Wednesday, December 29, 2010
And finally this:It felt like the range and scope of our lives, sometimes. Most of the time. But still, there was this:
We went from here
And spent time here.
All in all, it wasn't bad, 2010.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Merry Christmas, dear readers!
However, I am always telling the kids that unfulfilled desires build character. (THAT'S what you call this pain and resentment swelling within my head!) Really, I guess, it's how we respond to unfulfilled desires that build character, or perhaps that response is how our character reveals itself. Anyhow, my character, or that of my household, is less gracious and unflappable than I could wish.
Friday, December 10, 2010
1. Favorite holiday: Christmas. Yes, it is, for real. And you know what else? My second favorite holiday is Easter. Old curmudgeonly, nonChristian, hasn't-belonged-to-a-church-in-over-thirty-years me.
2. Favorite part of my commute: where the highway goes down into the Platte River valley and for a mile or so all you can see are cottonwoods, plains, and mountains.
3. Favorite part of traveling for work: the food. Also, making coffee in my hotel room while I take a shower. Also, check-in. Otherwise I kind of hate it, I'm finding.
4. Favorite thing to dream about: landscape. Those dreams where I'm just setting forth into a new a tangled country, either on foot, or more rarely, in a truck. The world in my dreams seems vast and unpopulated. Lately the land in my dreams has been covered with houses, or is platted to be covered with houses, or is not very far from a large population center. Hmm. Coincidence? Or living in the suburbs with little chance to leave them? [Interestingly and perhaps ironically, my second-favorite dream involves looking at real estate.]
5. Third favorite thing to dream about: my grandpa's house. Always in these dreams there is an undiscovered room or floor filled with fascinating things. Two nights ago, however, I dreamed I was in his house and needing to pee, but every room I went to had been demoed. Apparently we were undertaking a "quick" bathroom remodel during our visit to his house. (I wonder where THAT dream came from?)
In other news, we have drywall, folks. Once we get rid of the drywall dust, the house will be downright habitable. Who NEEDS a kitchen, really?
Monday, November 29, 2010
1. Woke up (late!) in a rented condo.
2. Had a leisurely breakfast cooked in the condo kitchenette.
3. Had some more leisure time, audially decorated by three v. excited children.
4. Donned eighteen layers of snow and cold protection, in as leisurely a fashion as such an activity allows.
5. Went skiing en famille. Despite the inevitable bouts of screaming, the disappointment at low-bar goals unmet (I always begin a day of skiing hoping to ride the lift at least five times, and am always laughed off the mountain by fate), the cold, the inopportune demands for food, drink, or bathroom breaks, the day was lovely and made lovelier by the thought of a steaming warm dinner to come.
6. Went back to the condo and helped my SIL prepare Thanksgiving-in-a-box (turkey, gravy, rolls, three sides, cranberry sauce, and a pumpkin pie). My role was primarily confined to rereading the directions and confirming that, yes indeed, you left the plastic bag on the turkey to bake.
7. Ate said dinner, watched a movie with the kids, got to bed by 9 pm.
Nice, right? It's a bit of a departure from our usual Thanksgiving, although the past few years have been a steady exercise in the art of letting good traditions go. I haven't cooked a Thanksgiving dinner since 2007 and I don't think I've made a pie since well before that (and for so many years I was dedicated to the making a pie that began with an uncooked pumpkin and a pile of flour and ended with something that was definitely different than what you could get at King Soopers, but not necessarily better). We hastily dropped the midday-meal tradition after the Family Fiasco of 2008 (it involved plate pushing and bread throwing by a seven-year-old who'd just moved and changed schools, was expected to endure the guarded tensions of having both divorced grandparents at the same event, and broke when asked to come to the table at 2 p.m.) (the fiascality of the tantrum was enhanced by a certain relative, who, instead of a gentle comment about how children are such sensitive instruments or, perhaps, a hearty laugh, commented acidly that she found his behavior "very disturbing" and that, furthermore, I ought to be careful--someone might call social services if they found out he preferred to sleep on the floor.) (GOD) Thanksgiving has always been about friends and family, and it will definitely continue to be--but sometimes it's nice to have it be about family members who actually enjoy each others' company.
Anyhow. While I might tweak with this year's formula a little--by adding some brussels sprouts, maybe, or remembering to pack some whipped cream--I think we've found ourselves a new tradition.
Monday, November 22, 2010
1. Make Silas take the floor lamp out of the treehouse;
2. Clear out the old tomato vines;
3. Clean the house (or what is cleanable, anyway).
Not bad, eh? (Also: success. My life is so much easier when I give myself to-do lists that are actually possible to accomplish.) (Although, as easy as Item # 2 seems, the years I actually manage to do this before it snows and the rotting garden becomes encased in ice for the duration of the winter are rare.)
In all it was a lazy weekend, by which I mean we had relatively few things scheduled and M could actually say to me "I'd just kind of like to do NOTHING for a while today" and he could actually do that. Sort of. The state of our lives right now meant that M got to "do nothing" only while playing North American Animal Memory with Helen and overseeing a noisy game of Spongebob Monopoly between Silas and his friend and that these activities took place in our bedroom.
(I was on a run, by the way. Later I got to "do nothing" while sorting laundry and gently reminding small people to please bring their toys back to their own rooms and also planning the meals for the week. I think I planned the meals, anyway. Somehow dinner still ended up being spaghettios, donuts, and store-prepared salad. I SWEAR I will get back to eating well, or well-er, when we have a kitchen. UGH.)
Well, it's Thanksgiving week. I was all set to do a daily post about the things I am thankful for, except that it turned out that enumerating online the things for which I am thankful was the mental equivalent of stating online that no one in the house has thrown up lately or that the kids aren't having sleep issues. In other words, I can't bring myself to do it for fear of the hex. So, instead, I will say: I am so, so very grateful. I am grateful that we are in a position that we could do something about the mold and the ants. I am grateful that we are able to go into debt with a reasonable hope of getting out of it again. I am grateful that I am able to think of money as something abstract, most of the time.
