Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Three day weekend

We had the loveliest, laziest three day weekend that ended up turning into a four-day when Syd spiked a 102 fever yesterday, forcing me to stay home so that C could chaperone Eli's class trip to the pool. She's fine today, but I didn't want to be that asshole that gets the class sick two weeks before summer vacation. So, four day weekend!

We started with a touch of productivity, finally getting the Great Wall stained (two years later!)

I'm trying to avoid the TV free-for-all, which has resulted in some creative time killing. All three kids collect Pokeman cards and it's literally one of the only things they play together without fighting. I'm pretty sure they are playing by three different sets of rules, but whatevs. (Can you see that Averson keeps her cards in a sequined fedora? She kills me!)

I caught her playing Simon Says by herself, and from the sounds of it, she was losing. She kept saying, "I didn't say Simon Says!" 

I busted out the Shrinky Dinks. C loves to color and of course his turned out perfect.

On Monday morning, we took the kids to help put up flags at the local cemetery for their Memorial Day ceremony. We had to be there at 5:00 and no one bitched, so it was basically a miracle. Eli and his buddy got to be interviewed for a local news channel. While searching for the segment later that day, we found another news channel that had followed our group around while we put up our flags. Which means that my yoga pant, yesterday's hair, backside also got to be on the news. So that's awesome. 

This picture is the beginning of the end for Syd. She went downhill from here, but at least tried to have a brave face on.
All joking aside, I am really glad that we rallied the kids to get them out there. Memorial Day is so hard to explain to kids in a way that makes sense. Actually being at the cemetery and seeing it made a much bigger impression on them. I highly recommend it if anyone has the opportunity to do community service in their area, or can attend a Memorial Day ceremony. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Bird Man

One of my best clinicians had covered for me while I went to Averson's preschool end-of-year party, so I thought I'd return the favor and cover some of the cell-front visits that needed to be done today. I don't often get a chance to do clinical work anymore, so it was a good opportunity both for me to help out and to test out the new computer system we're trying to figure out.

I had six guys to see. The last one on my  list is this small, old man who can be either really, really crazy and mean or just a little crazy and not mean. When he's mean he's awful. He spews racist slurs, threatens people, and gasses (what we call throwing liquids on people) indiscriminately. I noticed when I walked up to his cell that there were sandbags in front, so I braced for the worst. 

I don't know why the sandbags were there, but he was not super crazy. The first thing I noticed, though, is that perched on a roll of toilet paper on the desk in his cell was the biggest, shiniest pigeon I've ever seen. 

Now, in case it wasn't obvious, inmates aren't allowed to have birds in their cells. It's not unheard of (remember Dennis?), but it's not something that we're allowed to promote. And sometimes "unfortunate" things happen to birds in cells. This man has had birds before, and sometimes it's fine and sometimes its... not. 

So I wasn't sure if I should mention this giant pigeon perched gracefully on one leg in the corner of the cell. I got nearly completely done with my interview, and finally I couldn't stand it anymore and said, "What's your bird's name?" 

This man LIT UP. He was so excited to talk to me about his bird, "Pet." He told me that he likes to stand on one leg, and that he usually hangs out on the toilet paper. That's helpful because "that's where he does his business" so it's easy to keep clean. He eats spaghetti and rice and soups (instant noodles) and doesn't try to escape when the man leaves the cell. 

We talked for a few more minutes about Pet and then, as I was leaving, he said quietly, "I'm a lifer. I know we're not supposed to have them, but sometimes its nice to have someone in here to talk to." 

I sometimes struggle with the existential meaning of my work and whether what I'm doing contributes to a greater good. I spend a lot of time getting lied to, treating people who couldn't care less, and negotiating the finest of state government bureaucracy. But today? Today I made a connection with a (slightly less than usual) crazy old man and the fattest bird in prison and that feels like it was a pretty good day. 
Image result for prison pigeon
Not Pet. Pet wouldn't smoke. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Weekend Update (now with hatchet!)

