September 29, 2014

This post had a title but then I used it as the punchline instead

This ridiculous little person is headed to her first ever day of daycare today, and for the first time since March, I'll have an uninterrupted morning in which to Do Things.

And I'll get another one next week! Three whole morning hours to myself, to squeal over and roll around in like Scrooge McDuck does in his piles of money.

The problem, of course, is that there are so many Things to Do, and the longer I've hung around in this mind of mine, the more evident it's become that - when faced with a very long menu of possible Things to Do, each Thing urgent-ish in its own peculiar way - I become paralyzed with the kind of indecision normally restricted to the sight of a display case full of many and exotic varieties of doughnut.

My strategy with Things is to pick one or two well ahead of time and spend all of my free mental energy in the hours leading up to the time in which those Things are to be done reminding myself which Things I'm going to do. You laugh, but otherwise the free hours arrive and I greet them with dithering, followed swiftly by Checking My Phone, General Tidying, Getting a Snack, and Feeling Guilty For Not Accomplishing Anything.

This is not my strategy with doughnuts, in case you were wondering.

It's 6:18AM. I have three hours and twelve minutes to decide. I feel like MacGyver in front of a bomb with a stick of gum.*

*Which, incidentally, I was going to use as the title of this post, but couldn't for obvious reasons.

September 22, 2014

Family Circles and Traffic Patterns

We were in the (stomach flu) hotel for a week.

One week.

When we came home, our house, which - if you remember, looked like this we left:

had undergone a dramatic transformation in the hands of the insurance emergency team and our friendly neighbourhood electricians, and now looked like this:

Yeah. Ask me why we agreed to check out of the hotel - the hotel, remember, that had free breakfast, a pool, electricity, and drywall...even paint - again? To save the insurance company money, I think. I dunno. I was still in shock from all the barfing.

I'm sure you can imagine what life was like as a family of five in a house with one functioning living space that wasn't a bathroom and electricians and general construction folk in and out of the muddy April weather all day, every day. 

Days: spent at Mom and Dad's house

Nights: spent watching Community on Netflix and sleeping in the dining room.

Even after the lights came on and we got access to the rest of the house, that dining room is still functioning as the centre of our house, so - naturally - the children congregate in all of the narrowest spots and generally clog up all the thoroughfares. 

And, because it's so hard to imagine how three adorable cherubs could possibly be a nuisance in a situation like ours, I've drawn you a helpful diagram of the traffic patterns, in charming Family-Circle style, except with less charm, and even less skill:

I mostly just gibber in the corner

Hold the phone, I found an expertly shot and professional-quality video that perfectly demonstrates my point (if only I had one):


Also, yesterday's Facebook post was supposed to be me making fun of the fact that I was bragging about how awesome I am, and turned out to be just plain old bragging about how awesome I am. So, since I'm into bragging about how awesome I am, I forgot to mention that I stripped wallpaper in the dining room before I did all that other stuff. I've now filled my productivity quota until approximately March, and will feel free to nap on the couch and/or drink an entire bottle of wine every afternoon until then.

September 15, 2014

The Girl Who Read (not to be confused with the girl in the green scarf)

I used to bring home stacks of books from every conceivable section in the library, twelve high, and return them a week later to check out more. I honestly listed "reading" as my one and only hobby at least seven times. I used to joke that the book store I worked at paid me in books - one came home with me at least every other shift, not to mention the ones we were allowed to borrow for "product knowledge". I wrote down every book I read in a series of little black books, and from what I can tell, I've read more books than had conversations with real live people.

(I think it probably shows)

For a while, the reading petered out. I had other stuff to do, you know? An ever-increasing number of children who need food and water and attention and stuff, a job, then a business that involved the kind of reading you can't really lose yourself in on a rainy day with a really hot coffee, not to mention a husband who likes to talk and be responded to with interest and friends and family who inexplicably enjoy my company.

The logistics have posed a bit of a problem too: this house suffers from an acute lack of book shelves, so all my book friends have been packed up in boxes in the basement for four-and-a-half years, That time I wanted to re-read Jane Eyre to prove Leslie wrong turned into a Tomb Raider style treasure hunt, complete with complicated box shifting and the danger of imminent death by crushing.

Also: except in very rare circumstances, I don't buy books I haven't read and loved, and it's hard to browse the library shelves for something good to try when a) the library is very small with a distinct - though fading - preference for Danielle Steel and b) a very small person is either attached to your leg whining to play with the computers (!) or running up and down the aisles yelling (!!).

