Thursday, February 23, 2006

Memo: Schedule Changes, Effective NOW

Life has been moving pretty quick lately. My days look a little like this:

6:00 am: Up. (bleary but functional) Main-line caffeine.

6:50 am: Leave for work.

6:50 to 7:45: Sit in heavy traffic. Listen to NPR. Think to self: Wow! World News! Hey, Cheney SHOT somebody? Really?

7:45 am: Begin working. RUN from various locations and tasks, from people management to problem solving to simple cleaning and sorting.

10:00 am: Realize Ribh must be hungry and I need to pump NOW, before large wet milk stains mark the front of my uniform and fail to impress my new co-workers.

2:45 pm: Wonder when lunch passed me by. Snarf down lunch at desk while reading a full inbox of work email that accumulated whilst I was tearing about.

4:32 pm: Realize I was supposed to have left work over 15 minutes ago in order to get home in time to relieve my child care provider.

4:35-5:30: Sit in traffic. Listen to same news stories repeated. Huh. Still baffled by the Cheney shooting thing. When did this happen exactly? For real? Oh, and the Olympics. Interesting. Sacha Cohen blew it. Shucks.

5:30 pm: Get tackled at the front door by Gabe who wraps his arms and legs around my leg, rendering me shackled and crippled as I enter the house. Ribh crawls quickly to my feet (not quite walking yet, the little monkey) and immediately begins mewling to be picked up. Quin is busy putting some babies to sleep and doesn't even notice I'm back. Ribh is now pulling my shirt up and patting my breasts while whining. At least SHE missed me/my boobs.

5:40-8:25: Clean up clutter, mail, laundry, think about making dinner, write bills, dishes, feed children, break up squabbles, water plants, begin dinner, administer time-outs, baths and nurse Ribh all while in the three pointed monkey death grip of at least one child at all times.

8:26: Start telling the kids to look for Papa's car. Papa is coming home! Papa! Papa!

8:34: Hooray! Papa is here! Tag! He's IT!

8:45: Watch TV while Hubby reads 16 books and puts the big kids to bed. Snuggle with my babe. Sigh. Smile. Eat popcorn for dinner.

9:15: Tell Hubby where to find his half-made dinner. Exchange first physical contact of the day with Hubby. (Smooches, I mean. Jeesh people, don't get dirty now. Remember what I have been through all day. This not a sexy encounter. Just nice to see my sweetie and actually get a hug and a kiss.)

9:30-10:30: Watch TV with Hubby. Nurse Ribh to sleep. Drift off with the TV still on.

12:06:Ribh, who has had little interest in my painstakingly expressed bottles of milk, is now as hungry as the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal and wants to make up for lost time.

1:24: Nurse on other side. Consider putting a towel over my head. (See link above if this confuses you.)

2:39: Switch sides. Think about work. Fall back asleep. Dream about work.

3:47: SWITCH! Realize the horror of your dream about work.

4:56: SWITCH even though breast are now shriveled like prunes. It's the only way to keep her asleep.

5:07: Think about work, even though baby has fallen back asleep. Remind self that I could sleep for a whole 'nother 45 minutes or so. Give up. Get up. Make Hubby wake up and move into my freshly vacated but ultimately necessary "Warm Body" position so that The Babe will stay asleep.

6:00: Throw together a lunch, so I will have something to eat at my desk. Locate breast pump. Find more bottles. Look for up-to-date photos of the kids to bring to work.

6:22: Leave early. MUCH less traffic. World News on NPR. Have time to stop at Dunkin' Donuts for coffee. Sigh. Smile. I guess I'll be getting up a little earlier from now on. If anyone wants to actually speak to me, call my cell between 6:20 and 7:00 am.

I'm tellin' ya, it's a whole new world.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Knatty Soldiers

My final task this week in getting Banana and Honey Girl ready to go home to Wisconsin was to dread Banana's hair. Yes, DREAD it, as in Bob Marley, Rasta, beatnik (does anyone still say that?), super granola Dreadlocks.

