Friday, February 2, 2018

Getting to know you - Chiconky style

So... I started a new job two weeks ago. I desperately want to write a post about how that transition's been and how much I love the new gig (to include pictures, PICTURES!, of my new cubicle and the dress I wore to work) but I think I'm still digesting it into a coherent statement. But it's awesome and I love it, while still having positive feelings about my old institution. So it's good.

This week I've been able to spend a lot of time with two of my new co-workers. You know how it goes when you're getting to know people. They tell a story, you tell a story, and so on. So a couple days ago, one of them was talking about an article she'd read about how mothers who drank caffeine while pregnant are more likely to have kids with ADHD, and she was lamenting the fact that mom's really can't do anything right (she has no kids.) She asked us how we managed that, and I jokingly said I wasn't too worried about the little things and was really shooting to not have them turn out to by psychopaths. Laughter ensues. Then I tell the story about how my sweet Averson went through a phase where she asked people if she could cut open their pets. Which led to the story about how she suggested that we kill the dogs so we could get puppies (OMG. I went to link to the post where I talked about this and I can't find it. I can't believe I didn't blog that! See the footnotes) Still laughter, but maybe a touch more awkward? I don't know, I'm a terrible judge of these things.

This morning, determined to make a better show and to redeem my little bundle of joy and sunshine's reputation, I look for an opportunity to drop a cute Averson-ism into the story. Let's sit back and see which one I picked...

Co-Worker: I love that my girls are friends. They even decided not to split up into their own rooms last year. I'm really worried about what will happen when my older daughter goes off to college.

Me: That's so sweet! I hope my girls still love sharing a room when they're teenagers!

Co-Worker: Oh! You're girls share a room too? Do they ever ask for separate rooms?

Me: Not really.Well, except this morning Averson asked if her brother froze to death, could she have his room?

That laughter was definitely awkward.

So... The new job is good BUT they're pretty sure my family is composed of psychopaths. So that's awesome. Also, please credit if we ever become a hugely successful but also gruesome and disturbing subject of a podcast.

Deceptively adorable
They may have actually said, "Come play with us!" 
Backstory footnote: Averson has been obsessed with puppies and was lamenting that she's never had one. "But they're so small and so cute and I've never had one in my whole life!" I told her we couldn't get a puppy because we already had two big dogs and there just wasn't room for puppies right now. So she sweetly suggested that we kill our dogs, and then we'd have room for FOUR puppies! A couple days later she told me not to complain when they die. It really is a little creepy. Add that to her recent obsession with dissection and seeing what animals look like "on the inside" and we try to keep her away from sharp objects and delicate animals.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Women's March 2018

I love the Women's March oh so very much. Last year was so emotional for me as far as the state of our nation and just how mind-fuckingly terrible people were acting. I feel like I've reached a point of acclimation with how terrible people are (like, really really terrible) but the Women's March continues to be a place where a shit ton of people come together to say that  they're committed to equality and justice.

This was C's first year and he was hesitant to go. I think he expected a lot of man-bashing and anger. However, he loved it too! He kept saying how amazed he was by how many causes were represented, and how they all fell under the women's rights movement. I explained to him that the core of the women's movement right now is "Don't be a jerk" and that that sentiment is relevant in so many different areas. Welcome to intersectional feminism. I think it also helped that I got him a shirt that made him incredibly popular. I think he had his picture taken at least 50 times. And we had to explain to more than one lovely middle-aged white woman that "Pendejo" is not a nice word to say in mixed company :)  

Every time an event like this comes up, I'm conflicted. Firstly, FOMO. Secondly, I want my kids to have these experiences. I want their worldview expanded and for them to be brave, take risks, participate, and stand up for what they believe in. I want them to remember that they were there. I think it's really, really important, especially for my girls, to see everyone come together in opposition of all the awful fuckery that's going on. But I also want to keep them safe. Anytime I imagine big crowds, especially big political crowds, I wonder if I'm being irresponsible by taking them. I don't know if it's a "me" thing or an "us" thing, but I am REALLY nervous in big groups like this (they were predicting 30k+). 

