Tuesday, January 31, 2012

You'd think I'd learn

Yes, I know. She's not two yet. Oh, sweet precious baby and all that. But you and I both know that she's been two since the day she was born. I forget certain things about Syd, and about two year olds in general, and so I find myself getting completely flustered, agitated, and angry over things that are 100% predictable. So in the case that I ever have another two year old, I'm writing this handy-dandy list for myself.
1) Don't leave markers lying around. Don't leave pens lying around. Don't leave crayons unattended. For the love of God, drill into C's head that he will never, in no uncertain terms, leave any of his millions of sharpies lying around. Because you or someone like you will fail at this, try baby wipes, then toothpaste, then nail polish remover. Then cry, then touch up the paint/shampoo the chair/give up. It's not like this is the first time.
2) Don't suggest that anything's a choice if really it's not. "Do you want to change your diaper?" rarely is answered in the affirmative. Neither is "Do you want to take a bath?," "Do you want to sit on your bottom?," "Do you want to put on your pants?," or "Do you want to stop coloring on the walls?"
3) Walk away. There is no reasoning with crazy people, and two year olds are crazy. You know better. When you do this in public, other people judge you and you look like an idiot. An idiot trying to reason with a tiny human who is currently screaming and pounding the floor. Just grab her and walk away. Oh, and hold on tight. Because she IS going to either go completely rigid or completely dead weight, and then you'll be the asshole mom who nearly drops her screaming toddler as she's speedwalking out of Target.
4) Order in. Do not, repeat, do not try to go to a restaurant unless it specifically caters to parents of toddlers. A two year old has no interest in sitting for the duration of a meal at home. In public? You're lucky to get ten minutes. Then see #3. Really, it's just so much easier to order in. You'll all be happier for it, and no one has to wear pants.
5) Cherish the kisses, hugs, sleepy bedhead, " 'Ank You Mama"s, crazy laughs, break your heart adorable-ness. It's God's way of making sure you don't sell her.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The salad that defied logic

I refuse to allow picky eaters in my kitchen. That doesn't mean that there aren't any in my house, just that we don't talk about it. And our kitchen rotation is pretty predictable. Tacos, spaghetti, chili, meatloaf, and all the baked meats (pork chops, chicken, etc.). Every once in a while I'll throw something new in there, but rarely does it go over well. BUT...

One of my attempts to broaden my family's horizons was to add couscous to our pork chops, in place of the usual rice or potatoes. But I made way too much and ended up with not one but two big pyrexes-full of cooked couscous. I didn't want to toss it, so I checked allrecipes and found an awesome looking couscous and black bean salad. I knew my family would probably tolerate it, and I figured the leftovers would make good lunches.

I made a couple of changes, subbed green pepper for green onion because I misread the recipe, left out the corn because I forgot to buy it, and added chicken, garlic powder, and avocado. (I also doubled the dressing on advice of about a million reviewers).

Y'all? They LOVED it. Every single one of them. Eli scarfed a bowl and a half before I even sat down and kept going on and on about how we could make it again, add the corn, have this again, this is so good, Mama! It's like a culinary miracle.

Big ass TV

For ten years, C and I have had the same argument about TVs. He always thinks we need a bigger one and another in the bedroom. I've always said that if we wanted to live in a movie theatre, we would probably pay less rent. He's slowly upgraded our one, in the living room TV from my tiny TV/VCR combo, to a hand-me-down 20-something inch, to the "BIG" purchase of a flat screen when Eli was born (aka our first child tax credit). But I've managed so far to keep it from a) being ridiculous and b) moving a television into the bedroom.

Fast forward to our most recent adventure. Driving back from Prison City, again, and C is going on and on about how he wants the new house set up, how the kids' toys will finally be kept in place since he'll be home (oh, the underlying message there just kills me, but choose your battles and so on), and how we're going to "need a better TV." I couldn't handle it, too much talking and arguing and debating and on and on and on, so like any stressed out woman I passive-aggressively said, "You know what? I don't care. Do whatever you want. I'm just tired of talking about it." Yep, this'll teach me. Behold.

That's a tv in the bedroom

And that's a big-ass wall mounted TV. With surround sound. Hooked up to several game systems.

