Monday, December 8, 2014

So you want to cure your hangover?

On Saturday night Dylan and I, along with my sister and brother-in-law attended a wine and cheese holiday party at a friend of ours home. So much delicious cheese, paired with fantastic wine was a recipe for absolutely hating Sunday morning. I haven't had a hangover in a while because I've been pretty religious about alternating adult beverages with water and just not drinking that much to begin with. But the amazing array brooked no moderation as each begged to be sampled and I, as a willing guest, obliged. (It would have been rude not to after all.)

Sunday morning, alas, drove home the reminder why I had really cut back - this was not fun. But how to cure a hangover? Let's go step by step.

Step 1. Don't drink too much. Ha. Haaaa. Okay, seriously. Just no.

Step 2. Water. As in drink lots of it. Preferably with a couple of ibuprofen before falling into bed. Yeah, the failures started early. Go big or go home which brings us to step 3...

Step 3. Sleep. You will sleep. You will sleep hard. You will also wake up waaaay before you want to because your body is busy processing all of the alcohol and just being pissy about the extra work. If it's working, then you have to be awake for it too. Dude, we're a team. Just do your job and let me slide back into oblivion otherwise we'll both be hating everything...oh fine. I'm up. Time for Step 4.

Step 4. Water. MOAR WATR. All of the water that you are now regretting not drinking last night because all you wanted to do was pass out. Also bum a couple of ibufprofen. Better late than never. But hope you can keep it down because your stomach's started doing the tootsie roll and black coffee, while desperately needed (see Step 3), will do vile and evil things to you. Best to stay with the nut roll of questionable origin.

Step 5. Consider food. Laugh hysterically because hell no. But it might help settle your stomach. Doesn't matter, not going to chance it until after Step 6.

Step 6. Nap. If I could just go back to sleep, I'll feel loads better. Needed for this step however is a sympathetic partner who will not mock you when your cat screams in your face and you don't even respond. Now refreshed, it's time to try the shower. You always feel better after getting clean.

Step 7. Shower. It's lovely and magical and the effects wear off after 30 minutes. But in the window, it's time to chance eating because you like to live dangerously.

Step 8. Eat. Something fatty and high protein, slightly greasy. I know, eggs! And a donut. For, you know, energy and stuff. I, ah, oh dear. This wasn't such a great idea after all. Should probably go lay down again.

Step 9. Nope. That ain't happening; the kids have had enough of coddling your dumb ass. Suck it up buttercup. It's time to play 'Jake and the Neverland Pirates.' Ugh, still not enough, what to do, what to do.... Got it. Being in the cold wakes you up and resets everything. Good thing we have another cookie sale this afternoon.

Step 10. Stand outside grocery store for 2 hours hawking Girl Scout Cookies to shoppers. Lose feeling in hands and feet but hey! You're starting to feel semi-normal so we'll call this a win.

Step 11. Dinner. You feel almost normal so dinner it is. Chicken and rice and bread and peas. You got this. Up yours, hangover. Now it's time to reclaim my life from your clutches and celebrate with...

Step 12. Sleep. Voila, you're cured!

And yet I'm still feeling a bit 'off' today. But you know what? I can heartily recommend the Norton from LaGrange and the Coastal Cabernet Sauvignon as being incredibly delicious. Just...pace yourself.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Superheroes wear chalk dust

If you have kids then you know that this week is American Education week. (And if you have kids and don't know this then you might want to consider cleaning out your child's back pack occasionally. Just saying.) This means we celebrate school and teachers and students and all things educational all. week. long., complete with Visits To The Classroom To Watch Them Learn. (Though really, why is this the week before Thanksgiving with all the attendant days off. Some of us have to work for a living yanno.) Anywho, this is the first year that both Noelle and Noah are in big kid school and luckily (?)  their classroom visit times were on the exact same day. Noelle chose to have Dyl visit her class and no switching allowed (her rules but grandparents could change it up, NBD. Thanks kid.) so I observed Noah's class. I know I went to Noelle's kindergarten two years ago but I don't remember anything like what went down in Room 2.

I walked in to the morning meeting where they were doing calendar-type stuff. But not just the days of the week, oh ho ho! No, this involved identifying all of the months, figuring out what day it was, putting it on the calendar, deciphering the pattern of the numbers, counting the number of days of school thus far (52), talking about how to group the numbers to get 52, predicting the temperature, reading the thermometer, graphing the temperature all while keeping 22 little butts on the carpet. After that, it was time for a break. This is the part of kindergarten where we dance.

What does the elephant say?
Now it was time for project number one for the day - making a turkey glyph. But before that, we needed to do the morning message as a letter and all the accompanying parts. Then popsicle sticks were drawn for the sight word detectives and lastly, a story about turkey's disguise. Directions were discussed for the glyph and the kraken were released to art and craft!

When the glyphs were finished, it was time to reconvene on the carpet for language arts and the mystery of syllables. Something else happened but you need the energy of five- and six-year olds to keep up. Or that of a kindergarten teacher. They were released once again with a page of Thanksgiving-related words and directions to separate them into one-, two- and three-syllables and paste in the correct columns. Then because I'm mean I made him pose for pictures with his grandparents. He'll thank me someday.

Note that *everything* above happened in less than two hours. Two. Hours. Introducing, reinforcing, reviewing concepts, teaching, encouraging, redirecting and praising, allowing them time to move and do and be. Kindergarten teachers are the force behind the perpetual motion machines that are children. I returned to work completely exhausted from watching this beautifully balanced chaos. 

To all of you early childhood educators, you are amazing. Thank you for all that you do with a group of ants-in-the-pants, semi-deranged howler monkeys on a daily basis and not giving in to the understandable urge to run away. I am forever in awe of you.

The wild rumpus
And I think Mrs. C in particular deserves something extra nice for the holidays this year, mostly likely in the form of a large bottle.

