Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Do hip-waders go with a brown crepe dress?
I'll be gone for the next bunch of days, and I have nooooo promises that I'll bring back any sanity or patience when I return. We're headed to NY for the weekend for Mike and Jen's wedding... just for giggles and other bodily functions, check out some websites having to do with the New York State Thruway system, flooding, and travel advisories... boy oh boy am I ever excited about THIS trip. We're leaving Thursday night, and I really really hope we get there by Sunday afternoon.

We're staying with my mother-in-law... but my sister will be there, which means mother-in-law will be on company manners. So there is hope that I won't go totally screamingly insane. A little hope, anyway. She's made an appointment on Saturday morning for "all of us" (which apparently does not include Willem but does include Jacob) to get pedicures, so my estrogen level might just spike to the point of developing a fashion sense. One can only hope.

I'll be home Monday afternoon. I bet I'll have a story or two by then.
Monday, June 26, 2006
No children were harmed in the making of this post.
But not for lack of impulse.

Yesterday afternoon I reexamined the idea that parenting is not about any one day's details, but rather the accumulation of many days and we just hope that there are more good than bad. Because yesterday was not a stellar moment for me.

It started because I refused to throw a tantrum. Emily's dance recital was scheduled for 1:00 in the afternoon, which coincides *precisely* with Jacob's naptime. We're pretty flexible with scheduling, and so I suggested to Willem, "Let's go in two cars, then you and Jacob can head home as soon as he gets tired." But Willem was sure that Jacob would be fine, he had behaved angelically during the dress rehearsal, not going to be a problem.

Right there. I could have injected a tantrum, insisted on two vehicles, and in all likelihod Murphy would have shown up to the party and exerted a Law or two, and with two cars available Jacob would have behaved perfectly and magazines would be writing us up right this very moment.

Instead, I decided I didn't want to challenge Willem's take on the situation, and we all went together in the snazzy new minivan. So starting precisely 30 seconds into Emily's performance, Jacob started to whine and squirm and generally behave like a weasel on speed. Fabulous. I had promised Emily that we would stay for the rest of the recital, so for the next hour and a half, Willem and Jacob went to get gas, on the theory that Jacob would fall asleep in the car, bought a Slushee, on the theory that naps are for babies and so let's sugar-high the kid as far away from a nap as we possbibly can, and then parked in the lot outside the school where the recital was, on the theory that we can have Jacob get used to the idea being allowed to push all of the buttons on the minivan's console at will AND that we can spill purple Slushee in Mom's new minivan, all in one fell swoop.

Fabulous. Nothing better than getting to choose between being a good spouse and a good mother. And then failing to be either.

So after the recital was alllll done (and boy, oh boy, did we ever get our $116.50's worth out of that afternoon, given all of the professionalism and choreography and happiness of the kids on stage...oh, wait, I must be thinking of another performance. That stuff didn't happen yesterday. At least Emily looked cute and enjoyed herself... I can already sense an oncoming repeat of the soccer-team incident last year, wherein she complained incessantly about it during the season and then the second it was over talked about her soccer days like she was an 80-year-old former Olympian reflecting on the glory days), we headed out to the car. I had promised Emily a dinner out on her recital day, and she chose Appleby's. Which I never choose because I find all of the meals to taste the same and then, to add insult to injury, they insist on giving my children balloons for the drive home, which I consider to be an act of anarchy and hostility. But, her choice, okee-dokee.

Except Jacob would not sit in the high chair. We had a 30-second delay between us arriving at the table and the high chair arriving, and in that time Jacob clambered up onto the bench and planted. Which would ordinarily be fine, except he was extraoridnarily tired and still jittery and weasellike, so he was climbing on things and whining and generally being one of those kids that you watch in combined irritation and fascination when they're not sitting at your table. So after a minute or 57 of standing there logicking with an almost-2-year-old, I decided to play the Mean Mom card and have us all leave.

Again... two cars would have solved this problem. It's such a burden being right so often. Or something like that.

To give Emily credit, she did not have a matching tantrum at the announcement that we had to leave. She very appropriately expressed her frustration with Jacob without freaking out. I was prouder of that than of her ability to get through a 3-minute dancce routine on stage without picking her nose.

We decided to drop Jacob and a grown-up at home and let Emily still go out to eat, and since it was her day and since I had sat through the recital with her, we let her choose Willem to take her to dinner. So Jacob and I got home and he reluctantly played with something or other in the living room - his knife collection, or our fireworks stash, maybe the plastique and bomb-making equipment, I don't remember - because I swept him out of the kitchen after he pulled the snack drawer off its track. I didn't *literally* sweep him out, in the sense that I didn't actually hit him with a broom, but I did think about a broom while I ushered.