So after much back and forth internal back and forth I decided that I needed to model for my kids standing up for what I believed in, even if it was a little scary. I was so grateful that C could go too, but I still wrote my number on each kid's forearm and "With 3 kids" on my hand. And I am so, so glad that I went. Less glad that Syd helpfully described her dad's shirt to her teacher (aka Ms. Honey personified) on Monday, but so so glad that we went and that my kids get to be a part of that. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Finishing out 2017

I haven't blogged in FOREVER, but I just realized that I never finished out 2017. So I'm going to do a brain dump so that I can start fresh with my 2018 musings, starting with the new job that I start in a week (!)

After Christmas my dad wanted to go to the city for a few days. He rented our room as our Christmas present (thank God because I never could have swung anything that nice) and we hit San Francisco HARD. It was so fun! The city was still holiday-ified and there were a ton of crowds, but there was also a foiled terrorist attack so it wasn't as crowded as it could have been. I'm calling that a modern silver lining.
Muier Woods. Super awesome but crazy crowded. I can't wait to go back on a non-holiday day.
Also, sometimes I feel sad that we're done having babies, but then all of my kids stand still and smile for a picture and that seems pretty cool too. 

The girls LOVE the Junior Ranger program. Both of the National Parks we went to this week had cool wooden badges that Avery especially treasures. They really get so much more out of our visits thanks to the program. I highly recommend it!

Uncle Dave!

The Christmas Tree in Union Square

Our room had this huge window overlooking Union Square, which was awesome, but unexplicably it opened like a sliding glass door? Which of course C loved and gave me palpitations. I let him open it once with the kids in the room, and I stood hyperventilating but not blinking in the hallway. Did anyone else develop an insane fear of falling (or more specifically kids falling) after they had kids? No? Just me? 

Window shut, locked, and bolted. I woke up to find her watching the sunrise over the city. It made me teary because I can 100% imagine her living in a little studio somewhere and doing this exact same thing in 15 years. 

Averson loved the hotel stationary. This is a shopping list she made (can you find the beer and broccoli?) She was aghast when I put the whole pad and pen in her backpack and really wanted me to return it to the hotel. She couldn't believe she was allowed to keep it. 

 We did the city with no car, which meant some creative problem solving (lots of ubers, which made me super grateful that I impulsively bought a Bubble Bum before we left. If you're traveling with a booster-seat sized kid and wanting to use public transportation, you should check it out.) The kids wanted to ride the cable cars one day. However, we got there to find that there was an accident and the current wait was over 2 hours. C, in perfect form, of course found a limo driver who was willing to shuttle us all to the piers for $5/person. We all piled in and this angel handed us Bud Lights at 10 am. The kids are STILL talking about "Tony" and his awesome tour. This was probably the highlight of their trip. 

The trip really was fortuitously blessed. After our limo ride, which included stopping at every cable car stop so one of the kids could stick their head out the sunroof and tell the people waiting how long it was going to be, we went down to the pier and to the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park. A park ranger asked if we'd like to try a new technology tour and handed each kid a smart phone. She then took us on this awesome, private, FREE tour of the park with this app-based tour game. (Agents of Discovery, super cool if you go to a lot of National Parks!) This ferry was my favorite part, and we got to go under the ropes to the pilot house. I love all things cozy and efficient so this did not disappoint. 

Junior Rangers x2
 One of my dad's bucket list items for the trip was the Exploratorium. I don't know exactly what I was expecting, but OMG this place was awesome. We bought a membership at the end of the day because there was NO way for us to be able to see the whole thing in one day. Sometimes I'm really grateful to live so close to the city to make going to an awesome museum for the day feasible.

They had an exhibit called Curious Contraptions, and within it they had a "Tinker Lab." The girls both made automata with the help of these awesome volunteers. Syd was thrilled to have unfettered access to the hot glue guns and Averson happily made a Barbie closet and then reluctantly agreed to let the nice lady help her add a rotating crown stand. I'm pretty sure it was a pity-allowance.

