Thursday, March 5, 2015

Kale, Crunches, and Challah

Ryan's been on a business trip this week and the reason you haven't heard me complaining about it nonstop is because Ryan's parents came to stay and help while he was gone which was SO HELPFUL. The reason he asked them to help was because of my back situation but honestly, I feel like our house really needs three adults to really function properly.

So we had a fun week. Wednesday the temperature finally rose above fifty so we went to garden club where the kids learned to make a delicious "massaged kale salad" using kale from the garden.

Earlier this week after bedtime I had a friend over and was ignoring all the funny sounds I was hearing from upstairs (I have been trying that this week, ignoring the post-bedtime clatter, instead of stomping up the stairs both guns blazing, and have had similar outcomes and much less mental anguish for me. Interesting). Finally, late, late, LATE at night, I crept into my room and turned on the light to find TWO KIDS in my bed. Two kids who had been put down in their own cozy beds hours earlier. Shenanigans. I gently woke them enough that they could stumble to their own beds then tucked them back in and made my bed for the second time that day, at midnight. One day I will not be pulling tiny socks and copies of Boys' Life out of my bed and I will miss it. Sigh.

Last night we were under a winter storm warning so all three of our schools canceled for today. I was SO EXCITED to sleep late in the morning and have a relaxing day playing together and baking. Mary had other plans. Plans that began a little before five o'clock in the morning with a poopy diaper and so much screaming that I turned up the heater just so the fan would dampen the noise and hopefully keep the other kids asleep. I finally got Mary sort of settled on my chest in the bed in her room when I heard James start to cry in the hallway after he couldn't find me in my bed and then looked out the window to check for my car, which was in the garage. He thought I had left and was so relieved when I called him into Mary's room. Sleep was pointless by that point so we all went to the big bed and sang "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" forty nine times until I heard Wes go downstairs and turn on a movie.

Charley and Ryan's mom made homemade butter so James and Wes and I made some challah to go with it. All three boys were so excited by the sunshine that they bundled up and rode bikes for an hour before they came in with their red cheeks and runny noses and put on another movie.

Later I had vacation physical therapy where "we" are working on my core. I say "we" because after everything my core has been through in the last almost nine years it's going to take at least two people to get it back to something resembling normal. And let me tell you, I have the BEST physical therapist. I want to be IRL friends with her. I was a little sad (or a lot sad) when she told me I should come back in two weeks after improving the ergonomics of my home and workstation and practicing all my exercises. I've been going twice a week since I hurt myself!

This fixation with my ab muscles began after my warmup (six minutes on the arm ergometer) when I made an offhand remark about how a conversation we had had during my last session reminded me of the complication I had with Mary and James's pregnancy that you might remember as the thing with the pelvis that made pretty much everything horribly painful except for sitting on the couch and eating like the queen of an ant colony. This is also the reason that I am in such horrible shape now. She knew what I was talking about immediately and asked with wide eyes "Why didn't your doctor send you to a physical therapist? I treat that all the time! My specialty is pelvis and spine issues!"


This conversation led to a change in plans, sadly, because the original plan had been to work on the tension in my shoulders i.e. massage and the new plan was to tie a bedsheet around my midsection and do crunches while simultaneously pulling my belly button down to my spine. The bedsheet was to HOLD MY UPPER ABS TOGETHER WHILE I DID THE CRUNCHES. Because they are not together like normal abs should be.

"It's not a wonder you are having back problems" she said.

Believe it or not, I am excited. Between the olympic race walking and the ab work I should look less like a cautionary tale at the pool next summer. Except I did not get to walk today because the kids and I had a snow day and spent the day baking challah and making our own butter instead. Two steps forward, etc.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Update: Still freezing

I just started reading the sixth Harry Potter book and at last! The reason for our current weather pattern (never ending cold drizzle) has been revealed! It's not an unusually persistent kink in the jet stream allowing a steady stream of Canadian air to flow south into Texas, it's dementors multiplying! I feel so much better.

No but seriously you guys, the weather is terrible right now. This is TEXAS; we are supposed to be annoyingly filling your FB feeds with bare-armed, sun-soaked, outdoor beer drinking selfies, but instead we are muddling through the end of winter just like everyone else. I haven't seen my neighbors in DAYS. I have to wear my coat *every time* I go outside. I HAVE TO SLEEP WITH SOCKS ON. It's like Little House in the Big Woods.

