Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Happy Birthday... now scootch to the end of the table.
Yep, I got older. Who'd've thunk it?

It was, all in all, a lovely day. Random and bizarre at points, but that's pretty much par for the course for me. I'd be totally weirded out by normal.

It started before we went to sleep last night. Willem and I both stayed up too late, I was finishing a novel and he was playing online. We finally went to bed around 2:00, and had one of those lights-out conversations that made sense in the moment, but the next morning has you going, "Did we REALLY talk about strippers in Niagara Falls twirling black squirrels instead of tassels???"

Then he got up and nudged Emily toward the bus at some ungodly hour, while I slept in until 9:00. At which point he prepared breakfast for me, which probably on an ordinary day would have contained 4,000 calories but, being consumed on my birthday, was calorie-free.

Then he took Jacob, and later Emily, to go shopping for a few gifts for me. I already got a very nice digital camcorder/camera thingy, but there must be torn wrapping paper on the floor on the day of, ya know? And this year he was able to at least minimize the grumbling about how close my birthday is to Mother's Day and how hard it is to come up with separate gift ideas for both occasions. This from the man whose birthday is the DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS. But I digress.

So, they all left and I spent an hour playing Cribbage online in a quiet house. It was a religious experience, just about. Then I made a few phone calls, and ended up with a 12:00 hair appointment and a 3:20 doctor's appointment. Both within about 20 minutes of the house, so it should have meant a lot of downtime in between.

Should have. Except I got my hair cut at the beauty school, where the supervisors hover and double-check every step of the way, leaving the actual student-haircutters paranoid and obsessive-compulsive. I got less than 1/2 an inch trimmed off, just wanted to even up the ends since it'd been 6 months since my last haircut, and I was there for TWO HOURS. Now, maybe there are people out there with nerves of steel. People who are immune to sleep-deprivation and low-grade hairstylist-induced narcoepsy. People who can have a two-hour haircut and not slowly fade into a coma, unable to blink both eyes at the same time or create coherent sentences. I am not those people. It was blissful. And cost $10 - that's with a $3 tip.

After that, I managed to pour my blissed-out self back into the car and stop home, but had to leave 20 minutes later for the other appointment. The doctor's appointment. The annual GYN appointment.

Oh, yes. On my birthday. Can a girl get any luckier?? But I had miscounted how many weeks of birth control I had left, and then before my last appointment I had hurt my back and didn't think I could (a) get myself there, (b) hop up onto the table, or (c) scootch to the end and stare at the ceiling, without ridiculous pain and therefore undignified whimpering. And really, isn't dignity THE single most important aspect of that type of exam?

And timing being what it was, it was today or maybe not until next week... which means, after that whole Sunday start thing. Yee haw! I told them, I should at least get a margarita with the exam... maybe a massage... at least a warm handshake? There was brief discussion of having the exam relocated to the beach, but the idea of sand in all the wrong places and permanently traumatizing the onlookers vetoed that.

The drive home from that one was totally bizarre. First I saw what I am trying very, very hard to convince myself was a piece of plastic and NOT a cute defenseless shortlived little turtle crossing the highway. Then I watched an open-top Jeep veer very suddenly from the lefthand lane onto the righthand shoulder, at which point the driver leaned over the passenger door (happily, there was no passenger in the way) and vomited enthusiastically, never letting go of the steering wheel. Then he sat up, wiped his mouth on his sleeve, and signaled to return to the driving lane. Okay then.

But I came home to a lovely dinner, ice cream cake, and some time with the kids. Then my father got a call that he had to move his truck's trailer, which he'd left parked at a Sam's Club about an hour from here. So I spent the evening in a semi. Wearing my new "Princess Bride" t-shirt and occasionally thumbing through my new book of True Crime Photographs while snacking on an apple from my lovely fruit basket.

It's good to be loved, in all my occasionally disjointed interests.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Faster than the speed of fur
Willem has a classmate who lives near us, named Sue, and she is the proud caretaker of four cats. Well, three for sure - the last one might be imaginary. Sue and her partner went away on vacation, and Willem agree to catsit in their absence. It's been kind of a fun addition to our days.

Each morning, at some point before noon, Willem gets a panicked look on his face and exclaims, "I forgot to feed the cats!" But the Detailed Instructions Sheet left by Sue only specifies "in the morning," so he hasn't, technically, been late for it. He goes over, and three of the four cats are waiting at the door, tapping their little cat feet and looking haughty - impatient but, in typical cat fashion, unwilling to admit that they didn't actually plan it to happen just this way all along.

According to the Detailed Instructions Sheet, there is a fourth cat. But the Detailed Instructions Sheet insists that she'll probably stay in hiding the whole time, so either she has, or she doesn't actually exist. I'm okay with either option, as long as Sue's okay with it. Nothing wrong with an imaginary cat now and then.

One of the visible cats, Dusty, is severely asthmatic. Somehow the idea of a cat who is allergic to cats just tickles me to no end.

Last night, the kids and I stayed in the car while Willem opened the door to let the cats back in - normally they can stay out overnight, per the Detailed Instructions Sheet, but tut tut, it looked like rain, and we just didn't have the heart to let Sue come home to a wet cat. So we were all waiting ever-so-patiently, watching the side yard, when one of the cats ran at a full-out feline sprint to get into the house. This was hilarious to all of us - even Jacob looked in time to see it. So the rest of the drive home was characterized by such images as the cat leaving a little cat-shaped hole in the door due to its haste, then arriving in the living room naked and having all its fur catch up a few seconds later. High humor for the 6-and-under set. And, okay, fine, it was funny to the over-25 set, too.

Tonight was my turn to let the cats out in the evening. The key is tricky. To get the door open, you have to fumble with it for a full five minutes, then say the secret magical words: "Well, I guess the cats won't be able to go out tonight," and *snick* the door will open like magic. Both of the outdoor cats (per the Detailed Instruction Sheet, only multicolored cats are allowed outside - I'm not sure what created the policy, but the solid color ones need a better political rallying group of they expect to make real changes in the policy) squeezed through a barely cat-width opening between the house door and the screen door, while I did my best to account for a minimum of two colors per cat before they went off to their Very Important Cat Meeting.

All in all, a fun experience. And a good reminder that cats ain't as graceful and put-together as they want you to think.
Insulting injury
I'm okay with being somewhat accident-prone, and I'm okay with being low-grade achy while I'm still in the early stages of getting in better shape and attending workouts with CHRISTINE and Whatshername, that's all fair to me. But having a series of stupid, embarrassing injuries, not so much.

Last night, we were playing mini-golf with the kids, and on Hole 3 I leaned forward to pick Jacob up - something I've only done, what, six million times in the past year and change. And this time there was an audible "pop" in my lower back, accompanied with a ridiculous amount of pain and discomfort and hurt and aches and soreness and whatever else. That initial ridiculousness faded pretty quickly, but I'm still hobbling around and realizing that my feet are a lot farther away than I'd thought and finding it difficult to sit down. It's not a problem to stay sitting once I'm there, but to get from standing to sitting means going through about three inches of eye-crossing twinge. Not a huge big deal in the living room, I can sort of flop toward the couch and be confident of a soft landing. But in the bathroom... let's just say I can't flop with abandon there, lest we end up with another bath toys incident.

Big sigh. Where is the ibuprofen?
Saturday, May 27, 2006
MSN Headline: Botox Helps Depression
The inner brat in me can't help but think, "Nuh-uh! They just can't stop smiling, but that's just the exterior. They're still miserable inside."


Emily is still in the throes of Post-Traumatic Grandma Disorder, culminating last night in an enormous screaming kicking wailing miserable tantrum, which required me to sit on my bed with her in a bear hug to keep her from hurting herself or anyone else. Just one enormous pile of angst. I am so excited for her teenage years.

