Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Working Christmas

I feel like I’ve been at work forever.  My shoulders hurt and my eyes are dry.  Above me looms a giant, firm deadline for the launch of the new business website, a website that has proven to be beyond complicated for so many crazy reasons  These reasons are almost innumerable, but at the top of the list is the fact that the sheer number of SKUs in our inventory, their stupid slight differences (.240-inch diameter pultruded carbon tube at 32.5 inches vs 40 inches, 48 inches, 60 inches, and whatever cutoffs we have in clearance, for example), and their multi-tier, multi-volume discount pricing structure.  Sound exciting?


Owning our own business is exciting, but it sure is a lot of work, and I don’t quite feel like we’ve hit a payoff yet.  So it still feels like and uphill slog, albeit one with a vast treasure at the top, and that sometimes gets me down (although other times it keeps me going).  Like when I don’t go sledding with my family the day before Christmas because I have to work.  Or when I have to work the whole weekend before Christmas.  Or when I have to go in early all week this week.  And stay late.  It’s a tough time of year for me to put in extra hours because the opportunity cost of this work is so great: time at home with my family during the holidays.


Consequently, I never quite got into the Christmas spirit this year.  Family descended upon us, but I wasn’t around much to make them feel welcome or help with the cooking.  My exhaustion and the work overload and the house full of people put into sharp relief that our lovely little house is getting too small.  I started to try to think of ways to embiggen it for next year: a new dining table with multiple leaves; the children sharing a room (that will probably happen anyhow); getting my act together and clearing the crap from the island so it can be used as a place to gather; moving the toy box downstairs.  Ultimately, though, I need to find a way to experience the whole season without a cloud of stress, exhaustion, and illness hovering over me.


One of the big things that’s missing is the sense of leisure that used to come with a two-week winter vacation.  Though I don’t expect to ever have that again, not even taking a day off to enjoy life was tough.  And our families didn’t want to join us for more than two days, which is much too short a visit for Christmas – there’s too much to do to make two big family dinners and the gift extravaganza happen in such a short amount of time.  I’m not sure how to reconcile this for next year; driving to the beach is a pretty big hardship for us, what with being smack in the middle of careers and having to also cart with us two kids, a dog, and the presents, and 3/4 of our parents are not working during the winter.  But if they don’t want to come to us, what option do we have?


Bottom line, though, is that I got almost everything I wanted for Christmas: a family in (mostly) good health, an extra ten pounds from delicious, delicious food, and two boys who were ecstatic with their Christmas gifts.  Jamie got TWO trains from the Thomas the Tank Engine family and has already run the batteries down in one of them.  Charles got some roller skates and killed a whole hour in the garage going around and around.  He also got a Flynn & Rapunzel doll set, and he spends a goodly amount of time having Flynn fight the Stabbington Brothers (who are represented by two Japanese robot action figures) and leaving Rapunzel in the boat because she’s boring.  They both received several books and lots of new clothing.  And, as a gift to me and Tony, they have both slept well for the past week.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I call it personal growth.

I cannot rid my travel mug of dishwasher soap.  A few weeks ago, we got new (and improved!) Kirkland brand dishwasher soap from Costco, the same brand we have always used, and after two loads, I could taste dishwasher soap on EVERYTHING.  I took it back, they gave me my money back, and I bought Cascade or something from Fred Meyer.  But!  The damage was done.  I have one of those spill-proof Contigo travel mugs and it Will. Not. Rinse. Clean.  Every day, I try again, but alas.  Soap.  I’m going to give it one more shot with a vinegar soak tonight, but if that doesn’t work, it’s going in the garbage.


And isn’t this soapy mug just a metaphor for my life right now?  I can’t seem to shake the stress, exhaustion, illness, and infection.  The dryer broke last night – well, sort of.  A roller or a belt got stuck, so Tony spent an hour after he got home from work at 10:30 PM trying to fix it.  Until that point, it made high-pitched, LOUD screeching noises that lovingly added to my stress headache.  Charles didn’t go to sleep until I threatened him with bodily harm at 10 PM, and Jamie woke up at 10:30 PM for a bit (he goes back down pretty easily).  Dryer repair mostly done by 11:30 PM.  And then the kids were up at 5 AM!  Hooray!  All I want for Christmas is to sleep and be healthy.


