Thursday, December 28, 2006

H and G*

Hello, my dear wonderful blog friends. You may have noticed that it's been extremely sparse around here since sometime in August. I could blame that on a busy fall--and yes, it has been busy--but that is not the whole truth. The whole truth is that I'm in a bit of a rut with the blog, and I think maybe it has run its course. These last few months, it has felt--dare I say it?--a bit of a relief not to blog every event in my life. Not to experience something and immediately start thinking about how to work it into a post, but instead, just experience it. And I find I am not eager to get back to that place where writing about the experience is almost as important as the experience itself.

Also. I am feeling very uneasy about the things that I have laid out here, in particular the things I have said about Isaac and his intensely sensitive health issues. I need to be more cognizant of him as the person he will become, and I don't want him to find this stuff--or worse, for his friends and enemies to find it--right when we are in the midst of the dreaded teen years. I need to take all those things down. Banish them forever to a locked diary hidden under the mattress, which is where they belonged in the first place.

Lastly. The best, and most unexpected part of blogging has been meeting all of you. I consider many of you friends--good ones!-- and, for a mostly unsociable person, the blog has been a wonderful place for me to meet like-minded people. I will miss that the most, I think. However, you--you wonderful, smart, supportive people--are also part of the problem, albeit through no fault of your own. You see, I can't keep up with it all. I can't read every blog by every person who comments on my site and still take care of my family. There just isn't time. My personality dictates that I visit everyone who leaves a comment here, and also, that I feel guilty whenever I don't have time to leave a comment. This means I have a lot of guilt, a lot of the time, when it comes to the blog. There are just too many of you, writing good stuff.

So. I am not shutting down the blog completely. I will take down the Isaac posts and any others that I think are too raw. But I'll leave the rest up. I'm thinking I'll still post kid stuff over at the family blog, just so I can keep a record of all their cuteness for posterity. Maybe I'll post some of that here, too, but I'm not sure. That's mostly boring stuff for you guys anyway, so what's the point? I do reserve the right to post things here if the mood strikes me--you never know when Lance will start pissing me off again, after all. And maybe in a few months I'll be aching to jump back into blog water. But for the foreseeable future, I'm done.

I thank you, from the bottom of my very humble and faulty heart. You have meant worlds to me these past almost two years.

Oh--I still plan to read your blogs from time to time, so I know how you all are doing. I may lurk more than comment, but I know I'll comment from time to time. And you can always reach me via email.

* From Sleepless in Seattle, remember?

Friday, December 22, 2006

And to all a good night

Well, I haven't been around much these last few months, but I still wanted to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, Happy last day of Hannakuh and otherwise delightful holiday season. See you all in 2007!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Random Christmas Thoughts, 2006

Vivian loves the Santa Claus song. Whenever we get to the part that goes: He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake", she chimes in: "HE SEES ME WHEN I'M POOPING!

Both kids loved the claymation Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer show. They call it "the abominable" and Vivian's pronunciation of this is hilarious. They refuse to watch anything else except Frosty, despite the fact that I've Tivo's ALL the other Christmas shows (including the best one, the one with the Heat Miser).

How I know my kids have been spending time with my in-laws: Isaac says, "We're going to church to sing because we are celebrating the baby Jesus".

Way back in November, when we were still in Delaware, I started in with the Santa Claus threat. You know how it goes: "You better be good, or Santa Claus won't bring you any toys". One of the first times I brought it out occurred when Isaac snatched a fairy wand from Vivian and threw it into the fireplace. Ever since then, whenever the subject of naughty or nice comes up, Vivian is sure to chime in with: "Santa doesn't like it because Isaac three my magical wand in the fireplace". Still, a month later, she hasn't forgotten. I just hope Santa has!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Few things

First of all, let me say this: I am still missing all of you. I haven't had much a chance to get caught up on my blog reading---this being December and all. in fact, I haven't been on the computer at all in days. How does anyone have time to blog in December? I feel especially guilty since I was whining just a little while ago about how some folks stopped commenting and then here I go, not commenting on anyone's blog, in ages. Oops. I hope you are all doing well, and know that I plan to spend all of January blogging, in order to catch up.

Moving on.
Teh cuteness (in the form of school picture):

School photo

(Though I do wonder about the background)

AND, this is what our house looks like:

This photo was taken a week or so ago; it actually looks even cooler now. I'm so excited!

Finally, a question, for the stay-at-home-moms among you: How do you react to comments made by others that question what you do all day? You know, when people say things like "well, since the kids are in school I guess you can just take a nap". I find myself incredibly pissed off, but also embarrassed to admit the annoyance.

On the one hand, of course it's annoying: how incredibly condescending for anyone to presume that taking care of children is easy, or that you must be bored since you don't have a "job". Way to de-value the work of childcare, and insult the choice of the mother at the same time! It makes me automatically defensive, and I feel like yanking out a list of my daily chores and waving it around in the air.

On the other hand, now that both kids are in school 4 mornings a week, I do have some nice time to myself. Granted, with all that's been going on this fall, I haven't been able to take full advantage, but in January I expect to be able to go to the gym whenever I want, make a dentist appointment for the first time in a few (cough, four, cough) years and watch Regis and Kelly Lee to my heart's content.

So maybe I should just be grateful and proud that people have to ask me how I spend my time, instead of getting annoyed. What do you think?

And that's it, folks. That is the sum total of what I have to offer you today, and probably for the next several days.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


This is our Christmas card photo.



Because this is what my mother-in-law said: "What were you thinking? Vivian's legs are spread all apart for everyone to see! I can't believe that is the picture you chose."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Here comes Santa Claus

This year, most of our Christmas decorations are in storage. The apartment is too small for a regular size tree. The door is metal, so you can't hang a wreath.

You should know this about me: I'm a sucker for Christmas. I love it--the songs, the smells, the smiles. So it's a little bit of a bummer to have to fore go most of the decorations this year. I did keep a few items out of the POD: we got all the carolers my mother-in-law has given us (6 in total) out, along with the lighted reindeer. Lance brought home a bunch of the small poinsettias. I bought some festive holiday candles and we hung jingle bells on the inside handle of our front door.

Yesterday, I went to home depot and bought a 3 foot, living Christmas tree. Then I bought some mini-lights and ornaments, and last night, we had our tree-trimming event. No, nothing like last year: the fondue pot is in storage, and I think that tradition will be fine to wait one more year. But I set up a crudites platter and put on the Christmas music, dimmed the lights, and helped the kids hang the teeny tiny balls on our teeny tiny tree.

It was fun.

Then, because trimming a 3 foot tree with 15 ornaments takes about 5 minutes, we decided to go see Santa. Remember our cranky Santa? On the purple sofa? Sadly, when we got to the mall, it was apparent that cranky Santa had been put out to pasture. The new Santa is jolly as can be, decked out in red and green stockings and a snowman shirt. Even the purple sofa has been replaced with a more appropriate red one. No curt directions from Santa this year about where the kids should sit. Instead he laughed (Ho! Ho! Ho!), asked what the kids wanted for Christmas, encouraged them to be good, and was just about the best Santa you could ask for. My kids, for some reason, have never been afraid to sit on Santa's lap, and this year they were especially excited to lay their list of needs on the jolly old man.



Still, I kind of miss the old Santa. Fortunately, other L.A. parents are not aware the the cranky Santa has been replaced, so we still had no line. And that's worth a lot, in my book.

After Santa we headed across the street to dinner, and had an inexpensive, enjoyable meal, all four of us. Now, that is a holiday miracle, for sure.

Hey Everybody!

Heidi got engaged!! Hooray!

Friday, December 01, 2006

About a boy

While we were home, three different people commented to me about Isaac's good-nature.* I'm not sure how to put words to this without bragging, but it's true, he's a very happy kid. Vivian is, too--but there is something about Isaac--his smile, the light in his eyes, the way he is thrilled by so many simple things ("Look, mom! A truck!!!" "Oh my gosh, I saw a cow!") that just lights up a room.

I love this about him. It's been his nature since the day he was born. As an infant, he never cried. As a baby, he laughed or smiled at everyone. Even as a toddler--and he was such a difficult toddler--he didn't cry that much. He would get frustrated and burst into tears when he couldn't figure something out, yes, but he was still happy most of the time. Actually, what made him so difficult was his joie de vivre. Unbelievably curious while simultaneously confident that nothing bad would ever happen to him, he dove head first into everything he saw: the knife drawer, the speaker wires, the unstable bookshelf, etc. etc.

Now a pre-schooler, he still has that same spark. This is a kid who insists, "I really like Dr. L, Mom. He's a really good doctor," even when the last few times he has seen that particular man, there has been significant pain involved. He routinely says things like "I am soooo happy at you, Mommy. You are the best Mommy in the world. " And all I have to do is mention one of his friends--Tate or Riley; Heidi or Uncle Del--and he squeals with delight. The other day, when we come home from school, there was a pile of laundry on the floor. "Mommy!" he shouted. "Did we get new sheets?? Did you buy me new sheets? I am so lucky!!"

