Monday, March 27, 2023

No business like snow business

 Saturday! We got like 14 inches of snow. 

WHAT. WHY?  (Don’t answer that. The answer is obviously climate change).

I went outside to help Jack shovel the bottom of the driveway so we could move the cars and access the snowblower while Harry slept like a prince and Coop went down the street to shovel for friends on vacay. 

Dorothy joined us and said, “Oh! Mom! Is this your first time shoveling snow, too?”

Knee-jerk me was like, “OMG Dorothy! THIS is why cis whites women are such problematic feminist allies for BIPOC— THE PATRIARCHY WORKS FOR US, especially if we are conventionally attractive, which is a whole other can of problems.”

Seriously, you guys. Blurts like these are how I told Harry about sex at the mall.

But! We had a great conversation about imperialist white supremacist heteronormative capitalist patriarchy and cleared the driveways.

(And really. I did not get married to shovel my own snow, Faustian bargains and all that).

Friday, March 24, 2023

5 on a Friday: Whole Lotta Whine

 1. I am starting to think that some of the things on my 23 for 23 list are things I actually DO NOT WANT to do. You know? Like, the water park thing. Punted AGAIN. I think we are going to a lower key water park with some of the kids next week, but that remains to be seen.

2. Something I adore that’s making my nail goal easier, though, is THIS cuticle balm. Smells great and is fun to rub in. Also is $7.

3. I stopped tracking my spending. I think I need an app. Or something I am actively saving toward. Otherwise, I am just noting how much we spend at the grocery store. Besides the fact that we are about $30 from the same total every week no matter where we shop or what’s on the menu, I gleaned no insights.

4. I also have abandoned the dance parties. Hated them, and Dorothy mocked my technique.

5. I have the spring break blahs. Facebook is pelting me with memories of all of our fun spring breaks from years past, and this year my break and the kids’ break did not align. We planned to go on a college tour road tip next week for their break (around my class schedule), but then Ben’s calendar filled with meetings he can’t cancel, and Harry has tennis try-outs all week. AND the boys have their state speech tourney next weekend. **Sad trombone** PLUS IT IS GOING TO SNOW HERE. Hate that for me. I could really use a trashy beach or a museum or a national park about now. MAYBE SOME PANDAS for good measure. THE GRANDPARENTS. SOMETHING.

See you next week. Which will be like this week. Only with snow. And no public school child care.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Notes on solo parenting 5 kids through a spouse’s covid isolation

 1. It sucks.

2. Like, a lot. Because not only was I doing all of the things ALONE, but, also, I was WORRIED about Ben, about Minnie and Cooper (who were with him all day Saturday), about the rest of us, etc etc etc.

3. I did not change any sheets— except Ben’s and mine this morning, after 5 days of isolation and 3 days of negative tests. HOORAY! I also washed the duvet covers (boooooo) and all the bathroom linens and bleached the bathroom so aggressively I might have ruined the countertops and the cabinet finishes. OH WELL. 

4. I might be too old to share a kid bathroom and sleep on the couch for 5 nights. SO HAPPY to move back to my bedroom and bathroom TODAY.

5. I am really proud of myself for getting everyone where they needed to go and keeping to all of our routines. I even cooked dinner every night. And! I meal planned HILARIOUSLY badly when you consider that someone was eating meals IN BED. We had spaghetti one night, meatball subs another. Ben was like “Phew, thank goodness I am out for taco night because loose meat sounded MESSY.” 

6. I was very happy with my inexpensive moisturizers both at night and in the morning. But the only moisturizing product I grabbed when I switched bathrooms was a Lancôme Renergie small-size that was in my Christmas Lancôme kit. AND MY SKIN LOOKS GORGEOUS. I have been using it morning and night even though it has sunscreen, and I think I am hitting Macy’s on my way to work to buy a bigger version of the day cream and a Renergie night cream. Seriously. MY SKIN LOOKS SO GOOD even though I have slept terribly.

7. Now that I have a spouse up and about again, every single thing in my life seems easier because there is another pair of hands. Definitely wearing my rose-colored glasses today.

