Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Do you ever get bored by the eleventy billion repetitive acts of child maintenance you perform everyday?

I do. Ben does. We do.

I think Harry and Jack get bored with their routines, too. Because routines are nothing if not, well, routine. Boy, they don't give those Ph.D.s to just anyone, huh?

By bath time, we've really all just had it, you know? Especially since Harry rarely naps, and Jack's fat legs keep getting stuck between the bars of his crib and hindering his naps, and I am dieting and very cranky by the time my calorie budget has run out and am preoccupied doing math in my head to see if I can still maybe have a glass of wine, and Ben is tired and ready for the kids to be asleep so he can watch Entourage reruns and manage his fantasy baseball teams.

It used to be that Ben did bath every night because I was home with the kids all darn day and preferred to vacuum and get everybody's milk together and prep toothbrushes and the like. But now that I have been working more and more (why yes, I am paying for childcare right now, what's it to you? I am working on MY BRAND), Ben has lobbied to split bath duties. I have graciously agreed to do 1 or 2 baths a week (I know-- you all want to be married to me, don't you?), and I am determined to make them the FUNNEST BATHS EVER (which is actually a pretty stupid idea, now that I think about it, and one that could make me Chief Bath Officer, if I am not careful).

On my bath nights, I will not spend the whole time sitting on the toilet lid hunched over my BlackBerry (because ha! I have an iPhone!) and complaining about getting splashed. I will not threaten to take away Harry's before-bed TV time because that particular punishment only hurts the wine-and-internet-starved parents when their widdle anglepants stays up until 10 whining about that ridiculous, anachronistic, naked Little Bear (also, I rarely follow through my on threats because I am awesome like that and threaten really unrealistic things like throwing away ALL THE TOYS)! I will not nag the other parent to vacuum faster because my bath-time-is-not-fun-time stance has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, I will encourage hijinks and hilarity until someone falls down and nearly drowns/hits his head or face or until I have arbitrarily had enough and decide bath is over, prompting giant temper tantrums from all parties that last until our nightly EELS dance party ensues.

Last night, I broke out the big guns: KITCHEN UTENSILS and BLUE FOOD COLORING.
(also, see how red jack's cheeks are? they're also hot and scaly)

Harry was slow to warm up to the whole thing, mainly because he wanted even more blue in the water, but I decided the amount of blue food coloring to use in the bath was the perfect thing to engage in a power struggle with my 3 year old about. God, I'm good.

Jack, though, could not stop stirring the bath-- it was like the funnest thing he's ever done

Sarah, you're thinking, who was watching the kids while you snapped this picture of your toilet-lid sitting husband (who likes to demonstrate that he is a better person than I am by joining bath already in progress after he vacuums, unlike me, who has to be guilted away from the internet when my cleaning time is through)? That's a good question. No one actually. Jack fell down hard enough to break a melamine measuring cup, and bath was over.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Note: It's usually a good idea to supervise your kids

We should have remembered this helpful tidbit tonight while making dinner. But Ben was too busy grilling 3 kinds of fish (we could not make up or minds), and I was too busy washing strawberries so perfect they must be genetically modified and cooking corn and 2 kinds of green veggies (again, indecisiveness) to really watch Harry or Jack. Ben ran upstairs a few times to grab a platter and some utensils with which to prod and turn the fish, and he said hi to the boys, who were busy destroying the living room. I interacted with them anytime they were directly underfoot, playing with the childproof caps on the stove, or reaching on their tippy toes for pot handles, but other than that I stuck my head over the counter a few times to tell them to play nice and share. That was the extent of our supervision.

Still, everything seemed fine. Pleasant even.

Just as I was putting lovely bowls of brilliantly colored produce on the table and Ben was rounding the corner with a plate piled high with salmon, halibut, and tuna, both of us noticed a wet, white, sort of glittery substance all over the floor. Harry told us it was the rug, and in his defense, it did sort of look like our shaggy white rug. But it was so WET, which worried us because we assumed that one or both of them ate it, and we didn't know what it was.