Tony left early this morning for a business trip (only for the day) and I decided not to shower.  I know, I know, showering is good, but I just didn’t wanna.  Also, I am trying this new (to me) thing where I don’t wash my hair everyday.  How did everyone but me know that this is how you are supposed to treat your hair?  I have been taking daily showers for years.  But, apparently, that’s not correct.  So I bought myself some dry shampoo (also didn’t know that was a thing until a month ago) and have been skipping the morning shower a few days a week.  It gives me a lot more time in the morning, that’s for sure.  It also eliminates the boys getting in the shower with me and then both of them needing to be dried off and clothed while I am also dripping wet.


My mom isn’t much of one for beauty routines.  Oh, she’s beautiful, but she’s never worn much more than sunscreen on her face, so I didn’t get a chance to learn at her feet, so to speak.  She, bless her, allowed me to experiment with makeup at a young age, and I can only imagine what she thought as I routinely left the house in 6th grade with blue eye shadow up to my eyebrows.  Thankfully, I’ve settled down, but not before going all the way in the opposite direction in college.  I didn’t really know any differently, despite being in a sorority.  It wasn’t so much of a makeup-and-clothes sorority to begin with (we had the highest GPA out of the whole Greek system the entire four years I was there) and it was also the early 2000s, era of glitter eye shadow and pale pink lipstick.  Not exactly my ideal look, you know?  Still, it was in college that I learned to pluck my eyebrows, so at least I made some progress, right?


Now here I am, 31 years old, and I have essentially just found out that I should be doing so much more for my beauty routine.  Dry shampoo instead of daily hair washing, yes, but also eye cream, bb cream, eyebrow pencil.  In one day of shopping, three people told me that they never left house without doing their eyebrows.  Sheesh!  I used to only do mascara.


Now I have a whole “thing” in the morning to keep myself from looking old and haggard.  Here is how I go from this:


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to this:


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Okay, okay, there’s not much difference… but I like the minimalist look.  And I also like to look less mom-of-two-boys.  Here we go!


Start with a clean face!  I use a salicylic acid scrub in the shower, but since I didn’t shower today, I just used antibacterial soap.  Then I used toner (a month ago, I had never even heard of toner) and eye cream (Clinique), which I was told by an esthetician that I need because I was starting to “age” around my eyes:


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So blotchy!


I have really oily skin – the kind that shines all day long, no matter how many times I blot it, no matter how much powder I cake on.  That is, my skin shined until I discovered this:


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Works like a charm.


After the oil-control moisturizer on my forehead and nose, I use a bb cream all over.


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If I’m going out, I might use some foundation after this for an even smoother look, but usually I just use the bb cream.  Which is also a product I had never heard of until this fall.  Then, mascara and a bit of eye shadow:


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Less blotchy, more even.


Finally, I use this amazing lip stuff – it’s like a chap stick, but has a hint of color and doesn’t smell weird.  I take it everywhere!  I’m pretty sure the tint I have is “sunny berry.”


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You should get some.


And here I am, ready for a day of work and crises and cooking and shopping and breaking up fights, complete with unwashed hair (will I ever get used to that?):


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Let’s be honest: I could look a whole lot worse, considering the circumstances.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Magic of the Season

The dog knocked down the Christmas tree for the SECOND TIME yesterday.  And I’m pretty sure he took several years off of the life of the poor, seasonally-employed UPS delivery lady (she’s not our regular driver, just a ride-along who runs packages to doorsteps).  Oh, boy, did that dog flip out.  Beware, anyone who comes to our door.  Now you will not just be greeted by frantic barking and snarling teeth, but also the crash of Christmas decorations.  None of the ornaments broke, so that’s good, but it makes me wonder how many more times we’ll go through this before the end of the season.


Is it just me, or does the Christmas spirit mean working one’s ass off to please others and get things perfect for others and then falling sick and positively dying because no one takes care of you?  No?  Just me?


