Monday, August 31, 2015

The day I had

Pro:  I remembered to activate my half-online class and email pertinent course materials to my students even though classes don't start until tomorrow.

Pro:  I organized an impromptu mimosa party for immediately after drop-off tomorrow and even baked muffins.

Pro:  The kids had an awesome time at the pool tonight.

Pro:  The house is still mostly clean from yesterday.


Obviously my to-do list from yesterday was a little ambitious.  Luckily I wrote the conference call time down wrong and could not attend.  (Not really lucky).  Bu it freed up some time to get ready for work.

BUT my babysitter didn't show up (not her fault, just bad communication).  So I had to take ALL FOUR KIDS TO MY MEETING.

Never professional.

In retrospect, I could have offloaded them on friends and neighbors, but I totally panicked and by the time I realized she wasn't coming, I was so, so almost late.  I just threw them and their snacks and their iPads in the car and hauled ass.

Did I mention it was move-in day on campus?  Because it totally was.  I try to never, ever go to campus on move-in day.  For good reason.

The kids were kind of good, and I got through the 2 hours of content I needed to while they shrieked in an adjacent classroom.  I almost cancelled the meeting, but some of my new students are teaching for the very first time on Wednesday and because of Labor Day we won't have a staff meeting again for 2 weeks, so I bit the bullet and took the kids and hoped none of my colleagues would hear them.

And that is why Ben and I never work on the same day at the same time.


The day ended on a lovely, sunny note. As will everyday this week, I hope, because boy will we miss the pool. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Squeezing some fun out of summer's last gasp

Tomorrow I am on my own with the kids from the minute they open their eyes until the babysitter comes over mid-morning so I can run to school for a meeting that was scheduled at the last possible moment.  We don't normally have childcare um AT ALL because we make it a point to never have to be at the office at the same time.  So, as you might imagine, I don't do well with meetings scheduled at the last minute.  Before the sitter comes over, I have to exercise for 60 minutes, make and clean up breakfast, do an put away the day's laundry and make sure I vacuum the laundry room because there is dirt all over the floor, but I was too tired to do it before coming to bed.  Oh!  And!  I have a one-hour webinar for the book fair I am charing at the kids' school at the end of the month, so I pretty much have to do all that shit by 9:30.  Then after my meeting, the kids and I are making granola bars until Ben gets home at which time I have to go meet with the kids' school principal about the 5K the PTO is running next month.  Then (oh yes, there's more), we plan to pack a picnic and go to the pool, me and 75% of the kids while Jack has soccer practice, and then the whole fam after.  GAH.

My week working at the office was lovely.

I was home all day Thursday but I didn't have a chance to catch my breath let alone blog because Dolly had a drop-in hour in her cute little preschool classroom; it was back-to-school night for Cooper's class, and Harry had his meet-the-teacher conference (Jack's was Monday).

My cookie curse is over!  I think my oven was just not hot enough.  I cooked these babies at 375 for like 9 minutes, and they were barely done, so I left them on the cookie sheet to finish cooking, and they were so amazingly soft and chewy and wonderful.  I actually took 5.5 dozen to work for my TAs, and they were GONE by lunch.
 Obviously, she wore her favorite outfit to her preschool drop in, ad she carried her cheapy Target Frozen back pack.  I wanted to get her a cute little monogrammed backpack like all the boys have, but she was determined to get Elsa and Anna.
 She had SO MUCH FUN.   As much fun as she thought she would, even.  Especially since she got to wear her Stride Rite Elsa and Anna shoes that I told her she couldn't wear until school started and she calls her "preschool shoes."  No way will I be able to talk her into Mary Janes with her Matilda Jane first-official-day-of-school dress.

 Another not-relaxing thing I did on Thursday was take this joker to Stride Rite.  All the other kids were happy with their Zappos back-to-school shoes, but Cooper HATED his.  He detests sneakers and socks, but his school thinks Crocs are unsafe on the playground (**cough** bullshit **cough**), and it;s not quite cold enough for Uggs yet, so.
 Dolly is in a state of constant mess-making.  I remember this phase.
 On Saturday, we drove to Norridge to visit Ben's grandma, and she made us a delicious lunch.  The kids loved the "fried" chicken in the oven and the jello with oranges and of course the red white and blue cake.

 Today, we hurried up and did all of our Sunday chores and packed an appetizer picnic and headed to a local brewery that was featuring bands to benefit women's healthcare in Ethiopia, and Russ Feingold was there!!
 Dorothy was so happy our friends brought Pirate Booty.
 Cooper wanted to run free with the big kids, but he's such a shy guy.  He was my buddy most of the time, and he adored going up to the bar to buy a root beer.
 Dorothy found two little girls to dance with and spent the whole time in heaven on the dance floor.
 I didn't even SEE Harry and Jack unless they wanted money for root beer, pizza, ice cream, or s-mores.

