Friday, April 13, 2018

Tiny Dancer

Averson has been talking for awhile about wanting to "dance ballet." In true me fashion, I put her off assuming that at some point she'd change focus, hopefully to something cheaper or with a more comfortable waiting area. But then last week I was besieged by a particularly strong bout of retail therapy contrasted with an aversion to cluttering my house any further. God bless Groupon, which netted me two months of combination ballet/tap classes at a local dance school. 

Averson was THRILLED. Like, Christmas excited. So excited that it was catching, and by Wednesday morning I was squee-ing right along with her. She went with me to get her shoes (ballet slippers AND tap shoes!) and her leotard and tiny pink tights. She carefully packed all her things in an old Vera Bradley bag I had in the closet. Yesterday she was waiting for me, by the door, bag in hand, when I got home from work and she didn't complain even once when I pulled her hair back, as requested by her dance teacher. On the way there, she asked if I'd sit where she could see me, so that if she got shy she'd feel brave. See? Total squee!

We pulled up to the teeny little dance school and it was everything I'd hoped for. She was gifted with a tiny little tutu (leopard print). The whole row of little dancers was so sweet, but Averson was the most earnest. She studied the teacher's footwork and worked so hard to emulate it. And this school does actual dance, so she was plie-ing and doing arm work and the tap session was a din of bunny hops and heel taps. It's amazing.
So excited!

She was so upset that today wasn't a dance class day, but brightened up when I told her she could practice anytime. Seriously, cutest thing ever. 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Easy like a Sunday morning

Imagine it. It's a quiet Sunday morning. I peacefully wake in the early hours of the morning. The house is quiet as I carefully pad my way to the kitchen. The kitchen is clean and I make the most wonderful cup of coffee. I peacefully sip my coffee at the kitchen table as the sun rises. I flip through a magazine or read a chapter or two of whatever book I'm working on. Maybe a child or two wakes and joins me, contentedly coloring at the table or *gasp* reading their own book.

This has happened approximately one time, and it was glorious. So glorious that I'm a little sorry that I experienced it, for the contrast of what my Sunday mornings usually look like. I'm awoken in the wee hours by a whisper-screamed, "MOM! Why did you let me sleep on the couch?!" (spoiler alert: because she's heavy, I'm lazy, and I had no intention of trying to navigate the minefield that is her bedroom floor.) Then one, or more, of my unwashed children crawls into bed with us and proceeds to flop about like a dying fish for as long as it takes for me to remember that this is never a sweet, peaceful cuddling experience.

So then I shuffle to my kitchen, where I push aside all the crap leftover from our movie night the night before. Rather than my serene pinterest vision, it's reminiscent of a college apartment, only with more produce. I make a pot of coffee that, although it's passable, never tastes as good as that one time that I made the best coffee ever and promptly forgot everything that went into it. I debate between trying to hide at the kitchen table or in a corner of the couch and settle at the table. It's slightly less cluttered, and besides one of my children has inexplicably grown seven sizes, so that her barely 4 foot tall body somehow occupies 2/3 of my approximately 14 feet of couch. Two dogs occupy the other 1/3. Her sister is stomping around the house, righteously indignant about some slight that happened probably before she was even born, but I'll never know because rather than tell me what's wrong she just yells, "My life is ruined!" My sweet tween, who smells like a man but still likes to hug his mom, ambles out of his room with questions of how I intend to entertain them for the day. This one at least has learned to read my response and quickly retreats back to his room.