This picture is mostly to show that Eli was there too. The Exploratorium was hard for him so there was a lot of alternating between frantic showboating and pouting. Eleven is hard.

We headed home on Christmas Eve-Eve to a warm, clean house with no dog related incidents or injuries (thanks New Dog Sitter!). We did a low key New Years Eve party with friends that we bailed on at 10:00 and were in bed, surrounded by freaked out dogs and listening to our neighbors set off an arsenal's worth of explosives by 11:30. It was a perfect end to 2017! 

And then! To kick off 2018 we took the kids to the Winter Carnival. C had bought our tickets and unlimited ride passes before Christmas but between events and illnesses, we hadn't been able to go. Because we're not new here, we hadn't told the kids yet, so the whole thing was an awesome surprise. We usually let our kids pick one or two rides and then call it good, so the fact that they could ride WHATEVER THEY WANTED was pretty mind blowing. And because it was after the holidays, the place was super not-crowded. It was about as magical as I could have hoped. We've always been pretty good about not forcing our kids to do things, but I'm trying to intentionally promote "challenge by choice" so I was thrilled that each kid did something pretty far outside of their comfort zone. Eli rode a pretty intense ride with Syd and both Averson and Syd tried a roller coaster (and then promptly swore they would never do that again :) )
They rode this three times in a row trying to get the fastest apple

And now we're two weeks into 2018 and not much but also a lot has happened. Stay tuned! 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

What I Read: 2017

Inspired by Sarah from Harry Times All Jacked Up (who reads SO MUCH and also has awesome recommendations), I set a Goodreads reading challenge last year to read at least 52 books over 2017. According to Goodreads, I read 55 (though I think maybe there were more?). I embraced Gretchen Rubin's advice and did not finish any book that I didn't want to. That was a challenge in itself but so empowering and now I'm all about it. Seriously guys, don't finish a crappy or uninteresting book! I also didn't count any kid or work books that I read.

So 55 books (or just over a book a week, which I think sounds more impressive.) I'm not going to list all of them, but a few stood out.

Best author I'd never heard of: Fredrik Backman. I read both A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry and I loved both of them so much. This man does character development in a way that is so beautiful. I ugly cried alone on my patio at the end of A Man Called Ove. Read these, and anything else he writes.

Best non-fiction: The Secret History of Wonder Woman. OMG. This book was awesome and I don't typically love this type of book. I love superheroes, but it was so much more than that. Dr. Marston was such an interesting character, and his relationships with women and the feminist movement is fascinating. I still quote or reference this book several times a week.

Girl Power Books: I definitely had a theme this year of strong female characters, but these stood out as the most empowering. The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. The Alice Network. Code Girls. Mischling. This one broke my heart in a million tiny pieces but also had a resiliency theme that was pretty awesome.

Best book for when you feel like the world is a dumpster fire: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. This book was such a lovely story and I recommend it as a palate cleanser for when it seems like everything's going to hell in a handbasket. Crimes Against a Book Club was a close second. This book is hilarious and light. Definitely a good vacation read.

Don't bother reading these: The Fifth Child. This could have been good in a drugstore pulp kind of way but was just weird and ended in a strange way. The Art of Frugal Hedonism. If privilege were personified and decided to write a book. The Woman in Cabin 10. I wanted to like this one and it had so much hype, but ugh. Not great.

I have a few books that I didn't get to this year that I'm excited to start 2018 with. Little Fires Everywhere came in from my library holds at an inopportune time and I had to redo my hold. Now I'm 241 in line, so I may actually buy it. I'm kind of feeling a horror vibe so there a few Stephen King's I'm looking forward to, including rereading It (OMG. Has it always been a million pages long?) I also want to reread some old favorites including Anne of Green Gables (really hoping the girls will read it with me.)

What are you guys reading? Any goals for next year, or books you can't wait to get your hands on?

