Saturday, October 29, 2011

I'm Not Bragging, I'm Seeking An Intervention

M. was gone most of last week, and I was like a Martha-Stewart-in-training while he was gone. I somehow get it into my head, every time he goes away (lately), that I can be this superwoman who does everything I normally do, AND everything he normally does, and then a little bit more. It's a bit of a sickness, really. I try to work out most days, keep the house picked up, do laundry... when really, I should just work on sleeping and keeping everyone on time. Maybe some day I'll actually prioritize those two things (I hope!).

M. left very early Monday morning. I got the kids up, dressed, and delivered to school. I went to work, worked a full day, ran errands in the middle of the day (gas in car, baked goods purchased for office party). Picked up the kids, cooked dinner (fish, pan fried, with vegetables, didn't slack), did all the dishes and set up lunch/coffee maker for next day, gave kids a bath, put them to bed, picked up house for the next day's visit from the cleaning woman (this is no easy feat), and ran on the treadmill. I showered, Facebook'd, and fell into bed.

On Tuesday, I again got the kids (and myself) up, dressed, and delivered to school/work. I worked a full day, went to the gym at lunch time, picked the kids up, stopped at Burger King for a dinner that was consumed in the car (a bit of a cheat, but it was the last week of soccer, so I deemed that occasion treat-worthy), and brought both kids to Finn's soccer class. I cheered Finn on and wrangled Lucy, nearly losing my shit trying to get both kids, two soccer balls, and BK leftovers to the car once it was over, but holding it together (barely). I shuffled the kids into bed (there was yelling, I'm afraid), and ate my dinner while making these delightful ghost meringues for the kids' Halloween party on Friday. Mine didn't come out quite as well as the ones I was trying to emulate, but they're not half bad:

I did a load of laundry, took out the recycling, showered, caught up on the Internet, and collapsed into bed at around 11 pm.

On Wednesday it was more of the same - kids up and out, full day of work, dinner, (I made quesadillas), kitchen-cleaning and next day prep (coffee and lunch), Finn's homework help, bathtime (oops, no, didn't do bathtime, I got too mad at the kids for various infractions and refused to bathe them), bedtime, scooping out the cat's litter box, taking out the trash, and an attempt a treadmill jog. I say attempt because I had to stop twice to comfort a crying Lucy, who was supposed to be sleeping. I finally gave up after only 32 minutes, showered, hung some newly arrived decor on the playroom walls, and headed to bed. But also somehow squeezed in a load of laundry to wash the clothes from Lucy's potty accident (a direct result of me declaring her potty trained, I'm sure). Began long night of several Lucy wake-ups. Turns out she had a double ear infection and would shortly (Thursday morning) also develop pink eye.

That pretty much ends the over-achieving aspect of my time as a single parent.The rest was just survival until M. came home. Thursday morning I already had a doctor's appointment scheduled for Finn (5-year well visit), so we all slept a little late. I called just before heading in, and begged for a sick visit for Lucy, even though she was not (yet) running a fever. About 10 minutes before I made that phone call, I noticed her right eye was pink and crusty. Before that moment, I was going to just bring her with me to Finn's appointment (to get her a flu shot) and, while we were with the doctor, try to swing a quick ear check JUST in case. But my guilt took over once I realized she really, probably, definitely, was sick - I figured we'd need a longer appointment and that we should really pay the sick visit co-pay (don't have one for the well visits). After that visit, my fate for the day was sealed. I would not be going to work, Lucy would not be going to daycare. We dropped Finn off at daycare, picked up Lucy's antibiotics, and headed home for a day of "entertaining the toddler while trying to get some work done." All while fighting the exhaustion from the multiple middle-of-the-night wake-ups the night before. We gave up around 4:45, picked up Finn, cooked dinner (vegetarian BLTs), and welcomed our much-missed M. home. Thank God.

I would like to note that I had not one single glass of wine while M. was gone. Frankly, there just wasn't any time.

I had 3 glasses on Thursday night, though.

In conclusion, I'm probably crazy. I'm definitely exhausted. Also, here are some pictures of what the playroom looks like now that we've kid-ified it even more:

Robot decals on the walls (source)

A place to display the kids' artwork

How it looks together

A little geography fun (U.S map and World map)

New rug, perfect for driving cars (Source)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Declarations, Questions, and Observations

1. We are declaring Lucy to be officially daytime potty trained. Now that I have said that, I'm sure we're in for some kind of regression, but there it is. She is completely out of diapers, even for long outings, and only wears a pull-up at night. We are not totally out of the woods yet, as said pull-up is completely soaked by morning. However, she is doing great otherwise, and can even make it through nap time without any accidents.

