Sunday, January 30, 2011

Total Loser

That's me. I have done a terrible job blogging this month. My mom keeps calling to see if we're okay. We're good. I'm just so blah. It's also been harder than I though getting used to working again (you are so totally rolling your eyes at me, I know), and Ben and I both have a lot of balls in the air right now (ha!) . We spend every night after the kids go to be working furiously on our iPads or laptops.

Remember how I thought I was all ready for school? Well, I realized around the first day of class that I spent a lot of time last semester writing on the board during the lecture part of my class, so I decided to leap into the 90s and make a freaking Power Point everyday. Only, I actually leapt into this century and decided to use my iPad, so I downloaded Keynote, which is much less intuitive than you'd think. A lot of the time that I would spend blogging, I am instead dragging definitions of obscure words around a screen with my finger and cussing. You should have seen me on the second day of class when I plugged in my iPad and mashed the icon of my laborious slideshow and-- nothing. The bastard would not project onto the screen. I got all pissy and made up some group work and called tech support. The guy came to my classroom and pushed play on my slide show. Presto! I'm such an idiot sometimes. So I have not, as I imagined I would, wowed my students with my awesome tech skillz.

We have also spent a ton of time torturing ourselves by finding 2 neighborhoods that we adore with houses that fit our budget and our style for sale. We have driven through these neighborhoods a million times and mentally decorated all available houses. Which is dumb because we still have a condo to sell.

Yesterday, we played Play Doh for quite a while. Ben and I made things to wear.

Check out his headband:

I made a necklace

Some pock marks

And a really subtle nose

Ben went with a creepy leatherface mask

And a nice kid-friendly trail of blood for his nose

Harry made some bling

Jack just sort of stuck his finger in this polar bear

And tried to sit on Harry's lap

I worked really hard on this girl

And the boys smashed her

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


It's been a week since I last blogged, and during that week, at least one of my children has had a 101-104 degree fever for most of the day/night. Brutal. Ben and I have not slept through the night since January 18th, and we are starting to get a little snappy about it. Jack was sick all last week, and Harry has been sick all this week. After 4 days of a high fever, we took Jack to the pediatrician, who noted that Jack's throat looked like raw meat, but assured us the strep test was negative and gave us the dread diagnosis Just a Virus.

We had a brief reprieve from fever on Saturday night when we snagged a babysitter and went out with friends. It was a fun evening culminating in grown men riding home in car seats.

Sunday, we watched the Bears/Packers game as Bears fans, when Harry shocked us by revealing his true colors. Green and gold. Gulp. He cannot WAIT for the Superbowl. Harry was a little jerk face on Sunday, so we knew he was getting sick, but his fever did not present itself until 12:51 am on Monday morning, of course.

Monday, Ben and I juggled a sick kid by each cutting our workday a little short and praised Ben's new job again, since he had no problem being with sick Harry today, his usual work-at-home day. Today, Ben also interviewed a string of realtors, so we can choose one and list our house next week (!!). The general consensus is that we can expect to lose about a-number-that-rhymes- with-shorty K. Neat-o. We've been trolling open houses to meet realtors, but we have to wean ourselves off both open houses and constant perusal of the MLS listings. No reason to dream about more bedrooms, a yard, and a big old basement until this place sells. For a song.

And finally, last week, Harry was in an opera at school. An organization called Opera for the Young came to his school and put on an abbreviated version of Pirates of Penzance. Harry was one of about 12 kids picked to perform in the opera, and he was pretty excited. They have been studying the show in music class for a month, and last week, Harry had to rehearse Tuesday-Friday. He usually doesn't come to school Wednesday and Friday, though, so sick Jack and I had to bring him both days. This meant that I got to sort of sneak into the performance (parents weren't invited, but I got to lean in the music studio from my awkward place holding a sleeping, snoring, feverish Jack with one arm to take some other-armed pictures and shaky video). I think Harry was supposed to be a constable, but I was super late getting him and our little wreck of a Jack to school on the show day, so he got placed in the pirate chorus. Oops. Here are a few far-away pictures. Harry is the pirate in the red sweater with the white stripes on the sleeves.

This video kills me because H is not really doing anything-- I think he was nervous. But it's 2 minutes long and super shaky, so I won't blame you for skipping it.

Jack-- he slept through the opera on this lumpy striped blanket. Oh wait. That's me.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Huge parental oversight

Today was such a cluster, you guys.