Jacob, the wee beast, apparently finds the sounds of Emily screeching to be a soothing and relaxing thing, because he went to bed and to sleep without the tiniest peep of protest in the midst of the Sturm und Drang. But in general, he seems to have shaken off the PTGD faster than Emily.

I'm honestly not sure what it is about my mother-in-law that creates several days of Body-Snatched behavior in my kids. I was there the whole weekend, I didn't witness any egregious behaviors or lapses or whatever. I really think my mother-in-law is some sort of insidious form of biological warfare, you don't realize it's happening in the moment but you feel the effects hours or days later. I'm ever so excited about our return trip to Rochester next month for Mike and Jen's wedding.

This is assuming, of course, that we can afford to make the trip. Between Emily's dance lessons and the wedding, our bank account is whimpering and cringing.

First, the dance lessons. She wanted to learn dance, so I called around the area and chose based on convenience and price, because we didn't know anything about reputations and didn't even know who to ask. Our neighbors are all in their 50s-plus, and if they get dressed up in tutus and leotards, I just don't want to know about it. So this place was really picked by default. $36 a month, Saturday morning lessons, good enough. Now at the end of the year they're killing me with add-ons... $57 for a costume that she will wear for a grand total of 27 minutes, and that includes the drive to the high school where the concert will be held. $22 for a t-shirt which she has to purchase if she wants to be allowed to dance in the finale with the rest of the school. $18 for a "recital fee," so I literally have to pay for my own kid to perform - "But you get a free recital ticket with that!" No I don't. I paid $18. That's not free. - and then any extra tickets are $18 each. Eighteen dollars to watch a 6-year-old stand on a stage and pick her nose. Fantastic. And then last week there was a $4.50 prop fee, so that she can dance in the introductory number, too. Unbelievable. If they had just charged me $50 a month at the beginning of the year I wouldn't be bleeding from the ears like this now.

Then, the wedding. Everyone in my immediate family except me is in it - Emily's a flower girl, Jacob's a ring bearer, Willem's a bridesmaid.... oh, no, wait. He's a groomsman. That's different. Anyway, so there's expenses for each of those things, plus the trip out for the bachelor party and then again for the wedding. None of which I mind in and of itself, I just wish I'd budgeted better. Somehow it's surprising to me that these things need to be paid for... I'm not sure why, I guess reality and I just haven't been communicating much lately.

So, my wallet is slim and shivery. Ah, well. It'll cope.

On the up-side, it's looking fairly likely that I'll have a job within a week or so. Which is a shaky and not-very-elevated up-side, but it'll fatten the wallet. I'm not ready to post details yet - I'm tired of posting my applications and hopes and then following up with "never mind, woe is me..." so I'm skipping the hopeful part and waiting until I actually have news - but at the very least I should know for sure soon.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Adulthood is not a given.
I had pretty well exhausted my parenting patience by noon today. I'm thinking of going out and finding a refrigerator box to keep them enclosed... er, I mean, entertained... for the evening.

First, I got to the Y at like 8:55 this morning, just enough time to get Jacob settled into the babysitting room and then head to my Hour of Misery with Whatshername. He was a little uncertain, but not too nervous - then just as I was about to walk out the door, Miss Jenny, the "babysitter" announced, "Okay, we're all going outside now!" She tried to take Jacob's hand and he wanted NOTHING to do with her. Luckily there was an older girl there, maybe 7, who held his hand, and he was okay with that. But I had a bad feeling about Miss Jenny's level of awareness and oomph, so I snuck behind them and watched.

The playground area is pretty wide open, mostly covered in sand - I try really, really hard to convince myself that cats do NOT sneak in there at night and use it like a big old Roman bathhouse potty party type thing - with swings and a slide around the outside. The six or eight kids from the babysitting room all filed out nicely and decorously, and then scattered like, well, like kids on a playground. Go figure. But Jacob, not yet schooled in the ways of playground scattering, was left standing all by himself in the middle of the sand, no one within 30 feet of him in any direction. He stood, and looked, and I could just watch the anxiety and fear wash over him. He trembled, and a finger went into the mouth, and his eyes welled up, and the breathing started to hitch... just generally the saddest thing ever.

Miss Jenny did notice this pretty quickly, but her solution was to stand where she was, about 50 feet away, and call to Jacob. First of all, she calls him Jake, which isn't an unforgivable offense in itself but he doesn't know that's his name. And secondly, she already made him uncomfortable by grabbing for his hand, no way is he going to seek her out now. I gave it three full minutes, then went outside and walked over to him. He had the biggest, sobbing, clingiest hugs. Which was sweet and all, but there are better ways for me to get snuggles, I think.

Once I was there with him, Miss Jenny saw fit to come over and say, "Oh, is he okay?" I told her, "Well, no. Like I told you last week, him coming here is the first time he's ever been away from family. He's pretty scared. He's been crying since you came outside." She said, "Oh."

Now, in Miss Jenny's defense, I don't think she has any children of her own, and she looks to be about 19. So maybe this job is the first time in her life in which she's been around children. Which makes me want to pinch the hiring committee at the Y, and I still want to pinch her anyway because if you can't do a good job at your job, DON'T SIGN UP FOR IT. Especially when it involves MY kids.

So about 15 minutes later I was finally able to get Jacob set up coloring and playing, and I snuck out. Forgot my water bottle, but decided dehydration was a small price to pay for leaving behind a happy kid. I was 10 minute late to class after arriving 10 minutes early, but fine. I'm tired and working on sore anyway.

There was an amusing moment in the middle of class. It's held in a room that's relatively open and well-lit, but the floor is in horrible shape. It's a big, blue indoor/outdoor carpet that may once have served as the entryway to a biker bar, and so it's ripped in several places and there's a big, several-foot-wide section in the middle that buckles up about six inches. We reached a point in class where we were all instructed to line up against the mirror and then do these lunge-steps across the room - and, being mindless lemmings, we all did. As we started, Whatshername said, as perky as can be despite my own personal fatigue and oxygen starvation, "Be careful of that big lump in the middle!" I happened to be right in the middle of the group, so I was able to gasp back, "You mean the carpet, right? Not me?" Whatshername didn't get it, but several of the other sweat-ees found it apt.

Then afterward, we're driving home and my cell phone rings. It's Emily's teacher, with a long convoluted story which basically boiled down to, Connor told his mom that he saw Emily and another little boy - I can't call him the names I want to call him so let's just settle for Josh-Beast - kiss over in the blocks corner of the kindergarten room. Connor's mom called the school principle, who called in Emily and Josh-Beast to have a talk with them about school rules, keeping our hands to ourselves, blah blah blah [insert Peanuts teacher voice here]...

I don't think Emily is self-aware enough to be humiliated, but boy oh boy do I have enough to cover both of us. I am aghast, appalled, chagrined... all of those. And I'm PISSED at Emily - not for doing it, it was stupid but I don't know of anyone who makes it to first grade without doing something stupid - but because when we got in the car to come home, I asked her, "What happened in school today?" and I got a litany of school-related tasks - she didn't admit to that whole first-trip-to-the-principal's-office thing until I directly asked about it.

So I'm second-guessing everything I have ever done as a parent, because I thought I had created two relatively self-confident beasts, and yet Jacob was determined that 9:00 HAD to be the time for his barnacle impression. I also thought we had created an atmosphere of openness and honesty, where we would, at the very least, ask questions first and administer beatings later.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006
The King Has Lost his Crown
Willem discovered last night that if one has a crown and one flosses a tad too enthusiastically, one can pop that crown right out.

