Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Memorandum and other news

Last week Eli nonchalantly mentioned that he'd won his class's spelling bee. We were adequately congratulatory, but he was so blase about it. Then Sunday night I got our "Weekend Update from the Principal" and it mentioned that the school wide spelling bee was on Monday and that the class winners would all be competing. As luck would have it, I needed to be at work early and also had to be there several hours later than usual, which justified taking a three hour lunch in the middle of the day. I called C on my way to let him know that I was surprising Eli by going, and he laughed and said he was in the car to do the same thing. So Averson, C, and I got to cheer Eli on and he wasn't expecting it and had gotten in trouble the night before and it was awesome.
Waiting to surprise her brother. Her selfie game is super extra. Also, I feel like that's an unfortunate shadow but also maybe it's been a little while since I visited my threader...

Dude. Spelling bees are super nerve-wracking. I had to work really hard to be a "respectful, silent audience" per the principal's instructions to the hundreds of kids in the gym. But Eli ROCKED it. And the words were NOT easy. I'm a good speller and pretty well-read, and I spell checked some of his answers. Linoleum? Sophomore? INSTANTANEOUS?!?! That one brought the most adorable collective gasp and then sigh of relief when the judge raised the green card.
I love this picture so much. Eli's hands on his head. The kids in the back looking equally distressed. The sea of heads.
Finally it was just Eli and one other kid. During each round, I was judging the words they were given on how likely it was that they would have seen them before. When Eli was given "Memorandum" I was pretty sure he'd never seen that one in his life. I write them, which is the only reason I know how to spell it. 

He came in second in a good contest. As soon as the pictures were taken and everyone was congratulated (including Eli's whole class, who rushed the stage to high five him), he ran over to the judges to find out how to spell "memorandum." I'm pretty sure he'll never forget it. 

In other news, I'm still doing Orangetheory and I kind of love it in a masochistic way. I go SUPER early in the morning, so it's torture on a few lovely levels. And I'm pretty sure it's been an endurance day every day for the last two weeks. But my rowing is getting SO much better and I get ridiculously excited anytime we have TRX work. My push and my all outs are getting faster and now I'm the person who gets ready for work at the gym. Plus I heart my charts oh so very much. I'm basically one step from putting them on the refrigerator. I *may* have e-mailed them to C, and maybe my boss, a couple times... I'm also still doing Weightwatchers and trying to embrace the system even though I've stalled out a little. One of the leaders gave me a pep talk and explained that the "baked on stuff" is the hardest to get rid of. It makes sense, since this is where I always seem to get stuck, so I'm trying to remain optimistic. 

I wanted to put a "sweaty selfie" here, but then I put it in and chickened out because I looked super gross. So new goal: Awesome gym selfie.

My Christmas shopping is almost completely done, meaning I may be able to get stuff in the mail in a reasonable amount of time. I didn't go super crazy with the kids, and C and I really aren't buying for each other this year (except for stockings because they're my favorite. And I've maybe bought myself a few things in the process.) I basically stuck to the Want/Need/Wear/Read system and only fudged a little in Eli's case because his "Want" is a big one. I'm still looking for a family game from Santa. THe kids are getting into board games, but all the ones we own are too young for Eli (Candyland) or too old for Averson. If anyone has any suggestions, I would love them! We play Moose Caboose and it is super fun, and the kids love Mousetrap and dominoes. I have Monopoly PTSD but other than that we're pretty open. 

Once the game issue is solved, I can move my holiday energy to planning our holiday menu and trying to figure out if I want to make (and count points for) cinnamon rolls. Christmas dinner will probably be tri-tip chili again. I always make chili and it's honestly the best Christmas dinner. Warm, cozy, and it just sits on the stove waiting to be eaten so no one's stuck in the kitchen. We often eat while we're snuggled on the couch watching a movie. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Cali kids camp in the winter






 By some crazy coincidence, 3/5s of the Chiconky family ended up camping last weekend. Apparently our holiday festivities now include a weekend of camping? Eli and his Boy Scout troop took their bikes on a ferry to a decommissioned military base, where they biked and camped overnight. They had to carry their gear on their backs and I was told EMPHATICALLY that he should pack as light as possible. So he went with a sweatshirt, a toothbrush, deodorant and a sleeping bag. He tried to save room by skipping the toothbrush and deodorant but I pulled rank. He may not use it but it's there.