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

My computer got buried in holiday spirit

I stashed my laptop away before Christmas and blogging on your phone is a PITA. SO... I present to you the Christmas photo dump that I will probably backdate because it bugs me to have a bunch of space between events and posts (not that you could tell because I'm a big procrastinator)

I always get the kids matching jammies, but this year I decided (slowly) that the whole family should get in on it. But of course it was too late so we all matched someone else, but not each other. I think C and I having matching pajamas means we're one step closer to square dancing and calling each other "Mother" and "Father"... 

 I felt terrible because C scheduled our bulk garbage pick up for the day after Christmas, which meant that our yard was full of crap on Christmas day.  You're welcome, Neighbors! But then I realized that across the street my neighbor's lights were basically a giant penis and I felt better. 

 My gifts went well and it wasn't too over the top. I deviated a little from the four things, but it honestly wasn't too terrible. A few people suggested a Christmas spreadsheet and I am TOTALLY setting that up now for next year. It really helped even in the last few weeks this year.
This girl asked for a jump rope and earrings for Christmas and she was not disappointed. 

 Eli got his smartphone that came new, in a box, and had never been used by anyone else so basically it was the best day ever. I got paranoid and super locked it down, but he can still facetime his friends which is super weird. I'm trying to be cool about it. 
Syd got these fake glasses in her stocking and they may be a surprise favorite. Could she get any cuter? And my gift-to-her-that's-really-a-gift-to-me was this Feisty Pet rabbit. I love it so much!

The Barbies have arrived! And they are having all sorts of adventures. This morning Barbie and Ryder from Paw Patrol got married. Her Farmer Barbie and her Newborn Puppy Barbie are married to each other and save animals, but not together. She's got exemplary relationship boundaries already. Everyone knows that a little space in a relationship goes a long way. 

I totally went overboard on the games (thank you for your suggestions!) and it was awesome! We've played games almost every day and the kids play together randomly throughout the day too. I love it so much. 
Traditional Christmas chili. I used turkey this year which made it 0 Weight Watcher points so I also ate my weight in cinnamon rolls.

 I have a friend from work who is a super dog lover and has made it her mission to encourage my ridiculousness. Which means that Scout got a Christmas sweater and it's as perfect and ridiculous as you'd imagine. 
These might be my favorites yet

Christmas was pretty much perfect. It started out super busy and ended up low key and casual and my kids wore their Christmas outfits enough to justify buying special Christmas outfits. My folks were here which was wonderful, and then we met up with my brother and his wife in the city (more on that trip later). I keep being struck by how fun it is with the kids right now. All three of them totally got into the holiday (despite my efforts to ruin it for Eli) and they're just so fun right now.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Pre-Holiday Shenanigans

I love love love the week leading up to Christmas. It's super busy, and my house is a wreck, but I love all the cramming in of festivities. This week was especially busy since Christmas is on a Monday so the kids were still in school. 

I just realized that this was my last preschool Christmas and I'm so glad I didn't think about that at the time. It was just as precious and painful as it should have been. The poor teachers put together an ambitious playlist of songs that devolved predictably and adorably. 

Averson got to see Santa again and was so confused that her book-shaped gift wasn't the right size for a boat. 

I took the matching jammies tradition to a whole new level this year. The kids don't have theirs yet and I made C give me his back after he tried them on, but I couldn't wait on the dogs. Because apparently I'm the kind of person who dresses her dogs now? I'm really invested in getting a picture with the two of them in front of the tree. Atticus sees my vision but Scout sucks and doesn't care about my priorities. Also, she tried to eat her pants. 

We were invited to THREE Santa parties this year which is a whole new level of extra for me. I feel like this is a social strata that I was not prepared for and that I'm not entirely equipped to be in. BUT, no mall Santa and Santa always knows my kids' names. Which is awesome unless I decide to completely ruin the magic...

The girls and I made the annual pilgrimage to see the lights and eat ourselves sick on candy canes and kettle corn

And just so we don't get too full of ourselves and how awesomely we holiday, I present the girls' "gingerbread" houses. They wouldn't drop it, so I threw together some icing and handed them a half a box of graham crackers. When that wasn't enough, I ran to the dollar store and brought back a bunch of crap for the world's most ghetto holiday decorations. You can't tell, but these houses are inhabited by Goldfish.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

I quit my job and ruined Christmas (maybe?)