He also discovered that if he walks over to me and says, "My crown just fell out," and I don't quite understand what he said, and he holds out his hand and shows me a tooth sitting in it, I will have a moderate freakout and momentarily believe that his entire head has just broken into small pieces.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Cold Stone Creamery, and yet less of me
On a side note - after hearing some of my (horrible, bad-influence, let's-get-Kate-fatter) friends talk about the Cold Stone Creamery, you can only imagine my excitement to see one a few doors down from the place where we had dinner with Willem's mom on Sunday night. Let me just say that their product is good enough that it could be embarrassing to eat in public, unless you happen to like those "When Harry Met Sally" moments.

If you haven't been to one... oh, it's a culinarily wonderful thing.

And yet somehow after a weekend of ridiculous overconsumption I lost another pound or so, putting me down 11 from where I started.

Maybe it's magical ice cream.
The Weekend in Review
Okay, we're home. Hurrah and all that.

It really was a pretty good weekend.... but never fear, I have plenty to kvetch and snicker about.

It all really started Thursday morning, when Willem and I got in a Really Stupid Argument. The details - even the basic content - would be way too involved and ridiculous to go into here, but suffice it to say it took up most of our day, snarking at each other and generally feeling snotty. Midway through the day, in between snark, he said, "Oh, yeah... this evening there's a party at this professor's house, for the math department." Oh, be still my beating heart, can we all go, can we, can we??

Yes, we could.

Now, to be fair - it was boring for me because it was a bunch of his buddies and so it was only fair to be the primary kid-chaser in this wildly unchildproof house while he socialized, not because it had anything to do with math. But at the same time, here's a way to fulfill some family obligations without actually having to talk to Willem, since I was still in a snit over the morning's snark.

There was a very cute incident there, between Jacob and another graduate-student-offspring who is two weeks younger than him, a cute little girl named Dasha. At one point, Jacob clambered up into an armchair next to her, laid his head on her shoulder, blinked sweetly, and said, "Hi, baby! My name Jacob." I realized I had just witnessed his first-ever pickup line.

Friday was fine, we snarked some more but we also managed to get along for most of the endless drive out. A lovely albeit brief visit with my family for my sister's graduation, and the requisite guilt on my part for not staying for the ceremony - but nothing fatal. Being on the President's List, apparently she got her own personal profile presented at the ceremony... yeah, no guilt at all... *sigh*

Friday night, we arrived at Willem's mother's house and threw the children in bed, and then he announced that he wanted to go out and meet his friends at a bar in town. Which didn't instantly thrill me, because I wasn't feeling especially bar-ish and I'm *never* feeling much in the mood to be left home to chat with his mother while he goes out to play with his friends. Particularly with the same group of people who he's going to meet up with at 9:00 the next morning for an overnight bachelor party. But he wanted to, and he informed his mother that she would be watching the kids while we went out (she's a nightmare, but that doesn't mean that she's on the receiving end of the occasional steaming pile of obnoxiousness, too...) so he asked me to go, too. So we went, and ended up sitting in the parking lot for an hour continuing the previous day's snark. Ah, bliss. I still don't know whether we ever came to any sort of closure or if we finally just talked each other into a coma - but at some point we finally went into the bar, and I stood around and watched other people chat about things I didn't care about (sports, beer, plans for tomorrow's party that I wasn't attending - actually, parties, since the bachelorette party was scheduled for the same time - and so on), and I can't hear in bars anyway, and I don't drink... just one big barrel of monkeys, I tell you.

Next day was the bachelor party, so Willem was picked up at something like 8:30 in the morning. The kids and I got up and breakfasted and fed around the same time, and got ready to head to Niagara Falls, with mommy-dearest-in-law in tow. As we were about to head out the door, the phone rings - Willem has forgotten his passport. Now, being a Wife Deserving of a Medal, I agreed to meet him on the highway rather than saying, "Awwwww, does that mean you can't go?" He gave me directions so I could meet him on the Thruway on-ramp, all was well. Then his mother - who couldn't find her way out of a paper bag with a map and a flashlight - insisted, "No, there's a better way to get there - turn right here." And we arrive... at the wrong on-ramp. Bah. But a few annoyed cell phone calls later, we were able to meet up and he got his passport, and a raincoat and his sunglasses and a realization from me that the world really WOULD come to a grinding halt if I weren't there to save it. Or something.

The up-side to this whole rescue operation was that now I'm in the Jeep with both kids and my mother-in-law, and he's in a car with four of his buddies, and we're all headed to the same place for very different reasons. So for the next hour we did that leapfrog thing that you do on the highway, and I never needed to make eye contact or even smile - the fact that both of his kids and his mother were literally pressing their faces up against the glass and waving as though they're having a seizure was karma enough.

The rest of Saturday was actually really, really nice. When Willem's not around, and she's not expected to think or make decisions, my mother-in-law can be a lovely person, and we all had fun. Sunday, similar. Until Willem got home, at which point she reverted into a total inability to have an opinion or state a preference or even offer options... in other words, back to status quo. Which is comforting, in a twisted sort of way.

Monday morning was the funeral with my uncle's smashing faux pas, then a quiet evening with my mom and my sisters. Decided this morning not to visit my grandparents, because they were busy until 1:00 and we were packed and ready to go with two slightly pre-meltdown kids at 9:00 in the morning.

Long, long drive home - but we made it and we were greeted at the door by my dad, who had made chicken soup for us. Awwwwwwww....

So, all in all, a good weekend. Willem and I seem to have gotten past the snarky interlude, we all are in essentially one piece after endless miles of driving to and fro, and aside from the inevitable instance of leaving my mother-in-law's on Monday morning with her having made chocolate milk for both kids and coffee in a travel mug for Willem and precisely as much of a breakfast beverage for me as I have grown to expect from her, there weren't any noteworthy incidents, in-law-wise.

Maybe next time.
Monday, May 22, 2006
That horse is dead. Really, really dead.
Checking in from my mother's computer... the far-too-many-miles weekend is almost done. So far, we have gone from NH to Rochester, NY via Binghamton (yay, break out mapblast.com!) and then done a day trip to Niagara Falls, before returning to Binghamton from Rochester via Obi, NY (extra credit to you if you have any idea where that is before you go a-lookin'). Now we just get to head back to NH with a single stop in Oneonta to visit my grandparents and their super-annoying dog. My butt already had the basic shape of the Jeep's seat, and now it's developing a ridged upholstery pattern, as well.

We've had some hilarious moments and some terrible ones, and I'll take some time after we're back home to try and write it out in a conscious-thought sort of way, but for tonight I wanted to post a quick synopsis of my great-grandmother's funeral. The ceremony was lovely, and an incident immediately afterward reminded me that whenever I'm having an especially thoughtless or snotty day, I can blame it on genetics.

Now, as backup, my mother's family and my father's family are vastly, vastly different critters. My father's family is label-conscious, fashionable, and largely untrustworthy and let's-get-together-but-not-really sorts of people. I spent much of my childhood believing that they were cool, and eventually learning that if that's cool, I'll skip a serving, thanks. They're not bad people, by and large - just very surface. When my great-grandmother on that side, my dad's grandmother, died last summer, I was personally very saddened because she was one of the only genuine, loving, comfortable people, who didn't care when my complexion was bad or when I was a marching band geek instead of a cheerleader. We attended her funeral, and it was horrible. Soulless and boring, some stranger just opened a book to a cerrtain page and read some stuff, and then we went to the gravesite and the same guy read more stuff, and all in all it was the most cookie-cutter, personality-less experience ever. I could have just crashed any funeral anywhere and had the same effect. Which was horrible, because that grandmother was so full of life and spark and verve, she deserved a better tribute. This is a woman who, in her 80s, got kicked out of an Irish bar on St. Patrick's Day - and she was as Irish as you could get without actually bleeding green. So - big sigh.