2. We went to the zoo yesterday, something that's become a bit of a tradition each time one of the kids has a birthday. The National Zoo is just such a NICE zoo! The exhibits are so well designed and cared for, and we are really lucky to have such a great resource so close to where we live. Yesterday was our best visit yet. The zoo was decked out in all kinds of Halloween decorations, and all the animals we saw were really alert. The young panda was out playing with a toy, the baby gorilla was dragging a white sheet around and gnawing on pumpkin bits like an adorable hungry ghost, the cheetahs were up and stalking around, the emu was trying to chew through the fence, the lions were all playing with/chewing these odd looking blanket/animal skin-type things, Finn and Lucy got face-to-face with an orangutan, and one of the elephants walked right up near us and trumpeted. It was all pretty awesome.

3. Why is it that, while sitting in a booth at a restaurant, kids must either: 1) turn around and hang over the back of the seat, staring at the people eating right behind us; or 2) constantly slide off the booth under the table and pop up on the other side, and expect you to be happy to see them suddenly on the other side of the table. Happy that you can't stay in your seat during dinner and that you smeared shoe dirt and food scraps all over your body? Um, not exactly. I liked sitting in booths until I had kids. I no longer like sitting in booths.

4. What is the general consensus on clothing in the junior section? I must admit that as I pass by the section in various department stores, I do find some of the items cute. Only some, mind you. What is the protocol here? Are women in their mid-30's allowed to buy anything from the junior section, for ourselves? Do we look ridiculous if we bring an armload of juniors' clothes into the dressing room (I'm guessing that answer is yes)? Should I ignore the section completely until 2020, or whatever year I deem Lucy old enough to shop in it, and then only look for HER? Do any of you ever buy anything from the juniors' section? Am I just completely kidding myself?

Note: I have not actually bought anything from the juniors' section. I have, inadvertently, tried a couple of things on, because some of these stores (Target) tend to look a bit like a tornado hit, and it can be tough to tell where one section ends and the other begins. None of the things I tried on actually looked good, which is probably my answer right there. I don't have the body of a 15 year old, why would I buy clothing meant for one?

5. A few weeks ago, I saw a pick up truck that had a spoiler on the back of the bed. It has bothered me ever since. Pretty sure a pick up truck is never, ever going to be aerodynamic.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Last Day

as a 4-year-old, for the record:

Tomorrow it's on to FIVE!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Upswing


Things have been good. Very good. Is this a taste of what FIVE is like? Because Finn? Is being a rock star at school lately. And an adorable, can't-hug-him-enough, hysterical cutie pie at home.

OK, so it's not perfect. He doesn't listen ALL the time, he still cries and has emotional little fits every now and then, and he still takes FOREVER to get into his pajamas at night.

But it has been so, so much better. So much better. This summer, M. and I were really at our wits end with Finn. He was causing trouble at school, making us feel like miserable parents, and basically sucking most of the joy out of all aspects of life. Not to be dramatic or anything. I was worried we were doing him a huge disservice by having him in daycare, by parenting him (if what we were doing could be called parenting), by in general, frankly, failing him.

In the last few weeks, though, things have magically turned around. Finn is listening well at school, he's getting those coveted "green cards" (all five days last week!), and he's been much more engaging at home. And the thing is, we're not doing ANYTHING differently.

Which really just hits home that the crappiness that is age 3 and 4 has absolutely NOTHING to do with whether you are a good parent or a bad parent, and EVERYTHING to do with the natural course of development. My take home message is that when kids are 3-4 years old, parents should just focus on providing basic necessities (food, clothes, a place to sleep, a routine) and trying (TRYING) not to lose their shit every day. Anything more is apparently not going to matter anyway, so don't beat yourself up if/when the "more" just doesn't happen.

Now that I've written this, I'm going to go hide somewhere and take cover for the shit storm of parenting woes that will now, karmalike, befall me. But I felt like I had to put this out there, karma be damned, because I have written about the negative, and I want to document the positive, too.