I know that pre-schoolers are a happy bunch (and why wouldn't they be?), but with Isaac it's more than that. You'll have to trust me on that, though here's some photographic proof for you:
striped isaac smiling 3 orig DSC00038 DSC06790

There's another side to this exuberance, though. Isaac is so easily excited and thrilled that I think sometimes other children are turned off. He is frequently left out of games at the playground--sometimes by circumstance: the other kids are older, or girls who don't want to play with a boy, or siblings that have their own games. Sometimes I think he is too eager, and this leaves him vulnerable. Other kids can take advantage of him easily--he has no pretence, and assumes no one else does either. So if a friend asks him for his toy, he will give it up happily, and then become bewildered when that friend won't give it back.

Of course I would never change this about him, or coach him to play it cool--after all, his attitude is one of my favorite things about him, and a quality that should be valued and appreciated--but I do still worry. And it breaks my heart just a little bit to hear him say "Those big kids won't play with me, Mommy."

I know that as he gets older, he will lose some of this simple excitement for life. God knows you can't survive the teenage years without a good amount of angst. But I hope that this basic nature of his, this incredible joy to be here, on earth, stays with him to some degree. Speaking as his mother, I can tell you that his smile is infectious, and that this world could surely use a lot more Isaacs.

God, I love that kid.

(Here is what really frightens me: that the health issues he will face as an adolescent will beat him down and change him into an unhappy person.)

*Sometimes it takes an unbiased stranger to point out things you just take for granted, no?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Did you miss me?

Okay, so we're home. Back in L.A. where the sun is shining--although it's been cold this week, in the 60's, just when I was looking forward to some 80 degree weather. Damn. Delaware, per usual, was lots of fun, but it is always nice to come home. Home to my familiar bed, to our usual routine, to the comfort of the predictable.

(Also, very good to come home to this. All hail Tar Heel nation.)

The kids are in school, the laundry is done, the bills are paid and I--I went to the gym today. That's right. I returned to the place of my humiliation and not only ran on the elliptical machine for 21 minutes and 18 seconds but also did a complete round of the weight machines. It helped that I was the only person in there. It felt good. It still feels good, even though my tricep muscles are shaking. (And by muscles, I mean arm fat.)

I am completely out of touch with all of you because--despite the fake blog I set up specifically so I would have an excuse to be on the computer while I was in Delaware, I never seemed inclined to sit there for long. Too many nieces and nephews to laugh with, old friends to visit, dinners to make, parents to tease. Now that I'm home and have nothing much to do but take care of the kids and blog I'll be spending some more time with you. Though I've heard there is some sort of holiday coming up at the end of this month, so I might be a bit busy with that.

This reminds me: do you ever wonder what it's like to be a husband in December? Lance has to plan my birthday, but other than that, it's pretty much a regular month for him. No running around getting gifts, wrapping, cooking, decorating, etc. Fortunately for our marriage, I actually enjoy the bustle of December, so it doesn't bother me that our work loads this month are so lopsided. But if I was like my mother, and hated Christmas and all the activity it entails, December might be the reason Lance and I finally called it quits.

That's all I've got today, folks. It always takes a little while to get back into the swing of blogging after a hiatus. Hope everyone is well!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Who says you can't go home again*

We have now been in Delaware for almost a week. Actually, we are, at this very moment, less than two hours shy of one full week in the state of my youth, with two weeks to go.

It's fun. No, really. I enjoy coming home, especially for long periods of time, so I don't have to cram seeing everybody into 15 minute intervals while I race across town with the kids from house to house. I like driving around the streets of my childhood and adolescence, reminiscing about lazy Saturday afternoons on the high school football field debating the merits of the Born in the USA with friends back in 1985. I enjoy hearing my sister talk about kids--sons and daughters of people that I went to 8th grade with--that her kids are now playing with. Most of all, of course, I like spending time with my family: sitting around the kitchen table with mom, gossiping about all 5 of her siblings and their extended families, driving around town with my sister and her two kids, discussing the new Carolina football coach with Dad.

My parents' house is extremely comfortable, even with all of us extra folk taking up space. The guestroom I stay in is huge, with a remodeled bathroom, both of which are nicer than what Lance and I are currently building in L.A. The kids have a nice room with twin beds and lots of leftover toys from when my niece and nephew were small. Best of all, the basement: chock full of old toys and games, a partially working television, kid-sized table and chairs leftover from my childhood, and three different boiler-type rooms to hide in. My kids will play down there, happily, for hours, leaving me to make dinner, phone calls, read the newspaper, or watch TiVo in utter peace. I could get used to living here, trust me, especially since my mom stocks the fridge and only lets me pay for beer. There is even a spare car for me to drive around in. Also, I get to spend quality time with my best friend Susanna and her two children, commiserating about girls who turn into brats at age two and husbands who are wonderful in so many ways and yet still drive us crazy. In L.A., I don't have any "good" friends who are also moms, so it's nice to be able to talk to someone who totally gets where I'm coming from for a change.

You'd think I'd have more time to blog, then, but to be honest, I'm enjoying the break. I miss you guys, of course, but it's a little bit of a relief not to have all those November posts to plow through every day. No matter how much you guys make me laugh, or cry, or nod in agreement, sometimes it's nice to just live my life outside of the computer for a little while.

One of the great things about coming East for a few weeks is the opportunity to see old friends. Along with Susanna, I also get to see old friends from middle school, friends from college who trek miles just to see me, and blog friends. Since I'm here for 3 full weeks, it's fairly easy to fit everybody in. I have even found the time to fit in a visit with my Dad's mom--a difficult woman, and a visit I don't generally look forward to. But it's done! Already! My mom's mom can be difficult too, but in a different, much more loving way, so we've already spent several nice afternoons with her. Last weekend, I actually drove with the kids to Virginia (about 4 hours away) to visit Lance's brother Mark and his wife. They live on a neat old farm in the middle of nowhere, between Charlottesville and Richmond. (This is the nice brother, of course. I would never travel any distance to see assboy.) The kids had a blast riding tracters, playing in the barns and feeding the goats, and I had a great time hanging out with Mark and Margaret. My sister's daughter (age 9)came with us which was a huge help for me, especially in the car, especially since the traffic going home had us traveling from 10am until 5:30pm.

I will leave you with a few shots of the gorgeous leaves--we got here just in time to catch the last gasp of them in the neighborhood; now they are mostly gone. For many of you East Coasters, this is nothing, so these pictures are dedicated to my fellow California bloggers (you know who you are):

DSC01109 DSC01110

I hope everyone is having a wonderful November!

*I have a sinking suspicion that the title of this post is a song lyric from someone like John Cougar Mellencamp--and now you will all see me for the top 40 music redneck that I am. I know that you've been pegging me for a Radiohead fan all these years, but alas, I've finally given myself away.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Why pancake batter left too long in the fridge turns blue.

How my feet have shrunk 1 full size since the last time I purchased new shoes (over a year ago).

How to convince Vivian that all girls sit down to pee, so we don't have the "But Isaac gets to stand! I want to stand!" temper-tantrum at every pee break throughout the day.

Similarly, how to explain to Isaac that yes, Vivian is getting rewards in the form of M&Ms whenever she poops in the potty, but he is too old for that, so sitting on the potty and practically popping a blood vessel in the effort to get a poop out is not going to help him.

When the transcontinental flights from L.A. to Philadelphia--me and two kids--will get easier, so I can stop dreading them. (Tomorrow, around 1:30pm Pacific Time? Send some good vibes my way, k?)

Why none of my family members (with the exception of FFB, who as you know already reads this blog) bothered to answer the invitation to the private blog, which I set up just for them.

How long until the poo-poo-head jokes stop being funny.

When Pancake is going to pop the question to Heidi. (Come on already!)

If I will ever go back to the gym, especially now that Lance has taken to going. Now that all the cool kids are doing it, it just doesn't have the same appeal. Yeah, that's it.

If it is a good thing or a bad thing that when we go to pick up my kids from their grandparents house, and they cry because they don't want to come home with us, I don't get my feelings hurt. Shouldn't this bother me more?

Why old habits die so hard.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

No more NaBloPoMo

Okay, people. Far too many of you have jumped on this whole "post every day in November" thing. When I first heard about it, I"ll admit it sounded like a good idea. What a clever way to motivate people to write more. Not to motivate me, mind you: I freeze under that kind of pressure, and god knows I struggle to find something to write about 3 days a week. (See: gratuitous kid photos. Also: meta-blog posts.) (such as this one.)

But. I have since changed my mind. This is not a good idea. This is a terrible idea! I am currently unable to keep up with all the feeds in my bloglines. If I do manage to visit everyone, I certainly don't have time to comment everywhere, and if I attempt to do that, then there goes my time to compose anything to post here, on my actual blog. You know, the reason I started blogging. Actually, I don't think you can call it blogging if all you are doing is reading blogs through bloglines, is it? I end up feeling relieved when a few days go by between posts--that way I can try to catch up with everyone else*. (By the way, Phantom, since you already post at least once a day, are you going to try for NaTwoBloPoMo?) (Oh dear god.)

Do you know how many people that I read regularly have signed up for this insanity? A ton! Tons and tons of you, millions of you! If all of you post every single day, I will absolutely drown under the weight of all those words. Plus, I will be at my parents' house for most of November. I did hand out my "fake" blog to them, so I can spend some time at the computer without suspicion, but certainly not the 40 hours a week it will require to read all your posts. And I don't want to miss anything!