On second thought, better make that two.

Friday, November 7, 2014

My other car is a DeLorean

When I was a wee lass of nine or ten, a few months before Christmas that year my younger sister and I approached our mother with an important topic of discussion. The gravity that only tweens can project and the timing could mean but one thing: we were about to blow the whole 'Santa Claus' racket sky-high.

As the oldest, I took the lead, "Mom, we've [my sister and I] been talking and we've come to a decision."

My mom, anticipating and dreading this day, girded her loins and ready to admonish us not to spoil things for our much younger sister took a deep breath - "Okay."

"Mom, we've decided that Santa has to be real because there is no way you and Dad could afford all of those presents!"

And like that, the mystery was preserved for a while longer. In fact, I don't think she's still ever actually 'told' us. Kind of like the non-existent sex talk. Huh. This certainly explains a lot.


Flash forward 30 years.

Last night at dinner, the topic turned to what the kids might like for Christmas and given the amount of 'live' TV they've watched with accompanying commercials, there is no shortage of things they wish they had when Noelle turned to me, "Mommy, do you believe in Santa?"

She's asked me this before and I told her the truth as I believe it, "Yes, I believe in the spirit of Santa." (Okay, so I kind of mumble the whole 'spirit' part but in my defense, she never listens to the second half of a sentence anyway.)

"Me too! You and Daddy can't afford all those presents."

Ladies and gentlemen, start your flux capacitors.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I can't imagine why the neighbors avoid us

Every morning when I put the kids on the school bus, I stand on the sidewalk with all the other parents, waving madly at our children, little faces smushed up against the windows, blowing kisses, the whole nine yards. I also flash the American Sign Language sign for 'I Love You.'

Nice. Simple. Easy. Communicates my feelings without being obnoxious. I'm totes a model parent.

Sometimes Noah likes to sign it back to me. Today he flashed me this:

Nailed it.

And that my friends is how you ensure that you are never invited to the neighborhood block party.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Excuse me, but can I interest you in a 'random gunman' rider for your car insurance policy?

This past Saturday I was out of town with my sisters at a wedding, leaving Dyl with the kids. Late that night, he texted me with the cryptic message that crazy stuff went down in the neighborhood but they were all safe. We were exhausted so I passed out without seeing the message, not getting it until Sunday morning.

Dyl went to bed around midnight and was just drifting off when he heard an explosion that seemed to come right outside our house. He looked out the window and saw a person running down the street but nothing else seemed awry. Figuring someone lit a fire cracker in a trashcan, he went downstairs to check more closely and saw another person running. About this time police cars started converging on our street where the only tension is over who parked in someone else's space. Then the search helicopter, SWAT armed with assault rifles and K-9 units showed up so shit got real. Still watching (because really, who could turn away), he saw another officer walking down the street shining his light into and under cars but when he got to Dyl's car he stopped and closely examined it. At this point, Dyl went outside, asking if he could be of assistance; did he need to open the car...? No, not that but sir, did you know that you have a bullet in your window? And there it was, in the small window on Noah's side. (Really, what was he going to say, 'Oh that? That's been there for ages; I was keeping it for sentimental reasons.') Miraculously, the kids slept through it all, even with the search teams heading behind our house to the marshy area backing to the highway.

Once the crime scene evidence gatherer type people showed up, they extracted the bullet but now we're left with a shattered window. The only thing left to do was punch the rest of it out and call the car insurance company in the morning to see about getting it repaired. Dyl started the process yesterday and today received an email (!) response that since "we don't carry physical damage on our insurance they are unable to cover the cost of fixing the car."

Wait. What?

If we had been in vehicular accident, would physical damage have been covered? Is this because it was stationary? For fuck's sake, our car had a bullet in it. A BULLET. In our car. That was parked in front of our house. At night. Because someone got all jacked up when someone else insulted his socks or something and ran down the street in a townhouse community randomly firing a gun and hit our car, we're on the hook for the repair cost since no one talks about the 'random-gunman insurance' rider and how it's money well spent. Just waiting now to hear that our rates have been jacked up due to residing in such a dangerous neighborhood. Those Boy Scouts are hard core, man.

'Murica. Fuck yeah.

Friday, October 10, 2014

I need a blindfold, some reinforced rope and a roll of duct tape. Stat!

Alternate title - Someone stop me before I volunteer again.

I work full time. I don't have a choice, I have to work (well, I do but the alternative is tricking out the minivan to house a family of four so we'll just stay with the original thought.) Dylan also has to work because both of us are terrible at negotiating salaries and someday their palates will burgeon and food will get hella expensive. C'est la vie. But this means that when the kids were little-er they spent the day in day-care/preschool. It was wonderful, just 5 minutes from my office but it wasn't with me or Dyl. Both of our moms stayed home with us growing up so I vowed to be as involved in the kids' lives as I could. I would show them how much I loved them, dammit. Aha! I got it:

It started way back when Noelle was in kindergarten. I had the flexibility in my scheduled to be able to help out in her classroom twice a month and I loved doing it. But I already shifted my work hours to allow the kids to sleep in (okay, and save us a shit-ton of money on before-school care) so that wasn't going to be possible now that Noah's in kindergarten. There must be something else I can do.... Hey! The PTA always needs help; let's start there.

This morning was the annual 'Donuts for Dads' event where an unending horde of adult men and accompanying minions swarmed the cafeteria tables laden with sugar-filled pastries and assorted liquid crack. Okay, fine - a lot of dads and their kids enjoyed a donutty treat and extra time together on a gloomy Friday morning. Though how they heard anything is beyond me as the noise in the lunchroom closely approximated a jumbo 747 revving up for take off. Anyway. I volunteered to work it as the timing of the event would allow me to get to work at my regular time. This consisted of me keeping the juice flowing until we ran out and making sure I had all ten fingers at the end. It was a rousing success - no one complained when we ran out of juice, everyone accepted water instead and all the kids were freaking adorable. Thus emboldened, I signed on for the next challenge - the Fall Event where I've dazedly found myself in charge of the scavenger hunt room. Related: Oriental Trading Company is going to LOVE me this month.