Even though I dutifully rose with my alarm at 5:50, I didn't make it to my (totally dirty and hot, hot, hot-- I left the thermostat turned up to 78 last week and left lunch remnants in my trash) office until almost 10 because I seem to have forgotten how to get myself fed and dressed and caffeinated and out the door-- and I don't even have to feed, dress, or transport the kids on Tuesdays because Ben is home. So I spent like 4 hours on myself this morning. Grrr. Then only 5 students showed up for my over-enrolled class. At first I took it personally, but then I realized some computer glitch made it look like my class only meets once a week on Thursdays, Grrrr, again. Eleventy billion emails later, I absently answered my office phone and was shocked to hear Jack's teacher on the line telling me that he had a 103 degree fever. (Thank goodness Ben was home and could go pick the poor baby up). I finished off the day as a sub for 2 sections of another class, leaving just in time to speed across town and pick up the healthy-for-now child. Blurgh.

This day did have a pretty big bright spot, though. Harry wrote his first word (besides his name):

At parent-teacher conferences, Harry's teachers mentioned that Harry is a little behind the other 4 year-olds in terms of writing skills. Actually, they said, he is behind some of the 3 year-olds. Ben and I were actually not surprised. Last year, Harry was by far the worst writer in his class. He was also the youngest kid by almost a year, so we were not concerned (neither were his teachers). We worked on his fine motor skills, and he became a Lego expert and learned how to draw an awesome H. We didn't push the matter at all.

I was reluctant even to teach him how to hold a pencil because I don't have a degree in early childhood education, and I didn't want to screw him up for life, you know?

At school this year, he has to sign in every morning, and to be honest, neither Ben nor I sticks around to help him scrawl his H and the cluster of unrecognizable letters that make up the rest of his name. We thought that maybe um his TEACHERS would handle it. At conferences, though, they suggested that we take a more active role in sign-in and work on letters at home.

Ben and I had a fight about which one of us was more to blame for the our giant oversight (seriously, we have not worked on letters or writing AT ALL, assuming he was getting enough book learnin' at school because we suck as parents); then we complained to each other about the cost of preschool tuition. Then we printed some alphabet pages and told Harry if he learned to write all of his letters, he could write in a journal and make up stories.

"Or I could make a movie," he told us. "Like Star Wars 8. And Jack can be R2D2, only he'll be R3."

Then he went to work writing letters:

Yesterday and today, he wrote the whole uppercase alphabet twice. He is terrible at C's, G's, and S's, but he had made up all kinds of adorable things about letters-- K likes to kick other letters; R is a runner; M is a queen; N is a king; L is a foot. He was having problems remembering E, but then he noticed 3 lines and called it 3 E to remember.

He has a future as a worksheet monkey-- seriously, the kid is going to LOVE worksheets.

He even likes signing in at home-- and believe it or not, his scrawl has gotten waaaaaaaaay better in the last 48 hours

I feel absolutely terrible for not working on this stuff before yesterday.

What Harry doesn't know is that he has a whole lowercase alphabet to work on next week. And that I bought the old phonics and letter-recognition TV show "The Letter People" (I remember watching the Letter People in kindergarten) on EBay and can't freaking WAIT to show it to him. But what else can we do? Any more creatvie activities for when worksheets lose their charm? (I have a few iPhone and iPad apps, but I want some "old fashioned" activities too).

Monday, January 17, 2011

Even if I weren't too tired to blog, I have nothing exciting to say.

You know me-- I do things waaaay early, so my spring semester has been prepped since early December. There's no scramble to speak of. We've been biding our time waiting for the semester to start. Today, we spent our morning sitting in tiny chairs in Harry and Jack's classrooms for parent-teacher conferences, which were ADORABLE, especially since Jack will be with his teachers on a 3-year loop before kindergarten, and they are assembling a portfolio of his "work" (they would never use quotation marks, but I so would because he is 2-- his work is tie-dyeing a coffee filter and gluing rice to a piece of construction paper and cutting with safety scissor. When he cuts with safety scissors, BTW, he makes this face of extreme, grave concentration that is out-of-this-world cute) that will run from now until the big K. Can you imagine how weepy it will make us when our ittle bitty baby is starting kindergarten and we are presented with his preschool portfolio?

In Jack news, he has decided he wants to be a doctor when he grows up, the kind who "fixes hearts." Sweet.

Harry has abandoned his dream of being a stay-at-home-dad because a worker at the childwatch at our gym old him if he is a SAH parent, he'd have to clean the house and do all the laundry. Harry said, "No I wouldn't. I'd have a wife," which totally freaked me out because Ben and I are like the model of a partnership, so where did he GET that notion? And here I thought his career choice was all kinds of progressive. He has modified his life's ambition after that conversation and now plans to be a singer in a band. In case you were wondering.

Today, Jack did that thing he does sometimes when he is really tired. One minute, he was chatting and whining at us, and the next minute he was passed out cold:

We spent Saturday celebrating Lucy's third birthday and had tons of fun. I don't really have any pictures to post because besides Harry, jack, Max, Lucy, and Jacob, there were always other kids in my pictures, and who knows if their parents want them on the internet.