No, dammit, it’s not just me, and I know it.  How many of you wives buy Christmas presents for your husband’s entire family?  Raise your hands, go ahead.  Yeah, me too.  One would think that, said husband having known those family members his entire life and me having only known them the duration of our relationship, and not ever having lived with them or gone on vacation with them or whatever, he would be more qualified to find the perfect Christmas gift for them.  And you know what else?  It’s not one Christmas gift!  It’s at least two!  Because we don’t receive a Tony-and-Amelia gift; I receive a gift and Tony receives a gift.  So I have to come up with at least two gift ideas for everyone in our families.  Is anyone truly keeping score?  No, of course not.  But I would feel badly if we didn’t get everyone a couple of gifts, so we do.


And then there’s the ham.  And the turkey.  And the pie.  And the cake.  And the sides.  Yes, they’re all coming to my house this year, and I AM happy about that because it means that my children will get to have their grandparents around them all weekend and they’ll wake up on Christmas and run downstairs in their pjs to the tree in our own house and we won’t have to cart Christmas gifts back on a five-hour-drive that would probably take at least eight hours due to Christmas traffic and potty breaks, etc, but it’s still stressful, you know? 


I’ve cut way, way back on “activities” this year – we aren’t going to the Lights of Christmas, I’ve been saying “no” to invitations more often – but we’re still awfully busy.  The coincidence of year-end-planning, inventory counts, a large website project at the office, and the holidays has me thinking we ought to consider rescheduling Christmas for sometime in July.  And all this madness even though my family, bless them, all agreed to cut back on presents even further this year, with a maximum dollar amount and an insistence that we all not go crazy.  But the shopping still must be done, and frankly, I like giving gifts.  It makes me really happy.  Part of the Christmas spirit for me is buying and giving things to the people I love.  I just wish I was one of those super organized people who could remember to shop throughout the year, instead of getting past Tony’s birthday and then trying to do it all in the already limited time I have each day.


So this week I did what any woman would do under such busy, stressful circumstances: I got a terrible cold that landed me in bed all day Sunday and then I got a yeast infection and started an epic face breakout.  Because the exhaustion from working so hard and getting up with kids at night was just not enough, right?

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Conversation in the Aftermath

It’s a weird thing to cry for people you’ve never met and will likely never meet.  But I did.  I cried for those parents of slain children on Friday.  I made it through the weekend a bit like I always do, spending time with my family, driving around looking at Christmas lights, running errands, cooking and cleaning, enjoying frozen yogurt with the boys.  I was sick and in bed with the cold that is making the rounds most of the day Sunday, but I was allowed to sleep by my very considerate husband and his effective shushing of the children, so I feel better now.


But how did the parents of those 20 babies make it through the weekend?  How in the world would I if someone were to kill one of my children?  It’s a terrifying thought, one that I have been pushing out of my head as soon as it enters because it doesn’t do to borrow trouble.


Over the weekend, I read two articles that I think you should read.  This one appeared in our local paper and this one appeared all over the internet.  Both, I think, highlight a problem that doesn’t get nearly as much press as gun control.  There will always be a way to procure illegal firearms, just as there is always a way to procure illegal drugs.  But at least we talk about those problems.  At least we talk about the hows and whys of getting guns and drugs and the myriad ways in which terrible people have access to those things.


But what about the mental health conversation?  In my hometown, the jail that was built for 88 inmates houses, on average, over 200 inmates each day.  There is no more room.  No more room for someone to be locked up to “cool down” from a mental episode.  No more room for someone with a mental illness and substance abuse problems to detox while authorities figure out the best way to deal with him or her.  That’s a problem, and it puts all of us in danger.  When the mental health ward at the local hospital runs out of room, how does someone going through a mental health crisis get help?  Where can he or she be put to keep themselves and others around them safe?


But public and private resources for restraint, diagnosis, and treatment are only part of the problem.  The other part is removing the taboo against acknowledgement of mental health problems.


Imagine that your son or daughter is exhibiting signs of sociopathic behavior.  They might be mild signs, such as not showing remorse when he or she hurts someone.  The child is manipulative and has poor impulse control.  The child is five years old, so you ignore this and wait for it to change.  But what if it doesn’t?  What if the sociopathic behavior gets worse?  At what point does a parent think, “time to get some help”?  My guess is, not often enough.  Because, quite frankly, it’s tough enough to be the parent of an autistic child in our society, for example, but it’s downright social suicide to be the parent of a sociopath. 