So it's been a wee quandary, but one that's been good for me. I'm a better human, Plus, there are a lot of words that I can spell and pronounce now, so there's that.*

Lately, though, The Girl Who Read is coming out of hibernation (assisted in equal parts by a subscription to Scribd and a reduction in the number of very small people in attendance at the library), and it turns out she's rather ravenous. I'm gorging myself on some of the dystopian YA that isn't news to anyone but me, I've finally started in on the Lois McMaster Bujold I've been told numerous times that I've been meaning to get around to. There's a lot of Simon Winchester queued up, some cooking memoirs, and a bunch of C.S. Lewis, Vonnegut, and Dickens books I've never managed to get my hands on.

It's nice to be back.

*I should probably tell you the "indict" story sometime. It's good.

September 8, 2014

What To Expect

Today this boy is headed off to school. Full time. 

I know.

I don't know what to expect, really. My mom (WHO IS NOT SIXTY-TWO BUT IN FACT SIXTY-ONE AS IS MY FATHER AND SHE WOULD LIKE YOU TO KNOW THAT THANK YOU VERY MUCH) told me not to feel guilty about feeling happy about having more kids in school than out.

I don't. (Well, I sorta do, but I'm fighting it valiantly, as one does.)

I already expect a shorter walk to and from school.

I already expect more reading.

And I already expect more alone time with Lucy.

Yesterday afternoon I took Lucy for a walk in the perfect September sunshine as a sort of preview of the next two school years. She tucked her vile and filthy bunny under her sweet little toddler armpit and wandered along beside me, mostly silent, but every once in a while piping up to point out a particularly lovely cloud, or motorcycle, or to ask me if Norah died*

As we walk, I feel the need to pass some gas. So I do. We're alone on our side of the street, it's a Sunday afternoon in a tourist town in the fall...why suffer in silence?

From me: [barely audible, completely genteel] thwarp

From Lucy, with glee, as loudly as her two-year-old-lungs can manage: "TOOT! MOMMY TOOT!"

So now I know what to expect.


*My mother (who is sixty-one, remember)** picked Norah up on Friday night for a sleepover, after Oscar and Lucy were already in bed. It took them until Saturday morning - let's say eleven-ish) to notice she was gone. Oscar asked if she had died.


September 2, 2014

Pool Noodle Propitiation

I walked down that long stretch of beach again, Oscar wailing in the background where I left the kids, past the pleasant man and his pleasant son, and laid the pool noodle down beside the beach chair. She was still way out in the water, not yelling anymore, but still visibly upset, even from this distance.

As I passed the pleasant man on my way back to gather up the kids and somehow wrangle the weeping children into the van, he said, "I'm sorry, I guess I should have asked you first."

"No," I said, "it's not that. I'm sorry. I don't know what else to do."


Sorry, sorry, sorry. Should have started at the beginning, I guess.

We went to the beach. There was another family there, with - you guessed it - pool noodles. My children, as they do, stood around and gawped at them. The woman gave one to Oscar.

Oscar, as he does, asked her why her tummy was so big. She did not take it well.

The beach visit ended.


Sorry, sorry, sorry. I've been thinking about this post all week, trying to be truthy and empathetic without putting this woman down. I don't know what I would have done if some kid crossed a whole beach to me and then asked me why my skin has spots on it (which would be my most embarrassing body issue thingumy). I'd be embarrassed. I'm not sure that I'd start yelling.

To be fair, she didn't yell at Oscar. She yelled at her husband at me. I know this, because he was two feet away from her mouth, but her voice was pitched loudly enough for the fish - and me, sitting twenty feet away and well out of range of The Question - to hear.

"Did you hear what that kid said to me? He asked me why my tummy was so big! I don't look bad, do I? Why would anyone say that to me?!" Etc.

At the time, I had So Many Answers, but they all boiled down to this:

It is, and he's four. 

Inadequate, eh? Sounds kind of hippy-dippy: "my son is four and innocent and full of curiosity and he wasn't making a value judgement, everything is beautiful, I refuse to legitimize your emotional discomfort, la-la-la."

But at the opposite end of the spectrum was this answer "I'm so sorry that my son asked you why your tummy was big. It was so wrong of him and I'm going to force him to apologize, because asking why someone is bigger than you/looks different than you is BAD."

I know that Oscar wasn't using his question to shame this woman because her body was bigger than any other woman's body he'd ever seen in real life, mostly because I know how short the passageway is between his brain and his mouth - there isn't enough time for him to add any extra meaning to the things he says.

What I don't know is how to explain that it doesn't matter what he meant, it's what she heard that's important.

Giving back the pool noodle was the only thing I could think of.