Julie and I did grab Jacob and tear off his socks so we could marvel at his teeny fat feet-- so cute.

When I uploaded phone pictures, I noticed that Jack and I have taken quite a few selfies lately (further evidence of my riveting life)

So. Yeah. The lunches are packed. I picked out my clothes. My backpack is ready. It's almost 9, which means it's almost a respectable bedtime for a non-preschooler. That's all I got.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I am so tired.

And that, my friends, is why I haven't been blogging. I have been falling asleep sitting up at like 8:45, so there's just no time. After being off for a month, the transition back to work has been rough-- just wait til classes start next week-- I'll be in bed by sun down.

Harry is in an opera later this week, though, so you know I'll be around to tell you all about that.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Closet purge and shuffle

I had the most pleasant time organizing my closet yesterday. No, for reals. I love to clean and organize, and the kids were at school, Ben at work-- I had unhindered cleaning time. My friend Amy posted Facebook pictures of her recent closet makeover, and I was all, "OMG, I need to do that!" Plus, you know, we are starting to dream about actually selling this house, so closet clean-outs are the first step toward that goal, too.

Because I am kind of checked out mentally and looking forward to a day of Baby Story and the first season of Gilmore Girls (another kickass Christmas gift from Ben), I am going to show you pictures of my clean closet, but they aren't very interesting, especially because I forgot to take any "before" pictures. In a typical dumbass move, I never tested the over-the-door shoe rack I got for Ben's shoes, you know, to make sure the door would close. Yeah. After I got the whole closet cleaned, vacuumed, etc and got all his giant shoes shoved in the little mesh compartments, I discovered the door would not close. Of course. There was a nasty minute when I thought I was jammed inside the closet because I forced the door closed, but really? I don't think I would have minded. There are blankets in there and I had my diaper bag, meaning I had my Nalgene bottle and my iPad. Plus I could hear Property Virgins on the bedroom TV. It would have been a good place to hang out until Ben and the kids got home. But instead, I climbed on my little step stool (which I have to use all the time to get anything off my shelves because I am so darn short) and pried the shoe rack thingy off the door. Phew!

Okay, the "after pictures." (For "before" shots, just imagine a ridiculous tumble of shit that assaults you aesthetically and physically.)

The bins have our sweatshirts that won't fit in our dressers, and the clear Tupperwares have random odds and end that used to be shoved haphazardly on the closet shelves and would periodically rain down on us.

That giant bag has all my old purses, and the shelves have boots and more boxes of random stuff-- files, papers that seemed too important to throw away and have been living in our closet for years, art projects from preschool, you know, important stuff.

Some of my shoes.

More of my shoes

A wall of ties and scarves and belts.

The upshot is that we can actually walk in our closet again-- it's been awhile. On the floor, we have a huge storage bag of blankets and Ben's shoes in a giant bin. This replaces piles of shoes, a slew of bags, random Nerf guns, and sweatshirts that fell from their positions crammed between lint brushes and old binders. It was seriously dreamy in there-- especially because every time I opened the door, the ironing board would come crashing down and hit me in the head.

So, yeah. That's my major accomplishment of late. Riveting, huh?

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Slightly less crabby

I am in a marginally better mood today even though I spent most of the night sleeping with a hacking, feverish toddler. Poor Jack. Even though he said "Me freezing mama," when he barreled into bed at 12:26 am, I didn't even take his temperature until 1:49 because I am STUPID in the middle of the night. Only the way he was shivering and moaning next to me finally made me realize he was sick and not just totally annoying. After he had Tylenol, his fever broke around 3, and we slept until 7:20-ish, and I have been remarkably chipper considering my lack of sleep.

Tonight, I gave the boys a bath by flashlight which totally delighted them and stopped all bath fighting and splashing hijinks. They even made shadow puppets. I totally recommend "dark bath," as they called it, if you ever want to shake up your routine.

Jack has been cracking me up lately when I catch him playing. He is really into acting out scenarios with little figures from multiple playsets at once. He lies on his stomach and moves guys around and talks in many different voices. He distinguishes between his various Doras. He has Dora, Princess Dora, Hair Dora, and Brand New Dora. He also calls Mrs. Claus Santa's mother.

Here's Santa kicking it on an aircraft carrier

Jack's zombie farm-- note the rug under the bed in the loft

Now that Ben and I have made it through 15 minutes of un-skippable previews on The Town blue ray, I'm going to actually watch the movie. Hope you're having a fun night too.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Super Crabby

OMG. I am in the most terribly rancid mood. Have been all week. Even when the kids were at school and I was home by myself laying on the couch watching vintage 90210 and eating Twizzlers. That's why I haven't blogged --because of the perpetual PMS. PPMS. Ha!