Monday, November 15, 2010
In a lot of ways I like the coziness of our current arrangement. We all eat dinner in our bedroom; we watch movies together here, the kids do homework, and M dispiritedly works away on his laptop. Lately I've been preparing dinner here, too, bringing the vegetables and compost tub and only dashing out to adjust the heat on the hot plate when I absolutely have to. On Saturday night I fixed a salad while some tortellini cooked in garage, and then we ate it while watching Where the Wild Things Are. We do our arguing over money and contractors here, too, and it helps that the files, digital and paper, are all an arm's length away ("How much did that glider cost? Well, let's find out!") Well. It sort of helps. Sometimes it's a little too cozy. Also, I still manage to forget what I was going to do between walking to the computer to go look up the kids' online school lunch account and actually sitting down in front of it with my fingers ready.
We try to get out as much as we can, although that isn't always possible.
This weekend, though, I did get away for a little bit, to attend Jess's baby shower. I kind of love baby showers, even when I don't really know anybody, like at this one. I mean: babies. What's not to love? And it was lovely to meet so many other women, and eat some delicious food, and just generally sit around in someone else's house and not worry about my own, for a while.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Of course, my gloating is tempered, as it always is, by the lingering existence of actual problems. Some of them are potentially solvable. Some aren't. I still kind of believe that there isn't much that the people in office can do, most of the time. Still: cheers. I raise my glass, from the comfort of home.
Which means: yes, we're finally home. (Hurray.)
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
In the blogless interim, however, I HAVE felt up to doing other things, including but not limited to:
1. Sanding down assorted bedroom doors. Our house has very nice, solid wood doors. The previous owner had very anxious, insistent dogs that were often closed into the bedrooms. Need I say more? There's a delicious feeling of exorcising the last of the house demons as I rub those scratch marks into oblivion.
2. Celebrating our 14th anniversary at Rioja, one of those fancy downtown restaurants whose menus read like short stories involving collisions of luxury ingredients (Alaska-caught halibut in an Earl Gray-Tarragon reduction with lemon cream fraiche and a fig tartlet) (which was delicious). Pretentious, yet mmmmm.
3. Receiving rather handsome T-shirts from our builder (although the shirts have the alarming motto "It's not our fault!" written on the back). I'm hoping this isn't one of those "I took out a second mortgage and moved out of my home and all I got was this lousy T-shirt" situations.
4. Finishing the fall baseball season with Silas (thank GOD. No more long haul missions to distant fields.)
5. Finishing untold piles of homework with the same. Eegads, the HOMEWORK. It's more than I had in many college classes. The boy continues to soldier on, bravely and stoically, but sometimes it breaks my heart. M offers a refreshingly different perspective, however--he says that when he lived in Germany in fourth grade, his homework loads were similar. Weekdays were for doing homework, and only weekends were for playdates.
6. Being dazzled by the autumn colors. This happens every year. All year I remember, intellectually, that autumn is very pretty, and then every year I amazed again at the incandescent yellows, the burning reds, the glittering grasses, the way a tepid vista of green and brown is suddenly spiced into brilliance, and everyday acts, like driving to pick up the kids or going for a disappointingly short run, become miracles of hope and beauty. (Why hope, though? I don't know.)
Thursday, October 7, 2010
However, I can blame one of my latest preoccupations on the house: the need to find and hold onto good doggy bags. Not the food kind. My MIL's house has no fence and no real turf space to call its own, which means that Costi needs to be leashed up, walked, and scooped at least twice a day. This activity involves a lot of poop bags, and I'm constantly fretting about running out. Especially since I don't actually take her on walks in places that provide bags (she's getting old, and prefers not to walk far, and while I suppose I could load her into the car and drive her to an open space nearby...well, see the paragraph above. The planets might align to allow such an activity maybe once a week, at best. Meanwhile, her intestines keep working.) So I'm always dashing out to get the company paper at work, so I can strip off the encasing plastic and stuff it in my pocket. I'm always furtively tugging doggy bags from the stands set up in the neighborhood walkways around my work. I'm always pausing in my predawn runs to pull a few bags from the trails in the neighborhoods beyond the golf course (this is complicated by the fact that I adhere to a doggy bag karma: use only what you need, so that when you really need it, bags will be there. So I can't stock up.)
See? Brain space.
Monday, October 4, 2010
However, there are a lot of things to like about living here. As the entrance gate swings shut behind you and you drive from the clubhouse to your house that is only a LITTLE bit like a dormitory room, the road swings up and over a lovely swell, with a great view to the east and west, over closely-shorn parkway, with a beautiful shaggy willow creek running through the middle. There's a pond, with cattails and ducks. All of the painfully tidy houses open onto green space (even if that green space is only about ten feet wide). It's very tranquil out here. Especially when all of the visiting grandkids have gone home. Ahem. It's very safe. And it's very...how shall I say this?...free from the sorts of aggravations that come with living in other, less regulated places. No loud music. No free-roaming cats. No unleashed dogs or uncleaned poo. No unsightly yards or driveways. The homeowners' regulations, coincidentally, read a bit like a list of somebody's pet peeves (one of the rules says that if you put a non-American flag in your flag-bracket [ALL of the houses have flag brackets], you must also have an American flag up, and the American flag needs to be on top).
So...pretty much the four of us (plus our frequently unleashed dog) stick out like a passel of unwelcome gypsies. Every time the gate closes behind me I glance furtively at the houses on either side and sink a little lower in my seat. Every time I run through the neighborhood on my morning jog I feel like an interloper, like I need to say loudly to everyone who cheerfuly greets me that we are ONLY here for really, a FEW more days, we should be GONE by next weekend, I SWEAR it.
And actually? This might be true. The hardwood is going down in our bedroom as I write. By this weekend we may be moving back in. Still no kitchen, but man. It will be nice to be home.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Then I remember: oh yeah, I still DO live here. Sort of.
After only a week and a half at my MIL's I feel like we've moved out. The house is so gritty and beat down that it is not at all a pleasant place to be (and oh, the yard, it is in a dreadful shape, white and baked and dry). But I miss being able to walk to the library and the store. I miss being five minutes from the kids' school. I miss my running routes. I miss talking to all the neighbors, even the ones who irk me just a little bit.