So I made a package of pierogies and fried up some onions for them, nothing fancy, just a fast dinner to accompany the sundae I had asked Willem to bring home from Friendly's or wherever they chose. Jacob played happily in the living room until the moment that the pierogies were ready, at which point he came out to start pestering and clinging as I tried to set the table. I asked him to climb into his chair, which he can't actually do but which usually buys me the 15 seconds I need to get stuff to the table. Didn't work this time. Instead, he found one of my blind spots and stood in it, so that I tripped over him and dropped a full bowl of pierogies and onions all over the kitchen floor.

By this point, any coping skills I might once have possessed had evaporated. I scoope him up, plunked him in his chair, seat-belted him in (which I *never* do but I really really needed him not to touch me right that moment) and then had the beautiful parenting moment of scrubbing fried onions off the floor, sobbing and swearing and muttering, while Jacob sat in his chair and screamed at me, "No belt! Up! Up! No hungry!" He then shoved his plate across the table and screamed a little more. I deposited him, NOT from several yards away though again the image did present itself, into time-out, and for the first time (he's only been sent there maybe 5 times) he refused to sit there. Great idea, kiddo, let's send Mom over the edge and then push the boundaries even farther.

It was bad enough that I actually tried to call Willem to ask him to come home and keep his son alive. Of course the cell phone was left in the minivan so it was an answerless call.

Finally we both calmed down, and my dad called, so I sat on the couch and chatted with my father while Jacob climbed into my lap, sniffled and had that hitched breathing which just breaks your heart, and fell asleep. He slept for half an hour, then we woke him up because a nap at 6:00 was NOT a good idea and I didn't think he was ready to sleep through the night without eating. The rest of the evening was marginal... it was not horrible, though, so I'll take what I can get.

All of it really enforced one of my primary theories about parenting, which is that you have to love your children, but you don't have to like them all the time. I really, really didn't like Jaocb last night. I never hit him, never shook him, never boxed him up and put him on the curb with a big FREE sign. (It was raining out, I didn't think there would be enough traffic to generate sufficient interest.) But oh, do I understand how people get to that point. Kids consider their parents to be their primary source of study, so they're very, very good at pressing personalized, customized buttons meant to send me, and only me, over the edge.

I've slept on it and have backed away from that edge this morning. If my children actually have any Darwinian survival skills at all, we'll have a better day today.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
My Coolness Has Now Left the Building
Yes, indeed. It really was a burden, carrying around such a heavy load of cutting-edge coolness. So I bought a minivan and have effectively eradicated every trace of cool from myself.

But... it's a really, really nice vehicle. It's a 2005 Chrysler Town & Country, the closest to new I think I'll ever buy. Lots of cute little extras, like power driver's seat and fold-down seats in the back. (Though you have to take the kids out of their carseats before you fold down the seats. I checked.) The only option it doesn't have that I think I'll miss is one of those glass dividers between the driver and the back seats... maybe I'll have it installed aftermarket.

I'd like to state for the record that my children have been playing with this little $4.88 plastic Walmart golf set for the past 41 minutes without a single argument, squawk, or boo-boo. It's truly in the neighborhood of a miracle. I'm thinking of starting a religion.

I went dress-shopping this morning. Took Emily with me, because somehow I thought a 6-year-old's input on clothes might be helpful. "Look, Mom! Leopard print! With sequins! This is AWESOME!" I ended up buying a dress which is totally unlike anything I have ever owned or worn before, and, if I do say so myself (and, please understand, I am 40 pounds heavier than what I would consider a reasonable weight and I've never been overburdened with self-esteem) I look darn good in it. So good that I'll even post pictures after the wedding. No reason to bother doing hair and makeup and stressing about keeping it clean before then!
Thursday, June 22, 2006
If you listen real careful...
... you can hear the sound of my stomach churning and my cortisol simply soaring.


Because I'm in the process of applying for loans and shopping for a minivan. I don't even want a NEW minivan... used is just fine, especially because my short traveling companions will have it LOOKING used within 20 minutes of purchase anyway.

I have no reason to suspect this to be a painful process. It's never been horrible in the past, and it's not logical to think it will be so now.

But since when did logic apply? Ugh.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
How is it possible that I haven't complained about this?
I'm shocked and appalled at my utter and complete lack of complaint about Emily's dance studio. How could I have let this go so long without making it public? I am ashamed.

Emily decided she wanted to take dance lessons last fall, and we'd only been living in the new house for a few weeks at the time so I didn't know anything about reputations, fun-ness, steroid use, etc. So we chose a dance studio based entirely on that all-important criterion, price. This place was $35 a month while other places were $40 a month. I know, I know, cheapest is not always best... but it's a dance studio, not a pediatrician or a car dealer. I know that I do not have the next Anna Pavlova living in my house (okay, maybe Willem... but not Emily), so for lack of any other decision rules, cheap won.

