Sunday, April 21, 2013

I Have Boogers!

7:30am: I wake up to overly whiny and dramatic wailing. “Maaaaamaaaaaaaa!” on repeat. I am groggy and annoyed as I always am when presented with the prospect of getting out of bed, but even more so today because I have a sinus infection and because I stayed up super late last night finishing Season 8 of Weeds on Netflix. When I open her door, the the wailing immediately stops. The first things out of her mouth are: "Where is my PT Cruiser?" and "I want to wear mine pretty dress."

Thanks, Doc!
10:30am: Having met the childrens’ basic needs of survival, I am now a beached couch whale. Tuesday is wearing a sparkly silver tutu over her jammies and is superbly happy about it. Dirt is in monster footy PJs. They are amusing themselves civilly enough, and remain adequately responsive to my angry whale song periodically reminding them to play nice.
Now they are doctors on a mission to fix me. I am alerted to the fact that I have drifted off by a booger sucker being jammed up my nose. “Be brave,” Dirt tells me, trying to hold my hands back from blocking the offending aspirator, “it won’t hurt and then you’ll feel all better.” Tuesday starts bringing me cloudy water in a tiny medicinal shot glass. I suspect she is scooping the water out of the bowl I left soaking in the sink, but she is so caring in her presentation that I have no choice but to drink it. She brings me at least four rounds, sweetly forceful in demanding that she pour them in my mouth. Dr. Dirt concurs that water is good for sickies, and brings me a full pint glass of clean refrigerator water. He says. “You may have more after you finish this.” He also doles out gummy vitamins and demands that I hold a broken thermometer in my armpit.

12:00: I roll myself into the car because I have to go to the f-ing store. Milk, eggs, butter, diapers, toilet paper—the oh so exciting essentials. I’ve been putting it off all morning. Because he can change his own clothes, I tell Dirt to get dressed. Tuesday is still in pajamas and tutu, because I lack the motivation to dress her. We just add pink boots to up the fashion quota. I am happy that I am prepared with Kleenex in the car, and blow my nose each of the twenty-eight minutes it takes to get to Safeway. The used tissue collection in the door pocket of the van is gross. (So is the pile on the floor as I write this currently.)

Why would you take a dog shopping?
At the store, Tuesday rides inside the car cart and Dirt rides on top. They are generally pleasant as I shop and my sniffling is minimal, although as the cart gets progressively heavier I need to lunge forward to get it in motion. Finally it’s time to push toward the checkout, and I realize I’ve left my wallet at home. My mind starts swimming: can I call Dooley and relay a credit card number by phone? Do I abandon all my groceries and chalk up two hours of purposeless recreation? Do I leave the cart and drive the thirty minutes home for my wallet and thirty minutes back to the store for the groceries and thirty minutes back home again? Should I make a break for it and shoplift a massive cart full of food and diapers? Perhaps the sheer unstealthiness of absconding with such unwieldy bounty would make it possible. Right at that moment of stunned contemplation, Dirt pulls a bunch of stuff off the shelf onto the floor. I tell him to pick it up in the most-intense-but-most-quiet public mean mommy voice possible. Then it dawns on me that there is a Wells Fargo in the Safeway. Luckily I left my expired driver’s license in the diaper bag, and luckily they accepted it to withdraw cash. 

Then the overly friendly manager—the same one who smiled when we walked in, the same one who asked if I needed help while shopping because I “had that look”—asks if I’d like any assistance out to my car. I wonder if I emanate bedraggled help me vibes or if he’s hitting on me. “No thank you I’ll be fine,” I reply, sniffing. I know my eyes are puffy. “It doesn’t look like you have the staff to spare anyway.” Then he offers himself. Well, if you insist. Not that I don’t have things under control or anything…oh wait, there goes Dirt out the one-way automatic doors and now he can’t get back in. So then it is super awkward, politely fighting over who gets to push the thousand-pound kid-and-grocery-laden cart uphill in the parking lot, but I don’t put up much of a fight. Help is welcome, regardless of motive.

