Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Auntie Guest Post, Take 2

Another Auntie weighs in on parenting-for-the-day while I was gone. My initial reactions:

1) You let the kid ride in the FRONT seat? In the SNOW?
2) Families freak me out, too.
3) Welcome to my world: butt cracks, fruit loops, and dead mice.

Now, on to the hilarity:

It’s Friday afternoon. I’ve been all over town, running manically from one appointment to the next. The snow, they say, is coming, but no sign of it yet. I manage to get out of my office and onto I25 in time. On the way I realize that I don’t know what the fuck E. was talking about regarding booster seats and how to get in the house without a key (actually, there was no mention of the latter in his unprecedentedly epic email). I call him at work to check on said details.

I arrive at the house, use the garage code, get into the house, and see the car seats sitting in the mud room. I look closer: what am I supposed to do with all those straps? How do I get that shit in my Honda Civic two-door? I start reading directions on the tags of the seats. They’re indecipherable. I call E. for the second time, and he instructs me to just shove them in the car and pull the seatbelts over them with kids inside.

Ok, that seems doable. So I shove the seats in the car and drive to the end of the street to meet Addie’s bus. The snow has begun, is coming down in quarter-sized flakes. I wait with the next door neighbor and his shivering Greyhound. I feel kind of guilty for not inviting them to join us in the car, but it already feels crowded with the seats.

The bus arrives and Addie trots out, all pink-bundled and adorable. She’s wearing the hat and gloves I gave her last Christmas! She’s happy to see me, which is awesome, since it’d been so long since I’d seen hear that I thought she might’ve forgotten who I was. (She did, for what it’s worth, talk quite a bit about how cool it was to have Auntie M. pick her up the day before. She goes, “Someone new picks me up every day!”

I realize I’ve made a big mistake when she says, “Oh, I get to sit in the front seat? This’ll be the first time I’ve ever sat in the front seat! I LIKE the front seat!”

Wait, why in the hell did I think I could put one of the boosters in the front seat? Because it fit, and I was raised totally without car seats. And I’m not a parent. Oh, crap.

“Ok, Addie, I made a mistake,” I say. “You can ride in the front on the way to pick up Nolie, but then we’ll have to put the seat in the back.”

“No you didn’t,” she says confidently. “I’m allowed to sit in the front. It’s safe.”

“No, it’s not, but I wasn’t thinking.”

“No, it’s fine. I like the front seat.”

“Ok, but this isn’t going to last long.”

Snow looks like wet mice falling from the sky. We are on the simple drive to pick up Nolie, but I’ve forgotten where to turn left. We come to an intersection.

“Addie, do you know if this is where we turn?”

“Yeah, this is it.”

“Are you sure?”

“Um...yeah. I’m shuwah.”

Of course, it’s not where we turn. We repeat this exercise two more times before we actually hit the correct turn. I try not to be pissed (primarily at myself) and am amazed at the amount of SUV traffic at 3:30 on the back roads of the suburbs. Families freak me out! We get to Nolie’s school, skidding around in our shoes on the snowy deck, but Addie takes me to the right place and I sign in. We walk around the entire school to Nolie’s classroom. She’s psyched to see me, and starts getting bundled up. Then the teacher asks me for ID. Eric didn’t tell me about ID, and I stupidly left my whole backpack in the house. I tell the teacher this, but she insists I go back to the sign in place and get permission.

We skitter back to sign-in and the same lady says, “Ok, Addie, do you know this Nancy? Where does she live?”

Addie looks at her blankly. “Um...”

“Does she live in Colorado?”


“Does she live in Denver?”

“Um...I think so.”

“Ok, you’re clear. You can pick up Nolie now.”

So that’s our big security check, just FYI. Not that I wanted it to be harder, but...

We head back to Nolie’s room, finally collect her, and make our way, holding Nolie’s hand, walking in super-clumsy-slowmo to the car, where we then, with the big wet mice falling, have to take the booster out of the front seat and move it to the back, next to the other one. I am trying to navigate this delicate operation, with both girls pushing into the car to get out of the snow, so literally all three of us and the seat are trying to cram into the back at the same time. My jacket has hiked up with me all bent over, and it’s now snowing on my tramp stamp, melting down my ass crack. Fruit loops and hairballs and months-old throw up chunks or something are falling from cracks and divots in the seat as I flip it over to get it in. I feel the urge to scream, The girls are giggling and squeezing. It’s fucking awkward beyond description, but somehow I manage to shove the damn seat in and wrench belts over bellies.

