Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Quick Slice

Every once in a while I just like to take a quick snapshot of life as I know it these days.  I do this partly so I can look back one day and remember the details of the blur that was my childrens' early childhood, but also so my friends will have an answer to the question "how come he never calls?"  Here's a little journal of our activities from Monday.

2:20 am - First waking.

Finn just set himself on fire...or so I assumed by the sound of it.  It turned out he was just hungry.  I guess he's going through another growth spurt and the 9500 calorie dinner he ate isn't going to hold him until 6 am like we'd hoped.

4:50 am - Second waking.

Liam woke up sounding terrified and crying out my name.  I dashed to his rescue.  He was out of water.

7:10 am - Final waking

The boys woke up trying to out-scream each other.  I think they were trying to harmonize.  It sounded like the dial tone in hell.

7:30 am - Feeding

Liam ate half a piece of toast that touched some egg and was an inch away from a pear slice.  I think that counts.  Finn had two eggs, half a pear, a slice of ham, half a tortilla, two strawberries, a fistful of Cheerios, and Liam's breakfast.

8:30 am - Daycare

I dropped Finn off with just a bottle and a snack bar.  He hadn't eaten in an hour and was looking peckish.  Hopefully the daycare lady left her dog dishes out on the floor again so he can get some protein.

8:45 am - Preschool

Teacher Julie assigned me "outside" and instructed me on how to set up an obstacle course.  Then she told me that the kids could go through the course as many times as they wanted but I had to make sure that they formed a single line, waited their turns, and followed my detailed instructions, while I made sure they didn't fall to their deaths and took notes on each individual's performance.  Later on I'm going to unwind by training kittens to ballroom dance while spinning flaming plates on my kneecaps.

11:45 am - Home

I think my spine is bleeding.  Children should be lighter and farther from the ground.  I picked Finn up from daycare.  He hadn't napped due to hunger which is just as well.  I have three hours to get them fed and rested so the more exhausted he is, the better.  For lunch Liam is having PB&J with the crusts gnawed off (by me, yay food!) and Finn had everything else in the fridge.

12:30 pm - Down time

I'm scouring the house for the flash drive I've been desperately hunting down for a good four days.  It only contains all my major financial files, my most cherished family photos, my resume, and the only copies of the Bairdsmith wine labels.  I naturally assume it's being slowly digested by Finn and I'll find it soon enough.

1:15 pm - Laundry

Finn woke up after just 20 minutes because we haven't yet figured out a way to feed him while he's sleeping.  Liam is up too, but never actually fell asleep.  I forgot to drink anything except coffee today so I thought I'd pour myself a huge glass of water, then leave it unattended.  This led of course to an impromptu carpet cleaning.  Now I've moved onto folding laundry which coincidentally lead to me finding my missing flash drive (In the dryer.  Everything was completely intact.  2GB Kingston DataTravler - buy it.)  I'm averaging one folded shirt for each book handed to me for immediate reading.  Not a bad ratio.

3:00 pm - Dentist

This is Liam's first dental appointment.  Well, not counting last week where he got a prize for sitting in the chair without freaking out for thirty seconds.  I'm hoping today he opens his mouth.  Erin is of course tending to him.  When we showed up she gave me a look that said, "We, as a general rule, don't serve people who look and smell the way you do because A) billing hobos is rarely successful and B) your presence is compromising our adherence to a sterile work environment. I need to get a photo of her on her day off with the boys in case this comes up again.  She then asked if I'd brought a pacifier to keep Finn preoccupied.  I told her no but I had brought the next best thing: Two pounds of cheese and three nectarines.  He was completely satisfied for 10 minutes.  He threw his last bite on the floor so I asked Erin "What's the five-second-rule in a dentist's office?".  "Much shorter" she answered.  Liam actually opened his mouth (hooray!) but then shut it again before Erin could get clear.  She noted that it was the worst bite she'd ever received from a patient.  I noted that Erin is regularly bitten at work enough to have a rough rating system.  I bet there's some way we could make money suing ourselves.