I'm screwed.

*This also gives me a handy excuse for not posting anything in days: I am helping you, oh loyal reader.

Also: NaBloPoMo is really hard to say. And harder to type. Psshaw.

Happy Halloween!





Also: best threat ever? "If you don't behave I'm throwing all the Halloween candy away!"

Monday, October 30, 2006

Let's talk about Viv, baby.

At the tender age of not-quite-yet two and a half, Vivian has finally entered the terrible twos, and entered them with a vengeance. I realized, when I was going back and adding "labels" to all my posts, that I haven't posted much about the kids lately, and especially not about Vivian. (Isaac's health issues have a way of ensuring I have lots to say about him; there is no similar issue for Vivian.)

For most of her life, Vivian has been remarkably easy to handle. Oh sure, as an infant, she had trouble nursing, and she didn't sleep enough for my liking. She cried much more frequently than her brother had, but I wouldn't classify her as a screamer. I could usually quiet her down fairly easily. And as time went on, she grew into a very mild-mannered, accepting child. She was not physical at all, refusing to walk until she was 18 months old, never really climbing onto chairs or crawling out doors. She was perfectly happy to sit and read books or play with toys, by herself or with her brother. She was fairly verbal, so I didn't have too many issues communicating with her. As she got older, she started getting slightly more passionate about things, learning to yell NO! when Isaac grabbed a toy, then learning to push back once she had been pushed, and finally graduating to pushing first when she wanted something. Still, those sort of occasions were not frequent, and I could comfort her or distract her easily.

In August, Vivian started school. I haven't written about it at all because, honestly, my life since August 1st has been full-speed ahead, and I haven't had a second to even consider it. Now that things have settled down a bit, let me tell you. The first day of school I took her inside (Isaac too; he goes to the same school) and she ran off immediately to play with some toys. When I told her I was leaving, and she would be staying there with her brother, she barely looked up from her game, mumbling "Have a good day, Mommy!" and offering her cheek for a kiss. That was it. She has never cried at school drop off since.

This surprised me a little bit. I mean sure, I knew school was a comfortable place for her, and I wasn't expecting a huge melt-down. She'd been begging to go to school for months, her brother was there to "protect" her, and new toys are always a big pull. But I thought she might struggle just a little bit more. I thought maybe after an hour when she realized I still wasn't back, she might miss me. But she didn't.

So, school. It's been two months now, if you don't count the two weeks we were in Hawaii. Here's one of the things this particular school teaches kids: stand up for yourself. If one child is playing with a toy and another one comes up and grabs it, they teach the first child to use words and say something like, "I am playing with that toy, it's not your turn". Well. Vivian has taken those instructions to heart. I first noticed this a few months ago, when we had a playdate with an old friend (Hi, Rachel!). Vivian was "playing" with her 14 month old (or so) son Evan when suddenly she leaned in, eye-level with Evan, and shouted, quite loudly*, inches from his face, "DON'T STEP ON MY FOOT, EVAN!!" She has gotten progressively more adamant as school goes on.

I find myself intervening in sibling battles much more frequently than I used to. Vivian is no longer mellow at all, and instead can be found yelling loudly at all times (it seems), "NO! I don't like that! Don't do that, Isaac!! NO THANK YOU!" and a new favorite: "I DON'T LIKE YOU ANYMORE!!" Worse, she has allowed this new defiant attitude to permeate all of her personality. When she doesn't want to do something, she sits down on the floor and screams. And now, she doesn't EVER want to do what I need her to do.

The other day, we were driving around our new neighborhood and passed a playground. Immediately both kids started clamoring for us to stop. When I explained that it was too dark and we'd have to go another time, Isaac whined, "Oh, man! But I wanted to go to that playground! Now I'll never get to go to the playground." Vivian, on the other hand, handled it this way: "STOP! LET ME OUT!! NOW!!! MOMMY!!! NO THANK YOU! I WANT TO GO TO THE PLAYGROUND. MOMMY!! I WANT TO GO TO THE PLAYGROUND! RIGHT NOW. I DON'T LIKE YOU ANYMORE! NO!!" This continued for several ear-piercing minutes (Isaac was long done complaining) and reached a new level of hilarity with this exchange:
Me: "Well, you don't have to like me, Vivian, but I will always love you."
Me, to Lance: Did she turn 15 while I wasn't looking?

Yeah, she's a little bit out of control, our Viv. Even her pre-school teacher, who up until last week has seemed completely enchanted with her, has started slipping little negatives into the comments she writes every day. ("Wow. Vivian is really started to use her words LOUDLY!" Or, "Vivian was very defiant today, she really knows what she wants these days, doesn't she?") I have to admit that much of this is my fault.

Here's the thing: by the time Isaac was 1 year old, he had been in too many time-outs to count. By the time Vivian was 2 years old, she had been in maybe 5 time-outs total. Therefore, Isaac knows, from experience, that when I start counting, I mean business. He knows that he has to stay in a time-out until I tell him to get out. He knows that when I threaten things, I will more than likely follow through. He still tests me, frequently, but he understands me. Vivian, on the other hand, has had no such experience.

Up to about age two, this was more a measure of their different personalities than any favoritism or birth-order discrimination on my part. Isaac was just into more things than Vivian. Isaac required much more vigilance, Isaac tested me more. In addition, the first few times Vivian did anything that might merit a time-out I was so surprised I only half-heartedly, and with much not-well-concealed laughter, meted out the punishment.

And. I must admit it. For some reason, Vivian has my number a bit better than Isaac. I don't seem to expect the same level of behavior from her as I did from Isaac at the same age. The last several months, as she has gotten progressively more difficult to handle, I haven't reacted the same way I would with Isaac. I suppose it is the second-born syndrome: I still pick my battles, but since there are now two children to pick battles with, I tend to pick them much less frequently. So she gets away with a lot more.

Now that Vivian has shown me how this lax parenting is "helping" her, I realize I've got to adjust my behavior. She needs to recognize that I mean what I say. She needs to watch her tone of voice. I need to be more in control. Sigh.

Isn't this parenting gig supposed to get easier as they grow?

(Please don't anybody mention teenage years now, okay?)


*And by loudly, I mean at decibel levels usually reserved for rock concerts. This astounds me, and makes me secretly proud. I have always been a soft-talker--people often don't hear me, or garble what I say, which just adds to the miscommunications that foster my social anxiety. So, on one hand, I'm really glad that Vivian has found her voice, and that it is so forceful. I mean, yeah, that hand has been plugging my ears for the last month or two, but . . .

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Things that Annoy me about Blogging

1. That the blogger templates are so fricking boring and ugly.
2. That I am too cheap to pay someone to make mine pretty.
3. That I am also too lazy to figure out something pretty on my own.
4. That I can't figure out how to do strike-thru, no matter how many times I google it or use Blogger Help.
5. That strike-thru font really means that much to me.
6. That some of you comment on my posts via blogger commenting, instead of Haloscan, so I miss them, until I notice later when I'm editing, that those comments are there. (How do you do that?)
7. That Bloglines seems to lose feeds of mine capriciously, causing me to miss weeks of posts before realizing what's going on.
8. That I am so dependant on Bloglines that I forget to click on the homepage of new commenters, thereby depriving myself of awesome new blogs to read.
9. When someone I "know" stops coming by or commenting, for no apparent reason. (And by "know" I mean someone who has been commenting here for awhile and on whose blog I regularly comment.)
10. That I don't know what to do when #9 happens. (Should I stop visiting their blog? Should I email them and ask what I did to offend? Should I pretend it doesn't bother me at all because I am just that secure in my own skin?)

Oh, there are more. Infinitely more things that annoy me about blogging. And yet, here I sit, 9:30pm on a Saturday night, blogging. It appears I need an intervention.

Update: What? You mean bloggers have other things going on, besides commenting on my posts? Sacrilege!

Also: if you are leaving a comment here, I guarantee I am not talking about you. The few people I am speaking of haven't left a comment in months.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Vivian has been ready to be potty-trained for months now. Months. I think I could have easily trained her around her birthday in June, when she was showing all kinds of "ready" signs. But I was lazy, and I didn't feel like dealing with the accidents, so I kept putting it off. I bought her some underwear, and put her in it several times, with minimal accidents, but whenever we left the house I put her back in diapers. I've been half-assedly training her for a long time, putting her in underwear when I remember, but mostly using pull-ups. The other day, Melissa wrote a post about her daughter who basically trained herself, and I realized I just have to do this. Deal with the accidents so she learns. What a pain in the ass (heh).

Also? Last week, I spent two (2!) of my free mornings doing absolutely nothing. I didn't do laundry, go to the store, buy Vivian underwear, check on the status of the remodel, make doctors' appointments, or any of the usual trivial crap I busy my days with. God knows I didn't go to the gym and work out. I laid around on my ass, catching up on TiVo (except at the new apartment it's Time Warner DVR, which I hate) and occasionally surfing blogs. I ate Halloween candy. I rested.

And it felt great. (You see why I love being a stay at home mom? It goes so well with my lazy nature!)