It's been a busy week...

About a month ago, I interviewed for a job at "headquarters" on the team that oversees the mental health programs at several prisons. Between the interview and the job offer is a long and complicated story that doesn't really fit here, but I got an offer that day (yay!) and then they rescinded it (boo!) and then they offered it again (yay!) and then I got a start date (YAY!) that's a month away (blergh.)

I'd been keeping it all very hush-hush until it was official official and I could give my team actual details. Once I had a start date, my boss wanted to advertise my job ASAP so I had to scramble to be able to tell my team. Tuesday was the first chance I had and it was SO HARD. I love this team so much. So much that I actually considered turning down the job so that I could stay with them. They took the news hard, but they were so wonderful and supportive and amazing. I am so grateful for that. There are a lot of hard things about working where I do, but they make it fun.

So that was a bummer, but really as good as it could have gone. I still haven't broken my "No crying in prison" rule, but I came really close a few times.

Also on Tuesday evening was Eli's Scout Christmas party. It was a white elephant/dessert party and he was so excited. I'm embracing the idea of "boy lead" and told him that if he wanted to take a dessert he'd have to make it himself so of course he knocked it out of the park. He made candy cane cookies from scratch, without even using the mixer. SO GOOD. I used one of the games I bought before I got better suggestions for his gift and it was all in all a very easy meeting prep. I dropped him off early, and then went back at the tail end. You guys? I never understood the fun of white elephants until I watched 20 tween/teen boys play. There was much shouting and laughing and it looked so fun! And these kids were super creative too. Eli ended up trading his "Cold Hard Cash" (money frozen in a gallon jug) for the game he brought (side note: Excellent move. The game is super fun and all of us can play it. You should totally get it.)

And now to where I (maybe?) ruined Christmas. Driving home, Eli and I were talking and I off-handedly asked him, "When did you realize Santa wasn't real?" You guys know where this is going, right? SMH. I have said FOR YEARS that Eli never believed in Santa. YEARS. This is the same kid who asked me if we could just give him the money now instead of pretending the tooth fairy brought it. He was always so logical and never talked about Santa as if it was a "thing" so C and I just sort of let it be. We took him for pictures but we don't do the Elf and we don't make a big deal about "What's Santa bringing?" or Santa watching or any of that. We were really thrown off our game when we realized the girls did believe and we had to start playing along.  So of course then C came up with this elaborate story about how he's friends with Santa and they used to golf together. But Eli NEVER got into it and just sort of complacently played along. OR SO I THOUGHT.
This does not look like a kid who believes this isn't super weird

So I'm expecting this *moment* where Eli's going to tell me what it was that made him realize that there was no magical man bringing presents, or a confession that he never believed but thought we did, or something along those lines. Instead, I ask him when he realized Santa wasn't real and he looks over and completely deadpan says, "Right now."

Shitfuckdamniti'materribleparent. But also this kid has the driest sense of humor ever so there are two possibilities. One, I just ruined the last bastion of magic in my poor, logical, man-child's life. And I did it in the most unmagical, unpoignant way possible. Or two, he's playing me. So I awkwardly laugh and start pushing him with "REALLY?!" And this little shit kept it up. I kept trying to get him to give it up and finally he Eddie Haskeled me and said, "Mom? Do I lie to you so much that you can't even tell when I'm telling the truth? I am SO sorry!" I just kept flip-flopping between "Haha! It was just a test! Santa's totally real!" "OMG, Kid, I'm so sorry!" and "Please don't tell your sisters." I asked him about the tooth fairy and he looked offended and said, "Well of course I knew the tooth fairy wasn't real, but I believed you about Santa."  He was so stoic and finally told me, "It's okay Mom. I guess I had to find out eventually. It's not like you ruined Christmas." Little shit. I'm about 85% certain that he's pulling my leg, but it's three days later and he hasn't dropped it. I tried to get C to get it out of him, but even he couldn't get him to break. So maybe I ruined his childhood? Or maybe he's a sociopath?