8. I am proud of myself like I said in #5, BUT. Many things slid through cracks. More than once, for example, Minnie ate a meal on a towel on the floor of the UW pool while Coop had practice. Also, she peed all the way through her pull up and clothes more than once. Dorothy has forgotten to wear her retainer to school most days, and Harry and Jack fell behind turning in work at school because I just didn’t nag them quite as often. A lot happens around here!

Floor food:

But look! We made swim lessons AND our TLG class and coffee:

Harry manned the Little League draft in Ben’s stead after MUCH PREPARATION and a 5-page draft plan

Cooper went through many applesauces trying to swallow a whole pouch in one mouthful. Made it. He’s going to be a legend in his fraternity.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Clueless Dance Mom

 Can I just say that I do not know how to be a good dance mom?

Like, actually, in the MOM sense, I think I am a great dance mom because I do not know enough about the world of competitive dance to, like, care, um, AT ALL about the outcome at competitions. So, as a result, Dorothy and I just have a ton of fun gawking at people, genuinely enjoying watching dance, and hanging out with dance friends. We laugh while she's getting dressed at the absurd crush of bodies, million dollar dance bags with hanging racks, and pop up tents crowded in the high school gyms or hotel ballroom that are renamed "DRESSING ROOM" even though they have no mirrors or places to sit. We have so much fun with fake eye lashes and dark red lip stain and complex pony tails (DID YOU KNOW THAT A PONYTAIL CAN BE COMPLEX?), and we both love to see her all dressed up. 

Her studio absolutely DOES NOT pick sexy costumes, especially for the 12 and under crowd. Even the older girls, who wear much skimpier clothes, are dressed in SPORTY hip hop costumes with VERY EXPENSIVE shoes or in just CLASSIC jazz costumes-- you know the kind-- lovely leotards, restrained sequins, maybe even some fun feathers. Dorothy is in a huge group hip hop number where everyone wears high-necked red leotards and really awesome red pleather joggers with black Air Force Ones. She is in a darling musical theater number where they wear knee-length polka-dotted red and white rompers with their jazz shoes, and she is in another hip hop routine where they wear really baggy jogging suits and white Air Force Ones. All ADORABLE and age appropriate for sure. I would actually like her jogging suit to be less baggy. But then I am, like, horrified with myself for giving any thought to the fit of her costume because WHY DO I CARE?

Other studios, though, have no such compunction, and you would not BELIEVE what some of those kiddos wear. Five year olds in sparkle bras and high waisted bikini bottoms cut high in the back. WHY? Kindergarteners in false eye lashes?? It is VERY Toddlers and Tiaras in the dance world. 

Other parents are Very Into Dance in a way that I will probably never be because what is the point? Like, isn’t it for fun?

I will say it is INCREDIBLY EXPENSIVE, and I say this as someone who generally doesn’t pay attention to money, so maybe people want a ROI?

You should see me at awards (there are so many awards ceremonies throughout the day, and they seem very arbitrary to me, but there must be categories?) because I have NO IDEA what my kid might even be up for. Like, I am standing there with my supportive mom smile rooting— but for what? I don’t have a good sense of the possible. Maybe that’s why I feel disengaged from the action? For the competition last weekend, I actually went to the organization website and read the rules, but I don’t quite get it still? Anyone a former dancer or a dance mom who has insights for me?

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Ben has the vid AGAIN.

 Ben texted me this photo on Saturday morning when Dorothy and I were at the Kalihari “resort” (LOL) in the WI Dells at her SHOWSTOPPER regional dance competition:

And then my head exploded.

WHAT SHOULD I DO? Stay? Go home? What about Minnie and Cooper? Who will take care of them?

My friend was like, well who cares that you have a sick husband this place is teeming with disgusting, so don’t feel like you have to leave. This was reassuring and SO not how it would have gone down a year ago. We would have rushed home immediately because CLOSE CONTACT. 