3:45 - Home again

If Liam isn't sleeping he's at least in his room not sleeping quietly.  I'll take it.  Finn is so thrilled by his new found speed-crawling skills that he's taken to keeping his head down, eyes to the ground, for better aerodynamics.  He's getting up to about 7 mph before he blindly smacks into something.  I've put pillows up around some of the harder furniture.

5:15 - Erin comes home

I actually managed to clean the entire kitchen and wail on a bit of laundry.  Erin is taking Finn to the gym with her but leaving Liam since he finally did fall asleep.  I have an hour and a half to make dinner.  Tonight's menu will consist of whatever time (and motivation) will allow.

5:20 - Liam is up.

Shells and cheese it is.  Liam keeps requesting "Watch it Elmo?" so I'm doing my best to make "Sherlock: Season 2" seem Elmo-esque, "That dominatrix lady has a goldfish named Dorothy too!"  He's not buying it.

6:45 - Erin is home.

Dinner for her is non-existent, as is the bottle of wine I'd opened for "us".  The half folded pile of socks next to me isn't going to be enough to distract her from this fact.

8:00 - Night night

The boys are fed, washed, brushed, and in bed.  Erin, not so much, but she is a merciful and understanding wife.  There are still a few things to do to get the house ready for my parents who are watching the boys tomorrow.  I can either do them myself, or I can try and fall asleep before she gets out of the shower and let things sort themselves out.  I could at least go feed the...zzzzzzz.

Monday, September 24, 2012


On Friday morning I went for a jog around Spring Lake. I do this from time to time, and am getting pretty good at it, but this time I just wasn't my streamlined efficient self. I felt clunky and was easy to tire. I walked more than usual, but I blamed it on the inconsistency of peppiness in my choice of music.

When I'd finished, I went home and showered, and started to get ready for my day. I felt really lethargic, which is the opposite of how my run tends to make me feel. My muscles felt achy, which was too soon for having just run an hour ago. I noticed that the skin on my lower back started to feel kind of tender to the touch. And then it hit me - I was freaking sick.

I haven't been down-for-the-count sick in almost a year. I was grateful that the kids were at least with their father instead of asking me slice them more apples and take them to the park to play catch.

I lay down in my bed for a little nap, figuring that would fix things. I'd promised to take Paulie to pick up his truck (another story) later that afternoon, so I set my alarm and fell into a fitful, fevered sleep, waking every 4 minutes or so to the sound of my pot-hacking neighbor and his friends.

When my alarm went off, I dragged myself to Paulie's and then Paulie to his truck, and was then told to go home and sleep. By 'home' Paulie meant his place (this used to annoy me. Now I find it somewhat endearing). He had a few errands to run, and said he'd meet me there later. I followed his orders like a sweaty, shaking robot. I made it 'home', crawled into his bed, and promptly slept the sleep of the sickly.

When I woke again, the most amazing thing was happening: Paulie was taking care of me. He felt my forehead, frowned, brought me icy ginger ale, warmed up some homemade chicken soup, gave me some Advil, and made sure I was comfortable. He actually initiated all of this on his own - and stuck around to make sure I had everything I needed. He didn't seem irritated by my being sick, even a little bit. He didn't stare darkly at me for five full seconds before inching forward to collect my empty soup bowl with his arm outstretched as far as it could go in an attempt to avoid contact with me or my germs. He didn't say "I seriously can NOT get sick right now, don't even come near me!!" Not that I had the energy to come near him anyway, but still - I didn't have to! He was right there next to me! Offering me a drink of water out of his glass!

I was blown away. I could only stare at him through my woozy-sighted eyes in wonder. I'm not exactly used to this type of treatment when I'm sick, and I honestly didn't know how to handle it. Luckily I didn't really need to, since my response of immediately falling back to sleep after eating my soup was completely justified and acceptable.

After I'd mostly recovered, save a few more fevers over the weekend, I was thinking it might not be so bad to get sick, what with all this loving and nurturing stuff happening. It's kind of awesome! But then I remembered what always comes with bad fevers - Cold Sores. Dammit!

See you all in two weeks.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

I Should Have Married Stupid

Erin:  Hi!

Me:  Shhhhhhh.  I just got the boys to go down.