On my mother's side... well, they're a lot less fashionable, to start. They are, in a word, rednecks. Not all... but most. And while I once might have thought that made them a less happening bunch, I have since learned better. Even for my mother's grandmother's funeral, this morning, it was simple and plain and unrehearsed - just a graveside service to which the minister never actually showed up (that can't be good karma, can it?) but several of my relatives are religious enough on their own to pull off a service on their own, complete with distribution of tracts and very long prayers. But they MEANT them, and I have to respect that. Several different people stepped forward to talk about what Grandma meant to them, and it was just generally what it should be like, in my view. Why is it they don't let me run the world, exactly?

Anyway. So that part was fine. After the service, my uncle proved to me that even after years of separation, he can still make me incoherently angry with a handful of words. What a skill. A small group of us were chatting near the graveside: my grandmother, my grandfather, my uncle and myself, with my mom a few feet away. My uncle pointed out that my grandparents had a new truck, and asked the requisite Manly questions, like, "When did you get it? How many horses under the trannie? What grade of oil in the combustion unit? Think anyone knows we just make all this stuff up to sound Even More Manly?" The questions were duly answered, and then my grandmother said, "Oh, we just got rid of a bunch of our stuff - we sold our car, and both scooters."

At which point my uncle apparently had a frontal lobotomy, or perhaps he never brought any impulse control with him in the first place. Because he immediately went off on this tirade to my grandmother (his mother) about, "What do you MEAN you got rid of the scooters? Do you not REMEMBER me saying I wanted them? I remember, you asked, what did I want when you died, and that was the only thing. Now when you die, there's nothing I want. Thanks a lot."

Now, let's review... the woman is standing next to her own mother's grave, having unexpectedly lost a sister two months ago and now experiencing another loss... the weather has been cold and rainy, the minister didn't show up, and she is embarrassed because her husband insisted on bringing Cinnamon, the World's Most Annoying Dog, not only to the cemetary but actually to the service itself. And now her son is berating her for choosing to sell her own personal property. Yee haw.

Needless to say, she sort of lost it a bit at that point. Not in a big, woe-is-me sort of way, but just got very sad and defeated. I decided that it was more important for me to try to comfort her than to suggest to the cemetary employees that perhaps a second big gaping hole was in order, just as a place to store my uncle for a while.

Through the rest of the afternoon, at the reception afterward (which was put on entirely by my great-grandmother's 92-year-old baby sister - I'd never met her before, but she was fantastic. At one point, she and Willem were at the buffet table together, and she said, "Well, I guess it's my turn to eat. I was waiting to make sure everyone had enough." He said, "Oh, I know better. You were just making sure nothing was poisoned." She said, "Well, ain't no bodies on the floor, are there?") - anyway, my uncle repeatedly returned to the topic of the scooters, as though with enough whining and guilt, this 42-year-old boy was going to convince his parents to go back in time and do things his way. He was determined to beat that horse, and beat it again. And again.

Gotta love family. Right??
Thursday, May 18, 2006
A graduation, a bachelor party and a funeral
...all in the same weekend, but not, as far as I know, all for the same person.

We're leaving first thing tomorrow morning for the trip westward. (Hmm. I wonder, did the band Stabbing Westward live east of their mother-in-law? 'Cause if so, I totally understand the band name...) First is a stop at my mother's, for dinner with my sister Sarah, who is graduating from community college. I would like to attend the ceremony (well, as much as I'd ever like to attend an event for which there are two exciting minutes out of 120 irrelevant ones) but it starts at 7:30 p.m., and we have to continue on another 3 hours to my mother-in-law's house tomorrow evening. Not arriving at midnight with two overtired and butt-numb children is somehow important to me.

We need to be at mother-in-law's Friday, so that Willem can get up at the crack of 9:00 on Saturday and head to a 2-day bachelor party for his friend Mike. I'm sure they'll all behave in mature, responsible ways. And I'm doubly sure that I do not want to hear stories of said behavior afterward. The brain trust which is my husband and his friends have decided that the party should take place in Canada, which makes any potential bail-me-out calls complicated enough that I think I'll be able to safely ignore them.

Meanwhile, rather than sit around and "play it by ear" and "see what happens" and "maybe go out later" at my mother-in-law's, I've made plans to head to Niagara Falls with the kids for the day. Chances are it will be a Grandma-accompanied trip, and don't think it hasn't occurred to me that if I'm driving, I could slip the border guards a note about her rampant sex-trade-methamphetamine-dealing-marijuana-growing-jawywalking lifestyle.

Sunday we'll do the aforementioned sitting around at Grandma's and pointedly not doing anything until it's too late. Monday it's even farther west, not quite to Buffalo, for the graveside service for my great-grandmother. Then back to my mother's house that night, and home on Tuesday.

At which point I plan to collapse in a pathetic, lumplike heap on the couch and watch a week's worth of true-crime documentaries and kids shows (hopefully I'm mentally competent enough to tell the difference between the two... I'm not that concerned about the kids learning about serial killers but God forbid I sit through an episode of Thomas the Tank Engine without realizing it. The horror.).
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Mutiny in my forehead
I have spent the last several hours researching and applying for jobs.

About a half hour into it, I developed a horrible, screaming, miserable, nauseating, eye-crossing, whimpering headache. Despite having preemptively taken meds.

The mere prospect of going back to work out in the real world makes my brain attempt tp escape via my optic nerve and out my eye sockets, having already popped each eye out of my head at high velocity.

It's a good thing I wear glasses. Makes it easier to catch everything and cram it back in before it hits the floor.

Woe is me. Could I be any more of a drama queen?

Yes. I could.
"What's sex?"
Willem just got back from lunch out with Emily, after taking her to school with him. He's still hyperventilating.

Part of their lunchtime conversation went as follows:
EMILY: Dad, what does that sign say?
WILLEM: Durham.
EMILY: Oh. What does that mean?
WILLEM: It's the town we're in right now.
EMILY: Oh. What's sex?
WILLEM: [All blood draining out of his head and gasping for air] Um. It's how mommies and daddies make babies.

After further investigation, it turns out that one of Emily's school friends was telling her about how her dolls were going to have sex. I'm the wee-est, tiniest bit alarmed by that, but I'm thrilled to pieces that she came right to her dad and asked him. Thrilled enough that I won't simply die if I think about this all too much.

As Willem said, this whole topic was supposed to start with, "Where do babies come from?" NOT "What's sex?" I think I've studied wrong for this whole parenting test.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Nap, Interrupted
I know there are lots of moms out there who don't like to wake a sleeping baby. I don't share this sentiment. I LOVE to wake both of my kids. I look for excuses - because I'm all for maintaining some semblance of schedule and consistency, but if I can justify it, I literally bound into the room of a sleeping child. Quietly and gently - no reason to scar them for life, at least not right then - but bounding nonetheless.

Partly, I'll admit, it's because it's just karma. You wake me three times a night for two years, now it's MY turn, so there. How do ya like them apples?

But more, it's just such unmitigated sweetness. There's that brief moment of time, in between asleep and awake, when they're moving enough to snuggle in and they're still warm and smell sweet and have the sleep-warm pink cheeks that I just cannot kiss enough, but they're not conscious enough to require anything more than simple snuggling. No requests for food, TV or toys, no chattering or babbling or muttering. Just snuggles.