It was fine through the fall and winter, though as the year progressed I did notice an alarming habit of classes starting 5, 6, 7, 10 minutes late, and letting out 5 minutes early... which is a pretty significant percentage of a 45-minute class. I let it slide. That won't happen again.

Then the year-end nonsense rolls in... to the tune of nickels and dimes and hundred-dollar bills falling at their feet. First it was a $57 costume, which she will wear onstage for a grand total of 3 minutes. That costume could be costing us $1140 an hour... but I plan on having her wear it for the entire month of July, so that'll be fine. Plus it's FUGLY. A couple years ago, my mother-in-law made a comment about how when Emily plays dress-up, she looks like a five-dollar hooker. Well, won't she be thrilled to see photos of this costume - 'cause in this thing, with stage makeup, she really DOES. Ugh.

Next came the t-shirt fee. I had to buy a $22 t-shirt if I wanted Emily to be able to join in the whole-school finale routine. "Oh, you don't have to buy it... but, if you don't, she can't join the rest of the school in the finale." Great. Nothing like a little emotional extortion to go with the no-measurable-increase-in-coordination that we've gotten from eight months of dance lessons. (Note: I am fine with Emily's non-groovin' heritage. She dances for the fun of it, and I would rather have a goofy-looking happy kid than a graceful automaton.)

Then came the recital fee. What's that, you ask? Oh, yes. On top of a monthly fee, I have to pay $18 just for the privilege of allowing Emily to dance on stage with the rest of her class. Which seems a tad ridiculous, somehow. Except, I am reassured: "But you get a free ticket to the recital with the recital fee!" Yes. That makes it ALL better.

Plus - $18 per ticket for a kindergarten dance recital? Really?

Along came the news that we could, for a limited time in May, purchase advance recital tickets at the significant discount of $15 each. BUT. I can only purchase these advance tickets if I have paid in full for both May and June, even though tuition isn't due until the 7th of the month. Now, for us, this wasn't an issue - we paid a semester at a time because it made more sense to just pay when we had the money instead of gathering cans at the side of the road and then sending the kids to Maine to redeem them for nickels because NH doesn't do refunds. But lots of the other moms weren't bubbling over with ecstasy at the demand for more money now in order to save a little. Does it seem possible that maybe if someone is interested in saving $3 on an overpriced ticket, then maybe asking them for more money now might not be met with enthusiasm and gratitude?

Then came a $4.50 prop fee so that Emily can dance in the opening routine. And the information that we couldn't POSSIBLY allow Emily to appear onstage in her regular tights, she needed to buy two new pairs for the show. $10. Isn't this FUN?

Have I forgotten to mention the $16 I had to pay for a photographer to take a group shot and an individual photo? Which I might ordinarily have forgone, but by this point I'm pretty sure that she should have a photo now just so she can remember way back when she once took dance lessons. 'Cause it's not likely to be a repeat experience.

We finally reached a point where they couldn't come up with any new excuses to charge us. Bear in mind, through all of this, the owners of the studio - that is, the kindhearted and generous despots who are coming up with these policies - are not coming in to actually discuss any of this. Instead, they're leaving it up to the 57-pound 16-year-old who answers the phones and looks cute and does not eat hamburgers to deliver the tidings of joy to the parents/check-writers of the world. So I don't even get the chance to have a good tantrum when I learn about each week's new fee.

I do plan on writing the owners a letter but I'll wait until after the recital. I don't want them Supergluing Emily's tap shoes to her face in retaliation.

Then, this past week, we got the $22 t-shirts. I unfolded Emily's, and started to explain to her how she could wear this in the finale and dance with all her -- "No, no. That's just for her to have. She's not dancing in the finale." [Blank look.] I'm sorry, apparently I've been hallucinating again. Was this not a whole-school finale? "Oh, yes. But only for the older girls, not for the youngest classes." I got some attitude about not having her routines memorized - "Didn't you realize she only learned two songs this year?" "No, see, the routine part, that's your job. My job is to prevent my son from systematically deconstructing your waiting area. Which I am now disappointed that I bothered to do." - and then a very grudging, "Well, I guess you can return it." Sure, because 6-year-olds part with new things SO easily.

We're keeping the froggin' thing, but I don't have to be happy about it.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Willem figured something out tonight. Jacob worships Emily... and Emily does, too. So that creates something called narcissister, no?

Hee hee.

In other news, my mother-in-law only called Willem twice for Father's Day this year. Which is a vast improvement over last year, when she called FIVE times. That was just a few weeks before we moved and we were screening our calls by then, and apparently answering machines don't actually, you know, answer, in her world.

Our day has been really pretty low-key and nice. I cooked a big breakfast which neither child would eat, and a big dinner (Fettucini Carbonara, a new recipe for me - wildly rich and unhealthy but goooood) and we generally overindulged. Yay fathers!

