Category Archives: everyday

A Cabin in the Woods

That sounds kind of like a horror film, hm?  Anyway.

In nine days, RR will be three years and seven months old.  In all that long time, my wife and I haven’t spent a night together without her.  Sure, there have been trips when one of us has been away (conferences, sick/dead mom, etc.), but in three years, and nearly seven months, if we’ve spent the night together, RR has been close by.

Apparently grandparents do things like… watch your kid while you go away for a weekend.  WHO KNEW THIS?!  And furthermore, if you knew this, why didn’t you TELL someone?

So one weekend in February, we’re headed to a cabin about 45 minutes north of town, but by ourselves.  Just me and my wife.  It’s like a hybrid Valentine’s Day/Anniversary mini-vacation.  We’ll go up after bedtime on Friday, and come home Sunday afternoon.  I’m ridiculously excited.  The last time we went away together was March 2010, just a few months before RR was born when we went to the beach for a week to celebrate our anniversary.

Alone time, especially in the wake of having people at your house ALL THE TIME… well, I just can’t fathom it.  “Whaaaat?!  No way!” as RR would say.

Speaking of people in your house all the time, the in-laws have been spending a lot of time fixing up their new house. Which would be totally more exciting if they did this while we were home, but they do this all during our 9-5’s. Somehow, someway, they make it home before we do every night.   Curiouser and curiouser…

It’s a lot.  It’s hard to be your best self all the time.  Sometimes, I just wanna come home and not be my best self.  It’s exhausting.

But then again, M’s mom hugged her last night when she got home from work, and I was kind of (really) sad that I can’t hug MY mom anymore (sad trombone) so I suppose all of this family time is good.  Plus, RR hugged both of them last night before bedtime, which was the Very First Time she’s hugged her grandfather.  Slow to warm, that one.

It’s day 15 of the Whole30, so I’m technically halfway through.  Notable discoveries include the fact that I’ve learned that I like brussel sprouts and it is feasible that I can actually tire of eating eggs every morning.  Thank goodness for Primal Fuel and smoothies.  And bacon.

Also, exercising willpower is actually a THING.  As in, the first five days, it was hard to pass the rice at the dinner table, but yesterday it was actually pretty easy to carry down a huge tray of leftover sticky danishes and pastries for another office to devour.  Oh, and I’m beginning to like the taste of black coffee.

In other news, my Christmas lights are still hanging from my gutters.  Gotta get on that.

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December

I feel like I need to stretch before blogging, it’s seemingly been so long that I’ve written anything, really.  My wife‘s been keeping everyone up to date with a lot of shenanigans.  Her parents moving in with us.  Potty training, and the lack thereof.  Marriage equality (and the lack thereof).  Thanksgiving with my family at the beach.  See?  This is why I love her.  Apparently, when I get overwhelmed with feelings, I just stop talking.  Or I got to shg‘s house to drink.

So I’m back from having so many feelings.  Feelings about flying to Arizona.  Feelings about inducting more friends in the Dead Parent Club (another new member merely a week ago).  Feelings about feelings about Christmas and my mom and RR and my wife and church.

In the meantime, I’ve kept myself busy totally revamping the basement into a semi-finished in-law suite.  I sat in the recliner and imagined myself as my father-in-law, watching Fox News.  I programmed the cable box with all his favorite channels.  I put the end table where I’d want it to be for my coffee/bourbon (his coffee/gin and tonic).  I’m scratching my chin and imagining where the three new cat inhabitants might want to find a litter box.  There’s a bed, a couch, two recliners, two dressers, a desk, and a coffee table.  I feel like, after a good vacuuming, it will be ready.

(Yes, three cats.)

I’m sick and it’s the holidays and so I’m binging on all things sugar-related and alcoholic.  Don’t worry – another Whole30 is coming in January.  Aren’t YOU so lucky?

January will also bring gymnastics classes for RR.  Oh yes.  Y’all, did you know that there are PLACES where you PAY for people to take your kid to a whole other room for AN HOUR while they spin and bounce and roll and jump?  While you fucking finally finish that Candy Crush level?   Holy shitballs.  She tried out a class last Saturday, and nearly before she was done putting her shoes back on, we pawned everything in the house, and signed her up for the remainder of the season (through June).  This, a kid who Can’t Stop Jumping most of the time.  Give that girl a trampoline, for Pete’s sake!

Right.  So now we’re those people sitting on the sidelines during “a lesson.”  Crazy pants.

We also got her 96 hand-carved wooden African animal figurines for Christmas.  For $30 from a lady on CL.  For all those times where she’s not jumping.