We sat them in their chairs, but neither of them ate very much (as is their custom when something other than total crap is on the menu), and Jack was sort of coughing a little, so of course (because we are, as is well documented here) so good under pressure, we FREAKED OUT and assumed that they were in mortal danger.

Ben tasted the stuff, and so did I, but we couldn't place it. We checked Harry's chair, the sofa pillows, all the toys, under the rug, in the trash cans, in the hall closets-- no sign of anything wet and white with chunks of glittery gel crystals.

The urgent care nurse told us to go to the ER, and she called ahead to the children's hospital ER to tell them we were coming, a detail that of course made us freak out and act even more ridiculous. Harry, for example, left the house with his shoes on the wrong feet. Jack was barefoot.

In the car, we called poison control, and the lovely woman on the phone told us it sounded like a diaper or one of those "do not eat" packets in purses and shoe boxes, both nontoxic choking hazards. She advised us NOT to go to the hospital, telling us to give Jack some water and something soft to eat to make sure he didn't have an obstruction. We weren't convinced and kept driving toward the hospital, especially after the urgent care nurse called back to say that if Jack started choking, we should pull over and call 911.

About 2 miles from our destination, I whipped a spare Pull Up out of my bag, doused it with water, and then Ben and I pried up the outer layer and pulled out some of the diaper's wet insides-- white, damp, full of glittery chunks of gel crystals. Yes! Jack may or may not have eaten a wet diaper from the bathroom trash (we know he strew it about the room-- we don't actually know if he swallowed it)! Which means, yes, Ben and I both tasted wet diaper from the bathroom trash. Neat.

Instead of the ER, we went to Dairy Queen (what? the nurse said he should eat something soft-- hello, soft serve?), where Jack was about to happily devour a chocolate shake when Harry piped up from the corner where he was perusing the book of ice cream cake decorations, "I peed my leg, Mama." We looked up to find him standing in a dripping puddle. Ben wiped him and the floor up with a stack of napkins, and we grabbed Harry's blizzard and Jack's shake and walked to the car as fast as we could . Harry, with his Crocs full of urine and on the wrong feet, slowed us down a bit and made an awkward splishy sound with each shuffle.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Baby feet Friday

Once again at the end of our visit, the pediatrician prescribed Vaseline for Jack's ailment.

On the one hand, awesome, right? Because that means it's nothing serious. On the other hand? Dude, get your crap together and stop dragging your kid to the doctor for NOTHING.

He actually might have psoriasis, but the doctor said it is too soon to tell and he has super fair skin that shows every mark. True enough.

The doc suggested I carry some Vaseline in my bag and rub it on his face whenever I remember. How long until we have a major greasy accident, do you think?

Here he is eating some Veggie Booty on the exam table showing off his hippy hair.

Ahh, baby feet. Is anything cuter?

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Family myth has it that when I was a toddler, my parents stopped inviting me into their bed in the morning before they brushed their teeth because one day I told them, "You guy's breath stinks."

I always thought that couldn't be true-- little kids aren't judgmental like that.

Then the other day in the car, Harry said, "Mama, I don't like that old smell under your nose." I looked in the rear view mirror; his little face was all scrunched up.

"What are you taking about?" I asked, a little offended.

"That old smell," he insisted. "Below your nose. It's reawwy gross."

"My breath?" I asked.

"Yes!" he said. "You should bush your teeth, okay Mama?"

I thought maybe it was a fluke, ignored him, and chewed more Orbitz. But then today I was dropping him off at school, and he said "You should brush your teeth while I'm gone okay?"


How cute are they waiting for Ben to come up the stairs at the end of the day?

Good thing they're so cute because they trash the place by (my) quittin' time.

Hot hot hot

We recycle. You should know that before you put your judgey pants on. We also eat organic dairy and local produce and avoid processed foods as much a possible or at least buy the organic versions of processed snacks that claim to be made with sustainable practices and are probably just as shitty as their mass produced, HFCS-filled counterparts but assuage our guilt more than anything else. We also have energy star appliances and drive pretty darn fuel efficient cars. And Ben has an adorable tomato and herb garden.