The girls have made up and play a raucous game of "butt scoot" which seems to consist of dragging each other around on the floor. I hiss "QUIET!" as there are still some members of this family who are able to continue sleeping. They do not quiet, but they do change activities. Now they're working together on an art project that uses both computer paper and glitter, and quite honestly, I'm letting them for the sole reason that they aren't needing me for anything. The boy is in his room pretending like I don't know that he's on his phone even though we have a "no screens first thing in the morning" rule. The dogs are sleeping in the girls' bed and probably chewing on their blankets or covering their sheets with slobber. I promise that I will regret this later, but for now I'm going to make another passable cup of coffee.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

There is no cohesive theme to this post

It would appear that I've got some pretty serious writer's block, and the only way to break through writers' block is to write. So I bring you the ever popular random stream of consciousness

I'm doing this new thing for my class where, instead of power points going over the assigned reading, I'm creating a class outline with activities and discussion questions. It's basically the greatest thing ever and it's making teaching SO EASY. Grading, notsomuch, but the teaching and prep for class has been awesome. So five years, and maybe I'm figuring it out a little?

We went to Easter church on Saturday night, leaving Sunday morning free to glaze my first ever bundt cake and make twenty thousand deviled eggs. It was still crazy busy, but there was a teeny tiny break in the crowd right in front of the art wall, and there was a lovely woman standing there who looked like she'd understand when I asked her to take our picture. OMG. You guys. She took two pictures and they were AMAZING. I can't tell if it's a sign of the sweet spot with the kids' ages or if it was a miracle, but everyone is looking at the camera AND smiling (not grimacing).

I got my first gel manicure a couple weeks ago. Does anyone do these? I have friends who swear by it, but I wasn't impressed. They cut my nails into a weird shape (do fancy ladies have corners on their nails?) and the polish wasn't as long lasting as I thought it would be. I got a chip the first day, which I went back and had fixed and that they blamed on my nails being too short (because they cut them short.) Then like a week and a half later they started to peel off. It was weird. I sort of want to try again because I think maybe it was the salon, but on the other hand, maybe I'm just not meant to be that fancy? Do any of you know?

I also have a serious furniture dilemma. I inherited a bedroom set from my dad that is going into our guest room. It has a bed frame, dresser, and nightstand and is easily the most grown-up (read not from IKEA or a FB marketplace) bedroom furniture in our house. BUT, in that room is also my hope chest,the bookshelf that serves as my home office, and a family heirloom-ish coffee table. It can't all fit in there, but I have no idea with what to do with the other stuff. Anyone want to come to my house and rearrange my furniture? I'll make you bundt cake!
The face you make when you get soda at the restaurant 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Moving through

It's 11:00  and I'm sitting alone in a hotel room on my very first overnight work trip. Yesterday marked a month since my dad died, and it wasn't as terrible as I feared, until it was. Today was better. It's weird, because I can still sort of convince myself that he's just on a trip or that we just haven't connected for a while. Driving here though, I reflected that this is exactly the situation that I would have told my dad about first. He traveled for work most of my childhood, and "go on a work trip" was one of my checkboxes on my "How to be an adult" list.  It felt really weird not to call him while I was driving. But this is what we do. There is no way through but through.

In other news. Averson turned five and we threw her a birthday party that was so perfectly Averson-ish. And now that she's five, she can't decide whether I'm her favorite or if she "just doesn't want to hear your [my] voice right now!" Every morning this week I've "ruined her life." The kicker was when she snuck in during my shower, drew a picture of me in the steam on the mirror, and then crossed me out. If it wasn't so ridiculously adorable I'd probably be upset, but she's just such a cute little bully. And typically ten minutes later she loves me again. I told her today that I was having a hard time keeping up with her and she said, "Yeah. I know. Sometimes I'm a lot." Yep.

I started teaching again. I saved this meme to use during my introduction about my expectations of the classwork, but then I decided not to do a powerpoint and forgot to save it to my computer so I could put it on the screen. I was SO upset, and then I tried to describe it to my students which was exactly as awkward as it sounds. 

I'm trying to play more with the kids, especially Eli. He bought this WWE board game with his allowance and has been desperate for someone to play with him. After a mutually hard day, I told him I'd play after dinner. 1) this game is really fucking complicated and 2) I have no idea where he learned to gloat like he does. So now of course I'm obsessed and determined to learn every esoteric rule in this damn game so I can hold my own.
I found all these books in one kid's bed. ONE. I'm leaning in and being grateful that they're readers, but also, pretty sure this is why I have double-digit library fines. "I don't have any idea where that book is, Mom!" SMH. 