That allllll said, I’m reminded every day, however, how lovely my wife is, and how lucky I am to have her.  How smart and charming RR is.  How warm my house is.  How warm my heart is.  Merry Holidays, y’all.

One-Childness

Well here we are.  With our one child.  Moving right along in the world of one-childness.

Have I told you that she’s still not potty trained?  Quick – mask your surprise.  We did get an update this morning that she’s sitting on the potty, wiping, and flushing whenever she changes her diaper at school.  Progress, I suppose?  Nothing ever goes in the potty, mind you.

Did I tell you I was taking a parenting class?  I AM!  It’s offered/sponsored by RR’s school, so every Wednesday night, I sit with around with other parents (usually there’s six-to-eight of us) and we learn from this older southern woman who has never had children, but has been certified in teaching these classes.  She says she’s perfect to teach parenting classes, because she’s uncontaminated.  It’s a STEP class (Systematic Training for Effective Parenting).  I have homework.  And lessons.  And I pay attention and try to tell my wife when I get home everything I learned, and when I do this, I swear I sound crazy and like I’ve spent an hour and a half at some kind of parenting cult class.

Wednesday nights are after Tuesday nights, when I go hang out with eight OTHER people (also parents), drink beer, play instruments, and sing songs (Bob Marley, Queen, Prince, Michael Jackson…).  I’ll be stoked when I only have one weekly obligation.  Phew.

RR moved to a toddler bed this past weekend.  Exactly.  She not once ever tried to get out of her crib, but when she requested last week that all she wanted to do is “go cry in my crib!” well… we figured it was time to give her access.  Cause who doesn’t need a good cry in the bed some days?  The first couple of nights, she woke up a hundred times, but never once got out of the bed.  Just cried until one of us came.  It wasn’t until I turned on the heat (SIGH) and gave her an extra blanket that she stopped waking up.  Whatever, 62 degree thermostat.

So now she can get up and out on her own, which she has only done, so far, in the mornings.  At totally appropriate times.  It is, however, a little like living in a horror movie, as she tends to move slowly and creep around when she does get up, gradually opening doors to say good morning.  Boo!

Gah – is this the most boring post ever?  Maybe.  Rah rah rah.

This weekend is some Fall fun with friends, and then we head out of town to Arizona (ah, warmth!) to celebrate M’s birthday, meet the new baby niece, have Mexican food, and try to ship back as many tortillas that will fit in the suitcase.  Carry on!

Prison House of No Toys

OK, so here’s the deal.  I know the answer is “we’re totally NOT doing it wrong,” but it can’t help but FEEL like we’re doing it wrong some days.  Doing WHAT?  Raising up a kid, that’s what.

My wife wrote about RR’s recently play date.  What she failed to mention, though, is where the play date took place made our house look like prison.  We dropped RR off at Jane’s house, where, as soon as we walked in, there was an entire room gated off and covered in primary colored cushiony alphabet letter flooring, with wall-to-wall toys and bookcases full of FUN.  A tent, a tunnel, a battery-powered thing that played songs and used air to pop up little plastic balls.  Behold, the play room.

I’m sure these reasonable (and VERY nice folks) were actually very proud that their playroom wasn’t the entire basement floor.  Seriously – Google “playroom” images.

And honestly, if you look at any new construction for sale, the basement is always either staged as a Man Cave or a Play Room.  And yes, we have a hybrid of things in our basement, but it is most certainly not a Play Room.  Unless you’re a spider.  Then it’s TOTALLY a Play Room.

Anyhow – we dropped RR off, got in the car, and kind of moaned to ourselves.  OMG.  What on earth must they have thought when they dropped Jane off at our Prison House of No Toys.  But that’s not totally true.  She has toys.  (SHG can confirm.)  They’re just… not a LOT.  They are, actually, more than my wife is comfortable having, truth be known.  There’s a small toddler table with RR’s “things” on it:  a school bus, some figurines, a tiny blanket that Granny knitted FOR the figurines, and maybe a stuffed animal or two.  There is no Play Room.  There ARE a lot of African masks and a pretty nifty fetish.

She doesn’t really play with toys.  Well, she plays with a toy, singular, for a very long time.  But nothing lights up.  Or takes up more than two square feet.  Or is even primary colored.  She has a bookcase of puzzles in her room that she never plays with.

But then there are other things.  Like the fact that she doesn’t know any princesses, really.  That, at her playdate, Jane’s mother said, “I gave her a Go-Gurt, and it seemed like she had never had one before?  She kept asking me to open it.  But it was open…”  And that, on weekends, she prefers to wear her Scratchy Shirts.   The red and gold one – the “Redskins” she says.  The “Bears” one, which is actually an Official NFL Jay Cutler jersey that her fake rich uncle sent her.  She likes to watch the “men running” with me on Sundays after her nap.