1:30: I drive through Sonic and ask how many chicken nuggets I can get for under $9, which is the amount of cash I have left. I feed the kids their well-balanced, nutritious meal on the drive so I can put them right to bed when we get home. I grumble at my haggard reflection in the rear-view mirror. Dirt asks me what I’m grumbling at. “I look like crap,” I mutter. “No you don’t!” he replies brightly and adorably. It’s amazing how kids can lift your spirits with their happy simplicity. 

2:30: Groceries are finally put away, kids are finally in their rooms. Supposedly napping. I am attempting a nap of my own. Dirt gets up a bazillion times to go to the bathroom and/or get a drink of water and/or ask for a hug. I am trying to be firm so I can get some rest. The sweet little boy who’s constantly saying “Mama, I love you” for no reason at all turns into an angry screaming monster when being forced to nap, slamming doors and yelling “I don’t love you!” When I finally begin to fall into a luxurious sleep, I’m snapped out of it by “Mama, come see my poop”. Then when I settle back in, my own congested pig snore startles me awake. Soon nap time is over. I am sad.

9:00pm: Kids are down for the night. They ate leftover Tuna Helper and I had leftover soup. We watched Lilo and Stitch and made Hippopotamus cake for my sister’s birthday party tomorrow. I decide now is a good time to take a shower; maybe I’ll feel better or something. When I turn the water off I hear dramatic wailing, so I run down the hall in a towel, dripping water all the way, only to encounter Tuesday whining, “I have boogers”. Me too, dearest pie. Me too. 

1:00am: Stupidly, I am still awake. Blowing my nose, watching The Breakfast Club and writing this lackluster narrative, realizing that the tone has totally flat lined and so now I am going to bed. I hate trying to sleep when I can’t breathe through my nose. My lips are already so damn chapped. Mouth-breathing and pig-snoring, here we come!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Pass the Brains, or How I’m Putting My Education to Use

My four year old boy still has to show me all his poops. I feel bad that I no longer get freakishly excited about each one, high-fiving him and skipping happily to the kitchen to get him a treat, but I still have the privilege of viewing them. And butt wiping. Lucky me! Anyway, he had a really gross one today. (I’ll spare you the detailed description.) So I told him it was gross. He repeated it enthusiastically: “It’s a really gross poop!”, to which I replied, grimacing, while dumping it out of the frog potty into the big boy toilet, “Tell me about it.” Without skipping a beat he said, “Well, it comes out of my body…”

I’d like to say he proceeded to detail the intricacies of the digestive system (which we have studied many times in his body book), but instead he stuck his butt out and made the fart sound—with his mouth, that is—and told me in a far less scientific fashion about how poop works.

I love how kids interpret things so literally. He still asks me what a bet is each time I say “wanna bet?”, like he needs to know if a bet is some great thing that he most definitely would want. As if I was asking him if he wanted a cookie. And the way they interpret everything is just awesome. I was cutting the boy’s fingernails earlier and he told me “Don’t go too far or you will touch my blood,” which hearkens back to the body book, the circulatory system more specifically: one of his favorites because he’s slightly obsessed with blood. “Do we have blood in our tongues? Do we have blood in our toes? Do we have blood in our tummies?” Of course it got real confusing when we talked about the respiratory system and how it puts oxygen in our blood.

I know he just turned four and the Body Book is intended for ages 8 and up, but I get a kick out of teaching my kids “advanced” ideas. It reminds me that I used to know things. I like to pretend that I’m still putting my education to daily use, plus it’s fun to watch their wheels spin when I tell them things. Like how storms are created when hot and cold air collide. Like how calcium and protein benefit your bones and muscles so eat your damn food, and how your body metabolizes sugar and it makes you crazy, so no cookies for you before bedtime (despite the fact that recent studies say otherwise. I think they’re full of crap because he’s nuts on sugar). Like gravity and energy and other physics-y stuff. Like the movement of tectonic plates, which was totally applicable while watching the earthquake ("earthshake") scene in “The Land Before Time” (which, by the way, is a ridiculously sad movie, especially when your kids ask you where Littlefoot’s mommy is). Of course things like plate tectonics engenders endless questions such as “Why does the earth do that?” Sometimes I’ll rattle off a complex scientific answer and sometimes I’ll say really smart things like “Because it does.” 

