Monday, August 29, 2005
The wheels on the Jeep go round and round and round and round and round and...
We survived our insane overnight! Hooray for making ridiculous decisions that involve the whole family! It was a long couple of days, but our children truly behaved far better than we deserved for them to behave, given the sheer amount of travel time involved.

Let's see, it started Thursday, really. I spent much of Thursday evening just sort of mentally processing my first day in prison (Hallmark just doesn't make cards for that sort of occasion), sitting on the couch and thinking, "I really should pack for tomorrow." And not packing.

So Friday morning rolls around, and we got up at 7:30 because we had already established A.I.S. ("Butt In Seat") time as 9:00. A hugely helpful way of viewing things, I must say - there's the time we need to start getting ready, which varies for everyone, but the A.I.S. time is pre-established and carved in stone. Anyway, so we're all up and in varying states of consciousness by 8:00. Willem had bloodwork scheduled for later in the morning, so he had to fast. Which put him in a truly fantastic mood to be packing and organizing and generally preparing for a long drive, yes it did. On my way into the shower, I asked him to toss my and the kids' clothes into a suitcase - the clothes had already been selected and put on the couch, even. Our conversation when I got out of the shower was something like:
ME: Okay, are we almost ready?
HIM: Well, no, I have to get another suitcase. There wasn't room for all of our stuff in one.
ME: Huh? How much did you pack? We're only going for one night.
HIM: Yeah, I don't know. It just seemed like we were out of space.
ME: Where is the suitcase now?
HIM: In the car. It's full.
ME: Okay. (went and got suitcase) Um. Willem. This suitcase isn't even half full yet. I could pack another two days' worth of stuff in there.
HIM: Well, I don't know. It just seemed like it was full, so I gave up.

Fantastic. This bodes well for our 8-hour drive, no?

We remained snippish at each other through much of the morning, but then once we all had lunch and raised our collective blood sugar, we were all much happier. Which is a good thing, because New York is a really, really WIDE state and it would have been unpleasant to snipe all the way across it. Now, mind you, I would have done it if circumstances had so dictated, but it would have been unpleasant.

At one point, Jacob was getting fussy so we stopped at a Walmart to give everyone a chance to walk around and to pick out a new special car toy for each of my progeny. So we're wandering through Walmart in Troy, NY (affectionately known as the armpit of the state to those of us who went to colleges that rival RPI). I had a long, tasselly scarf tied around my waist, and every few steps I would whap Emily in the face or neck with it, she would giggle, we'd keep walking. We made a bathroom stop while there, and from the adjoining stall I hear, "Mom? I really like it when you hit me with your belt."

Child Protective Services did NOT immediately show up.

We arrived in Rochester and tossed the kids at my mother-in-law, who had agreed to watch them while we went out to celebrate Willem's friend's birthday. Though, of course, nothing is that simple... my mother-in-law had apparently had a rectal-cranial inversion while we were en route, because she was suddenly unable to figure out how to care for the kids on her own. "What should they eat? How late should they stay up? Should I feed them? What should I do?" Which sounds all nice and concerned, except that Willem and I were both pretty explicit on the idea that, "Look, enjoy them! Feed them anything, let them stay up as late as you want, have fun! Whatever you decide to do is fine!" You would think she had never been around small children before. It was weird.

We did finally get out to the bar, and we hung out with grown-ups in a grown-up place! It was amazing. It became a very girls/boys evening, with the boys playing bar games and the girls sitting and chatting on the other side of the room. Willem thinks that we spent the night discussing length and technique.

I can't seem to convince him that we actually spent most of the time discussing girth and stamina.

No, really, it was just fun to be out and not have to feed anyone else or correct anyone's table manners ("Please don't eat that off the floor... oh. You already have. Well, at least, chew with your mouth closed."). My friend Jessi had an astounding moment of Mommy Dementia - mid-sentence, lost her train of thought - and it seemed to me that her biggest disappointment was that the reason for it was motherhood and sleep deprivation, not acute intoxication.

At the very end of the night, it was just Willem and me, and Mike (the Birthday Boy) and his fiancee Jen. Willem had had a goodly number of beers, so was just tipsy enough to make fantastically stupid comments such as (while I was sort of perched on his lap), "Hey, when you laugh your thighs jiggle." Mike, on the other hand, was drunk with a capital DRU. He got it in his head that we all had, HAD to go to the local "adult" themed store after the bar closed.

So we did. I believe my purity rating fell down a few notches simply by walking in the door. I have come to terms with the fact that, as Mike so delicately reminded me 6 or 8 times, "You can't come in here and not buy anything! You won't be cool!" I accepted my uncoolness a while ago, this wasn't too much for me to cope with.