But other than that? We are giant carbon guzzling assholes who make ourselves comfortable and gorge ourselves without a second thought to the land we're raping with our daily acts of consumption. We take long showers. Sometimes twice a day. We run the water while we're brushing our teeth. Sometimes we drink bottled water despite the water filter on our faucet. But here's the grossest thing: we keep our house at 72 degrees during the day and 68 degrees at night.

Or we did. Until our stupid AC started to labor at 76 all day and about 70 all night. So we called around and finally found an AC company who wasn't booked solid tending to people with real problems in this heat wave (which? should have been a freaking red flag). They came over yesterday, changed our filter (which was only about half dirty-- meaning it's also half clean), CLOSED some vents in our living room (WTF????) and explained to Jamie why our duct work is totally effed. Then they called Ben and said they'd be back in 2 weeks (!!!!!?????) to clean it out and put more coolant in (also, have we ever considered covering it in the winter, they asked. Hahahahahaha! Silly AC company-- we're wasteful idiots). Then Jamie turned the temp down on the digital thermostat from the sticky 76 it was set at to a heavenly 73. As soon as she typed in "73," the read-out magically changed to that number, and the AC shut down.

So now, I am convinced (convinced! and nothing anybody says can change my mind!) that it is 3 degrees hotter in here than the thermostat says and that the guy screwed with to to make it LOOK like he had done something. Yeah. Ben thinks I'm off my rocker, too.

But it's a moot point because the damn thing ran all night and failed to reach its target temp (which was so low, I am not even going to tell you what it was. I should just buy a freaking Hummer), so it doesn't matter what the temp is-- the fact is, the AC is NOT WORKING UP TO ITS POTENTIAL. I'm sending it to Sylvan Learning Center for help with its math and reading skills.

I've opened the windows for the first time in DAYS because it's getting stale in here. We're going to see if the old machine can cool things down once it reaches 80 in here and if it can't, we're going to have a huge fight and throw things at each other.

Kidding. Another company is coming out tomorrow.

In the meantime, I am taking this guy

to the doctor to see why his cheeks are so red and peeling. I hope it's not psoriasis, but I wouldn't be shocked. Its also spreading to his elbows. And since I mad the appointment, it is also CLEARING UP. Of course.

And he's probably going to take his purse-- can't pry it out of his hands these days. He even wears it as a hat.

And I am kidding about us being assholes. I mean we are, but we have better intentions than this post makes it sound. It's hard with little kids and the tempting array of convenience products and the disgusting amounts of consumables we "need."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Whine whine whine, complain, moan, cute kid pictures

I have been working on my summer class for DAYS. I think I way over did the course reader because when I finally got it all copied and printed and assembled, it's like twice as big as my dissertation. Oops. Did I mention my class is only 4 weeks long? How about the 4 books I ordered to go with the course reader? Yeah, Those students are going to LOVE me. I am finishing up a few activities and handouts today, and then I am turning my attention to fall because the semester always starts out of nowhere and I am totally unprepared and rushed-- but not this year. I am going to squeeze all my heavy-lifting prep work into these next couple weeks, take a week off after the 4th, and have a guilt-free time at BlogHer in late July.

So usually, I love ProQuest Research Library, but yesterday, 2 articles that I have previously downloaded from that subscription service (and filed away for safe keeping in these huge files in our basement which are currently inaccessible unless I dismantle an entire shelving unit, so it's easier to just re-find the damn articles) were not available-- I had to actually go to the real library and photocopy them-- and of course all I had was change but all the machines took a card but the card-dispensing machine didn't take change and the scanner was free but would only do 10 pages at a time and my email was over my quota and not accepting new messages and it was hot and there are many, many flights of stairs at the library. My question is WHY would ProQuest get rid of previously digitzed articles? Does it hate me?

