Saturday, September 29, 2007

In Case You Were Wondering

A half-cup of mixed grain cereal, a full container of sweet potatoes and corn, plus a half container of peas makes for some very interesting-looking baby vomit. Lots of interesting-looking baby vomit.

I blame the peas.

And if I’m interpreting Lula’s expression correctly, that interesting-looking baby vomit hurts when it comes out your nose.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

"Ducks Can Live in Any Setting" Unless Some Drunk from Colorado Rips Their Heads Off.

Well, this settles it. (This too.) If I’m ever going to get drunk and decapitate a duck, I’m not going to do it the lobby of the St. Paul Embassy Suites.

Lesson: only be horrifically cruel to animals during duck season.

Got it.

[OH MY GOD! ElectricYoak informs me that - get this - I have actually been in this hotel. When I was in town for his wedding, this is where we stayed. I now remember the duck pond. And suddenly this story is EVEN AWESOMER.]
Just when you thought a Manager's Happy Hour featuring free beer and mini corn dogs couldn't get any better, it turns out the happy hour is feet away from an Animal Cruelty Hotspot. Oh my freaking GAWD.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Goldilocks and the Three Beers

Once upon a time (a week ago), somebody I know met some cool people.

Later that day, she met some even cooler people for happy hour.
Fine, we are not Hall of Famers. We are not Bears. But we're still cool.

Aunt Bob and I have vowed to do a weekly happy hour. We might spend the whole time talking about our kids, but by god, we will get away from them for a few hours. I feel like we must commit to this - to spend at least two hours a week not being at work or being mom - to regain some balance.

Today is our third happy hour, and each afternoon beforehand I feel guilty for the minutes I will not spend with Lumpyhead and Lula. I worry that our husbands are not getting the break from parenting they need. I fear I will miss bedtime. But I know Aunt Bob and I need this, and if we do not schedule this outing and hold each other to it, it will never happen.

Plus I have a great time while we're out.

So, on Tuesday nights, Aunt Bob and I will be at Mommy Happy Hour. Kidless cocktails. Babyfree beverages.

You should come, too.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Yet Another Way in Which I Am Unnecessary

I tagged along for preschool pickup again today; I think Lumpyhead has turned the corner. Sure, he was still a whiny Pain In the Ass – but I think it was because he didn’t eat his lunch and not because his parents abandon him twice a week.

So there’s that. I don’t think I’ll keep showing up for pickup, even though I can now be back at my desk in about an hour. (Typical. I finally figure out how to do something and I immediately don’t have to do it anymore.)

Bump’s friend Tom (the guy who lost his violin) was in town on Saturday night. My colleague Linda agreed to babysit on very short notice (for she rocks), and Bump and I were able to go meet Tom. We went out to dinner (which was yummy) and played a couple rounds of pool (which went like this:
Bump and Tom: Here you go [handing me my ass]
Me: Why thank you).

Tom was performing at the Warehouse. Bump and I got to hear the sound check, but were too lame (and tired, but mostly lame) to stay for the performance.

We did get to hear the first piece of the night by another artist, which confirmed that I am not the target audience for avant garde performances. At all. For example, it sounded to me like the performer was administering some sort of hearing test, so I kept fighting the urge to raise my hand. Usually when you hear those kinds of noises and see a guy fluttering around with sound equipment, it is because he is trying to get those noises to stop. This guy was making those noises on purpose.

Tom told us we could leave if our ears hurt, but I felt compelled to stay either because it was the polite thing to do or because I was just too stunned by the aural assault to move. It was probably for the best that I didn’t see Tom get up and leave, because if I had, I’m sure I would have beat a double-hasty retreat my own damn self.

Meanwhile, Linda spent all evening drawing Thomas and Rusty for Lumpyhead, much to his squealing delight. The next day when Lumpyhead brought me his magnadoodle and asked me to draw Thomas, I failed miserably. Lumpyhead often points out the obvious by saying, "I see Thomas!" or "I see Rusty!" or "I see [whatever]!" He took one look at my Thomas rendition, started with "I see. . ." only to trail off because the thing I had drawn looked nothing like Thomas. He regarded me quizzically, erased the picture, and instructed me to draw "Thomas" in a tone that suggested perhaps I misunderstood him the first time. My second attempt wasn’t much better.

Bump later drew Gordon to scale, complete with landscaping, just to prove that magnadoodle-drawn trains are not a myth.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Do You Smell Vegetables? I'm Sure Lula Does.

Lula can be a joy to feed. She eats a healthy portion, opening wide each time you get close to her with a full spoon.