My kids really did luck out in the Daddy Department. And if we do things right, they won't ever realize how good they have it until they're grown-ups and parents themselves.
Friday, June 16, 2006
got guilt?
We have just about perfected the recipe for Kate-flavored Mommy Guilt.

First, on the first two days that I go back to work, arrange for both children to have brain transplants. Replete with tantrums, dramatics, and frusrtation... and that's just by Willem and my dad. The kids are out of control.

Next, on the third morning, wake Jacob at 6:30 in the morning and have him stand in his crib, sniffling and calling plaintively, "I want Mama, I want Mama." Not in a cranky, demanding sort of way, much heavier on the woe-is-me scale. Bring him into bed with me for half an hour and have him lie on my chest and stare at me all balefully and pathetically. Then have me head off to work.

Then, in the middle of the night after the third day, have Jacob wake up and be absolutely inconsolable. Have Willem get up with him, and then have Willem come wake me up and say, "I've tried everything, I can't get him back down." I'll grumble and head in there, Jacob will cling, like a burr but cuter, and sob whenever I try to put him down. I'll burst into tears, it'll be a mess. Then when I finally leave Jacob to cry himself to sleep, he will do so within 90 seconds.

Finally, when I come back to bed (and for this part, it would be helpful if you were my husband, because if someone else is in my bed at 4:00 in the morning it will freak me out and that will get in the way of the purity of the guilt), you could try to comfort me, but by telling me all of the reasons why I shouldn't be feeling sad and guilty, so now I get to feel guilty ABOUT feeling guilty! Hooray!

Sigh. It'll get better. It BETTER get better. Argh.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
What I Have Learned at My New Job
Coffee ain't so bad.
I don't drink it now, the whallop of caffeine is just a sure trip to Headacheville. But I'm thinking that by December, I'll be a junkie with the best of 'em, mainlining a Dunchachino while driving and talking on the phone and doing my makeup.

Everyone is named Carol.
The vast majority of the staff members at my new job are female, or at least they dress like women. And after my first-day newbie torture, in which they introduced me to every living thing in the building, I could swear that at least 90% of them are named Carol.

There is a "Power/Sleep/Hibernate" trifecta of horror on my work keyboard.
Right up where the Insert/Home/Page Up buttons go on every other keyboard I have ever used in my life, there instead are these little one-push lose-all-your-work buttons. I haven't lost any work that way yet... but I've got a tantrum all lined up for the first time I do. I just wrote myself a note to go in and change Word's Autosave freqency to every 30 seconds the next time I'm in the office.

Cool people get to use cell phones in the ER.
I would be one of those cool people.

Scrubs are not sexy.
I'm sorry. I know that doctors and nurses have to wear scrubs, though I'm not entirely sure why. But they're not sexy. This is okay! They don't need to be sexy! They just need to accept that it's not meant to BE sexy.

Tucked-in scrubs aren't sexy, either.

Crazy isn't funny. It's painful.
But never fear, I'll still have plenty, PLENTY, of humorous and/or stupid material to cull from my coworkers and the ER staff. Plenty. Like, for a start, Security Officer Don, who last week (before I started) had been officially reprimanded for being too affectionate and condescending with all of the female staff. So now he practically bends into a back arch to prevent himself from kissing us on the cheek. Richard Dawson, he ain't.
Monday, June 12, 2006
Yes, those are my children. So?
We just did a big biweekly grocery-shopping extravaganza, and apparently I picked out the cart which had previously been used to house someone's glass shards collection, because Jacob would have NOTHING to do with sitting in it. He expressed his displeasure by taking off his Thomas the Tank Engine sandals and throwing them. Way harsh, man.

So after an aisle or two, Willem and I sort of tacitly decided to stop parenting. We let both kids just run amok through the store - lots of shouting and giggling and intermittent shoe-throwing. I imagine they were incredibly annoying, and scores of harried shoppers are sitting at home right now telling their significant others, "You would not believe the two imps I saw at the store today."

But you know what? They never ran into anyone, or hurt themselves or anyone else, and no merchandise was harmed in the spazzing of these children. So... hooray for laziness. It got us through the store and we even had time for coupons.
Downsides to a May birthday
This weekend was at least 4 or 5 days long. One might think that was a good thing, except there was a marked dearth of fruity drinks in coconut shells served by muscular young men who don't speak English, and a marked overabundance of back pain and car problems.

Saturday morning, Willem and Emily were still away at their sleepover, so Jacob and I ran some errands. We fed Sue's cats, Sue having travelled again and us not having any travel plans for the foreseeable future, and then headed over to get the car inspected. Each of these required me to drive, so I didn't take much in the way of meds before I left the house... and by the time we got to the "car doctor" I was somewhat less than ecstatic. So, one might imagine, I was even less than less than ecstatic when the mechanic called me into the garage to point out, one by one, all of the big and expensive reasons why my car was not going to pass inspection.