But wait, that's not all! This fall I'm also helping at the Cookie Booth for Noelle's Brownie troop, snack mom and first aid mom for said Brownie troop, assistant coach for her basketball team and I'm sure that I'm forgetting more things.

(Yeah, I know I'm not doing anything specific for Noah right now but I know nothing about soccer other than 'ball goes in net' and he can't start Boy Scouts until first grade so I'm giving myself a pass until then.) Maybe I'll take the rest of the fall off and actually see my husband. I bet he'd like that.

Though there is a book fair in a couple of weeks.....

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Playing well is the best revenge

You all know that the kids have been having some trouble with Little Lord Asshat at the bus stop the past few weeks, him of the 'you can't play unless I say so' line of lofty specialness. The past few days have been okay; everyone has played more or less together nicely enough. So when we arrived at the bus stop this morning, I felt no reason for trepidation. Ha. Haaaaa. Gotcha!

A friend of Noelle's had come down to our stop from the other entrance to the neighborhood and Noelle was explaining the rules of the 'Race the Cars' game when LLA's minion announced that no one can join unless they first sign up at LLA's house. 

Blink. Blink. Oh hell no! 

Then LLA pipes up with the declaration that to join the game of running on the public sidewalk racing cars would cost each applicant two dollars.

Jaw drop. I'm sorry; asphinctersays whaa? LLA's aunt/mother/second cousin twice removed was standing Right There and did nothing. I mean, they are all one giant in-bred family that has taken over half the neighborhood so it's not like she had no authority over him. So that's the way it's gonna be, huh. Fine. Fuck you Jobu, I do it myself.

I immediately (and not at all quietly) interjected that it was not a correct statement and anyone could run so go and have fun. Noelle had had enough of LLA's shenanigans so she and her friend walked away to play tag. Noah half-heartedly started up the sidewalk after LLA's gang when he stopped and turned back to me, sad that the other kids didn't want him to play. I comforted him, telling him that you don't want to play with mean kids anyway. Why don't you ask Noelle if you can join in the game of tag? 

He had a better idea though: "Mommy, will you play tag with me?" 

All of the reasons why this was a bad idea raced through my head: the grass was wet, I was dressed for work, there are a lot of younger siblings around and I don't want to swing around suddenly and clock one of them...but what I said was, "Of course Boo Boo. Let's play."

So we played tag, Noah running and laughing and giggling with me chasing him. Within seconds, Noelle and her friend asked to join in. Of course! Everyone can play. And so we continued running, giggling, shrieking...and then the darnedest thing happened: LLA and his crew, one by one, asked NOELLE if they could join in too. She had the opportunity to turn the tables on them but my girl, she just said "Sure!" Some of the boys looked uncertain so I added, "Everyone is welcome to play." 

A giant giggling game of tag ensued; I made sure to get myself tagged 'It' and chased all the kids until the bus came, the other parents watching us and smiling. By showing that they didn't need the other kids and creating their own fun, Noelle and Noah drew them all in by inclusion, not exclusion. The laughter rang loudly that morning and the smiles brightened the sky far more than the sun ever could.

But no one smiled bigger than me. 

Take that, Jobu; we did it ourselves. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Deep Thoughts with DQ

One of my favorite parts of the weekend is when Noelle comes into our room in the morning and crawls into bed with us. I cherish these times as soon she'll be too old to want to snuggle with mom and dad anymore; what makes it slightly less special is the bright-eyed and bushy tailed chatter she brings with her when we are struggling to open our eyes. Oh, and honey? You can just forget about ever getting lucky on a weekend morning as 1) she will appear sometime between the hour of 7 and 7:30 am like a ninja and 2) I have no desire to be awake before 7 am for any reason on a weekend. No one should, really. Ahem. Moving on. Dylan is a trooper and takes most of the brunt of the chatter though two weeks ago she raised her voice so I could better hear her. I, uh, might have slept through it anyway.

Recently I have been wondering what her dreams are like given the questions she has in the mornings. Last Saturday she wanted to discuss time zones as in, how many are there in the world, what countries are in what time zones, can you drive there, etc. Again, clawing our way out of the depths of dreams we tried to answer but sadly, were woefully unprepared to teach geography at seven in the morning. (Had this come up at eleven, no sweat. Yay Google!) (Also, we are so getting this child a globe for Christmas this year.)

Sunday morning we woke up to more snuggles and the burning question of why vowels are necessary in our language. Again, etymological theory before noon, let alone coffee, puts us at a distinct disadvantage but we had a go at it. Basically we told her that the consonants are the framework for words while the vowels give words substance. (May not be correct but keep in mind this was BC: before coffee.)

Considering that my first thoughts upon waking are 'Could I really jump that far?', 'Why the hell can't I run in a dream?' or 'I'm getting really tired of not being able to find my clothes.', this is pretty heavy stuff. I think I'll also start sleeping with the phone under my pillow; maybe I can cram for this weekend.

I just hope this week it's dinosaurs.

Monday, September 29, 2014

I'm about to go Mama Bear up in here

Welp. That didn't take long. We are only on week 6 of the school year and already have positively identified the resident bully of the bus stop. Last week this third grader told Noelle and Noah that they couldn't run on the sidewalk playing the 'car chase' unless they signed in first. (Basically, this entails the kids starting at a point on the sidewalk and when a car drives by, racing it to a pre-determined endpoint further down the sidewalk. Lather, rinse, repeat. Yeah, I got nothing.) This being the first such time Noelle has encountered such...such...assholery...she broke down in tears. We talked through it; if they wanted to run, they could run. They didn't need this kid's permission. I asked some questions of her as ultimately she is exceedingly logical for being a sensitive snowflake.