And speaking of naps.  That she still takes three-hour long ones on the weekends.  IN HER CRIB.  That, the other day after her nap, she wanted to be left alone, in the dark of her room, sitting in her recliner with milk and goldfish crackers.

I know we’re doing it right.  I do.  I very much do.  That’s not to say that everyone else is doing it “wrong” as much as doing it differently.  But a lot of them are doing it differently, the same way.  There’s princesses and Play Rooms and Go-Gurt and wanting to wear something specific (that isn’t a football jersey) and peeing in the potty.  Instead, we have Mr. and Mrs. Spoon at the dinner table and sitting along in the dark in her room and diapers.

Not wrong, but different.  Right?

The Stick

This morning, RR and I walked through the wooded pathway in between the parking lot and her school, as we do every weekday morning.  She had her lunchbox in one hand, and my hand in the other.  There is a tree stump she likes to jump off of every morning, so I let go, let her jump, and carry on.  At some point, she picked up a stick and carried it with her to the front of the school.

I thought to myself, “Man.  We have done so well this morning.  No tantrums.  No screaming.  She’s gonna blow a gasket when she’s asked to leave her stick outside.”

As we approached the gate to say Good Morning to the director, she happily showed off her stick.  The director said, “Oh I LOVE your stick!  It kind of looks like the number “seven”!  You should go show that to Aimee (her teacher)!”

Happily, RR tootled down the stairs, telling me that the stick ALSO looked like an “r.”

We got to her classroom, Aimee opened the door, and RR showed off her stick once again.  Aimee said, “That’s a great stick!  Let’s go find somewhere for you to put it to keep it safe!”  I told RR goodbye, and she had a quick wash of panic-face, and then said, “I need a big hug and a kiss!”  I complied, and in she happily went.

Four weeks of tears at drop-off.  Of “DON’T YEAVE ME MAMA!” as I’m walking away.  This morning, not only was she not forced to leave her stick outside, her stick-havingness was acknowledged and its value (to her) was appreciated.  Four weeks of tears were suddenly SO worth it.  All it took was a stick.

Hoo-Boy

footballDon’t let that angelic smile fool you.  That kid has had it out for me since 6pm last night.  And I’m pretty sure that I performed some kind of exorcism this morning during the 50 (FIF-TY) minutes it took us to get from the house to her school.  A trip that normally takes 10 minutes, tops.  TOPS!

On the drive home yesterday, she was admittedly tired.  With slow cooker beef stew a-cookin’, dinner was done by 6:10pm.  (Ask me one more time if I miss living in DC…).  So we hoped for an early turn-in for RR, and when she and I went to put her pajamas on, her tiredness turned into CRAZY LUNATIC (flailing and all), where she clocked me in the face.  We don’t do the “time-out” thing, so I knelt down to her and sternly said that her actions were not respectful.  Oh, but this was all too late.

So she tried to compose herself while we did the other bedtime routines.  Like, washing hands and brushing teeth.  Which was going smoothly until I only washed my mouth out twice instead of three times (we brush together… it’s way easier to explain).  I left her in her room to get her tantrum out of her system until she was sobbing, crying calling for me.  But it wasn’t “mama.”  Oh no.  From her room, she’s screaming “I need DEBRA!!!”

Oh and then this went on until finally she calmed down enough for bedtime stories and bedtime itself.  Phew!

But wait there’s more!

After three unexplained (and not typical) wake-ups in the night, she held her shit together until right when my wife left to ride her bike to work.  Oh how I envisioned RR and me sitting at the breakfast table, me with my coffee, her with her cereal.  But something was amiss.  Pieces came together like… she wanted to ride WITH mama to work, and no she didn’t want oatmeal, but yes she did, but NO NO anything but oatmeal.  Exhausted, we did finally make it to the breakfast table.  Me with my eggs and banana, and her with her not-wanted-anymore oatmeal and a “cold egg” (hard-boiled).

There was much disagreement about whether or not breakfast was actually over.  I said yes (looking at the clock) and she bloody lost her mind.  So I took her mind-losing-self to the front door, and we attempted to leave the house.  But then there was some shit about her needing to open the screen door?  A certain way?  I found myself being directed to stand 20 feet away from her while she tried to figure out herself how she wanted to open the door.   Something that is still a mystery, since after waiting for five. full. minutes.  I picked her up and walked her out of the house.

