Monday, November 5, 2012

Out of the mouths of babes

Did you know that kids say the darnedest things? It's true! And I will be forever grateful that these happened safely ensconced in our house and not somewhere Ahem.

Scene: She is sitting on the floor taking off her shoes as is the rule in our house in a futile effort to keep the carpet somewhat clean (Oh HAI cat poop hanging off of butt fur). Me: "Noelle honey, please bring me your jacket to hang up." Noelle: "Mommy, I can do exactly ONE THING at a time." Me:  "...I do say that, don't I? Well played my child. Well played indeed."

Scene: She has run into the bedroom while I am changing out of my nice (read: office work) clothes. Noelle (pointing to the hangers on the bed): "Mommy, what are those hooker things?" Me: "Those are hangers honey; hookers are something completely different."

Scene: Getting ready for bed, he spots a crucifix on my dresser. "Mommy, what this?" Me: "That's a crucifix from GG's (my grandmother who passed away a year and a half ago) house." Noah (reverently): "This Jesus?" Me: "Yes baby, that's Jesus." Noah: "Jesus is so COOL! He my best friend!"

Scene: Living room, about to take batting practice. What? Doesn't everyone? Me: "Okay Boo, put Jesus down, we can't play baseball with Jesus." Noah: "Why?" Me: "Because everyone knows he can't hit a curveball."

Okay, so that last one was all me but really, how can anyone resist dropping a Major League reference when the opportunity presents itself?

Now, coffee or cookies? The mid-afternoon slump has hit. Hard.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Phoning it in

I refuse to fail 3 days into NaBloPoMo but in my defense, I was playing zone defense with the kids this morning then had to go into work for four hours this afternoon. Dinner, bath, bed and before I knew it, BAM! 8:30. Well my brain is shot because I'm craving wine and my sister is talking about her husband's family sausage (and I hope to god this is NOT an euphemism for anything). I can promise you I have stuff lined up to talk about such as our extended visit with Henry the Hippo, potty training and being thwarted by trying to eat healthy. Er.  So peace out my lovelies and I'll catch you on the flip side!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Capriciousness, thy name is toddler

Spending too much money on overpriced polyester just to be worn once and summarily rejected the day it's actually called for is the best thing said no parent ever.  I refer to, of course, that rite of passage known as deciding what to be for Halloween.  Noelle knew it early that she wanted to be Jessie from Toy Story. In fact, the campaigning for the costume began back in August (we did however make her wait until October to 1) be sure so as not to waste money (Ha. HAAAA.) and 2) because we are the meanest parents ever.)

Noah, however, had his heart set on being Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Do you have any idea how freaking hard it is to find that costume? It was nowhere; it almost seemed like we were the only household to watch Disney Junior so we talked him into Buzz Lightyear which he also loves . Assuaging the wounds of acute disappointment was the discovery of the blow up space wings which suddenly made this the most! bestest! costume! ever! He wore it all day Saturday: to dance class to watch Noelle, to Zoo Boo with his cousins, to the Trunk or Treat party at Noelle's school. We were getting our money's worth out of this one yessireebob.

To infinity...or the edge of the playground!

Until Hurricane Look-At-Me-I'm-Sandra-Gonna-Mess-Shit-Up-For-You-Real-Good. Trapped in the house for two days, he rediscovered the dress up box and buried at the bottom of the box was...a pirate costume. On it went and on it remained. All. Damn. Day. He refused to take it off to get a bath and the only way we managed to finagle that was to promise him he could sleep with it on his bed.

You can see where this is going.

The next morning was Halloween go time for costumes at school. His Buzz costume, freshly cleaned was folded on top of his dresser, the pirate costume in  a pitiful rumpled heap on his bed. And he chose....the pirate. Not even the inflatable space wings were enough to sway him this time. So we sighed, shrugged and suggested wearing Buzz trick or treating later.


Yarr, mateys. I be three.

Next year I'm making his choose his costume out of the box. The pink fairy princess dress should fit him just fine then.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Things I bought today that made me happy

Presented in no particular order:

1.  Chapstick

2.  Panty liners (trust me, birthing two 9+ pounders does not do wonders for ye old pelvic floor)

3.  Hand Soap

4.  Gum

5.  Chapstick

6. White Cheddar Cheez-its. They are my crack.

Partying it up like it's 1950 here.  Conclusion? I'm either insanely easy to please or just...really simple.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Noah does not handle change well. Even the slightest shift to the routine can and will throw him off resulting in epic tantrums and flailing fists all before 7:15 am. Tuesday was just such a day. Things were 'off' and when told it was time to go and brush his teeth to leave for school, he shrieked, cried and ran to hide behind the train table which is located in front of the bay window.  (Doesn't everyone keep their Thomas gear in the living room? No? Just me? Very well then, move along.) As I bent down to pick him up from the turkey fetal position, I happened to look up and through the top of the plantation shutters saw the sunrise.

It was a gorgeous sunrise, streaks of pink, blue and lavender stretching ladder-like across the sky. As I picked him up to haul his stubborn ass upstairs I remarked, "Wow, that's a beautiful sunrise!"

"Can I see?"

"Sure buddy" (hoisted him up to look)

"...Oh pretty! Who did that, Mommy?"


"Thank you God!"

Thank you God indeed.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

An open letter of confuzzlement to Lifetouch photography

Dear Lifetouch,

Is it okay if I call you 'Life'? Great, thanks. Life, I've got some questions. You see, yesterday my daughter had her very first school picture done and last night she brought home an order form directing my to PUTS THE MONIES IN BAZKET in two days or it would self-destruct. Or something. The problem is, I don't know what it is I would be ordering as there was nothing enclosed to review. In photography parlance I'm pretty sure they are called 'proofs'. You might want to look into those.

Undoubtedly Life, you utilize digital photography because HAI 500 STUDENTS and whatnot so I logically concluded that one could visit your website to review the 'proofs' as surely you wouldn't require parents and guardians to purchase expensive photo packages sight unseen. It's a lovely website full of Rah Rah stuff but when I went to the link for K-11 school portraits, I was greeted with this:

"We're currently performing maintenance on our website. Please check back later."

The only page on the website that wasn't working. Curious, no? Not to be deterred, I next visited the 'Make Payments and Shop Products' page as surely there would be a way there to find what I needed. Alas, in order to pay or order more pictures, one first needs to set up an account with information that can only be transmitted via the supersekkrit code the portrait package order. We seem to have come full circle. You see the problem here Life.

Now, I took the liberty of conducting a highly scientific poll of past and current marks users of your products via email, Twitter and facebook and the consensus was that this is an extremely effed up way of doing business. How many other times are you expected to pay for something without seeing what it is you are buying first? I'm no economist but this doesn't seem to be a very sound business model. Or maybe it is as research (well, Twitter) indicates you are the only game in town. One would think with the delightful website that that there would be a way to provide codes to students so parents could review pictures online prior to having to fork over a crap-ton of money for potentially questionable products. See again: digital photography, wonders of.

I can only assume that this is an (ongoing) oversight and you are working diligently to bring your company into the 21st century as the upcharge for basic and DELUXE!!! retouching is inane when YOU CAN'T EVEN SEE WHAT MIGHT NEED TO BE RETOUCHED IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Warmest regards,


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I expect the next great American novel by 5th grade

I'ma just gonna get this off my chest: Kindergarten does NOT mess around. I remember some 32-odd years ago being in kindergarten and working on learning the freaking alphabet, but apparently that's not good enough for our schools today. No, they want them doing real actual school work and when you're done with that, ASSEMBLE THESE PARTICLE ACCELERATORS KTHXBAI.

