Monday, February 7, 2011

Work-Life balance. Wait, what?

My mother in law usually watches Noah during the week but today she needed off so I'm quasi-working from home today.  (Right Mom, a party for your Master Gardener class.  We know you really partied too hard last night for the Super Bowl.)  Because I enjoy a challenge, this also includes having Noelle with us since let's face it, we were at a Super Bowl party last night (we left at 8, it's cool) but they still got to bed late (and no baths, natch) and I really didn't feel like dealing with the drama that comes with waking her up, getting her ready and then getting Noah ready to get her to school then back home to be with the boy.  Instead, I got up early to do some work remotely before the natives start stirring in about a half an hour and will do more when he goes down for his nap.  I'm sure that there will be a lot of TV watched today but whatever because I rock at this parenting gig.

But, this is great!  You can work from home!  Kind of!  Yay for flex time.  Except for the whole part of STILL needing to go into work in the evenings as I can't do the actual evaluation part from here.  But why not just take the day off, enjoy the vacation day, take the kids out and do something?  I would love to but for the fact that I don't have a back-up and BECAUSE it's the day after the Super Bowl (which for my company should be like a holiday since NO ONE wants to come to work...oh wait, that's everyday but you get the point) and we are on a skeleton crew as it is and the other possible person to back me up won't be in til late as she needed to adjust her schedule to cover the people who begged and whined and pleaded to have off, my hands are tied.  That and an over-developed sense of responsibility/work ethic/whatever lead me to this crazy-ass schedule.

I shouldn't complain, I really shouldn't.  My manager doesn't have to allow me to do this.  She could force me to take vacation, burning through my 3 weeks before the end of June.  This way I can save my time for when I need to be away from work COMPLETELY (going to the beach, three-martini lunches with my mom, spa day with my best friend) so I can give a little.  I am grateful for the flexibility and the extra time with the kids.  Being able to make dinner the day off instead of the day before (chicken enchiladas tonight - yum!) and doing some straightening/laundry that we didn't get to over the weekend.  I'm in the plant, I'm in quality so it's not the easiest position in which to make use of opportunity to remote it but they allow me to do it and I take care to not abuse it so as not to ruin it for anyone else who might need the flexibility.

The only downsides to the arrangement?  Carefully scheduling a shower - must get one soon or forever hold my peace until tomorrow at 5:30 am and having to make my own coffee; that just might be cruel and unusual punishment right there.  Also:  almost out of creamer. D'oh!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Some Saturdays make me long for Mondays

Some days are full of happiness, fun, and light.  Today was not one of those days.  I mean, it started well enough, having to go into work aside but that was necessary because I wasn't able to do my own work this week having spent the majority of my time solving everyone else's problems.  But still, it was peaceful and productive so leaving I called home as I usually do to let Dyl know I'm on my way and if I need to stop and get anything since I'm already out.  Nope, everything was good, kids watching cartoons and would be eating breakfast soon.

25 minutes later, I get home and he opened the front door with Noah in his arms looking absolutely stricken.  Noah lunged for me, still wearing my jacket, backpack slung over one shoulder, heaving a great sigh of relief interspersed with hiccuping sobs.  I handed him back to Dyl to divest myself of jacket and bag and oh my lands, the wailing and gnashing of teeth that commenced.  What had set him off?  Dyl turning off the TV to make them breakfast.  What started as a tantrum (hello 18 months!) crescendoed into an out-of-control emotional breakdown for him.  So I took him upstairs to change his diaper because that was a really good idea and the insane freakout continued.  Oh my god, he is sick, he is hurt, he has the worst diaper rash in the history of, none of it.  I wrapped him up in my arms and he finally put his head against my shoulder, small body shaking with the sobbing; rubbing his back and his head whispering over and over 'It's okay, Mama's here' until the sobs spaced out and his breathing deepened into an exhausted sleep. 

And he slept for an hour and a half laying on my shoulder with me enjoying a closeness that we hadn't shared since he was 4 months old.  I dozed a bit but he got heavy and my arm fell asleep.  He finally woke up, looked at my smiled and gave me sloppy toddler kisses.  I'll admit, those were nice.  Poor Noelle though, I had barely been able to say 'hello' to her was barred from the room which did not help matters any.  Dyl was frazzled, hungry and tired, I was bewildered and the kids were...grumpy.  As the afternoon wore on, Noah took on more and more of the bratty little brother role and Noelle's tiredness (hi no nap) manifested as whining.  I can handle tantrums and crying and attitude but the one thing that will set my teeth on edge and make me loony tunes is whining.  And she has perfected it.  Why is it that they can hone in on our red button behaviors?  I'm convinced it's a gift. 