We dropped by a park on the way home, and we all had a great time, obvs.

I already told you that tomorrow is busy, but we also start school on Tuesday (Harry and Jack), Wednesday (babies), and Thursday (me!), so I'll be back a lot.  

Monday, August 24, 2015


I mean, I have read my archives OF COURSE because I am Narcissus.  And for the last 9 years, all I have done is bitch and moan about working almost full time at the office (4 days) for a week the week before classes start at my school and my lovely grad students come back to town.  But holy hell am I glad this is not my reality.  All the loans, all the years of genteel grad school poverty, all the dissertation sweat.  It was all worth the wonderful flexibility we usually enjoy.  But seriously, I worked 9 hours at work and am still working from home tonight.  And I need to be back tomorrow morning.  And it's HARD.  I stayed up until almost midnight getting all my shit ready (but I looked like (chubby) working Barbie in my a-line black skirt, chambray Oxford, pearls, leopard stilettos, and bright red lipstick, damnit) and making crockpot chicken tortilla soup with fresh garden and CSA veggies.  Then I was up at 5 to exercise for 85 minutes before getting ready for work.  AND I BLEW MY HAIR DRY.  Tomorrow I do all of that again but I have a PTO breakfast at the kids' school that I am hosting on my way to work, and dinner hour is easier because Ben is home, so there are no babysitter instructions to write either.  When you only need a week of childcare every year, it's kind of a cobbled together week, KWIM?

In any case, I missed my windblown toddler and her merry band of pranksters.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Since we've been home

I stood behind the Parent Teacher Organization table at the kids' school today for 7 hours at registration.  7 HOURS.

But the good news is, we had a team of lovely volunteers and collected TONS of contact information so we can recruit EVEN MORE VOLUNTEERS.  Harry and Jack are thrilled with their teachers and class lists, and we are so excited about another school year and in disbelief that we have 2 preschoolers, a second-grader and a fourth-grader.

And Ben made delicious tacos and strawberry margaritas on the table when I got home.

We have been laying low and enjoying some really cold weather since we've been back from vacay.

Ben and I saw The Gift the day after we got home-- which was a BRILLIANT night for a date night-- and it was scary and fun to watch in a theater full of people who screamed.

 The kids have wanted to go to the pool even though it's been between 45-70.
 But Ben and I have stayed strictly on the side.
 Except for family float Sunday, the last one of the season.
 Dorothy was yelling, "Mommy!  I stuck!  Mommy! I can't get out" and this is what I found when I went to investigate.
 We got a new blender and Dorothy and Cooper want to make smoothies every morning.
 So cold we had to wear coats to the park!  And we ate muffins so messy they could only be consumed outside.
 Another cold park day; another Frozen princess dress.
 Cooper helped me staple flyers for registration.
 Ben had to work late, so I thought it would be easier to take the kids to play at the library and out for pizza and ice cream than deal with them at home. LOL

 And then we closed down the park
This is my favorite video on my phone right now:

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Long Way Home

 I know we have talked about ho much I hate to fly.  But have we discussed how much I like to drive?  Road trips are my favorite.  I helps, of course, that we are totally open in the summer and don't have to be in a hurry to get anywhere.  But here's just something fun about loading the car with so much shit Ben can't even look out the back window and driving driving driving.  We only ate at one fast food restaurant on the whole trip (Culvers) because we made a point to slow down and enjoy ourselves.

We also packed one picnic to eat on the way down.  We got to Nashville-ish around lunch on our way to Disney, and shortly before we pulled into town our DVD player broke, and the kids' iPads were almost dead even though we planned to be on the road for 6-8 more hours.  We had been on the road since 4:30 am, so the iPads had been champs, and we'd already watched 3 DVDs.  Ben and I rallied, and I Yelped a park with a good playground and electrical outlets, thinking we could let eh kids run around while we plugged everything in because our USB car charger wasn't working either (OF COURSE).  We drove to the park which was a bit more out of the way than it looked on the map and it was CLOSED for BOMB TESTING.  So we picnicked at an elementary school and let the kids play.  Then we had mandatory nap time.  Then they played DS games.  Then everyone bitched and moaned for a couple hours when the iPads finally died.  And then we ate dinner at a Panera and charged the Pads long enough to get to 20% battery and coast into Macon for the night.  But we even enjoyed all of that.  Road trips are fun.  (and, I mean, I gave out trinkets whenever we crossed a state line and everyone had coloring books and crayons, and travel bingo cards and books, etc.  But still, the iPads and Nintendo DSs were the best.)