We then blast Classic Rock all the way home—Creedence, as I recall. I’ll spare you the ridiculous snack conversation, but suffice to say I eventually figured out how to work the DVD player and we settled into the couch and, after a big argument between sisters about what to watch, settle on that movie about the oddball penguin. It’s pretty good; I had no idea!

Then E. comes home and tells me there’s already about three inches of snow on the ground and I should try to get home before it’s really bad. So I’m up and out and back on the wet highway, littered with dead mice.

Bodily Revelations

I've been more than a bit grumbly lately, what with all the flus and barfing and curving spines around here (by "around here," I mean in my body). It has felt a little relentless, I've felt a little sorry for myself, and I've been a bit resentful of this new routine being imposed on me. Every night, it's yoga or, mostly, pilates. If not, the next day means pain and discomfort. I'm not all that interested in food, and then a staggering hunger overwhelms me and I want to eat anything in sight. Some nights I'm still needing nine or ten hours of sleep.

In short, I'm getting unexpected, unwanted feedback from my body. And I've been pissed about it.

But then, this morning, a revelation, prodded by some reading in Mike Dooley's Infinite Possibilities. And that is this: I have been wanting more time to take care of myself, to make myself stronger, to rest. These have been conscious intentions. I've been getting those gifts, too, though in the form of H1N1, or scoliosis. I was looking for rest and care in completely different forms--maybe some massages or something? Swaths of free time to just fall into my lap? But since I wasn't making those things happen, I got these other things instead. Not as delightful, but teachers anyway.

Here's my new intention: just take the extra hours of sleep, and enjoy them. Do the pilates (and enjoy my newfound stomach muscles). Push some stuff off my plate at work for a while. Eat when I feel like it, not when the schedule says it's time. Be still. And be grateful for my body's feedback.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Auntie Guest Post

I've been meaning to put up this guest post from the fabulous Auntie M., but only just now got permissions (cuz that's how I try to roll). So, from the weeks when I was gone, a tale of Auntie M., who kindly made my children a (no-doubt delicious) homemade mac n cheese:

Nolie (laying her head on the counter): I don't like this mac-n-cheese.
Addie: Me eitha. We only like the kind that comes in a box.
Auntie M.: Well, that's not real.
Addie: Yes it is.
Auntie M.: No it's not.
Addie: It's real cheese!
Auntie M.: No, it's powdered cheese. Chemicals.
(wide eyes)
Nolie (squirming): I don't like it.
Addie: Can you make us something else?
Auntie M.: Well, you know, when I was a kid and I didn't eat my dinner, that was it. I didn't get anything else.
(Both girls look at me -- their mouths are slightly agape)
Addie: Oh.
Nolie: Ohhhhh
Auntie M.: But of course we don't want you to be hungry.
Nolie: I want to watch the rest of the movie.
Auntie M.: How about some fruit?
Addie: Okay.
Nolie: OKAY!
Auntie M.: Apples and banana or pear and banana?
Addie: apples, pear, pear and banana. Can I have some more juice?
Auntie M.: Just a little more--especially since you're having other fruit.
Nolie: bahbahbahbah
Auntie M.: We'll save the mac-n-cheese for Daddy.
Addie: You can take it home.
Auntie M.: No, I think Daddy will like it.
Addie: You can take most of it home.

(Daddy comes home, eats two bowls of said mac-n-cheese, Auntie M. is VINDICATED!)

I (Auntie M.) will also say that there are few better things than being able to calm an upset kid. When I went to pick them up, Nolie gave me a look like "oh, I knew you were coming but HERE YOU ARE OH SHIT" and ran for her sister. "Addie! Wait up!" We got her piggy bag and then she crumbled. I kneeled..."what's wrong bug?" Out comes the bottom lip. "I want my mama" big tears...I take her in my arms and say "I know, I know it's hard, Mom is on the plane, I know, it's going to be okay" ...Nolie sobbing..."how about we go home and get a snack and watch a little movie?" ... sobbing calms..."Is that okay?" Nolie nods. When we get in the car and we're all strapped in, Nolie says, verbatim "Addie! We're going to go have a snack and watch a little movie!!"

Ah yes. We sang TOMORROW the whole way home.

Jen's note: I'm still slightly amazed that everything worked out okay, those weeks I was gone, not because the Aunties aren't incredibly amazing and competent, but because my children are such NUTballs and can bring even the very strong to their knees. It is a testament to our little "village" that everything went off with a hitch.

