Tuesday, July 05, 2016


A thing I never knew I'd need to know

One of my coworkers mentioned a few days ago that her four-year-old daughter had been smelling really bad lately, for no apparent reason. My coworker had tried brushing the kid's teeth more often, she was bathing her regularly, but nothing helped. As she was telling me about it, I remembered that my music teacher had told the class a story in seventh grade about her daughter putting a bean up her nose, and how no one knew until the kid's breath started to stink and no one could figure out why. My coworker took her daughter to the doctor and sure enough, she had a piece of grow capsule sponge in her nose. The more you know! So maybe now someone can google "why does my kid smell bad" and find out that said kid might have something up the nose.

A thing I finally got around to

I finally started listening to Hamilton, about forty years after everyone else. And holy shit, it's just as good as everyone says. I didn't even actively resist it, I just never got around to it and didn't know where to look for it (I don't have Prime). Then I saw this carpool karaoke video and decided I wanted to hear the rest, and I finally realized, duh, the library surely has a copy. And they do, and now I've listened to Act I three times all the way through. I need to move on to Act II, but I just keep replaying my favorites.

A thing that has been great

I've taught two of my three weeks of half-day nature camp at work for the summer and they've been so much fun. I'm so lucky that this is my job. I had a brainwave the other day, and next summer I think we're going to offer a day camp for grownups. (probably just one full day or two evenings, not a full week) My coworkers and I are already making lists of the things we want to do.

A thing that has been satisfying

We spent Saturday taking every single toy out of the kids' playroom, sorting it all, and then moving their old train table and all their Legos (previously mostly stored in Nico's room and scattered across various other surfaces in the house) in for them to share. So far this has been a huge hit - Nico popped out of bed at 6:30 a.m. Sunday and Monday and woke me up (thanks, kid) to ask if he could go downstairs to play with the Legos. I said sure, but you're not allowed to ask me for help with any of it until 8:30. Elliott asks to go in the "Lego playroom" all the time (we put up a baby gate to keep the dog out, and E can't open it on his own). They spent hours of the long weekend playing cooperatively and imaginatively in there, and it is fantastic. THIS. THIS IS WHY WE HAD TWO KIDS. I've also done a satisfying amount of decluttering, which snowballed from the outgrown toys to a leftover stash of outgrown clothes to a bunch of unused stationery to a huge box of VHS movies. I have learned that when I get on a decluttering kick I should just ride the wave as long as I can, just to see how much I can get done.

Obligatory holiday kid photo:

Reading:  (just finished) The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater and Free to Fall by Lauren Miller / (just started) Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Playing:  Hamilton, of course.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Hello! Goodbye!

In nearly a month since my last stop here, I have worked 22 out of 25 days. I am tired, but school season is OVER, HALLELUJAH.

I drove my long-term rental car for over a month. I never really loved it, though it had a few pleasing qualities (very peppy, very smooth ride, USB port to plug in my phone). Now I have my CR-V back, and I'm glad. Though I just remembered that my registration sticker came in the mail while I had my rental, which means I've been driving around with expired tags since Tuesday night. Let's go ahead and put a reminder in my phone to fix that tomorrow.

I stepped on a Lego in the dark in Nico's room last night and cut a chunk out of my foot. I am both embarrassed and outraged by this injury. It hurt to walk on it all day. I keep bright-siding myself and thinking, well, at least I didn't cut it before last weekend, but still. LEGO INJURY.

Last weekend we went down to Mammoth Cave National Park. MB and the boys and I went down on Friday night, and Laura Danger met us there Saturday morning. On Saturday we went on a two hour cave tour, had lunch, and then hiked 2 1/2 miles. It was tiring but awesome to be outdoors with some of my favorite people. On Sunday, LD and I went on the wild cave crawl and it was fantastic. We were in the cave 9 a.m. to almost 3 p.m., and they claimed we covered about six miles down there. There wasn't as much crawling as I expected, but there was more climbing and more funky obstacle / bouldering type stuff. I got stuck like a cork in one spot, due to my huge boobs. If I'd had any traction for my feet or handholds to grab, I could've made it through, and I never got scared because I could feel that they would compress enough for me to fit if I could just get myself moving, but I wasn't going anywhere until I got a little assistance. Toward the end of the tour there was a another spot as tight as that but with more wiggle room. One of the guides was sure I could make it, so I screwed up my courage and tried it. I'm so glad I did, because just having the room to wiggle-crawl my arms and legs let me shimmy through it. I hadn't been caving since high school and Laura Danger had never been, so it was a good adventure for us. Something about it was so focusing and freeing - there was no sense of time, no sense of direction, no sense of depth. I didn't think about work or my to-do list or even much about what my kids were up to...I just focused on the next obstacle and appreciated the wonder of what we were seeing and was just in the moment for a whole day of moments. It was really refreshing.