And this is a very happy (and fuzzy) C. So there's a little benefit.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Thoughts on the new job

My new unit was described to me using the words "unique" and "urban." Read into that what you will, but we are essentially housed in a repurposed unit and do a lot of making-do. Our office is in the dining hall. Our nurses sit at card tables. It's awesome and totally ridiculous. I think I'm going to love it.

The staff at this prison is much older than the staff at my old prison. On one hand, it's very weird to be the youngest, and obviously so. I went to the tech department Wednesday to figure out a computer issue and the guy was scrolling through looking for my name. He landed on it, but then said, "Wait. You're not a psychologist. What did you say your name was?" When I assured him that I was a psychologist, he asked if I was sure. Seriously. So the other staff have a lot more experience under their belts. I spend a lot of time pretending to know what they're talking about.

This job is hitting some of my insecurity buttons, but I'm also really excited about the potential. At old prison, I knew what I was doing and I was good at it. I was fast and efficient and could bluff my way through most things. There was little oversight of my work and because we were all at the same stage, career-wise, we didn't challenge each other much. My new supervisor asked me to send her all my notes at the end of the day (maybe indefinitely?). At first I was a little offended. I've done all my "supervised work" and the state of California says that I'm competent enough now to work alone. But then I got feedback today on my notes, and it is good. She called me out on parts I pencil-whipped. She respectfully commented on my clinical assertions. She pointed out things I flat out forgot. And she did it all in a way that didn't feel like she was belittling me or attacking my abilities.

I applied for this job months ago, when the layoffs first were announced. One of the things I outlined for my job search was that I wanted a job that would allow me to thrive and excel, that would challenge me to be better. I was good at my old prison, but I think that this new experience is going to make me so much more. I needed a good kick in the butt, and I think I've found it. I am so, so glad it doesn't suck.

Syd's new trick

OMG. Y'all, this one's going to give me palpitations. Her new trick is to climb up on the coffee table or one of the footstools and DIVE onto a chair. She has absolutely no fear of heights or falling or blood or cracking her skull.

And she looks adorable doing it, which doesn't help.

On the topic of unhelpful but adorable things this one comes up with, she walked into the living room last night and said, with a huge smile, "Hello Boys!" I think C just about choked.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Out of the closet

What's one person's guest room closet, I see as a perfect sewing "nook." It's deep enough that I can put my chair in there and close the door when we have company. On the other side is my craft boxes and fabric stash. I'm on the lookout for a cool inspiration board and lamp to put in there. This makes me so super happy, in a secret garden sort of way :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Moving update

Thank you guys for your sweet words/calls/posts and for tolerating my super-whiny post. The move is going much, MUCH better now. We've got heat and hot water, internet, and I've located some of our essentials. We all have toothbrushes and toilet paper now. C and my dad arranged the furniture while I was at work today so coming home it was like a real house and not a storage unit. The kids' bunkbeds are up and totally adorable.

Eli is kicking butt at his new school. I can't tell you how happy it made me to have him run into a hug today and then yell, "Mama! I had an AWESOME day at school!" I was so worried about this whole traditional classroom thing, but this kid has rocked it. Seriously, now the biggest thing I'm worried about is what to send for snack.

I had my first day of work today. As usual, the jury's still out on what I think. I'm working in a "temporary" unit (though it's been operating for years) and the office space is less than steller. As in, "If you get here early you can get a computer, we all sit in the dining room" less than steller. But the job itself seems awesome, and I'm looking forward to meeting the inmates.

I have a ton of pictures to upload so expect and photographic journal of our move. It's pretty adorable stuff.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Whiny moving vent

I hate moving. Nothing's working like it was planned, we're way behind, I feel like I'm bleeding money, and there's no heat or hot water at our new house. I'm stressed out and tired and ready for a little normalcy. Eli starts school tomorrow and he has to wear dirty jeans because I couldn't find the box with his clothes.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday the 13th

I woke up this morning, two sleepy and clingy babies in my arms, to find a HUGE pile of dog shit in my living room. And not the easy "bag and scoop" kind. I'll spare you the details but just know 1) I'm awesome and 2) dustpans were a genius invention.