[Edited to add: I just put a bunch of flood pictures on my photos site for those who are interested...
New Hampshire does lame bad emergencies
This afternoon, I was on the phone with a friend, and at that moment everyone else in the world had to call me. This is not a common occurence. I mean, the first time another call came in, I thought my phone was breaking - I'd never heard the combination beep/crackle that it makes for an incoming call. I ignored two calls, then took a third and a fourth - seriously, weird stuff. It was all normal enough calls: a sales call, the exterminator to verify the appointment(It has rained so much that we have ants in our bathroom. In the bathroom. Seriously. They treated the kitchen months ago, so now I have ants eating my soap.), the exterminator to cancel the appointment because his house was being evacuated and he thought that was more important than ants eating my soap, and then the town fire marshal. To inform me that I was being evacuated due to threat of flooding. Well, yippee, how exciting can we possibly get??

The next hour consisted of me running around the house in apparently random fashion while trying to pack a few days' worth of necessities for all four of us plus the stuff They tell you to bring In Case of Emergency - important paperwork, cell phone, and so on, all the while babbling away on the phone to my boss, my mother, my husband, the exterminator. You know, all the really important people in my life.

Somehow I ended up with a very organized-looking pile of bags and boxes near the door, ready to be loaded into the Jeep. The whole time, I'm wandering around thinking, "This is ridiculous. We are not going to get flooded out here. There's no RIVER here." But (1) there's a river a half-mile away that was already flooding, (2) my bigger concern was not being able to get to a grocery store or a hospital because the roads in between me and them were no more, and (3) the police called my house to tell me to evacuate. HOW many times did I cluck my tongue and wag my head judgmentally at the TV back in the fall, thinking about all those poor idiots in New Orleans who received evacuation orders and chose to ignore them? Well, honestly, none. But I did it inside my head, so that counts a little.

So I got everything ready, and just as I was about to do a final run-through, Emily decided to help me out by skipping down the hallway, tripping over the coffee table, and stubbing her ring-toe hard enough to bleed. Her subsequent freak-out (I keep forgetting to check, has anyone REALLY died from toe-stubbing?) woke Jacob, who decided that now was a good time to practice his Barnacle Boy skills. Moments later, Willem got home and added to the sunshine and joy in the house by telling me all the reasons why it was stupid for us to evacuate and yet insisting that the kids and I pack up and head to New York early while he stayed home to protect the house. (Pardon me while I refrain from denigrating his manhood by asking for details and plans on that one.) It was just fun from all angles.

We decided to just get in the car and drive around a bit, figure out what was going on in town and whether we should get more panicked or go home and eat pizza. I called the special Flood Line and learned that our street had been downgraded from Mandatory Evacuation to It's a Pretty Okay Idea Evacuation, so we actually could return home without opening ourselves to mocking and censure from neighbors and law enforcement. Therefore, we went home and ate pizza.

This evening, we watched the evening news. The top 25 minutes of the 30-minute broadcast was devoted to the weather. If you had watched, you might understand why New Hampshire is not the sharpest crayon in the state-box. There were just not enough teeth and syllables to go around amongst those interviewees.

It really ended up being a lovely emergency, for us. Two thousand people in our town alone - and it's probably only got 25,000 or so overall - were evacuated, and the mandatory-evacution border is about 150 yards from my house. Lots of vicarious drama and dramatic news footage of big fat swollen rivers - but not a drop in my house. If only the ice cream truck was running, it would have been perfect.
Monday, May 15, 2006
No gun parties for Emily and my mother-in-law is still herself
Just an update... I decided not to send Emily to Brickton's party. We took the kids swimming for an hour instead, it was wholesome and absolutely no one wore camoflauge or made references to dead animals or soon-to-be-dead animals or animals they wanted to find and kill. Likewise for minorities or liberals. No references at all.

And as for my mother-in-law, we spoke on the phone for the obligatory "I've spoken with everyone else in your house, I suppose I should talk to you" conversation. It included plans for next weekend, when we're heading out her way so that we can visit my sister for her college graduation and then let Willem go on an all-day bachelor party with his idiot, er, I mean, fraternity buddies. Plans which she had just moments ago gone over with Willem, but repetition doth make the heart grow fonder, no? No.

I told her, "We'll be arriving late Friday night, and then on Saturday I'm planning on taking the kids to Niagara Falls for the day. They've never been, and I have a new camera to play with. I think we'll go on the Maid of the Mist boats, have a meal in the Skylon Tower, and just spend the day in the area. [AWKWARD PAUSE] You're welcome to join us if you want to."

"Oh, that would be great! Sounds fun! Oh, but we can't go on the Maid of the Mist, I get seasick. But we can go on the walking tour behind the Falls!"

Umm... I'm sorry. Maybe you misunderstood. This particular trip is for me and the kids, to plan what we would most enjoy. If you want to join, that's okay, but we're not going to avoid what would be the highlight of their day because you don't like boats. Join us another time or not at all. Something.


I can't put my finger on exactly why I am irritated about this, except that she is my mother-in-law and irritates me effortlessly. And I told Willem, she's like biological warfare - the bomb can literally fall in my lap, and it takes hours for me to figure out that something isn't quite right.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Turnin' my brain into Jell-O
I really, really, really should have spent the evening typing tonight. I have a big project that's not close enough to finished to allow me to sleep well, but sometimes ya just gotta sit on the couch and eat ice cream and watch brainless TV. Or, at least, I do.

The evening's entertainment started with Extreme Makeover: Homes I Will Never Have Edition, which is fun because I can literally sit on the couch and listen to my IQ decrease. Ty is just so precious, I want to drop a house on him and see if that slows him down at all. Didn't work out so well for the Wicked Witch of the East, but she wasn't hyperactive and corporate-sponsored. My money's on Ty.

The thing that I most love about that show is when people act surprised about things they have no business acting surprised about. Just the starting sequence, when the team rolls up in a big, loud bus in a suburban neighborhood in which bus traffic is unheard of, thereby setting off every barking dog within three miles and smearing celebrity-hungry noses against poorly cleaned windows, and then tiptoeing out of the bus in order to shout at the family with a bullhorn at what is supposedly a very early hour - that's all just funny to me. I adore the idea that, okay, this family is beaten down and hurting and pathetic and yet heart-of-gold wonderful, so let's scare 'em with loud noises early in the morning and see what happens. "The Knickerbocker family lost everything. Their mother. Their canned goods. Their toilet. Their parakeet Bud. And then their first-edition copy of the Monopoly board game. And then the shock of getting on our show left Grandpa on the hallway floor with what appears to be a heart attack. [PAUSE FOR FROWNY FACE AND SIGH] So, let's see the house before we send you all - well, all but YOU, Grandpa - off to a sunny resort while you allow strangers to turn your home into a showroom floor."

You might also notice that they all coming crowding out of their house acting all happy and excited, yet they're all dressed and coiffed and chipper. No one ever stumbles out the the house, hungover, Cheerios stuck to their shirt, hobbling with pants around the ankles because they were just in the bathroom, cranky because one more hour of sleep would have allowed the Advil-Xanax-Vodka trio to kick in and level things out a tad. No one's even just wearing ripped sweats and Hooters t-shirts. Maybe we're just the only family in the country that is not groomed and hygienic by 8:00 every morning.

It's good stuff, right there. That's quality programming at its most realistic and true-to-lie. I mean, life. True-to-life.

Then there was a brief interlude away from the television. I have an appointment later this week which curtails certain activities, so... well, as Willem said, "The home team has won the coin toss, and they have elected to receive." Apparently this is a sports thing, and he swears that it is funny. Okee-dokee.

Then it's back to TV. Have I mentioned before that I believe that DVR could cure cancer, bring peace to the Middle East, and shift children's whining to beyond human heraing range? Seriously, it's good stuff.