It has been six weeks since Noelle began her Journey Through Public Education with the first five coasting along, okay, we've got this: rules, sharing, no picking your nose in class, etc. But this week, oh ho HO! this week. Hope you enjoyed that gentle introduction because shit's about to get real up in here. FAST. Today is Wednesday. Please to be keeping that in mind. On Monday she came home and spouted off about compound words. You know, Mommy, a word made up of two other words. And then she proceeded to list lots of then. That party trick was followed up by clapping out syllables. Wow! That's awesome! You go with your bad self there girlfriend. Hey, it's homework time, let's see what the schedule There...there isn't the monthly calendar. Oh look! It's the letter 'E' worksheet...but we just got the 'D' worksheets on Friday...okay, time to do your homework.

Last night at dinner she informed us that Mrs. Richmond calls the period 'Mr. Meany' because he stops a sentence. And that a comma means a pause and you know what? She's absolutely correct. This bears repeating: they are learning grammar rules. In Kindergarten. Grammar. Rules. Hey, homework time! Let's see if we have the calendar yet...nope. But look! It's the letter 'F' worksheet. Were 'D' and 'E' supposed to be done by now? Do they all get turned in Friday? WHO SHOT JR?!

And then I proceeded to drink the rest of the bottle of wine.

The end.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Pillow Talk

Wednesday night after the first presidential debate, Dylan and I were laying in bed and as seems to be our wont, engaging in a deep philosophical conversation, this time around the role of religion in government and policies. (What? Doesn't everyone do this? SEXAY TIMEZ NAO) His position (and one that I agree with) is that one of the founding precepts of this country was a freedom to worship as you please; aka the freedom of religion.  Too many in this country operate under the misguided notion that this is Christian country. Let's get this straight right now: No. No it is not. Never has been. The majority of citizens may in fact practice one of the myriad factions of Christianity but there is no national religion. You can look that up in the Constitution. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Okay? Okay. Moving on.

He was angry that so many felt the need to tell other that UR DOING IT RONG. That there is only one way to peace/enlightenment/heaven/joy and you better get with the program. OR ELSE. That the Bible has good morals and many teachable moments but if you were to actually attempt to live the Bible, you would be reduced to a quivering mass of inconsistencies. There is a book out written by a guy named AJ Jacobs who attempted to literally live the bible for a year (The Year of Living Biblically*). Dyl's point was about picking and choosing and the tendency of those who base arguments and attempt to base policies on biblical passages to ignore the forest for the trees.

Then he brought up an interesting point; all of these different 'Gods', they are really the same person/spirit/entity and truly all we are debating is semantics. It doesn't matter if you address 'God' as God, Yahweh, Jehovah, Muhammed, Grilled Cheese or Honey Boo Boo. If you believe in a divine deity, it's the same figure. And the divine deity? He/She/It likes to mess with us out of boredom. See: everything. I mean, really, how else to you amuse yourself when you are an immortal, all-powerful being?

I admit I was taken by this idea and took it one step further: what if God was participating in a multi-universe Sims game with other Gods of other universes to create the ultimate utopia? What if all we are are but pawns in an intergalatic computer game? WHICH PILL DO WE TAKE?

And as one does after such a discussion, we fell asleep.

* Disclaimer: the link goes to Amazon but that's only because it was the first one that popped up in the Google search. No affiliate link blah blah blah.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

9 Years

Nine. NINE?! 9. Today is my 9th wedding anniversary to Dylan. Just over 12 years ago we met and three years later were married. Now two kids, three cats, multiple job changes and a house later, here we are. And I couldn't be happier.

Love you so much honey! Happy Anniversary.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I have seen the enemy and its name is Kindergarten

In a rare burst of domesticity/mothered-out-bliss, I volunteered to help out in Noelle's Kindergarten class with 'centers' once a month. Note: I did NOT volunteer to be room parent because HELL NO. My first day was yesterday as last week I received the calendar with the volunteer schedule. (Um, did anyone maybe THINK to check if said schedule for OTHER PEOPLE was actually workable?) (No.) (Obviously.) Because I am a TEAM PLAYER (and apparently have much more in common with sheep than I am comfortable examining right now), I sucked it up, kissed lunch good-bye and headed out. In a freakin' monsoon. I swear that the roads I took were *thisclose* to being completely washed out and I was headed for a starring role on the evening news: 'Over-involved mother of 2 discovered in tree after minivan was swept away in the Raging Corn River of October 2012'. (It was so that bad y'all.) In a rare moment of foresight, I actually built in extra time so I wouldn't be late to help a teacher who had no idea I was coming. Communication FTMFW!

Noelle's teacher was glad to see me though and my role was to assist the kids in their centers. Also to referee and cheerlead as 15 five-and six-year olds after recess are...challenging. And you know what? I really enjoyed it. It was such an incredible experience being able to be in the classroom with my daughter, see her participate engage in learning activities. And Noelle? She was so excited that HER MOMMY came to her class to help that she glowed. She wanted so badly to run to me and bear-hug me but she held it in until Mrs. Richmond gave her the go-ahead to break formation. And I was okay with that. My role was to assist, not disrupt the classroom routine that she had spent the past month drilling into those little heads. I was able to sneak in lots of hugs and kisses during my hour there; worked with two centers on making their books about their families and family trees. Basically, I was there to do whatever Mrs. Richmond needed to allow her to work with smaller groups of the kids. And these kids were great. Great listeners, very little redirection needed, they got along and I had a blast working with them, getting to know them and building Noelle's confidence that her mommy and daddy cared about her school. I know that I'm lucky that my job has enough flexibility to allow me to take an hour here and there to be involved in her education. Not everyone is as fortunate as I and I do not disparage anyone for not being able to do the same.

And this was a good transition for me after being so involved in her preschool day; in seeing her teachers every day and discussing the good and bad. So as much as it was for her, I guess it was for me too. So much so that I went and volunteered to pick up another day a month.

Someone send me some rose-colored glasses please? I have a feeling I'm going to need them.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Mommy Wars: A One-Woman, 2-Act Play

Act One - The Working Mommy

5:30 am The alarm rings. Jump out of bed (okay, more like stumble as my glasses are knocked to the floor in the flailing about to turn off the alarm.) Shower, dress and head downstairs for breakfast. Pass husband on stairs, exchange fleeting kiss, eat, pack lunch, back upstairs to brush teeth. Wake kids up. No dice. Play silly games to get kids out of bed then attempt to dress them. Soothe grumpy kindergartner. Everyone back downstairs for breakfast, packing of backpacks. Husband exits, stage left. Wrangle/cajole/threaten/scream to get kids back upstairs to brush teeth. Repeat 'Leave the cat alone' until insane. Back downstairs to put on shoes and coats. Herd children out the door into van; take kindergartner to school. Forcibly extract preschooler from the before school care room; wrestle him back into his car seat. Drive to preschool, disentangle legs from octopus arms and head to work.

8:15 am Walk into work and am immediately tossed into the lion's den even though I spent all Friday, came in on Saturday and logged into the network on Monday to cover the day off. Go through email; try not to throw monitor across the room. Draft and delete several dozen responses as sarcasm is not appreciated by anyone in the building. Prep samples, lug samples to technical building in rain because to move the van is to lose the parking space. Carry on one-sided conversation in head as to how to rein in the idiots. Conclude it can't be done - they'll just build a better idiot.

9:45 am Drink coffee.

10:00 am Begin sample evaluations, run reports, hide from co-workers.  Repeat as needed til the end of the day.

5:00 pm Pick up preschooler, drive home, make dinner, clean up after dinner, help kindergartner with homework, give baths, brush teeth, read stories and put kids to bed.

8:30 pm Finish cleaning up kitchen, help husband clean up family room. Think about cleaning floors and bathrooms; collapse on couch instead.

Act Two - The Stay at Home Mommy

7:00 am Kids wake up and come in bedroom. Got a blissful 8 hours of sleep so no big deal. Change pull-up on preschooler, turn on TV, set kindergartner up with orange juice and goldfish, preschooler gets milk. Boot up laptop and log into work. Repeatedly get up from computer to find playhouses, refill milk glasses, repeat 'leave the cat alone' until insane. Break up fight number 1 of the day; threaten to not take them to fun place.