You know I love compartmentalization, right? Well today is a big jumbled mess-- domesticity in the morning, tons of driving around to and from kid-tivities, then a costume change into semi-professional clothes (semi because it's 90 and humid, blech) and meetings followed by office work, then more kid-tivities, and finally my nightly dose of domesticity. Not looking forward. Especially because Harry has this annoying habit of asking, "Mama, how's your day?" once every 90 to 120 seconds, and I don't like t lie to the kid.

Okay. A moment of zen: Harry and my brother Ben patio fishing:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

OMG. Ben has been in San Francisco for meetings this week (well, Thursday and Friday, but it sounds more dramatic if I say this week-- it also sounds cuter to say Fran Franfrisco like Harry does), so I have been alone with the demons (and by alone, I mean, I have had Jamie for several hours both days, and Ben came home yesterday afternoon), and that little sojourn of semi-solo parenting gave me a good dose of perspective.

Because seriously? I am lost without this guy

who totally looked just like that when I met him at Bradley University's SFI in 1995.

It's more than having someone to share the poop and the crumbs and the screams and the post-dinner-pre-to-mid-bath meltdowns with-- it's having that perfect someone.
So, IHO Father's Day, here are some old pictures of us before poop, crumbs, screams, and completely heinous nightly tantrums (from kids, anyway):
In college-- who DIDN'T have a nasty black futon, really? (although Ben also had an old wood-framed couch upholstered in brown faux fur under which he stored a giant plastic box of high calorie sweets. Sophomore 25, here I came.

We're at my parent's house watching via web cam our friends (and Ben's roomies) Doug and Misty getting married in Vegas.

Here we are on our last pre-kid trip anywhere, in Boston for NCA. I was 8 weeks pregnant with Harry, and I brought my first ultrasound photo (procured the day before) with because we couldn't stop looking at it.

Happy Father's Day to a terrific dad and my favorite person in the world.

(Some people have a lucky fishing hat; Ben has a lucky labor hat.)

Friday, June 19, 2009

WAHMING maybe not for me. Also, some rare one-on-one time for Jack- Jack

So, WAHMing? I'm not sure I could be productive that way. Like now, for instance, when I am blogging not prepping my class. (About that? I am prepping 4 classes in the next 10 days because I have less summer childcare than I thought I did, and I am sure regretting those 3 or 4 weeks when I spent hours on the internet, treated myself to lunches and mani/pedis. and went shopping all day. Wait-- no I'm not-- those were some awesome weeks).

The reason I am currently working on my bed like a high schooler studying for a test (that is to say, chewing gum, sprawled out, TV on, wearing headphones)? This stack o' books from which I need to cull readings for my rhetoric of reproductive rights class:

I don't want to drag these to campus until I absolutely have to.

Also teacher/instructor/professor readers? I am putting my whole class up on study blue instead of making a course reader for purchase at a bookstore/ copy shop, and I'll tell you how the students like it. I think it's going to be great-- password protected, so no copyright issues, FREE for students, and I can use their note and flash card tools to hep with key concepts. It's easier to use that D2L (which is what my university uses) and prettier, too.

On a totally unrelated note (boy am I going to teach my students how to craft elegant transitions), Ben had a rare midweek day off, and we both took Jack out for coffee and Little Gym while Harry was at school (yes! preschool in the summer! freaking awesome! wouldn't want him to forget his line-standing, turn-taking, or paste-eating skillz in the lag time between the spring and fall semesters).

So as you can see, Jack is having some hair issues. We've been growing their hair out hippy style for a couple months now, but Jack's penchant for using food as a styling product makes his new 'do kind of a don't. (The real reason for the hair growth? Taking them both to the kiddie salon SUCKED, and I don't want to go back).

He was running-- too cute

Remember that dazed look I was talking about?

Wait for it...

BAM! He's all where the crap am I?

So what do I do? Flip him upside down again, duh.