Erin:  Oh sorry.  Both of them?  Nice.

Me:  I know.  It wasn't easy.

Erin:  What is that?

Me:  Hmm, what?

Erin:  THAT!

Me:  This?'s nothing.

Erin:  Is that booze?

Me:  Yes.  I was drinking.  I'm drunk.

Erin:  What's with the decanter.......and the rag?

Me:  It's actually a kind of vapo-rub type thing.

Erin:  Really?

Me:  Totally.  Finn had a cough.  I got it at the apothecary.

Erin:  Mike.

Me:  I love you.

Erin:  What is it really?

Me:  It's nothing.  Are you hungry?  I'm hungry.

Erin:  Let me see it


Erin:  What the fuck!?

Me:  Nothing.  It's just kinda stinky.  How about a sandwich?

That was the exact exchange between Erin and I that didn't happen.  I'm a really shitty actor apparently.  Instead she just looked at me holding the rag and bottle that I'd swiped from work just for the purpose of this shtick, ignored my caught-red-handed-making-the-boys-nap-by-using-chloroform performance/pantomime, and just said, "Nice bottle.  Can you get the rest of the groceries?".  If we ever divorce the reason I'll cite will be that she never plays along and is a big jerk.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Selfless Volunteer

About a week ago, Evie's kindergarten teacher cornered me and reminded me that I'd put my name down on the classroom volunteer list. I nodded and said "mm hmmm" while Evie yanked on my arm and tried dragging me away with her. Teacher and I had a quick exchange, during which I told her which mornings would work best for me, and she told me...some stuff I didn't really catch.

I'd all but forgotten this conversation until this morning when, as I sleepily waved goodbye to Evie as she walked into her school, I caught sight of her teacher and had the urge to duck and roll, realizing that Today was The Day that I'd said I could volunteer. Bah!

I drove home, having not showered or brushed my teeth yet as usual, and went over the possible scenarios in  my head. Maybe Teacher had forgotten? She didn't look at me in any way that indicated I should be returning in a half hour. Maybe she wouldn't notice if I didn't show up? Good god, of course she would, she's a teacher for crying out loud - they need all the help they can get! I pictured her standing in her classroom at the appointed hour, surrounded by a mountain of small children trying to dogpile her ala Kindergarten Cop, slowly spinning around crying "where is she? Where is my parent volunteeeeeer?!"

I made myself a cup of tea and slugged into the shower, trying to think of ways to bail without seeming like a dick. I wanted to curl up in a ball under the covers in my bed didn't really seem like it would fly. I tried to remind myself that I'd gotten only a few precious opportunities to volunteer for Jonah's classrooms because of my work schedule, and how much I'd looked forward to having a chance to do so with Evie. I also tried to remember why this had at one time seemed like something I'd actually enjoy doing.

I forgot I was wearing this and left it on all day

In the end, I swallowed my fears of the Kindergarteners being smarter than me, and pushed down the images of them pointing their fingers at me saying "ha haaaaa.....Evie's mom is a DUMMY!" (This is actually why I won't volunteer in Jonah's 4th grade class - because there's no question that they're smarter than me). I walked into the school looking very presentable, got my Volunteer sticker, and made my way to class. When I got there, Evie was sitting outside with a parent volunteer, and I thought 'oh come ON! They don't need me here after all, that lady's got it covered.  Goddammit.' 

Then Evie noticed me and her face lit up like it was Christmas morning, and I was the Barbie she'd been waiting for all year. 'Ah', I thought. 'Right. This is why I wanted to volunteer'. 

After her teacher figured out how to introduce me to the class (Her - this is's mom...Mi... Me - Janik. Her - oh, right, right, I was going to use the other name... Me - (patient smirk) Her - kids, this is Evie's mom), I got to sit outside the class and help assess their level of understanding of things like the alphabet, numbers, shapes and colors. I found that I had just as difficult of a time introducing myself to the kids as Teacher did. I overheard the other mom say "Hi Logan, I'm Miss Katherine!", but I've always preferred a more formal relationship with kids. I played around with "Miss Amanda" in my head but thought it sounded too much like a mediocre stripper name. When it came time for me to say my polite, proper, I'm-The-Boss name though, I got stuck again. I'm not a Mrs anymore. I'm not a Miss. Does that make me...a Ms? Oh my god. I've always assumed that was for old ladies or french women. I'm not even sure how to say it! Mss? Mzzzz?! 

