Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Teeth grinding = Fingernails on chalkboard
Jacob has developed his first bad habit. No, it's not smoking or frequenting strip clubs or hanging out with thugs (though I do have my doubts about Big Bird)... he grinds his little teeth. He's got 5, the middle ones on the top and bottom plus one incisor. I swear, one of these days he's doing to do it and I'm going to reflexively shiver myself into a seizure. It is truly one of the worst noises ever. Possibly equal to fingernails on a chalboard, though I personally believe it's even worse.

He's also got a cold, poor baby. So he's not sleeping well at night, and last night we had to give in and attack him with the Nasty Evil Nose Sucker. He HATES that thing. Seriously, he acts as though we routinely pinch and beat him throughout the process - or maybe he just has an abnormal attachment to his own bodily fluids, I dunno. But we got two enormous plugs out last night, and since then things have been a'runnin' freely, let me tell you. We have a garbage pail in the living room because I simply don't have the energy to run a used tissue into the kitchen every 4.3 seconds, but I keep getting this horrible mental image of Emily running into the room and spilling this Bucket O' Snot all over the floor... ugh...

I'm down to one last paper to write and I will be DONE with my classes for my doctorate. Exciting stuff - but bizarre. I've been in grad school for the past 11 years, in some form of school for the past 24 years, I don't know how not to be a student! At least my husband is going back for his doctorate in the fall (in Math, can you imagine?), so I can live vicariously through him.

There goes my Small Boss, gently and politely calling for me...
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Hooray! I'm going to prison!
Yes, really! I'll be working as an unpaid and overworked psychology intern one or two days a week starting in the summer. Very flexible - I can do however many (or few) hours I want, whatever days I want. Which is as it should be, since they'll be getting a doctoral-level psychologist for FREE. I'm excited about it, it lets me keep my foot in the door, so to speak (biiig, heavy doors, too!) while still taking the year off and not sending the kids to daycare with total strangers right away after we move - I'll work around Willem's school schedule.

And if I ever do snap and end up dismembering my mother-in-law and scattering her around the neighborhood, at least I'll already be familiar with the layout at the prison! Granted, I'll be spending most of my time at the men's facility, but I'll make sure to stop in at the women's side before her next visit. And if things get desperate, well, I'd imagine there's no shortage of available men there... (hmm... maybe I'll hook her up. What fun!!)

So, Jacob is still nowhere near crawling yet. I guess that's not entirely true - he gets on all fours and rocks, and when sitting he can bend completely over and reeeeeeeach in any given direction - for someone who's only a couple feet tall, it astounds me that his arms are at least 3 feet long, each. But as far as mobility, his preferred method is to sit up and scooch around on his bottom. Normally, this is fine - I'm in no hurry for him to get mobile, since we're moving in 2 months and I really don't want to babyproof twice. Tonight, he was doing his scooching thing on the hardwood floor, and he stopped, gained his special, unique prayerful attitude that only accompanies one particular bodily function, and made a rather large deposit.

No big deal, right? Right. Except his actually blew out his diaper - hadn't done that in a while (duct tape and staples make all the difference) - and I didn't realize this, so I finished what I was doing before getting him. In that 5 minutes, he continued to scooch and grin away... and left a particularly unpleasant snail trail in his wake. Blech, blech, blech. At least he didn't notice that he'd done it - otherwise I guarantee we would have had a rather disturbing incident of finger painting and hors d'oeuvres.

Is that really how you spell "scooch"? Looks weird to me, but all the other versions I've tried look even weirder. Skooch? schooch? zkutcz?

Anyway... I'm going to go sit on my couch and revel in the ridiculous amount of clutter that has already accumulated in the 4 days since we've sold the house. Truly amazing what a family of four can accomplish when we put our minds to it.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
$%^#^%%%@ Care Bear update
We went out today and got a new, non-purple but still glow-in-the-dark, Care Bear to replace the eternally tainted Grandma-condemned bear from the weekend. Emily is thrilled. She would have been thrilled with two purple Care Bears, but Grandma rained too much negativity down upon her 5-year-old parade, so we are left with one purple and one orange.

To clarify, no, the %$#&%$#*%^#$(%P#^%$4#@$#$^$%^*#%^^% part was not from my mother-in-law, that was all in my head. I have remarkably few chances to swear in my life these days... can't do it in front of the kids, they'll repeat it (and if I don't swear in front of them, then when one of them DOES, I know precisely which husband to blame it on)... can't do it in front of my clients, I'll scar them for life and many of them are already pretty scarred... can't do it in front of my classmates, they get all judgmental and offended... can't do it online for real because I want to be deliberate when I choose to offend someone, don't want to accidentally do it (that's a JOKE, ha ha ha ha)... so instead I swear in my head, and hit the shift key with the number keys, and tell myself that's almost like being a real grown-up.