In other news, I have started a new blog. I'm not linking it here, because it's a private blog. I'm going to hand out the URL to my family members, and whenever I post something innocuous here about the kids, I'll post it there, too. That way, I can finally achieve the original purpose of the blog: keep my far-flung family up-to-date on kid happenings. And I can do it without giving up this little corner of self-help I've dug out for myself. Plus, since I'll make it a totally private blog that only family members can see, I won't have to answer a myriad of questions like "but why would you want anyone in the world to be able to see pictures of your kids? What if a child molester finds you?"

Also, and this is most important: now when I go home for extended periods (I'm leaving for Delaware Nov. 6th and not returning until after Thanksgiving) I can still blog, without arousing suspicion. If they think I'm spending an inordinate amount of time at the computer, I'll just play stupid, and say I'm having trouble trying to figure the whole thing out. This will be easy for them to believe.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Love, Actually.

I'm not sure I ever told you, but Dr. Bite Me is out. You guys were right, and I should have listened to you in the first place. Did I ever tell you about Marriage Counseling: Session Three? Dr. Bite Me threw out this nugget of wisdom: "Well, if Lance wants to surf for 5 hours every day of your vacation, I think that is a non-negotiable. You want to let him do that, whether you think it's reasonable or not." Yeah, even Lance agreed that perhaps Dr. Bite Me did not have both of our interests equally at heart, after that. Not to mention, although occasionally Dr Bite Me did offer some good insight, he spent a lot of time talking himself, and I don't feel like paying good money to listen to some 50 year old misogynist pontificate. Know what I mean?

So. You were right. Now I just have to find someone else. (Lazy, lazy . . .)

You know what else? Things are much better, with Lance and I. I've been thinking about us lately, and the truth is, we've been through a lot, these past two and a half years. First, Vivian. I have alluded before to how difficult things were once she was born, and I'll repeat myself here. When Vivian was born, Isaac was a complete and utter maniac. I was totally unprepared to handle him and a newborn, especially a newborn so unlike the only other one I'd ever known (Isaac, who as an infant was a perfect angel). It was at least 3 months of utter hell, as I struggled and failed to be a good mother to both children, only getting slightly better when I gave up trying to be good and settled for at-least-I-didn't-kill-them-today. I did not handle those months with anything resembling grace, and I will say here that Lance didn't either. I felt like a failure all day long and he felt like a failure every evening, but at least he had work to escape to, and escape he did. To work, to ski vacations, to football games, anywhere but here. The resentment started there, I think.

Then, Vivian turned one, and at her birthday party that year, the whole nasty brother-in-law thing exploded. Just when we had gotten a handle on parenting two kids, we had something else to argue about. Something else that upset both of us, in different ways. That upset the people we loved, and we were powerless to stop it. The day after Vivian's birthday was Isaac first surgery, the one we thought would be so simple, the one before we had an accurate diagnoses. That one-two punch has been very difficult to navigate, and I don't think either one of us has shown any exceptional maturity or dignity in doing so.

I have been holding onto that resentment, the I-didn't-sign-up- for-this-parenting-thing-alone, the your-brother-is-an-ass-and-you-don't-do- anything-about-it, the why-the-fuck-is-this-happening-to-our-son-and-why- can't-you-make-it-better, the I-am-doing-everything-and-you-suck feelings-- and holding tight, for years. Clenching my jaw, tasting bile, steeling my eyes--that's how tight I've been holding on. I'm not sure why, except to say that I am a (perhaps deeply) flawed person.

But at least I finally realized what I was doing, and also realized how much it wasn't helping. I think at one point I felt that being angry at Lance was helping me in some way--at least when I was angry with him I didn't have to be sad, or blame myself, or bang my head against the wall. Anger, resentment, jealousy: all these emotions were infinitely better than actually dealing with the problems at hand. Giving up the anger would mean I'd have to let him in, admit how vulnerable and lost I felt, and I couldn't do that.

Now, things are better. The kids are in school 4 mornings a week. We haven't seen nasty boy in almost a year. Isaac's health still sucks, and it will still be an issue for years to come, but we are both trying to talk about it more, trying to accept it. And I have let go of all that crap. It was getting heavy, and my arms were tired.

It's not as if this happened quickly--I didn't wake up one morning and say, "oh! I know what the problem is in my marriage!" In fact, I couldn't pinpoint anything, any one moment or event that made a difference. Lance has adjusted his attitude too somehow, and I'm sure I have nothing to do with that. We just both seem to be swimming back towards each other now, instead of treading water at different ends of the pool, occasionally splashing water in each other's faces.

But I will say this: what a relief, to be able to smile when Lance comes home from work. How nice it is to call him--not with chores or accusations, but a simple question--do you want to go to the beach for dinner tonight?, followed by a quick and heartfelt "I love you".

No, it's not all gravy again, not yet. I am not a strong swimmer after all, and anyway, my arms were already tired from carting all that emotion around. (Fun with metaphors!) But it's getting better, and for that I am grateful. They always say that marriage is hard work, but for a long time I didn't believe that. Oh sure, sometimes Lance annoyed the crap out of me, but hard? Even in the midst of all the shit that went on these last few years, I don't think I would have admitted it was hard. I actually thought I was holding it all together, until a few months ago. But it is hard, and not because living with someone else is hard. It's hard because you have to be completely honest with yourself, you have to push through all your own bullshit, you have to call yourself when you're being a twit, and you have to mean it.

That's hard.

And totally worth it.


(No, not a flattering photo, but it seems apt, somehow.)

Where have I been?

Last Thursday, I left the kids at school and flew home to Delaware. My mother's 60th birthday was Friday, October 20th. My dad surprised her with a weekend trip to Bermuda; the two of them left Thursday morning. The second part of the surprise came when my brother, sister and I showed up at their resort for dinner Friday night.

She was thrilled, and completely shocked. Yes, that means I flew 6 hours Thursday and then another 2 on Friday morning, followed by a 13 hour travel day two days later, but it was totally worth it. You only turn 60 once, after all. Not to mention, Bermuda! Yet another tropical family vacation, and you know I never say no to that. *

I had never been to Bermuda before, and it's always fun to go to a new spot. We were there less than 48 hours so there wasn't much time to explore, but the weather was gorgeous. The resort where we stayed was extremely nice, and my father booked my siblings and I into a large suite so the five of us would have a place to congregate. My impressions of Bermuda are two: beautiful, as you'd expect from a tropical island, and also a little stuffy, in a British/ New England kind of way. (Lots of blue blazers and madras pants, know what I mean?) Oh, also? Horrifyingly expensive. Moreso than Hawaii, and that's saying something. However, as I said, we had very little time to explore, so those impressions could be way off, and might be more indicative of the resort than the whole island.

I would go back in a minute, especially if someone else was paying.

Here is where I would normally post pretty pictures, but I forgot the camera, so you'll just have to take my word for it. I really wish I'd gotten a picture of Mom's face when she walked into the dining room and saw us there, but even without the photo, I'll remember it forever.

Some things to remember:

The "family" that flew with me on the transcontinental flight fro L.A. to Philadelphia. Mom and 3 year old in front row, Dad and 4 year old in second row. Several times during the flight, I thought to myself, "Hmm, that Dad sure doesn't help much (he had passed his kid up to sit with the Mom very early on)" or "I would kill Lance, if he was just sitting there reading the paper while I dealt with all the kids". Then, when we arrived in Philadelphia, the mom said "Well, thanks for playing with us, Megan!" and got off with her daughter, leaving the stranger and his kid to get off on their own. Yeah. He passed his kid off to a complete stranger for the entire 5-1/2 hour flight while he read the paper.

Water. This particular resort does not have mini-bars in the rooms; instead, they send you a list of possible items to choose from before you arrive. My sister filled out the form, and decided that we'd need several bottled waters. Assuming their bottled water was the standard, 8-12 oz kind, she ordered 18-- 3 a day, per person. The bottled water came in liter size, which, if you're not quite sure, is slightly larger than a bottle of wine. 18 liters of water to drink in less than 48 hours. This led to much hilarity, in the form of water-pounding competitions, and jokes along the lines of "Gosh, I just wish I had some clear liquid to drink. You know, that doesn't taste like anything, but is refreshing. Where could I find something like that?" or "Maybe we should take the water with us to dinner--do you think they'd charge a corkage fee?" For the record, my brother and I won the who-can-drink-the-most-water contest, and in fact, we did get through all 18 liters, not to mention 12 beers, a bottle of rum and 1/2 a bottle of champagne. This doesn't include what we drank at dinner.

Family. It hasn't been just the five of us in years--probably 20 years. We had such a great time, and Dad stepped right back into his preferred role of director, getting out the maps and tourist information at dinner Friday night and organizing our whole day Saturday for us. This was much more endearing than it is on longer vacations: there was no sense that he was trying to control our holiday, since this was only a weekend, and we were there just for Mom anyway. Nobody bickered (again, it was only a weekend), and we all left in better spirits than we arrived. I love my family and miss them, and holidays like this just reinforce that lucky feeling--I am truly blessed to have these people in my life.