Physical therapy continues apace. I have graduated from the "make a double chin" exercise and the "cock your head to one side" exercise to something resembling up-dog and something I call butt raises. That is to say, "exercises" that actually resemble exercise. Add that to my rigorous olympic race walking schedule and I should be looking GOOD by summertime. And by good I mean normal.

I realized how out of shape I'd become when the physical therapist looked into my eyes and asked me softly "Do you know what it feels like when your muscles are sore from exercise?" because she wanted to be sure I could distinguish that sensation from the problematic pain we're trying to eliminate.

I've been joining my active senior friends for some mid-day treadmill time every day. Instead of watching Fox News with them (it was playing on a record 3/8 of the community TVs today), I listen to my new Pandora station. Apparently I like Pittbull and Beyonce WAY TOO MUCH for a thirty-something mother of four who drives a gold minivan.

Let's see, what else...

I taught Mary how to safely get herself down the stairs because I'm not supposed to carry her. This works great most of the time and she loves doing it. The other day though I needed her to come downstairs before I changed her out of her nighttime diaper because there were no diapers in her room. She excitedly slid her little bottom off the top step and looked terribly concerned when she landed on the next step down. She pointed at her bottom and looked at me with brows furrowed "Diaper?" she asked. Like, "this is disgusting, are you going to do something about it?" This happened three times in a row and every time I asked her if she'd rather I carry her. Every time she waved me away and shrieked "NO!!" when I attempted to help. Finally after she sat on the third step down for more than a minute contemplating her next move I picked her up and took her downstairs screaming to change her. Much better. Toddlers are funny.

Lastly, I will write more about this when all the pictures are uploaded, but Charley had his Blue and Gold dinner for Scouts this weekend and I just need to tell someone what an amazing kid he is. He is so helpful with the other kids, he is delightful to hang out with, and he is thriving in school. Anyway, he was SO PROUD to have earned his Wolf badge. His excitement was infectious and it was so rewarding to have a special night to celebrate him. Love this kid.

Friday, February 27, 2015


*Not Safe For If You Are Eating Something

Yesterday as I mentioned it was freezing outside.  When Ryan came down from putting the big kids to bed I told him that I should go to the Y to do my olympic race walking but that what I really wanted was to open my new Tempranillo and read Harry Potter in my pajamas.  Ryan told me that if I went to the Y and walked that when I got home I could take a shower and put on my pajamas and then he and I could have that Tempranillo together and watch John Oliver.  This seemed like a reasonably good deal and also I didn't want to deal with the Stiff Back of Doom when I woke up in the morning, which is what happens if I skip olympic race walking, so I went to the Y.

Side note, I bought some earphones and found a station on Pandora called "Power Workout".  Life. Changed.  I do love the Van Morrison Radio station I listen to all day, but a bunch seventies pot smoking music does little to motivate me through minutes 21-45 of olympic power walking.  Dirty, NSFW rap and hip hop is JUST THE THING.

When I got home I took a long, very hot shower that felt amazing and when I got out I reached for the brand new, fresh from the laundry, towel I had laid out for myself as a little treat.  When I dried off my face I thought I smelled something unusual.  I continued drying off thinking "I don't like that smell but I can't put my finger on what it is."

Finally, after I had dried off my face and arms I had a horrible realization.  Puke.  The towel smelled like puke.

I gave it a slightly more direct sniff for confirmation.  TOTALLY PUKE.

Somehow, the towel I used to clean up the downstairs bathroom after Charley somehow managed to get puke everywhere EXCEPT the toilet went through the washer and dryer WHILE RETAINING THAT HORRIBLE SMELL.  So, as you do in these situations, I flung it to the other side of the bathroom in disgust, turned the shower back on, and scrubbed my entire upper body and face with Ryan's heavily scented Dove soap because my unscented hippie olive oil soap WAS NOT GOING TO DO THE JOB.


Lesson learned: use paper towels next time (paper towels would have been LAUGHABLY inadequate, however).

Also: These pictures are kind of embarrassing but you've been through four pregnancies with me so what the heck.

As part of my recovery from my day of gardening, I now have to wear this piece of pink tape on my shoulder for the next four days. You can't tell from the picture but it goes down to the middle of my back on the other side. I like to style it with apathy and accessorize with whatever, because it is freaking magical. I have not wanted to die from shoulder pain ONCE in the car since the physical therapist taped me up. And that is saying something.

Also, I have been forbidden to empty the dishwasher by my physical therapist, Ryan, and my dad. Things are getting out of hand.