Okay, to work. Good thing I don't get paid by the hour.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Alone in the Twitterverse

Can I just tell you there is nothing that makes me feel more out-of-sync than Twitter, which is designed to keep me more updated? Maybe I am not interesting or relevant enough for Twitter. Maybe I need to get new schtick or work on my online persona-- I mean can I really bitch about my life on this blog, on facebook, AND on Twitter? Maybe I need to work on complaining about one aspect at a time-- like Twitter for work stuff, this blog for kid stuff, and facebook for me stuff? Hmph.

Hey! My diet! I've been on it for a week, and I have lost 4.5 pounds (as of yesterday). Pretty awesome. Only 17.5 to go, and only 6 pounds away from my pre-Jack weight. 14 months post Jack. Hmph, again.

I am a crabby pice of crab today, so get excited for lots of annoyed tweets. Or maybe status updates, since I only have 14 Twitter followers. Maybe that's why Twitter makes me feel disenfranchised- because my Tweets are the sound of one hand clapping or a tree falling that deserted forest?

Ugh. I must plan my summer class today. Must do it.

And there-- I have combined by worlds again.

Apropos of nothing: isn't Jack cute when he helps with laundry?

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Birthdayest Birthday in the Whole Birthday World

Phase I: The Little Gym
I don't know about you, but I like a birthday party where the guests sing "Happy Birthday" like 6 times. Really feels like a celebration. And of course, it wouldn't be the Little Gym without a thousand songs.
Also a rock wall.

And a cheese mat on which to collapse with exhaustion if your big brother's 3rd birthday party happens to fall directly in the middle of your naptime.

This was Harry's first "friend" birthday party, and Little Gym was the PERFECT venue. In addition to his cousins Max and Lucy, and his brother Jack, Harry had 2 kids from his preschool class (we invited everyone, but lots of people were on vacation, which I suspect will be the case every year because that's what happens when you have a summer birthday), his longtime frend Josephine (whom he met at Little Gym when he was just 7 months old), and his friends Ben and Hunter (who might be the most well-behaved preschoolers I have ever met and whose mom went to college with me and Ben and whose dad is a native Central Illinoisian, too).

If you have a preschooler and a Little Gym, book your party NOW. They did everything from welcoming guests and entertaining the kiddies, to serving and cleaning up the cake and pizza, to providing all the paper ware, favors, and decorations, to choreographing and recording the gift opening (no small feat in a room full of mostly 3 year olds). AMAZING.

Clearly. the kids had a blast

Not pictured: the adults hurling balls at each other as hard as we could. My brother Ben started it. My husband Ben ended it by pelting our little niece Lucy n the tummy when Ben's dad ducked out of the way.

I love how red and sweaty Harry gets when he exerts himself.

Most of the kids loved taking a ride and a flip on the donut. The preschoolers thought the notion of a rolling donut was out-of-this-world funny.

The babies wondered what the heck just happened to them

This dazed look on Jack's face after he flips and is righted is one of the reasons I signed him up for Little Gym for the summer and fall.

Ahhh, the Air Track. The bane of my existence when I was pregnant and we had to sit on it while it was inflated, and all the other moms and kids popped right up to the top but Harry and I just sat in a hole because I was so heavy.

The kids like it though, and this party was ALL ABOUT THE KIDS.

Harry closed his eyes and paused for a moment before he blew out his candle-- he was MAKING A WISH-- how cute is that? (When asked, the greedy little guy told us he wished for more Santa and more Easter Bunny. Nice).

The kids were pretty darn cute eating pizza and Batman cake. The frosting stained everyone's teeth, lips, hands, and I imagine their clothes, too.

The obligatory family posed shots that we take every year

Miss Molly was awesome at handling the gift opening, and Harry was a peach-- he loved all of his presents, and he hugged each party guest, which was adorable.

Phase II, Our House

After the kiddies went to bed we all reconvened at our house for a ton of Thai takeout, Batman cake, wine, and what we hoped would be a grown up party. My brother Jon and his girlfriend Brae even drove in from Chicago. 2 things stood n the way of an adults-only soiree. First of all, this guy woke up for more cake:

Second, Ben and Ben wrestled


for a really awkward amount of time

twice actually, and I have more pictures, but they're kind of creepy.