The house is progressing. The hall and bedrooms have black tarpaper down (I guess this is what they put between the subfloor and the floorboards.) The laundry room has hardiback subfloor, ready for tile. The front room is promisingly filled with bright new yellow lumber. Progress is on the horizon.
But meanwhile I wake every morning in a tidy white duplex on a golf course, go for a run beneath the stars, wave at the active 55s-and-over who wave back ever so slightly accusingly (aren't you and your children what we moved here to get AWAY from? uh, probably so.) I walk Costi on the lush green lawns and when I scoop her poop into the bags, as often as not a little crinkly crabapple leaf sneaks in too. It's starting to be fall, and I long to be home.
Monday, September 20, 2010
I.e., my mind was a raging forest fire of stress last night and the Jetta has a flat* and thus I had to drive M to the train station so that we could both get to work today, which, as this is my early day, meant that we both had to leave by seven (ha), which, bless my MIL's heart, meant that she would take the kids to school, so that in order to keep her from having to go far above and beyond the call of duty, meant that the kids had to be out of bed, dressed, combed, and fed before we left.
The feat was accomplished, though, and with a minimal amount of crying/ hissing, even if the kids were both lying on their backs waving their arms and legs in the air like drowsy pink pillbugs when we walked out the door. So that was good, and un-Mondayish. And I have a new-to-me espresso maker in my office with me today: also un-Mondayish (although I am still perfecting the ratio of grounds to water). However, the most important thing: today is not yesterday, and for that I am glad.
Yesterday, inspired by a vague charitable impulse, I decided to drive to Fort Collins with the kids. Si could do a playdate with his old friend from first grade, Helen could...tag along, and I could pick up my MIL from the memorial service she was attending and drive her home. Furthermore, that would put the four of us out of the house for half the day so that M could get some work done. Win-win-win, right? Except that in my misty-eyed bumbling charitableness, I sort of forgot about me, and how there was very little in this long-ass thankless drive for me, and how such imbalance, while perhaps good for my soul, is not at all good for my mood. In painful addition, Helen was coming off a sleepover with a friend from her preschool whom she hasn't seen for several weeks. So: two quarreling kids, a long-ass drive, a sense of martyrdom, and vexation that I wasn't even doing something that anyone had asked me to do but had actually brought this all upon myself.
Yeah. It was a long drive. We weren't even out of Denver proper before I'd started to rant about money. The drive back was even longer and I actually pulled over (into a gas station, not by the side of the highway) at one point to clear my head and also show the kids I was serious about not provoking/kicking/screaming/pinching/tattling. ("How about I buy them some McDonalds?" offered my MIL at this juncture, which I angrily refused, a sort of compressed display of 75% percent of our conversations on child-rearing/ life). Ugh. I felt like a bully-mother-martyr--a person who has her place but certainly wasn't why I'd planned the outing in the first place.
On the positive side, though, Si got to see his old friend, and while they're sort of obviously growing apart, he still laughs more with this old friend than with any of his newer friends. They spent the last half of the afternoon telling each other gross-out jokes and laughing hysterically. Also, did I mention my espresso machine in my office? Now I just need a breadmaker (set to "muffin") and a comfy couch for naps, and I wouldn't have any reason to leave.
*We've apparently fallen into a Bermuda Triangle of brokenness.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Sleeping arrangements, at the MIL's: M and I in the (windowless) basement bedroom, which is amazingly dust free. Helen on a Helen-sized futon on the floor, with her water and her stuffed snoopies tucked under a towel beside her. Costi on the floor. Since she can't fit under the bed (that's where she prefers to sleep at home), she put her front paws and head under the bed. Silas, by adamant choice, is sleeping on a small futon in the unfinished basement storage room with his music, two (!) fans, and his stuffed dog.
So far, so good. M said when he and the builders pulled up the carpet in our bedroom there was a quarter-inch encrustation of dirt and mold under a pathway from the door to the bathroom. I'm beginning to think that carpets=many of our problems, esp. allergy-related problems. Thus, hardwood floors: attractive, and also a medical investment! Hopefully.
Monday, September 13, 2010
1. Exercise, but not too much. My big run on Sunday is only five miles and my weekly runs veer toward 2-and-a-half miles, which previously I didn't really consider a real run (three miles, though: THAT's real.) I walk more. While I've never been a real striver in the exercise department, I'm letting myself take it more easy than before.
2. Eat well, but allow more treats. There's nothing that restores the mind and body quite like a coffee milkshake, after all.
3. Fancy touches. I haven't yet started putting garnish on the dinner plates, but I feel like I'm putting in extra effort to make the dinner table, which is also the countertop and the dishwashing area, LOOK nice. This isn't my usual way. I've also been sweeping the back porch more, even though we hardly ever use it, since it's miles away through a grit-encrusted wasteland right now.
4. Packing ahead. My lunch, the kids' lunches, the kids' backpacks--sometimes I'll stay up until 10:30 getting everything ready for the next day/ week. I'm not sure how much grief this really saves in the morning, but it does help me feel more or less on top of and in touch with the kids' school lives.
5. Cleaning. I've become a bitchy bear about making everyone (ie the kids) clean the living space every night.
Does this stuff help? A little. A lot, actually, but it's of much less value when dealing with having to move everything into two rooms and seal them up. I spent all Sunday moving books, clothes, and boxes, and still, there is so much left to do, and nothing gets underway until we've finished--it's exhausting.
Positives: on Saturday our building guys tore out the nasty gritty allergenic carpet from the kids' rooms, and Si's room has a really beautiful hardwood finish (which he keeps firmly reminding us he wants to have covered up again with carpet as soon as possible). Helen's room also has hardwood, although not in as nice condition.
Also on Saturday, Helen and I drove up to Fort Collins and visited with an old friend who has a daughter Helen's age, and it was so nice, to just sit around drinking coffee, playing with her baby and talking. This is something that doesn't happen as much as it should in our new life.