I think a big part of Finn's improved behavior recently has been the return of the "school" curriculum to daycare. This past summer, his main teacher (the one that does the lesson planning) was out of the country helping family. There was no homework, a parade of teachers, and very little structure. Lots of playtime, but not much learning and routine. An unstructured environment for the summer is GREAT if you're 10, but I think not so awesome for a 4-year-old. Finn's teacher is now back, though, and lessons are in full swing. Last week was dinosaur week, something Finn knows a LOT about - he was completely in his element telling his classmates everything he knew, and it made for a really great week, likely because he was very interested in all the lessons.

I just hope that interest continues. My biggest concern with Finn was that, as an October baby, he'd be bored out of his mind spending another year in the same classroom, going through the same themes, and learning the same lessons from last year. So far, though, his teachers have been pushing him - he's learning lots of sight words, working on addition, and practicing writing short sentences. They've been great about working two curricula - one for the kids who recently started in the classroom (reviewing their upper and lower case letters), and a more advanced one for kids like Finn that are on their second time through. He's even napping most days, which might be the best indication of how challenged he is - it's exhausting him.

Now I can switch my worry to whether Finn will be bored once he gets to Kindergarten, instead. During our parent-teacher conference last week, the school director made some comments to us about how she couldn't believe that we didn't try to get Finn into Kindergarten this year. It's not the first time she has said this to me. She thinks he would have had no problem testing into Kindergarten despite the fact the he missed the cutoff date by almost 2 months - in terms of academic ability/knowledge, she feels that he was ready to go. It's a little hard to take, because, a) it makes me feel like we slacked on our job of doing our best for our kids, since we didn't even CONSIDER sending Finn to Kindergarten early. Maybe it would have been better to send him this year! And now it's too late; and b) my entire life I've heard that boys mature slower than girls. EVERYONE has always said that boys benefit from a little more time before starting school. And the way Finn was behaving over the last several months, I saw no reason to disagree with that. My son, spend 6 hours in a classroom doing schoolwork every day? No way. But now it kind of feels like he could have handled it, and I've read a little bit of research that shows that putting kids in school early can actually benefit them. Not a lot of research, but still a bit of a sucker punch to the gut, since it's all new information to me.

I think it probably would suck to put Finn in a situation where he is destined to always be the youngest kid in his class, and I don't really regret not trying to send him to Kindergarten. I guess I'm just pissed that this is one more way where parents can be made to feel like failures. Is it REALLY so awful that we just simply followed the rules, the rules that said that if your kid isn't 5 by September 1st, he can't go to Kindergarten? Isn't it a rule for a REASON?

OK, vent over, this post is about WONDERFUL FINN. Who is celebrating a birthday this very week. And I love him VERY, ACHINGLY, MUCH. He is charming.

Here are a couple of videos of the kids having a dance party. Lucy has made up her own strange dance that involves swinging her arms one at a time over her head. We all imitate it, it is adorable and fun. But you don't get videos of M. and I imitating it, just the kids. Enjoy!

Lucy's funny dance (and Finn's seizure-like take on it):

Coming to a discoteque near you:

Some inappropriate butt-drumming:

Bonus video - Finn cracking himself up with some rogue Humpty Dumpty lyrics:

Monday, October 3, 2011

I Don't Even Know Where to Begin to Create a Title for This

I have many thoughts that all seem like they could be blossomed into real, actual blog posts. I half-compose them in my head, usually in the car or while I'm running. But I am lazy. And I forget that perfect wording that is only perfect when I have no way of writing it down. But mostly I'm lazy. So instead of several distinct blog posts, you get the following instead:

Things I like, lately - not things I was paid to write about. Because lord knows nobody pays me to write on this blog:

1. Bota Box Wines. Dude, yes, boxed wine. I can't believe I'm even writing it. And I know what you're thinking. I, like many of you I imagine, had a few shameful experiences in college and grad school with Franzia (or as my mom liked to call it, "pink shit"). Perhaps even, gasp, Almaden. I try not to talk about it unless I'm in the safe company of my fellow girlfriends who, as I did, likely also drank their fair share of Boone's Fine Wine, Woodchuck, Zima, and other oh-my-god-they're-so-sweet-how-were-we-able-to-drink-enough-to-get-drunk fluffy alcholic beverages. I've matured since those days, I think. I've been to Napa and Sonoma and lots of other regional wineries, I've sniffed and swirled and developed my own personal preferences for wine.

And yet here I am, drinking boxed wine. As I type, in fact.