Phase III, Harry's actual birthday morning
HB woke up early, excited to get more presents.

Here's jack offering him the stuffed Woody doll Ben and I bought in a panic because we were unable to buy Toy Story dolls like the ones in the movie because greedy Disney has pulled them all from the shelves to make kids REALLY want them next summer when Toy Story 3 hits theaters. We finally did find the whole cast of Toy Story on Amazon, so we gave him the stuffed Woody and Buzz the night before his birthday as a way to bribe him back to bed. It worked.

At first, he was overjoyed, but then he wondered why Buzz Lightyear didn't have a mission log and where the Stinky Pete doll was (Stinky Pete the Prospector? Never actually manufactured). Then he threw them all in a heap

and modeled his new roller skates, sans pants.

We capped off the morning with breakfast with both sets of grandparents. At breakfast, the birthday boy told the waiter that he didn't need a menu; it was his birthday, and he was going to eat chocolate cake. Okay then.

**** Interlude: Urgent Care****
On the way out of the restaurant, my brother Ben accidentally tripped over Jack, who fell face first onto the cement. Then Ben sort of stepped on his head a little.

Our doctor had hours at urgent care, so we stopped by. He laughed at Jack's red nose and said he wanted to take a picture. Then he casually asked us if Jack's nose had been running before the fall-- you know, just so he could make sure the clear liquid wasn't brain fluid. Cool. In the end, he said Jack was fine, but his injuries might require some vaseline.

Phase IV: Lake Geneva

We capped off the birthday weekend with a surprise (to Harry) trip to a cute little lake town, where we stayed at a hotel with a ginormous waterpark.
Jack? Not so into water.
Here we are in our hotel room, which was a never-ending source of wonders to both kids. Bathroom cabinets?? Aweosme! A Kitchen table? Astounding! A TV in the bedroom? WOW.

Jack bounced in this thing for awhile-- the only thing he'd do without crying

It was hard to take a picture of Harry because he was a little wet, joyful blur. He loved the water slides.

This picture was taken about an hour after the first one. Still bouncing. We traded who got to hang with J and who had to keep H from drowning.

We swam until Harry was a prune, then we got dressed and headed downtown for dinner at a place called Harry's and a horse and carriage ride

I thought Harry or his Crocs were going overboard any minute.

Jack was super happy-- he squealed with delight when he saw the horse and smiled almost the whole time. He sneezed once-- a big glob of black goo that made him cry.

Harry had Superman ice cream (rainbow sherbet creatively named), and he was very serious about eating it with gusto.

More swimming-- the outdoor pools were closed, so no bouncey for Jack, but one of the indoor pools had a baby swing above the water, so he was happy-ish until Harry sprayed the crap out of him with a hose.

The next morning, Harry and Jack swung by the gift shop as we checked out, and Jack picked out a moose he first spotted when we arrived at the hotel. Pretty cute that he remembered it and still wanted it the next day.

After a quick breakfast at the cute little cafe at which we announced Jack's impending arrival to Ben's parents a couple summers ago, we hit the public beach. Where we learned that Jack hates sand.
On our way to the beach, Harry threw change in this fountain and again wished for more Santa.

Jack really disliked the sand. And the water.

Harry spent a couple hours digging a whole and filling it with water and demanding that we all swim in his pool.

Jack did not like the pool.

He perked up a bit for the old bury your feet in the sand game

And moments after this picture was taken, he ripped off my bikini top, and I flashed like 3 other families. Classy.

Despite his love of cold water, Harry tripped and went totally under, and had to bundle up for a bit to recover

Jack longed for a water noodle.

Ben was super proud of his sand pool-- and he should have been, since he spent the whole morning wading in and out of the freezing lake with Harry and his buckets.

We supervise Jack well, huh?

All in all, a pretty fun birthday weekend. Harry says now that he is 3 he will not ride in shopping carts, but he will poop in the potty. Sweet.