Friday, September 10, 2010
We're positive. Or the house is, anyway. We considered sneaking away in the dead of night and never coming back, but jettisoned that for the much less stressful complete emptying of the house while the vents are sealed, carpets are removed, the offending substance is removed along with the floor and/or subfloor, and then the floors are replaced and the whole thing is cleaned and sterilized. Oh, and also? Everyone involved has to sign waivers so if they develop symptoms of exposure to the substance in twenty years they can't SUE us.
Kill me NOW.
So yes, we are now entering the wormhole. Although what M and I are MOST dreading is the relatively mundane moving of boxes--everything we own has to go into a pod or a sealed room. UGHHH. I am SO SICK of moving (2008--we moved two households. 2009--we moved M's mom's household. 2010--apparently we are moving OUR household. Goal for 2011--NO MOVING ANYONE).
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Day 3 (or so):
Helen is standing approximately where the kitchen used to be.
We've started on the journey to the new kitchen. Somewhere in the mists of the future lie the ability to wash our dishes in hot water at a sink, fill the dishwasher, and stand at the kitchen counter making a pie that we can put in our own oven. In the meantime, we're on the hot & crowded 24-hour flight to Guam. Or maybe the four-month journey in the hold of the steamer.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Okay, fine, I'd also like a fourth-grade cam.
Although the potential for abuse would be high. For example: "I noticed you were poking around in your desk when your teacher was trying to explain fractions to the class today. What's up with that?" or "I saw that you laughed when K made that mean comment about your classmate. How do you think that made him feel?"
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
1. Today was Helen's first day of school. She was beyond excited (I was beyond excited, even though I'm not convinced it's THAT big a milestone; the transition to middle school looms larger right now. Or maybe that's just first child bias). Both kids are starting to devolve a little from "excited" to "violently grumpy." Although, thanks to a house filled with plastic sheeting and drywall dust, I'm having a lot of luck in farming them out for playdates and currently I am in the house ALONE. (Someday soon it will be payback time, and I have a feeling I'd better start thinking of favors to do NOW.)
2. I met Jess today! She's just as beautiful and sensible as she appears in her blog.
I also went for a hike today, at a state park out on the plains that I'd never been to before. Tomorrow I go back to work. I don't dread going back to work, exactly, but that just seems like another person, that self of mine who gets up early and goes for a run and packs a lunch and gets in the car to drive to work. (And that self's life is not exactly exciting. Nor is it leisurely, which is what I crave right now, alas.)
The idea of routine is appealing, however. We've reached the point of no return in the renovation: our drywall is gone. The front of our house looks like a barn, with pink panther fiberglass batts in place of stalls, and a smell of dust and mold instead of straw and manure. I have this naive belief that if I can just cobble together some kind of routine I can ride out all the dust and disruption with smiling equanimity.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
1. School has started. For Silas, anyway. Helen starts tomorrow. The kids are like little ADD mice on crack, they are so excited.
Silas rips open his backpack to do his homework, talking full speed while he's doing it--"Even though it says just one thing we're supposed to have five things and that's what she said, so it's okay, five things, okay mom?"--and halfway through one assignment he rushes off to do something else (pee, maybe? it would appear to be necessary) and then gets distracted on the way back and ten minutes later I find him in his room, putting together kid kinnects, except that then his attention falls on the Garfield book beside his bed and he drifts off to read it. Meanwhile, Helen has apparently not played with anyone in seven years, she is so desperate to play with Silas, and she lies resentfully on his back while he tries to read, and then, when he says he will play with her after he's read ten pages, lies beside him, singing a little song about how he'll play with her soon, soo-oon, oh ye-ahh. I finally have to call her off.
2. The rolloff is here. So far we have lost the basement drywall. Full speed ahead!
We've also retreated into the south half of the house. Our bedroom has pretty much every electronic device we own in it, including the coffee maker ("It'll be like a hotel!" I said. "We can brew coffee while we're taking a shower!") It also has about half our furniture. The rest is in the garage, which is set up with the kitchen table, some shelves, and the fridge. The distance between the fridge and our bedroom, in other words, is about fifteen feet--it's like we've returned to apartment living. Now, while I am as excited as anyone else in the household for the project to move on through and END (and I will be much, much more excited once the kitchen is gone and we have no faucet or drain for cleaning up dishes), I kind of like this phase. It's cozy--kind of a circle-the-wagons feeling. Or, actually,it's like the old, old days when Mike & I were living in a truck--we slept within arm's reach of everything we owned. There's something comforting in that.
Bye, bye, tiny kitchen with paint-chipping sawdust-dripping cabinets!
Friday, August 20, 2010
2. The kids' school registration was last night. We stood in one line for 20 minutes, and then another line for 25 minutes, all so we could turn in our forms and checks and OF COURSE I ran out checks, just like I did LAST YEAR, and after standing in line for 45 minutes and having my blood sugar level drop to just about zero the thought of not being able to pay for whatever the last thing was on time like a responsible parent made me totally panicky. UGH. Although it was nothing a beer afterward couldn't fix.
3. We met the teachers--they're both lovely. I was struggling not to be biased but I was really glad that Helen got the kindergarten teacher who isn't brand new (although I'm sure the new teacher is LOVELY and will be a WONDERFUL teacher).
4. I was surprised at how completely ignorant I was of the fourth-grade teachers. You'd think that after two years I'd have some sense of the school beyond the immediate Silas universe, but nay.
5. Neither child has friends in his/her class. Again, OF COURSE. Although I'm not convinced that Silas really cares about friends, to tell the truth. He seems to have buddies everywhere (and he has buddies in this class) and best friends nowhere and bases his favorite friend of the month on the entertainment options at their house, more or less. I SO DO NOT GET THIS.
6. It's Friday, yet there is no dumpster at the house. Hmm. So apparently no demo today.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
"Will I be able to ride my bike to kindergarten?" asks Helen, as she straps on her pink Barbie helmet and gets ready for her evening wobble around the neighborhood. (The answer, BTW, is Yes! Only we'll have to leave an hour before school starts because the only thing slower than walking at this point is biking).
"I'm going to take lunch three days a week and on Wednesdays, there's pizza day, so then I'll just get to choose one other lunch," says Silas, and then Helen repeats it, with big eyes, only she makes sure that I remember that she doesn't like pizza.