"Does he own the sidewalk?" No, of course not. This sidewalk serves as the boundary to our neighborhood.

"Do you want to run?" Yes. Then by all means do so.

"Does he get to tell you what to do?" No. Only Mommy has that power. Noah then chimed in with "yeah, he's not the boss of me!" That shook Noelle out of her funk. I looked at her very seriously and told her that he can be a butthead if he wants, but if they want to run, then they can run. (I didn't bother lowering my voice; they're just lucky I was sort of watching my language as 'asshat douchenozzle' was there for deployment.) And off they went.

Things appeared to have settled down when Noah came pelting down the sidewalk to me this morning looking very upset. While at the top of the sidewalk, this same kid called him 'stupid'. We've taught the kids that this is a Very Bad Word and we Never, Ever call anyone that. Well now someone used this very bad word on him and his heart was crushed. I picked him up as he sobbed "he's such a meanie! I want to punch him in the face!" While I agreed with his sentiment (and fighting back a laugh), we discussed why that may not be such a good idea.

"I know honey, it was very mean thing to say but you can't punch him in the face."

"He's a meanie."

"Yes he is. That was not a nice thing to say at all and you have every right to be upset." Keep in mind, Noah is in kindergarten and turned 5 a month ago, so navigating the social currents of elementary school hasn't really been covered yet. And this older student saying that to him! I don't care that he looks the size of a second grader! You do not talk like that to my children and expect to walk away under your own power. Okay, not really, but that's what was going on in my head at the time.

"What can you do if he does it again? "

Sniffles. "I don't know..."

"You can tell him (or any kid) that it was not a nice thing to say and ask why he did that. You can tell him he's being a meanie and you don't like it." I know he won't use these phrases yet but it's good to rehearse. "And know that you are one of the smartest, sweetest, most energetic and awesome kids I know and he doesn't know what he's talking about." The bus arrived then so sorry Mrs. Cano; I suspect this will be a difficult day for him.

Afterwards, another parent I know asked what happened and we commiserated over how kids can be such jerkwads to each other.

It's so good to know that when the time comes to want to punch someone in the face, I won't be alone.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Random Thought Round-Up

Lots of little thoughts have been scuttling through my head but none meaty enough to warrant its own post so to preserve precious memory space, I'm uploading them to the blogCloud. This is sure to be very very secure. And also boring.

1. I've already started assembling gift basket stuffs for teachers this holiday season which is nothing short of a miracle as my usual MO is to wait until the week before winter break then employ Kermit arms liberally.

2. Playing dress up is great. Mixing dress up clothes to create the Good Pirate Fairy and Evil Fairy Conductor? Genius.

3.  My company supports The United Way of Central Maryland and every year we have an event known as C-Day (Charity Day). We have the option of making payroll deductions to contribute and each location hosts fundraising efforts. My plant did carnival games and department basket raffles. For the first time ever, I actually won a raffle drawing: a fire pit.

They included beer. Beer! I think I'm in love.
I'm super stoked about this because who doesn't love a fire pit, amirite? Plus flattened marshmallows! It doesn't get any better than that. Then I read the directions. Don't use under a balcony. Okay, makes sense. Don't use within 10 feet of a building or wall. No brainer. Don't use near trees...especially dead ones. Oh. Oh. Therein lies the rub as we live in a townhouse. With a deck. And a postage-stamp sized front yard. And a dead tree. So if anyone wants to let us borrow some space to use our new fire pit, I'd be ever so grateful. I'll even bring the stuff for s'mores. Fine, and the beer too.

4. Last weekend I offered to take Noelle shopping for new clothes as she has few pants that fit. She declined. I offered to take her to Toys R Us so she could start getting ideas for what she might like for her birthday and Christmas. Nope. Schools are closed tomorrow for Rosh Hashanah and I have them both with me; she asked me to take her shopping tomorrow. I'd love to honey but I doubt your brother wants to spend all day in dressing rooms.

5. Chances are good that I've lost what little sanity I had remaining as at last count I have Noelle registered for Dance, Sunday School, Girl Scouts and now....Basketball. Plus I volunteered to be an assistant coach for whatever team she ends up on. And Noah's soccer league added an extra practice each week. Totally optional but getting 12 lessons for $20? C'mon man, you can't beat that. Unfortunately, this means that dinner will now consist of mostly sandwiches and/or cheese slices with sad grapes. Sorry Dylan.

6. My pants were getting hella tight so when school started back up, Operation Move Yo Ass went into effect. So for 5 weeks now I've been working out 30 minutes on the elliptical every morning and briskly walking the business park for around 20 minutes on my lunch break. And yet, have seen precisely zero movement on the scale. Granted, I never recorded a starting number because: chicken but still, I should have seen some progress by now. I mean, I've even cut back severely on the booze and junk. My afternoon snack is rabbit food and hummus for chrissakes. If this keeps up then I'll no choice but to start running and I hate running. Hate. It. Stupid perimenopausal body shit.

7. It would be incredibly helpful if people actually gave me all the information I need to make decisions when they first contact me. I mean, I'm going to request it anyway so you might as well cut down on the churn and just give it to me upfront. It's not like this is your first rodeo after all.

8. Speaking of work things that annoy me, why in the world would you make people go outside to smoke yet have the smoking pad right in front of the employee entrance thus ensuring that every single employee must run the gauntlet of cigarette smoke whether they want to smell like an ash tray or not? These things honestly perplex me. Though I guess on the stinky scale, cigarette smoke isn't even in the top 10 of Smells From The Plant That Destroy Your Will To Live.