Remember when you were a kid and you thought grown-ups could do and say whatever they wanted? HAH!

Anyway, back to the rest of my life... I'm going to pretend I don't have a mother-in-law for a few days, at least until I stop bleeding from the ears every time I think about her.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
%$$^##%^$# Care Bears
#%$#^%$& Care Bears
Ughhhh.... you know, it has reached a point, with my mother-in-law, where I'm no longer surprised when she's annoying, though I'm not yet to the point of being able to anticipate the precise manner in which she will be annoying.

It started literally 30 seconds after she arrived on Friday. She sits down and prepares to settle into her routine of ignoring everything everyone in the house says and then complaining because we never tell her anything. (Do not attempt this level of Passive-Aggressive Behavior at home. This woman is a professional.) But then, midway through her first rant ("Oh, look at Jacob... he's so big... I missed so much while I was gone... I wish I could have come visited you all...") I glanced outside and said, "Oh, look, Herman [father-in-law] is here, too." My mother-in-law *LOST* it. All of the blood drained from her face and she leapt up from the couch, outraged and snotty. Amazing how quick she can move when irritated, hurt shoulder and all. Turns out that father-in-law didn't tell her that he was coming on Friday, and so therefore she felt personally offended about this.

As an aside, my in-laws have a uniquely bizarre relationship situation. They live in separate houses, both of which he pays for, but are not divorced. They travel internationally together, but are unable to carry on a civil conversation. They take turns messing with the minds and souls of their sons, but it seems to be a happy coincidence rather than choreographed sadism. So, commuication not their strong point.

Anyway, father-in-law shows up unannounced. This is the first time we have heard a single word from him since the "five-dollar hooker/masturbation" incident at Christmastime, so it was a surprise to us all, and the first few minutes were supremely awkward, trying to gauge his mood. Turns out his mood was something along the lines of, "I'm going to waaaayyyyyy overcompensate by buying you things so that you'll forget what a putz I can be." Fun!

So we all went out to dinner. mother-in-law refused to speak to any of the adults, obviously believing that it was a general conspiracy that father-in-law was there, though we were just as shocked as she was. Which, actually, was fine with me. My father-in-law can be outrageous and putzlike but he's very direct and appreciates the same in other people, so at least I can call him on his putzlikeness.

The next morning, after watching mother-in-law struggle to do anything with her hurt arm (aren't I awful, I can't even remember which side it was!), I decided that there was just no way I could leave Jacob with her on Monday. So I told her, and she actually coped pretty well with that part. Right in front of her, I called our sitter, and made plans for her to come on Monday. I asked mother-in-law, "When will you be leaving?" - trying to decide if I needed the sitter there right at 9 (when I usually lay Jacob down for a morning nap anyway) or if she could wait until 11ish. She tried soooooooo hard to hit me with her classic, "We'll play it by ear" line, but finally had to admit that she was going to leave today - Sunday. My mother-in-law has this ridiculous inability to MAKE A SINGLE, STINKING PLAN, it's really impressive in its absurdity. We will say, "Let's make plans for the day," and she literally can't cope with it, has to change the subject or use that &%$@&& line. (I swear, one of these days I'm going to hear the phrase "let's play it by ear" and I'll simply snap. It won't be graceful, and it won't be pretty.)

Big sigh.

Her only other major issue for the weekend - and it was only limited to this because there were always people around, and she tries to reserve her most audacious behavior for when we have a minimal audience - was Emily's $%&#%*$#9^*#%^(*%^%$#*%#$(%^(^*()*^)^*%$$ (gasp) @#%$&$3857$#*%&#$*%&*(#$&% Care Bear. What happened was, instead of asking me what Emily was getting for her birthday, she asked Emily what she wanted. And Emily, being 5, told her in painful, intricate detail. Emily is not an especially materialistic or greedy child, but seriously, if you ask her what she wants, she'll tell you! She's 5!! So, she requested a glow-in-the-dark Care Bear. She had also asked my mother, one of my close friends, the cashier at the grocery store, the mailman, and her stuffed monkey to bring her a glow-in-the-dark Care Bear. She was playing the odds on this one. My friend had said she would get one, so I never gave it another thought. My friend came to Emily's birthday party, which was Saturday, and we saved family gifts for the actual day, today. So Emily got her #$%$#&%*O$&% Care Bear. And the tissue paper had barely rained down upon the floor before smoke started to pour from mother-in-law's ears. "She got her that? But I got her that. I wanted it to be a special gift from Grandma. I can't believe she got two of the same thing. And they're even the same color. I didn't think anyone else would get that for her. I wish I'd known.........." And so on, and so on, and so on, and so on...