8:00 am Still attempting to work; preschooler wants breakfast. Fix it so he can eat and watch Imagination Movers at the same time. Remember to make coffee. Drink coffee. Continue trying to work. Break up fight number 2 of the day.

9:30 am Fix breakfast for kindergartner, go take shower. Have preschooler join me in the bathroom so give up and let him stay. Talk to him about showers. Get dressed and dress kids. We're going to go have some fun but first, a couple of errands. Surprisingly, no groans. Tear room apart looking for credit card - realize that it's expired and make mental note to find the new one...somewhere in the basement. Throw in load of laundry

10:15 am Load kids into van, run the necessary errands than off to fun stuff. Break up fight number 3 of the day. Wonder if fun place serves beer and if so, is it too early to order it.

11:15 am Arrive at Chuck E. Cheese and kids proceed to lose their ever-loving minds. A great time is had by all.

12:45 pm Bigger kids coming out so head home; stop for one more errand. Get drinks and change preschooler's pull-up for nap time. Log back onto network to monitor situation, kindergartner asks to play Legos. Play Legos. Remember laundry and put in dryer.

2:15 pm Kindergartner asks to watch TV, tell her not until 4. Whining commences. Suggest coloring/painting/reading/homework. Decides on homework. Asks if it's 4 o'clock yet. Have impromptu lesson in telling time. Pull out homework assignment. Asks if it's 4 o'clock yet. Finishes weekend homework, Monday's homework and Wednesday's homework. Asks if it's 4 o'clock yet. (It isn't) Stare at clock longingly, says, 'It's taking forever.' Tempted to agree.

4:00 pm Finally! Turn on TV for kindergartner, start prepping dinner. Realize that I have everything except for the seasoning pack. Decide to make do with beef stew seasoning. Hope no one notices. Wake up preschooler. Put another load of laundry on. Apply tattoos to kids.

5:15 pm Husband home. Clean up kitchen, reload dishwasher, put laundry in dryer. Finish making dinner.

6:30 pm Eat dinner, clean up kitchen, husband plays with kids. Bath time! Take out trash, brush teeth, read stories, put kids to bed.

8:30 pm Finish cleaning up kitchen, help husband clean up family room. Think about cleaning floors and bathrooms; collapse on couch instead.


Conclusion: There are no winners. It's all hard. Now, where's my wine?

Friday, September 14, 2012

The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

Fridays man. Last time I checked they were supposed to be happy and upbeat, everyone jazzed for the weekend. My kids apparently missed that memo and decided to be right little shits this morning. Noelle was tired. Her hands were weak. She didn't like computers as they were 'too hard'. She didn't want to wear short sleeves. She was tired. Her stomach hurt. All this before she even got out of bed. Once out of bed I handed her the clothes she had selected and told her to carry them into the other room to get dressed.

"No, Mommy. You carry them."

Um, no. These are your clothes child and you will carry them. Now. She grabbed the clothes and back rigid in protest, marched into my and Dyl's room to get dressed for the day. She turned to me with her 'I'm going to cry now' face and burst into tears. Oh godfuckingdammit. I so don't do drama yet apparently birthed the biggest drama queen ever to dramz.

We managed to get through the remainder of the dressing, eating breakfast, brushing teeth and getting out the door without further hysterics from either one. Until the time came to drop Noelle off at the before/after school care program at her school. (Note: we really don't have a choice in this. School doesn't start until 9:15; car riders cannot arrive before 8:55 and the bus for our neighborhood picks up at 8:35ish. Neither Dylan nor I can wait until the bus comes as our jobs simply don't allow us the luxury of rolling in that late plus Noah still has to be dropped off at preschool/daycare. Am I justifying? Yes. Moving on.) So because of the delays getting started, we didn't leave the house until 7:30.

Because of logistics, Noelle is dropped at her program first. Now, Noah is 3 and the idea of locking him in the van while I take Noelle to the program is pretty untenable so he comes along too. And he loves it. He wants so desperately to go to the big school that when informed no, you are going to your school come on, we're late, pretty much all hell breaks loose.

He went limp then when I picked him up, went straight as a board (aside: how do they know to do this?). When I readjusted my grip on him, he squirmed around until he was facing me and started hitting at me and spitting. I ignored the histrionics until the time came to put him back in the van. Then full-on shrieking, hitting and spitting: NO! NO! I FIVE! I FIVEEEEEEEEE!

Then it happened. I snapped. Not hard but enough that I actually slapped his face. He stopped, stunned then started right back up with the hitting and spitting at me. So I slapped his hand. Neither was hard but it was sharp. I finally got him buckled in and stone-faced marched back to the driver's door. He's screaming and kicking and flailing in the back seat, shouting at me when I turned and and lashed out myself, "I don't like you very much right now. I will always love you forever but right now, I don't particularly like you." And I hated myself the moment the words were out. For my words, for my hands. What did I do wrong? How did it get to that point? I'm the adult, I know better. How do I teach not to hit and spit when pushed to the breaking point, I do the same? And the words. Oh god, the words. Those are what will stay with a child forever. I should have condemned the behavior, not make it sound like I was condemning him.

All the way into daycare he repeated my words back at me: I don't like you Mommy. I don't love you so much anymore. All I could do was stare straight ahead and not respond, tears streaming down my face. In the parking lot I turned to him and told him that I was sorry for getting mad. I managed to stop myself before the almost inevitable '...but...' I told him that I should have said that I didn't like his behavior, not him (even though in the heat of the moment it was true) and that I love him always and forever. We hugged and cuddled and the rest of drop off went as normal but the guilt, the second-guessing, that will never go away.

Then I get to work, remember that we are down parking spaces due to renovations and visitors will be here to see the engineering marvel underway so managers had to park in another lot that was not well marked so I parked where I thought was correct and prayed that I didn't get towed. Another manager in the department commented on a rejection notice I had written the previous day and said, oh, this has a repack. Add the other inspection lot to this rejection. The time it took for him to do that he could have done it his own damn self. Oversized boxes and containers were waiting to go up to technical which I couldn't do because, hey, my car was on the plant lot and while putting on my sunglasses to walk what I could up the technical, they snapped in half.

I have never been so glad as to have a bottle of Mommy's Time Out waiting at home because I need it today. For multiple reasons.

I love you Doodlebug. Tomorrow will be better. I promise.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Where I was when the world stopped turning

It began, as unspeakable tragedies are wont to do, like any other gloriously beautiful fall day. I was a graduate student in Food Science at the University of Maryland, College Park and working full time as a lab technician. That beautiful Tuesday was one of my long days, classes from 9:00 am to 12:15 pm then back to Baltimore to work until 8. For some reason, I felt compelled to bring my old Sony Walkman with me that day, learning perhaps that I needed a way to while away the time between classes. After my first class, we were gathered in the classroom waiting for our professor to reappear with the promised handouts that complemented the day's lesson. We waited...and waited...and waited.  We had just appointed someone to go find him when he appeared and in an apparent state of disbelief uttered the words that changed everything forever: "A plane just hit the World Trade Center."

Clamor arose and I dug furiously through my backpack for my Walkman and tried to remember the Washington area news radio station. CNN or WTOP, I don't remember now but finally picked up a tinny, static-filled transmission. I was relaying the updates to my classmates when the second tower was hit. Then the first tower fell. My feet wandered aimlessly around the campus, seeing young, laughing college students who had no idea what had happened. I ended up in front of a pay telephone; I had no cell phone and the only thing I could think was: Was my mother okay as by then the Pentagon had been hit and hysterical reports were surfacing regarding the FBI building. My mother worked in DC, my brother in law was an FBI analyst based at headquarters. My husband's aunt was also an FBI agent. My aunt had an office in the World Trade Center, the North tower I believe, or had at one point. When she flew to California for work, she would always take that United flight. Was she traveling this day or safe at the home office?

