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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Lost Hope

I would like to ask the universe this morning why the frequency in which things seem to hit the fan in the least convenient manner possible is in direct proportion to how important it is for the aforementioned things to go smoothly. Shockingly, this post is not about how everything went swimmingly along when there was nothing for me to do but sit around the house and watch Downton Abby reruns on Netflix.

My husband had a big thing at work today, so he needed to be in the office before eight. So, last night, I arranged everything: I set my alarm for 5:45, I made the lunches I needed to make, I picked everyone's clothes, and I went to bed at a reasonable hour. However, as I am currently scribing this part of the tale while watching the hubs type stuff in the kitchen at 8:10, clearly, something in my great plan has gone strangly amiss.

What was the problem, you ask? Did an earthquake bring down the power grid? Did a rogue case of bubonic plague break out in our apartment? Have the monkeys broken loose and taken over the zoo? No, nothing so commonplace. The disaster of the morning is the case of the missing car key.

We looked everywhere: in the car, around the car, between the apartment and the car, near the front door, away from the front door, on every surface in the entire apartment. We looked in pockets, drawers, hampers, and bins. We looked under beds, blankets, chairs, and the sink. I called the office, twice, and ran over with glee in the hope that a set that didn't quite sound right may in fact be mine. All for nought.

In the end, my husband couldn't go to work. The kids could not get to daycare, and I had to depend on the kindness of my coworkers to get me to and from a meeting. Now, I sit, dreading the eventual fact that they are gone. How much does it cost to replace fancy key-fobs? More than nothing, I can tell you that.

Please send finding thoughts my direction and in the direction of my wayward keys. With my luck, they will appear at precisely the moment I have finalized the purchase of their very expense replacement.

Monday, June 29, 2015

#Monday

Dearest Reader,

Tonight, I would like to amuse you with a long, detailed description of my near endless adventures with not one, but two steam-cleaners. Similarly, it would bring me great joy to regale you with my mis-adventures trying to make sense of the gluten-free print-out I brought with me to Trader Joe's. In the same vein, I long to wax poetic about the drama that unfolded as my husband came home, tired and over-worked, to find the boys using a bike lock as a grappling hook from atop our piled-up belongings (see steam-cleaning in sentence one). However, tonight, the best I can do is this lowly paragraph and a new page on my blog documenting my meager attempts to feed my younger child food that does not exacerbate his breathing and skin problems. Watching a child unable to breathe is torture of the cruelest kind. May my efforts bring him, and me, some relief.

Sincerely,

RL

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Minimalism Fail: Kitchen Edition, Episode 2

Here is where we stop to recognize progress. Here is where we try and realize that we cannot possibly accomplish all of our goals in the amount of time we would like to accomplish them. Here is where we do not, under any circumstances, shame ourselves or drive ourselves crazy for not being able to get the kitchen clean in one day.

Here is where we remember that we are more than the conditions of our kitchens. We are more than the cleanliness of our floors, and we are much, much more then the dust on our bookshelves. We are women. We are mothers. We are workers, lovers, thinkers, and dreamers. We take care of our families; we take care of each other; we take care of the world.

So, please, remind me and help me remember that we must also take care of ourselves.

Minimalism Fail: The Kitchen Edition

Please view, mock, and pity my "before" picture.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Apartment Woes

The sheer number of tasks I want to accomplish in my apartment stagers the mind almost as much as my complete inability to make progress in accomplishing these tasks while my small people are alive.

A childless person may ask, "Why not work when they sleep?" and the sad, sad answer to this question is that there are only perhaps 20 minutes in the average day when both boys are asleep and I am awake, and I usually reserve those precious quiet moments for drinking coffee and building a little white-picket fence around my sanity.

At the top of the list of chores, washing the dishes and picking up everything off of the floor are tied. Both of these things I have independently accomplished in the past week, but neither stayed done. The best I can do with those two never-ending tasks is to try and think that at least I have enough food to eat and books to read, but as I usually find myself scarfing down my food with one hand while holding a child and am much more likely to be putting those books back on a shelf rather then reading them, this attempt at comfort brings little.

Second, I would like to wash and put away all of the dirty clothes, as nothing brings more joy than schlepping bundles of laundry up and down two floors to the basement laundry room I share with more than a hundred other people and back. My cup overfloweth.

Perhaps my next goal, washing the carpets I have under the kitchen table, should go with the paragraph above, as they also have to go in the washing machines. If that is the case, then my third goal is to vaccuum, which is followed closely by my fourth goal: steam cleaning.

(Let me remind you here that I am old and have ridiculously lame aspirations for my weekend adventures.)