So in between Extreme Makeover: Raising Property Taxes County-Wide and Grey's Anatomy, I watched a documentary about skinheads, which left me all nostalgic for the days when I thought I might do something with my degree (or, HA HA HA, even finish the darn thing). I love supremicists of any color, they're just so insistently deluded. I respect anyone who can operate in the world without a string of hospitalizations and yet in defiance of anything remotely resembling reality or logic, bless their tiny little brains.

And then, Grey's Anatomy. *sigh* It's so beautifully complicated, and it all boils down to a group of Unreasonably Beautiful Doctors wearing scrubs that somehow don't hang like decades-old pup tents and sleeping with anything that moves - and some things that don't! - and yet managing not to get all Jerry Springer on me. Tawdry yet pretty.

I'm especially fond of Grey's because it roped me in with the episode after the Superbowl - the bomb one. Ever since I got my heart ripped out of my body via my frontal lobes and amygdala by the introduction of a short-lived but fantastic show called "Wonderland," set in the Bellevue psychiatric hospital in NY, and its subsequent cancellation just about the time I started to rearrange major life events to watch it, I have refused to start watching a show in its first season. If it's popular enough to make it to Season Two, then I'll start watching reruns - but I will not suffer another such indignation and betrayal by the Networks That Be.

So, Grey's. I first watched it after the Superbowl, and thought, "Hmm. That's fun! Major glaring gaping cavernous plot holes and factual errors, but the people are all just so pretty!" Then the DVD of Season One came out just before I spent a week at my mother-in-law's, so I watched it in the evenings after the kids were in bed while she was away at a funeral, and now I actually have something positive to associate with my time at her house. Hooray! And now I'm sucked in to the show for real. Hooray!!

Now it's bedtime. After I make another pass around to make sure the house hasn't floated away yet. It's been raining since last Tuesday, and we literally have gotten ten inches since then. Granted, there are certain areas in which that might be brag-worthy ("Ten inches! I'm telling you, girlfriend!") but rain is not one of them. We, here, are not yet under a state of emergency, but towns all around us are. We even got a telephone call at home from the school robot informing us that Emily has no school tomorrow. Which is wicked cool, but the rain is not. Here's a shot of my backyard this afternoon, and we actually have really good drainage and minimal puddles... (that brown stuff is water, not plain old mud - and the yellow thing at the left foreground is a rake, teeth-up, barely treading water and gasping for air by this point).

Anyway. Off to type, perchance to sleep...
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Not everyone should be allowed to have a camera.
That includes me.

My old faithful Canon EOS Rebel 35mm, well, bit the dust the other week. It fell off our car during the epic camping trip to Canada back in 2003, and the battery compartment shattered. Since then it had been held together with scotch tape and my heartfelt appreciation. But last weekend, it had had enough.

So I got a camcorder, which I'd requested for my birthday anyway. Another Canon... um... ELURA 100 with 20x optical zoom. That probably means something important. I dunno. Anyway, so far I can make it take dark grainy photos and slightly less dark and grainy videos, and I can even get them onto the computer and inflict this media upon the world. BWAAA-haaa-haa.

Like here: Jacob and Emily Biting the Dust. I recognize that it is neither as cool nor as cute to anyone else on the planet except maybe their close relatives - but I promise, this is a short-lived indulgence while my toy is still new, and I will not start posting endless shots of the kids eating breakfast and the cat watching birds outside.

I just read an article in People magazine about exercise bulimia - where women monitor what they eat and then instead of purging, they over-exercise to get rid of it.

I'm very familiar with the disorder in an onlooker sense - I "treated" a woman for it a few years ago. With visual quotes, as annoying as they are, because I'm very skeptical that anyone else can treat it. Lots of addictions - heroin, alcohol, sex - you can treat by cutting them out of your life entirely. But eating? Not exactly an abstinence program available there.

But how horrible is this??? As I was reading the article, my initial reaction was a mild jealousy that they could create such an intense, disciplined attitude toward exercise. Am I not already unhealthy enough without adding a new obsession in? Bah.
Friday, May 12, 2006
Now I can't get him to take it off.
Look at me, all crafty and having at least something besides crushing depression and an empty bank account and an unreasonably large derriere to show for having spent a year home...

Jacob has a fat head, so I had to fix the collar or remove his head to get the sweater on. I opted for Choice A. Less clean-up. It was a mighty struggle to get it on him in the first place, because of course I had to try more than once to tug the unfixed neckhole over his round Charlie Brown head, so after I widened the collar he had already been conditioned to see Sweater=Bad. But once I wrestled it on him - with the help of Mr. Rogers, who was coincidentally arriving for his daily on-camera wardrobe change at the same time - he has decided it's "nuggly" (that's snuggly, to those of you who bother to use S's) and won't take it off. At least it's cold and rainy today. Yippee.

Now it's onto Emily's sweater, and to avoid the dozens of mistakes I made with Jacob's and, I'm sure, find new ones to make. I'm tricky that way.

Beaucoup de apologies for the dark and grainy pictures. I got a new camera the other day, and it's a neat little toy - and better than the big black paperweight which was a lovely camera until last Saturday, at which time it committed cameracide at the idea of an overpriced carnival. It's not a great camera for photography - at least, I can't make it be - but it's a camcorder and once I get the right cable for it then we can decide whether it's a decent camera for video. It better be.
A Dithering and Anxious Mama
Emily got invited to a birthday party this Sunday.

Alarm bells started going off a little right away, because isn't Sunday, you know, Mother's Day and all? Not that I'm unwilling to have some nice, quiet, childless time on the day devoted to my reproductive skills, but it seems a little unusual to schedule a birthday party that day. No?

Then the alarm bells got louder when I saw the birthday boy's name. Brickton. Not that I have a problem with the name itself - though now that I think about it, I kinda do - but he has a reputation among the Mommy Set as being a wee tad bit of a bully.

But Emily said she wanted to go, and I couldn't come up with a good reason why not on-the-spot like that. (And WHY did we think it was a good idea that she learn to read??? It was so much EASIER to lie to her about things like this when she couldn't check for herself.) So I called to RSVP. Which, I know, just isn't DONE these days, but sue me. I feel obligated to take the high road, mostly just because I get a thrill out of just how flustered and surprised people get when I actually call like the invitation says. "Oh... I wasn't expecting anyone to actually CALL."

Anyway. Here's the conversation I had with Brickton's mom. For real.
ME: Hi, this is Kate Whatsmyname. [PAUSE] Emily's mom? [PAUSE] Calling to RSVP? [PAUSE] For Brickton's party? [PAUSE] Do I have the right --
HER: Oh, RIGHT! Yes! Brickton! Party! Yes! Great!
ME: So, the party starts at 3:30. Should a parent stay, or are we just dropping her off?
HER: Oh, just leave her, you know, wherever. Here, I mean. Leave her here. Um. We're thinking of maybe walking everyone over to the Rec Center to play basketball for a while, or maybe to the McDonald's Playplace. I don't know yet. I really should call about that.
ME: Hmm. Maybe. Can you give me any gift ideas?
HER: Gifts?
ME: For Brickton? [PAUSE] For his birthday? [PAUSE] Ideas?
HER: Right! Brickton! Yes!
ME: Are there any things he really likes? Anything you don't like him to have?

*** WAIT FOR IT ***

HER: Oh, he LOVES guns! Loves them! Um. And maybe, hmm. He has a lot of guns, and we're buying him a BB and a pistol Nerf shooter fun cute thingy to play with. And wheelies and a Nerf bat. Hmm. Maybe if you didn't want to get a gun, maybe a water pistol? They make 'em really lifelike now.
ME: [NOT FAINTING UNCONSCIOUS ON FLOOR] Oh. My. Well. We'll just go shopping, then, and see what we come up with.
HER: Great! See you Saturday! I mean, Sunday! For Brickton!