They're getting revved up for school to start, in other words. We've got piles of brand-new school supplies, we've looked online at the teacher teams for each of their grades, we've talked about the new bus stop, about which before-and-after-school activities we're going to do, and about the fall semester schedule. We've gone through their homework/artwork boxes and emptied them out so they're ready for the onslaught of school projects. We're, uh, going to figure out the back-to-school-clothes situation any day now. They're ready. We're ready. I'm ready.
Except I'm not. I am SAD, and for really no reason at all. I am sad that Helen's daycare/preschool is no longer a place we need to go. I am sad that the bedtime routine no longer involves getting Helen into a swimsuit and remembering to put her undies and towel into her swim bag (both my kids prefer to streamline the morning routine by putting their clean clothes on the night before). I am sad that Si's camps are done, even though they were really vast sinks of inconvenience and he didn't even like them all that much (except for archery. He LOVED archery). I am sad that the summer hourglass is down to its last few grains and we've only gone camping ONCE and hiking TWICE and haven't even made popsicles or used our ice cream maker. I am HEARTBROKEN that Silas is practically in middle school (fourth grade! it's crazy! every year a new grade!) I am sad, or perhaps a better word is sorry, that we didn't schedule our summer better. (For the record, next year we will concentrate on doing camp and swim lessons in June, trips in July, and maybe rely on parents and/or whatever late season camps we can find for August. The last few weeks before school starts are scheduling HELL.)
A lot of this sadness, though, is because we're between routines. As soon as school starts and we have our daily and weekly schedules figured out, life will go back to being predictable and calm.
Except, of course, for the renovation. Demo seems likely to begin NEXT WEEK--just in time for school.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Although there was celebrating on Saturday, too, and there will be more tomorrow. It's a five-day party! Or something. Actually, I think it's called "divorced grandparents who want to shower their first grandchild with gifts without the inconvenient presence of the other grandparent plus a separate kid party." Silas doesn't mind--more cakes for him.
We did the kid party at the mini golf in Englewood, the one I like because instead of having dayglo castles and giant neon dinosaurs it has xeric(ish) landscaping and holes that reflect various Colorado tourist destinations. I always leave there trailing slips of paper with hopeful Colorado vacation itineraries jotted on them. Mesa Verde! Cripple Creek! Garden of the Gods!
The rest of the weekend was a stretch of cheerful and indolent chaos, the sort we haven't indulged in since we left Fort Collins. Assorted people trooped in and out of the house all day: their cousin spent the night, one of Si's friends stayed until dinner while his parents went car shopping; some old FtC friends stopped in after dropping their dog at a vet surgery near us, and later Si's friends' parents stayed to talk about the frustrations of car shopping and the scary-but-okay accident that had necessitated it in the first place. And then on Sunday we hung out at my MIL's, eating waffles and fruit while the kids played. I dug in her garden, pulling out old iris roots, and then we all went to her pool before it was time for Si's baseball practice. Later, she and her boyfriend came over for dinner and dessert. A busy, social weekend that still felt homebody-ish: my favorite kind. Although by Monday I was ready for a little more regulation and routine and it was kind of a relief to get back to work.
The kids start school in two weeks! Helen starts kindergarten in two weeks! We're all a little anxious and excited.
Friday, July 30, 2010
2. I'm wondering how to get bribery to work on MYSELF. I have a horrible bad habit--it's called the internet--and I am determined to get my life back. Or at least my daytime productivity. Based on my faith that if you do something for ten days it becomes a habit (or is it two weeks? ANYWAY, some manageable amount of time), I am strictly rationing my (cough at work cough) internet time. After ten days, hopefully it will be habit. After a month, I'm thinking that I should get some sort of reward. Only, what? Ooh! I know! A major house renovation! Oh, right. We're getting that anyway, AND it's using up all our money.
Maybe I could give myself some chocolate chips (only, again, that would involve an interim time of NOT giving myself chocolate chips, which would mean that instead of embarking on one self-improvement project, I'd have to manage two--and, well, that's just too much self control right now. Especially when I don't have a kitchen.)
3. Actually,we do still have a kitchen, but its days are numbered. Also, all of our couches have gone into hiding. Now we just sit on cushions on the floor, waiting for the contractor to come.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Here's the deal: there's a kid in Si's class who has called him a couple of times this summer asking to play. He's never gotten through to Si personally; once he (actually, his dad, who was calling for him) talked to me; once he left a message. Si has been informed of these messages and has been nudged to call back, but he has shown zero interest in returning this kid's calls. Negative interest, even.
My normal position on Silas's social life is that I keep out of it. (Which is a separate question in and of itself: how much should I be interfering/ directing/ shaping Si's friendships?)
However, as the message-taker, I feel responsible. Also, I feel bad for the guy in his class. My sense is that he is not well-liked. Rumors get spread about him. All things being equal (when are they ever equal, though?) I think I would nudge Si a little harder about calling him back.
However--and here is where the water gets murky--I have a gut reaction toward this guy, and it is negative. I've been in Si's class. The kid is a little out of control. Also, I get reports like "people don't like X because he gets really mad and kicks people" and "X says he plays Nintendo until 3 a.m. and his parents just let him." Also, his parents: they are divorced, and his dad has clearly remarried a trophy wife. They seem like uncomfortable, dissipated people. This is based solely on gut instinct, meaning on sheer surface prejudices. I don't like that I do this. Nevertheless, it is the data with which I am working.
My charitable instincts (give the poor kid a chance) are at war with my parental instincts, which tell me this kid, however pitiable his home life, is unlikely to be a good influence. He's likely to engage in questionable behaviors in a playdate at his house and need extra supervision at a playdate at our house.
More data: I am myself a few-close-friends sort of person, not an embrace-a-wide-and-diverse-acquaintanceship person. I don't pursue or encourage friendships with women I don't like or don't trust. And I don't feel right pushing my children to do so, either. I try to enforce a rule of kindness, but there is a difference between being breezily polite/ friendly in a neutral location, like school, and inviting someone into your house.