Came home the next day, even though between driving and stops it took us 11 hours to get there on Friday. It "only" took us 10 1/2 hours to get home Saturday, and that includes a stop to pick up a load of my dad's stuff to move in here. The kids really were great. Jacob has started growling like a little cave man, which I'm sure will attract all the ladies.

So we're in the last little calm before the storm of the school year strikes. It's SO WEIRD not to be going back to school myself - this is the first time in 23 years that I haven't gotten geared up for some sort of schooling. Willem starts tomorrow, and Emily starts Wednesday. Yee haw....

P.S. Yes, I know that "Butt" doesn't start with "A."
Monday, August 22, 2005
Got stung on my hand... now my butt hurts.
So, apparently the idea of a quiet Sunday evening just doesn't appeal to me on some unconscious, bizarre level.

We spent some time yesterday organizing the mudroom. Okay, to be fair, Willem spent time organizing it and I waltzed in during the last 30 seconds to say, "Oh, it looks great." Then I grabbed Jacob's carseat, which had been inside for a few weeks. We have primarily used the Jeep since we moved, but Willem starts classes next week so I'll be back in my own car then, so I wanted to get the carseat set up before I actually needed it.

So I carted it outside, and started to plug the seatbelt through the back, when I was interrupted by searing pain on my left middle finger. I knew I'd gotten stung by something or other, and instantly went into Panic Mode, since the last time I got stung (9 years ago, eek!) was by a bee, and I had a full anaphylactic reaction to it. This time the offender was an all-black wasplike creature, which apparently can sting me and then fly around and taunt me mercilessly.

But, really, no worries, right, because I have three EpiPens, one in my school backpack, one in my purse, and one in the diaper bag. HAH. I went straight to the diaper bag, nothing there. Willem went in and dumped my purse all over the kitchen table ("Wow, you have a lot of crap in there."), nothing there. I found my backpack, it had been completely emptied since I finished school in May. This is just bizarre to me, I have no idea where I would have put them.

But anyway, after a few moments of standing stupid in the middle of the kitchen going, "Ow. Where could they be? Ow," I realized that my left arm had knotted up tight and was starting to ache into my shoulder, so we headed for the ER. Jacob was in his Spider Man shirt and a diaper, which is sort of a fashion war between Manliness and Babyness, and Emily had been playing in the backyard so she was covered in leaves and bugs and had apparently been taking hits off the whine machine, because she was full of 'em. "But I don't WANNA go to the hospital, I'll be borrrred there." I'd like to note here that I did not tell my daughter to bite me, all temptation to the contrary.

We get to the ER, and I got bumped to the front of the line. Such a privelege, I know. I was checked my a triage nurse while Willem was still parking the car and wrestling the kids inside, so by the time he showed up, he just sees me standing there waiting and the check-in woman taking my insurance information. He got all snarly and righteous about them wanting irrelevant information when his wife was about to die on the floor (and, just for the record, my last reaction took well over an hour to set in, so it wasn't THAT urgent) - it was cute, though, my flustered Knight in Daddy Armor.

They took me back while he continued to supply strings of numbers and addresses at the desk, and I got shots of epinephrine and steroids and an IV put in "just in case." The steroids shot was just a whole barrel of fun, let me tell you. It's administered to the "glutes" because it's an "oil-based medication" that "is one of our most painful medicines." GREAT, can I get two?!? The shot itself wasn't bad, but it immedately created an enormous, well, pain in my butt. Truly delightful. I had also popped a few Benedryl before I left the house, so I'm hanging out in my hospital bed with a wicked sexy robe, jittery from the epinephrine and loopy from the Benedryl. I read a Good Housekeeping from 2003 for an hour and a half, wasn't able to finish the whole magazine, and could not tell you what I read if I was offered a million dollars.

I was home by about 8:00 last night, and proceeded to do my very best to hold down the couch in a sullen, lumplike manner. I succeeded in a rather smashing manner, I must say.

I'm better today, still hungover from the meds and my butt still hurts, but all in all that's better than the alternatives.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
"Use two hands and lick gently."
I still find this funny several days later, so I thought I'd share...

When my friend and I were in Boston with our kids, we all got ice cream. She handed a cone to her son and said, "Okay, David, now, use two hands and lick gently."

I realized that there were certain other circumstances in my life where similar advice might apply, and I was amused. Life just changes in all sorts of ways when you're a parent.
Friday, August 19, 2005
The Sweatpants of Disinterest
Just a quick tidbit before I go embark on our evening ritual of dinner/bath/bedtime insanity...