Or, she’s a total pain in the neck.

Food In Mouth-Hole NOW!
Sometimes I am far too slow when fixing Princess’s meal, and in the half-minute it takes for me to stir her cereal she goes from reasonably hungry to flipping starving. She arches her back and squeals, blocking each stab of the spoon with her panicked flailing.

I Hate Peas. Or Applesauce. And Sweet Potatoes. Or Maybe I Love Them All.
Sometimes I have the nerve to prepare Her Majesty a food she does not care for. Just because she ate two servings of squash and corn three days ago does not mean she likes squash and corn. Oh no, it does not. She clamps her mouth shut, sometimes even smiling at me with a tight, closed-lip grin.

Past the Goalie! Score!
Sometimes, despite her protestations, I can slip a spoonful of whatever into her mouth when she lets her guard down. You can usually tell what “whatever” was by the spatter pattern it creates on my shirt immediately after I sneak it in. She’s got a fairly good range as a spitter.

Faster, Peasant! Faster!
Sometimes I’m just too slow on the spoon. During my foolishly long pauses (I would argue that it takes a fraction of a second to dip the now-empty spoon into the baby food to reload it. Lula believes this is folly and I am just dawdling), Lula will open her mouth wide even though there is no food in the vicinity of her face. She often accompanies the fully open mouth with a scowl, just to let me know she has noted my laziness.

The Prize Fighter
Sometimes Lula presents a moving target. She will shake her head back and forth or rock from side to side or otherwise juke, jive, bob and weave her way through a meal. This is why she often has food in her ear.

Screaming the Scream of a Thousand Banshees
Lula likes to scream. It can almost be mistaken for a happy noise, but I am quite certain it is not. If she does this at mealtime, at least she’s giving me an open mouth to shovel food into. She’ll quiet down while swallowing, then immediately scream away again.

Perhaps her teeth hurt. Maybe the food is the wrong temperature. Maybe she doesn’t want what I’m serving. Maybe she’s too hungry. Maybe she’s not hungry enough. Maybe she wants her bottle.

Who the hell knows, but the screaming is driving me nuts, particularly when she does it in the middle of the damn night. (Say, between the hours of 1:00 and 2:30 am. For example. Ahem.)

Her preschool teacher reported that Lula employed both the Screamer and the Prize Fighter at lunchtime today, which explains why her nose is now full of green beans.

Lumpyhead did much better at school today. He reportedly cried at dropoff, but was not a sodden, tearful wretch at pickup. He still answers the question “What did you do at school today?” with “I cry,” but at least he follows that with “I go playground” and “I play toys.” There’s apparently a truck at school that he fancies. Woo fricken hoo.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Morning Conversation

Me: Tomorrow, you get to go to school.
Lumpyhead: I cry at school.

No shit.

Well, the first step is admitting you have a problem, right?

Monday, September 17, 2007


Today I used my lunch break (“break” because, honestly, it was waaaay more than an hour) to join Bump for Lumpyhead’s preschool pickup.

I received happy reports of how Lumpyhead did better today. He had a rough start - cried for about an hour - but his teacher dug up a copy of Dr. Seuss’s ABCs that Lumpyhead carried around for the rest of the day.

I’m happy with his progress. I hope Thursday will be better, next Monday better still, and eventually there will be no tears.

I’m chagrined that Lumpyhead cries. I know he is not the only two-year-old bellowing in the room, but I also know there are children who manage to be apart from their parents without throwing a gasping hissy fit. I didn’t think Lumpyhead had separation issues, but I guess all his babysitters have come to our house where he has been surrounded by his toys and books and familiar things, so how could I judge his separation issues?

Which leads to all sorts of doubts. Was this squealing avoidable? Did we coddle him? Is this just a phase? Does it have to be this hard?

I want everyone to be as delighted by my son as I am. I want him to thrive in new settings and not bawl his eyes out. I don’t want his little nametag to be unnecessary because all the parents and staff recognize him as Lumpyhead, The Kid Who Is Always Crying.

I want him to impress his teacher with his ability to count to twenty, not shock her with his wailing endurance. I want him to show that he can recognize every letter and describe what sound it makes, not display how much snot one little boy can produce when he spends four hours caterwauling.

When I pick him up I want his bright eyes to twinkle with humor, no longer red-rimmed with tear-clumped lashes.

For now, I will settle for a boy who spends his day at school clutching a sticky book as a talisman, finding comfort between occasional crying jags until we come to retrieve him.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Since the horror that was Lumpyhead’s first day of preschool, I’ve talked myself down off the ledge a little bit (with the help of some colleagues who have been doing daycare dropoff for years - who are awesome, thank you, even though they don’t read this).