That's all I got. Now to find a workaround to be able to listen to We're Alive since IT blocked it as being 'suspicious'. A girl's gotta have her zombie fix after all. Though it's suspicious that they think zombies are suspicious. Hmmm.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Line Across, Up and Around

Noah is doing pretty well with transitioning to kindergarten. He's enthusiastic about the sight words, loves going to the 'special' classes (his favorite is a tie between P.E. and library. Art can just DIAF.) and buying lunch in the cafeteria is off the hook. Not to mention riding the bus. Shit just got real. But the one area he struggles in is forming letters. He recognizes them just fine; it's the fine motor skills that are lagging a bit but that's to be expected because 1) he just turned 5 and B) he's a boy. Each day the kids get worksheets with a particular letter showing upper and lower case and the pencil movements needed to complete it. Friday's was 'E'. Uppercase E? No sweat. That's just four lines and boom! Done. Lowercase? Lawd have mercy.

The worksheet came home on Friday with a note that it has to be completed and returned so this morning after breakfast (I mean, really, when else would you do it?) he colored in the rest of the elephant and then for good measure, I suggested doing some more lowercase 'e's, just for practice as the original ones closely resembled inverted infinity symbols.

"But I can't doooo itttttt."

"Yes you can. We'll do them together."

So he gripped the pencil and I put my hand over his, realizing too late that I was using my right hand but we're committed now. Onward Ferb! I talked him through the motions as we made them with me doing the primary guiding.

"Okay, line straight across now up and around. Good, let's do it again. Line across and up and around."

By the third time, I loosened my grip on his hand leaving him to do that majority of the work, still repeating the litany but now with him joining in. "...line across, up and around..." until we were out of room. Would this obstacle stop him? No sirree, he drew more lines and we pressed on.

"...line across, up and around..."

Until the sixth one where I let go completely and simply chanted with him.

"line across, up and around..."

The first one by himself ended up looking like a Greek theta and he looked discouraged.

"No buddy, you're doing great. Just pick up the pencil a bit earlier. Try one more time."

"...line across, up and around..."

"Mommy! I did it! Look at my 'e'! I can write a little 'e'!"

"You did it Boo Boo! It's fantastic! Way to go!"

No sunrise in the world could have lit up his face any better than the pride shining in his eyes. Sometimes all it takes is a little confidence and someone willing to help you find your way.

Oh, and chocolate milk never hurts either.

Epilogue: After an amazing beginning to the day, Noah then proceeded to have an absolute epic meltdown at school which sent him from 'Green' to 'Red' back up to 'Yellow' followed by a rapid descent to 'Red' over a coveted library book and a slight recovery to 'Yellow' to finish out the day. Good grief, that emotional roller coaster makes me exhausted just by writing that. Five is hella fun y'all.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Uncivil Discourse and the Power of Names

Earlier today I got into my first quasi-political twitter fight. It started when I retweeted this:

Which then prompted this exchange that I wasn't expecting.

At first I was saddened that the first thing out of someone's mouth, well, fingers, was hateful name-calling, that attack was the go-to response. You really never *know* people on twitter, even though you consider them friends as we all present only the sides of ourselves we wish everyone to see. I try to make sure that I follow folks that share my political philosophies as well as those that disagree with me. Knowing and understanding all sides is important to me and helps me be a better consumer of news as everybody spins. There is no unadulterated truth, not anymore. And yes, when idiots of any party open their mouths, all who cleave to the same party are painted with the same brush. I get that. But these people are in positions of power and as such have the opportunity to do great harm to those who need the most help.

A friend's niece was molested repeatedly over the spring and summer. So really, the child should have 'just relaxed and enjoyed it' Mr. Clayton? Or perhaps she should 'make the best of a bad situation' Mr. Santorum? That's some extremely helpful advice right there. Because God forbid anyone deny the rapist's '...pursuit of sexual freedom...' as no one, you know, died or anything, right Mr. Lockman?

So no, people who excuse, lessen, or otherwise attempt to mitigate the horror of sexual attacks on anyone with inane and dangerous statements like the ones above have no business being anywhere near positions of power. In truth, they don't deserve to belong to the human race at all but that's a different discussion altogether. And if believing that makes me a 'libtard' than so be it. I embrace that title with pride.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Snark Across America - Baltimore Edition

Alternate Title: Goat Poop and Turtle Sex

After the success of SnarkStock last November in New Jersey, we've all been looking for opportunities to gather again for a night (day) of friends and fun. The large gathering didn't pan out this year but that hasn't stopped smaller tweet-ups: Holly and Jan in Houston, Aaron and Mel and AJ in Minneapolis, Tony, Myrna, and Mike in Philly as they're secret life partners and co-founders of the 'I Heart Gerald Webb' fan club and others I've probably forgotten. And here we are, not too far from most folks but still mostly homebound, gazing sadly at our tiny screens while the family room implodes under the onslaught of Legos and Monster High dolls in various stages of undress until Mandie, brilliant, beautiful Mandie, invited us to Scarlett's birthday party. They live less than a half an hour from us, she loves booze, we take the kids to the same places, how perfect is that? (I also nominate her as head bartender/booze sourcer because holy god was that beer good.)

That would have been enough for me but a few weeks later, who should come to town but Geri, Ken and their boys? My two met two of theirs last year and still talk about them fondly. They had never been in the Baltimore/Washington area and we had an open weekend so Bam! we had our own event at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore and they joined us for dinner where I had to double check that their youngest hadn't smuggled Jinx out of the house; so enamored of her was he. A beautiful day, the kids got along famously, Ken and Dylan bonded over movies (Hot Tub Time Machine, holla!), we witnessed goats pooping and turtles sexing, and I didn't burn dinner! This goes down as an unqualified success in my book.

Also, we introduced them to the delicious little secret known around these parts as 'Bergers Cookies'. I so know what I'm sending them for Christmas.

This goes down in history as officially the second best August ever. Okay September, let's see what you've got.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Endings and Beginnings and I Feel Fine

This week is finally (Finally!) here - big kid birthday, school starting, moving into our favorite time of the year (the end of the week with its stupid 90 degree weather not withstanding)...I've been waiting for this all year. Yeah, I know, don't wish your life away but I'd be lying if I said my heart wasn't a thousand times lighter and my wallet a thousand times heavier today.