Ben assured me that he was ok, was already on the horn with his doc for Paxlovid, and could have Cooper take care of Minnie while he wore a mask and supervised from his spot far away and near an open window. This sounded shady to me, and I wished the big kids were not on an overnight speech trip (but I was also glad they were gone and not exposed because CONTAINMENT MY GOD PLEASE LET US CONTAIN THIS.)

Ben takes Covid tests every time he sneezes, so he feels like he caught it early? CROSS ALL OF THE THINGS.

Ok. So.

He has been sequestered in our room since Saturday evening when the big kids got home (Dorothy and I were gone until almost 10pm and absolutely NO HELP on Saturday).

Meanwhile, I am sleeping on the living room couch and sharing a bathroom with Minnie, Dorothy, and Cooper. I bought ALL OF THE COVID TESTS, and we are keeping close tabs on everyone (while Ben takes like 3 tests a day hoping for a negative because he is bored and has already binged 3 shows and is sick of alone time which CRY ME A GD RIVER).

We had a slight hiccup when Harry spiked a low-grade night fever and felt yucky on Sunday. He tested negative Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, but he stayed home from school on Monday and stayed in his room. This meant JACK had to also sleep on a couch. Also! Since jack and Harry traveled and roomed together over the weekend, I made Jack mask in common areas all day Sunday— he was less than happy.

As fun as it was to make food and carry food and clean up food at the beck and text of two patients on two different floors, it was also lovely to send Harry back to school today. (He was fever-free for 24 hours before he went back— I may have stayed in the Dells as a close contact, but I am not a total scumbag).

(Note: I have been annoyed with him for doing poorly on his AP US history reading quizzes this semester because JUST READ THE BOOK AND ANSWER THE QUESTIONS, but then I looked at his postwar America containment and baby boom through women’s lib quiz yesterday, and it was SO HARD. Like, I am teaching the Cold War right now, teach an entire class on US feminist social movements, and studied the baby boom for a chapter of my dissertation, and IT WAS REALLY HARD. They have to read and retain the textbook information and then read new primary source texts and make inferences. Still, it is entirely possible to ace these quizzes (or at least hopefully get a B) if you have someone reminding you to keep working and not just pick a pattern of multiple choice answers.)

SO. I am parenting ALL OF THE CHILDREN and administering a HUGE exam at work and am just covered up in grading for the special term online class I am teaching for an overage and for my adjunct online sections at the career college I adore and OMGGGGGGGGG. Ben keeps wanting to come out of his sick hole and hang out and I am like dude this whole week is a bust for me. I cannot lose another week to being sick myself. EVEN THOUGH I AM ALSO LONELY.

Thank goodness for anti-virals and vaccines— this pandemic is scary, even 3 years in, and I acknowledge our enormous privilege. I don’t want to get sick, and I really, really, really don’t want to see any of the kids get sick. So much medical theater, drama, and fear of the unknown with this virus still.

Minnie had her 2.5-year check up (MORE ON THAT LATER) yesterday and got her bivalent booster, so that’s good, at least **shrug**
35 pounds, 37.5 inches, all vaxxed up and nowhere to go.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Dance Mom Practice

 Oh, that?

That’s Dorothy’s dance bag (that is actually just a duffel bag we already had because I am not ready to shell out for one of these because OMG that’s pricey) packed with her stuff and plus also stuff to entertain Minnie for hours on end because last Sunday? Was Dorothy’s studio’s team dress rehearsal. It’s a 10-hour event where every single competition routine performs full out at a local high school. Packed dressing rooms! Quick costume changes! Cool lights! Notes from a panel of teachers! It’s intense. AND NOT TODDLER FRIENDLY. WHO KNEW? (Me. I knew. But I had no choice. Coop had a dive meet, and, as we have discussed, Minnie is NOT a silent audience member. Luckily, she could be as loud as she wanted to be at dance because the music was always already louder.)

I spent a LOT of time following her up and down these stairs.

The team is encouraged to stay all day and watch all the dances, but I am a reluctant joiner and honestly would have bailed early EXCEPT Dorothy had the first dance of the morning, the dance right before lunch, and the penultimate dance of the day.