Sydney and I signed up for a "She and Me" Girl Scout camp months ago, when I was optimistic about both the weather and my free time in December. I am SO glad though, because it was super fun and if I'd had to decide about it more recently I wouldn't have gone. We went to the Girl Scout lodge out in BFE nowhere. I was a little concerned because I had the stereotypical "Scout Mom" in mind, and the thought of sleeping in a huge dorm with over a hundred moms and sneuxflakes made me twitchy. But you guys? It. Was. Awesome. We had such a good time. I have such a romanticized idea of camp in my mind and now I'm convinced that it's every bit as awesome as I thought it would be when I was a kid. We did crafts and cooked brownies in a campfire and took awesome but not too hard hikes. But we also had flush toilets and beds and real food cooked in a kitchen. It was perfect. And Syd is such an awesome side kick and so fun to hang out with. I literally can't wait until we can go again. And they have a leader camp that's for adults and they spent the whole weekend doing crafts and singing songsand OMG my nerd is showing.

Just chilling on the fence weaving a lanyard. Like you do.

Consolation cocoa after they canceled the campfire and smores because it was about 12 degrees

Camp bunks! Way more fun than home bunks
Trust hike. And neither of them suffered significant injury despite their best efforts. 



Thursday, December 7, 2017

Isn't it ironic?

Or a coincidence? I don't really know. Alanis Morissette has forever made me paranoid of my word choice... 

Anyway...
There is an inmate that I've been working with off and on for the last five years. I basically tell people that he's Kanye West, if Kanye West had no money. Paranoid, egocentric, loquacious, philosophical, and kind of a lot crazy. He believes that he's falsely imprisoned and being held by "Headquarters" in order to censor him and keep him from exposing their malicious ways. Let's just go ahead and call him Kanye. So Kanye isn't in my unit anymore, but when he sees me he makes a point to check on me. He's concerned that I'm susceptible to danger from "Headquarters" because of all the information that he's provided to the FBI. He considers me an ally and as such, he worries. So he will come up to me and very quietly, but also conspiratorily, ask "Are you okay? But are you really okay?" And I assure him that I am and then we can move on. That's the back story. 

So I was walking across the yard with my captain the other day, when Kanye asked to speak with me. He walks over, looks around, and then furtively showed me the magazine in his hand. Side note; remember that many people at my prison show off their genitals, so I was a bit hesitant But alas, it was not a picture of a penis. Instead it was some propaganda magazine talking all about how the government is planning to insert microchips in people. And it was a legit publication that someone sent this man. Seriously?! How do you argue with randomly receiving a magazine warning you that the government has you under surveillance? 

It reminded me of a woman that I worked with at the women's facility. She was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder but also had psychosis, and she was convinced that she was pregnant. She claimed that the spirit of her (living) boyfriend visited her at night and impregnated her via radio waves. No amount of reality testing could convince her otherwise, and she interpreted any somatic experience as further proof of her pregnancy (and not a by product of state food.) It didn't help that I was also pregnant at the time. However, I was making some headway and she was starting to accept that maybe she would not be delivering her radio baby in the near future. So imagine my surprise when she excitedly told me that she had begun making breastmilk! I wracked my brain trying to figure out an alternative explanation for what she was explaining. Sweat? Condensation? What could possibly have happened to make her think that she was lactating? Well, after a few days I mentioned it to my supervisor. He wasn't surprised at all, since she was on a pretty common antipsychotic that has a very uncommon side effect of MAKING PEOPLE LACTATE. So sonofabitch. All that work to convince her she's not pregnant and then she starts leaking all over her damn shirt like the rest of us. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

My Fancy Christmas Anxiety

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Oh how Christmas makes me crazy. Like so crazy that I actually apologize to C for being a crazy person (which means super duper extra crazy.) As we all know, money gives me totally irrational anxiety (see Operation Don't Be Idiots). So I combat that, in crazy fashion, by overspending. I know this, I'm working on it, insight is the key to change, blah blah blah. BUT. I also LOVE Christmas. I love all the things, and I really love buying gifts and spoiling my kids. So you can see how this can become a dangerous spiral. I buy things, then I freak out about the money I'm spending, so then I illogically buy more things, and so on and so on. And THEN, I get even more crazy pants because I look around at my over-cluttered house, have a panic attack, and buy more shit. It's the most wonderful time of the year...