I personally think the dreadlocks are a great idea. Banana is a funky and creative stay-at-home mom who is launching her own business making the world's cutest soft-soled baby shoes and she is therefore able to do any damn thing she wants with her personal appearance. I would consider it myself if it were not for my need to present a conventionally professional appearance. My oh-so-cutting-edge nose ring is enough of a kick in the teeth for the corporate world I am about to rejoin. It will go so well with my new smock inspired UNIFORM! (I KNOW! Freak out! A smock-like UNIFORM! At least it will forestall any morning closet angst.)

Producing dreads is a 57 step procedure which involves special shampoos and rubber bands and salty spray and strange powders and basically shredding and matting the hair until it gives up and forms formerly silky hair into a perfect tube of snarls and split ends. And then you have to let them MATURE. Like teenagers. This is tedious business. (Like teenagers.) This also involves spending 10 to 20 minutes on each section of hair, all but pulling the hair out by the roots while back-combing ferociously and spraying chemical about to aid the process. The process is so painful that the instructions at dreadheadhq specifically state:

This does involve some pain. - So What? Are ya gunna squirt some? Are ya? Sniffle sniffle. Do you wanna wear the daddy pants? Do ya?-- Take it like a knatty soldier. You're gunna have plenty of phatty dreadlocks baby!

The process is especially arduous when trying to keep a three year old, an 18 month old, and a one year old out of your way whilst simultaneously keeping them from making each other scream every ten minutes. Which is frankly NOT POSSIBLE. It worked best when all three girls were asleep, but that didn't happen often. So each tediously painful dread was worked with a child hanging from one of our breasts and much cursing and interruption. If anyone got pissy (BANANA), the other would quickly counter with: "What? Are ya gonna squirt? Are ya?" And so we persevered on through THREE DAYS of said activity.

Here's the photographic evidence:

The Before Picture (Notice how thrilled Banana is looking.)

Sectioned off, but no dreads formed yet. Banana is still quite chipper.

Working the final dread, just hours before Banana's flight. Banana smiles while clutching a pillow for support.
After: Banana grins while the blood trickles down the back of her neck.

After: Rear view (we wiped up the blood.)

And then I loaded Banana and Honey Girl into the minivan and drove them off to the airport for their nightmarish journey home. The month of sisterly hanging out ended quite abruptly. And now they've been gone a few days and my house is clean again. But soo quiet. And lonely.

I'm gonna squirt.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Switched at Birth

Imagine our dismay when our friend Mike came to vist from out of town and we discovered that his long lost twin brother was lurking in our toy chest ALL THIS TIME!

Exhibit A: Mike

Exhibit B: Papa Happy Family

Creepy, isn't it!

Dopplegangers reunited.

Who do you look like?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Blue Smiley Blues

Yesterday, Gabe came home from school with a "blue smiley face".

This might sound like a (generally) good thing, but it's NOT! Each day all the children in Gabe's (kindergarten) classroom begin the day with a star with their name on it on a Green Board. The Green Board represents perfect behavior, a clean slate, innocent until proven guilty and all that tripe. If a child misbehaves, the child is asked to get up and move their star from Green to a Blue Board. Eventually, they can be further downgraded to a Yellow and then a Red state (plus an expense paid trip to the Principal's office. Oooooh!). It's color coded criminal justice.

The kids are send home with a chart with a smiley face colored in marker representing "their day" (As if behavior is the only important marker of how their day went. What about academics, socialization, attitude, etc.? But, I also DO appreciate the behavioral feedback. So I can't gripe too much.) Gabe has only had a Yellow once. It was a frowning face rather than a smiling face. I think it was during his first week of school.

Gabe was doing really well after he settled into the school routine. Initially, he was having lots of blue faces for "not following directions" which meant (according to my phone conference with his teacher) that he was frequently thinking that he could negotiate behavior with his teacher, by ignoring her instructions. He would argue that he didn't like her instructions and so on. She finally convinced him that she was the teacher and he was the kid and that he just plain had to function within those parameters.