Yes, Lumpyhead was released early from his first day. While I originally interpreted that as, “Oh god, they couldn’t stand him for another minute,” and “Lumpyhead failed preschool,” I’ve since come to think of it as, “Why torture the kid for another five minutes? He’s completed his day, he's eaten his lunch, his mother is here, let him go.”

I feel better about that.

I worried about the minutes Pete and I spent dicking around outside the school - while Precious suffered inside - but have come to realize that if Lumpyhead was really in trouble, they would have called me. Or, you know, have gone to get Bump, who was in the next room. God, I’m such a shit-for-brains sometimes. (Yeah, hey, those of you who are looking at your computer screens right now and sputtering “sometimes?” with incredulity? Yeah. Fuck you.)

We have not been practicing goodbyes this weekend, because, frankly, goodbye was not the problem. Being in an unfamiliar place without Bump or me or anyone he knew was the problem. And Lumpyhead will learn, soon, that he can be in that situation and have tons of fun and learn new things if he would just stop wailing like an injured hyena.

We have been talking to him about how much fun school is and how he will go back tomorrow and what he will do there, but frankly, I expect he’ll be a hot, sticky mess tomorrow, too. Less of a hot, sticky mess than he was on Thursday, but still a wreck. I think the only way he’ll learn the lesson we need him to learn is if he continues to go to school and is left alone there.

Luckily, we know how to do that. It’s just hard.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Happy New Year. Now Come Collect Your Squalling Child

My baby started preschool today. No, I’m not being melodramatic, the baby started preschool today. The one on the right:
She did well, by all accounts. She had a short nap and ate a good lunch and when I took her back into the room after class, she kicked her legs excitedly and giggled. Enrichment can’t start too early, you know.

Um, right. Lest you have forgotten, she is in preschool only because it’s a cooperative preschool and in order for Bump to be able to co-op in Lumpyhead’s class, Lula needs to be in school one day a week, too.

Oh yeah, someone else started preschool today.

It was a mild disaster.

Originally, Bump and I were going to drop off both kids, and he was going to show me around and fill me in on what I needed to know. For starters, how to get to the preschool.

Instead, the woman who was scheduled to co-op in Lula’s class couldn’t make it, so Bump had co-oping duties this morning. He had to arrive early, leaving me to drop off both kids with nary a clue about procedure or who the children’s teachers were or where to park the damn car.

Luckily, Pete was available to show me the ropes, or I might still be driving around Arlington with only a vague idea of where the school is located.

After a painless dropoff – Lumpyhead ran into the classroom without so much as a goodbye wave, there were toys in there, you know – I chatted with other parents over coffee and donuts. I got periodic reports about how he was doing (screaming, for the most part, but so was everyone else). When he had settled down (“He and Liam are playing with the dollhouse”), Pete and I hightailed it out of there to hang out at a coffee bar.

After a lovely couple of hours, we returned to the school. We tried to take some photos of ourselves with my camera and otherwise killed time until it was time to collect the children.

Upon entering the building, we saw another mother who had been instructed to send me to Lumpyhead’s class the moment I arrived. (Good thing we dicked around so much before coming in. Ugh.) Lumpyhead was wailing, and apparently had been doing so all morning. He was dismissed early and I tried to calm him down.

He asked for Thomas. He wanted to go home. He was a hot, teary, sweaty mess.

I managed to chat with his teacher about strategies for Monday. We’ll be practicing goodbyes all weekend, as well as looking at pictures of his teacher and him in the classroom.

I had planned to go in to work after dropoff, but when Bump had to co-op I decided to go in after pickup. After all the clingy weeping, I decided not to go in at all.

So, I’m taking the day off. For Rosh Hashanah or something. I did spend most of the day with my favorite Jew, so that’s gotta count for something.

Monday, September 10, 2007

One of Those Mornings

There are days when I leave for work, when Lula is giggly and Lumpyhead is sunny, and I feel like I really drew the short straw by getting stuck with the whole “career” part of the one-earner family.

Then there are days like today, when Lula didn’t sleep much, is hungry but won’t eat, and emits a high-pitched screeching noise at irregular intervals. Lumpyhead is cranky and squeals nonstop requests for chocolate chip cookies and stupid tv shows, choosing to speak only in that awful, aggravating whine that makes my ass hurt.

These days make me feel pretty smug about getting stuck with the whole “career” part of the one-earner family.

I go to work and look at pictures like this
and this
and even though I know Bump is dealing with this
and this
With only blissfully silent photos, I soon forget about the shrieking and the whining and the pants(es) full of poop.