Not that you can get more out of hand than a puke-smelling towel, but seriously, the Super Fund people will be calling any minute now.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

SAHM day. Like riding a bike.

Today started out warm enough to skip coats and it seemed like maybe we were about to see the light at the end of the February tunnel, but then as James and Mary and I enjoyed lunch out at Noodles and Co I happened to look out the window just as the wind hauled around to the north, whipping leaves and dirt all across the parking lot.  The sky clouded over ominously.  I wanted to yell "NOOOOOOOO" dramatically like someone witnessing a horrible accident in a movie, but instead I just sank into my seat with sad resignation.  I checked the forecast on my phone, which confirmed that we had already reached our high temperature for the day and were on the way back down to the upper twenties.  Suckfest.

James and Mary had well-checks today and since James was home sick already I decided to keep Mary home with me too.  Here are some things I have forgotten about being a full-time stay at home parent:

*A thirty minute trip to Trader Joe's can be punctuated by three (3!!) bathroom visits for the same, long-potty trained, child.  Someone must have been slipping him espresso while I was not looking because hand to god I learned YEARS ago to purposely dehydrate the children before running errands.

*Somehow "dinner ingredients" cost $52.  Apparently, in addition to black bean and sweet potato enchiladas, we are also having two boxes of Joe Joes, some honeycrisp apple juice, a bag of pirate's booty, and a loaf of banana bread.  Also I forgot *actual* bananas.

*We needed diapers too but since the weather went from pleasant and springlike to McMurdo Station in the course of a forty-five minute lunch I decided to skip Target on the way home.  She won't need more than one more diaper today, right?  Right?

*He also needed to go to the bathroom at the restaurant.  That's four trips to the potty in an hour.

*Everything takes three times as long as it should.  For instance: the drive from the pediatrician to the grocery store, which I had to do twice.  The first time we left, James said he wanted his after-shots treat to be "cookies from the place by the doctor" so I buckled them in, drove across the parking lot, and pulled into the adjacent parking lot where the cookie store was.  "NO NOT THIS COOKIE PLACE" he informed me.  He wanted the one in the basement of the doctor's office.  After some pointless explaining that there was no cookie store at the doctor's office I consented to driving back to the doctor's office to show him that the only thing in the basement of the doctor's office was a parking garage, then I proceeded to head for the grocery store.  A BLOCK AWAY FROM THE STORE, James decided he really did want to go to the first cookie place after all and since he had just had shots and I really like cookies, I decided to indulge him.  So we made a questionable U-Turn and headed back to the cookie store.  Imagine the expression on my face when we pulled into the parking lot and James became enraged because ONCE AGAIN I HAD CHOSEN THE WRONG COOKIE STORE.  I calmly explained that "This is THE ONLY COOKIE STORE BY THE DOCTOR'S OFFICE.  You have to the count of three to make a decision."  Ultimately I drove us back to the grocery store WITH NO COOKIES because I was not unbuckling two children only to have a sidewalk tantrum on my hands.

*Those stupid collapsible straws that come with the organic milk boxes were designed by someone who hates children.

*James keeps telling me the leg he got shots in hurts and is refusing to walk normally.  Of course I assumed (internally) that he was a big fakey mcfakerson, but every time Mary tries to get up some toddler speed she whimpers and points to the thigh they used for her shots.  Oops.

I think that's everything.  We had a really fun morning and now that Mary's napping I will have time to put some enchiladas together for dinner.  Then we will pick up Charley and Wes and then I have a physical therapy appointment which is good because I have been lifting allllls the kids this morning, which is strictly against the rules for the next three to five weeks, but what are you gonna do?

I might also make some sugar cookies because I'm feeling all domestic and stuff.  And I really need a reason to turn the oven on for a while because DANG.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

They tried to make me go to rehab

As part of my punishment for hurting my back, I am supposed to walk "vigorously" for forty-five minutes every single freaking day. When I raised my eyebrows, the universal sign for "ain't nobody got time for that," the physical therapist responded "You need to make time to take care of yourself" and I responded (in my head) "I've been trying to find an hour to go to Whole Foods to get a coffee and browse the batik print leggings for the last six months."

But as fortune would have it, Wes and James spent the entire four to six o'clock period screaming incoherently because the kids next door had company and were not available to play and by the time Ryan got home at six I WAS READY TO MAKE TIME TO CARE FOR MYSELF. UN-fortunately, I'm pretty sure the physical therapist didn't mean "Walk ten minutes to your friend's house, drink a glass of wine with her on the porch, then walk ten minutes home" even though the accompanying stress reduction that would result from that would arguably do at least something to relieve the tension in my back.