My friend, who I know is a true friend based on her willingness to share with me such a prized possession, has given me the great honor of borrowing her carpet cleaner (insert celebratory music here). With it, I will rule to domestic sphere, annihilating coffee stains and pet misadventures in a single blow. My carpets, and thus my entire being, will glow with an angelic shimmer, and people from near and far will bow to my feet in admiration. Then, I will eradicate hunger from the face of the earth with a wave of my (borrowed) upolstry attachment without even smudging my mascara. The world will be my shimmering oyster, and I will be its happy, precious pearl.

Okay, so I may slighlty exaggerate, but, on the other hand, I will be really glad to have a clean carpet.

Wisdom from Trader Joe's

Thursday, June 25, 2015

I Want to Watch Scandal Now

Here is a (short) list of things that have conspired to get between me and the fourth season of Scandal that was just released on Netflix:

1. Boy 1 wants to show me the 6,000 items he wants to buy from his Lego catalog.

2. Someone upstairs appears to be installing a new mini-bar on their porch.

3. Boy 2 wants to have ear plugs repeatedly placed in his ears becuase B1 has them and is yelling at himself all around the apartment.

4. B1 is yelling at himself all around the apartment.

5. The cat has decided she is too good for her litter box. (She is clearly over apartment living, but until she gets a job that pays at least $30,000 a year or gets a degree in Early Childhood Education, she better get with the program.)

6. "Mommy.... Mommy.... MOMMY!"

7. The hubs managed to sneak out to go to the store. Why is it again that I never leave the children with him while I go to the store? That problem needs immediate attention.

8.
Ray: "B1, what are you doing in there?"
B1: "Noth-ing...."

9.
B2: "Why on the wide, green Earth would I drink from a cup when I can nurse? YOU are the one who needs to get with the program, Mother."

I need a nanny, a maid, and possibly a wet-nurse.

Baby Angry Face

Baby Angry Snot Face decided that last night would be a good night to put up a fight. With a stunning combination of eczema, asthma, and pure frustration, he managed to keep the whole house up for hours at a time. Let me tell you, there is nothing as exciting as an angry baby snot face at 4:30 in the morning. Extra points to him for screaming so loudly that even the usually stoic cat even got upset. This one, without a doubt, should be considered as a contendor for Angry Baby of the Year.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ah, Tuesday.

Yesterday almost killed me. It was Tuesday, which is supposed to by my day with Boy One, but Boy Two has been really sick, so he was home with me as well. Clearly, I am not cut out for having any more children, and may the universe bless the Stay At Home Moms out there, because my people had driven me to the edge before ten-thirty in the morning.

Boy Two was up at 6:00, because apparently he did not get the memo about it being summer vacation. He also missed the one about not requiring two doctor's appointments in the same week. Man, I really have to teach that kid how to read his email.

Order your own at
http://shop.lego.com/en-US/ByCatalog
Boy One slept until 9:00, by which point B2 was bringing me my shoes and banging on the apartment door to be let out for the day. B1, cooperative as ever, refused to get dressed and replied to all requests for progress with some variation of, "I'm reading my magazine!" by which he means he is pouring over his Lego catalog, scheming as to how he can convince me to give him more allowance. As the obvious offspring of his father, B1 would be happy to stay inside all day, playing video games and watching Netflix. B2, on the other hand, thinks it is his duty to patrol the apartment grounds and the duck pond daily, and he would likely do these rounds himself if he was tall enough to press the down button on the elevator. I exist somewhere in between these extremes, but on this particular morning, I was hungry and out of coffee, and thus anxious to get a move on.

Eventually, B1 relented and agreed to go out in the world, if and only if he got to ride in the stroller. He refused sun screen, reasoning that if he had the shade open as I pushed him, he would never be in the sun. B2 continued to bang on the door and scream at me throughout the negotiations.

Forty-five minutes later, we were outside. B2 ran off towards the duck pond, and B1, still in the stroller, mind you, began wailing that he wanted to get his bike.

Ray: "Can you go upstairs and get it yourself?"

B1: "No! You have to come with me!"

B2: "Peace out, people! I'm going swimming with the koi!"

I chased B2, catching him before he could manage to fall into the water, then strapped him, kicking and screaming, into the stroller as B1 ran back into the building.

Twenty minutes later, we re-emerged, sun-screened and ready for the epic 0.3 mile expedition to Trader Joe's.

Image from http://www.dogbreedslist.info/
B2, still not feeling well, politely declined my offer to push him in the stroller and decided instead to scream bloody murder until I acquiesced in his request to be carried. B1 gleefully peddled down the sidewalk, narrowly missing the UPS man and the lady in pink and black spandex trying to speed walk with her terrier before disappearing around the corner. I followed behind, trying desperately to convince myself that not only was I having a great time, but also that these will be the days I will miss when I am old and my children refuse to call me. It didn't work.