I feel bad. But I'm not going to do it.
Friday, July 23, 2010
2. After I wrote yesterday's post, I reflected on some of the other differences between now and five years ago. The two biggest ones are these: I finally have a more-or-less real job (if nothing else, proving that this is a human activity I am capable of), and life with the kids has hit the sweet spot. Right after Silas was born, one of my professors said something like "The next few years will be terrible, then they will be great for about eight years or so, then they'll be terrible again, and then they'll be great." So far we seem to be sticking to this trajectory, slightly extended due to adding another small person to the mix. While upon rare occasion I miss those babies I used to have, most of the time I am luxuriating in my ability to do basic normal things, like take a bath alone, or read at breakfast, or drink a cup of coffee without leaping up five times to attend to someone (although this still requires frequent semipatient reminders that I will do X when I'm done with my damn coffee, please). We can go on hikes and watch movies together. We can do trips. I can read chapter books to both of my kids. Life is pleasant, except when tainted by future longing (i.e., when I think that five years from now I will have a 10-year-old and an almost-14-year-old, and that the 14-er will probably look at me with loathing, and will be so busy with activities that we'll never be able to leave town, and when we do leave town he will spend the whole time pining after his friends and/or texting them inappropriately and on the sly).
3. We looked at cabinets and countertops yesterday, and I started to be excited that someday relatively soon we are going to have a kitchen that not only works properly but which was specifically chosen and designed by us. As I've never lived with a kitchen that wasn't a morass of compromise and small disappointments, this is a big deal. It also raises uncomfortable questions of resource use and agency and allocation of personal funds--I can no longer be, or pretend to be, the virtuous planetary resident I was when I had a bike and 500 square feet and a monthly budget of $500. Also, that means the disastrous tupperware drawer will be completely our fault.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Also, I sort of like the idea of randomly turning back and saying--wait! Five years! What was I doing five years ago today?
July 22, 2005 (I checked. It was a Friday.)
1. Working, in my hot office on the CSU campus. Silas was at daycare a few blocks away. Helen was probably in my lap and I was probably typing one-handed.
2. We were sort of starting to recover from becoming a four-person family seven months before.
3. Writing was going okay. I was still on a hiatus from the novel, but I had some other good stuff going on.
4. We were also recovering from our second camping trip as a four-person family. The secret to camping with a seven-month-old? Camp beside a river, so no one can hear her scream.
5. I was ramping up training for my first and so far only half-marathon.
In the intervening years, there have been:
Children conceived: 0
Live babies acquired: 0
Men married: 0
Houses sold: 1
Houses bought: 1
Houses regretted: 1
Books written: 2 (rought drafts only, alas)
Degrees acquired: 0
Unfamiliar countries visited: 1
Unfamiliar states visited: 2 (in addition to lots of familiar states)
Couches owned: 5
Pets felled by disease/neglect: 2 (birds) (I'm also not sure of the turtle's fate, but I fear it was not good)
Days admitted to hospital: 0
Days children admitted to hospital: 3
Literary rejections received: countless
Pounds gained: haven't checked lately
Kidney stones passed: 0
Internships completed: 1
Funerals attended: 1
Books read: 292 (I keep track)
Blogs maintained: 1
Chickens reared: 3
Monday, July 19, 2010
Fraser-Granby-Winter Park temps: decidedly not that. Also, it was sunny. Also, so I don't get too weepily nostalgic, the mosquitoes were OUT. Helen looks like she came down with smallpox. (Guess who inherited her dad's inflammatory reaction tendencies?) And I spent at least two hours in the sweltering tent one day because heat stroke was FAR PREFERABLE to one more mosquito bite. Yargh.
Overall, though, the kids loved it. Note that Silas actually carried a backpack! With actual stuff in it! We did manage to convince him not to bring his 25-pound magnetix set, which spent the weekend in the car. Helen also carried a backpack, but her load consisted of a half cup of trail mix and barbie doll clothes.
Si is sometimes less enthusiastic about fishing than his dad would like him to be, but this weekend he even outfished Hubs. Friday morning he came stumbling down from his tent with his fishing pole in one hand and his shoes in the other. "Mom! Can you put my shoes on while I eat breakfast?" he asked.
"But can't you put on your own--oh, fine," I said.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Monday, July 5, 2010
Then on the Fourth (Hubs was home--yay) we packed our cold weather gear and headed for the mountains. It was overcast and drizzling in Denver but the mountains were beautiful. The kids would like to go on record that they did not APPROVE of doing a hike, but DID IT ANYWAY for the sake of family harmony. Point taken, kiddos.
And then after lunch she got to head back down. So she was happy.
Si, on the other hand, was "tricked" and "forced" into climbing to the top:
And if he was maybe a little bit proud that he climbed a whole mountain by himself he certainly wasn't going to let on. Much. My big guy.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Guess I'll go to work instead.
But! The highlight of the week was hands-down the unexpected visitor we had on Tuesday night, and I wish I had had a camera because the visual of this strutting nervously around on our suburban lawn would be so much better: a chicken. Making very worried chicken sounds. While casually putting various shrubberies between itself and us (those chickens can MOVE).
And best of all, after it had squeezed itself back over to our neighbor's yard where it belongs? I found an egg. Which made me want to unpatch the hole in the fence--come over whenEVER you want, little chicken. WhenEVER you want. Mmm-mm.
Friday, June 18, 2010
"Mmm, it smells so nice!" Helen cried happily this morning, as we pushed our way against the scent into the car. "Don't you like it, Mom? What's your favorite smell?"
"I like...kind of um, natural smells."
"Like banana bread? I don't like banana bread, but I like how it smells!"
"Yes. Banana bread smells wonderful."