I dug out my calling card and somehow was able to connect with my father at home, before the circuits became too overloaded. All he could tell me was that my mom was fine and that she had been in contact with my aunt. Almost sobbing from relief, I called Dylan. Or I tried to. I don't remember now if I ever got through to him during the day that I was okay but I have to believe that I made contact. Not knowing how close the campus was to the points of attacks, not knowing if a university would have been a target. But we were fine. All of us. And I could breathe again.

News would leak out slowly across the campus and I watched, almost disassociated from myself, as the knowledge that this seeming tragedy was deliberate. I struggled with the decision but ultimately went to my next class where the students were buzzing and arguing if class should or would be cancelled. It wasn't and Biometrics went on as usual.

Crossing campus to my car and making the drive back up I-95 to Baltimore, I was struck by how eerily empty the highway was and watched the deceptively clear blue skies with trepidation. As I walked into the office, my friends essentially jumped me in their worry, knowing that I was in College Park, not knowing if anything had occurred there, hoping I was alive and unscathed. It hadn't even occurred to me to call the lab, to let them know.

That night at home, Dylan and I watched the coverage. I saw for the first time what I only heard described over the radio transmissions and it was ever worse than I could have imagined. I watched in silence, completely numb and empty inside, unanswerable questions ping-ponging around in my mind. How? How can anyone hold that much hatred to do that? What religion would ever advocate for such an action?

For me, these questions remain to this day. Though it's mostly associated with the holiday season, this seems to be just as fitting as we remember the tragedy of 9/11 and honor those who fell and those who helped as best they could: Peace on earth, goodwill towards men.

God bless us, every one.

Friday, September 7, 2012

I'm training my kids to hate Fridays

Poor Noah. He was unlucky enough to get caught in the vortex of Appointment Fridays. He was unlucky because he has a mother who schedules things like doctor and dentist visits as close to the actual birthday as possible or it might just not get done. (This is not called efficiency. This is called hedging your bets.) Two weeks ago (Friday), the day before his third birthday (pictures will come at some point as soon as someone sends me theirs. Mom.) he had his three year old check up where he actually kicked ass and it wasn't until after the check up when he was told he could not play with the doctor's knee-knocker thingy that he broke loose with an epic tantrum which included not only hitting and spitting but the fun new twist of running away and would not be placated by anything even though I loaded up the bag with snacks as it was so close to lunchtime but no, he was having none of that. God woman, JUST GIVE ME THE RUBBER KNEE KNOCKER THIS IS NOT COMPLICATED. (He was hungry. Very. Just...not for snacks. Lunch or bust baby.)

Because big boy is now three, it's high time (all right, all right, way past time) that he got his first dental cleaning/check up. Also on a Friday. And because I am obsessive about documenting every big moment except for the ones where we go to visit people because hello wine, I captured his preshusness for everyone to see and to embarrass him later. Let's see how things went, shall we?

I'm in the chair muthafuckers! (With special guest stars Buzz Lightyear and Mommy Mickey.

Hey Doc, whatchya got there? I am intrigued and unleash Blue Steel.

I...wait....whoa. Back the truck up. What in the name of pants is this?

I'm sorry, you are going to what? With what? And where pray tell?


You win this time Mother but vengeance will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine.
I gave him this week off to forget so there's another whole week to dream up new ways to screw with him. Who said parenting can't be fun?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Are you ready kindergarten? Here comes Noelle!

She's been in school for 4 full days now:

No hesitation, no nerves, just an unswerving BRING IT attitude.

Confidence oozed from almost every inch of her.

With sprinkles leaking out everywhere else.

We are locked and loaded for action.

Yeah, we got this.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Old patterns die hard

Noelle started kindergarten at the local public school this year (yes, pictures are coming, I swear!) and last night was her back to school night. Dyl and I had attended every single back to school night and parent-teacher conference offered at her daycare-preschool because we are concerned and involved parents who really just wanted to hear (again) how awesome our daughter was (and she is. Awesome.) so we figured, 'ain't no thang', just roll on in and that will be that.  What neither of us suspected was that long buried insecurities would raise their heads upon treading those hallowed halls of glue sticks and crayons.

As I had been the one to take Noelle to her orientation(s), it made sense for me to attend seeing as I (theoretically) would have a better idea of where to go. After scarfing down my dinner of roasted garlic hummus with crackers (foreshadowing!) and shotgunning a Pepsi, into the elementary school I strolled. Fortunately I did remember to change out of my work-clothes as khakis and a name-emblazoned polo shirt would just be too much fierceness for the community to handle. What I didn't allow time for was a shower because of course yesterday I would have been around the worst-smelling products that we could use. (Always. ALWAYS when I have to be around people.) Think sour roasted coffee deep fried with extra garlic (dun dun DUN) in an unconditioned school gym packed with people and an evening temperature of the balmy 85 degree variety and I cannot imagine why the other parents gave me such a wide berth. Which is to say that I was very much alone.

I can smell myself at the end of a particularly stankariffic day so I just assume that others can too. Maybe not but that thought was what I clung to as I perched on my seat, watching the other parents locate friends and neighbors from previous years. As the sea of jocularity and familiarity swirled around me, I felt so very very isolated but in a way, I do it to myself. I didn't make eye contact but continuously swept the crowd with my eyes, not looking for anyone or anything but to be aware. I busied myself reading the agenda and the other papers I picked up, looking busy, hoping no one smelled me and bellowed into the gym, 'My GAWD, what is that SMELL?!' (It's me by the way. Hey, you wanna be friends?) No one did because I have the ability to become pretty much invisible and when I am noticed, I'd rather it be for my wit and general awesomeness and not for my gift of making a landfill envious.

So there it was, the dichotomy: I'm not at my best, so please, no one take notice juxtaposed with the wanting of someone, anyone to make contact in a sea of strangers. I was being ridiculous of course; my child is in kindergarten and doesn't really interact with any of the neighborhood kids as her preschool/daycare was across the county. Relationships aren't built overnight, it takes time. I know that. I also know that it wasn't about me; that it won't be about me again but about her. And helping her achieve her best not only in school but also socially so I swallowed my fear and insecurities and...volunteered. To join the PTA, to help with her class, anything to help ease her transition into this bright, scary, wonderful new world.

Huh. Well, what do you know? Those old habits may not have died but sure are on the ropes. I think that we'll do okay at this school thing Noelle; you and me both.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

No, it's One plus TWO plus One plus One...

Ha! So you thought that you'd stop by and see treacly endearments and cute photos of Noelle and Noah? In the words of the inimitable Dark Helmet: 'Fooled You!' (Okay, they are coming but something else happened today that I wanted to share and does not include my imminent demise and/or incarceration.) (Lucky you!)

I was driving home the kids home from Celebree Tuesday (okay, another aside; Noelle's schedule for this week is ree-DONK-u-LOUS. With a capital 'DONK'. She went 45 minutes on Monday, not at all on Tuesday, all day today (Wednesday), not at all on Thursday and (finally!) all day Friday and from that day forth forever and ever. Amen.) and we were talking about her first full day of kindergarten happening today, how she would meet more of her classmates and this is where things derailed, reminiscent of 'Clue':

Me: "...and tomorrow you'll meet four more classmates along with seeing Joshua and Kali and Chisom again."

Noelle: "Yes! And there will be seven of us!"

Me: "...No honey, that will be..."

Noelle: "But Mommy, there will be three and four and one. That's nine."

Me: "No honey, there will be..."

Noelle: "No, I mean 'seven'."

Me: "But..."

Noelle: "There will be four and three and one!"

Me: "...."

Noelle: "So that's seven new friends!"

Me: "...Wait! I've got it! You mean that there were three friends you met on Monday, yourself and the four new friends you'll meet tomorrow! I got it!"

Noelle (smugly): "Yes Mommy, that's what I said."

Her kindergarten prep teachers told me that she is a non-linear thinker, that she applies a different method to getting to the answer; I even shared that tidbit with her new kindergarten teacher and yet, fell victim to that classic blunder of getting involved in land wars in Asia underestimating my child. It's fascinating to see her approach problems and develop her communication skills but man, this will definitely put my linear-thinking brain to the test.