Eventually, B1 came running back, sans vélo, as excited as a five year old can be about how far he had ridden. He was beaming, and my heart sang for him and his glory. He led me, triumphant, to the end of the block, where he had dropped his bike unceremoniously on the corner.

"That was my longest ride EVER!" he squealed.

"Yes, it was. I think you're right. Nicely done, dude." He smiled, and the world sang.

We made it to the store, and managed to traverse the establishment without any serious difficulty. Then, I gobbled down half of my sugar-plum tomatoes and most of a bag of Inner Peas while B1 played on the stone dolphins and B2 obliterated a nectarine, possibly by eating some of it, but mostly by smashing it all over his shirt and face. Fun times all around.

When it was FINALLY time to go home, B1 refused to ride his bike. Therefore, I found myself pushing the stroller full of food with my right hand, leading the bike with my left hand, coaxing the angry toddler to follow, and trying to answer the kindergartner's thirty-five hundred questions as he hurled them at me.

An elderly man with a cane asked if he could be of any assistance. I wanted to say yes, but I couldn't think of anyway he could. I declined, thanked him, and continued on my way.

Eventually, B1 changed his mind and rode his bike back home. Then, I was able to pick up B2, who immediately ceased his whining. A warm breeze blew across the land, rustling the trees, and I smiled as I was reminded of the quiet, peaceful joy there is in the world.

And then I realized I had forgotten to buy the damn coffee.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Downton Abby Reflections, Season Four

I am reminded of my age and status by my absolute love for the love of Mr. and Mrs. Bates. He is quiet, brooding, loyal and damaged; she is hard-working, eager to please, kind, and damaged as well. Their love is constant, generous, protective, and bruised, yet they carry on together, comitted to finding some joy in this wide world. Besides the obvious disadvantages of the lives of fictional characters in a drama, they live how I would like to live with my husband: glad of his company, proud of my work, and able to afford a fancy dinner once in awhile. I would also like to have a cook prepare all of my meals, but that is besides the point.

I think a younger me would more easily see herself in Mary, tragically flawed by her own relentless fear of what could be if she allowed herself the chance to let go, lost in trying to find her place in the world.

But I have a place in the world. I have a job I love and a husband who loves me. I have Boy One and Boy Two, and despite the great pain they cause me on a regular basis, they are truly blessings who have giving me the role of mother and allowed me to dare to find my own peace in this life. They have taught me that time passes by, that nothing stays the same, and that looking for joy in our moments together is a far superior task to hopelessly over-planning the minutiae of whatever comes next. They live only in the moment, and if I want to be present with them, then I must learn to do so as well.

Though the major tragedies of my lifetime are hopefully in the past, watching those of Mrs. Bates reminds that I have overcome tragedy all the same, and that I am strong, strong and proud of my accomplishments and the life I have built for myself, never forgetting that I have my own brooding Mr. Bates to support me as I stand and hold me if I fall. Mine is just a little taller than hers is.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Too Much Stuff...Still, But Hopefully Not Forever

I want to bang my head against the wall when I think about how messy my apartment still is after several days out of school. A wise e-card once said that cleaning one's house while one has small children is like brushing one's teeth while chewing an Oreo. I get the simile, and it kills me.

My first goal is to make the room I need to de-own. I need a tidy room and significant space before I can start pulling things off of shelves and out of closed drawers. I am crowed in my space. I need less.

My next goal is to define an area in which all of Boy One's toys must fit and give him a series of opportunities to pass along any toys that he can allow to move on to their next home. I realize that I am much more enthusiastic about this process than he will be, but I am a hopeless optimist. (If I have to pay him off, I may be reduced to doing so. I'd like to thing of it as a child's version of a tax break for charitable donations.)

Next week, I will work to show you my progress. Feel free to offer any words of advise or support you may be able to muster.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Irrelevant Comments on our Pediatrician, Clarified

After reading my previous post several times, I was tempted to delete it, as I was embarrassed once I realized that if one of the women I most trust with the health of my children reads it, she would likely find it neither amusing nor flattering. However, in the journey that is publicly spilling my figurative guts (get the doctor joke?) on the Internet in the never-ending quest for positive feedback, I thought it would be better to clean up my discomfort than to simply delete it away. So, here it goes.

I highly respect my children's doctor and the care she provides for my boys. I also appreciate her kindness towards them (and me) and the ways she takes time to soothe and comfort them (and me!). She manages all of this tending with grace, humility, and timeliness, which is far more than I can say for many members of the medical profession.