So. Birthdays. This is a big one. Noah is 5. Yup. Finally. The side-eye we would get when we told people he was four was getting old. Now his size looks more reasonable. It's just a number but people have different expectations of 5 versus 4. (Welcome to the real world honey, isn't it wonderful?) He went to bed being 4 and woke up being 5. Literally as he was born at 1:30 in the morning. My uterus sincerely believes that the middle of the night is the perfect time to give birth. I was a little misty eyed, kissing my four year old goodnight for the last time because four has been incredible. It's like the universe gets its shit together and the personality and skills - verbal, emotional, physical - combine into an explosion of awesomeness. This has seriously been my favorite year with him - so much growth! Having conversations, playing pretend games (though I will not be sad to retire 'Evil Brain'), being called out on skipping words when reading. I'm really digging this little boy of mine. So it's hard to let that go. But! Five man. This is the big time. It all gets real now.

It certainly is.
But with that transition to Kindergarten comes the ending of our time with Celebree Learning Centers. We've been part of the Celebree family for seven and a half years, since Noelle was an infant. Walking out of that door for the final time on Thursday is going to be hard; they have done wonderfully by our kids and it's because of them that we decided to send Noah to Kindergarten this year when we could have easily waited until he turned 6. They've been so patient with him and he adores his teachers and now he's ready. As sad as that will be (because I'm a sentimental softy who hates change), it's time and hoo boy is my wallet ready. Saving upwards of a grand a month? Yeah, that offsets the sadness, well, a lot. He gets to ride the bus in the mornings and go to PlayKeepers in the afternoons with his second favorite person in the world, Ms. Sharon. He'll take gym and art and music and best of all, take books out of the library. He'll do more reading and counting and sets. They'll do science and learn dances. He'll get to participate in Play Day and make friends who actually live near us. And he won't look so abnormally huge, surrounded by kids up to age 10. And best of all? I can send him with a peanut butter sandwich for lunch every. damned. day.

Kindergarten rocks in so many ways.
Summer is for all intents and purposes over. The angle of the sun is changing, and the light is trending more gold than yellow. The fantasy football draft is soon and apples will be ready to be picked. Soccer and Girl Scouts and Dance are on the agenda and structure, blessed, blessed structure returns to our lives. We made it. It was a tough eight months but we did it. We survived. We're here. And I feel fine.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Awesome Science Mix

This is the hardest damn post to start; the temptation to wax poetic about the vagaries of life is overwhelming but does nothing to advance or introduce my point of today which is that my kids are awesome. Huh, that worked out better than I thought. Anyways, some cool things happened last week that I thought were pretty, uh, cool, that were totally the kids and not me and therefore much more interesting. And awesome. Ahem.

Unpacking Noah's book bag last Wednesday, I came upon a worksheet. His preschool/camp program has spent August getting the rising kindergartners back into the school swing by having them unpack their own lunchboxes, practice writing their letters and numbers and, most important (to me) work on their handwriting in general. Lines are still a quasi-foreign concept to him and keeping letters in a line and not 3/4 of the page in size has been a work in progress. But lo, what hath August wrought? It hath wrought worksheets with the vowel sound correctly identified and names - FULL NAMES. FIRST AND LAST - written completely and correctly and on a line! The boy can write a lowercase 'g'! This is cause for celebration! And balloons! And confetti!

The pride wellethed up and spilled over into my wineglass. It was delicious.

Later that night at dinner, we were talking about our days. Noelle has asked questions about my job before so she knows that I taste a lot of chemicals. No, really. That's what I do. Best diet plan ever and as a bonus I now glow in the dark. Anyways, she changed up the question on me this time: where do the chemicals you use come from? Well, there are companies that manufacture the chemicals we buy and.... No, I mean where do they get the chemicals from? How are they made? And with that, right there at the table they say, Mommy's science-loving heart grew three sizes that day. Thus began a good 15-minute conversation on how chemicals are made and how natural and artificial differ. Well the natural piece called to her and from there we went on to how different plants are harvested for different products and how even different parts of the same plant can yield different chemicals and from there the conversation turned to Big Agriculture. It was one of the best dinner conversations I've ever had and I couldn't be more proud that my kid makes those connections between what I do and what must come before.

Pretty good day, amirite? Well last evening was the Piece of Resistance. One of the steps for putting Noah to bed is to go over the behavioral rules he has to follow followed by 5 questions. I was digging the bottom of the barrel for these as unless the question is about his favorite color (blue) or game (football) the answer is usually 'My brain isn't thinking' which as you can imagine is not at all annoying when trying to hold up your end of the bargain. So I asked him, what would you like for your birthday? (A leading question as I already have his gifts.) (Oh, who am I kidding? Of course I'd go out and get what he really wanted.) It was...the Lego Movie motorcycle and cop car chase scene set. AND I ALREADY HAD IT.  I win at life.

I hope that the awesome flows on to you because SCIENCE. And confetti.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Big girl panties are comfortable after all. Who knew?

I'm not really a 'people person'.  More specifically, I'm not an in-person people person. Through a screen I like people just fine but in face to face situations I clam up and nod and smile a lot. A lot probably has to do with me not trusting what I hear to actually be what was said so to play it safe, I don't allow myself to be put into scenarios where a response is actually required of me. (Yes, hearing aids, blah blah blah and they help a bit BUT they also boost the sound of EVERYTHING, not just what you are trying to concentrate on so not a panacea.) Around family and friends it's different and I can play the 'Okay, here is what I heard you say' bit for laughs. So most of my communication I prefer doing through the screen. Sometimes, however, that's just not an option. You know, for things like career planning and asking for big, giant, HUGE favors from your boss who is not always the most approachable of people. Or so you've heard because you've been hiding in a corner for several years now.