So right now I'm trying to figure out the right combination of lie and truth that will spare her feelings but get rid of the damn thing. My personal first choice is "Shoot, honey! I had the window open and it just blew right out onto the highway!" However, for various reasons of tactfulness and sentimentality (it's Hubs' father's day present), I'm leaning more toward needing to "preserve" it. By keeping it wrapped in three sealed bags in the trunk of the car with a blanket wrapped around that and maybe a box over it. After all, the smell of the thing is still nice and strong--if we parcel it out, it should last forever. Just like Helen's love for her dad. Sighhhh.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
So we got a little letter at the end of the school year letting us know that Silas had been selected for the GT program (I'm calling it GT because the gifted talented program makes me throw up a little in my mouth). This is great, and I'm proud of him, and hope that it will lead to exciting opportunities like being able to read classic children's books in the original and unabridged. Or maybe they do that in all classes now, I don't know. I'm glad, but I'm not really surprised--I mean, Si's smart and he likes school, so duh, obviously he's in the GT program. End of story. See you in the fall.
Exceppttt...they sent home with the letter a little questionnaire to collect "evidence of how you perceive your child's abilities and characteristics." We're supposed to supply examples from our child's own life. Which, reading through it, made me wonder if they'd sent the letter to the wrong parents. Because look at some of these characteristics and abilities:
"My child is a 'self-starter' who works well alone. (For example: After watching a film about musical instruments, Gary began to make his own guitar from materials he found around the garage)." [really? there are third-graders that DO this?]
"My child will spend more time and energy than his/her agemates on a topic of his/her interest. (For example: Joan is learning to sew and spends every free minute designing new dress patterns and trying to sew them herself.)"
Or my favorite:
"My child is a 'doer' who begins a project and shows finished products of his/her work. (For example: Mary began working on a puppet show four months ago, and has since built a stage and puppets and has written a script. Tomorrow she's presenting her play to the PTA!)"
I mean, these examples immediately make me a) insecure and b) confused (where ARE these children?), not to mention c) sarcastic ("My child is a finisher: he'd stay up til two a.m. every night trying to finish the next level of Mario Brothers II on the Wii if he could).
They also make me wonder if (/hope that) the questionnaire's designed to weed out pretentiousness. Because, seriously, "Tomorrow she's presenting her play to the PTA!" Since when did the PTA have puppet shows? I thought you only went to stuff like that in the service of investing in supporting your kid's activities, for Pete's sake.
Anyhow. I'm still glad. Just...wary.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
1. Si's last day of of school was today. Technically I should say "day," since classes dismiss at 10:30 a.m. following a school-wide party (which I'm not faulting them for, because it's hardly like there's going to be meaningful instruction on the last day). Let's have a round of applause for my husband's job, which allows him to work from home in a flex-time situation completely at his own discretion. If we had to do this on two minimally flexy jobs we'd be screwed.
2. Let the party of summer begin. *groan and fall to floor* Last summer was one single three-month fight between me and Si on the subject of how much daily monitor time was appropriate. This year we're doing camps and playdates, so hopefully it will be less of an issue. Also, he's like...more mature, or something, and is actually starting to understand (slash parrot back in a convincing tone of voice) our position re the video gaming.
3. On the party deck tonight...cold lentil salad and Shrek 4.
4. I'm still kind of looking forward to summer. I wish I could participate in it more, though: summer is the time when I really wish I didn't work.
5. We're in the middle of signing papers in which we agree to have the interior of the house gutted, though, so not working/ working less is off the table as an option. I'm actually excited about the remodel, though--in addition to a fancy new kitchen where the drawers don't shake sawdust and paint chips down into our dishes, we're going to have actual insulation in the roof! As opposed the 3-inch soggy fiberglass batts we had before. Already we have some excellent improvements: the house no longer smells like mold, we don't have ants, the rotting soffits and fascia boards have been replaced, AND, since it was cheap and easy (relatively speaking), we had two skylights put in.
So! Have a good Tuesday evening. I'll be thinking of you as I eat popcorn-laced butter product in the air-conditioned dark.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Since my house is 12 miles from work as the crow flies, and 14-16 miles as the crow bikes, assuming the crow prefers to avoid hills and major streets just like I do, this is a major undertaking, one which has involved several stages of mental involvement. Here is a summary of those stages:
Stage 1. Preparation. Plotting routes, fretting, packing, tossing and turning in eager anticipation. I usually bring my lunch and purse in several ungainly handbags, so I had to break out the backpack. While I was at it, I packed my lunch (and Si's, and Helen's school swim bag, and I did the dishes, and then I got crabby and stomped around the house feeling put upon and overworked). Duration: approximately 4 days, greatly intensifying in the past 24 hours.
Stage 2. Delight. As I set off this morning (at 6:20), I couldn't stop smiling. The mountains were beautiful. The stormy clouds were beautiful. The early-morning gardens were beautiful. I saw a fox, and people walking their dogs, and big beds of blooming irises, and green meadows. The view in places (I was riding west, toward the mountains) was spectacular. Duration: 45 minutes.
Stage 3: Exhaustion. My legs started to hurt. Everything was uphill. I just wanted to take a break but I couldn't because a) I was already kind of late for work and b) I was right on a busy street and I didn't want to be a total obvious wimp. Duration: 45 minutes.
Stage 4: Grim soldiering on. The last mile was TOTALLY uphill. The only way I could do it and not stop or walk was to count to one hundred, over and over, and also remind myself that this was good exercise. Duration: 10 minutes.
Stage 5: Smug relief and pride. I rode my bike to work! I am so totally badass! Should I put my helmet right on my desk where everyone can see, or should I just announce on the intercom how awesome I am? Duration: 2 or 3 hours, until I realized that nobody actually cared.
Stage 6: Nervousness. How the hell am I going to get home? Duration: 6 hours, to present.
Stage 7: Exhaustion; also, overwhelming desire to take a nap. Duration: hard to tell, since I'm too sleepy to read the clock.
Stage 8: Help me.
Anyway, it's been fun. Hope to make it home.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Plus, Helen's summer program ("We got two free swims!") started today, and while Si's school isn't officially out, he's totally ACTING like it's out, with the moping and the anxiety-about-change (which I so, so get and am trying to hide in myself so as not to provoke his any more than it is), so I say we just call it done so by the time summer does start he'll be relaxed and happy again. Or something.
Finally, what with all the sucktacious stuff happening around the internet (my heart is breaking for Katie Granju and her family, and I am also technically Scared Shitless about Si's teenage years) and elsewhere, we need us some summer.