Listen, M. and I are trying to save money, you know? As I've documented a bit (here's where I would link to some posts a few weeks ago, but I'm too lazy), we are replacing/have recently replaced HVAC systems and windows and woodwork and carpeting and dining room furniture. And only half of those expenses were planned for. Have I mentioned how much I love being a homeowner lately? Oh, right, that's because it's been sucking my will to live. Anyway, so we're looking to cut back on expenses. Wine, shopping (the kind where you just kind of buy stuff blindly without budgeting/paying attention), and eating out are the major areas we've targeted for reduction. But we're not giving them up completely. I need my wine. Yes I do.

Enter boxed wine. But not just ANY boxed wine. Red wine only (apparently white boxed wine hasn't come as far as red boxed wine). And trust me, it's GOOD. Several of the varietals have 90+ points, which I think means something good. They've won awards. Their boxes say so. Granted, I have no idea what those awards mean, but come on, it means Something, right?

So try it. It's good. And feel free to share your favorite budget beverages in the comments.

2. St. Ives Naturally Clear Green Tea Scrub. This is the perfect facial cleanser. PERFECT. It exfoliates. And not like the apricot scrub, where it feels like you're rubbing two or three microbeads over your entire face and maybe flaking off five cells of dead skin. This is like fine grains of sand throughout the entire product that gets rid of all the yucky stuff (gently, of course). It has 1% salicylic acid, for those like me who sometimes have to battle both wrinkles and acne (and I thought life wasn't fair when I was a teenager, amiright?). And, AND, it will also remove my eye makeup. Other scrubs have me looking like a raccoon when I leave the shower. Game, set, and match.

OK, that's it for things I like lately. There may be more, but I can't remember them right now. Onto to other matters.

3. (I'm going to keep numbering here just so you can see exactly where I completely change my train of thought. This is no longer in any way a list of any sort.) Potty training snippet: I call this "You win some, you lose some."

Lucy stayed dry all day Saturday, even during naptime. Win.

She then peed on the kitchen floor Sunday at around 9 am. She was pretty happy about it. Loss.

Later that night, at around 12:30 a.m., Lucy woke up crying and calling out that she needed to go pee. Which she subsequently did once M. carried her to the bathroom. Her pull-up was dry, but it was 12:30 a.m. Win?

4. I mentioned long ago that I joined Weight Watchers (eh, look through the January archives, says lazy blogwriter), and I haven't really written much about how it's been going. Frankly, I haven't really wanted to write what might be considered to be bragging, or fishing for compliments. Because for a while, it was really, really working. But lately, it's been harder, and I've been contemplating writing a little bit about the struggles I've been having with weight loss (namely, that it hasn't been happening). Lots of boring navel-gazing about why I can no longer commit to working the Weight Watchers system the way I was a few months ago, how to get reinvigorated, what to do to kick start my exercise which has been getting a little boring... But instead I'm going to tell you that yesterday I went shopping for some new work clothes. And, bragging be damned, I bought a size 8 dress. SIZE 8. Yes, it was stretch material. Yes, it was from Target, which is not known for having sizes that run small. Yes, I know that I am NOT a size 8, not really. But I look GOOD in that dress. I am going to wear the shit out of that dress, if only because I don't think I have ever, ever worn a size 8 ANYTHING. And that, right there, is motivation enough to get back on this god-damned weightloss wagon. I will make my weight loss goal, come hell or high water.

OK, I'm going to end now. I've also been percolating a post on religion, and how I'm totally unprepared to answer Finn's questions on God and Jesus, which have been coming fast and furious around here lately (SOMEONE at school - ahem, Casey? - seems to know a LOT, and REALLY wants to share all of her 4-year-old wisdom). But that's likely too weighty a topic to handle flippantly/quickly, so I'll leave it off this "non-list" and continue contemplating an actual post on it. Or not. We'll see. For now, I leave you with a link to the best song being played on the radio right now, the one that had me singing like Jessica Simpson (have you seen the facial expressions she makes while she sings? Have you? I had M. do a quick search to find a picture for me to use to demonstrate this, but he couldn't find one that did it justice quickly. He did, however, find a Facebook group called "Jessica Simpson looks really ugly when she sings." I'm not going to say ugly, but man, it's intense) in the car this afternoon, with grandiose, emo hand motions and everything. My right hand? Was clenched in front of my chest. Purposefully. I was PERFORMING for I-270, let me tell you. Needless to say, this song rocks. I want to be Adele. It's my secret talent-I-always-wished-I-had (singing awesomely, not being Adele specifically). And officially number 5 on my non-list.