When so many mental illnesses can be treated, the reason so many kids don’t get the help they need is because we willfully ignore that anything is wrong.  In each of the school/theater/mall shootings of the past several years, people after the fact have come forward to say that “something was wrong with him.”  Something was wrong, but nobody did anything. 


And maybe that begs a better question: whom do you tell?  If you are not the parent, but maybe the classmate or coworker of someone who appears to have serious problems that are being ignored, whom do you tell?  Whom should be notified?  How can a person affect an intervention into someone else’s mental health situation?


I don’t know the answers, at all, but I do think these are all things we should be talking about.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tales from a Wine Merchant

Tony and I went out last night for his office Christmas party – and we had a fabulous time!  I wasn’t expecting fabulous, no.  I was expecting good, because his coworkers are all very nice people, and the company knows how to put on a nice party with unlimited wine & beer and good catering, but we really had so! much! fun!


I’m thinking it was all due to the people we sat with.  Well, and us, of course.  I mean, Tony and I are pretty awesome. 


One of the guys at our table is a wine & beer merchant in addition to being a CPA.  He’s young (-er than me, probably by at least five years), so he has the energy to own his own business and also have a demanding full-time job.  I thought I heard him say that he was also an IT consultant to a gated community?  Can I even remember a time in my life when I had enough time and energy to do that much stuff?  Well, yeah, I can, and it was definitely before kids.


Anyhow, we were talking, and you know how sometimes you get into the groove with a group of people and the anecdotes are flying and the comments are apropos and everyone is laughing?  That was our table of eight last night.  I’m pretty sure we were the loudest in the room.  And I’d like to relate to you my favorite story from the evening:


Someone, at one point, started in with the “I don’t always do X, but when I do…” and I mentioned that for the longest time, I thought Dos Equis was non-alcoholic beer (obviously, I was confusing it with O’Doul’s).  So then we started talking about non-alcoholic beer and what a waste of space it is.  And then I said something about non-alcoholic wine.


Wine Merchant: You mean, grape juice?


Me: No, non-alcoholic wine.  It’s a thing.


WM: No!  I’ve totally had people ask for that in my shop, and I was always, like, “you mean, grape juice?”  I didn’t want to be an ass, but really, non-alcoholic wine?


Me: I know, it’s ridiculous!


WM: The best thing anyone ever asked for, though, was this one guy who came in and wanted “grape flavored wine.”  I just looked at him, and then pointed to the whole rack of wine.  “Take your pick.”


Tony: Right, like, not so much this part over here, because that’s the window, but this whole wall of wine here, that’s grape flavored.


Me: Choking on wine because I’m laughing so hard.


End scene.


Oh, gawd, you guys, grape flavored wine.  I’m still laughing.


Maybe you had to be there.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Spreading Christmas Cheer

I finally ordered our Christmas cards:




Oh, sure, you might expect the photo to be a more staged image of family togetherness and happiness, but this one is far more exemplary of our daily lives.  “Charles, get off the couch!  Charles, let go of your brother’s face!  Jamie, stop hitting your brother!  Charles, he had that toy first, play with something else!  Watch out for the dog!  Jamie, don’t bite!”  I figure the recipients of the card will either be amused at the irreverence of it or relieved that they’re not raising these two rambunctious boys.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Nerd Time!

Grammar!  Punctuation!  Syntax!  Vocabulary!  The English language, especially American English, is so so fickle, so changing, and yet!  Yet!  There are rules, people.  Rules that aren’t being followed.  By people who don’t know about the rules, who assume that how their friends and parents speak and the messed-up, colloquialism-heavy, punctuation-abusing language of the internet is correct.  Rules that are broken by me, even!  Let’s talk more about them and then you can all see just how much of a nerd I am.  Because I think this is fun! 


Back in college, I was introduced to a book that has remained on my shelf all these years.  I didn’t pay much for it, and it is tiny, but it was required by at least one of my classes, maybe Core or some history class, I don’t know.  I do know that I love this book.  And do you know what?  It has been internet-ized!!!  Allow me to introduce (some of) you to The Elements of Style, known affectionately in my college days as, “Strunk and White” (though I see that it is on the internet as only Strunk.  Where have you gone, White?). 