Lunch picnic:
 Mandatory nap time
 Pretty rest stop

 Baby photobomb

We were, of course, excited to get to Disney, and we had luau reservations, so we went as fast as we could.

We had no such constraint on the way home, so we decided to avoid any stretches over 6 hours.

 They were so very beautiful.  Ben and I kept pulling into lookout spots and taking selfies.
 We spent the night in Gatlinburg, which is like the Wisconsin Dells only with gorgeous mountains.  The kids liked it a lot.
 The pools at the hotel were gross, so the kids swam in the hot tub in Dorothy's and my room.
 The front desk lady told us to lock the car so bears didn't get into the below-ground parking garage.  Um.  So.  Obviously I did not go into the garage at all.  Here we are relaxing on the balcony while Ben packed the car.
 We had a truly terrible pancake breakfast-- the pancakes wee good, but the children were bad, bad, bad--and headed into the park to climb its easiest and most popular trail:  a 1.3-mile uphill walk to a waterfall.
 But first!  We had to explore the visitor's center.


 And just when we were too hot and too crabby:  THE WATERFALL!

 The only bad thing that happened on the whole stop was totally my fault.  Since we were completely for sure expecting to be eaten by bears because of all the "how to deal with bears" lit in the hotel and at the park, it was not a big deal at all compared to mauling and death.  But.  When the kids picked out souvenirs, 3 of them got binoculars and Harry got a little combo tool thing (all plastic, all toys).  Cooper immediately wanted what Harry had and whined about it but could be distracted with nature.  At the top of the trail, he started whining about how he didn't like his binoculars and gave them to me to carry.  Then he started agitating for Harry's toy.  Cooper whined and cried and complained THE WHOLE TRIP.  At first, Ben and I tried to fulfill his every wish to make him happy, but it didn't matter what we did or bought or brought him to eat-- he was whining about something for 15 days straight.  At the top of the waterfall, I just could not take it anymore.  When I realized he was winding up to scream at me about Harry's toy for 1.3 miles down the mountain while I carried Dorothy and sweated through my clothes, I yanked the toy off of Harry's neck, intending to put in in my purse.  Instead, I accidentally took off his hat, too, and DROPPED HIS TOY DOWN THE SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN.  Terrible parenting.  I didn't even buy him another one.  Bonus:  Cooper was shocked and didn't whine as much going down. As much.

Ben would not stop at Dollywood.
 Instead we went to a terrible O'Charley's in downtown Knoxille

 Next stop:  OXFORD, OHIO where I got my MA.  I hope one of the kids goes to Miami-- it is amazing.  A tiny oasis of a college town rising out of miles of Ohio farms.  You can walk the whole town easily, and you are always surrounded by bars, restaurant, drive-thru liquor stores, red brick buildings, and beer and cookie delivery joints.  It is the Disney World of colleges.  We drove right to my old apartment
 Then we went to a favorite bar (Mac&Joe's) that had really intolerably bad service

 So we had dinner at Bagel and Deli, a sandwich shop so delicious it's pretty much the reason we detoured to Oxford in the first place.
 I have waited 14 years to eat a Wamm-O bagel again.
 There's also a UDF gas station witht he most amazing milkshakes.
 The next morning I went for a walk on campus and saw this guy on this skateboard Segway thing
 And my old building!
 The old courtyard we used to stand around and smoke in!
 Exactly where I was standing when 9-11 happened.
 The seminar room!
 And of course, more Bagel and Deli for breakfast (I had a Konrad bagel this time around.  We also enjoyed a pig in the mud, a gandy dancer, a Missy's bloodbath, and assorted bagel and cream cheese combos-- that place is worth a 5-hour drive and I hope it's not 14 years before I am back.)

 So trippy to see these 4 in utpown Oxford because they were not even in the realm of possibility last time I was in that town.
 To keep the nostalgia going, we drove the 80-ish minutes down the road to Muncie to visit Ball State, where Ben got his MA.  Ben or I made that drive almost every weekend between 2001-2003, and it was SO WEIRD to do it again with all the kids.  Of course, we went straight to Ben's old townhouse.
 We have this same pic of the two of us standing by Ben's Celica the weekend he moved in in winter 2001.
 We wandered the campus looking for a place to buy hats and t-shirts, and it looks the same-- still big and so pretty.
 Then we drove the short 4 hours to my parents' house and had dinner and spent the night, leaving only about 3.5 hours to go the next day.

Dorothy misses 2 weeks of unfettered access to junk food.
 I think they all missed their toys.
 And their dog, of course.