I fully admit that some of what colors my perception of my boss is hearing about the difficult time a friend of mine has had in working with him. I tend to think that it's simply incompatible personalities and they seem to have declared 'detente' recently but the thought of having to have an in-depth discussion with him over anything was giving me major anxiety so I kept putting it off. Then three things happened at once: two weeks after returning from vacation I was going to need to be out of the office for the majority of next week; the realization that at 40 years old and with nearly 17 years at my company, I should probably make some sort of career plan seeing as my original plan was torpedoed by a different manager after returning from maternity leave from Noelle's birth 7.5 years ago (I'm not bitter.) (Okay, maybe I'm still a little bitter. And a procrastinator.), and hey, school starts in two weeks so I really need to get permission to change my schedule finalized.

But this was a scary proposition for me as the last time I had asked for anything from my company, it was agreed to then rescinded the day after I returned from maternity leave with Noah. (And that my friends is why we stopped at two kids; who knows what would have happened when I returned from maternity leave from a third.) Coupled with that, my boss believes firmly that employees have sole responsibility for their career development and that meant introspection and planning and GAH. So learning from those who went before me, I made an agenda, focused my topics with 'this is what I've researched to date' , and girded my loins for battle. It went like this:

1. Coverage for next week during training
2. Career development
3. Alternate schedule during school year

And it was easily the best meeting/discussion I've had with him in his tenure. He doesn't want open-ended things; present an issue, give a potential solution and be prepared to talk through it. I did that for each point on my list and the two that I was most worried about -  career development and work-life balance - were both received favorably and we made a plan on how to get the training that was recommended for me to move to the next position together. Dylan and I will be able to save additional money by not having to put the kids in before and after school care; they'll ride the bus in the mornings now. I came out of the meeting feeling buoyed and energized and relieved and, dare I say it, happy.

Wow, so this is what it's like when adults act like adults; it's such a powerful feeling. I'm no longer alone; because I was willing to do the background work and present options rather than a complaint list, he was more receptive to what I had to say and I feel much more aligned with my boss and his goals and he with me and mine. Now if you'll excuse me, I hear there are some Internet trolls who could use a beatdown.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Dance of the Laptop

In our house we have 2 smartphones, one cheap-ass tablet (my 15th work anniversary gift. Whee.), one netbook and one (ancient) laptop. Oh, and a prehistoric desktop but we don't like to talk about that much. Plenty of apparatuses for all things online except that only one works well enough for things like 'writing show recaps' and 'webcam appearances on radio shows' and that would be the laptop. Usually things work out just fine; Dyl's shows are on Wednesdays or Fridays (Comic Book Haul) and Sunday afternoons (Dylan Knows). My writing obligations are Sunday night (The Strain) and Thursday night (Defiance).  Little overlap unless one of us is called to pinch hit on Snarkalec Radio on Thursday night. And that's exactly what's happening this week.

So here's the dilemma: Defiance airs on SyFy at 8 pm. Kiddie bedtime is 8 - 8:30 so we DVR it and watch from 9 - 10, after which I stay up writing the first draft of the recap  and listening to Snarkalec Radio until 11:30/12:00. Snarkalec Radio goes on about 9:15ish and runs til between 10:30 and 10:45. (It's a lot of fun; you should really check it out.)

So, a long night but not insurmountable. However, Dyl's been asked to appear on tonight's episode of Snarkalec Radio which he really enjoys so that means that 1) no recording and watching later after kiddie bedtime as I take notes real time then craft the story around it and B) I won't have access to the only piece of equipment that I can actually write on until 10:30 at the earliest (I'm looking at YOU, Netbook, and your premature posting problem.)

The plan therefore goes something like this: I watch live and take notes, he puts the kids to bed, I log off from Google Plus so he can log in, he plugs in his headphones and prays there are no technical difficulties (Ha. Haaaaaa.), hilarity ensues for the next 90 minutes, he logs off, I log back on and pound jelly beans and Diet Coke like it's my job while trying to remember what I actually meant by the notation 'M weevil' and if I've reached the 'butthurt' mention limit yet.

Sure, we could avoid the whole thing by getting another laptop or an actually working tablet but that costs money we don't have and besides, where's the fun in that? There can be only one and I know where the jelly beans are hidden.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Silver Linings and Lemonade in a Red Solo Cup

So. Back from vacation. The one thing you look forward to for 51 weeks is over like *that* and in the midst of unpacking and still finding sand in the damnedest places, it's easy to sink into a real funk. The days of sipping cold beers in a beach chair by the water, trying to be heard over the roar of fighter-jet engines, and telling yourself that it's really okay to let the kids eat ice cream for dinner mean it's that much harder to return to reality and when you do, everything look bigger and worse than ever. Even my sunny self is not immune to it. So I'm trying something different this year: finding the silver lining in the stuff that's getting me down.

1. Vacation being over.
Silver lining - Got to dance to 'Red Solo Cup' and 'Handlebars' with my family at my cousin's 10th anniversary party. Also, I do the 'C' of the 'YMCA' backwards. Who knew?

2.  Back to work where things went 'kablooey'.
Silver lining - Okay, this took more thought but at the very least, my job is secure for years to come as no one wants anything to do with it. Also, I have another year before this clusterfuck happens again.

3.  The kindergarten teacher I was hoping Noah would get isn't in the school anymore.
Silver lining - She took a job at a different local school so I'm happy for her. And it's not like I won't see her; two of her kids are at Franklin, one in the same grade as Noelle. Even better, no more day care payments! Ever! And we've made a date to meet at the local ice cream stand The Cow. So really, it's still a mostly-win.

4.  Noelle didn't get the teacher she wanted either.
Silver lining - The same thing happened last year and she ended up loving her teacher. I just hope that some of her close friends are in her class this year.