Leaving that, and the lovely aroma that accompanies it (mind you still wiping sleep from my eyes) I sniff and realize that my kitched smells like barbeque sauce. Like, REALLY smells like barbeque. And we haven't had anything close to that in weeks. A thorough (meaning I sniff-sniffed all over my kitchen) examination unearthed an entire bottle of liquid smoke draining in my fridge.

And then it was 7:00.

The rest of the day was really dedicated to saying goodbye to our amazing daycare and all the wonderful women that work there. First I dropped the kids off. Then C and I went back at lunch to bring treats and take pictures. Then we went back after naps/recess to pick everyone up. Syd's teacher, who's had her since she started daycare, was a mess. And then I was a mess. And then we dumped all the leftover cupcakes face down in the lobby. And then more tears. They have been so amazing, and came into our lives at just the right moment. I'm going to miss them all so very very much.

Today was hard. But today was also pretty awesome because now the hardest part is over. We've said our ugly-cry good-byes. Now we're looking forward, and emotionally we're able to start being excited and to plan and dream and fantasize about what this next chapter is going to mean. I know that we're going to love Prison city. I know it's a much better fit, and there are just so many things about this place that I don't like (racism, toxic air, safety issues). But we have met AMAZING people here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


The give/donate/sell pile

Taking quite literally "If it's not in a box, it's not going"

So many boxes...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Because hearing about other people's crap never gets old

Today I started to tackle the garage, which is where we put all the boxes we were too lazy to unpack from the last move. I'm about halfway through, but so far I've accumulated
1 box of books that will come with us (including my Little House series from the early 80s)
3 boxes of barware. Sorry if I ever made you drink your cocktail out of a sippy cup. Turns out I do have grown-up glasses.
1 box of Mr. Potato Head pieces (no potato) and Little People farmers. WTF?
3 boxes of text books and my dissertation transcripts. Had a minor panic attack and then scrapped the lot of it. That was pretty awesome. (Still kept my "informational copies" of assessments though. Budget crisis and all...)
Eleventy bazillion boxes of baby clothes. OMG, turns out you get a lot less sentimental after you have the second one. I was literally forcing myself to find things to save.

Looking at this huge pile of give/donate/sell I'm tempted to try to run a quick garage sale either before we leave or in the week or two after. I'm thinking a "Name Your Own Price" sale. I'm trying to decide if it's worth it, or if I'm better off taking the tax write-off. (Thinking about taxes makes me feel super old, btw.) I'd love to hear any opinions. What would you do?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Moving lesson of the night

You know all those super adorable, OMG! How Precious!, my baby is such a genius pieces of art that you bring home from daycare, then throw in a box to eventually "organize and preserve"? Yeah, you should totally write the date on the back of those construction paper masterpieces. Otherwise you'll be faced with some hard decisions later down the road. Like making up dates.

Also, I've decided that preschool teachers WAY overuse the glue-and-tissue-paper medium.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Adventures in moving

One of the lesser-thought-of bonuses of moving is that there's some inate feeling that you must eat all the food that's been collecting in the deepest recesses of your freezer and pantry. I've refused to buy food until we go. Unfortunately, I think we are getting much better at eating what we buy, because as I looked in the cabinets tonight (a week before we move) our options were pretty limited. And after tonight it's not getting any better. Tonight we're having a chicken casserole made of seven leftover chicken tenderloins, the very bottom of two bags of frozen veggies, and two boxes of stuffing left over from Thanksgiving. Plus sour cream and a cream of...soup. Tomorrow it's either bastardized fish sticks (using frozen fish and shake-n-bake) or some bean thing. Thoughts or ideas?

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Today I wrote checks for
-Rent and deposit on the new, more expensive house
-Daycare, including a week I apparently forgot to pay months ago.
-Rent for the house we're in

And soon I will write a check for the pretty impressive speeding ticket I got, while driving back from Prison City, again, and driving way too fast because I was all pissed off about a fight C and I were having about how to use the space in the new, more expensive house. A totally ridiculous fight, of course.