Good thing I've got a full wine rack.

Wish us luck.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sheppard Pratt/GBMC, at this point, who cares

I had plans and pictures to write a post on Noah's birthday, Noelle's first day of kindergarten and how my child my gets screwed again because of age/needing to free up spaces for new kids/because the director hates me and I will but that all went out the window with this morning's fun and excitement.

Today is my company's annual health screening/wellness awareness day which is actually a nice perk - we can get our blood drawn to check for various levels of good and bad...things, check height, weight, blood pressure and fill out a physical and emotional health questionnaire to gauge how close we are to completely losing it all. I like to take advantage of the opportunity and bring the results to my annual physicals so my doctor and I can work as a team to manage my health. Unlike past years, I approached this morning with trepidation and not just because of the fasting but because of the blood pressure. Everyone knows that blood pressure has a direct hot-line to stress and to say that life has been stressful recently is akin to saying that Michael Phelps is an okay swimmer. And not just me, Dyl is under a tremendous amount of stress as well which translates into heightened tension at home; with the kids and with each other. We are both less than thrilled with where our career paths have taken us to date but the size of the mountain to scale to make any changes seems insurmountable. I'm trapped in the gilded cage and he's trapped by a limited skill set. (Not that he has limited skills, more that his skills are difficult to adapt to the typical business scenario.) Add to this Noah hitting the Tantrumy Threes with the force of a hurricane (ooh, look! Topical!) and you get the picture.

Because of the Tantrumy Threes, we were delayed leaving home this morning (why they can't pull this nonsense on the days when Dyl takes them so he can feel my pain is beyond me but there you go). My appointment was at 8:30 and I was fantasizing about drinking that first cup of coffee when BAM! We're at a standstill. OMFGYOU'VEGOTTOBEKIDDINGMEWTFBBQ is what ran through my head on a loop as we inched our way forward, me holding onto my patience by the thinnest of threads while the kids did what they usually do: sing, talk, ask questions, look for stop-lights, fight, drive me bat-shit insane, until we reached the intersection where I discover that the entire back-up was due to a traffic light being out. The only one around. Fortunately, people were not being people but took turns and everyone went in rotation. Still. Really? On the one day that I really needed to find my center.

I got the kids dropped off and scooted into work just a couple of minutes late (8:32) and ran for the training room for my appointment. Trying to get my heart-rate until control, I filled out the forms and waited, surprisingly not losing my appointment slot. Things went well until I got to the blood pressure station. I joked to the nurse about the traffic and the tantrums and how she shouldn't be surprised if my numbers were off the charts. She joked back that she always used a different scale when taking traffic and tantrums into account. We talked about what was a normal range for me and added that they were looking of trends. She had one of those fancy automated cuffs similar to the ones used in hospitals so I sat while it applied tourniquet force to my writing arm. It released and rather than telling me the number, she said that she got an error message and would check with the manual one. Applying the cuff to my right arm, she squeezed it old school style. Those results, 117/78, were right in my personal wheelhouse. While she never said exactly what the automated one read, she did remark that if the result had been repeated, her next question would have been if I was dizzy or not because apparently, it was pretty darn high. (I'm also sure that the dark chocolate M&Ms I had last night did not help matters either.)

I'm here, I'm healthy (sorry Dyl if you were looking to collect on insurance money :)) so merrily we roll along until the next crisis hits which should be in 3...2...1....

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Monday, July 23, 2012

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time

I've learned some hard truths about myself recently. Mostly that I talk a big game but when push comes to shove, I will park my butt on the couch after putting the kids to bed to read or play Words With Friends or text with my sister or anything but trying to get a handle on the chaos of the house. That's why it surprised the hell out of me when my best friend was able to successfully browbeat/cajole/trick into participating in a giant local consignment sale with her. Her reasoning? "Well, you have so much stuff and you could make so much money!" And if I'm being honest, it's a hard battle cry to ignore.

So now the basement is in even greater disarray due to the emptying of boxes and wardrobes in the search to determine what will stay and what will go. Most. Most of it will go because I'm now in drooling lust with the thought of Getting It Out.

And it's been relatively easy; the system is completely computerized though I did have to go in search of white card stock that is not carried at Wal-Mart BTW and purchase a crap-ton of kids hangers which I didn't need as I was able to successfully cannibalize enough from the kids' closets and safety pins. I have almost 500 safety pins now which seems to be a bit of overkill. I'm also pretty sure that they won't work on Pinterest. After entering your items into the system, you print tags which you then have to cut and apply to everything you will attempt to sell. But you also have to punch holes in the tags to pin/tape/tie to the item which also requires a hole puncher so this little exercise is starting to add up in cost. But everything is added; all that remains is the matching up of each damnable tag with it's item then figuring out the best way to attach it. Which needs to be done by Wednesday since that is when my drop-off appointment is so can you guess when this has to be worked on? You got it. At night. After the kids are in bed.

And we've come full circle. Headdesk.

Friday, July 20, 2012

I'm a shameless overachiever. For my kids.

We do not believe in doing things halfway at Casa de Lange. (Fine, I don't believe in it.) Nope, we're all-in, all the time as evidenced by this past weekend when in a rush of parental super powered adrenaline, we moved Noah from his crib to a toddler bed and began the introduction of underwear. (For the record, monkey faces on toddler butts are completely adorable.) And fine, the crib to toddler bed transition only entailed removing the front piece with everything else staying the same but still! No more baby jail. *sad trombone* We'll have to do effective discipline and stuff now.

Before: Baby jail in all it's glory

Prison break! Go to DEFCON 2!
But! Noah loves it. He loves that he has a bed he can get into and out of by himself, he is tickled that Buzz Lightyear is on his new underwear, another stroke of genius on our part as we showed the kids the Toy Story trilogy for the first time this past weekend. Also? The final scene of Toy Story 3 absolutely WRECKED me and made even worse by the coincidence that I've been purging toys for a consignment sale. (I am ignoring your cries universe; the need for order in the basement trumps your shameless heartstring tugging.)

Aside, the kids loved the movies and weren't scared by it. In fact, I had a conversation with Noelle this morning on the way to camp about why Sid was such a rat bastard to his toys (my words, not hers. Der) which led into a soliloquy on my part as one can project how a person will treat others by observing the way s/he treats things/animals/others and to stay the hell away from anyone who acts like that. Teachable moment FTMFW, yo!

Now that I've good and what the hell is the word that means going off on a tangent that starts with a 'D' or is it a 'C' and I can't remember, everything's fuzzy and my life is RUIIIIINED. Diverged? Discourse? Deedlebopper?

Crap, the point. Right. The point is this: Noah is loving being a big boy and is adapting so well to the changes. Though scraping the poop out of the underwear on Tuesday was decidedly NOT the highlight of my week.

Monkey Butt!!!!!
And it was time seeing as he's going to be 3 next month. Where did MAH BAYBEE go?

Big Boy bed ain't no thing

Oh, there he is. Stay right there for a while buddy, mkay?

Monday, July 16, 2012

How to sabotage your week in 12 easy steps

Oh HAI. It's Monday and I'm so exhausted I can barely keep my eyes open. This is either the sign of an awesome weekend (HA) or incredibly poor planning/judgement. Seeing as I have a preschooler and a toddler, the latter is the safe bet. How did it come to this? I'm so glad that you asked.

Step 1: Get new smart phone

Step 2: Decide to be Greatest! Mom! Ever! and load games for kids to play

Step 2A: Decide to load a game or two for yourself because hey, it IS your phone

Step 3: Make one of those games Words With Friends (my user name is 'momofnandn' bee-tee-dubs)

Step 4: Encourage husband to also add games so you can essentially play Scrabble while sitting next to each other on the couch nevermind that the actual Scrabble game is downstairs as that's too plebeian

Step 5: Start first Words With Friends game with husband at 9:30 on a Sunday night

Step 6: Continue play until he resigns from game at 11:30 even though he was crushing you because there was nothing you could do with three 'Gs', a 'H' and an 'E'

Step 7: Go to bed as 5:30 am comes very early. At 5:30 am

Step 8: Be startled out of sound sleep somewhere between 1 and 2 am by said preschooler saying that her tummy hurts and can she sleep with you

Step 8A: Let her on the bed and pray that she doesn't barf in your hair

Step 9: Share your space (including pillow) with her until you are on the edge of the bed leading to a fun new game: Extreme Sleeping!