All of my hard-earned denial about the status of my car just flew right out the window. I knew it needed work, but had been planning on just coasting it through the rest of the summer and was going to start minivan shopping in a month or so (because I am, clearly, far too cool and need a vehicle to counteract whatever coolness I might have thought about developing). Somehow I didn't think about the whole inspection thing in the midst of all this summer-planning nonsense, so I was unreasonably shocked when I figured out that I couldn't continue to drive it for those next few months. That driving-it-into-the-gound was not a future proposition, it had already happened. Argh.

If I'd have been born in, say, September, this wouldn't have happened. I'd have happily and cluelessly continued to drive my children around in my death trap and then traded it in for something that wouldn't have killed us all. (In NH, your registration/inspection cycle is determined by your birth month.) Somehow, though, I doubt that moving my birthday for a year would have gone over so well.

So, after some initial panic about, do we pay for this $500++ in repairs now or do we put that $500 toward a down payment toward a minivan now, we remembered that my dad lives here and has a driveable car and that would be a viable option to allow us not to rush out and buy the first thing we saw. The only complication was, Dad's car was in NY, at the main terminal where he works out of - he drives throughout the Northeast, but is in this one terminal most often so he brought his car there to be able to use for dinner and whatever on his time off. He had been talking about bring the car back home, but had decided to leave it there for the summer - HAH, another summer-plan shot down defenseless. So it turned out that he had a job that brought him relatively near here Sunday morning, so Willem got a phone call at 5:00 in the morning to let him know to stumble out to the road and climb on in my dad's truck, and they drove to New York to get the car.

Such fun!

THEN, after getting the car, they realized that its New York inspection had expired so they needed to get that dealt with before the car returned to New Hampshire! Such bliss! *You* try finding a place to do a state inspection on a Sunday afternoon in upstate New York... not so easy, is it? But they figured it out, and the car is home, and that's all wonderful.

Except, now I have to car-shop. Which means interacting with car salemen. Which... well, I like car salesmen better than debt collectors, at least.

Meanwhile, the kids and I met Jenny and her kids down in Boston for the Irish Connections Festival. It was a fun set-up and should have been delightful, except that I had moved from merely uncomfortable and pained to outright cranky with it. So we spent most of the time in the kids' tent, so they all had fun, which, I suppose, if someone has to not-have-fun, it's probably better that it was me than Emily or Jacob. I still whine plenty, but I do more of it in my head instead of out in the open air.

I'm just tired of being in pain. I'm tired of being afraid that any given movement will cause more pain. I'm tired of complaining about it. And I can only imagine how everyone around me feels, if I'm this tired of it, myself.
Friday, June 09, 2006
Sprinkled with Cheeseburgers
Attention, Internet predators: Jacob and I are alone in the house tonight. All alone. Just us two.

But we're not defenseless. We've got barbed wire around every available entrance, a big slobbery guard dog in each room, and a whole pailful of dirty diapers.

Willem and Emily are having one last birthday celebration for Emily - the day itself was, what, six weeks ago, but one of her gifts was tickets to a sleepover at the Museum of Science. Can you imagine anything cooler for a 6-year-old? For that matter, can you imagine anything cooler for a 29-year-old??

So I've been doing my best to have a fun evening here with Jacob. I doubt he'll remember a whole lot, but I like to think that somewhere in the recesses of his brain he's storing this up. We made a big marble maze and then played with marmles. Consonants in the middle of words are extraneous to him, and I just like saying "marmles." Go ahead, say it out loud, it's fun. I envision very small furry things, like a chinchilla.

We discussed the pros and cons of dinner for a while. We could have had cheese-stuffed pizza sprinkled with cheeseburgers, and no one would ever have known. But instead we decided on little tiny dinners and a huge ice cream sundae. We watched "America's Funniest Home Videos" and laughed like a couple of idiots, and then we brushed the cat. And when the cat got tired of us and walked away, Jacob informed me, "Kitty cat tantrum." I like him.

I had a physical for my new job on Thursday. Which was really weird to me - I can't figure out why I needed one. I'm supposed to interview clients in the emergency room, not bench-press them. I think. But fine, they required a physical and they paid for the physical, so I went. And I had one of those experiences that always weirds me out a little, wherein another person knows more about my own bodily processes than I do. Last time it happened was when I was pregnant with Jacob and had an ultrasound - and the technician remarked, "Oh, your bladder is full." Which I generally don't expect other people to know, unless maybe I'm doing the peepee dance in line outside a public restroom. Similarly, this time, I was directed to provide them with a sample (and how cool is this setup? Instead of wandering back from the bathroom to the lab with a little cup o' waste and feeling kinda icky about it, they have a little tiny two-door contraption between the bathroom and the lab, so I do my thing and leave the cup on the ledge, and then they open their door and pick it up. I don't even have to make embarrassing eye contact afterward!) - and by the time I got the rest of me back to the lab, the testing was all done and the technician told me, somewhat sternly, "Your sample was fine, but you didn't drink enough water today." I was chagrined.