Do you keep a dictionary in your house?  A thesaurus?  Grey’s Anatomy (the book, not the show)?  We do, and I use them all. the. time.  Strunk & White has also settled some arguments for me, and it has an entry on possession in the case of proper names ending with ‘s’.  In fact, it’s the very first entry of Elementary Rules of Usage:




So you see, Charles’s is correct.


What I really love, though, is the section on “Words and Expressions Commonly Misused.”  “Literally” is there, along with “whom.”  Strunk does not address “lay vs. lie,” but you can find the information all over the place – my favorite is Grammar Girl.  Why do people misuse “lay” so frequently?  It drives me up the wall, and you can’t correct your friends, especially not in front of others.  I have friends who are teaching their children to say “lay” in place of “lie,” always (I don’t think they’re deliberately teaching them the wrong way, just that they don’t know).  It’s as if the word “lie” only means “untruth” and not also “setting or reclining.”  Get with the program!  And the program is the correct use of English!  “To lay” requires a direct object.  When none are present, use “to lie.” 


Being the terrible bosses that we are, Leland and I insist on proper grammar in the office.  We correct each other and our employees, we hold extensive discussions on the proper usage of language and the meaning of words, and whether or not popular (ill) usage validates incorrect grammar or meaning (it doesn’t).  For instance, do you know what “nonplussed” means?  I bet you think it means “not angry” or “not reactive” or “not ruffled” because you took your cue from the root “plussed” and assumed that to mean “agitated” or something similar.  But it doesn’t mean any of those things!  “Nonplussed” means speechless due to confusion.  Our employees put up with this because, well, we hired awesome people who appreciate intellectual discussion.  And we pay them.


So here’s a good one: on Saturday, my cousins and my brother and I got into a lively discussion about the use of “this” and “next” in reference to days of the week.  I think it all has to do with proximity and verb usage.  For example, today is Monday, so if I asked you, “what did you do this weekend?” you would answer thinking that by “this weekend” I meant the weekend that just happened.  Mostly because I also used the word “did,” which is, of course, the past-tense of “to do.”  If I had said, “what are you going to do this weekend?” you would assume I was talking about the upcoming weekend in five days.  But if I said, “what are you going to do next weekend?” what would you think?  Would you think I was referring to the weekend coming up in five days or the weekend after that, coming up in twelve days?  I think “next” should always refer to the very next one coming up, and that if one means the weekend twelve days hence, then one should either say, “the weekend after next” or “the weekend of the 21st.”  But Leland disagrees.  He thinks that “next weekend” always means the one after the nearest coming weekend, or, the weekend that will occur in twelve days.  Who is correct?


I am, of course.  Though the argument has continued long enough that Leland obviously thinks he is.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Results: Inconclusive

Ah, well, it was a good thought, anyway.  Instead of eating well and eating lots to drive my kids to bed earlier, Charles had a candy cane after school yesterday and then refused dinner until he’d been put to bed with no stories.  Then he marched himself back downstairs, apologized for his rude behavior in refusing food and grumping at the table, and ate the whole thing.  It’s not like I cook crap, so I don’t know what his deal is.  More stubbornness.  By that time, his dinner was his bedtime snack, so we didn’t do that for him, either.  But he did stay in bed after lights-out and slept until 5:45 am, so there’s that.


Jamie, on the other hand, had a bedtime snack and slept until 5:30 am.  That was when Tony left for basketball, so that’s when I got up.  I’m tired, but the kids aren’t, so we’ll call it a win.  I still think I need to force them to eat more.  If I don’t, they just forget about it and play.


Tony is like this.  When we first started dating, he told me he consistently forgot to eat lunch.  And sometimes dinner.  And breakfast was often just a donut and coffee.  I did not understand.  I’m pretty sure that when he related this to me, I was nonplussed and stood there with one of those slack-jawed looks on my face, like I just couldn’t process the information.  I still don’t get it – how does one FORGET to eat?  I rarely skip meals; my body can’t handle it.  I turn into megabitch without food and it’s not pretty.  So maybe the kids take after Tony?  Who knew that in addition to wiping butts, doing laundry, cleaning everything, and actually making the food, I would have to coerce my children into eating enough of it?