Step 10: Doze on and off until 4:30 am where husband takes preschooler back to bed.

Step 10A: Immediately flop onto stomach and dream about luggage

Step 10B: Hold out a tiny hope that she actually is sick so you can take a day off and encourage her to sleep, leading by example

Step 11: Awake with a start at 5:30, no vomit in sight damn it all

Step 12: Drag self out of bed; start week off in glorious fashion featuring vats of coffee

Now if anyone needs me today, I'll be hiding under my desk taking a nap. Until a new Words With Friends game starts of course.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bigger-ish Boy

So. It's come to this. Other than the diapers (which seriously, this kid is messing with me. I know he can use the potty. HE knows he can use the potty. So just...USE THE DAMN POTTY ALREADY) the only remaining thread connecting Noah with babyhood is the baby jail baby containment force-field crib. He doesn't climb out, he doesn't mind it, why mess with what works?

Um. Well, have you MET my son? (Of course you haven't; that was a dumb rhetorical question.) The point of said dumb rhetorical question is that the child is ginormous by any rational standard and let's face it, it's getting hard lifting him into and out of the crib without whacking his head on the ceiling fan. (Thanks Bob Ward builders for the 8-ft ceilings!) The top of his head comes past Noelle's shoulder who is 5 and a half and ridiculously tall herself. And...he's going to be 3 next month, well past the age for jettisoning the crib altogether. AND we're going on vacation in August where he won't be sleeping in a crib as I refuse to pay for a crib for an almost-3 year old so we need to transition him SOMETIME, amirite?

Because I'm all about traumatizing surprising my children, I got the bright idea last night that hey! he's going to a birthday party on Saturday, wouldn't it be cool if he came back from the birthday party to find his very own big boy bed in his room! Dylan was less excited about this plan but I got my way because I have control issues am like a freight train going fully speed ahead once an idea has taken root. We have a conversion kit! This is a lifetime bed! T'will be a cinch!

(If you know me at all, you know that this is called foreshadowing.)

Digging underneath the crap-ton of stuff in the basement on Sunday night, I finally located the conversion kit. It was intact (Huzzah!) our elation of getting the forever bed for Noelle lo these almost 6 years ago, we neglected to read the fine print. Mainly that it went right from a crib to a full size bed. Do not metaphorphasize to toddler bed, do not collect $200. Generally, much hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth would commence but oh ho HO! But what to my wondering eyes should appear....but a white toddler bed, and away I wiped a tear.

Yes, my packrattiness laziness forethought saved our butts once again. We had never gotten rid of the toddler bed that Noelle had used and it would return from the dead to save us once more. (Zombie furniture, zombie cars, you name it, in my house it's been resurrected.) But this still leaves the problem of disassembling the crib (which we are totally saving for, well, next year: see pack-rat), moving the toddler bed upstairs and the rocking chair downstairs. (Hey Noah, let me mess with your mind. You don't have nearly enough fodder for therapy.) In come the big guns: my dad is coming up on Saturday to help me with the Extreme Makeover: Nursery Edition while Dylan hides takes Noah to the party. It'll be like clipping toenails or ripping off a bandage (also high on the traumat-o-meter): just do it fast and get it over with

Aw Boo-Boo, isn't growing up great? (I'm thinking that a trip to The Cow will probably end up being in order. It's so important to have an escape plan. Also, I'm not above bribing acceptance with new sheets.)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hey, SyFy? Are you hiring new writers?

Because the one, the only, MR. ALICE COOPER! had the best idea to beat all the bestest ideas for your new original movie:


I can imagine the tagline now: His snuggly softness will draw you in...for the KILL.

I'm willing to start a petition; I'm sure that my fellow SyFySaturdaySnarkers would agree that.

We are legion and really, only trying to help you achieve your greatest potential.

(Okay, fine, and give us something to do on Saturday nights but truly, our motives are *mostly* altruistic.)


Dawn aka momofnandn

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Saturday Night Snarker Special

Suppose you are a parent. Now suppose you are a parent with no social life of which to speak. (What? Too redundant?) You're hanging out on Saturday night, can't afford to go anywhere even if you did have a babysitter, plenty of booze available, twitter at the ready and a cable package of unlimited potential. What's a hot mama/papa to do? Why, turn on SyFy of course.

Right here is your ticket to the land of make-believe. You can find yourself transported to magical, far away lands like Mexico

Half shark, half octopus, totally pissed

New Orleans

The secret to jambalaya

and New Jersey

Jersey Shore Shark Attack
'The Complication' has the situation under control

There you can indulge in your deepest, darkest hero fantasy battling the likes of giant mutant crocodiles, animal husbandry experiments gone totally wrong (coughSharktopuscough) or for something with a little more pizazz, tornadoes from space with little more than a transistor radio and electromagnetic-free pulses fired from a deep-diving suit. You get luscious locations, nuanced dialogue ("Oh no, not like this!"), and beautiful bodies who may or may not resemble someone slightly more famous *coughEricRobertscough*.

And once you are thoroughly hooked into the story, why, you talk about it on twitter in only the most loving and awe-inspired way possible. You dissect every action, create real-time fanfic for the sequel and shower glowing praise on the cast, crew and director at every turn by liberally applying the tenets of irony, sarcasm and snark. Soon, your efforts will be rewarded by giveaways such as a rare Piranhaconda egg (now only $19.95 at Oriental Trading Company) or a greasy trucker hat signed by a clearly batshit-insane celebrity chef Edward Furlong ("Now THAT'S how you make jambalaya!") (No. No it is not.) But even more than that, you have created a true community of like-minded lonely clever social commentators. And you feel like you've come home.

Now, who's ready for Bigfoot?

This post was in NO WAY sponsored by, well, anyone. It is a love letter to my fellow SyFySaturdaySnarkers.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sweet dreams are NOT made of this

Recently Noelle has been sort-of concerned with having bad dreams at night, reassuring herself that she can come into our room if she has one. Yesterday morning when we went into her room to wake her up for camp, she whimpered and shook slightly just before opening her eyes.  She stayed very still and tears started leaking out of her eyes and across her cheeks.

"Noelle-bear, did you have a bad dream?"

She nodded slightly, still unwilling to unclench her body. I sat on her bed at rubbed her back and her hair doing the soothing thing that I'm so not good at: "It's okay baby, it was just a dream. It's over now and everything is okay." Lather, rinse, repeat.

"Would you like to talk about it?"

She shook her head no and I let it drop. We went about our morning routine, though carefully as the minefield was primed to explode at the slightest provocation (there is a reason that I refer to her on the Twitter as 'DQ - Drama Queen'). She was in the middle of brushing her teeth when she stopped and turned to me.

"I want to tell you about my dream."

"Okay, baby; I'm listening."

"I was eating an ice cream cone and someone walked up, took it out of my hand and threw it in the trash!" And with that, her little lip quivered and the tears and sobbing took over. I wrapped my arms tight around her and stroked her hair, holding her and let her cry herself out. "Oh honey, that was such a mean thing to do. I would be very upset too."

Then I ended up almost falling over because I have the grace of a drunk water buffalo and she started laughing.  She had processed it, it was over and we were ready to face the day.

If that is the worst thing that her five-and-a-half year old brain can come up with, I count myself very fortunate indeed.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Real Conversations with Captain Chaos

We are in the beginning stages of potty-training Noah so of course, he's very fond of watching the pee-pee come out of his, well, pee-pee as well as the requisite "hands-on" experiences.