Right after the earthshake. Also, did you know this movie came out in 1988?
Itemizing the differences between mammals and other classes of animals becomes quite the ordeal too. Of course the moment I’ve laid out the basics we encounter a freaking platypus on TV. “Mommy that’s a bird because it has a beak and lays eggs.” No. “Mommy that’s a mammal because it’s furry.” Maybe...? Freaking platypus. The whale is equally confusing. And the concept of being warm-blooded and cold-blooded is tricky for a four-year-old brain. (Also a 28-year-old brain.) Then there’s the whole carnivore/herbivore/omnivore debacle. Sheeesh. 

So that covers anatomy, biology, meteorology, geology, and physics. History is lacking, but we’re working on geography. He knows South America because that’s where Diego lives. Both kids know most of their letters…at least the upper case ones, and most of the lower case. Dirt can read a few words, including his own name and the name “Coors”. Yeah. He gets ridiculously excited when pointing out a Coors truck, or loudly (and embarrassingly) yelling out the name in the liquor store. (Bear in mind that Coors is his father’s place of employment…which logically results in Coors products in the home. Duh.) Tuesday, who is 2 1/2, habitually reads the movie poster in her room “B-R-A-V-E. That spells brave!” I was very impressed the first time that happened, but then she looked at her clock and said “2, 6, 9, 1. That spells clock!”

So what other subjects are we lacking? Math? They can count to about fourteen, after which their numbers become nonsensical. OH! And they know some French and Italian and Japanese and Spanish…like bonjour and amore and ichi, ni, san, and uno, dos, tres, and pinche. AAANNNND of course they’re accomplished artists, kicking out Pollock "masterpieces" like nobody’s business. AAAAANNNND rockstar genius musicians. Okay, no, banging on drums and crazily strumming toy guitars while yelling like monsters isn’t exactly Mozart…more like thrash metal or something. 

Before you get too annoyed by my maternal bragging, let me remind you of the poop story at the beginning. And the butt wiping. And, for your enjoyment, an example of an everyday conversation—hardly the civilized, intellectual dialogue —as follows:

Me, yelling: “Tuesday, stop screaming! Dirt, Stop being a jerk!”
Dirt, condescendingly: “That’s not a nice word.”
Me, rolling eyes, still yelling: “Then stop being one. Tuesday, you’re FINE! Stop screaming!”
…ten seconds later…
Me, eyes bulging: “Dirt, leave Tuesday ALONE! Tuesday, stop making that horrible noise! Use your words!!!”
Tuesday, furiously at Dirt: “Don’t EBER do dat!”

[She always repeats things from our extreme parenting moments, like “Don’t EVER do that” and “I’ve told you so many times” and something about not listening, but I forget how it goes. Whatever. It’s totes adorbs. Her stern tiny voice and scowly tiny face.]

Uuuuuummmmmm so my point? My point has wandered off and gotten lost. Because it's 1 in the morning and I'm only still awake cuz the husband is working nights and I took a long, glorious afternoon nap earlier. Also I made chocolate chip cookies at 9 and ate lots of the dough. I guess my point is just that my kids are super geniuses. And college is definitely worthwhile. And that there should be some special quotation marks or italics specifically meant to indicate sarcasm in writing. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Would someone please tell me what my Element is so I can get IN it?

Before you begin, this post is closely related to my last post, which you should also read. Before or after. Chronology isn't super important here, just similar themes of contrasting lifestyles and identity, which is apparently an inescapable issue for me right now...