Every year I tell myself that I'm going to be planful about my gift giving. I've tried homemade Christmas (LOVED it but it took a ton of time and less nosy children), one big gift Christmas (don't bother, not worth it), all out Christmas (still paying that one off) and Don't Be Stupid Christmas (no fun and didn't work.) This year I glommed onto the Facebook/mommy blog idea floating around about the four gifts. Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read. Now as I write this I am realizing that I already fucked up because I shopped as if it were four categories, not four gifts. So I'm starting from behind. SMH. But I am trying to limit the kids' gifts to those four categories.

So I've already established that this isn't really helping keep the number of gifts down since I bought multiple "something to wear's" for example. BUT, what it is doing is keeping me from buying all the things. Each category for each of the kids is pretty specific. So Eli's getting a new phone. That means that I'm not also buying him all the WWE stuff he's asking for. So maybe it's still a win? If nothing else its helping AND it's made it abundantly clear that my kids don't really need anything since that's been the hardest category to fill. So first world problems...

The other thing that's helping is that I've completely abandoned any intention of fairness. In the past I've tried to match dollar amounts across kids in an effort to internally assure fairness. This year I'm acknowledging that they have no concept of what a dollar's worth and they aren't counting each other's presents, so they won't care if I spend $50 on one and $150 on the other if both get a really cool gift that they love. This is keeping me from scrambling for all the filler stuff to make everyone even. I feel pretty strongly that my kids need to know that the world isn't "fair" and that they shouldn't expect everything to be even all the time so this fits in nicely. It's also freed me up to think about what each one would really want (in all four categories) versus what they would want in a certain price range. So Averson might get two awesome $3 animal books and Syd might get a really great $25 hardback. In previous years I would have felt the need to get Avery six more books, even if I didn't think she'd love them. Please refer back to the crazy mentioned above...

So so far it's working. I have the girls almost completely done and I'm finishing up on Eli. I need to buy them their Santa gifts though and I can't really decide which direction to go there. I'm thinking one more of the "want" gifts? In our house, Santa does stockings and one or two not-the-awesomest gifts (because I'm selfish and want credit for the good stuff.) I'm not ridiculously out of money, I'm excited about what each kid is getting, and it's not even December and I'm half done with my shopping. Then I can focus on my house angst and stressing out over New Year's Resolutions like a normal person!

I'm curious how you all handle the Christmas crazy? Do you have a strategy for your shopping? Does Santa bring the good stuff? Also, I still need to fill stockings and shop for the adults so if you have any ideas, toss them my way!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Thanksgiving Recap

After an epically long and drawn out dog sitter drama, we finally found someone to look after the hellbeasts and were able to head out to the coast to spend Thanksgiving with my folks. My little brother and his wife came up from SoCal and my sister and her girls came from Colorado, so it was a big deal that we were all there together. In a three bedroom townhouse, there was A LOT of closeness.


Coast Thanksgiving does not suck

The holiday totally screwed up my Weightwatchers routine, so I snuck out on Wednesday morning to weigh in. Totally coincidence that I weighed in BEFORE Thanksgiving. Totally...
Standing in your socks in public makes you a legit WWer. Also, I'm down 11 freaking pounds and until right this second didn't realize the irony of wearing taco socks to my weigh in.

Gratuitous plate picture


After the turkey coma, we sent the kids downstairs so the adults could play Cards Against Humanity. Obviously tequila shots were a pre-requisite. 


For the record, I think everyone wins when your husband tells your stepmother she has penis breath and your sister-in-law throws down "Daddy Issues" on your turn. Also, more tequila. 

My dad surprised us on Black Friday with ziplining! Eli was having none of it, Averson was a wobbler and not worth the gamble for the price, and C stayed home to babysit (and because he's broken) so Syd and I were left to brave six ziplines over vineyards and a cattle ranch. 


SO CUTE! Also, SO NERVOUS. But she's my Ride or Die and she knew it was true when I told her nothing was worse than chickening out in public.
 We rode the first (and highest) line tandem and it was seriously the best thing ever. As nervous as she was, within seconds she was grinning and saying, "I'm so so glad we did this! This is AWESOME!!!" That's my girl :) 
Part of the zipline was this 200 foot high suspension bridge and it was really fucking scary. And narrow. And bouncy. Those are totally nervous smiles. 