Last night, I was up typing until about 1:00. I wandered into bed and was greeted by the delicate and welcoming sound of, "Turn off the liiiiiiggggghhhhtttt.... I'm tiiiiiiirrrrrrred." I responded with an equally ladylike snort. Willem then decided he was going to Turn on the Charm - by which I mean, he was going to whine that he wanted to have sex but he wasn't actually going to do anything to try and make that happen. Instead, he just went straight to, "Well, I want to, but you obviously don't." Well, of course I don't, you amorous twit, you're not making even a tiny bit of effort. He replied, "But I can tell you don't want to. You're wearing the Sweatpants of Disinterest."

I was amused. Eventually, I gave in and admitted that, for last night at least, they were not the Sweatpants of Disinterest but rather the Capris of Warmth.

It's tough when you start to get that predictable to your spouse...
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Pickles vs. French fries
I took the kids into Boston for the day yesterday. I know that I shouldn't have gone... I have a ton of work to do, both household and paying, and we had a busy week last week and a busy weekend coming up, but my friend called and asked if I wanted to get together and I was so excited about someone actually calling me that I would have dropped lots more important things than a couple dollars in a paycheck to go in.

So, we went to Emily's swim lesson in the morning, which consisted primarily of a group of 5-year-olds competing to see who could go underwater more often and longest. I'm sure there have been moments of my life when I'd have been happy to hop in the pool and help them win that particular contest, but I was in a good mood yesterday. Then we headed downtown.

First we caught a juggler's show outside Faneuil Hall. The guy was moderately funny and mildly talented, so it was better than doing nothing while we waited for my friend, but not as good as chocolate or a backrub. At one point, he asked for a child to volunteer, so Emily did the "ooh, ooh" bounce and he picked the girl next to her. But both little girls were wearing pink shirts, so they both got up - so he had the other little girl help, and he gave Emily a dollar. She was thrilled.

Next, we had ice cream cones. This was the first time that I got Jacob his own cone and simply handed it over. It was precisely as messy as one might expect. The mess was slightly enhanced by the fact that he decided that the cone was only an impediment to him getting more ice cream, so he held the cone in one hand and used his other index finger as a tiny little spoon.

Emily used her dollar from the one street performer to tip another - there was a certain poetic justice in that. She found a clown who was making balloon animals and hats and belts and probably high-heeled shoes, and she got a whole array of balloons which lasted precisely 37 seconds before they started to pop. But I think she still felt it was money well-spent. Jacob, on the other hand, thought that a balloon guy with clown makeup and a bad attitude and a little balloon inflater was a horrible, horrible thing, and he very nearly climbed right up me like a monkey in a tree. Still covered in ice cream, mind you, though I was able to mostly protect myself with a towel first.

Then we wandered over to Durgin Park, where they have kid-operated fountains. Emily thought that was just fine, and Jacob was interested from afar. He doesn't like cold water, which makes me wonder at what point they lose those nerves - because I KNOW that in a year or two he'll be blue and shivery and semicomatose and he still won't want to get out of the pool.

We had dinner on the wharf, and Jacob reaffirmed that french fries are not the least little bit interesting to him, but pickles are just fine. Seriously. It's bizarre to me. And he's a little pickle vampire, too, because he'll suck on them until they're white and limp but he won't swallow them, which leads to a truly fantastic finger-swipe adventure on my part. He also likes the au jus from a French dip sandwich, just in case that ever comes up... so he definitely met his RDA of sodium yesterday.

We headed for home around 7:00, and he immediately passed out in the car, leading me to entertain horrible thoughts of destroyed nighttime routines and sleepless, cranky babies - but instead, we got home, he nursed, and passed right back out again. Hooray for overstimulation!

So, now it's back to work on all of the things I should have been doing yesterday. But it was worth it.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Cat as couch cushion
I had an incident with my cat which was hilarious to me (once I was sure she'd survive) and probably traumatizing for her. She's 9, very sweet, and dumb as a brick... or maybe bricks are even smarter, I dunno. She's developed a delightful new habit of wandering into the room at the same time as one of us, waiting until we have positioned ourselves in front of the couch and are mid-sit, and leaping up onto the couch exactly where we're headed. For several days I had succeeded in popping back up and sweeping her out of the way first, but the other week I had my hands full and wasn't able to, so I sat full on her. I mean, all the way on her. If you had been standing and watching this, you would have seen me sitting on the couch with four paws and a tail peeking out from my rear end. I sprang back up right away, but not before putting far more pressure on her than her ribcage probably intended for her to take. She jumped onto the floor and retched for the next half an hour, and then sat on the back of the couch and purred at me for another hour after that. Stupid cat.
Monday, August 15, 2005
Get Gone with Ye, Foul Creature.
Okay, my mother-in-law isn't really THAT bad, but I'm still deeply relieved to know that she's no longer in the same state as me... in fact, there's an extra little state between her and us as a buffer. And she won't be visiting here again until mid-October, so there is goodness and light in the world. Of course, that's my anniversary weekend and I need to leave my children alone with her while I spend some grown-up time with my husband, but we'll delay that particular panic attack for a while.