(Gosh! I am so torn on this one: I totally get that he has to be able to FUNCTION in a setting in which someone has authority over him. The world is like that. Sometimes authority is a good thing, or at least a necessary evil. But I hate the argument that you must obey " just because" someone is in a position of authority over you. I will NEVER say "because I'm the Mama and I say so". BUT sometimes I really need him to just obey because I am juggling more things than he can be cognizant of at his age. I want him to obey ME and his teacher and his Papa but not to just blindly follow ALL authority just because they are AUTHORITY. We will have to work on debriefing this notion of blind authority as he gets older and can better handle the complicated reasoning and rules. Aargh.)

Anyway. Now he gets Blue smilies for infractions such as "not being quiet" and "knocking down Maddie's blocks". (I wonder where he gets the excessive talking from?)

Yesterday the infraction was: "Playing in the bathroom". When I questioned him about it he said that he didn't know he wasn't allowed to play in the bathroom because "never in his whole life" had anyone told him he couldn't. I wasn't sure what to make of this but I still decided to enforce the new punishment we had agreed upon for a Blue smiley: No computer, no TV, no friends over to play for that day.

Secretly, I was more afraid of this punishment than Gabe was. I figured he would follow me around forlornly begging for TV or other entertainment. Hubby doesn't get home until after 8:30 most nights and the (long, long) hours between 5:00 and 8:45 are often filled with TV babysitting while I make dinner, clean up the house, nurse the baby, and attend to all the other mundane but critical details of family life. This punishment meant I was facing a whole evening with no respite from his five-year-old demands.

But, he surprised me. He played with Play-Doh for over two hours! He destroyed his bedroom playing dress up and digging out toys that have been buried in toy rubble since just after their post-Christmas gluttonous discarding. He, in essence, kept himself cheerful and occupied all afternoon and evening! I totally underestimated him.

So, now I am going to need to seriously reconsider my use of television to occupy the kids. When I start working, evenings are going to be even more hectic, but it will be even more important that I use that time to connect with the kids. I think I better think it out again.

Monday, February 06, 2006

And Now I Shall Taunt You a Second Time

For Those Dying To Know: Yes. I am now gainfully employed. I got the job.

I will begin working (full time, mind you) in just two weeks.

Eeep! (more on this later)

I cannot, however, tell you much of anything about my job. My employers know I have a blog and have expressly (and kindly) informed me that I am NOT allowed to blog about my job. Duh.

To be honest, I could probably tell you what my new job title is (beside the honorary: She Who Is All Knowing and Excessively Cute To Boot), but I am going to err on the side of caution and just say that I will be in a supervisory role within an institution of higher learning. But I am not teaching. I will be using the skills my children have helped me hone over the past six years and I can't wait to put someone into time out. God help 'em!

So, call me if this is not enough detailed information for you. If you don't have my don't really need to know.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Better Than D'oh

I'm going for a job interview this morning. I have not yet ventured into the closet for the humiliating Dance of Doom with my myriad wardrobe pieces that don't quite fit right. FUN!

The Nursing Strike has waned, with only brief interludes of crying, picketing and so on. Poor baby now has a nasty cough which wakes her (and me and Hubby) about every half hour all night long. Then occasionally she will cough so hard it causes her to vomit into my snuggly bed. Yummy!

In happier news, Banana Girl has invented a new mommy catchphrase which exactly sums up the frustration bordering on violence moms feel toward their offspring on occasion (Yes! We all feel this way sometimes! It's okay. It is the hallmark of a real Mama. Just own it and move on.)

Honey Girl: "Mama? Agua? Mama! Mama! Mama! Agua!" (While forcing a Dora sippy cup upon Banana for no discernible reason whilst Banana is fully in the throes of an early morning "Dammit, I Really didn't Feel Like Getting Up Yet, Much Less Have You Dribble Water All Over My Pajamas" moment.)

Banana Girl: "Child! I want to squish your brains!" (with squeezing hand gesture)

Me: Bwaa Ha ha ha ha!

Try it! It feels good! It is on point emotionally without having the realistic possibilities of other common threats (I could just choke you etc...). In fact, it is just silly enough to snap a mommy back to reality and help her see how ludicrous her epic battle of reasoning with toddlers can be. So, give in, throw out a fabulous but impossible threat and get on with your day.

I'm Going To Squeeze Your Brains!

I'm telling you, it's sweeping the nation!