As soon as she was allowed to go alone she was off like a light. Seriously, I barely got there in time to get her picture. 





I can't wait to go again! C is not convinced that it's the best thing ever though, so I may need a stand in for the night time experience. Who could say no to watching the sunset as you fly over a vineyard?

And because we're masochists, we finished out the day at a huge Christmas festival. Highlights included hot chocolate with Fireball whiskey and Syd asking to take C and my's picture. Lowlights include my kids fighting like dingos and the annoyed look someone in my family has in every single picture. Fun fact related to my Christmas card drama? A review of the last YEAR of candid-ish family pictures reveals that annoyed is the new RBF. Which probably explains why I have four total pictures to choose from and there's elephants fornicating in the background of at least one.




In what may be the best decision I've ever made, we drove home on Saturday instead of Sunday. We missed nearly all the traffic and still had a whole day to recoup before we rejoined reality. Both dogs were still alive and my friend even left poetry! Syd then critiqued it. Halarious! 


 And now CHRISTMAS!!! I'm trying a new "Don't go broke and don't be an idiot" strategy in hopes of managing my crazy over the holiday. Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Serious crisis

i just hit publish on the shit show that’s been the last two weeks and thought with relief, “Thanksgiving’s next week!” ((I’m guesting, not cooking, which qualifies it for a “yay!”) And then it hit me. Next week is Thanksgiving and I have NO plan for cards. None. I’m minimally interested in trying to get pictures taken since my awesome photographer moved away last year and I just can’t with finding someone else who understands when I say “please don’t make me look fat.” I have no cutesy ideas and most of our family pics this year have been even too ridiculous for cards. So far I’ve come up with a Brady Bunch format or Groucho Marx glasses. Seriously. That’s the best I got.

If you need me I’ll be over here muttering Christmas carols and frantically pinteresting...

At least there wasn't nuclear war?

So a couple weekends ago we went to Family Camp with Eli's Boy Scout troop and it was way more fun than I had anticipated. Averson is a natural. We went on a hike and she found a deer leg. Rather than be traumatized, she BEGGED to take it home so she could research it. We compromised with poking it with sticks. I totally under-packed for poor Syd so she spent the weekend wearing my leftovers. The boys cooked all of our food and it was WAY better than you'd expect if all of your meals were cooked outdoors and by eleven year olds. I had a great time hanging out by the fire with the moms and even found a couple kindred, sarcastic spirits. We laughed about the fact that all of us were drinking out of the spigots after seeing the sign that pretty specifically recommended it against it. All of us agreed that we'd take our chances if it meant we might get to spend a couple days on the couch watching television, being taken care of, and maybe even lose a couple pounds before the holiday. Foreshadowing...


C woke up that night complaining about a backache, that by the next day had turned into a completely debilitating issue.  I woke up to a message from the dog sitter telling us that she'd been bitten breaking up a fight when she fed the dogs together (exactly what we asked her NOT to do, but I digress). This is where all hell started to break loose. 

C spent a week on bedrest after an exhausting trip to the ER on Monday evening that resulted in a diagnosis if "Idontknow," a prescription for Motrin, and instructions to stay off his feet. I took the week off from work to do kid/house/nurse duty. The dogs were placed on house arrest and the dog sitter cancelled for Thanksgiving. Do you know how hard it is to find a dog sitter for a holiday on short notice?
#hellbeasts
Thursday, Averson came down with another bout of zombie face. I had to cancel class since C couldn't watch her and I couldn't take her to my friend's house as we'd planned. Two potential dog sitters bailed on me. Saturday things started to look up. Monday I went back to work, followed it up with parent teacher conferences and Eli's Court of Honor, and a delicious taco dinner. 



So of course Monday night Syd woke my up by puking off the side of her bunk bed. C kept all three kids home on Tuesday since they're doing minimum days anyway and he couldn't leave the sickos home to take him. Thank goodness, because by noon I had an e-mail that simply said, "Eli's puking. This is not good." 