The one stressful moment occurred when we decided to rent mopeds--two doubles and one single. My dad and Chip drove the doubles, with Mom and I as passengers, and Ann rode the single. Mopeds are big--bigger than you think--and unsteady--and in Bermuda, they drive on the left side of the road. My dad has a bum knee, so it was difficult for him to steady the bike, and I felt pretty unprotected, riding behind Chip. Fortunately, after we spent a good twenty minutes learning how to ride the bikes, with my stress level rising every second (it was scary, y'all) and my dad furiously licking his lips in concentration at every turn, we went to sign the contract and discovered that they only had 24 hour rentals. Since it was already 4:30 pm and we were leaving the next morning, we decided to skip the mopeds and hop in a cab instead. At that point, I don't think anyone was too thrilled about the moped ride (with the possible exception of my brother), but no one wanted to be a kill joy for anyone else. When it became clear that the rental terms would give us a way out, we all sighed in relief.

I'm glad to be home, and, even better, Lance is glad that I'm home. He's a bit tired from a weekend alone with the kids (she says, with just a trace of smugness). Hope everyone else had a nice weekend too!

*I didn't mention it here because it was kind of last minute and also I felt a little sheepish, having just returned from Hawaii a few weeks ago.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Tip #5

If it is 12:15 and your kids are hungry, do not attempt to make a "quick stop" at Trader Joe's before you take them home for lunch, assuming the free sample of granola or whatever will be enough to stave off the crazies that hunger inevitably causes.

For the love of god, do not attempt.

Also, if you want to feel like a real asshole, huff and puff and mutter loudly about the stoned and stupid check-out clerk, who is taking FOREVER to ring up everybody's purchases, as you wait in line. Then, when you finally get to the front so you can glare at him, have him smile and tell you how cute your kids are and commiserate about how tough it is to grocery shop with kids.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Settling in

Well, we are finally almost settled in to our new home. Lance got the kids' bookshelves attached to the walls and some pictures hung this weekend, and Isaac went back to school today. He is mostly recovered (though I am still sad), and we are all getting used to life in the new apartment. The barking dog has been notably better and the hot water has been functioning just fine. The kids are still enjoying playing with toys that hadn't seen the light of day in months at our old place and after next week we can take them in the pool/ hot tub again. (Isaac is not allowed in water, except to bathe, for two weeks.)

Best of all, I found the kids their new beds. I am extremely proud of myself because I found the beds, which convert to bunks, on Craig's list for a total of $300--including mattresses. They are in excellent condition, too. Other bunk beds I was looking at ran over $1000, once you bought the mattresses too. Isaac has been sleeping on a pathetic, very old twin mattress and box spring only slightly more comfortable than hardwood since he moved to a big boy bed around age two. That's because, true to my bad mother tendencies, I was too cheap to purchase a new mattress for him, or a bed frame of any kind, not when we had a "perfectly good" twin mattress/box spring in the garage. Note to self: next time, try a little harder to let compassion for your kid overrule your ridiculous Depression-era-type frugality.

But! Depression-era-type frugality won out here, too! Who knew Craig's list could solve my children's sleep needs and assuage my need for cheap at the same time?

Vivian has been sleeping in her crib, happily, with no interest in climbing out, her entire life. I have a feeling that she would continue to do that until she grew taller than the crib sometime in adolescence. She's just not a climber, my Viv. Normally, I'd be happy to let her stay in the crib for as long as she wanted--I am a big proponent of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" school of parenting-- but I had no interest in dismantling the crib to get it out of her room, moving it here, and re-assembling it. Plus, I thought I could sell the two cribs (hers, and Isaac's old one, that matches) as a pair on Craig's list. Sadly, this is where Craig's list failed me: no one was interested in two un-gently used cribs with broken drawers. Oh well.

So. We moved to the apartment without beds for the kids, and they slept on an air mattress (Isaac) and the Pack n' Play (Vivian) until I found the beds, and Lance set them up, last week.


Yes, I know. The room is quite barren--nothing on the walls. I don't have any plans to put anything up, either. We'll only be here 6 months (hopefully) and I don't want to put holes in the wall if I don't have to. Not to mention, this is earthquake country, and you really shouldn't hang anything on the wall above your bed. Also, I don't have matching sheets yet or comforters/quilts of any kind. Both of my kids refuse to have anything covering them at night, though, so comforters are just for show anyway. I have been looking for sheets though--something I can use here and then use again, in Isaac's room (he'll have his own room!) at the new house. I found it really annoying that everywhere I looked for kids bedding, I had to go to a "boys" or "girls" section. No unisex bedding of any kind. Stupid. Why are surfboards only for boys? And dinosaurs? The only animal a girl is allowed is a butterfly? And what if you have girl/boy twins, or kids, like mine, of different sexes who share a room? Why does everything have to be so relentlessly masculine or feminine? I finally ordered some surfboard sheets with plain blue/light blue quilts. I'm sure my mother-in-law will be horrified that Vivian sleep in something so masculine, but it will have to do for the next 6 months.

We could also talk right now about the missing knobs on the dresser and the hideous, not to mention un-safe plant light which provides the only light in the room, but I'd rather not. Just focus on the cute pink bunny and be glad my children at long last have somewhere comfortable to sleep.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Talky talky

On the way to drop Vivian off at school today, Isaac and I had the following "conversations":

Why are all the cars stopped, Mom?
Why is there traffic?
Why does everyone go to work?
Why is this a freeway?
Why can't I go to school with Vivi?
Why does red mean stop and green mean go?
What is that smell?
Why don't they like Halloween?
Why is that a ghost?
I don't see Thomas.
I see a Jack O Lantern! I see Halloween!
Why can't I go to school today?
Can I go to Nonie's house?
Can I go to Nonie's house and Vivi can't go to Nonie's house?
Vivi, you can't go to Nonie's house; only I get to go to Nonie's house.
Why isn't that nice?
When does Vivi get to go to the hospital?
When Vivi's balls don't go down then she will go to the hospital where they wear masks and then Vivi won't go to school. Right, Mom?
Why doesn't Dr. L let me go to school?
Why can I not run and jump because of my owies?
Why do we need to get gas?
Why are you running out of gas?
Why does the engine need gas to go?
Is that a gas station?
Can I get out at the gas station?
Why is there gas at a gas station?
Why do you hold the door if your hands are full?
I will hold your door for you, okay Mom?
Let me do it.
Can we go to the old house?
Why can we not get out?
Why is it dangerous at a construction site?
Why are those people there?
Why are they working on our house?
Why are they building our house here?
Why don't we build our new house at the new apartment?
I don't want to live at the new house; I like the hot tub at the apartment.
Why don't we have a hot tub at the new house?
Why did you want a big house and not a hot tub?
Why is that gardener there?
Why is he wearing a mask?
I don't like masks.
Is Riley going to school today?
Ooooh. I want to go to school. I miss him!
Is that Daddy's work?
Why is it a work day?
Where is your work, Mommy?
Why is this your work?
(I'm sure there were more but this is all I can remember now. 30 minutes roundtrip.)

We are finally home and he is mercifully quiet, watching Bob the Builder for the six millionth time in two days.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Isaac: I want to go to Bob's and buy stuff, Mom.
Me: Really. Do you have your money?
Isaac: Yeah. I have money.
Me: Where did you get it?
Isaac: From Vivian's penny bank.
Me: Oh. Why was it in Vivian's penny bank? Why not yours?
Isaac: Because I had money and I put it in Vivi's penny bank.
Me: What's wrong with your penny bank?
Isaac: I have quarters in there and money and decaf lattes.
Me: ??
Isaac: Yeah, decaf lattes. Can we go to Bob's?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Love Letter

"Happy Anniversary, Amy!

8 years . . .wow! Who'd a thunk? Challenging as it seems at times, I wouldn't change it for the world. I love you. I love our family. I love our scenario and am excited for the future! Let's keep strong and prosper together for another 8 (and then some) years. I love you.


Happy Anniversary

(Speaks for itself, no?)

Apartment livin'

We officially moved into the new apartment Sept. 16th, and have now spent a total of 7 nights here. So far

The hot water heater has been working properly for 1 of those days (today).
The toilet has clogged twice.
The fire alarm has gone off every time I have turned on the oven (twice) and about half the time I've used the stove (approx 5 times)
The large dog that lives downstairs has awoken at 6:15 am and barked nonstop for 30 minutes three times.
Some drunk lady has screamed at the top of her lungs "OPEN UP THIS FUCKING DOOR" for 10 straight minutes at 3:15am once.
The kitchen light has had to be replaced once.
The washing machine has not cleaned ANY dirt off clothes, even after I run them through more than once.

Did I mention that this place was at the top of our price range? It's costing us more to rent here than the mortgage on our house! (But not nearly as much as the new mortgage). It's a new building, so they obviously have some bugs to work out, but Jesus. Oh, and there is no recycling. By law they have to provide it so they've set up this makeshift, stinky spot on the first floor, which only a few people seem to use. I would bet good money that the maintenance people simply take our recyclables and dump them in the trash when no one's around.