In times of stress, it is easy for one to feel petty, and yesterday was one of those days for me. I feel helpless in the face of Boy Two's health problems, and the hope that he will outgrow the worst of them does not always serve as enough of a protective shield. So, instead of fessing up to my fears and insecurities, I teased her youth and allowed jelously to leak out onto the page. Now, tell me, who was being childish and vain, and I promise you it wasn't the good doctor.

Thank you for indulging me, my words, and my attempts to clean them up. Back to work now. I have some Karma to earn.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Irrelevant Comments on our Pediatrician

My sons' pediatrician, bless her heart, cannot possibly be two minutes over twenty years old. It would not shock me in the least to hear that she was conceived to All-4-One crooning "I Can Love You Like That" somewhere in the depths of 1995. She does have an engagement ring the size of a Range Rover, but since I have known her for two years, that timing leaves just enough leeway to ensure that she was eligible to vote when she got married. Barely enough, but enough.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

From Above the Waves

"Mommy, watch this!" he yells from across the pool.
Jump.
Splash.
He disappears beneath the surface.
One-one-thousand.
I remember bringing him home from the hospital, wrapped up tight like a blue baby burrito.
Two-one-thousand.
On his first birthday, he was running down the sidewalk with Grandpa trying (unsuccessfully) to catch him.
Three-one-thousand.
When he first started preschool, he cried when I left him there and cried some more when I picked him up.
Four-one-thousand.
He stared at his baby brother when he was born, wrinkled his face, then asked if he could go home with Noni to watch Netflix.
Five-one-thousand.
Splash!
He shakes his head, erupting from the water.
"Mommy, could you see me?"
"Yes, baby.
Of course I could see you."

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Dear Apartment...

Dear Apartment,

I realize you are covered in dirty clothes, dirty dishes, and toys. I realize you have been ignored and abused for weeks, if not months. I realize I have not been there for you as I should have been, as you have been there for me.

Everyday, you house me and my menagerie. You give me a lovely view of a safe neighborhood and offer not only electricity, but also hot and cold running water. I am truly blessed to have you in my over-scheduled life.

I promise you that next week, you will get some of the attention you deserve. I know you have to share me with three people, but I also know how to be true to you. Please know that I love you, even when I forget to say it.

Soon, I will lighten your load by clearing your floor, vacuuming your carpet, and possibly (gasp!) washing your mirrors. You will shine like the princess you are, and this difficult time between us will be over.

(Well, that is, at least until school starts again...)

Lovingly yours,

Raychel




Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Graduation 2015

Ah, graduation: the culmination of years of work, learning, and personal growth all wrapped up in a funny hat with a tassel. Oh, to be young again.

When I graduated from high school in the summer of 2000, I had high hopes and great plans. I was about to leave town for a three week road-trip along the Pacific Coast, and upon my return I was going to UCLA as a member of the university's honor's program. I was the cream of the cream. I was the top of the top.

But what is down on paper and what is locked in one's heart seldom match, and I was as (or possibly more) anxious, scared, and unprepared as the rest when I walked down that long aisle made of eight hundred white folding chairs on the football field.

As I watched my peers pass by, I dreamed dreams for them: doctor, lawyer, musician, architect. Some of these dreams came true, some did not. But they were my dreams, so they didn’t matter. The test that counts is if people dream their own dreams and make those dreams come true. A dream dreamed for another is like a breeze of warm air: beautiful, perhaps, but destined to blow away.

And what did I dream for myself? I dreamed for a chance to find myself in myself: to be, and to be happy with being. To be happy being me.

It has been a long journey.

For all the graduates of 2015, I wish and hope that you have as much success with your own dream as I have had in mine, but I desperately hope you don't have to wait 15 years to get there. But if you do, you will be in good company, for along the way, I have realized that I can be quite a humorous companion.

Flashback Poetry: My Heart's Concussion

I apply a woman's smell
to everything I touch:
The aroma of the winter goddess
and bright, chocolate
February winds.

I clothe myself
in control and ---, 
an awesome holiday
for the lips and flesh.

But emotional technology I ignore,
the extra romance
of tears and cleansing.

You are my non-qualified vacation,
an eclipse of my mental touch,
the threat of nightmares in the sea of discontent,
and the inappropriate paid observer.

But yet,
as the glass sunset beacons me
from beyond my common wax mind,
in the clouds, I find my path
just tangent to the darkest hour.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Mopping is Overrated

I hadn't realized that I had spent a notable chunk of my afternoon mopping the kitchen floor just so it would be nice and clean for Boy Two to come home from baby-care and pour apple sauce all over it from his overpriced toddler pouch. May no good deed go unpunished.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Foie Gras, Perhaps?