So yeah. Moving through. I go home tomorrow, C and I have a date planned for Friday, and then this weekend I'm going to make a quick trip to try and pack as much of my parent's house as I can. I'm not looking forward to it and I'm sure it's going to be harder than I'm prepared for. I'm trying to be thoughtful about taking care of myself, so when I get back I'm taking the girls for $10 manicures and kicking Eli's butt at Showdown.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

it’s really fucking weird

I love this blog and over the last couple weeks I’ve wanted to post. We had Averson’s birthday party. Syd is a cookie selling crazy person. We spent an ungodly amount of money on dressers to combat our 1950s closets. But there’s a block that I couldn’t get myself past. So this isn’t going to be my best work. It’s choppy and stream of conciousness. But I have to get it out here so that I can continue to use this space like I want to.

 My dad died on February 6th (fuck, almost a month ago now). He was 68 years old, obsessed with health and fitness, still living big dreams and planning adventures. He died suddenly and unexpectedly and it was terrible. I haven't decided yet how much of the story I want to tell, and how much is mine to tell, but I woke up on that Tuesday facing a completely normal day and by that night I was driving, alone and tired and shell-shocked, to my waiting step-mother and my brother and sister-in-law six hours away. C and the kids joined us a few days later, and then my mom, my sister and nieces, and my half-brothers a couple days after that.

Those first few days are a blur. My brother and I stayed in a little no-name motel in town and spent almost every waking moment (of which there were many, since we found that sleep did not come easily) attending to the business of death. There were legal documents to find, arrangements to make, personal effects to track down. My step-mother was surrounded by the kindest, most wonderfully unexpected angels who made sure that she was never alone, never without someone to talk to.

That was a bright spot in an otherwise awful time; finding all of these incredible, wonderful human beings. People stepped up in small thoughtful ways and in huge, incredibly generous ways that made us all break down with gratitude. It was a testament to my dad that these people were so eager, willing, and ready to help us. I didn't know a lot of these people, but at his service, those were the biggest hugs and the sweetest words. People who knew my dad and loved him, who would miss him, who had heard all about me because, as his obituary said, he was an unabashedly proud father. And friends at home have been amazing too. I don’t have a lot of friends who’ve lost parents, and I never really know how to show my support. Flowers and casseroles always seemed so cliche but I’m telling you now, Bring flowers and a casserole. That meant so much to me.

The kids have been managing, as they do, in very different ways. Averson, in typical Averson style, is very matter-of-fact. "I miss Coach. I don't know why he had to die." Sydney, I find, is internalizing and somatizing a lot of her feelings. And sweet Eli. My poor kid. He and my dad were so close. One of my last texts from my dad is about how proud he was of Eli and how similar their childhoods are. My dad was his biggest cheerleader and they spent so much time together. It's the first loss Eli's really felt in his day-to-day life, and he's managing, but man it sucks. Me, I keep waiting for the crush of grief to hit me. I've had a couple of moments where the tears feel like they'll never stop, but for the most part it's been a numbness. That's the weird thing. I feel like I'm constantly reminding myself that he's gone, which is awful and surreal at the same time. A friend told me that it took her six months to stop picking up the phone to call her mom every day. That fits for me. I find myself filing things away that I want to tell him next time I talk to him, and then remembering.

I said that those first few days are a blur, but honestly, the last two weeks have been a blur. My brain doesn't work and I'm trying to be gentle with that. I have been so blessed by people who are kind, thoughtful, and understanding. C has been amazing, letting me function when I want to and then seamlessly picking up the slack when all I can manage is to put a show on Netflix.

I don't have a nice way to end this. It happened, and it sucks. It's really awful and all I can say when people ask how I am is "It's really fucking weird." I miss him so much, but I am also so so grateful that I'm not wracking my brain for our last moments together. I knew how much he loved me and he knew how much I loved him and that's something to be thankful for.

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.