I am dreading the day that all phones automatically do video, like Skype or Facetime. Preparing for a phone call should never involve makeup or professional dress. I once had an interview via Skype, and I was all worried about what to wear and how I looked, despite being at home. Not to mention I agonized over what background they would see behind me. Should I clean my house for my virtual visitors? My messy bedroom would surely send the wrong message. The kitchen might emphasize my stay-at-home-mom-ness, making me a less desirable candidate in the professional workplace. Should I stage some sort of art background, since it was an art related job? The living room couch could imply laziness. Crap.
 In the end, my tablet didn’t allow Skype to work. The interview was conducted by old-fashioned phone, after a good few minutes of struggling with and apologizing for my lack of technological success. I didn’t get the job. 

Soon I am supposed to have a “telephonic meeting” with the boss at an engineering firm regarding a big mural gig. I already had a real life meeting with him at the office, and man am I out of my element in a high rise full of cubicles and people wearing suits. I was happy to hear the next meeting would be by phone—no Skype or anything—but it feels wrong having no preparation leading up to it. Plus when his assistant’s assistant called me to schedule the call and to confirm my email address so she could send me an email confirmation of the phone call appointment, I did everything I could not to admit the real reason I wanted it to be an afternoon call was because of naptime.  

It is categorically embarrassing to be labeled “homemaker”. Maybe embarrassing is not the exact right word…I am more insulted than embarrassed. Maybe “homemaker” is too old-fashioned, and implies aprons and Betty Crocker and subordination. Maybe “homemaker” suggests too much cooking and cleaning, and since I almost never cook and do the bare minimum for cleaning, it just doesn’t apply. Maybe I’d rather have the office folk assume that I want to have the meeting at 2:30 because I have important business things happening all day except in that specific window, not because if we attempt to have a professional conversation at any other time there will be screaming. 
 I hate filling out paperwork that asks for occupation. “Stay-at-home Mom” is somehow more tolerable than “homemaker”. Writing “artist” is a stretch since I spend less than 5% of my time doing art. “Artist/mom” is just silly. My obsession with the label is just silly too. Silly pride. Eye roll. It’s silly that I mostly love what I do and can’t proudly embrace it. “What do you do?” … “I just stay home with the kids.” Just? Why just

Moving on. I guess I’m just commenting on the incompatibility of the “professional” world with the world of boogars and dirt and mac’n’cheese…accepting, of course, my hotshot business professional mother-in-law, who wears fancy designer shoes and jeans and suits but would rather sit at the kids’ table than talk to the grown-ups. 

After one long day of sitting around her house playing in the yard, I found myself at Nordstrom’s with my MIL and kids. She is a die-hard Nordstrom’s aficionado. (She also has a strangely obsessive affinity for Panera Bread and Starbuck’s iced tea, but that’s beside the point.) Anyway, we had to pick up a business-y dress for a business-y dress-y occasion, but were only dressed for the backyard—or maybe a quick run to the grocery store, which was the original intention of the outing. I had on my gray cargo pants, brown boots (not the hip kind), and long-sleeve T-shirt. My son wore a dirty dino shirt, adidas swishy pants and old sneakers. My daughter, whose hair was sweaty and stringy from wearing a golden Rapunzel wig all afternoon, was clad in a hippie dress and muddy yellow crocs. My MIL was sporting a sweatshirt, mom jeans, and slippers. We were magnificent.

I felt the disapproving stares from the nicely dressed hipster employees all around us, insincerely smiling at my “adorable” children and tolerating our “casual wear”. Little do they know, Slipper Lady probably pays their salaries through her patronage. Some of those fashionable ladies may have been genuinely amused, watching my little hooligans feeling up all the mannequins or going up and down the escalator five hundred times, but were slightly more concerned when their grubby mitts touched all the pricey clothing. Or at least I was concerned. I didn’t want to have to buy that $358 dress just cuz my kid slimed it. 

I guess it’s been awhile since I was in a nice department store (you know, other than Ross) so I may have been hyper sensitive about being out of my element. Which makes me wonder…what is my element? 

Certainly not office buildings and teleconferences and fancy stores. But I don’t feel like “homemaker” is my element either cuz I kind of suck at it.

I’m going with napping. Napping is my element.

New Year New Me: Pony Progress

Today I thought I’d mix up my morning “internesting” ritual (coffee and computer time, usually comfortably nested on the couch); I brought ...