And then this happened:

giphy

So I carried her down the front stairs (flailing, kicking, screaming) and open the door to the car. We all know screaming tantrum children cannot be reasoned with. They can, however, be put in the back seat of a car with the doors closed, so that at least the screaming is muffled, and it decreases the chances that the neighbors will call the police. With her one step closer to school, I loaded the rest of today’s items in the back of the car (my work bag, her lunch, her 8 changes of clothes for just today… ask me how potty training is going), all while hearing her shouting when I’d open the hatch.

Twenty minutes later, I wrestled (actually wrestled!) her into her seat and buckled her in. I broke a sweat even.

On the drive, she continued to cry, telling me she needed to go back to the house. Presumably to open and close the screen door the right way. However that is, no one may ever know.  We took another twenty minutes in the parking lot, with me waiting for her to get out of the car, and then sitting on the curb in the parking lot having a gentle and sane discussion about walking through the path to the school, all in between her stifled sobs.  We nodded and said good morning to the parents and kids passing by.  She reluctantly received compliments on her sweater-poncho.

We walked to the front door, where I asked RR to explain to the Director why she wasn’t carrying her lunchbox (which is kind of a big deal).  RR explained that she was crying, and she wanted to go home.  The Director then negotiated with RR a bit about how she has to go to school and I have to go to work, and all was eventually diffused.

Needless to say, as soon as RR walked in her classroom door, I was out of there like a rocket.

I could Google “tantruming 3 year old” a million times (with a million different outcomes, explanations, and coping techniques), but the fact of the matter is… the kid’s had a long week.  Shit, we’ve ALL had a long week.  She’s in a new place with new teachers and friends.  Expectations of her have changed, potty training is hard, learning how to be self-sufficient is HARD, and an overall break in routine has presented itself as stress in all three of us.  Time will help.  Routine will help.  But in the meantime, I’m hopeful that my neighbors haven’t called the police on us yet.

Please laugh at my expense, and send healing thoughts!  😉

CD02

Title says it all.  Here we move into another cycle, still with hope that maybe this next kid just REALLY wants to share a birthday with RR.  I mean, if the Universe has its way, it would pull some shit like that.  And considering that my wife’s family and my family tend to pile up the birthdays on the same dates/times of month, it would all make sense.

So here we go.  Again.  C’mon Universe.  Don’t be an asshole.

On other fronts, we’re done travelling until November, thank goodness.  Then it’s a long weekend in Arizona followed be a week-long jaunt to the beach for Thanksgiving.  We hit up the amusement park a couple of times this past weekend, and connected with my family for some fun-with-cousins.  I never had cousins growing up, but M says that you do stuff like … go to amusement parks together.  Fancy that!  We’re doing it right!

I’m reminded of RR’s young and tender age when, at the end of the Elmo On Stage Dance Party, her poor sad face melted into a pile of tears, quietly sobbing into M’s shoulder, “But I need him to come baaaaaack.”  Oh honey.

Full Week Two of Montessori started today.  After we dropped my wife off of work, RR and I had a pep talk in which we vowed to conquer Tuesday.  There was shouting and fist-pumping.  She confidently told me that she wouldn’t cry at drop-off (which she didn’t) and that she would pee in the potty (I will believe it when I see it).

I have a massive list in my head of things I need to do at my house.  There’s cleaning and spackling involved.  Who is coming to help?  Not everyone at once, now…

For your patience, here is a picture of RR with Grover this past weekend.  She spoke to him like they were kindred spirits.  She then told him to have a nice day.  That said, please note the MANIA in her eyes.

grover

Fernoceros

This morning, I spent ten minutes in a sleepy just-woken-up fog, deciphering RR’s code language referring to two certain Kipper episodes.

“Mama, I want the one with the fernoceros.  Or the one with the white pig.”  She says.

Now, before I go any further, let’s all have a giant AWWWW for “fernoceros” … her word for rhinoceros.  /awww

I was very tired.  I sat on the ottoman mushing the PS3 buttons, navigating my way through the Kids Netflix.  She blissfully sat in the giant armchair, cozied up with a pillow behind her back, covered in a blanket, sipping on a cup of milk.

I’m usually very good at this game.  But fernoceros?  (TWO fernoceroses, she clarifies.)  White pig?  Even if it wasn’t before 7am, I would have been stumped.

She’s learned how to say, “It’s working on it!”  This is what we say to her when we’re trying to find a song, when the computer is loading, when one mama is anxiously whispering to the other, “Do YOU know what she’s talking about?”