However, there are some good things about this place:

The pool and hot tub. Kids LOVE it, which makes for a very convenient playground.
Two bathrooms. I had no idea how nice it would be to get the kids out of my bathroom.
Large closets. We are missing a linen closet and a broom closet, but the two bedroom closets are so big, it makes up for it. Very nice to be able to spread out things out a little bit.
Proximity to new stores. This area is all new, hundreds of apartment buildings all next to each other, so many new grocery stores etc have put in huge new stores. It's very convenient, except to get to pre-school.
Everything is new, and therefore clean. No one has lived in this unit before, so the walls, carpets, appliances, counters--everything--is spic and span.
The best thing about the move so far? All the toys that the kids never played with before are suddenly tons of fun. I'm not sure why, maybe blocks are more fun in a new environment? But it's been great the last few days, as the kids basically entertain themselves.

It's nice to know this is only temporary housing--it makes all the annoyances less annoying. I'd be extremely pissed if we were planning on living here for any extended length of time. The barking dog--that needs to stop soon. But the rest of it I suppose I can live with.

I just keep reminding myself that in less than a year, we'll be back in our new, beautiful house. We are almost doubling the square footage of our old house, to a grand total of 2700. It will feel like a mansion to me, no doubt. They've already started work on it, and I've been stopping by in the mornings after I drop the kids off at pre-school to check out the progress. Here's a few pictures, to give you an idea:

On Tuesday:


And here's one from the "Draw on the walls party" we had before we left for Hawaii:

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Hawaii is Heaven

First of all, I need to plug our little hotel in Maui. The Mauian is surprisingly affordable (Hawaii is tres, tres* expensive), steps from the beach, and completely clean and comfortable. Each small "studio" holds a queen bed, a daybed, a bathroom, kitchenette and balcony or deck. No TVs or telephones or anything remotely fancy, but it was clean. And did I mention? Steps from the beach. They held a continental Hawaiian breakfast every morning in the great room, which also boasted a bookshelf full of guilty beach reading, and a TV, if you just had to have your Sportscenter fix. Many of the people who were staying there had been coming for twenty-plus years, and some who had brought their children years before were now bringing grandchildren. The vibe of the place is completely down-home and friendly, and I loved it. If you're looking for pampering, this is not the place for you, but for us it was perfect. I would stay there again in a heartbeat.

My in-laws stayed next door, at a fancier resort (though still not ultra-fancy--probably two steps up from The Mauian. It seemed very nice, too.) The truth is, in Hawaii, you tend to spend a lot of time on the beach, or in the ocean--so the rooms don't really matter that much. I'd go with the $200 cheaper place per night everytime, especially as the two hotels share the same (spectacular) beach.

Isaac loved the pool of course, but most of all he loved the kids that were also staying there or next door. Lauren, Kelsey, Matthew, Gavin: he was never happier than when running across the green with anyone of them. He also braved the ocean several times, getting tumbled once or twice yet hopping up with a smile on his face. Vivian, of course, stayed as far from the surf as possible, but she played happily enough in the sand, several yards away.

I won't bore you with a million details of Maui--it was all good, and there's not much more I can say about it. We wore out our mouth muscles smiling, drank Mai Tai after Mai Tai, soaked up the sun and explored a teeny bit. I read several books--nothing worthwhile, but enjoyable all the same. Lance's brother and his wife (the nice ones) were their usual easy-going selves, my in-laws were on their best behavior, and Lance and I didn't even fight that much.

We stayed in Maui four days, and then headed off to Kauai for a week. More on that to come.

DSC05974 DSC05966 DSC05988

*Anyone know how to do those little accent thingys?

In other news, I visited a good friend today (my old roommate, from the San Francisco days) whose wife had a baby while we were in Hawaii. Ah, newborns! I couldn't help tearing up, just touching his teeny tiny toes. And his soft downy head. And the silly mewing noises he made. Is there anything sweeter than a newborn? Both parents are head over heels gaga over their son (1st baby) which is really special to see, too. Remember that? When you just can't stop staring at this baby you've created? When the miracle is so fresh and all your emotions are so ripe and overwhelming? Ah.
Most of all, though, I was struck by how in awe the parents were of each other. At different times during our visit, I was alone with each of them, and they both had nothing but nice things to say about each other. "She is such a good mom, Aim. I just . . . I just can't even believe how well she handles everything . .." "Alex has been so amazing. He does laundry, he cooks, he changes diapers, he is so involved, and he wants to be. I am just so glad that he's the one I married."

Today is my 8 year wedding anniversary to Lance. As I sat there today, holding that perfect infant and listening to my two friends overflow with love, I remembered feeling the same way. Feeling so positively blessed to have him in my life. Feeling like the luckiest person on the planet. How we got from there to here--a place where arguing comes more naturally than loving--I'm not really sure. But I need to do some work to find my way back. And it starts tonight. Hawaii was a good start, and now the real work begins.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Moving is hell

Why? Oh, I'll tell you.

1. No matter how many boxes you beg, borrow and steal, you always need more. Usually at the very end of the day, when you just can't face going out to forage for more. That means moving into the new swanky apartment building carrying your things in black Hefty bags. Classy.
2. The paper you wrap all your breakables in makes your hands black with newsprint, and leaves smudges on all the dishes you unwrap at the new place.
3. Trying to figure out which items go into deep storage for 6-9 months and which items you will need at the apartment makes your brain implode, and causes you to pack the box of Lance's sweaters into the pod, and bring two sleeping bags with you to the new apartment.
4. Trying to fit all your belongings into a smallish storage container and smallish UHaul truck requires much forethought--much more than you give it, which means you must move things out of the storage container and re-pack, several times.
5. Although the garage sale nets a surprising $600 (!!); haggling with strangers over your crap for 6 hours is no fun ("I won't take less than $5! . . . Alright, just give me a $1. Or, fine!--Jesus! Fifty cents!").
6. Keeping the kids entertained and out of danger while you make trip after ever-fucking-lasting trip to the car, to the apartment, back to the house, is impossible. (Fortunately, the ever-brilliant Heidi helped out for much of the afternoon.)
7. What is one supposed to eat when all the food is packed in boxes?
8. Selling your refridgerator for $130 is a pretty good deal, since it came with the house, but selling it on Friday, 24 hours before you get into the new apartment, is not so smart. Coolers do not make good freezers. Soggy chicken nuggets, anyone?
9. The nice men you pick up from the Home Depot lot will definitely ease much of the pain of moving, but when they break your dining room table in half, there's not much you can do about it. I'm afraid they're not exactly insured.
10. Although the nice day laborers do most of the heavy lifting, there is still much carrying and stretching and pulling, which means your already fragile back will ache well into your Hawaiian vacation. (Vivian's new favorite whine? "My back hurts, Mama!")
11. Why does it always happen that your apartment is the absolute farthest away from the elevator?
12. When your husband leaves at 3:30pm, to go to the football game, the babysitter he hired is a help, but doesn't do a whole lot to alleviate the resentment you feel burning away your stomach lining as you survey the apartment, drowning in boxes.
13. Especially when, the next day, he actually gets annoyed at you, for being resentful.
14. When, at 7:30pm on moving day, the kids are finally asleep (on an air mattress and the pack n' play) and you have unpacked most of the kitchen, so you decide to rest for the evening, you turn on the TV only to find that although cable guy spent 40 minutes there setting it up, there is no reception. The phone is not hooked up, and your cell phone is dead, no charger to be found.
15. So, you decide to take a hot shower instead--but there is no hot water. And no phone with which to call the emergency maintenance number, nor access to the computer to find such a number. As there is no light by which to read a book--a book which you wouldn't be able to locate amongst the boxes anyway, this puts you in bed at 8pm, dirty, sweaty and pissed off.

See? Hell.

(Fortunately, that hell was followed quickly by the Hawaiian vacation from heaven, so it's all good.)


We're home--well, home to our new apartment, surrounded by boxes, anyway. I think I'm going to do this everytime I go away--post naked butt pictures of my kids when I return. Good for increasing traffic, no?

Hawaii was incredible, the move was hell, and I have lots to tell.

I've missed you all.

More later . . . Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Shh! Don't tell anybody.

I want to let you in on a dirty little secret: I actually enjoy being a stay-at-home-mom.

There, I said it.

I have two beautiful children, who are actually fairly well-behaved, despite my protestations here. I can wake up as slowly as I want and wander around in pajamas all morning if I want to. Granted, the longer we stay in the house, the more likely the children are to poke each others' eyes out with the leftover chopsticks from last night's dinner, but I decide to whether that storm if I want. I don't answer to anyone except myself--oh, and Lance, but he doesn't really count.

I can pack up the car and head down to the beach, 70% of the year. Or go to any of the hundreds of playgrounds within driving distance. Or go for a walk in our quiet, safe neighborhood, where we know many of the children playing outside. I can spend an hour browsing through recipes on the internet, and then make a fantastic (or not) dinner for Lance, something I enjoy immensely, and call it work.

Best of all, I get kisses and hugs and I love yous all day long. I get songs sung off key and wildly imaginative explanations and giggles and tickles. I get to be the one who knows how to comfort, how to discipline, how to settle a fight. The older the kids get, the more satisfying this job is becoming. I actually feel good at it*, and that's a feeling that's been missing lately.