None of this helped to alleviate the mild panic attack I felt every time a new kid came out into the hall to sit with me. One girl dipped her head lower and lower toward the table until she was breathing directly onto my hand. "Can you tell me what letter this is?" "H!" (spits on my  hand with the 'ch' sound). "That's great! And what sound does H make?" "Huuuuuuuhhhhhhh" (breathes hotly onto my hand). I gave her a check mark and managed to mutter "Very good you're done please send out Nathan!" through a forced smile while keeping my hand as far away from my face as possible. I don't even know why, she didn't seem sick or anything. But you can never be too safe with kids. Germ factories, those things are. By the time I was given my leave I'd convinced myself that I'd acquired everything from lice to the bubonic plague.

Before I left I went out to watch Evie scuttle around with her friends during recess. As they lined up to go back into class, she ran over to me and gave me one of her breathtaking hugs. No wait, really, she runs full force toward me and rams her head into my gut, leaving me doubled over in pain and unable to breathe. After that we kissed and high-fived and she said "mama, no! Stay!" then stuck out her tongue at me as I left.

Ah, right. This is why I wanted to volunteer. That kid is a riot. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Quick WTF? Moment

Liam just changed his own diaper.

I'm not really one for building up a story.  Besides that's really the entire story right there.  He changed his diaper.  He was supposed to be napping (hence the nap-time diaper), but I could hear he wasn't, so I peeked in on him.  He was playing with his toys and enjoying them more than usual because he knew he wasn't supposed to be.  The scent in the air told me something was amiss so I asked "did you poopie?".  "No" he lied.  I investigated and found that he was, in fact, wearing a clean diaper....backwards.  About three feet away was his pooped-filled diaper.  

That means he dropped a load and thought, "Eww, well this won't do.  I'll just slip this off aaaand...yup, that's better.  Let's see now, I could go find daddy for the rest but he'll play that whole 'why aren't you sleeping?' card and I really don't have time for that today.  I'll just go ahead and grab one from this box here......hmm, this over here, that over there.....there, that looks about right!"

Really??!!  How much simpler would it have been to just go use the bathroom??!!  He knows how I get when he does.  Is he denying me my greatest joy just because??  Sadistic little fartknocker!!  WHY??!!

Maybe just to get a reaction.  Ya think?

The little bastard is effing with me.  He can probably do everything I do for him, by himself.  He can probably dress himself, wash himself, and could probably even communicate just fine but fakes it because the speech therapist's toys are way cooler than ours (they really are).  What's next, am I going to find him making grilled cheese at 3am?  I'm fine with that.  In fact it's about time that boy learned to make a decent bloody mary.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fat Girl

If I had a nickel for every blog post I've written that I then couldn't publish because it would piss someone off and maybe even get me into a little trouble, I'd have about 45 cents. This might be one of those posts.

Remember when I wrote about how I'd unintentionally gotten super hot after my marriage went to hell? Somewhere in that blog post I predicted that I was aware of the fact that the weight likely wouldn't stay off forever, so I'd better enjoy it while it lasted. And enjoy it, I did! I wore bikinis and short skirts and walked around in all states of undress, just because I could.

I even whiteboy danced in the ocean

Lately, though, I've noticed that telltale tightening of the pants. I've had to do more hoisting, more squeezing, more quizzical studying of my reflection in the mirror, thinking "can I seriously pull this off?" It's been a while since I've done this, and I sure didn't miss it. Let me say here that I don't give a flying patootie what other people's bodies look like. I just have a certain image of myself in my head, based on the better part of 35 years' worth experience seeing it as such. And just as I hadn't noticed the weight coming off a while ago, I was clueless that it was coming back on.

It's funny, because in that old post, I knew what I had to do, but I didn't listen to myself: "I realize that in order to keep my new fantastic-looking body, I need to remain depressed, angry and bitter. Under NO circumstances must I become too smitten with someone or, heaven forbid, start going out to eat or letting someone feed me delicious meals. I MUST NOT fall in love."