Dear Adorable Ducklings,

While I admire your fluffy, cute feathers and am thankful you have not lost your lives to any roaving feral felines, I would greatly appreciate if you would not continue to leave your droppings all over the bottom of the pool. It is gross. Plus, there are a multitude of other places where you can eliminate pesonal waste without rendering my swimming area unusable. If you are unable to meet this request of mine unaided, then perhaps I could assist in finding you another role to play in this great big world of ours.

Please respond with your decision before school is officially out for the summer. I anticipate my patience will have worn out by that point.

Sincerely,

RL

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Baby Envy, Attempt #2

This aquantince of mine mentioned in my previous post spoke longingly about having a baby sometime around when I had my oldest more than five years ago. That she had to yearn and pine for her pregnancy makes me ache, especially because my husband basically only had to look at me sideways to get me knocked-up. I have been truly blessed (and very lucky) to have only become pregnant when I wanted to be, and on both of those ocations, I got pregnant right away.

The struggle of women who are not as easily satisfied in their family planning as I was leave me longing. While I realize there is no need for me to fall on my sword for my reproductive success, I can imagine the agony and daily stress the longing for a child could bring to an adult life or an adult relationship, and I am sorry that this pain has to exisit in the world. I am sorry that people who want to have children are sometimes unable to do so, and that others only find success at the end of many cycles of tremendously expensive treatments and medications. Money paid to chase hope can be a painful payment indeed.

So, to the moms-to-be who stuggled to get pregnant, I honor your struggle and commend your success, and to those who have tried (and tried and tried and tried) and failed, my heart goes out to you, and I pray that you may find the love and fulfillment you deserve in this world. May it be so.

Baby Envy

I had the great pleasure of seeing a Facebook picture of an old aquantince of mine today: she was smiling, visibly pregnant, and standing next to her proud-looking husband. I was more proud and gleefully at the site of this image than I had any right to be. I ached for all it had taken to get her to that simple, beautiful picture.

I told her it was perfection, and she agreed.

Having children is arduous, painful, and frequently sticky, but it is also brings indiscribably awe, love, and meaning to my life.

I will come back to this topic shortly when my children aren't screaming for food and my un-di-f-ing-vided attention.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Late-comer to the Downton Abby Party

I recently started watching Downton Abby on Amazon Prime. I'd "splurged" on the free 30 day trial in order to get a ridiculously expensive bag delivered in a timely manner for free, and then I got sucked in by the wonder that is early 20th century England.

I could watch historical dramas for days on end, as evidenced by my previous streaming-video bindges, which have included The Tudors, Reign, Marco Polo, and the mini-series The White Queen and Pillars of the Earth. (The Ken Follett novel was better, but the series was good nonetheless.) If it wasn't for the inconveniences that are my small children, work, the never ending pile of dishes, and attempting to spend time with my husband, I would just let myself be sucked into the rabbit hole of the recreated past, embroidery circle in hand.

Now, I have yet another reason to avoid housework and let Boy One watch Scooby Doo on Netflix while Boy Two wreaks havoc on the doors and furnature.

I just began watching season 2, and I'm starting to confirm the instincts I have about which characters I really love and which characters I really love-to-hate. Thankfully, I have an informed friend who indulges me by answering my character questions and confirming my suspicions via text message as they develop, approximately two years too late. Thank you, Karen. You rock my belated world.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Letter to a Toddler with a Sharpie

Boy 2, you go ahead and own that blue Sharpie. Clenched in your hand like the holy grail, it looks ready to leave your mark on various non-washable surfaces. Feel free to color whatever you find in your way. Found your face? What an excellent start. There's nothing as exciting as Smurf children at half-past bedtime. Want to mark your brother as well? I bet that will go well. Go ahead and try. Your short life is in your tiny hands.
#terribleplans

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Longing For the Other Side of Summer


I'll be doing whatever snowmen do...
June...the mixed blessing of months.

On the one hand, my students are itchy to be finished with work and get away for the summer; on the other hand, my older son gets out of school, and I have to entertain him 24/7. 

Wait. Mixed blessing?! Where is the good part?!

(I love my boys, but after about four straight days with them, things start to hit the fan.)

Camp. I am calling camp to the rescue.

The treacherous balance of quality time, sanity, and cost weighs large. After much careful consideration, I decide to mix things up with a Monday/Thursday/Friday schedule for the big one and a Monday/Tuesday/Thursday for the small fry. That means I get Mondays to myself, Tuesdays with big guy, Wednesday with (gasp!) both of them, Thursdays to recover alone, and Fridays with baby. This schedule costs more than my usual monthly childcare budget, but as I mentioned before, sanity is one-third of the calculation pie, and sanity, apparently, does not come cheap. May I thank the green earth below that I am able to afford it.