The good news is, at the end of the physical, they agreed that I'm still alive. And even able to work. Hooray! I was very careful to downplay the whole agonizing-pain-in-my-back thing, and it reminded me to take a trip to BJ's to get the industrial-sized box of those stick-on heating pads. I love those.

And Vicodin. I like that stuff too.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Delivery Entrance Only
When I woke up this morning, I was actually feeling pretty good. Which might sound like a good thing, but in the bigger picture, it's not. Because my dad and I had a bunch of errands scheduled this morning, and since I was feeling comparatively no pain I got cocky. I decided it would be a good idea to (A) take no painkillers, not even Advil, and (B) take Jacob with us. Yessir, that's affectionately known as Dumb and Dumber.

We did fine on our errands, got a bunch done, but an hour or so after arriving home I was wandering my way through 31 flavors of pain and realizing that maybe an advil or three before leaving the house wouldn't have been the worst idea ever. Yee haw.

Ah, well. I came home to meds and a dinner-cookin' husband and marble-maze-playin'-with kids (there has to be a better way to word that... but this is your Kate on drugs) and a heating pad... life is better.

While we were out, I did get the giggles. In this part of the country, there are a lot of very small graveyards - 10-20 graves total, from early settlers - surrounded by whatever modern conveniences we felt the need to cram in there. Aesthetics was not the driving force behind strip mall construction, apparently. Who'd have think it?

Anyway, there's one of these little graveyards close to a gas station, and the graveyard is fenced in on three sides with a gap on the fourth side. Directly outside the gap is a big sign, "DELIVERY ENTRANCE ONLY." Ummm, yeah. Graveyards aren't known for their takeout options.

I'll take a picture tomorrow, I'm heading out that way for an appointment. It's funnier in visuals, I think...
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Toad Rage
I agree with Corey. Froggin' is my new favorite expletive.

And what happens when some multiple-personalitied individual flips out at you because he can't find a froggin' parking space? Why, toad rage, of course. What else?

I slay me.

Also in today's news, an update on the lizard situation. After deep consideration and frequent wanderings out to my driveway to peer at this brown lump on my roof (which, praise be, hasn't moved an inch), both with my own eyes and other people's eyes, and a review of a photo I took the day we moved in, intending to document the three little U-Hauls rented instead of the one big one we were promised after the horrible moving experience (the U-Haul part is in Part II, but it's all about context) but also containing the house and the roof, and some thought about fun and cute topics like rate of decay and predatory habits of neighborhood cats (which I have seen, ALIVE, on my roof... apparently it's a happening place) ... I have decided that the thing on my roof is a fake plastic lizard. Which does, admittedly, lower the storytelling value of the lizard-on-the-roof, but it also lowers the creep factor of living-in-the-house.

I will not climb onto the roof to verify this decision.

I don't want to be wrong.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Proof that "normal" doesn't exist
This is really bizarre. I mean, really. Like, Loch Ness Monster meets Bigfoot and they have a tea party with Jimmy Hoffa weird. At least to me.

Willem has the month off, having completed the spring semester and not teaching during the first summer session. (That's not the weird part.)

So he has some free time, and has been tackling a bunch of different household projects, including but not limited to finishing raking and bagging the leaves that had the audacity to fall after the town's scheduled yard waste pickup days, tying one end of a rope around a stump in the front lawn and the other end of the Jeep and creating a lot of smoke and bad words but not actually moving an inch, dealing with all of the laundry and dishes because I was so kind as to delay my back injury until after his final exams, and so on. (That's not weird either. It might be for some husbands - apparently I have done a very strange thing and married a contributing member of society, or at least the household; too many other people I hear about have husbands who only vaguely know where the sink is and coudn't run the dryer if their life depended on it.)

And today's project was to rip the gutters off the back of the house and then climb up on the roof to clean stuff out and rake out the piles of pine needles and generally spaz the kids out by climbing up on the roof. (That's not the weird part either. Though I can, in 100% pure virginal honesty swear that I would never have thought to do such a thing in a million years.)

So he was up there, poking around, and he called down to me to say, "Hey, can you hand me the camera? There's something up here, I want you to see it." So up went the camera, and down came this video.

THAT. THAT is the weird part.

Is that... yes, I think it is... it sure looks like... yeah... there's a dead lizard on my roof.