What did I do? I got happy. I let go of my anger. I became smitten. I started eating. Not just meals, but snacks too. That's right - I fell in love with a snacker. Pretzels and chips and salsas and cheeses and experimental things in the oven at all hours of the night. One could say I was totally fucked from the beginning. If I'd been paying attention it's possible I could have stopped the eventual spillover of my love handles, but the whole point is that I've never payed attention to these things until it was too late.

So of course I've been musing about this to my lover. "Jeez, I'm getting kind of fat again," I'll say, patting my fat roll. To which he replies "hm, well, what are we going to do about that?" I have various responses to this, most of which can be summed up as "Stop fucking offering me snacks all the time!"  I know I should stop here and complain that he doesn't say "psh, you're crazy, woman! You're beautiful and I'd love you no matter how fat you got!" but I have a better sense of humor than that, so I'm not going to pretend that I care all that much, as long as he doesn't become a dick about it.

If I didn't have said sense of humor, the following conversation might have seemed somewhat dickish:

Him: If you get too fat I'll break up with you
Me: Oh yeah? Ha! Jerk.
Him: Ha, okay, you're right. I won't really break up with you.
Me: Oh thank you. You're so good to me, baby.
Him: I just won't be attracted to you anymore. So, I won't want to have sex with you, and I'll become distant... so you'll end up breaking up with me.
Me: (pause, disbelieving stare, then uproarious laughter) Um - Ha ha ha haaaaaa! I can't believe you just said that out loud.
Him: I know!

At least I know what I'd look like if things got out of control. Several years ago I was looking for a picture of three wolves howling at the moon (because that is a completely normal thing to be looking for), and I found this:

I don't know who that girl is, but she looks just exactly like me (aka cute, plucky and awesome!). It's spooky to come across a picture of your twin wearing a three wolves howling at the moon sweatshirt on the internet. It is also very useful.

I'm going to print several copies of this picture out and put them up all over my boyfriend's house, so he can get used to the idea. Just in case.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Stand and Debooger

Hey I'm getting kind of okay at this preschool gig.  I've been volunteering on Mondays for only a month and I've already got some skills.  Commence the shaping of our future!!

I learned very quickly to always have a tissue.  Always.  Today a little girl held her finger out to me and said "I have a dirty".  A dirty she had indeed.  Rather than take the time to identify what, in fact, was the dirty, I instantly busted out a tissue, dealt with it, and moved on.  I just realized it's still in my pocket.  Ewww.

That brings up another insight...well, more of a resignation.  I used to have nice clothes AND grubby clothes.  Now all the nice clothes have graduated.  If I ever need to look nice again I'll go shopping.

I've also learned that trying to be the "funny daddy" was a mistake.  I feigned a dramatic reaction when one of the boys jumped out from behind the slide and yelled "BOO!"  Now an encore performance is demanded of me every twenty seconds.  "We scawed you scawedy cat!! HAHAHAHAHA".  For the record I wasn't at all scared.  Also I totally could see his feet when he was hiding.  Lame.

At today's post school debriefing I picked up a few more pointers about sharing, positive reinforcement, and something something listening and stuff.  Then the teacher gave us an assignment that threw me for a loop and made me question my pedagogical strategies.

We have to put together a sort of care package for Liam in case of 'an emergency'.  An emergency?  It is to include things like juice, a snack, a nametag, a pack of cigarettes I think, some radiation sickness pills, and a hand written note from Mommy and Daddy.  The note is there so that he can have words to console him in the dark minutes leading up to the annihilation of the human race.

I had no idea this was part of the preschool deal?  These teachers are hard-CORE!  Sure they get summers off but that's a lot of responsibility.  Reading, Writing, and Repopulating the war-torn wasteland that is the post-apocalyptic Earth.