I’ll gladly take on the role of food-pusher if it results in happy children (this is after two toaster waffles each, a bowl of yogurt each, a glass of milk each, and an extra bowl of cereal for Charles this morning):


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Post-shower, because they both shower with me now (Tony is routinely gone in the morning).  I am now skilled at acrobatic leg-shaving while children drive trucks and play with bath toys under me.


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Putting on his own clothes – usually he whines for me to “help” him, not that he needs it.  He did need help, however, getting the shirt over his head so that it would not “mess up his Dash hair.”  One of his birthday gifts was the movie The Incredibles and now he constantly puts water on his hair so he can spike it up like Dash.


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Kid loves that hat.



So get this: I have been WRONG for four years.  I have always thought that the possessive of Charles was Charles’ and the possessive of James was James’, but now I am told that, regardless of the ending of the name in question, it is always apostrophe s, like Charles’s mask and James’s toy.  That sounds so clunky, you know?  But, being a stickler for grammar and punctuation in most areas of my life, I’ll try to mend my ways here.  I don’t imagine it will be an easy feat, however.  Maybe when I need to use a possessive form of their names I’ll go with their nicknames: Charlie’s nose, Jamie’s truck.  Thoughts from my nerdy linguistics friends?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

His Eyes Are Still Blue

It’s a battle of wills in the Cook house, and honestly, I’m not sure I’m winning.  I might not even be considered a contender.


This morning’s blowout resulted in a black eye, which, you know, made me feel wonderful.  Mom of the year.


No!  God, no!  I did not hit my child.  But he was throwing a tantrum about taking his backpack (with change of clothes inside, which he needs more often than not because he plays in the mud and occasionally has a potty accident – yesterday it was WHILE he was in line for the bathroom, the poor kid) to school, after he had been in trouble of one sort or another for the previous half an hour for not listening and following directions and he went into the garage and slammed the door.  When I went downstairs and opened the door (it opens into the house), he was hanging onto the other side and smacked his face right into the door frame.  Cue screaming in pain.  Cue my heart breaking, regardless of the last half hour of frustration.


He held an ice pack over it on the way to preschool, and he was really concerned that his eye would no longer be blue because I said he would get a black eye.  “Is it still blue, mommy?  Can my eye be blue again now?”  You try explaining “black eye” to a four-year-old and not confusing the hell out of him.


The root of this problem is lack of sleep.  Charles takes a nap at school and then refuses to lie down and sleep at bedtime.  Last night, he was still awake when I came home from a cookie exchange at 9:15 pm.  That late of a bedtime might be at the limit of acceptable if he slept in, but he wakes up when his brother babbles and shrieks and talks to the dog in the morning, and Charles can’t stand the thought of missing out on my shower, so he wakes up when I turn on the water.  His bedroom door is closed and so is the bathroom door, so I’m pretty sure he’s possessed of some evil spirit.  So if he finally fell asleep around 10 pm and woke up at 6 am, that’s eight hours.  Not enough. 


And I’m low on sleep, too!  Jamie woke up at one am and Tony brought him into our bed, then he awoke for good at 5 am (then fell asleep on the way to preschool because 8 pm to 5 am isn’t enough!).  My fatigue makes it tough to deal with Charles’ outbursts (11 pm to 5 am isn’t enough!).


But what can I do?  I stand my ground, I revoke privileges and take away toys, I even deliver a smack on the butt should he talk back, but it all seems to escalate until I either have to fight him into his car seat or someone gets really hurt (usually him) from the tantrum.


Charles is well-loved by all the teachers and other children at school, and he wears his heart on his sleeve, so I’m relatively certain there’s nothing untoward going on there.  The rest of the time, we’re together, and he’s mostly just a good kid.  Active, interested, always, always asking for candy, a book-reader, a game-player, and a brother-indulger.  But oh!  The willfulness of him!  He says “no” to me all the time.  He refuses to do the most miniscule of tasks.  He doesn’t seem to want to be a functioning member of society.


So I guess I’m just going to start feeding him more and see if that helps the tantrums?  While we were gone last weekend, my mom gave both boys “bedtime snacks” and while there is all sorts of pop psychology/pop parenting strategy that says one should not feed one’s children before bed, but rather make them finish their dinner each night and like it because there are children starving in the world and you don’t hear them complaining, do you, and also this might build bad habits and promote obesity, blah, blah, blah, I, for one, do not live that way.  If my kids are hungry, I’ll feed them.  If they’re thirsty, they can drink water, even if it’s right before bed.  Nighttime dryness is less important to me than complete hydration. 