SCENE - After bath, getting ready for bed:

Noah (grabbing to emphasize): Mommy, I have PEEE-nis.

Me (applier of diaper, lotion and jammies for the evening): Yes baby, you do.

Noah: You have PEEE-nis too?

Me: No baby, boys have penises, girls have vaginas.

Noelle: I have a BA-gina.

Me to Noelle: Yes you do. So do I. And Daddy has a penis....Noah, what are you doing?

Noah (patting himself): I petting my PEEE-nis.

Me: Noah, we don't pet our penis; it's not a cat.

Parenting: not for the weak of heart.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Introducing Jinx

So, we've, uh, adopted a cat.
Say 'Hi' to the nice kitty

Sorry. Here she is.
But can't you see the resemblance?
(I clearly find myself quite amusing.)

We were planning to adopt again but not until the fall, maybe closer to the holidays to give some distance, to clean and purge and disinfect. Not as a 'gift' because giving animals as a gift is wrong to me, but to celebrate as a family getting through a tough year by expanding our ranks and opening our home and hearts to an animal in need.  Then Amy DMs me on Twitter that her sister has a cat in need of a home, sends a picture, uses the words 'sweet', 'bullied' and 'shelter' and we. were. toast.

Dyl and I looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and like *that*, the decision was made.  Is it soon after Bonnie passed? Yeah, a lot sooner than we would have liked. The deciding factors? That she needed a home as she was being bullied where she was and that she would be a 'rescue'. There are so many animals out there now who are losing their homes due to circumstances beyond their control, filling up shelters and likely being euthanized.  We have the space, the means and the love to give so why wouldn't we open our home and hearts to this little lady? Also? Dyl and I both LOATHE bullies of all sorts (I'm looking at YOU, dolphins and Adelie penguins) so that was the deciding factor right there.  Note: we are also giant SUCKERS for a good sob story so get your while the getting is good and/or until we come to our senses.

We asked the kids and they were all for the idea, clamoring to look at her picture again and again with Noah chirping over and over 'Sooo ka-YEWT!'

I am the Lady of the Window and all shall bow before me.
Jinxie's settled in quite nicely; she even slept on our bed with us her first night home and that past few days she's been wanting to be where the action is ie. where the screaming banshees known as the kids are. She's clearly angling to sleep in Noelle's room but that will happen when hell freezes over and/or Noelle turns 11 because according to her, a lot happens when you are 11.

She's a sweetie and is already making herself home be being where she shouldn't be: tables, counters, kitchen sink.... She is so soft and is a dead ringer for Mr. Clyde; she does the psycho cat thing where her eyes go wide, her ears go back and she races around the house like a race car driver strung out on PCP. She has even snuffled me a couple of times (snuffling entails her curling around my shoulders and burying her head under my hair in my neck.) That was solely a Mr. Clyde thing and a bit 'Whoa' the first time. She has the daintiest poops and doesn't eat wet food (huzzah!) but twice now stickers have attached themselves to her butt fur so that was a fun extraction adventure.

She's a fantastic addition to the family. Now to remove her from the dining room table for the eleventy millionth time.

What? I make this look good.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Kindergarten: Achievement Unlocked


How did she go from this

to this

to this

to this

to this

to this

to this?

In the words of the song you sang at graduation:

Kindergarten here I come.
Kindergarten I will be there soon.
Kindergarten here I come.
I'm so glad it's June!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Never underestimate the power of nuns in large groups. And Mad Libs.

My sister and her husband are in the process of selling their house.  They have a lovely townhouse in the very desirable area of Columbia and have put a lot of work into updating it since they bought it six years ago-ish.  They replaced the kitchen, the roof, fenced in the backyard, repainted, updated the name it, they've done it.  But after an extremely low-ball of an offer the first day on the market, they've gotten nary a bite so they are understandably stressed out what with twin toddler boys and a spark plug of an English bulldog to keep the house show-ready and a settlement date on their new house at the end of July.

This past weekend we took a day trip to Pittsburgh to celebrate my great aunt's 99th birthday. In the car was my mom, my dad, my sister Cath and me. It's a four hour drive from central Maryland and we had the required entertainment: snacks, cell phone with chargers (thanks Cath!) and...Mad Libs. Halfway up I-76, I pulled out the Mad Libs, princess edition natch, and away we went. Within minutes, we were in hysterics, adding such gems as the band 'Drunk (adjective) Lynn (person in room) and the Spacesuits (plural noun) and the main selling point of the castle the stained-glass pubic hairs (body part). That last one? All my mom.  Cath and I kept it clean as I debated 'douchebags' for a plural noun and 'skanky' for an adjective but no, she went there. It helped to pass the time and before we knew it, we arrived at the convent.

Oh, did I mention that my great aunt is a nun? Yeah, Aunt Sis is a Sister of Mercy and lives at the convent adjacent to/part of Calloway (?) University. The party was held in a room off the cafeteria and was dry as we apparently did not choose the party date to coincide with the two times a year they are allowed wine. But we persevered. My mom's sister Aunt Jean and their cousins Becky and Berta organized the party. As usual, we arrived way ahead of time to help set up/prep/decorate for the party. And yes, Cath and I knew what we were getting into; we're not 4/5 of the Feakes Family Caterers for nothing. During the set up, Cath received a call from her realtor wanting to show their house that afternoon at 4:15. Hoping to God that Mike, my BIL, had the house is semi-respectable order, Cath gave the go-ahead and proceeded to flip out about that for the next four hours.

She got a hold of Mike and let him know to keep away from the house a little while longer. The story of the showing/difficulty selling quickly spread around the room and before long, the party started. The nuns arrived in force and the cause was taken up amid much well-wishing to the birthday girl and fond reminiscence. Two hours later, we were cleaning up and in the car on the way back home. Cath tried not to get her hopes up about the showing. After two weeks, interest had pretty much dried up when she got a call. The realtor had an offer to present to her and would they be available that evening? Her prayers and the prayers of the Sisters of Mercy had worked their magic and they might be able move onto the next chapter of their lives.

The moral? It helps having an express line to the big guy upstairs and never hurts to keep an unfortunately named fictional party band in your corner.

Thursday, May 31, 2012


1. If you put raw cut up vegetables in a spinny container in front of children, they will always reach for and try whatever is in there.

1A. If you, however, put it on their plates, they will. not. touch it.

2.  No matter that both you and your husband emphasized the previous evening that said children will not be getting ice cream that night as it's a special treat blah blah talkycakes, the child in question will ask for it.

2A. Said child's face will crumple in despair and sadness when reminded that no, no you cannot have ice cream tonight and you will waffle in your resolve.

2B. But only momentarily as she will discover an uneaten fun-size bag of M&Ms in her Easter basket and will clamor for them instead.

3. Yes, the Easter baskets are still out.

3A. Putting them away requires throwing away the Halloween candy and using those containers to store the Easter candy.

3B. Just try disposing of candy of any sort while children are in the house.

3C. Go ahead, try. I'll wait.

4.  The progress report from school never matches what you observe your youngest to actually be doing.

4A. You will suspect collusion between the teachers and the administration.

4B. You and your husband will shrug and say, 'Well for pete's sake, he's TWO."

4C. You will then eat your feelings in the form of ice cream and Dove bars.

4D. Yes, I'm aware of the hypocrisy. Shut up.

5. Never let your husband choose the evening's watching as getting to bed before 11 will. not. happen.

6. Your daughter will declare today her new Beautiful Ballerina Bear's birthday.

6A. This means a birthday party with friends.

6B. And cake.

6C. Haaaaaa

7. Days when you most dread going to work are the days when your children are full of the most snuggles, hugs and kisses.

7A. This will get you through the day, even more than coffee.

7B. Or beer.

7C. Though I won't say 'No' to that either.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

With apologies to Mr. Tolkien

Toddlers.  You can learn all of their ways in 3-4 years and 3-4 years later, they can still surprise you.  This past Sunday Noelle had her very first dance recital ever. She would be up on the stage, wearing a fun costume and performing a routine that her class has spent the past five months learning. To say that Dylan and I were excited about this would be a slight understatement.  We invited grandparents and aunts but paused when we discovered that we would have to buy a ticket for Noah.