It turned out the kids were feeding kangaroos at Kentucky Down Under while I was caving, and MB actually took a few pictures. The children were reportedly VERY EXCITED, especially Nico, which is fantastic. This is a child who usually refuses to feed the giraffes at the zoo that we visit once or more every month, so feeding newly-met kangaroos is pretty huge.

Last week on Tuesday my best friend since we were five years old, the bibliophile, had a baby. I got to meet him on Saturday and then have lunch with them on Monday. He is perfect and smells delicious and I love him immensely already. I find myself wishing I could squeeze in one more visit to see him before we leave for a week away. I'm not sure I'll be able to and it's making me feel a bit bereft.

I am taking my Navigator scouts (and their parents) on a one-night camping trip tomorrow. A lot of the kids have never camped before and we are all stoked. With work eating my life lately, I haven't had a chance to make a single to-do list or pack a single bag, so tomorrow will be a bit of a mad scramble. But it's a one-night trip in a city park campground, so I'm not too worried about it.

On Sunday we leave to drive to Chicago, where we'll stay one night and a morning before driving on to St Paul. I am attending a conference Tuesday through Friday that I'm really excited about, and MB and the boys are coming along to make a vacation of it. After the conference we will probably spend the weekend in Chicago and then come back home.

Yesterday was Nico's last day of kindergarten and Elliott's last day of his first year of preschool. It went by so fast! I couldn't attend any of Nico's last day things, and I was okay with it until I saw his friend's moms posting photos of them with their wonderful teacher yesterday evening and realized I didn't get a single picture of her with Nico this year. She has been truly wonderful and I will be pretty crushed if Elliott doesn't get to be in her class in a few years.

Monday, April 25, 2016

current status

Plumb fucking tuckered out. I worked six days last week and I'll work six days this week, too. It's 11:08 PM and this is the first time my ass has hit this couch all day. There is a kid activity every single night this week, then I have a thing Saturday night. And I have a class basket to assemble for PTA and muffins to make for preschool and I'm supposed to be ripping out the carpet on the front stairs and the house is a mess. I'm trying to not be too woeful about it all because it's just the busy season at work plus typical end-of-school insanity, and a busy season at work means I'm doing my job. And I am doing my job. I am killing it lately and I don't care if it's immodest to say so. But I miss writing here. I miss watching Supernatural and tweeting at my friends about it. I miss Twitter people in general. I keep telling myself I just have to get through May and then it'll slow down. It has to eventually, right?

Reading (audiobook):  The Wrath and the Dawn by RenĂ©e Ahdieh

Playing:   the driving mix I finally figured out how to sync to my phone

Monday, March 28, 2016


A letter came in the mail a week or so ago, alerting me to the Honda airbag recall. It said hey, not to alarm you, but the airbag in your car may have a defect which can cause it to explode upon deployment, spraying you and your passengers with metal fragments and possibly killing everyone. Don't worry, though, we'll have replacement parts ready by the end of summer! My first thought was, holy shit, how many times did this have to happen before they realized the cause? Hopefully once...but probably not. And second, holy shit, I'm supposed to drive around until the end of summer just hoping we don't have an accident? I mean, sure, odds are we won't. But do I want to bet my kids' lives on those odds? No, thank you. I called the national hotline number, and got a recording instructing me to call my local dealer to arrange a rental. That sounded promising. But then when I called my local dealer, the service guy I always talk to basically blew me off. Don't worry about it, you'll get a letter later IF your car is included in the recall, and then we'll worry about fixing it. So...in the meantime I just hope for the best? Gah.