Because we all know how this works, I dropped a c note at Target stocking up on Lysol wipes, Sprite, and food we could throw at the kids when we inevitably fell. And then I came  home to well rested, non-vomiting children. C was shuffling around near-mobile. It was MAGICAL.

I keep humble bragging about how I held down the fort while everyone was out of sorts, but OMG am I happy to have people back. C is still shuffling, but way less (and I'm pretty sure he's not dying.) All of my children seem healthy, including zombie face. A friend offered out of the blue to watch the dogs. 




Tuesday, October 31, 2017

It's my birthday

and it's late on a school night. And I'm in bed in full make-up. And maybe a little drunk.

This year Halloween/birthday was AWESOME. We did birthday donuts (which are WAY more delicious when you're on a diet.) I put cinnamon in my coffee and the hipsters are so tight. It IS delicious. My staff decorated my door, which meant people wished me happy birthday all day. Including our inmate porters, which was weird and awesome. I made pumpkin waffles for dinner on my new Belgian waffle maker. Costumes were on point. Trick or treating was chaotically efficient and a perfect exercise in herd parenting. I had cake and tequila shots and I dressed like Rosie the Rivetor, and I love all of those things!





Thursday, October 26, 2017

Brain dump in no discernible order

We have been very busy doing all the fall things. Also, my computer lives inside a big trunk and I've been too lazy to pull it out to properly blog. Probably more of the second than the first, actually...
The obligatory Pumpkin Patch trip. This year we found an AWESOME farm that had a huge slide complex, a corn maze, tractor AND train rides, and a haunted barn! Totally worth it. Plus we got there early before it got hot or crowded. 


She loved this dried corn cob so hard. It may have accidentally jumped in my bag and came home with us. 

The haunted barn. She was underwhelmed. Syd on the other hand hung from my arm the whole time. 

It's a birthday month miracle! This was, shit you not, the first take. All looking, all smiling, no bunny ears. WTF?
 I took the girls to see the My Little Pony movie on Sarah's recommendation, and it did not disappoint. The girls and I have been throwing lines out ever since. Seriously, on a scale of The Good Dinosaur to Trolls, this was just a click below The Secret Life of Pets. Honestly not terrible. 
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I will be so sad when he grows out of this.

Apparently the Biggest one got hold of my phone too. There are many action scenes...


We killed a solid witching hour taste-testing out of my mason jar shot glasses (klassy!) I think this is maybe pickle juice? Or pineapple juice?

Holiday crafting in full force

The dogs ate all the scraps. I think it was a win? 


We are ALMOST done with soccer. C swears that I hate it every year, but OMG am I ready to not sit in wet grass with strangers every Saturday and a couple times during the week. Also, to not have to give one flying fuck where anyone's other shin guard is or whether anyone can tell that I used my black dress socks instead of soccer socks because the only time I can find those is in the middle of summer. 


I love this picture so much. Both girls are really owning their own style. Syd loves to wear these fake glasses. Averson. Well...

Bathrobe, shoes on the wrong feet, giant baby bow, and a pink stuffed penguin. It's the new black. 
Only putting this here because it was the same day and she wore the same outfit. I took Averson to my Weight Watchers meeting with me last week. My meeting is at the crack of dawn on Saturdays and she'd gone to bed at 5 the night before, so rather than try to convince her to let the rest of the family sleep I let her come with me. She was thrilled and loved all the clapping. I prayed to God I wasn't setting the foundation of her future eating disorder. So we'll see how this goes.
Speaking of Weight Watchers, I'm a month in and 7.6 pounds down. I'd love to be more, but it's not terrible for the month. Also, I don't think I have an eating disorder yet which I'm considering a win. I find myself wanting to see how few points I can eat in a day (hello, disordered eating!) but then I can remind myself that the points are there to use. It's kept me from getting uber-restrictive and a few times I've actually eaten more in order to get to my point target. So, maybe a win? I prepaid for three months so I've got time left. I will say that this is the lowest I've gotten this quickly since Averson was born. I REALLY hope it works. C and I are going somewhere (TBD) next year and I very badly want to buy new trip clothes. 

Ooh. Segway. I was trying  to find a "before" picture so I can mark my progress and found these lovelies that Avery took at Eli's scout meeting.  
Effortless. Seriously. I woke up looking like this. 

Little People. Cult Edition

I think maybe being three feet tall is boring sometimes