Had a bad moment today when I though our washer was broken because it smelled like burning rubber and would not spin and it would so be our luck to have to buy a new washer before we sell this place. The only money I want to spend on this house is the tens of thousands of dollars we'll lose at closing when it sells. That last sentence made me want to barf. BUT, I left the washer alone for a little bit, and it magically came back to life and spun just fine. Phew! In the meantime, I stress ate some chocolate chip brownies and fussed at the kids.

Oh! a funny story about how Ben and I became slightly less shitty and neglectful parents through our inability to follow through on consequences (sounds backward, but just wait). Ever since Jack was a colicky newborn and Ben taught night classes twice a week when Jack was screamy and Harry was not quite 2, a half an hour of television has been part of Harry's bedtime routine (POTY!). It started as a necessity. I needed 30 minutes to try to lull Jack to sleep after Harry's bath, so I could read Harry a few books without my squalling baby in the way. Then, it became a way for Harry to chill out while Jack went to bed in the room they shared, so that Harry could join him when he was already asleep. For the last year or so, it has simply been a way for me to veg out before H goes to bed while Ben is reading to J before I take Harry upstairs for books. (I mean we still READ to him! It's not all talking glowing box). A few weeks ago, Harry would not stop splashing in the tub, and Ben told him if he splashed again, no TV. Of course he splashed again, so we were like sorry dud, no TV. Harry went apeshit crazy and the only way we could get him to stop screaming was to tell him he could do a puzzle with me instead. He LOVED it and that night before he went to bed, he said he didn't want to watch TV at night anymore. Instead he wanted to do a big boy puzzle or play cards or a board game or Legos. And voila! A new bedtime tradition was born. It's fun. (also, you know, way better for him)

We've also started reading the Harry Potter series, and Harry is captivated. I love it too-- those books are amazing, and it has been forever since I read the first one.
Harry and Ben watched all the Star Wars movies over break, and the boys found Light Sabers in their stockings. Fun times. Fun, violent times.

Jack is still working out his fear of Santa. He refused to put away his Santa hat or his little Santa and Rudolph figurines when the Christmas decorations came down. Every once in awhile he tells us, "Me little scared of Santa," and every night, he insists on playing the "Santa game." His fire truck becomes a sleigh; Harry is a either a reindeer or an elf, and Ben and I are sleeping children who wake up to find Santa screaming in our faces, "Wake up! Presents here." Then Harry becomes a sword-weilding, marching light-up doll, and Jack drags him back to the sleigh telling me and Ben that we're on the naughty list. They ride in the fire truck for a few minutes and then Jack screams, "New house!" and the routine begins again.

Here's Jack playing this morning. The boys told everyone at the gym that were having a lazy day, and it's true. A lazy movie day. Here's to hoping that by the time Despicable Me is over, I am way less grumpy.

Monday, January 03, 2011

More Chrismukkah to start the year!

My parents came in this weekend to end the holiday season with one more round of gifting. We had so much fun that we barely took any pictures. But here are a few:

Ben and I had a really quiet and dare I say lame New Year's Eve. We made the kids whatever weirdo food they requested and let them make merry with a NYE party in a box until they went to bed "super late" (7:30). Then Ben grilled steaks, and we had shrimp and asparagus and chocolate cake and champagne. We hung out with my brother Ben and his girlfriend Stephanie after dinner and still managed to fall asleep before midnight. Awesome.

Today, Ben went to work and the kids went to school, and I thought I would have a lot of fun doing nothing, but I made myself a really long To-Do list, and damn if I didn't do most of it. Even though some of it was stupid stuff like "take vitamins" and "eat 6 servings of fruits and veggies." Tomorrow is the same scenario, but I have to run to the office to print some stuff, and I am getting a hair cut, and the kids have a shorter day tomorrow, and Ben is working super late. You know what's cool about me? I always have something to bitch about even when it seems like nothing could possibly be wrong. It's a talent.

New Year's Resolutions? Anybody?

I have a few, all focused on healthy lifestyle choices:

1. Limit caffeine intake to 1 cup of coffee a day. (For my anxiety.) Blurgh.

2. Eat 6 servings of fruits and vegetables every day (I thought I already did this until yesterday, when I realized I had" only" eaten cinnamon toast, pizza, Christmas candy, cookies, and buffalo wings-- and that this menu has been pretty common lately).

3. Limit desserts to once-ish a day.

4. Calm the fuck down. Just, you know, in general. (Related to #1)

5. Work out 5 days a week (I already do this, but making it a resolution feels more official)

You? Resolved anything you'd like to share?