5.  Jinx is not consistently peeing in the litter box. Poop, yes, but not pee.
Silver lining - Well, we found an awesome pet sitter for her. And as she prefers to pee on piled up papers and plastic bags, it's forcing us to keep the clutter down. Her secret peeing spot is somewhere in the basement where the carpet was already ruined by my old cats so it looks like we're moving up our timetable of replacing that carpet too. Oh darn, that means we need to organize and THROW STUFF OUT.

6.  Friends are fighting and things are changing.
Silver lining - This was the hardest one as I think the world of everyone I *think* is involved but I need to let it go and not obsess about it. It just means I need to alter the ways I check feeds and has nothing to do with me. On the bright side, I get to *meet* with two twitter friends face to face this month which I'm so excited about. One to give her daughter some coveted dolls and the other to share our city with her family.

Change is hard yo but on the bright side, NO MORE DAY CARE! EVER! HUZZAH!

(Did I mention no more day care? Because that makes me happy.)

(Also wine. Really, anything in a red Solo Cup. But that was a given.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

There's a hero inside all of us

I've never made is a secret that I think my kid is pretty damn awesome and yeah, I totally cop to a bias here, but she continues to amaze me every. single. day. From her generosity with her friends to her reading to her little brother; from loving to make up stories about the Princess Rescue Squad to racing around the house playing Star Wars, she is full of life and joy. Exactly as a 7 year old should be. But she is also wise beyond her years and stronger than most adults can ever hope to be.

She has been having a wonderful summer so far; her confidence is through the roof, not only with swimming but also in being around other kids. Her naturally reserved nature was overcome by the unifying force of Monster High dolls that she brings every day to share with the girls when they are tired of swimming. (Again with the generosity theme.) She'll play and share with everyone and counts among her friends a rising 6th grader and a rising 4th grader, all from school. They were in the same before/after care program and just naturally took care of her all year. Yesterday, she returned the favor.

While playing with the rising 6th grader, P,  a new addition to the camp decided to crown herself as 'Queen Bee' and told the girls that she was 'awesome'. Okay, fine, whatever but the girl didn't stop there. According to Noelle, she then started to make fun of P, calling her names and gradually, the other girls joined in the mocking before flocking around their new mistress and leaving. P was in tears but Noelle, she stayed. She stayed with P the rest of the day, playing with her and just being there, being her friend. And Dylan told me at the end of the day when he picked her up from the camp bus stop, P stopped Noelle and gave her a huge hug. The simple act of being a friend made things better for another little girl and maybe, hopefully, helped her reclaim her confidence.

Noelle may not fully understand why Dylan and I are so proud of her but I'm much less worried about her now. She'll have challenges as all kids do but her moral compass? That bad boy points straight north and I pity the fool who messes with her. By her actions, she showed P that the other girls were wrong, that P is great just as she is and maybe, just maybe, taught those girls a lesson about doing what's right versus what's easy. It's hard to be on the receiving end of such actions but just one person staying with you makes all the difference in the world. And when push comes to shove, it doesn't matter who you have sticking up for you, all that matters is that someone is, for as Galadriel told Frodo, even the smallest person can change the course of history.

You keep on rocking with your bad self baby girl; you got this. Bullies of the world, you're on notice: Noelle Lange is in the house and your time has just run out.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Random Tuesday Thoughts

I've got two working days left before vacation so my drive to get anything done besides vacation prep is slowly fading away. Not that I'll get away from work totally; I still have reports to run and apocalypses (apocalypsi?) to avert. But I won't be HERE while doing it. At any rate, VACATION! WHEE! But before we can get there, we gotta make it through this week. And it was touch and go whether we would or not.

Saturday night my computer mysteriously decided to eat my profile name so I couldn't log on. Usually not a big deal but I prefer to snark terrible SyFy movies from my trusty laptop and thus was relegated to using my phone. I know. Woe. It was still acting up on Sunday morning meaning that Dyl couldn't do his video show. Like a good wife, I said, 'Take it to the Best Buy service department. I'm taking the kids to my mom's to make cookies. Later!' Turns out that before they'd even look at it he had to buy a $200 technical services warranty contract thingy. Um, no. Not gonna happen. So he contacted a friend who was able to help restore stuff and now I own Tony beer and cookies. (Thanks again Tony! A new computer was not in the budget at this time.) He missed his show but at least I had it back to do my 'The Strain' recap. Priorities, yo.

Huh, everyone in Office Row disappeared. I hope there wasn't a meeting or something I was supposed to be at....

After getting pissy with Noelle's summer camp, I finally (FINALLY!) got her swimming reports for the past 5 weeks. They were on scraps of notebook paper. I think some of my end-of-camp suggestions will be to have a standardized form for the swim instructors to fill out for the kids taking lessons. It's not rocket science until it is.

Speaking of camp, she loves it there and has made lots of friends. Yay! But! She's also generous to a fault and has each week run out of snack money by Thursday buying snacks for her friends. Maybe 7 is too young but we give her money at the beginning of the week so she can get an afternoon snack and once it's gone, it's gone. She gets no more until the next week. I don't want to curb her generous impulses but we are starting to worry that she's being taken advantage of by these kids. She doesn't think so; she likes to share which: awesome but I'm really not in the business of providing snack money to other people's children. Today I instituted a new rule: you can buy treats for your friends one day a week; you choose the day but after that, the money is for you as I can't afford to keep replenishing it when you spend it quickly. It's a balancing act - giving her a safe way to practice budgeting her money versus BUY YOUR OWN DAMN SNACKS YOU GREEDY MOOCHERS!

Related, I really need a vacation.

We're proud of her generosity and her caring; this is a control issue for me that I have to work out. In the meantime, enjoy the closest approximation to the epically glorious behead she sported last week (combine the two and it's spot-on):

Did I mention needing a vacation?

Now, I need to just breathe and let it go.