Right, yeah? Let's go get us some pina coladas.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Anyhow. I am feeling better. Helen had her much-anticipated Kindergarten Orientation last night, and it cheered me right up. I'd feel even better if *I* got to go to kindergarten in the fall, because it sounds so awesome, but luckily I'm good at vicariously living through my kids.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Which doesn't actually make the non-actualization of those dreams any less bitter. Plus, there are the actual local sadnesses and crises, none of which are new but which are kind of wearing me down right now.
Anyhow. Apparently it's Monday or something. (*signficant glance at sulking self*)
Friday, May 14, 2010
Now I'm kind of feeling like sickness lurks around the corner. My throat is...not sore yet, but drippy, if you know what I mean.
So. A Friday Favorites post about the great things about being sick. Because feeling crummy sucks--but it's always nice to have an excuse to glug down some Nyquil (off brand, of course).
1. Sleeping in, taking naps, and more sleeping in general. This really only works if it's not a coughing cold.
2. Watching TV/ movies and feeling like this is good. This is exactly what I should be doing vs Don't you have some laundry you need to do? Only that laundry never goes away, does it? Damn.
3. Nyquil, benadryl, and etc. Duh.
Well, that's it. I hope this isn't a really involved cold. I also hope it isn't a big one for the coughing.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Anyhow. Things are actually going fairly well in the Melospiza household, objectively speaking, and from the perspective of the healing power of self-pity this just doesn't help. I mean, a year ago, if we'd found out that we needed a roof repair to the tune of ten grand, I would have been in red alert panic mode. Now, thanks to being employed, I can say philosophically, "Eh. It sucks, but what can you do?" And, thanks to even worse news out there, even this problem seems small and of the we're-lucky-to-have-it variety. Man. The words "hospice" and "under 40" shouldn't legally allowed to be in the same sentence and I don't want to talk about it but I just want to say that the people involved are about the kindest, funniest, warmest people on the planet and it just SUCKS.
Meanwhile, my son's baseball team continues to lose (but with talent!), we've got ongoing battles with the Wii and exactly how much time should be spent playing it (ranging from a high of 22 hours a day to a low of zero), and half of my daughter's friends are not going to be at her daycare this summer. Although she seems to be dealing with this fact just fine, and we actually have a good history of playdates and parent-to-parent communication with the friends involved, so it isn't nearly the break that it might at first seem (And? she's likely to be at the same middle school as these girls, which is unimaginable and awesome.)
So. It's a Thursday. Enjoy yours.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Baby steps: it's not really possible to tell in this picture, but the back yard is looking better.
In the beds: two kinds of peas, three kinds of beans, tomatoes, zucchini, patty pan squash, radishes, carrots, and cucumbers. I *may* have overplanted just a bit.
Also, I'm too tired from working all weekend to post (*lame*). But I will say this: the trailer bike, and Helen's total and utter fear of riding on it and my resulting frustration, may have figured prominently.
Hope y'all have a good Monday.
Friday, May 7, 2010
- make Si and Helen make appreciation cards for their teachers before we procrastinate so much that it's too late to give them
- clean the house, esp the bathrooms
- pry ant-ridden timbers out of the landscaping and pile them for easy access to the roll-off dumpster we're going to get next weekend
- take Helen to gymnastics, preferably by bike
- go to Si's baseball game on Sat
- run with Si at least once (I've been making him run a mile four or five times a week--separate story)
- do the laundry
- help the kids plant their herb garden
- water the garden (the peas are coming up! and the carrots and the radishes and the chard!)
- go to the store
- go for a longish run
- finish a pitch for a magazine story I've been working on
- call our Littleton friends to see if they're still on for Saturday night dinner
- have our Littleton friends over for dinner
- figure what to do for Mother's Day
Note that last item? That's always how this holiday seems for me: one more damn thing to fit in. I'm not opposed to it per se, although I do grade into the camp of it's a holiday invented by card companies to sell more cards. I used to enjoy it, back before we had kids and Mother's Day was an excuse to go with my MIL to a nicer-than-usual brunch place. Sometimes I still feel nostalgia for the old brunch days, but then I remember that this was back in the days when I didn't know what to do with all my time. On Sunday we'd sleep in, laze about staring hungrily at the walls, drag ourselves to the brunch place, wait for hours, cram as much pancakes and French toast into our food-holes as we could, then roll home to laze about for the rest of the day. If I was feeling ambitious I'd go for a run or work in the yard. But the whole brunch thing would mean that the day wouldn't really get started until 1 o'clock or so--which is why brunching has pretty much become a thing of the past. I mean, please. One o'clock? That's like dinnertime, practically.
Anyhow. My five favorite things about NOT going out for brunch:
1. Breakfast takes 15 minutes to make, including the coffee, and I'm done eating in ten.
2. I can eat what I really feel like at breakfastime, which is cereal.
3. I don't spend the next three hours on a carbohydrate-fueled food bonk.
4. I can eat when I'm hungry and move on with my life.
5. No lines.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Well, OBVIOUSLY it's Monday, since one of my children is having a meltdown at the breakfast table. Technically he is now out of the house, walking to school after having missed the bus, but the meltdown still lingers (and really, if I opened a window I could probably hear it). Subject of meltdown: it's teacher appreciation week, so our lovely, highly-organized school moms had the sweet idea of having every student bring a single flower to school for his/her teacher.
I'm guessing the moms who organized this have girls. Or kindergarteners. Not third-grade boys.
Nevertheless, thanks to my Monday-morning inflexibility on random points, I made him go through with it. I had my regrets, of course. I'm not sure if I really believe in making him comply with the sweet but slightly clueless appreciation choreographing of the PTA Moms--it feels a bit like being the sort of mom who throws a sulking fit if the Hallmark card does not arrive for the Hallmark-developed Mother's Day celebration or is not accompanied by the approved Hallmark-designed gifts. However. He loves his teacher, and as I did point out in my tactless Monday-morning mood, she daily does all sorts of awkward and humiliating things for her students. The least they can do is reciprocate.