Now, let's pause and reflect for a moment, shall we? I live in New Hampshire. As in New "No Big Lizards Here" Hampshire. No woods nearby, so we aren't even overrun by salamanders or mud puppies. It's not warm enough to allow lizards or bugs to grow that big. So, okay, then, it's a pet. I can understand that, I had an iguana through college, it was fun and quirky and low-maintenance. But no one noticed it was missing? How long do we suppose it's been up there? Is there a whole colony of unusually large lizards roaming the neighborhood at night? Would it be better to refer to them as Lizards Of Unusual Size, LOUS's, in a nod to The Princess Bride? Should I be checking other people's roofs for unusual wildlife? What wildlife have I not noticed in past homes?

Some deep and unanswerable questions. And I'm left with the undeniable fact that there is a froggin' lizard on my roof.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Wicked Froggin' Awesome
I just had a very fun day. As fun as possible with a back injury which feels like someone has hooked up electrodes on either end of my spine and used a clamp at the lower end just to make sure it stays in place. Or how I imagine that would feel. But, that aside, very fun.

I had plans to meet my friend Jenny in Boston for lunch, kids-less, so I slept till 9:00, showered (she probably didn't even know to be grateful for that) and got on the road. The drive there was a tad more interesting than I expected, but only in a very brief stretch. In Lynn, just north of the city, I got to watch as the front driver's side tire shredded and fell off of a van in the northbound lane. It was pretty neat to watch, primarily because no one was hurt and it didn't involve my side of the road, and plus the sparks and swerves were pretty darn impressive. Less than a mile later, as I was still trying to decide who to call first to have an exclamation-point-filled chat about "Guess What I Just Saw!", I came around a curve in the road and was face-to-face with an SUV in my, southbound, lane, facing northward, all snuggled up to the concrete divider in the middle. I was able to swing around it, and even hydroplaned a little just to keep it exciting, and continued on my merry way. I decided to wait until after I was out of the rainy-drizzly-slippery roads portion of the day before I called anyone.

I arrived in Boston a full half-hour ahead of schedule, which just never happens in my world. I've come leaps and bounds from college, when I had my own personal time zone that was 15 minutes behind everyone else's, but the status quo is to be on time or maybe a minute early, not a half hour. I thought I might eat up a bunch of that time by searching for a parking space, but clearly the cosmos were aligned in my favor today (I had thought my chakra seemed particularly lustrous and snuggly today), because I got a space *directly* outside of the restaurant where we were meeting. Bliss! And I parallel parked just like I knew what I was doing! Ecstacy!! And it's Sunday so the meters were free! Rapture!!!

So I had half an hour to myself. I made the mistake of turning to look in the backseat and realized that my children have been traveling in a mobile disaster zone for some unknown period of time, so I took 10 minutes to scoop everything into one of two bags: Crap That Goes Back Into My House and Crap That Goes Into the Trash. Then I realized that having remembered to register the car before the end of May was all well and good, but it was even better to actually put the little stickers on the license plates. So I hopped out to apply them.

While I was standing by the rear of my car, a delightful, polished, coiffed young man pulled up alongside and said, in a calm and cultured voice, "Pardon me, ma'am, but are you about to leave?" I said, "No, I'm sorry, I just got here." At which point his Mr. Hyde medicine kicked in, and he went off on a tirade. I wouldn't feel right transcribing his tirade verbatim, as there might be impressionable children in the audience, so I'll replace a key word with "frog." Thus: "FRRROOOOOGGGGGG! You gotta be froggin' kidding me! I been driving around this frogging city for 45 frogging minutes and there's no spaces anywhere on the frogging planet! Now you're just standing around by the back of your car! FROG! What the frog am I supposed to do now?!?"

I didn't have a good answer for him, but the car which pulled up behind him and began beeping didn't serve the purpose of lightening his mood, assuming that was its intended purpose. He drove off, frogging merrily along the way. I was glad he'd been nudged along, because I honestly couldn't figure out precisely which answer I should give about what the frog he was supposed to do now.

Lunch was delightful, good company and good food and if my back hadn't been aching all the way to my ankles it would have been perfect. (Did I mention that I did see a doctor and she suspects a herniated disc? Having a semi-official diagnosis makes me feel better about whining so much.) Then we thought about going shopping, but apparently whoever controls the Boston weather can't read a calendar, because it was cold and misty and wet and slimy and as un-June-like as a day can possibly get. So we went to Borders and continued to chatter and drank hot cocoa. Though this was at the Starbucks inside the store, so calling it hot cocoa would have been far too plebian and pathetic - instead, we drank Triple Chocolate Mocha Cocoa Delights or some such.

Then on the drive home I was listening to news radio - because I am a cutting-edge musical rebel when my children are not in the car - and because I had a free hand I decided to call in for their ticket giveaway to an Irish festival next weekend, and I accidentally won. Apparently it doesn't take much to tickle me to pieces, because I literally laughed out loud after winning. Yee haw.