Cue the drums of doom.

Were we really going to buy a not-inexpensive ticket to a dance recital for a toddler boy whose idea of a good time involves balls, 'cooking', trains and dinosaurs (sometimes all at once. It's quite complicated.) to sit in a theater for a couple of hours for the two minutes when his sister will be on the stage? No snacks, no distractions, just him, us and a couple hundred of our closest theater parents? We looked at each other, mentally shrugged and bought the ticket because 1) neither of us were going to miss it, 2) all of the usual babysitters (grandparents) would be at the show and 3) we felt like living dangerously.

We took precautions; I purposely selected seats on the far right of the theater next to the aisle to allow whoever ended up being Noah's chauffeur easy access to an escape route. The day of the recital, we stacked the deck against ourselves with him not getting a nap that day or the previous day (see above: living dangerously.) Dylan packed a bag with some small non-noisy toys and juice boxes and my sister even snuck in some chocolate chip cookies as a snack/bribe.  Before the show started, Noah bounced on the end of the stage, right in front of the videographer and all that I could think was "Dear Lord, please don't let him want to do this while the dancing is going on or everyone will have a lovely parting gift of the top of my child's head." The lights went down, we took our seats and held our breath.

And you know what? He stayed seated on Dylan's lap the ENTIRE SHOW. He was entranced and enraptured. I stole peeks at his face and was amazed to see the huge smile and wide eyes. He loved the numbers with the kids about his age.  He lost his ever-loving MIND over the hip-hop numbers, yelling for more.  I'm not sure that anyone has asked for a dancing encore performance before but by golly, he did.  He danced in his seat and cheered for his sister.  Admittedly, after Noelle performed, he started getting antsy (hers was the 21st number out of 30 OMFG) but he stuck it out like a trouper. And while waiting for her class to be released after the show was over, he was an angel playing with Grandma. When we were hugging and congratulating and taking pictures of Noelle, he was right there bouncing along in excitement.

We couldn't have asked for better behavior from him on Noelle's big day. We were so relieved and smug (yeah, I'll own it) over how he acted that I allowed myself to be very superior with our obviously amazing parenting skills until the next morning when he stabbed me in the arm with a fork.

The end.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The first of the lasts

Last night was Noelle's final parent-teacher conference of her preschool career. I'll be honest, I was bit nostalgic, knowing that I wouldn't walk those halls again for her conference.  Dylan or I attended every single one offered because we were (okay, still are) neurotic, over-involved parents. Also, new to the parenting rodeo.  It was pretty much a formality as we knew from her February conference that she is more than ready for kindergarten. I won't lie, it's a nice feeling though being told what an awesome kid your child is.

She loves books and reading, always has.  What was kind of surprising is that she shows a very strong aptitude for math as both Dyl and my strengths lie more in the humanities (thanks Grandad and GiGi!).  She's always looking for and identifying patterns and has figured out grouping and sets.  (Okay, we'll also thank The Penguins of Madagascar video game for the assist here as well.) She continues to be a compassionate and caring child who is genuinely liked by the whole class.  This is big because we have been concerned about the effect of her being a naturally reserved child.  As a baby she would sit and observe what was going on around her, responding to and interacting with others but rarely joining in the play.

She found a way around that obstacle though: she discovered the magic power of dressing up.  From the age of 3 through practically 5, most days of the week she would show up to school in any one of a number of different  outfits: fairies, princesses, knights. It was cute and adorable and as long as it didn't disrupt the class we let her dress up. (This is also known as either being smarter than we thought and/or being lazy. To-MAY-to, to-MAH-to.)  She always took the costumes off though as soon as her teachers requested it.  She has worn costumes to school maybe a handful of times in the last six months so I thought that is was something that she had grown out of. Her teachers and I were reminiscing about some of her costumes when  we realized that she HAD outgrown it. Because she no longer needed the confidence boost of the make-believe to join with the others.  And she doesn't need it now.  She has developed the relationships and friendships with her classmates on her own; she no longer needs the crutch of the costume.

She still has her best friend in the whole world but they have both branched out and developed new friendships. She says that she will marry Nico when they are 27 and have a boy named Fred and a girl named Sally.  She will be a rock-star and he will be an engineer. At least I don't have to worry about meeting his parents...though I should probably let his parents know the plan. She has discovered her girly side and has a group of two other little girls who like to play dress up and style each other's hair. As my own hair styling skills are woefully limited to pony-tails, I fear that this will be a dream never realized. She also loves playing adventure and scavenger hunt games with her other best friends Sammy and Paige. At nap time when she isn't sleepy, she loves to brush her teachers' hair. I think that they are very brave for allowing this because she is certainly not gentle when she plays with mine. I'm so proud of her what with me being the poster child for sullen hostility and chilly reservation and all.

She is so good at identifying patterns and seeing groupings and sets.  She is able to figure out what letter words start with by sounding them out, well on her way to wrestling the insanity of the English language into submission. She is a true out-of-the-box thinker and a free spirit.  She loves art and colors and has a strong fundamental grasp of Spanish which I credit solely to Dora.  She knows her days of the week and what day it is in relation to others. She can identify what yesterday was and tomorrow will be; if you make a mistake, she will call you on it.  She is counting by twos, fives and tens and is a stringent rule-follower.  She is compassionate but has grown a strength to deal with adversity and challenges on her own instead of turning to teachers for help all the time.  She is strong and confident, funny and silly and so, so happy. We are so very proud and privileged to be her parents.

The world is your oyster Noelle-bear. Go get it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I blinded her with science

You know how it is when you are married and trying to fit in a little adult play time; the time after the kids are in bed is cherished downtime when you can shut down your brain and weekend mornings are for indulging in not having to respond to an alarm.  So you continue in limbo, the idea being great, but the push to overcome the inertia almost always falling victim to the siren call of sleep and the uneasy knowledge that your child will come waltzing in at any point from 6:30 to 8 lending an air of danger to the proceedings.

This weekend was like any other; Saturday, still wrapped in dreams and blankets, Noelle crawled into bed with us at 6:45 am.  She snuggled in between us under the covers and Dylan and I dozed for the next 20 minutes because there will never be any sleeping achieved with a preschooler itching to watch cartoons in the bed with you.  Sunday I awoke with a start at 6:30 and couldn't go back to sleep.  I swear, some days it's like he lies in wait for me to stir enough to begin playground antics. Anyway, I'm awake and tossing and turning to will myself back to sleep because really body? We're going to play this game? Now the waiting game begins: will today bring a  repeat early visit or will it be closer to 7:30? How far can we get in the game before being called for interference? To add an extra challenge, we don't shut our door.  This habit dates back to when the cat would scratch at the door to be let in so we might as well just leave it open for her. Old habits die hard.

7:00 am - no sound.  7:15 am - no sounds.  We might just be able to get a full game in but it's getting late; might be called on account of preschooler.  What the hell, we throw caution to the wind and ourselves into the game. And...yes! Just under the wire.  We lay back talked about the day, how excited we were for her first dance recital when click! step, step, creak. The preschooler approacheth.

"Hi baby, come on up."

She climbed onto the bed to snuggle and Dylan heard Noah stirring and went to get him out of his crib. I'm really going to regret moving him to a toddler bed, aren't I?  While we were waiting for Dylan and Noah to return, Noelle turns to me and with a question in her voice says, "Mommy, you were sleeping on top of the covers." OH. SHIT.

And this is where earning a science degree became my best idea ever. "Well honey, when you sleep, your body temperature drops which makes it nice to snuggle under the covers but when you wake up, your body temperature rises and it's too hot to be under the covers. I woke up early and was too hot." Every word true...from a certain point of view.

And now I think we need to get into the habit of closing the door.  But not locking it because that's just crazy talk.