we decided to separate the one big pile into ten or so smaller piles of pieces that kinda sorta resembled each other.  This helped us be slightly less confused and eventually we were rolling.

By the time my mom brought Wes and James home from preschool we had something vaguely bunk bed looking assembled in the room.  Wes came upstairs, suspecting nothing, rounded the corner, and said slowly "AAAAWWWWEEEESOOOOMMMMEEE."  Two hours later when it was time to get Charley, we were done with only four or five random pieces of hardware leftover.

When Charley came home Wes attacked him.  "CHARLEY!!!!  COME SEE OUR ROOM!!!!!"

Then I took this picture.

(Also, see that sticker on Charley's shirt? He has two of them. Those are stickers they give out at his school when they notice a kid doing something especially good. Charley hasn't gotten one all year and he got TWO on Friday. He proclaimed school "great!" Dude. He is doing so awesome right now.)

The bed came out GREAT and makes their tiny room SO MUCH BIGGER. We're hoping that they will play up there more so we don't have to spend fifty thousand dollars moving to a house with a second living area so we don't all kill each other. So far they've been spending noticeably more time up there, although Friday most of that time was spent providing any willing neighborhood kid/cousin with the grand tour.

Friday night my mom and aunt and dad and sister and brother-in-law and niece came over/stayed for pizza and ice cream sundaes. The weather was warm and the kids alternated between running wild in the culdesac and hanging out in Charley and Wes's room. James and Mary manned the play gym on the porch. Ryan ripped out that giant dead plant in the background this afternoon. It's Lantana so I'm sure it'll be back by morning.

Here are some randoms:

Wes and James give Mary "crawling lessons."

The weather has been so nice this week I took this afternoon to pull all the kids' warm clothes out of their drawers, add in new/bigger (EIGHT. Charley's shorts are size EIGHT. And I wore his jacket to preschool dropoff the other day. He's practically a MAN) summer stuff from our stash of hand me downs, find all the swimsuits for this year (also from hand me downs, which is awesome), and do seven-ish loads of laundry. I was feeling really good about how great it's going to be when the kids come home from church tomorrow and head upstairs to rip off their nice clothes and put on play clothes, which will be SOOO EASY TO FIND now that everything is sorted, only to learn that tomorrow it is supposed to be FIFTY FIVE AND RAINING. BECAUSE OF COURSE. So now I have to dig around in the bin to find everyone some long church pants because my plan to be all earth-mother and let them wear shorts tomorrow has been foiled by the Zombie Winter of 2014. FOILED.

But let's end on a high note: Friday morning I took this picture of the kids eating breakfast because they were looking so cute and loveable.