Then today a friend tweeted that she'd been offered a rental already, and I got pissed. Are rentals available or not? I called again and got the same brush-off -- letter will come IF needed, just wait and see, blah blah. Then when I asked, well, why is my friend getting a rental then...it was like a switch flipped. He was all, Oh, you want a rental? Okay. I'll set that up. So I guess I get what I wanted, but damn. Why should I have to ask? Why so much effort to get me to shut up and go away? And when he called back later to say the rental will be ready tomorrow, he said they'd run out of Honda rentals and moved on to Nissans, they'd handed out so many. SO WHY DID I HAVE TO CALL TWICE AND BASICALLY DEMAND ONE? And it's super awkward because this is the guy I have to talk to every time I schedule an oil change, so I don't want to make a big stink over it. UGH. We'll see how the rental thing turns out. I hope they don't give me some tiny car with a minuscule trunk to haul around my kids and all their crap. Or what if they give me a minivan, and I end up...liking it? The new parts are supposed to be ready by mid-April instead of the end of summer, so that's better than all summer. Probably the kids will be excited, if a little bit confused. I suspect I will miss my car.

We unknowingly drove our (possible) deathtrap car to St. Louis last Sunday for a quick trip with the kids, since our hoped-for week away in Memphis didn't pan out. It was a nice visit, and the boys had a lot of fun. We went to the Museum of Transportation and the Magic House on Sunday and the zoo on Monday. The kids loved the transportation museum. So many trains! The Magic House was so crowded that it was more stressful than fun a lot of the time for the grownups, but I think the boys had a good time. The zoo was nice, but we were tired and barely made it through half. Our hotel was right next to the Arch, and Elliott especially was enamored of it. He kept calling it something that sounded like the Arch and the C, which we couldn't figure out until he finally pointed to a photo of it and we realized all the pictures everywhere show it with the Mississippi River in front, looking quite like the ocean. The Arch in the sea! Unfortunately the Arch was closed for renovation and we couldn't actually go inside. We'll have to go back in the next year or so to check it out.

We had a pleasant if short Easter visit with family. Bubbles and an egg hunt with cousins, then dinner, then home to get to bed on time for our post-Spring-Break re-entry. I'm quite fond of holiday traditions that are just for children, things that adults do solely so that kids can have fun.

Reading:  (just finished) Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Playing:  still Led Zeppelin

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Easter baskets

It's finally the year I managed to get my Easter basket post written prior to the night before the holiday! While laying out all the stuff to take a photo last night, it occurred to me that I may have overbought yet again. Or maybe my kids just need bigger baskets.

Things each kid will receive:

three sticks of giant sidewalk chalk
six-pack of egg-shaped sidewalk chalk
four-pack of multi-color chalk sticks (they REALLY like sidewalk chalk and their stash from last year is looking pretty sad)

a set of dinosaur bone sand molds
a Hape sand brick set (SO CUTE)
a Lightning McQueen trowel
two strawberry grow kits and one sunflower grow kit

a Chuggington train (These would typically be a splurge, but I found two they didn't have yet on clearance for $2.98 each at Toys R Us last week and snuck them past Nico.)
a Lego-knockoff race car (got these in the Easter aisle at Walmart)
a metal kazoo
a pair of Easter socks

three Hershey bunnies (they like Hershey bars but I wasn't ready to commit to a huge chocolate rabbit)
a four-pack of Peeps
(I'm also planning to pick up single-sized cartons of color Goldfish)

I thought I was going to give Elliott a camping lantern and a train-themed garden gloves and apron set (Nico already has both), but then I realized I don't really have anything larger for Nico. I might decide that the window nest box is Nico's big item, though it would go on their shared playroom window. The Minion ball for the pool and kickball for the backyard will definitely be presented as shared gifts.

If you have an Easter basket post, please link me in the comments...I love seeing what everyone else has planned!

Sunday, February 28, 2016


As of Thursday, Elliott is three, an age I both love and find immensely challenging. I probably don't have to go into why three is hard. Why everyone I know warns parents of younger children, "I know everyone says two is bad, but I'm really sorry...two's got nothing on three." (And not even in an assholey "just you wait!" kind of way; seriously in an "I'm so sorry this wasn't in the brochure" way.) Why I was invited this week to join a text message support-group of fellow Twitter moms with three-year-olds. Starting with a child who is already opinionated, stubborn, and really good at over-it side-eye, I suspect the next year will be an education. But three is also SO GREAT. It's the age at which I really feel they start to become little people in their own right. There's still a little bit of baby for nostalgia's sake, but mostly they are starting to express their own personality, their own quirks and gifts. Elliott has started to tell me about things he remembers; he knows how (and mostly when) to be funny on purpose; he's musical; he's physically coordinated; he kills at Wii bowling. As wistful as I am for the days of tiny snuggly babies, I'm eager to see where these boys will lead me as they grow and change.