Erin bestowed the honor of authoring this letter upon me.  I toyed with something simple like "Remember son.  Water is Life" or "It's best that you forget us.  Move on" and "Don't be a candy-ass.  It's not true what they say about the meek".  But I thought if this would be my final chance to save him I should give more details so I considered "hey, do you remember in Annie when the first thing she asked to do at Daddy Warbucks house was to wash windows, and then the floors in case she drips?  If you say something like that to rich people it will endear them to you and they'll be more likely to adopt you."  In the end I just said something about listening to the grown-ups that are there with you, and we'll be there soon.

Despite my learning in leaps and bounds like this, I'm still humbled by the bad-assery that is Liam's teacher.  She could command an army, and apparently may have to.  If things do get a little Red Dawn-ish though, Liam can rest assured I'll be there with him, for my own survival as much as his.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


The boys have been trying out some new moves.  Eddie Izzard does a great bit about Dr. Heimlich developing his maneuver and how that probably didn't go very well at first (frying pan in the bollocks, etc).  It's kind of like that with my boys' trial and error but with fewer far.

Here's Finn in one of a series of moves I like to call "Save Me from Myselfs".  He gets himself stuck in a few different positions, none of which he's figured a way out of.  The one below is one of the easier ones to remedy since all I have to do is pick him up and set him down again.  Others are trickier, like when he manages to lodge himself in the crevasse between the bed and the wall, or when he crawls into a bedroom, shuts the door behind him, and then freaks out when he can't push the door open because it only opens inward.  Getting him out of that involves gently pushing the door against his screaming head until his body rolls out of the way enough to reach around and grab him by the foot.

Little help?
Most of Liam's new moves involve the potty.  His potty sessions can take up to twenty minutes, depending on the book he's reading, so monitoring his progress is impractical.  Most of the time I let him take care of his business in private.  Lately he's been finishing up, removing the bowl from his potty chair, and shuffling down the hallway to share it, now brimming with success.  This is usually done with his underpants around his ankles so naturally not all of it makes the journey.  A few times he's come around the corner and raised the bowl up over his head in his excitement.  I end up just flushing what's left as his reward and then go fetch the 'bad towels'.

He's also sorting out how to deal with 'nap turds'.  We still give him a pull-up diaper for nap times but now that he's potty training he's not as poop-tolerant as he used to be.  Unfortunately he's my son so he's also inherently lazy.  Last week he tried to distance himself from his poopy diaper without getting out of bed.  I'll spare you the details, but it was disastrous.  The good news is I think the learning curve on that maneuver is pretty steep.

One of his cuter moves is what I call "Eating Everything Like It's Corn on the Cob".  Hot dogs, burritos, PB&J sandwich slices all get attacked from the long side.  It's inefficient and a little messy, but sometimes you get this nice little homage to Heather Ledger's 'Joker'.

Why so serious?

Sunday, September 2, 2012


I just got in a fight with my cat and I'm pretty sure I lost.  It went something like this:

her:  psst, hey.

me:  no.

her:  HEY!

me:  ....please. no.

her:  Get up and let me out.

me:  Use the cat door.

her:  I don't feel like it.  Get up asshole.

me:  For the love of CHRIST!!  I finally started to drift off after waking up in a panic at 5am because I'd realized I'd forgotten to get my TB test checked and NOW I have to take time off from work to do it AGAIN next week and you need me to go open the door and let you out?!  Come ON!!!

her:  You know what I just heard?  "blah blah blah blah let me out"

me:  I hate you.  I've been lying awake for hours.

her:  I know, I've been right here the whole time.  You suck at sleeping.

me:  die.

her:  I'm twelve, I will soon, thanks for bringing that up you insensitive prick.  Now get up and let me out.

me:  I haven't slept more than five hours in a week.

her:  Really?  I haven't been awake that long in a week.

me:  please go away.

her:  Look, obviously there's no hope for sleep now and the boys will be up soon anyway so get up  Come on, there's leftover pizza.  We'll make a morning of it.

me:  I'm not hungry.

her:  Sure you are.  And you're a little hungover too you fucking loadie, have some pizza.

me:  Go away.

her:  Hey look, it's getting light out!

me:  Alright FINE!!

(stomps out of the bedroom to the front door and opens it)

her:  Whoo, a bit chilly.  Nevermind.

(throws cat from house)