Ten minutes of foggy hunting and fast-forwarding through the one’s she’s seen lately.  Nope, not the eyeball.  Not the green dragon, either.  She’d, every minute or so, politely and patiently say, in between sips, “Not that one.”

But then I found one.  Which led me to the other one.  Bomb diffused.  Phew.

For those of you playing along at home, the TWO fernoceroses episode was referring to the one with the two pink aliens.  The white pig actually meant a ghost.  DUH.

Parents should get a fucking prize for sorting this stuff out.  Seriously – the brain cells I’m using to figure shit like this out (and remember it for later) are totally bummed that they’re not doing complex math equations.

Hot Mess

Do you know that I’m a hot mess of a traveler?  Perhaps I’ve mentioned this before.  If I haven’t, then read on!  It’ll make you feel better, I promise.

Since I’m usually traveling to large-ish cities, I’ve adopted a mantra my wife started telling me when we took our first trip together nearly ten years ago: “If you’ve left it at home, we can always buy another one when we get there.”  This totally works at setting my mind at ease, and has always been accurate except that one time I realized mid-flight that I was carrying my expired credit card with me, with the non-activated new one sitting on my dresser at home.  Because I’m an idiot like that.

So next week (Wednesday actually) I’m getting on a plane early in the morning to arrive in San Francisco for the ButchVoices conference that weekend.  A good part of me is really excited, but that’s mostly the conference talking.  I mean, c’mon – 300+ butches talking about butch things?  Awesome.  I’m the conference logistics chair, so I’ve been working on the conference for a few months, and it’s been nice to kind of watch the event evolve and firm up.  I’ve picked out my button-ups and ties, and I’m only having a small “what shoes to bring” crisis.  Otherwise, I’m stoked.  TIES!!

This does not stop me from being sent into a tizzy of crazy cold sweat panics.  (And this is WITH the Lexapro.)  I even had a full-on panic attack last week, which I thought was food poisoning and a heart attack both at the same time.

What am I panicking about?  I don’t know exactly.  I’m a nervous traveler anyway.  (Don’t worry – Bob and I talk about this a lot.)  I’ve overcome most of my fears of flying to the point that I actually enjoy the excitement of being in an airport.  I also really like a road trip!  But, as my wife will confirm, as I pull out of the driveway to go somewhere, the pasty white terror on my face and jittery hands would lead you to believe I was driving myself to death row.

You see, I really love home.  I love my house and people and animals.  Even somewhere like THE BEACH, I find myself counting down the days until I can go home.  Right?  Crazy.

So this time, when faced with traveling across the country without my family, to a city where I’ve never been (Oakland) to hang out and work with people I’ve never met, is enough to induce dreams of things like Jerry Seinfeld as the cashier at the Whole Foods express line, taking a small, hot, tiny handheld pizza out of my palm, eating the cheese from the inside, and giving it back to me.  WHAT.  THE.  FUCK.

Oh, and this is all on top of my wife (hopefully) getting pregnant without me next week.

And then RR starting her new school the day after I get back.

I’m a hot mess.  Last night, I dreamed I was in a small plane that kept landing and taking off over and over in the same airport.

I’m not even worried about my wife and RR.  In fact, without my presence, I imagine I’ll come back to a potty-trained child and a pregnant wife!

So what am I doing to off-set my madness?  I’m working out.  Eating well.  Getting relatively good sleep (despite Jerry).  I scheduled a haircut for tomorrow.  I’ve made a packing list.  I even crafted RR a name chain for her lunch box.  I’d like to fit in some meditation, but that would require being able to take a deep breath.  Oh, and I’m seeing Bob on Friday.

Cheeseball

Interesting fact about me and my wife that you probably don’t know: We only listen to country music when we’re together (in the car, in the kitchen).  Well, that is, when we’re not being bossed by RR to put on some Music Together tunes.  But whatever.

We have some music-interest similarities (Coldplay, Mumford, Macklemore), but then we divide into guitar-driven emo rock (me: Jimmy Eat World, Snow Patrol, Mae) and clever-pop or the obscure (No Doubt?  The Eels?  Weezer?).  We overlap somewhere in between Keith Urban and Taylor Swift.  I know.  You can still respect us, I promise.

Anyhow, that Carrie Underwood (for all of her sing-wailing) has a new song out called “See You Again.”  And it’s cheesy.  Whatever.  But the song reminds me, happily… not sadly, of my mom.  It makes me feel like she’s in my heart, beating.  With so much loss… going around, this song, for me, rings of healing tones and words.  Even if you hate country music, listen (after you get past the initial ad crap).

I love that music has power like that.  Even if it’s cheesy.