And so it continued both day and night.  Trying to remove Noah from my ankles while attempting to make dinner was a nonstarter.   Have you ever tried to brown ground beef with onions and spices on the stove with one hand while holding your almost 30 pound toddler as he pushes microwave buttons and opens the door to collide with your nose/ear/head with the other?  Not the most efficient way to cook we'll just say.  The afternoon was a battle, dinner was a battle, after dinner was a battle then they both got riled up after baths as Noelle has a new favorite song 'I'm a Banana' or some such nonsense from YouTube.  (I blame Tosh.0 for this one.)  Finally (finally!) we got them to bed after much stalling with a drink and a story and read it again Mommy and brushing of teeth and putting on of slippers and brushing of hair and another bed time story but wait! I need a drink of water and tucking in but where's my doll and FOR THE LOVE OF PETE GOOD NIGHT ALREADY! 

I can't believe that I almost forgot the best part.  My mom called after dinner so I sat down in the family room to talk to her while Dyl, Noelle and Noah played in the living room.  Not 2 minutes into the conversation, Noah comes running in wanting to push the buttons on the phone with Noelle quickly following behind him yelling something and bouncing on the couch, both reaching for the phone and holy crap did I get annoyed with them both, mostly with Noelle who knows enough to not be such a total brat when I'm on the phone.  Bedtime came very quickly after that and not soon enough. 

There is something about rainy winter days that just makes everyone tetchy.  Tomorrow will be better.  It has to be as I don't think that my patience reserves will be built back up enough again to deal with this a second day in a row.  Oh, and a Superbowl party so at least we'll get out of the house for a bit.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I blame children's programming for giving them ideas

On the way to preschool Friday morning Noelle was chattering away as usual when she threw out, "Mommy, let's talk about talents."  This was not unusual as there had been a Yo Gabba Gabba episode she recently saw that was about talents where talent equals things that you like to do and are good at so she has been spending quite a bit of time lately thinking about talents.

"Okay Noelle, let's talk about talents.  What are your talents?"

"Well, I like to sing and dance and play music so those are my talents."

Note:  she has not yet been enrolled in any sort of lessons/classes due to cost time parental laziness so we don't really know if she has a 'talent' in any of these areas but they fill the 'likes to do' requirement as stated by DJ Lance Rock so we just go with it.

"You certainly like to dance and are a good dancer."

"Yes, and I'm going to have a rock band.  Chase will play the guitar."

"Who will play the drums?"

"Nico will play the drums."  Nico is her boyfriend as evidenced by the kiss she received leaving school the other day.  She is FOUR but I gotta give the kid props, his technique was solid.  (She also pronounced his good-bye kiss today WET.  I almost peed myself laughing at that one.)

"Okay, so who's on the bass guitar?"

"Jimmy.  And Brenden will play the keyboard.  And Peyton will will play the tambourine."  Someone was on the accordion but I forget who.  I think that the tuba was also involved at some point but by this time my sides hurt from suppressing laughter at the mental image.

"What's the name of your band?"

"Um, 'Singing'.  And I'm the singer and Ms. Lisa and Ms. Amanda are singers too."

"Do you have any back-up singers?"

"Yeah, that will be Emily and Sydney and Caroline."

Almost the entire class is part of the band now.

"How about the rest of the class?  Will they be your dancers?"

"Um, yeah, they'll be the dancers and we'll have a band and all my friends will sing and dance and play instruments at my school and we're gonna ROCK!"

There you have it, be on the lookout for the mighty ROCK band 'Singing' in about 10 years.  Remember, you heard it here first.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Can you hear me now?

I'll just put this out there right now:  I have awful hearing.  It's legendary in my family.  When my mom took me to get my hearing tested somewhere between the ages of 12 and 14 (I'm guessing because I failed a school hearing test or something - one of the few things I failed.  That and cutting with scissors in kindergarten but that's because I'm left-handed and there were no left-handed scissors in the classroom then but I digress), the audiologist took a look at the results and remarked to mom that I must really struggle in school as I was missing A LOT.  "Um, no, actually, she does quite well.  Honor roll and all that."  A discussion around hearing aides commenced which I quickly nixed because hello!  Why don't roll me in dog poop everyday before sending me to school?  I wasn't enough of a dork and an outcast before, let's add big giant-ass hearing aides to it.  (Plus my orthodontist wanted me to wear my head-gear to school as well but luckily mom put the kibosh on that before I could go medieval on him.)  It would have been as Chris Knight described it in Real Genius as being guaranteed that a boy would never talk to me.  OHMIGOD, just get to the point already!

Right, the point.  So I have terrible hearing but have developed coping mechanisms and techniques to deal with it because I never knew that there was a problem.  It was just what was.  So when I didn't understand something, instead of calling attention to it (and myself), I'd just read ahead in the text book. Or the reading book.  Or whatever it was in front of me and 'learn' that way.  I'd not respond when people were talking to me if I was reading because it was no secret that I love to read and they would simply assume that I was so totally engrossed in the book that I had tuned them out.  Which I did as the voices were just a buzzing background noise, easy to ignore once you master the trick.  Once I was made aware of the deficiency graphically described as a cookie with a big bite taken out of the bottom of it, I tried to pay more attention but man, it was exhausting.  So...I just didn't. 