So now I'm dithering and anxious, as may be obvious by the almost-2:00 timestamp here. I have a big big issue against guns and won't buy them, so that's fine. We'll find something. But to not have a single thing planned three days before the party? To encourage me to buy the most lifelike weapons on the market? To not be entirely certain of your son's name?

I don't know what to do. Cancel and come up with an alternate activity for Emily? Which means lying to Brickton's mom because I don't have any need to impose my entire lifestyle and every thought about parenting upon her when I tell her why Emily can't go?

Okay, that's not true. I kind of have a need for it, but I won't satisfy that need. It won't change anything anyway. And no need to make myself into That Mom.

Anyway. I need to sleep on this and see if I'm still as paranoid and goofy about it all in the morning.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Eeee-EEE-vil Woman
On a lighter note, I did in fact survive through my second exercise class today, and in this one I wasn't the biggest person in the room. Well, I might have been, pounds-wise, but there was one other woman, bless her heart, who was quite a bit shorter but still proportionately bigger.

When I'm on a dance floor - NOT a common occurrence anymore, mind you - I like to be mediocre. Not the best dancer in the room, and not the worst. Likewise with exercising, I like to be somewhere in the middle, size-wise. I did not get my wish on Monday, being an even multiple bigger than each other victim of CHRISTINE's Regime. But today, we had Jill's Regime, which is slightly kinder and gentler than CHRISTINE's, though if she said "Push-and-pull" one more time to describe a certain arm motion I was considering tying her up with the exercise band and beating her with a Medicine Ball. Anyway, I was still the second-biggest person in the room, but it was better. I was pretty sure that the other panting and sweating women in the room have also had acquaintance with a chocolate bar or three, unlike the nutrionally and aerobically well-behaved specimens of Monday's class.

Jill also was an improvement over CHRISTINE as far as the musical selection was concerned. Not a Cher in sight. Still odd stuff, mind you - this was '70s rock songs set to a techno beat - but nothing I expect to hear in a gay bar.

And there was just something so right about doing aerobics and glaring at the cute, thin, perky instructor to "Evil Woman."
The inevitable has arrived
Well, it was just a matter of time. My dad doesn't cope well with stress, and often when he's stressed he picks a different target to take things out on. Very often, the nearest child(ren) - because they don't fight back well, I think. It made for some difficult times for me, growing up, and now as an adult the thing I can most clearly thank my father for is the ability to distance myself from displaced anger, just sort of let the person vent and not take it personally. And not bite back.

So, he's been living here for seven or eight months now, and the whole time he's been unhappy with his job. He's a truck driver, and just in case anyone ever saw that as a sort of romantic, fun, adventurous job.... it's not. He's at the bottom of a lot of food chains and shtuff rolls downhill, and all that. So, it's been wearing on him.

To give credit where it's due, he's a lot less biting and impulsive than I remember him being 20 years ago. But still. It's been building. The past few weeks, I've watched him be more and more easily irritated by my kids - what I consider to be the normal unavoidable whining of a household with a 21-month-old and a 6-year-old makes him mutter and glare and refer to "ruined meals" and "whined all day." (Ever have that happen to you? Where you think a day went a certain way - "Hey, that was a pretty good day" - and then someone else views it totally differently, and it's sort of a reality-shock? I hate that.) So I've been waiting.

And today came the tantrum. I took Jacob to the Y this morning, he was less than thrilled about being left with the child watch place but that's fair because I was less than thrilled about going to work out. On my way home, I somehow managed to pick up a killer migraine - the hold-my-head-on-and-please-don't-puke kind - and so I became very much focused on the moment: get Emily from school, drive home on the road not on the sidewalk, get into the house, bribe the children with cookies and TV, and collapse on the couch until my meds kick in. Yippee.

So, in betwen the get into the house step and the cookies and TV step, both kids burst into whining. Seems that NOW was not soon enough as far as cookies and TV were concerned. My father was in the living room at this point, and within 30 seconds of the whining starting, he stormed out of the room. Didn't capture much of my attention in the moment, because of said whining, and because 30 seconds later when the whining faded into the sounds of cookie-eating and The Price is Right, I moved on to the collapse on the couch phase. I vaguely noticed that he'd had his laptop in the living room with him and that he took that when he left.

Next contact is about an hour (a whine-free, kids building tents and Willard overbidding on the Showcase Showdown hour) later, when my dad came storming back out of the room to inform me that his iPod appears to be trashed because my kids were whining. I wouldn't have thought that the electronics were that sensitive to room noise, but there you go. It can't *possibly* be due to the fact that my father had an impulsive tantrum and stormed out of the room before shutting things down, that he overreacted to children being annoying - that is to say, normal - children, or that technology is just weird sometimes. No. It is all because my kids were whining.


I'm now congratulating myself for not pointing out the idea that perhaps he is responsible for his own reactions and maybe just maybe he overreacted to this. I may eventually point it out, especially if he decides to hold a grudge - but to be fair, my dad is not a grudge-holding guy. He tends to have these impulsive bouts of anger and then burns through 'em. In any case, he left to head back to work for the week, so we won't see him until Tuesday.

Argh. Nothing like feeling caught in the middle of feuding family members... particularly when it's my father and my kids.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
No Swim for You
Okay, well, the Y might be a wonderful institution, but it's got its quirks. Just one or two. Or so.

Today's quirk happened when I promised to take the kids swimming after their naptime. (No - Emily doesn't sleep anymore. But I need her to have quiet time, or at least, not talking to ME time, once a day. She lives longer that way.) So we headed over this afternoon, and arrived around 4:00. You can see the pool from the lobby, so I immediately sensed trouble - all of the lanes were in use by swim capped 14-year-olds and the door was cracked open a little to prevent hormone overload in the pool area.

But I asked the Guardian of the Desk - twice - and she insisted that it was both Open Swim and Swim Team Practice and they would move if I showed up in all of my fleshy white splendor and threatened to impinge upon their swimming happiness. Well, she didn't word it in quite that way, but it was the jist.

So we all got into our swimming finery, and headed to the pool door. Throughout the lobby, the locker room and the pool door, mind you, there were NO signs about schedule changes. But the Large Head Small Brain Swim Coach scuttled right over to meet me at the door and explain, "You can't swim now. It's swim team practice."

"Oh," I said. "But my schedule says it's both this and open swim."

"No, it doesn't," he said.

"Yes, actually, it does," I said. I did not puncutate that with, "you putz." "I just picked the schedule up from the front desk yesterday and it said open swim from 2:00 - 5:00."

"No, it doesn't," he said. Clearly not the captain of any debate team. Although, this WAS in Maine, so maybe something with moose.

So I headed back to the front desk for a new schedule. On my way there, I was waylaid by some random and apparently overchlorinated woman in the locker room (which, by the way, I find it very difficult to hold a conversation with a naked person), who said, "What color is your schedule?"

"I don't know."

"Is it purple?"

"I. Don't. Know."

"Is it blue?"

"I. DON'T." You know what? Never mind. This conversation is clearly some twisted game of 20 Questions and I'm not in the mood. So I continued out to the front desk, and sure enough, from yesterday to today, there is a new schedule. The OLD one was purple, and the NEW one is blue.

Well, duh.

So, we'll swim tomorrow. Maybe.
Monday, May 08, 2006
In case I spontaneously burst into flames
So, apparently, my body has decided to actually allow me to start shedding some of itself, since I don't have a sore back or hip or any new injuries this week. Hooray. Off to the Y I went this morning, because if I'm not going to hurt myself unintentionally, then I may as well do it intentionally, no?