Yes, some days are pure drudgery. Yes, some days the last thing I want to do is figure out dinner, lug the kids to the grocery store and then cook. Some days the kids work my every last nerve and I would happily pay Starbucks if they would let me work the counter.

But most of the time, it's pretty fucking awesome. Now that Vivian is in school 3 mornings a week, I'm feeling even more enamored of my job, but I find that this is making me a little uncomfortable. Why? I guess because I feel like I should hate it more. I feel like it's my job as a feminist to keep working, and yet, here I am, secretly thrilled that I'm not. Also, there's the guilt: not everyone has this option, and part of me worries if I really deserve it. Definitely, if I admit to Lance that I like what I'm doing right now, that would upset the delicate balance of our relationship. ("My job is just as hard as yours" being my current mantra.) Finally, let's not forget just how unfashionable it is to like this kind of work. How many times have you heard someone complain about mothers because they can only talk about poopy diapers? There is far greater value, these days, in saying, "I am too intellectual/unique/ complex/insert your favorite adjective here to get joy solely from my children" than there is in this: "I love being a mom!"

Thing is, I am truly, madly, deeply in love with my children. I feel blessed to the depths of my agnostic soul at least once every single day that I get to share this time with them. I don't want to go back to work. I would happily do this, this mothering of a 3-1/2 year old and a 2 year old, for the rest of my life. It's that good. And I'm tired of keeping the joy to myself.

* Truth: as I'm writing about how good of a mother I am, both my children cry in their beds, refusing to nap. It's all relative, darlin'.

Things are gearing up around here

I think I've mentioned our remodel before, right? Well, we are moving out of this 1950s Californian bungalow in a few weeks to let the work begin, and hopefully by early next summer we can move back in to a 21st century contemporary--or is it modern?--2 story home. No, I have not found us a place to live in the duration yet, though we do have 3 appointments on Thursday.

Here's the rub: we are going to Hawaii with Lance's parents (I know, I know: we are spoiled, spoiled people) from September 19th to September 30th. Construction will likely start October 1st. That leaves me just about three weeks to find a place to live, divide this house into three piles: garage sale, storage, & temporary rental, and pack it all up. In other bad-timing news, guess who's pre-school is closed this week?

But. I'm not really complaining, though I'm sure you wouldn't be surprised if I did. After all, we're going to Hawaii (and the nasty brother-in-law is not coming, thank you Lord Jesus, praise be to God etc. etc.) and I'm getting a bigger, better house out of the deal. Pretty fucking exciting, no matter how much work it is. Yes, the financial strain is terrifying, but I'm keeping my eyes on the prize, as they say, and hoping for the best.

Here some photos for your viewing pleasure.

Current abode:

What the new house will look like:
(Actually, this rendering was our original plan that turned out to be WAY TOO EXPENSIVE, so imagine this house but smaller, without that "two-story volume" thing. The tower thing, you see what I mean? Oh, and we do keep the tree, evening though it doesn't show up in the picture)

Whaddya think? I know many people have issues with modern (you should hear my mother-in-law's suBtle hints), but to us it's different and elegant and, well, cool.

Best of all, it will have insulation!

Most importantly, thank you for all your kind comments and emails regarding my post at the Basement. It helps, tremendously. And it means a lot to me.

Monday, August 28, 2006

I just would like to know

Where in my job description it says: "remove maggot infestation from trash cans".

Because I really didn't see that one coming. I would have taken a picture so you could appreciate the true horror, but I couldn't aim the camera without hurling.

Also? Clearly, Lance is not the better spouse, since his last merry words to me, as he skipped off to work this morning, were "Have fun with the maggots!" Not to mention, he spent the whole day Saturday (as in 6:30am until naptime) surfing and called this fair trade for the 3 hours I spent out with the girls Friday night.

Post Script: Probably not a good idea to ask your wife, while you are eating a dinner of fried rice, "So, how'd it go with the maggots today?"

True story.


Isaac hates getting his haircut. Really, really hates it. He screams, he wails, he begs to be anywhere but in that chair. Even the promise of a lollipop, or a showing of Bob the Builder, or a million dollars, doesn't calm him down. We have tried the various kid's places with little success. He screams and whips his head around like he's having a seizure, I try to hold him still and keep his hands out of the way of the scissors, we leave 10 minutes later with an uneven cut and a store full of toddlers staring at us in awe. My mother-in-law has tried, with limited success. (I'm not sure what she does, as I haven't been there for a cutting. But he returns to us with uneven hair, and many tales about the hair cut.) All other hair treatments have been at home, with Lance as the barber and me as the strait jacket, briber, pleader & distracter. Never much success there either.

I should note here that Isaac was born with a full head of hair. His first haircut, at 3 months*, went off without a hitch. But the next one, at 7 months, was a complete nightmare, and they haven't gotten any easier since then.

Consequently, we often let Isaac's hair grow to be fairly shaggy, and then when we do cut it, try to cut off as much as possible, just to prolong time between cuts. We've been talking up the "buzz cut" to him for a few months, hoping that he's getting old enough so that the clippers won't scare him so much and we can actually shave his head. He got a little excited about the idea, too, especially since one of the kids in school (after an unsupervised incident with scissors) arrived with no hair one day.

This weekend, we all trooped off to the barbershop, where Lance gets his hair cut. Oh, the excitement! "What a big boy! Just like Daddy! And your friend Leo! And you will get a lollipop if you can be good!"

No dice. As soon as we got him near the chair he started screaming. But. The barber seemed to know just what to say. Lance was able to sit in the chair, with Isaac on the stool in his lap. The barber calmed him down just enough so that he stopped screaming and hiding his head in Lance's chest. He wasn't able to get the clippers near him, but he got the hair pretty damn short, just using scissors.


I have to say I was much more impressed with Lance's barber, Tel, than I ever have been by those kids places. No TV on or balloons, and yet this guy was able to do a better job than anybody else in the last 3-1/2 years.

What do you think?



*Also, I have to admit this: when Isaac was about 6 months old we met another mother, who had older boys. She told a story of her youngest son, who, until he was 3 years old, would get so upset about hair cuts that he would actually vomit. At the time, I thought to myself, "how ridiculous. Why would anyone be afraid of a haircut?" Ha ha ha. You see, how the universe makes sure to beat me down for any superior thought, ever?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Further evidence that Lance is the better spouse (not that you needed any)

Actual text from email conversation.

Friend K to Amy: "Drinks or dinner? Anyone? Impromptu girls night? Shout out if you're in."

Amy to Lance: "Can you watch the kids?"

Lance to Amy: "This Friday? Are you crazy??? You think you can just tell me on a Wednesday you're gonna be out and leaving me with the kids on a Friday night?????
:) Yes, honey, of course. Have fun. Get drunk. Raise your skirt.
Party Hearty."

Brilliant, isn't he? In two paragraphs he manages to expose me for the nagging bitch I am while simaltaneously describing himself as the magnanimous giving partner.

Now you're all nodding your heads, thinking to yourself, "Of course. They are going to therapy for Lance's sake. Poor man. "

But I'm on to him.

(And--yay!--I'm going out tonight with grown-ups!)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Tip #4

If you are making candied walnuts and have the sugar in the pan over low heat, as the recipe directs, but after what seems like a very long time the sugar is not melting, do not turn up the heat and then pop into the office to check blogs "for a second".

Billowing black smoke all over the house and bubbly black tar in the pan will not taste good in your salad.

The smoke detector at my neighbor's house went off, and while I can't be sure that the blackened sugar was the cause, I have a feeling.

(Imagine a segue here)

It is possible (and I know this will come as a shock to you) that my last post may have been a wee bit dramatic.

Thing is, therapy is hard. I don't like talking about myself, I don't like hearing all the things that I'm doing wrong, I don't like having to adjust to Lance's "style" of communicating, I don't like feeling judged. So perhaps I am projecting some of my discomfort onto Dr. Bite Me.

Actually, the funny (yeah, it's a laugh riot, Amy) thing is this: Lance and I have actually been getting along much better lately. Some of that has to do with the fact that Vivian is in school and this gives me the freedom to take a shit when I want for the first time in 3-1/2 years. Some of that has to do with the little attitude adjustment* I gave myself a few weeks ago. Some of it (maybe) has to do with therapy.

I'm not entirely sure that Dr. Bite Me is the perfect counselor, but Lance seems to like him, and I am lazy, and also that "make do with what you have and don't complain" upbringing dies hard, so we'll probably stick with him.

*Can't tell, can you?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Marriage Counseling: Session Two

Annoying: that Lance has been positively gleeful all week, looking forward to our next meeting with Dr. Bite Me .

Annoying: that Dr. Bite Me drones on and on and on past our allotted time, making me late to pick up the kids from pre-school.

More Annoying: that whenever we go see Dr. Bite Me I am so nervous (hate the talking about myself, doncha know) that I am absolutely rank with pit stank by the time we leave.

Most Annoying: that even though this visit went decidedly more in my favor I still left feeling vaguely violated, like someone had given me a pelvic exam in my sleep.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

If you're wondering where I am

Just read this.

Vivian has been in pre-school, 3 mornings a week for the last two weeks, and I am still not getting anything done, because I keep getting sucked into the blogging vortex.