Before she prescribed Olympic race walking and prohibited me from lifting anything for the next four to six weeks, the therapist and I played twister for thirty minutes or so while she tried to figure out the source of my pain. She finally hit paydirt when she stabbed her thumbs into the vertebrae adjacent to Super Knot and I yelped in pain. DING DING DING WE HAVE A WINNER. It would appear to be some kind of disk problem, she said. Physical therapy twice a week, lots of rest and ice, and also I need to do cardio and work on my posture because swimsuit season will be here before you know it.

Other interesting factoids from my physical therapy visit today:

I am not supposed to lift any of the kids except for Mary and only in and out of her crib and car seat. Which basically means I can't take Wes out in public ever.

I have to drive with my right arm resting on a pillow in my lap. Because my right arm is kind of a diva.

I am not supposed to sweep or mop. This doubles as exposure therapy for my compulsive need for crap to not stick to my bare feet.

I should "give myself a break" and "only bathe the kids every other day" and "not change the sheets so often." Um, yeah, I'll *start* giving myself a break on those things. (NOTE: I just changed James's sheets in the middle of writing this because they were wet, yes, but also because I am a REBEL)

I am supposed to "get the eight year old" to bring the groceries in from the car. Still considering this one.

I should teach the kids to load the dishwasher and also buy all new Fiestaware when that goes horribly awry.

Then there was the oddly specific "Don't drain the pasta water if you use the big stock pot. Get someone else to lift that thing." So that means no pasta except on weekends when Ryan is home, I guess.

Also it looks like my Bermuda scalping, shoveling, and carrying dorm fridges upstairs days are over permanently, which means we can never move someplace where it snows which is FINE WITH ME.

I will leave you with this picture I took while lying on the floor with my feet on a chair watching The Daily Show, another recommendation of the therapist. She said to do it for thirty minutes, but HA HA I fell asleep and was there for forty-five. I'm an overachiever.

Monday, February 16, 2015

It's possible Wes learned more than some of my students

The public schools in our area were closed for President's Day today, but my school was open for business as usual, which meant that Charley and Wes and a slew of other school-age kids were on campus with their parents. Not only did I see numerous other kids hanging out in the library, playing Minecraft in the dining hall, and scootering around on the sidewalks, I overheard students (not mine) saying things like "I am so glad I finally got to see her kids after hearing all her stories!"

Ryan told me that when he led James into his school this morning he told him that Charley and Wes were going to college today and James looked up with concern in his eyes and said to Ryan "Oh. Are they being punished?"

On the way into the building we happened upon a box of electrical components marked "free" on a table in the hallway and took the whole thing to my office. They passed a lovely forty-five minutes looking through the box and raiding my desk for scissors, paper clips, glue sticks, and pens. Both of them came up with several inventions while I sorted through my email and got ready for my meeting. Later, Ryan used the box to teach Charley how to solder and helped him create a circuit that displays numbers based on where you touch the end of a jumper wire. My house is a disaster but my eight year old can solder. This is called keeping your priorities straight.

Then I took them to the curriculum collection at the library and turned them loose to find some reading material to take to the hour-long meeting I had at nine. I settled them into some comfy chairs in the faculty lounge slightly worried about how it was going to go, but every time I turned to check on them they were engrossed in NEW! BOOKS! Charley had found a prized "Nate the Great" that he HADN'T EVEN READ YET and I didn't hear a PEEP out of him the entire time. And hearing Wes softly reading his Mo Willems books aloud while I talked with my junior faculty research group was THE BEST.

Our next stop was for hot chocolate and then we headed back to the science building (through the FREEZING RAINING OUTSIDE, GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER, TEXAS) because I had to teach my climate class. They sat in the first two seats in one of the rows in (coincidentally) the corner of the classroom where all the education majors sit and were immediately very popular. One of the girls gave Wes a ball during the lecture. Charley finished his Nate the Great and traded Wes for the ball. All of this happened during the lecture without me noticing. These kids are going to GO places (By the way, every time I say "go" they dissolve into hysterics because "GO" like "GO TO THE BATHROOM GETIT?" This made the whole morning completely hi-larious, because we had to "GO" to the library and then it was time to "GO" to the meeting then "GO" to class. It really never gets old). Aside from those antics (which I didn't even know were happening), they sat up and watched the entire hour-long lecture on atmospheric circulation even though SOME OF THE TWENTY-YEAR-OLDS were fast asleep. I even sort of forgot they were in there a couple of times because SO QUIET.