Everything I know about, anyway :).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Travel Titillations

Okay. In D.C. now, where it is 75 degrees. I flew into Denver late last night, where it was snowing, snowing, snowing. And it was a slush-fest on the freeway this morning, let me tell you. Here's what it was like:

30 seconds of white-knuckled slow-driving, followed by
3 seconds of screaming as a big-rig passed me, sluicing my windshield with slurpee-goop so that I couldn't see, followed by
30 seconds of white-knuckled slow-driving.

But I made it to the airport, and my flight left only 30 minutes late, thanks to de-icing. Which is fine with me--I'm a fan of de-icing. Or is it deicing? I hope not. That sounds dangerous.

And I've survived 5 flights in 10 days. Which is pretty good. But I'm missing my honey bunches and my two repro-units much at the moment. And my stomach is still a little oogy, though that's probably from all the nasty travel food. Ugh. My kingdom for a plate of kale!

It's all worth it, though, right? The next three days will be a whirlwind of engineering education theory, practice, and know-how. Titillating!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Out of Bed, For Reals

I did make it to Chicago, and here's proof that there ain't no mama in the house:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

One More Thing

Also, am I the only person out there who, upon recovering from the wickedest stomach flu ever, now craves Philly Cheesesteaks with fries and a shake? Am I? Why is this happening to me?


Keep on the Sunny Side

I want to note there are a few good things about having been sick for so long.

Such as. The lack of nutrients and exposure to the outside world has somehow cleared my skin up. Also, I've lost several layers of lip skin, which makes them plump and shiny. It's the poor man's exfoliation. And let's not forget that, thanks to the muscles atrophying and my inability to eat anything larger than a wheat thin, I'm down to my goal weight. Hurrah.

Just looking on the bright side.

In Bed, Again

I should be writing this from Chicago, where at 3pm today I would be giving a presentation on nanotechnology and citizen participation. This is a paper I was supposed to give last year at the very same conference, but wasn't able to attend that one, either, because of all the stuff going on with my family.

This year, I'm not able to attend because I caught some horrible stomach bug and was up puking all Monday night. I banished Eric to the guest room so that he could sleep, and when he came in Tuesday morning he said, "What are you going to do?" I was supposed to fly out last night. "What should I do?" I said, still urping. "You've got to get at least one good night's sleep before you go," he said wisely.

And that was that. I canceled my classes and my office hours and got my flight reservation changed to tomorrow night. I feel a little better today, and managed to eat some toast, brush my teeth, and put my contacts in. My muscles haven't completely atrophied from being in bed the last two weeks, but my brain feels like mush. It would have been a mistake to try to get there last night. I surrender. I can only do what I can do.

But it sucks to know that I probably have no credibility with these conference people after doing this twice. It's tough to think about everything that just has to fall away while I recover, like grading, email, housekeeping, parenting, and personal hygiene.

All this will pass, I know. My brother's wedding celebration was gorgeous fun, and it was so wonderful seeing him amid all of his life-long friends, and to hear what they had to say about him, and to see my family brought together for such a happy time instead of something sad. I'm so grateful I got to go.

But I could have done without this particular bookend.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Yes I did go to the doctor this morning and get that horrible thing stuck up my nose in order to receive the news that I have THE horrible flu with stupid bronchitis to boot. Which explains why, even though I made it through my one-hour lecture yesterday, I came home feeling like somebody had sucked my innards out of my body. Through my nose.

And I also finished grading papers for that one class I had to miss today, and prepped for the one class I'll miss tomorrow. I did those things because at the doctor's, they injected me with this crazy-ass steroid that makes you feel like, "Yes, I am still sick! I can feel it! I feel truly horrible! But I don't care! I'm going to organize baby pictures! And write a screenplay! And learn to dance the mambo!" That stuff is like Angel Dust and Nyquil, all rolled into one. Suh-weet.

And, in the last few days, in addition to trying not to be sick but being pretty goddammed sick, I managed to watch both Seven Samurai (let me break it down: 3 1/2 hours long; 60 years old; in black and white, and subtitled Japanese. Can I get a witness?) and Billy Bathgate (kay, sorry to say it, I know it's Doctorow and everything, but bo-ring!), which are Netflix movies that have been laying around the house gathering dust so long that I almost felt bad putting them in the mailbox today. I mean, we were using those things as coasters! The girls had started carving hieroglyphs into them!

I've also caught up on all of the Lost episodes, season 5, that are available on ABC. Memo to ABC: post the other episodes, you bastards! I have the swine flu, yo!

So now I'm making my way through 30 Rock.

Somebody save me.

Stupid Flu

Stupid flu. Stupid, stupid, stupid flu.