The remainder of the drive was characterized by ambivalence... I wanted to get home, but I wanted to stay in range of the radio station long enough for them to announce my name. It probably took them all of 5 seconds to do, but that's 5 seconds out of my allotted 15 minutes, I wanted to hear it! And, hilariously, right after they announced it (juuuuust before I drove out of range) my phone rang. It was Jenny, "Did they just say your name on the radio?" So I caught her also listening to news radio when the kids weren't in the car, but it was SO exciting to not only have my 5 seconds of fame but have a witness!

So, it looks like I'll be back in Boston again next weekend. Slainte!
Saturday, June 03, 2006
It's all about the lollipops, baby.
Emily had her last "regular" dance class this morning. She'll miss next week because she and Willem are going on a sleepover at the Museum of Science - poor kid, we never let her do anything fun - and the following week is the dress rehearsal, then the recital is the last weekend in June. Amen. I'm still irritated with the studio owners' "Let's overcharge for stupid things and make innocent 16-year-olds deliver the news so that when the parents go berzerk we don't have to deal with it" policy, which has caused me to start drafting a snotty letter to them - which I won't deliver until after the recital because I don't need them to take out my crankiness on Emily.

I already can tell that dance lessons are going to be an echo of last summer's soccer team: during the lessons, she looks miserable. She's bored, she doesn't do it as well as some of the other kids, she comes out asking what we're going to do next rather than chirping about how things went today, and generally doesn't seem like this is rocking her world. At soccer practice last summer, she told me her favorite part was sitting on the sidelines, picking flowers. But then after soccer was done, Emily talked about it with the fervency and intensity that you hear from televangelists or alien abductees. Apparently time not only heals all wounds, but also adds a certain level of bliss and surreality to them as well.

Speaking of alien abductees, I have to make a change in birth control methods fairly soon, and am being strongly encouraged to consider an IUD. Which seems like a reasonable consideration, except that the idea of a device plugged into my body makes me think of the tracking devices left behind after alien abductions. Think I should wear a metal colander for the procedure, just in case? And if I start doing wacky things like selling the children or supporting the current federal administration, be sure to point it out... often victims of mind control don't seem to realize that they've had such major alterations in personality.

Anyway, at the end of dance lessons, they hand out lollipops to the dancers and to any siblings forced to hang out in the lobby while we listen to the echoey music and random tap-tap-taps of the dancers. Jacob picked up on that right quick, and now if we try to head to dance lessons without him he files an official, formal complaint. Loudly. So he went along, and got his lollipop. Which I promptly confiscated, because we were heading immediately to Home Depot to do their monthly craft (which is free, so I love it, because it's free). He pouted a little, but he believed me when I said, "We're going to Home Depot to do the craft, and then you can have the lollipop." To which he replied, "Why-pop."
"Yep," I said, "Home Depot first, then lollipop."
"Home Depot first, though, okay?"
"Soon, baby. After the craft. At Home Depot. Can you tell me, Home Depot?"
"Hmm. How about just, Okay, Mama!"
"Okay, why-pop!"

And as soon as the little toolbox was hammered together, he got his why-pop. And life was good.
Friday, June 02, 2006
Does this mean I need to be an adult?
So, I'm employed. I have a job. I am about to be a productive member of society. And there was much rejoicing. Yay.

In case it's not glaringly obvious, I'm having a wee bit of ambivalence about this. I like being home with the kids. I like wearing sweats and t-shirts most days, I like watching Jacob figure out how world and grow and talk and beat on his sister and all the other things he does just like a real boy. I even like the power struggles with Emily (though I will deny it if you tell her so) because it's just so cool to watch her personality form and change.

But. I don't like the constant money worries. I don't like not having health insurance. I don't like the process of looking for a job. So getting an offer is a good thing, and I'll be fine with not being home all the time, once it becomes the new normal.

I just keep telling myself that.

Anyway, it's with the local community mental health center. The building is 2.7 miles from my house. So while the salary is not quite awe-inspiring - Bill Gates probably makes my annual salary in the time it takes him to wash his hands - I won't have to deal with a commute. And the kids are home with Willem for the summer, and even once the school year starts it's looking like he'll only need daycare two days a week. (He bring Jacob, not Willem. I don't know how many days of daycare Willem will need.) The schedule is good - three 12-hour days and one 4-hour staff meeting, with part of the 12-hour days at home on-call.

I'll be what's called an emergency services clinician, so basically whenever someone arrives at an emergency room or police station or similar, with some funky symptoms, I'll get called in to evaluate and decide what the next best step is - psych hospitalization, medication, return back to their political office... hah.

The good news is, I've met several of my colleagues-to-be, and they are a colorful and quirky bunch. And, even better, they are technologically illiterate, so I can blog about 'em till the cows come home. Hooray! And apparently they do like me - I had to go on *four* interviews for it, and it came down to a head-to-head between me and some faceless person, and clearly the right person won. Or something.

So, it's a mostly-good thing. Good enough, anyway.