No major gaffes or outlandish behavior from the in-laws this trip. I can't entirely congratulate them for it, because we only spent about 6 hours around them all weekend, but still, they *could* have done lots of damage in those 6 hours had they wanted to! Instead the brunt of the irritation stemmed from the fact that we said, "Show up on the day of the housewarming party, stay for a few days afterward to visit with the kids, no need to rent a car because you can borrow one of ours, and get a hotel right here in town," and they promptly made plans to show up a few days BEFORE the party, leave immediately after it, rent a car and complain about the cost, and get a hotel two towns south of here. But, fine. Fine, fine, fine. None of that inconvenienced ME, so, fine.

The housewarming itself went great, we had some guests who drove over 8 hours to get here, plus a few from our new neighborhood, so it was a nice mix of people, we made the perfect amount of food to feed everyone but not bury ourselves in leftovers, and the kids played outside in the sprinkler, life was good. Our house, if I do say so myself, looks pretty darn good considering we've only been here 6 weeks - we have repainted four rooms, including our bedroom (started as yellow and is now a deep red - FOUR COATS, yuck!) and built a fifth room from concrete and studs to a really nice-looking bedroom for my father.

Of course, my mother-in-law's reaction to the house was, "Oh, it looks nice, is it bigger than the old one?" We told her no, it's almost exactly the same size - it just has a better layout. "Oh, but it looks bigger. Maybe you got the wrong number for it. I'm sure it's bigger." Fine, thanks, but it's not. "Hmm. Well, you really need to clean out your gutters and mow the lawn and paint the baseboards in your bedroom before the party." Huh. Remind me again, WHY was it I didn't want them to come out before the party???
Saturday, August 06, 2005
The boy's got no rhythm...
...but he sure is cute.

Jacob has become somewhat of a dancer lately. The slightest little bit of music, and he starts groovin'. If he's sitting on the floor, he starts bobbing up and down, in a way that somehow makes me think of Marjorie the Trash Heap (anyone else remember "Fraggle Rock"?). If he's standing, he does a vaguely side-to-side bop, though most of his effort goes into creating enough drool to form a soft landing area if/when he lands. And if someone is supporting him while he stands, he'll grab one wrist with the other hand and do their weird, protozoic sort of "stir the pot" move. Very cute, but it's clear that he inherited his dancefloor style from his daddy. He (Jacob) even has the white man's overbite sometimes... give the boy a very small beer and he's ready for a night out.

He's also gotten very affectionate lately, to the point where I'm just working on convincing myself that baby spit must be good for the complexion, because there's no way to minimize his kisses. He also throws kisses now, often from his forehead but sometimes actually from his mouth.

So, he's fun.

As for the rest of my life, it's been hectic. I've had some really long, involved transcription jobs lately, which are good for my wallet and baaaaaaad for what few firing neurons I have left. I can find a way to be interested in almost anything, but not for 8+ hours straight (which works out to 24+ hours of typing it out) of anything. I've slogged through a conference on oil and energy, another conference on dypsnea and other breathing problems, and a civil arbitration case. All of which sounds interesting in a 19-word list, but trust me, they don't talk about them in 19 words or less. (Lest I sound ungrateful, I'm NOT, I love this job... I just wish more people would gossip or complain and then pay to have THAT transcribed.)

And we're still trying to get stuff done on the house. My dad's room is 99% finished, which is good because he moved in yesterday. It still needs some electrical work and a window... I'm comfortable enough with the idea of bashing a hole in the wall of my house, but the idea of playing with electricity makes me a tad nervous, so we're hoping to get some help with that. Then I want to repaint my bedroom. Also *want* to repaint the living room, but I don't see us having time to do that before the housewarming, which is next Satuday. And somehow, having met myself and my husband a few times over the years, I doubt we'll get a whole lot more done on the house once we settle from "It's New! Let's Change It!" to "This Is Where We Live."

For now, though, I have to chase myself to bed at a reasonable hour tonight. Jacob has never been a great sleeper, and eveyr few months he dips down into being a horrendous and frustrating sleeper. Last night he was up and miserable from 2:00-3:00 with me, and then, of course, the little beast fell asleep within 20 minutes of Willem taking over. I consider it a testament to my excellent motherhood that I didn't hop out of bed and pinch him for that.