As I got older, I played it for laughs.  One Thanksgiving in particular my youngest sister got a phone call from her then-boyfriend now-husband and walked out of the room to talk to him in 'private'.  As she walked away, she must have said "...Mike..." which my superior auditory capabilities interpreted as 'Muffin' so I simply assumed that it was her special pet name for him.  So of course being the big sister, I tormented her with this when she came back downstairs.  "You call him Muffin?  Aw, so cute!"  She looked at me like I had grown another head and was like, no you idiot, I called him 'Mike'.  But the damage was done and for Christmas that year he got boxes of muffin mix from the fam.  My best friend even got me the Miracle Ear information package off an infomercial and THEY CALLED ME TO FOLLOW UP!  She was cracking up laughing as I was telling the very earnest young man just where he could stuff his miracle ear.

So every time we get together now, my mom will say, not at subtly, 'you are going to get your hearing checked soon, right?'  To which I typically respond, yes, when it's a problem.  I can function, I don't hear everything but I have enough coping strategies that I'm not incapacitated by it.  Well, yesterday everything changed.  I went to a new primary care doctor and as part of the medical history, she asked about my vision and hearing.  They are both terrible so I told her.  Well, at the end of the visit she decided to do a baseline hearing test to see how *bad* it was.  The instrument was like the othoscope used to look in the ears but it played a series of tones and you simply raise your hand when you hear something.  I heard...2 tones in the left ear and 3-4 in the right.  I'm not sure about the last one on the right ear as it started ringing (tinnitus.  Sexy!) then an actual tone played so I don't know if I got credit for that one or not.  The technician told me that wow, it was really bad and gave the results to the doctor who basically said, yeah, this is really really bad. 

This was delivered with the nervous smile and overly cheerful voice folks use when they are delivering bad news but don't want you to worry too much but like I said, I knew it was awful.  So she wrote me a referral for an audiologist so we could determine if it was severe enough to warrant external auditory amplifiers...oh hell, hearing aides.  I told this to my best friend who basically asked if that meant I was 'legally deaf'.  Once I stopped laughing about it, I told her I was pretty sure that no such designation existed.  Okay, it is (past) time and I have no high school boys or cliques to impress so why not?  It will go nicely with all of my grey hair.  And it will be an interesting experience to not 'read' movies.  I'll let you know how it all turns out.

And, of course, in another entry in the Preschoolers Say the Darnedest Things category, driving home yesterday, the sun had finally (!) come out what with the wind pushing the clouds away.  Noelle from the backseat chirps, ''Mommy, where are the clouds?"  "The wind blew them away baby."  Wait a beat.  "Mommy, where are the clouds?"  Me (thinking that she couldn't hear me over the radio) "The wind blew them away baby."  Not half a second later I hear "Mommy, where are the clouds?"  By this time I'm getting annoyed knowing she heard me the first two times and replied "Noelle, I just told you twice, the wind blew them away!"  She laughs and says, "I'm sorry Mommy, you'll have to speak up.  I couldn't hear you."  Which is what I say to her at least 3 times a week.

Well played, universe.  Well played.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Not quite ready for primetime

You know who tells the best jokes in the world?  Preschoolers. 

Noelle:  Knock, knock

Me:  Who's there?

Noelle:  Noelle

Me:  Noelle who?

Noelle:  Noelle you glad mumble mumble something banana hahahahaha!


Noelle:  Knock, knock

Me:  Who's there?

Noelle:  Diego

Me:  Diego who?

Noelle:  Diego you glad mumble say banana hahahahahahaha!


Noelle:  Knock knock

Me:  Who's there?

Noelle:  Bag

Me:  Bag who?

(Can you guess the end?  Go on, guess.  Bet you'll never get it.)

Noelle:  Bag you glad mumblesnortgah banana hahahahahaha!

And to think I was concerned at one point that she would never start talking.

(Knock knock jokes.  OMG someone pass me a fork to stick in my ears.  But to preschoolers, they are like crack dipped in speed wrapped in a lollipop.)

Also:  send help.  And new jokes.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Voices from the Backseat

The following conversations took place this morning on the way to preschool. 

Noelle:  Mommy, where are the horses?  (This asked as we were driving through horse country.)

Me:  I don't know baby, maybe they're in the, look! (Pointing) They're waaaay over there by the trees.

Noelle:  Why are they by the trees?

Me:  Probably so they don't get rained on.

Noelle:  I don't like rain.  It makes the snow go away and then I can't make snow angels.

Me: true.  Very true baby.


Noelle:  Mommy, I want a baby sister.

Me:  You want a baby sister?

Noelle:  Two of them.

Me:  You want...

Noelle (continuing as if I hadn't spoken):  And a baby brother.

Me:  Um, you have a baby brother.

Noelle:  I want a baby sister NOW!

Me (trying not to laugh):  Um, it doesn't work that way sweetie.  It takes a long time to make a baby and Mommy and Daddy aren't quite ready for another one yet.

Noelle:  Oh.  (Pause)  My friends are going to love my new book!


All before 8 am on a Wednesday.  So with that, how was your morning?