This morning, we all went to a hotel to go swimming, and met mother-in-law there (she doesn't sleep here - easier for us to complain about her if she sleeps somewhere else). She met us in the parking lot and had opened the car door before the engine was turned off, and was immediately off on the same rant about this STUPID %$&@#%&*#$%&#$(*%&#($*&%#$*(%&#$ (deep breath) $%#&*(%^&!@#(^!@$&*#@#^$&*#% bear. We finally had to find a semi-polite way of saying, "For the love of God, get over yourself, either buy a different $#&@%#$* bear or let Emily have twin bears. You are the only, single, solitary person on the planet who cares!!"


In reading this over, I know it's all trite and stupid and not worth the amount of time it took me to type, or you to read. But argh, gotta vent because I feel bad when I vent to the resident Husband Who Shall Remain Nameless. It is, after all, his mother.
Friday, April 15, 2005
Psychic babies and philosophical plumbers
No need to consult your astrology chart or call a 1-900 number - next time you're curious, just consult with Jacob, he's apparently psychic. Though, admittedly, his talent is pretty localized - he can only be useful to you if you want to know exactly what time I juuuuuuust barely start to drift off to sleep. Then - BWAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH...

It's a lot of fun. Seriously, I can't figure out how he does it. At first I thought it had to do with the TV - I would leave the TV on until I was done watching it (SEE - LOOK - THERE IT IS!!!! I KNEW that there was some lost, lonely, pathetic little bastion of logic still clinging to the edges of my life somewhere! Phew, what a relief, now I can just accept that nothing else will make sense!). Anyway, I'd turn the TV off, brush my teeth, crawl into bed, and Jacob would wake up. I thought maybe the sound of the TV was like background noise to him and he was waking up when I turned it off, so I started turning the sound off earlier (I'm hard of hearing, so I use captioning anyway). Still, he would sleep until I was just drifting off. I've tried reading in bed for a while... sending in a stunt double... sleeping on the couch... no luck. He's just gifted.

Speaking of gifted, we had a plumber here yesterday. You may recall that a Husband Who Shall Remain Nameless left the garage and boiler room doors open in February, causing our pipes to freeze on the day of my dissertation draft review meeting. Well, we learned the other day that the pipes leading to the outside faucets burst in several places. Wanna know how we came across that precious little tidbit of information?? Emily was digging in the garden - which I have entirely handed over to her this year, since we'll be moving before the harvest time this year and I'm hell on plants anyway - and she wanted water. So I sent the HWSRN down to turn on the valve, which we had (LUCKILY) turned off in the fall. (I say luckily, because our first year here we didn't know to do that, and had a pipe burst inside the house even though the garage and boiler room doors were closed that time.) He couldn't find it. Let's not go there, okay? Just, insert your own sarcastic comment about men and finding things here. So I went down, holding Jacob, to point out the BRIGHT RED valve that's next to the faucet line and not near anything else. He leaned down to turn it on, and all 3 of us were instantly soaked. There were at least 6 or 8 little slits along the pipe, all strategically aimed directly at my head.

So we got the valve turned back off and called the plumber, who came yesterday morning. He was a good guy, did a great job - very chatty, but in an unexpectedly deep and philosophical way. Not that I think plumbers can't be deep and philosophical, but the other ones I've worked with are generally more "nice weather, nice baby, bad plumbing" kinds of conversationalists. This guy, at one point, finished soldering a spot dangerously close to my (flammable) ceiling, and on his way to the valve he looked at me, deeply and philosophically, and said, "And now we'll find out if my life philosophy holds true... I've always felt that it's better to be lucky than to be good." I gaped at him like a fish in front of the television, and he explained, "I know I'm not good enough to have fixed that spot with pure talent, but I might be lucky enough." And he was.