In terms of schedules, teaching is pretty much one of the worst professions in the world for people who love consistent structure and routine, because there is nothing stable about a teacher's calendar year. Yes, working shift work at Rite-Aid would clearly by worse, and I am very thankful that I at least know the hours of my employment from day-to-day, but the cycle of the year, while consistent over time, leaves much to be desired in terms of day-to-day congruence.

In the fall, one gets new small and medium-sized people who need to be trained in the business of school, and right when you think they might have it down, they are released for winter vacation. Then comes the mad rush of January into finals, followed by a notable stretch of productivity. This productivity then disintegrates into spring break mayhem. Upon return from the "Summer Preview," all involved slog through parts of March, April, and the 90 days of May before June comes around. Then June is like a terrible race to the top of a steep cliff: at the top there is a parachute for one that will have to carry me and both of my children to safety at the foot of September.


Summer kills me, kind of like the weekend on steroids. Every project I have put off since spring screams in my face, and the utter inability to complete any tasks in the presence of very small people irritates me completely. How is it that I can get almost every single elementary student in my entire school to write an acrostic poem about Shabbot, but I can under no circumstances keep the floor of my kitchen from being constantly sticky?

May I, and my kitchen floor, emerge enact at the other side of summer.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Flashback (August 1999): The Fire that Burns Inside

Sometimes, when I see you,
I want to hold you forever in my arms;
To give love,
and to be loved,
are the only ideas my mind can comprehend.
But other times
when I see you,
I am almost afraid to touch,
afraid that the spark that follows
may engulf me in flames.
It is then
that I just watch,
and explore your world
as you exhale,
the smoke streaming from your lungs
the only sign
of the fire that burns inside.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

And the world turns....

According to Google Analytics, I have readers in the Netherlands, Russia, and Israel. Hello, Eastern Hemisphere! Please leave a comment so that I may personally welcome you!

Swimming Kills People

"Can we go swimming?" asks Boy One.

My heart rate soars and breathing enters hyper-drive. Few things bring greater terror than the one activity (other than riding in my car) in which my children are most likely to die.

"It's too cold to go swimming."

"It's not too cold for me!"

"Can we just go to the park?"

"Plllleeeeeaaaaaasssssseeeeee can we go swimming?"

"Okay, fine. But you are not allowed to drown. There will be absolutely no drowning! Otherwise, I am going to have to resort to cutting off your Netflix privileges."

"I promise I'm not going to drown, Mom."

I must be overreacting. Things can't possibly be that bad. I should check an authority that can soothe my inflated sense of dread and foreboding. I am clearly being irrational.

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), "Every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger." Well, both of my small people definitely fall into that category. Terror unrelieved.

The CDC continues:

"Who is most at risk?
"Males: Nearly 80% of people who die from drowning are male."

Great. Boy One and Boy Two, not surprisingly, are both male. Maybe the next statistic will be better.

"Children: Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates. In 2009, among children 1 to 4 years old who died from an unintentional injury, more than 30% died from drowning. Among children ages 1 to 4, most drownings occur in home swimming pools. Drowning is responsible for more deaths among children 1-4 than any other cause except congenital anomalies (birth defects). Among those 1-14, fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death behind motor vehicle crashes."

Basically, that means if I drive my male children to a swimming pool before they are both 14 years old, there is a 97.8% chance that they will both die before the end of the day. Awesome. So much for calming my nerves.

Yet, we risk inevitable death and destruction and gather the seemingly infinite number of items necessary to procure the best possible outcome for our treacherous expedition:

- baby sunscreen
- aging lady sunscreen
- three swimsuits
- three towels
- six sandals
- water bottle

(I am already tired, and we haven't even finished packing.)

- cover-up for me
- two swim-shirts
- Spider-Man water wings
- baby life-jacket
- ridiculously over-sized sun hat
- ridiculously adorable toddler hat
- ridiculous quantity of snacks (so at least no one will die of hunger)
- stroller
- pool pass
- pool key

Alright. Although we appear ready to cross the Sahara, I daren't claim we are truly prepared to walk 30 yards to the pool. At any time, at any moment, things may spin drastically out of hand.