Wes told me after we left the classroom "After being in your class I think I want to be a college teacher too." Then after dinner, HOURS after my class, he drew these diagrams and brought them to me and said "I drew some high and low pressure systems. I'm going to go hang it up by my desk." YOU GUYS. I may ask this as a short answer and stipulate that if they don't do as well as my six year old they don't get credit. DANG.

Charley was a bit under the weather, so after a nice lunch in the dining hall, (Wes selected a mixed bowl of cocoa puffs and lucky charms with chocolate milk, a piece of apple dessert pizza, and an ice cream cone for his lunch. At my prodding he managed a couple bites of a hamburger for protein), we went home and put in a movie. Later, when the little kids came home, they seized the leftover popcorn and demanded a movie of their own. Since it's freaking disgusting outside I was more than happy to put a second movie on.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A little definance, lots of good food, some amazing kids. Pretty good weekend.

I woke up really bummed on Valentine's day because my back was really sore and one of the side effects of the steroids seems to be a raging case of PMS-like irritability. We didn't have any plans for the day, I hadn't planned a special breakfast, and I hadn't made cupcakes for the kids like I had wanted to. Somehow, I managed to explain all of this to Ryan calmly without any screeching or crying, and he made it a really, really nice day for all of us. After Wes's soccer game we headed to the fancy grocery store downtown, which is featuring chocolate this month. Wes and I were looking forward to this all week, so I popped a couple of anti-inflammatories and got in the car. I was rewarded with an amazing chocolate mousse cake that I took home for dessert and a dark chocolate and sea salt bar that Mary and I shared while the boys were on the playground. We also bought asparagus and bacon and some sourdough bread because it was a fancy dinner night, dangit. Then we hung out on the playground in the 80 degree sunshine and let the kids run wild.

Mary fully exercised her Fourth-Baby-Privilege. First she had to stay close, then she had to stay with James, and then, do you see Mary? Oh, there she is at the top of the slide.

James was looking cute, wearing clothes Wes wore like two weeks ago I swear.

Shortly after Charley and Wes went inside to get refills on their drinks we heard a familiar voice yelling "Mom!" and turned around to see them on top of the balcony. Erm.

Close up. It's so cute when they flout our instructions to come straight back and check in.

And then we went home where Ryan and Charley grilled dinner (grilled sesame chicken and bacon-wrapped asparagus) in the back yard. James asked me for four dollars then rode his bike to the end of our culdesac to buy a box of Samoas from our neighbor. While I was talking to the neighbor, I heard Charley and Ryan yell "WOOOAAAHHH!!" from like halfway down the street. Later Ryan asked me "Did you know the marinade we used was flammable?"

Naturally, we had a two-course dessert, beginning with chocolate fondue, which was an unqualified success. Also pictured: the place where I spilled the only tiny glass of wine I allowed myself (given all the druuugs I am on right now just so I can stand up) all the heck over the place. Sad.

The kids demolished two pounds of strawberries and an entire container of chocolate in less than five minutes like water buffaloes attacking a herd of gazelles at the watering hole. Or something.

I keep looking at these pictures and thinking it looks like we're having a party, but nope. There are that many people at every family dinner.

Speaking of parties, after we got the kids in bed, Ryan set me up on my chair with my assortment of pillows and ice packs and then brought in a plate of fancy Brie and crackers and a personalized beer tasting flight. We spent a pleasant hour listening to music and sipping different kinds of beer and then read quietly until bedtime. It was really the perfect Valentine's Day.

...until Mary awakened at two o'clock in the morning because she didn't have her lovey, which Ryan found after she went to bed and attempted to wash. After two hours of Mary angrily yelling (not crying, YELLING) from her crib (and after trying cuddling, patting, singing, ibuprofen, and the humidifier), I got the lovey out of the mixing bowl where it was soaking in a detergent solution on the counter, wrung it out, rinsed it under the tap, rolled it up in a dishtowel and wrung it out again, then tossed it in the crib still damp. Mary quieted immediately and fell asleep. In the morning we found a layer of gray sludge on the bottom of the mixing bowl. The lovey smells much better now.

To really make the weekend perfect, Charley played the prelude at church this morning with our friend Mrs. B. and Wes and James sang in the choir. It's amazing to watch them be such confident little people doing things they love!