Be back soon-ish.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Tragic Fantasies

When I was a teenager, I went to a boarding school in Connecticut. (And yes, most of the students and teachers there dressed and acted exactly like this). For school vacations, I would take the 5 hour train ride from Hartford, CT to Wilmington, DE. Most of the other students lived in the NYC suburbs--Rye, NY; Greenwich, CT; Short Hills, NJ. Some of them also took the train, but their ride was only a few hours, with the vast majority of them alighting in Grand Central Station or Newark's Penn Station. For the last few hours of the ride, it was usually just me and the other business commuters and random grandmotherly travelers.

Left to my own devices, I often made up stories in my head about who I was and where I was going. I look young now, and as a 15 year old I looked no older than 12, so often times I would get looks from the other passengers, wondering why a kid was on the train all alone. I ate this up. I'd put on a sad face and pretend that I was running away from home, sighing loudly and looking dejectedly through an empty wallet, then rooting around in my backpack for some crumbs. Every now and then, a fellow passenger would take pity on me, and offer me a snack, or, and this was what I hoped for every time, ask me where I was going.

Sometimes I told them that I was going to visit a sick and/or dying grandparent. Or that my parents were divorced and I was on my way to see my dad, who I hadn't seen in years. Or that I'd been expelled from school because the school bully had blamed me for the broken stained glass in the Chapel, and the teachers had believed him.

Always, the story I told was a sad one. I'm not sure why, and I'm not sure why it gave me such a thrill to imagine myself in such dire circumstances. Even if none of the other passengers asked, I still made up the stories in my head and played them out, so that when I finally got off the train in Wilmington, I'd be dejectedly lugging my bag behind me with the weight of the world on my shoulders. Once while I was waiting there for my parents, a cabbie said to me "What's wrong, little girl? You look like you lost your best friend! Do you need a ride?" How I wished I could have jumped in his cab and told the story of the tragic death of my best friend by freak accident, but at that moment my dad drove up in his Honda, so the jig was up.

Those train rides weren't the first time I imagined myself as the tragic-heroine in a poorly written after school special. When I was seven or eight, my mom would often hand me half her list at the grocery store, trying to shorten the shopping trip. I loved wandering the aisles "alone", reading my grocery list importantly, and I always pretended I was the older sister to 4 or 5 little ones, that my single mother was working two jobs and so I had to buy the groceries and make the dinner. Or I imagined that my widowed father was ill--dying of cancer, most likely--at home in bed, and so I had to walk to the store and buy the chicken noodle soup that would heal him. I even went so far as to visibly add up the prices of the sundries I was buying, so the other shoppers would see how I was struggling, and how I was valiantly fighting the odds. And of course I avoided my mother at all costs.

In 5th grade, my parents were able to move me from the local public school to the private school in our neighborhood. Our house was about 6 blocks away. For awhile, every day after school, instead of walking home, I'd scrounge up 60 cents and walk over to the city bus stop, where I'd put on my sad face again, and imagine myself as a scholarship student who lived in the projects downtown, but rode the bus to the snooty school every day in an effort to "break the cycle" of poverty. Of course, when I got off the bus 3 stops later, still in the leafy suburban neighborhood and nowhere near the projects, the fantasy dissolved, even though I tried a couple times to act like I was getting off there because I had a job cleaning the rich peoples' houses, or babysitting their kids.

I'd forgotten all about this old habit of mine, until Monday, when I had an appointment to look at an apartment not far from here. We are planning a huge remodel on our house, and need to move out for at least 6 months. I've been unsuccessfully searching for our new place in my "free" time now that Vivian is in pre-school 3 mornings a week. I try to see the places when I don't have the kids with me, but Monday I had no choice but to bring them. The apartment ended up being in a part of town that I'm not too familiar with. Okay neighborhood, but not great. The apartment building itself looked fairly run down, and as we drove up I thought, "Hmm, this is probably a little too ghetto for Lance". Still, I parked the car and decided to give it a chance. The apartment manager was a very nice, slight, graying gentleman, pleasant and accommodating as he showed us all around. As we were walking through the complex, looking at the pool and the laundry room, I got the feeling that he was regarding me and the kids with some kind of sympathy. And then, in that place between subconscious and conscious thought, I realized that I was making up a story in my head again. I had become a single-mother, toting my two young children around, trying to make a fresh start after a disastrous first marriage. And when, at the end of the tour, he asked me if I needed one or two applications, explaining that each person over 18 had to fill out their own, I felt a little deflated, having to admit that I needed two.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Cosmic Re-balance

On Monday, I took the kids to the playground. While we were there, some fighting and screaming and not-sharing occurred, which forced me to separate the kids and institute a no-playing-on-the-tire-swing-if-you-can't- play-nicely-rule. I remained calm during the screaming fest, and meted out punishments swiftly and compassionately, and--miracles of miracles--the fighting ceased. Eventually, we had to abandon the tire-swing, since the fighting resumed and I needed to stick to my rules, but we got over this hump with minimal sniffles and managed to have some fun on the jungle gym instead.

As we were leaving--well, no, actually, this also happened during our stay--I glanced surreptitiously around at the other mothers to see if they noticed how well I was handling my kids. I did. I admit it. I wanted to be sure I had witnesses, I wanted some kudos, I wanted everyone else there to be impressed. And I presumed, in my head, that they were. I imagined them thinking things like, "wow, her kids are really well behaved!, and "she was completely consistent there and didn't back down!" and also "I wish I had her legs".

Kind of makes you cringe, doesn't it? First of all, what a fucking smug condescending bitch, even if it was only in my head! Secondly, and most importantly, did I not know the Mommy law of averages?? It is no secret that for every good moment you have with your kids you will have an opposite and (un)equal number of bad days. But I didn't cringe. I didn't consider the whole pride-cometh-before-the-fall-thing, not even once. (You would think that the newness of this kind of thought (good parenting? me?) would have tipped me off, but, well, it is me, after all. Self-awareness is not my strong suit.)

And so, we left the park, hopping jauntily into our luxury SUV, smiling all the way (I'm barfing here too, don't worry) and . . . headed straight into hell.

You read about the grocery visit, which occurred that same afternoon. But before that happened I decided to take the kids to Starbucks to meet Melissa. I know! Only an idiot takes a 3-1/2 year old and a 2 year old into Starbucks and expects to have a relaxing conversation with another adult! What can I say, I was still flying high on my superior mothering experience from the park.

You know what happened. The kids were good for approximately 3 minutes, long enough for me to order my drink but not long enough for me to get it. By the time Melissa arrived they had alienated all of the customers with their ear-piercing screams (Vivian's new trick: it's awesome) and bossy snatching and refusal to share (one of Isaac's old and numerous tricks: also awesome). Melissa and I stayed and chatted for a quick 15 minutes or so, while the kids yelled at decibel levels only appropriate during air shows and I ineffectually tried to quiet them by threatening to leave about 12 times. I fully expected one of the other patrons to stand up and say, "Lady, you keep threatening to leave but then you never do. Take those kids and get out of here!" It would have been fully within their rights to do so, and it only says good things about those patrons that they didn't. I have a feeling, however, that they headed over to Blogging Baby to vent their frustrations before we had left the building.

Sigh. Melissa was adorable, though. Very forgiving of the two cretins--she even had toys to hand out!--and just exactly like I expected her to be. I know I keep telling you what to read, and god knows you don't want to take advice from me (I can't even keep my kids under control for 15 minutes at Starbucks!), but still. Go read her blog, if you don't already.

Well. The Starbucks visit from hell was followed by the pooping extravaganza, no naps, and the grocery store debacle. Okay, I thought. Universe, you smacked me down good. I have learned my lesson. No more condescending thoughts! I promise!

Today, we went back to the same park (what can I say, I'm a glutton for punishment). Again, the tire swing proved to be a very large point of contention, even though I had made it a point to discuss the tire swing and the behavior required to be allowed to play on the tire swing before we got there. I got down on their level, I was calm and understanding but firm, etc. etc. etc. Minute three into our park stay, a fight ensued over who was going to ride the tire swing. I got up and explained the rules again, calmly. Two minutes later, another fight. I got up and explained again, following the explanation with a warning: one more fight and we were going home. Thirty seconds later, a fight. Then began the real fun: trying to corral a sobbing and hysterical 3-year-old into the car about 100 yards away without leaving the also sobbing 2-year-old by herself for too long. Three trips later (one for the older kid, one for the younger kid, and one for my Chai Tea Latte and two pairs of sandals) I had both kids (still screaming) in the car. You can bet I wasn't looking around today to see which mothers were admiring my skills. In fact, I kept my eyes down at all times, afraid to even make eye-contact, lest one of them be laughing in my face.

I am shamed. I am humble. Please forgive me, O Creative Power of the Universe. Surely, the scales can tip back in my favor soon?

*Update: (shhh!) we did just have a particularly good afternoon, including a quick trip to the grocery store AND a meal at Rubio's. (Where, I need to add, the clerk was obviously a mom since she included two cups and two bowls of rice with the one kids' meal that I bought, and she remembered to skip the toy and the churro. Bless her.)

I thank you, O Creative Power of the Universe. I genuflect in front of you, for as long as you wish.