Charles is, essentially, forced to eat his dinner (so many bites of this, so many bites of that before you may be excused to play), and he does a pretty good job.  But he’s often hungry at night and I don’t know why I had never thought to institute routine snacking before.  But we do it now!  And I think I’m going to make even more (healthy) snacks available throughout the day.  It’s tough to limit the candy and cookies, given the season, but both of my children will plow through apple slices, raisins, and cheese if I leave a plate on the table through the afternoon, so that’s what I’ll do.  And cereal or popcorn before teeth brushing at bedtime.


Does it make me feel better to have a plan?  Yes.  Do I think feeding him more will work to minimize tantrums?  Not really, but action is better than inaction.  I’m hoping we’ll all just start sleeping better soon and that will take care of some of the strife.  Until then, I’ll keep that running list of punishments (take away books, take away toys, take away candy, take away bedtime stories) in my head and my butt-smacking hand at the ready.  My only other thought is to make a better effort at Mommy-Son dates so he gets a bit more time with me alone, hoping that will change his behavior.  Because I have to win, you know?  It doesn’t do to have a child out-will the parent.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

The first time Tony and I left Charles in the care of grandparents, we made a dramatic getaway: one week in Mexico.  Charles was 18 months old and teething.  This time, we only left for the weekend, taking a short ferry ride to Orcas Island where we were mostly out of cellphone range.  Jamie is 17 months old and still not teething.  We forgot the camera and Tony forgot his bathing suit, but that was okay, because the hot tubs were private


This might have been the best trip ever, though I’m sure we felt that way about Mexico, too.  It’s amazing how wonderful a full night’s sleep feels.


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This guy turned 35.  Whoa.  We celebrated by being interrupted (ahem!) by the maintenance man at the resort wanting to check on the lights or some shit.  We also drove to the top of a mountain, and I know it was a mountain because it is called MOUNT Constitution and because we were in the clouds at the top.


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But out of the clouds, on the turnouts and scenic overlooks, we had an excellent view of the San Juan archipelago.  Not that you can tell from my crappy iPhone photo.


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I thought one of the more interesting aspects of the drive to the top was the CCC-era mossy, overgrown guardrails whose wood had rotten out over the years.  I didn’t take a picture.  Still, if you ever go there, that’s what those chunks of moss-covered cement with a giant nail driven through them are.  Let’s see if someone else on the internet has taken a photo.  Hmm, apparently not.  Well, at any rate, the scenery up the mountain is incredible, and I’m sure it would be fun to camp/hike/bike/swim there in the summer.  As it was, it was raining.


Tony got to have a birthday burger and he said it was great, and we relaxed and slept and went for a run, during which we saw several deer (so that’s why they call it Deer Harbor), and watched bad television (wow – I had forgotten how annoying commercials are!) and soaked in the tub until it was time to go home.  Then, we hopped back on the ferry, where we put together a puzzle until we docked.


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Both the ferry trip out and back home (different boats) had several puzzles on the tables for passengers to work on.  What a great idea!  We had a good time, and the voyage passed quickly (we needed a good distraction because the Seahawks game was on but the truck had no radio signal on the lower deck).


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And these guys seemed no worse for the wear (though I am sure my parents are exhausted).  And they have a new affinity for games on the phone or Grandpa’s iPad.


Many thanks to my mom and dad for taking care of our boys (including Buster) while we were gone.  If birthday presents for me and Tony for the next 18 years or so consist only of babysitting, we consider ourselves lucky, indeed.

Monday, December 3, 2012

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like… Breakables Season

You didn’t think I’d actually let my poor, mistreated children go without a tree this year, did you?




Oh, sure, I ripped the skin off of four fingers, at least, untangling all the pre-lit, pre-tangled lights, complete with clips and twine, and then clipping on more lights, and sure, there clearly aren’t enough lights at the top to match the rest of the tree, but you know what?  The children love it.  And they can’t see to the top, anyhow.




Christmas season may now officially start.  And this guy’s pretty happy about that.  Or about pooping.  Or maybe about his train book.  He’s pretty universally happy, is what I’m saying.