Speaking of lunch! Minnie ate hers before 11 am.
How cute is this? Dorothy is the teeny blond with her hands on her hips.
After Minnie ate and we did her hair along with Dorothy’s and she played in the bathroom slamming stall doors as hard as she could and dodging them when they popped open in her face, she was supper bored and wanted to go home and watch tv.
Luckily, Coop made quick work of his 1 meter competition, placing third in the junior Olympic level, and they sped home from Milwaukee to pick up Minnie. Curbside, even. (He won 3 meter at the novice level on Saturday).
JUST IN TIME for Dorothy to dress like Tony Soprano and do another dance through her seething red cloud of hanger.

After lunch, with a 3-hour break for Dorothy and no Minnie, was the best part of my day. Dorothy perched on the end of the stage with her friends and watched the older girls dance, and I sat in the audience reading and occasionally getting sucked into a dance.

We had plenty of time to do her hair and makeup for her last number (musical theater and darling)

I did not take any pictures of musical theater because Dorothy’s hand started bleeding, and it took me WAY TOO LONG to realize that I should go help her. The studio owner took her to the bathroom, and I caught up with them, but I had no supplies because I was wearing a fanny pack (it was international fanny pack day) (I wore it cross-body), and that’s what I said when I got to the bathroom. Dorothy and her teacher both looked at me like what the what, which, honestly is what I deserve. “Sorry it took me so long. It’s international fanny pack day.” WHAT.

Cute costume, though:

So. She has a competition this weekend. And I have to drive home in the dark. I am a huge wimpy baby about driving at night and about driving far away from my town. Wish us luck!

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Bday recap

 I HAVE EATEN SO MUCH CAKE this week. Ben’s. Dorothy’s. And do not even forget PI DAY and Dorothy’s breakfast pastries. Plus! We went out for greasy bar food for both birthdays AND Dorothy wanted Shake Shack for her birthday lunch. SO MUCH JUNK. (Tonight I am making chicken gyros and a big salad because OMG I need vegetables and things that are not fried).

Ben loved his gifts

Minnie was a big candle helper
And she is a big fan of the right-before-bedtime cake situation.
On Pi Day, Ben got the other part of his bday gift (shoes that came late— oops— and): tickets to the NIT Bradley/UW game for him, the boys, and his college bestie.

They were out LATE, so Coop stayed home for Dorothy’s bday, and she did too, because playing hooky on her birthday and bringing treats to school the next day is her new favorite thing.

We got gifts and balloons for Minnie and Dorothy because HAVE YOU MET 2 YEAR-OLDS?! Also I could not find a color-on paper bday tablecloth anywhere, so I went with a roll of gift wrap like a giant runner and my usually brown craft paper underneath. I love a festive bday table.

On a Ben’s bday note: he wanted pudding between the layers of his cake, and I was skeptical, but it was DELISH. And then it slid apart. So Dorothy was having precisely none of my ugly cakes. She got a Bundt cake (lemon!) and cupcakes (confetti) for her class from Nothing Bundt Cakes.

By contrast, my 44th bday masterpiece for Ben:

Dorothy basically wanted a repeat of her ninth bday, so we did morning presents, lunch and shopping (Lulu for a fanny pack, Kendra Scott for a ring, Lush for assorted bath things (Coop acted too cool, but he sure did buy stuff for his shower and was thrilled with it last night), Fannie May because why not, H&M for a sweater and denim joggers (???)) and mani/pedis before dinner out at a Madison birthday bar where we ate the cake right in our booth. (Coop went to dive practice on campus during dinner, but he didn’t mind skipping because he had his eye on leftover chocolate pie and home anyway). Note in the dinner pics that Minnie is wearing a glow necklace, and know that she stole it from Dorothy’s neck the minute the bar tender gave it to Dorothy for her bday. She would have taken Dorothy’s souvenir birthday mug with its bottomless Coke, too, but we do have some limits.

AAAAAND Jack has shared his bday wishlist with me because I have one month to creat 15th bday magic LOL.