So, I'm facing an impossible battle for the weekend. I said before, my mother-in-law is coming for the weekend. She's a nightmare anyway, I don't count that as a battle. But the specific thing is, she had asked to stay through until Monday - she said she'd watch the kids while I'm in classes. Sure, saves us money on a sitter, lets her get grandkid time, lets me not be around her, life is good. Well, she called yesterday to say that she's still coming, but she has torn her rotator cuff, so she's in intense pain. This puts me in a fantastic situation, because if I call our sitter and ask her to come, then I will get grief for stepping on mother-in-law's toes or something, but if I let her watch the kids then I will get grief for how heavy Jacob is (25 pounds) and how much it hurts to lift him, blah blah blah.

Big sigh.
Sunday, April 10, 2005
Does anyone else hear the "Jaws" theme?
It's been ages and ages since I checked in... I know... I'm sorry. I spent a week in March lying on my bathroom floor - not for fun, oddly enough, but with a delightful case of gastroenteritis (stomach bug). And really, is there any other kind BUT delightful? It was yucky, and it's never a good sign when you find yourself grateful that your assorted family members seem to have a constitutional incapability to pick their towels up off the bathroom floor, because it might look messy but it's so much softer than the tile.

The following week, my sisters came to visit us. They are 14 and 18, and instead of going to the ocean and into Boston and out to dinner, they apparently thought I'd had the right idea the week before, because they instead developed their own fun little stomach bugs and built their own nests on the bathroom floor. Though, the wimps, they opted for the 24-hour version instead of my patented 7-day experience - kids these days, ya know?

They did get better by the end of the week, so we took a trip to this combination zoo/museum down in Mass., which was fun. There was a big exhibit on turtles, which apparently look absolutely delicious to Jacob. We also spent a while with Everyone's Favorite Rodent, at Chuck E. "Stimulation Overload" Cheese, always a fantastic experience. I discovered that being there at 4:00 on a Thursday afternoon is a markedly different phenomenon than the Friday night one - I only had to bang my head on the concrete in the parking lot for 15-20 minutes before my ears stopped ringing.

Last weekend was my husband's fraternity alumni reunion weekend - and I always jump at the chance to watch my beloved life partner indulge in overconsumption of alcohol, display irritating apparently-not-extinct college mannerisms, and emit strange noises and smells after he finally stumbles into the hotel room. Don't we all?? But this weekend actually ended up being a lot of fun, because Jessi met me at the hotel and we plunked all our assorted children down in the pool for hours and hours while we (are you ready for this?!?) engaged in adult conversation. A revolutionary idea, I know - it was fantastic. We even got to have uninterrupted conversation in the evening, after the kids were asleep. I have to do that again someday!

It was Jacob's first visit to a pool - he thought it was a pretty bizarre concept, all of these people taking a lukewarm bath together. He ended up paying the price for skipping his morning nap by falling asleep in the pool, silly boy. He also had his first experience with a cute little topless redhead in a hot tub - I told him it was okay for now, but if he does it in 20 years I don't want to hear about it. (And, if it happens in 20 years, it would be weird, inappropriate, and likely illegal if his mother was there with him.)

And speaking of separation anxiety (I know, I wasn't, but I'm tired, so humor me, okay?), Jacob ran full-tilt into that lovely habit as of Tuesday. My leash has suddenly gotten very, very short - if I look as though I might be considering the concept of leaving the room, he starts to whine, and if I actually have the audacity to walk out of the room without him he sustains a loud yell for the entire time I'm gone. I don't actually think he breathes while he does it. It's kind of impressive, in a for-the-love-of-God-I-just-want-to-pee sort of way. He's also teething and not particularly happy about it, and doing his best to make sure none of the rest of us are happy about it either, but in theory that's at least a finite experience.

On a final note, I was so proud of my daughter last night. She'll be 5 next weekend (OH MY GOD!) and last night I was trying to get the house ready for another showing today (still no offers, by the way - anyone want a perfectly nice ranch-style??) and I asked her to play with Jacob before he found that whiny note that would crack the window panes. So she ran and got her blocks, and was building towers for him. He would, of course, immediately knock them down, because babies are chaos-loving critters. I asked her, "Does that bother you, that he knocks your towers down?" And she said, "No, of course not. That's his job. I build the towers, he knocks them down!" It was a sweet moment, I was just so proud of how well she accepted his babyness.

Okay, have to get some stuff done before class tomorrow. I have FIVE WEEKS OF CLASSES LEFT in my doctorate, but who's counting?? Expect to hear more from me later in the week... my reference in the title to the "Jaws" theme has to do with the one thing that would make my life just as maximally annoying as possble... my mother-in-law has returned from Florida and is planning to come out on Thursday for the weekend, for Emily's birthday. Cue the cello music...