Last night I had a conversation with C about how I needed to clean the bathrooms before we moved out and "nevermind, I'll just take care of it." I don't remember any of it, because I was sleeping.

Yep. Totally crazy. Lord help us.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I want to be like Bob

On New Year's Eve, as we were driving to a "family friendly" NYE party (that ended up involving a lot of alcohol and a bonfire), we were rocking out to Syd's new Ziggy Marley CD that Santa brought. This got C and I talking about what it must have been like to grow up with Bob Marley as your dad. In our imagination, Bob would've been the kind of dad that was super-super supportive and enthusiastic. You want to be a super-hero? Let's make a cape and develop your powers! You want to be an accountant? You account the crap out of those numbers! You want to dye your hair purple and perform interpretive dances? Rock on! Essentially, I'm picturing him as the kind of dad that would be the biggest cheerleader in the stands, or who would sit quietly next to you in meditation.

I want to be like that. With my kids, of course, because I feel like the world is full of people saying "can't" and my kids deserve at least a couple people saying, "why not?" but also with the people around me. I've been feeling a wee bit insecure these past few months, and that triggers an ugly side of me that's competitive and snarky. I don't like the snarkiness, or the places that the competitiveness drives me. I don't like living in that skin, and as one of my favorite pinterest pins says, "If you don't like where you are, change. You are not a tree." I want to be the person that says "Hey, I might not do it that way, but rock on. How can I help?" I want to be truly open-minded and to allow people to shine as they are. I want to see other people's desperate attempts to elevate themselves as just that, instead of personalizing it and attacking back. I want the light that comes from quiet confidence and peace.

So while in past years I've made very specific "SMART" goals, this year I'm being vague. I want to be more love and less insecurity. It's my mantra. As of today, it's been a struggle, but it's also another reason that I love the idea of all these changes happening in the next couple of weeks. New place, new home, (re)new attitude.

Monday, January 2, 2012

She saw the camera and did this...

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One down, eight bazillion to go...

We got a house.

Man, it feels good to say that. It was getting a bit dicey there for a second. Our new town is small, but about 30 highway, traffic-free, minutes from a pretty large city. In my own version of "convince myself the world is fair" I had decided that since I had to move, and since my new prison is actually in a decent town, I was not commuting. We set our max distance at 15-20 minutes. C and I drove up there last week to look at areas and get the ball rolling, and found that our choice 1 of suburbs (not the prison city but close, and more affordable) was too far away. It was easily 30 minutes, on surface streets, in the middle of the day on a Wednesday. And it wasn't cute. Prison city is cute. It's got an adorable downtown, lots of walking paths and hiking trails, and is one of the safest cities in California. It just felt like a good fit. BUT. There were only two houses in the whole city that 1) would fit us and 2) we could afford. One was right in the middle of our budget and literally four minutes from work. The other was at the higher end of our budget, a little further away, but much nicer. Much, much nicer. We couldn't get ahold of the agent but left several desperate messages about how much we wanted to talk to her about the house. She called just as we hit the half-way point home, so the kids and I went back on Saturday to look at the house/charm the agent. She warned me that she had two other applications and was not a huge fan of the dog, but we went ahead and put in an application. I drove home with the worst pit in my stomach. If this house didn't work we could try for the much older, but cheaper house, or we'd have to start thinking about looking at smaller or further away. I think defensively, I started to simultaneously degrade the house and characterize it as the best. house. ever.

This morning she called to tell us that it's ours if we want it. C and I both let out audible sighs of relief, then led the whole family in a very dignified, definitely not involving booty shaking, happy dance. It just feels so. freaking. good. to be able to cross that off of our list. I still have to pack, register Eli for school, change addresses, set up utilities, sell my swingset, scrub my house, use up all the food in the freezer... but we have a freaking house! And it's a pretty sweet little place.
I went to get my haircut today (with my whole family, because we're awesome and now we look super cute) and was talking to the lady about the new year. Despite the hassles and uncertainty with all the layoff/transfer stuff, I think it's pretty cool that we get to start 2012 with a new town, new job, and new family dynamic (more on that later, not pregnant.)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Here's to an awesome 2012, full of adventure and fun. All my love to our family and friends!