I took the day off for Elliott's birthday, and we had lunch with Nico at school. Elliott could not believe his luck - eating lunch in a cafeteria booth with beloved Bruvver and his friends, plus running wild in the gym with 85 big kids during recess? Greatest day ever. We had his family party yesterday and it was so nice. E was excited about his cake, excited to play with his cousins, excited to open his presents. He got really great gifts, too...things that are cool and he'll use and play with plenty. Fun recommendations for a three-year-old who likes Space, trains, music, and playing outside (the interests I listed on his party invitation): a Moon in My Room, a really cool view master / telescope, binoculars, a bug viewing jar, a little battery-operated train, a Raffi CD, and his own ukulele. Nico just started ukulele lessons and when Elliott opened his he shouted "A ukuwewe!" and promptly used it to accompany an enthusiastic if off-key rendition of the ABCs. Day made. It really was a great day.

Today was a beautiful sunny 68 degrees, we had nothing on the calendar, and the house was still clean, so we spent the afternoon at the zoo and then went out for one of the most pleasant restaurant dinners we've had probably ever. If this is how the good days of three are going to be, then I can definitely weather the challenging days...it seems like a fair trade.

Elliott has started requesting his backpack and lunchbox in the morning, just like Nico. On this morning, once the backpack was on he announced "I'm a big boy!" and marched proudly out the door. In the car, Nico said something complimentary about Elliott being a big boy, and Elliott replied, "I'm not big. I took it off." So apparently the backpack is the key to bigness.

This photo was taken about thirty minutes after he threw an absolute barn-burner of tantrum over putting on that sweatshirt so we could go fetch Nico from school. Have mercy. On the bright side, I have discovered I can remain very calm while physically pinning a screaming, thrashing preschooler to my chest and installing him in a hoodie or coat. Also he still looks very sweet when he sleeps.

Reading:  To Kill a Mockingbird

Playing:  Led Zeppelin. This week Elliott started to sing along to Black Dog, and I'm very proud.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

There are no good song lyrics to use as titles for hodgepodge posts written in the month of February.

MB recently taught the boys how to play Wii bowling, and all of a sudden Elliott is really good at it. Like, beating us without us even trying to let him win. Like, absolutely owning us. We played two games after dinner last night. He bowled 207 the first time and 172 the second. Watching his technique, it seems like it must be dumb luck, except how does luck account for annihilating TWO adults who are actually trying to win? Anyway, I find the whole thing hilarious and awesome and wish we'd recorded the entire first game of the night. He ended it by rolling four strikes in a row, and probably could've become an internet sensation.

(I feel obligated to state that he only does that bratty foot-stomp over missing one pin because he had just seen his brother do it a few minutes before. He usually is pretty unbothered by his rare not-great frames.)

I ended up testing my fancy winter leggings last weekend and I fully endorse them. My family had a graveside service for my great-aunt who died back in December and was cremated, and the day dawned a beautiful sunny eight degrees. My hands were cold and my face was cold, but my legs were just fine. Best ten dollar winter investment ever.

A friend shared this on facebook a week or two ago, and my instant reaction was a skeptical smirk. I had just listened to the original the night before and would have possibly bet money there was no way the Disturbed guy could do it justice. Then I played the video and took it all back. It's really beautiful.

Cuties have ruined me for all other oranges. Someone gave me some pink Cara Cara oranges for Elliott, and peeling them is such a pain in the ass. So much rind under my thumbnail! So much pith all over the place! Sloppy wedges that don't split neatly apart! I do realize this is a really stupid first-world problem.

I spent the morning today doing the things one does around the house that no one else will EVER notice or appreciate, but that nevertheless need to be done. I pulled outgrown pants and shirts out of both kids' dressers, changed the sheets on all the beds, refilled the soap dispensers in both bathrooms and the kitchen, and other mundane and unremarkable things. I wish I could remember where I first heard the term "invisible work" for these kinds of tasks, because it is the most apt description imaginable.

Reading (audiobook):  Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J Ryan Stradal

Playing:   a lot of repeats of that Sounds of Silence cover