And I miss them.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

So Very, Very Wrong

I'm ashamed to admit that when I heard of the great tenor's passing, I thought "poverati" would be a great term for poor people. It's much more evocative than trailer trash or tornado bait.

I'm ashamed, but only a little bit.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Is It Wrong That I STILL Think This Is Funny?

Hey, guess what? Last week at the beach, Lumpyhead inadvertently locked himself in his bedroom. He wasn't happy about it.

Lumpyhead squealed while Sarah tried to unlock the door with a pen (no go) then verbal direction ("Turn the thing on the knob! No, the other way. Just a little more! You can do it! No - wait, turn the - almost . . ."). Peter eventually jimmied the lock open with a wire hanger.

Meanwhile, I laughed and laughed and laughed.

And ran to get my camera.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Beach Week By the Numbers

1 - number of hours I walked from our beach house to a very lame playground and back. I carried both children - Lula in the bjorn and Lumpyhead on my hip - along a fairly busy road for half of the journey. Lumpyhead discovered that whining constantly at a certain pitch will drive his mother insane, and the only way I could combat the whining was a change of scenery. I knew there was a playground around somewhere, I just thought it was closer. I was wrong. So very, very wrong.

2 - number of DVD players where Lumpyhead would stand and whine for videos. Awesome.
Me: Want to go the beach? Want to swim in the pool?
Lumpyhead: I watch Blue Thomas? I watch Yellow Thomas? I watch Letter Factory? I watch Blue Thomas? I watch Yellow Thomas? I watch Letter Factory? [repeat. By the end of the week, add Monsters, Inc., Toy Story and Yo Gabba Gabba to the litany, and ratchet the whining up a few notches.]

3 - number of “Ron Paul for President” signs I saw on the Outer Banks. Seriously, Outer Banks? Ron Paul?

4 - number of minivans we saw that were the same color, make and model as Sarah’s while we were trying to catch up with her on the ride to the beach. (We left later than we said we would, she did not.)

Coincidentally, four is also the number of dead animals we saw on the road during that same span. Later we saw a truckload of busted watermelons, prompting dueling voicemails - Sarah asking me if she’d missed some kind of roving Gallagher show, and me asking her if watermelons counted as roadkill if you weren’t a vegetarian.

5 - for a span of about sixteen hours, the number of adults present to wrangle seven children. (See 7. And 10) Those few hours nearly killed me. (See 1)

6 - the first number on the clock when Lumpyhead decided to wake up every morning at the beach. I realize that to some of you this doesn’t seem like a very big deal, but for a mother whose child usually sleeps until 8, often 9, this is a Very. Big. Deal. I don’t know why Lumpyhead decides he must wake up at the ass-crack of dawn only when we’re on vacation - it may have something to do with his room at home being very dark - but it bites the big one in my view. (If your child usually wakes up at 6, and you’re busy rolling your eyes at me right now, imagine what it would be like if your child decided to wake up at 3am when you went on vacation. Go ahead, imagine. [pause.] See? So there.)

7 - number of children between the ages of four and seven months at the beach house. Behold:
Front Row: me, Lumpyhead, Aunt Bob's Little Guy, Lula, Aunt Bob and Claudia
Middle: Squeak and his little brother Jumbo (they are 14 months apart, Jumbo is about five months older than Lumpyhead)
Back: Sarah and Ian

8 - number of adults we planned on having at the beach house. (Gabe couldn’t make it. Booooo.)

9 - number of adults we should have had at the beach house, at all times. At least.

10 -the number of hours Bump drove to attend a preschool orientation meeting in the middle of the week. (Yeah, I thought he was crazy, too, mostly because it meant that he left me to deal with our two yowling children in an unfamiliar environment. Thank God there were other parents there, or I would have lost my damn mind.) Bump felt it was important he attend this meeting, so he drove back to DC on Thursday and took Peter with him. We managed not to burn the house down while they were gone, but that’s all I’m gonna say about it. At least Bump came back; Peter didn’t.

23 - number of dollars per hour the babysitting service would have charged to watch all seven kids. The service we never used. The service we will use, as God is my witness, next year.

37 (approx.) - number of times Lumpyhead asked for Yo Gabba Gabba between the moment the Goon Squad left with the DVD and the moment we were able to fire up the show on our Tivo.

220 (approx.) - the number of times Lumpyhead has asked for Yo Gabba Gabba since we showed him it was available on his very own TV.

298 - number of pictures I took on our hectic, hysterical, very fun vacation.