Wish me luck, fellow readers, as I venture forth into the unknown. In case you never hear from me again, feel free to leave a comment about your greatest (ir)rational fear for yourself or for your small people. May we all wallow in our groundless concerns together.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Five-Year-Old Composes Poetry and Describes the Solar System

Me: How big do you think the universe is?
B1: Googol feet wide! And it will take a billion years to get off of the world from walking.
Me: How do you get off of the world by walking?
B1: Is google going to tell us?
Me: You want me to ask google?
B1: Yes. Are you asking it?
Me: No. But did you know googol the number and Google that we ask questions are different things?
B1: Yup.
Me: How did you know they are different?
B1: I don't know. I just know.
Me: What else do you just know?
B1: I know all about the whole world.
Me: What do you know about the whole world?
B1: That the Earth spins around the sun.
Me: What else do you know about the Earth?
B1: That the moon shines bright/At the night/And shines down on the houses.
Me: Is that a poem?
B1: Yes, I think so.
Me: Nicely done, dude. You're a poet.
B1: A poet?
Me: A poet.
B1: Oh, the sun shines down, the sun shines down, the sun shines down on the Earth...

Friday, June 5, 2015

Existential Housing Crisis


A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that she had, "determined there is no discernible difference between being a first-time home buyer and having an existential crisis." I think she just about hit the nail on the head with that one. I wish her luck in her quest, but can offer no satisfactory response to her 21st century housing crisis. And yet, I muse on.


There is no practical way that I am ready to buy a house. I can barely keep the living conditions in my apartment under control. What with work and children and laundry and four trips to urgent care in the month of May alone, I am already well beyond my zone of proximal development. Yet I dream of owning my own home. When houses in my neighborhood go up for sale, I drive past them slowly, longingly, dreaming of the lives of the people who live there and imagining myself opening the front door to visitors, walking my older son to school, and choosing my own native-inspired, drought-resistant landscaping. Then I drive home, walk up two flights of stairs, look up the price on Zillow, and try not to cry myself to sleep.


I want a living arrangement with four bedrooms, three baths, at least 1,600 square feet, and in an area that shortens my husband's commute while allowing my sons to attend public schools ranked either nine or ten on greatschools.org. This basically means I need to find $160,000 for a 20% down-payment on a $800,000 house. No problem, right? (I sure hope this blogger-thing works out.)


What kills me about this whole thing is not simply the mind-boggling cost of housing in Orange County, California, but rather the actual income required to purchase these living containers. According to Zillow's Mortgage Calculator, I would need to make somewhere in the neighborhood of $160,000 a year for a house at in this price range to "fit comfortably within [my] budget." Clearly there is something wrong here.


My husband and I are both college educated, and I have a master's degree. He is an engineer; I am a teacher. We make more money than the vast majority of people on the entire planet, but we cannot even throw a stone at $160,000 a year. Who are these people who can buy these houses, and how are there enough of them to keep the price of housing so high? Is there some prestigious university pouring doctors and successful business people directly into the center of Irvine?


(UCI is ranked 42nd in the nation, and according to U.S. News and World Report's collage ranking and reviews, "The research institution specializes in areas such as cancer and neuroscience studies in conjunction with the highly ranked UC Irvine Medical Center. Graduate programs are highly regarded at UC Irvine, too, with specialty offerings at the Paul Merage School of Business.")


But I digress. The unforgiving cost of the homes I want to buy and the significant societal problems associated with having the highest ranking schools in the heart of ridiculously wealthy suburban enclaves is besides the point. So, back to the questions at hand: Why all this  palpable desire for something I do not, under any circumstances, need in order to live a reasonable life? Why am I so dissatisfied with my lovely apartment? And why does it seem  as though I have failed as a human being because I do not own my own, personal, quadrilateral of land upon the completion of my third decade of life? Why have I worked so hard to complete so much school and become an expert at my craft only to long for something that remains beyond my reach?


According to Wikipedia (which, if you are one of my students, you are NEVER allowed to use as an academic source):  An existential crisis is a moment at which an individual questions the very foundations of their life: whether their life has any meaning, purpose, or value.


Sounds like buying a house to me.



Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Five-year-old Ponders Death, Brotherhood, and Food Choices

Me: When are you old enough to drive?
Boy One: When you are older than one-hundred.
Me: Then why am I allowed to drive if I am not one-hundred yet?
Boy One: Are you ever going to be one-hundred?
Me: I hope so, but it will be a long time before that happens. Do you think you will make it to one hundred?
B1: Um-hum.
Me: What makes you think so?
B1: Because!
Me: What do you think you will do when you are one hundred years old?
B1: I think I'll have a wheel-chair.
Me: Where do you think you'll go in a wheel chair?
B1: I want to go on an airplane.
Me: Where do you want to go on the airplane?
B1: To visit you, but not if you're dead.
Me: If were dead, where would you want to go?
B1: To visit my kids, if I had any.
Me: How many kids do you think you want to have?
B1: A googol!
Me: That's not going to work.
B1: Fine. Like three.
Me: That sounds more manageable. Where do you want to live with your kids?
B1: In South America. I want to live in South America.
Me: Why South America?
B1: No, I change my mind. I want to live here, in this apartment.
Me: Why do you want to live right here?
B1: Because, I want to live right in this apartment.
Me: Why? What do you like about it here?
B1: I want to live with Boy 2 forever, until he or I is dead.
Me: I hope that is a really long time from now.
B1: It is.
Me: What do you think you two would eat if I wasn't here?
B1: Candy.
Me: You are probably right. You are probably right.







Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Follow My Blog Contest

Dear Readers,

It appears that I have not one single person officially "following" my lovely blog, into which I pour my tortured soul and excessively long sentences on a daily basis. To rectify this situation, I have decided to hold a drawing. For every ten followers I accrue in the month of June, I will select one follower at random to receive an adorable crocheted toy. How does one qualify for this AMAZING opportunity? Simply scroll to the bottom of this very page and fill out all of the lovely white boxes with your information, including a message (about how much you enjoy reading my amusing and occasionally poignant blog and) letting me know you would like to be entered in the contest. Sounds easy, right? It is easy!

Scroll down to find the boxes that look like these to bring me joy and enter the contest.

Monday, June 1, 2015

My Heart Melts

When one is "in a tree," one must try to remain calm. One must take slow, intentional, deep breaths, and look for solutions to problems rather than wallowing in said problems. One must remember that all time is not confined to this very moment. One must allow the time it takes to regain focus, understanding, and calm. Then, when calm, one must look for and find a sturdy ladder.

Monday, Monday

5:05
Baby cries.
Nurse baby.
Baby sleeps.
5:15
Try to sleep.
5:20
Try to sleep.
5:25
Try to sleep.
5:30
Give up on sleep.
Make coffee.
Make lunches.
Drink coffee.
Check e-mail.
Get dressed.
5:50
"Wake-up" alarm goes off.
Make more coffee.
Put lunches and work bag on stroller.
6:00
Get boy clothes.
Change toddler.
(Toddler remains asleep. Good sign.)
Attempt to cloth Boy One.
Boy One refuses to cooperate.
Drink coffee.
Regroup.
6:20
Peruse Facebook.
Ponder the significance of my friend's post about which Disney Princess she is.
Decide I would like to be Mulan.
(That girl kicked ass.)
6:35
"Wake up the Boys" alarm goes off.
Attempt to pry Boy One from bed.
Resort to bribing Boy One to get up with promises of a yougart smoothie for breakfast.
"I hate yougart smoothies!"
Drink more coffee.
6:40
Toddler wakes, demands to be carried around the house.
Boy One resigns himself to the day.
Husband readies.
6:50
"Do you have the car keys?"
"You had the car keys."
"I don't have the car keys!"
Begin looking for car keys.
7:00
"Time to Leave" alarm goes off.
Continue looking for car keys.
7:05
Boy One asks incessant questions about God knows what.
"Please stop asking me questions right now, as it is very difficult for me to look for the keys, stay calm, and answer your questions. Could you do that for me?"
"Why haven't you found the keys yet? Where are they? Why is it hard to stay calm when I'm asking questions?..."
"Where did I put my coffee?"
7:10
"Are the keys still in the car?"
"I hadn't considered that."
Load kids and things into stroller. Stroll downstairs.
Roll stroller next to car door, try to activate touch-lock.
Door remains locked.
Remain calm.
7:15
Remove toddler from stroller.
Carry toddler upstairs.
Try to open door.
Door is locked.
Remember: I am a beautiful and unique snowflake.
Carry toddler downstairs.
Answer constant questions from Boy One.
Arrive at car.
No husband. No car key.
Remain calm!
7:20
Dig house key out of work bag.
Carry toddler upstairs, again.
Ignore Boy One's constant questions.
Find husband inside, seething.
"Did you find them yet?"
"No, not yet."
Try as hard as I can to remain calm and find keys while distracted by wiggly toddler, questioning child, and frustrated husband.
Try to think through the last time I drove the car.
Consider everything I did on Sunday.
"Laundry!"
7:30
Check the pockets from yesterday's pants.
Check the bin where we keep the laundry card.
Check the blue Ikea bag used for clean laundry.
Check the pocket of the other random bag I use for laundry.
EUREKA!
7:35
Take key, husband, Boy One and Boy Two back to the car.
Unlock car door.
Pour children, lunches, and innumerable additional items into car.
Move make-up case, old McDonald's bag, and a brush from seat.
Sit down.
Allow my amazing husband to drive.
7:45
Exit garage.
7:55
Drop toddler at daycare.
8:05
Say good-bye to husband.
Drop Boy One at preschool.
Return to WoW  (World of Work).
8:10
Conquor the world, again.
Happy Monday, Everyone. May every single one of your mornings go better than mine did today.