I operate well under peer pressure, at least as far as weight loss is concerned. I am not disciplined to go walking far enough on my own to do any good - and, seriously, I would have to walk to Ohio and back once a week to have a real impact - and my yoga DVD migrates to the back of the pile, behind DVDs of endless bright-colored animated manic creatures. I need a class, with real people, who notice me when I'm there (and how could you not? I'm the big one, with the red face and desperate little whimpers) and who - I tell myself this, anyway - notice when I'm not.

So, the Y. Nearest one is in Maine, so it's a little interstate adventure. And in case starting an exercise regimen (a word which is really close to regime, which makes me think of dictators... more on that in a bit) wasn't traumatic enough, I also left Jacob in the care of a stranger for the first time, since the Y is sadistic enough to provide free babysitting. Jacob did fine. I... coped.

After peeking back at him 152 times, and convincing myself that somehow he could survive an hour without me or any other immediate family members present, I headed to the Fitness Room. Formerly referred to as the Dungeon of Sweat, but then the marketing people got involved. And I met CHRISTINE, who was CUTE and PEPPY and THIN, and she wanted to let me know that the REGULAR instructor sprained her ANKLE (probably by tripping over some spare pep that was just lying around) so SHE would be LEADING the CLASS today. I explained that I'd never met the regular instructor and this was, in fact, my first time working out in three years. To give her credit, she did not respond with a snide, "Well, DUH," type comment.

And the Regime of CHRISTINE commenced. I just don't think it's natural to have that much enthusiasm for rhythmically stepping on and then off of a plastic board to the variablly-tempoed beat of Cher. She kept complaining that she had WORKED her LEGS earlier that MORNING and she OVERDID it and now she could barely MOVE - all the while hopping and bouncing and kicking and generally burning calories that she hadn't even met yet. Two other tiny little women joined the class, so at least I wasn't the only one subjected to the Regime of CHRISTINE, but I was easily as big as the other two class members combined, so while they were able to do the tricky fancy kick-steps along with CHRISTINE ("Come on, LADIES, FEEL the BURN, get more POWER, just 178 more reps and THEN we'll have some WATER!! But IF you're feeling TIRED don't be SHY about TAKING it down, that's OKAY!! I MEAN it, it's OKAY to take it DOWN!! REALLY!!! Just, come ON, LADIES, don't be WEAK, let's PUSH it FARTHER!!") I just did my best to pant along on the ground and step on my plastic board just often enough to make CHRISTINE smile benevolently at me. I felt like I was training for the Special Olympics alongside the Navy SEALS.

At the end came my very favorite part - the cool-down. By this point, I had stopped trying to move gracefully, and had allowed my arms to flop bonelessly by my side, in an effort to complete the routine without my heartrate going above 300 beats per minute. I was so pathetically grateful for the chance to sit on the floor, on a mat, that I didn't even begrudge the leg lefts and crunches that CHRISTINE imposed upon her followers.

And I was hugely amused, once I laid down on my back for the final round of crunches, to look up at the ceiling and realize that the smoke detector was positioned directly overhead. Just in case mere sweat and misery wasn't enough, and I actually burst into flames.
Saturday, May 06, 2006
"He's picking at my llama."
We have a truly lovely day yesterday. Took a nap in the morning while Jacob sat on my belly and watched Sesame Street, then got Emily at school and we went to the beach. Which was quiet and clean and had perfect sand caste sand and a big jetty for Emily to scrape her knees on - everyone was happy. Got home, no one wanted to cook (well, except for Jacob - and he just uses too much salt) so we headed to Margarita's for dinner in honor of Cinco de Mayo. Along with everyone else on the planet - but we just put our names on the list and went to a playground for a while, it worked out just fine.

As part of the Cinco de Mayo celebration, Margarita's was handing out these tiny little (EMPTY, for the love of God, WHY does everyone assume they're full of candy, they're the size of my FIST, so please just stop looking at these llamas and reaching for a baseball bat!) pinatas, and somehow we ended up with three. So on the way home came Emily's one meltdown of the day: "Jacob's picking at my llama! It's going to be all naked! I don't want the naked llama!" But she was placated by a backup llama, and all is right with the world.

And, by this morning, Emily's-now-Jacob's llama's face was completely bald. So unless you want a naked llama, too, I suggest you keep yours away from my son.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
High and Tight, and Skeptical
I took Jacob to get his hair cut today... I do it myself once in a while, but the $7 the beauty school charges is less than it would cost me to buy a decent set of clippers, so I have them do it, too. He does really, really well with it - just sits quietly and does his eyebrows-down skeptical look the whole time. With occasional pauses to point out that his cape does, indeed, have fishies.

Apparently when I showed the cute but not necessarily attentive haircutter the picture of what I wanted his hair to look like, she was briefly stricken blind. Because instead of a crazy spiky look, my son looks like he's ready to be shipping off for his first tour of duty. Ah, well. It'll grow out. And for $7, it's hard to complain.

On the way out of the school, I was teaching him the "Shave and a Haircut" song, and discovered that he makes a pretty amusing spoonerism with the "Two Bits" part. Goofball.
Okay, that was cute.
It's a little after midnight.

Jacob was just asleep, and woke up screaming. Bad-dream screaming, not bored-screaming or pain-screaming. I want in, and he was still lying down, crying into his pillow. I rubbed his back, and he stood up for a hug. We snuggled and rocked, and I wanted to put new music in his CD player. So, I asked him, "What music do you want? Blue's Clues? Dance Dance? The horsie songs?" (These mean something in his world. We don't need no stinkin' titles here.)

And he said, "No. Mama hug."

Okay. That was a little cute. I think I might keep him for that one. So he got his hug, and now he's asleep again. I just love him so much that my heart hurts.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Go Soak Your Head
I don't know if this is a confession or if it makes me a cool mom... but Emily was just sort of bored-ing around the house and Jacob's asleep and I have to type and it's pouring rain... so I suggested that she go get her galoshes and raincoat and go play in the rain.

She's delighted and about to be filthy (Willem wants to take her shopping later... ah, well, she can change), and now when she grows up and someone says, "Didn't your mother ever teach you to come in out of the rain?" the answer will be, "No."
Gracefully and Grandly, Gracefully and Grandly... except, not.
I have a really stupid embarrassing injury.

During the week, my laptop lives on the kitchen table so that I can work or play or whine as needed, and yet still keep half an eye on my short destructive housemates. So last night, I was ready for bed, got up from the computer, and somehow got my foot caught on the next chair on my way out. I stumbled, almost caught, and then with a grace and style that might have either got me into Julliard or on America's Funniest Home Videos, landed much in the manner of a cliff-diving bison being pursued by vicious hunters. I came down on my hands and knees, and just sat there on the kitchen floor for a minute, calling myself names and berating myself.

Then I got up, and my left hip - which I did not land on and didn't even realize was involved in this whole adventure any more than the rest of my parts - screamed profanities at me. Apparently I tore the muscle right at the hip joint, which, if you're considering it, I wouldn't suggest. It hurts. A lot.

This was late when it happened, 1:00ish, so I didn't dare take any sort of muscle relaxant or similar, because I've found that sedatives can beat my brain in a fight any day of the week. May Cause Drowsiness means Will Knock Kate Unconscious in an Hour and She Won't Function Until it Wears Off. Popped a couple of ibuprofen and slept flat on my back because apparently now my hip is the Supreme Dictator of All Things Physical, and the rest of the parts don't even get a token say in things like walking speed or sleeping position.


You want to know the true irony in all of this? Yesterday, I joined the Y. I think this may be a message from God telling me that overweight is the new upcoming trend.