I have been working hard on continuing to approach my weekends intentionally, and while not perfect, it is SO MUCH better. I've kept FB off my phone (though I still can access it via Safari, so that's kind of a cheat.) That's helped me to actually look up and interact with people. I'm actually getting out of bed (instead of laying there for an hour on my phone or kindle) and making coffee. That gives me time to drink it on the back porch before I dive into breakfast/shower/planning the day. I'm trying to maintain a balance of chores and fun. It's always my inclination to fill up all the hours with AWESOME FAMILY FUN! It's like I'm compulsed to squeeze as much out of 48 hours as humanly possible, and we often do some really fun stuff. But then Sunday night rolls around and my house is a mess, no laundry's been done, I'm making lunches out of hot dog buns, and I feel like the last two days were wasted. I'm trying to make sure that at least the basics (laundry, grocery shopping, minimal house hygiene) are covered by Sunday night. I'm also making an effort to allow myself (and C, and the kids) lazy time. That's where everyone can sit on their bums and do nothing productive without me getting twitchy. I can typically last an hour or so, but I'm building endurance. Who knows? Eventually I may even take a nap! (I won't, because I hate naps a lot, but I may watch a movie during the day!) Work in progress...

In other news, we're back on the "don't be financial idiots" train. This time we're focusing on all the ways that we nickle and dime ourselves stupid during the month, so C and I both have "allowances" for all the extra, unplanned shit we buy. We figured out how much true discretionary money we had, split it in half, and then pulled it out in cash. I threw an epic tantrum when C first presented the plan, and now I have to eat my words and act like an adult because it fucking worked. It's really annoying. On the other hand, I'm not putting groceries on a credit card so there's that. It's so funny (but not really) how I was all gung ho budget (like for the last 15 years) and then when it's not my idea I'm all, "NO! You can't tell me what to do! I won't be oppressed by you!" (I mentioned the epic fit, right?)

And because we managed to not be idiots this month, we were able to sign Eli up for Boy Scout sleepaway camp this summer. Which is good because it turns out this kid kind of rocks being a Boy Scout. He had his Court of Honor a couple weeks ago and was sworn in as the Chaplain's Aid, which means he leads all prayers and sermons on outings. He's got this great group of friends and everyone in the troop loves him (like legitimately. I had to restrain my self(son?)-deprecating sarcasm because it was just coming across as mean. MOTY.) He also earned his "Toten' Chip" which means he can carry the hatchet he was gifted from a friend who used it when he was a scout in the 60s. So he's armed, but he loves Jesus.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Syd's Birthday Extravaganza

OMG. I have SO much to catch up on since the last time I blogged (almost two weeks ago?!) but rather than do a huge catch up post, I thought I'd start with Syd's Seventh Birthday Extravaganza!

If you want to have all the feels, start with the beginning, and then a few of the in-betweens.

Syd asked to ride in a plane for her birthday (actually for the last few birthdays). This year I was messing around on websites and realized that I could actually probably fly her and I to LA for cheaper than a bounce house birthday party. Plus no awkward small talk, cutting guest lists, or crappy presents we don't need. That combined with a more-than-decent tax return cemented the deal. We started planning for a girls trip to see my brother and his wife. Syd wanted to hang out with her aunt, who she idolizes, and go to Hollywood. I'm pretty sure she had no idea what "Hollywood" was, but she wanted to see it.

She insisted on pulling the suitcase, which meant that not only was I traveling with a kid and not stressed, but I didn't even have to carry my own luggage. 

Just the first of MANY MOTY food choices of the weekend
 This girl. She is a traveling DREAM. She carried her own stuff everywhere. She didn't whine or complain or get antsy when she was bored. She handled crowds like a champ, which is doubly impressive for a person who is ass-height.


She wasn't super into the characters but she did want a picture with this specific Chewbacca. No idea how SuperMan ties in. 

She saw this picture and said, "I look happy!" 
 In Hollywood, she wanted to go to Ripley's and see a movie. She loved Ripley's as much as I'd hoped. This one had a lot of interactive displays (and a farting bathroom!)

The Hollywood sign is back there. It's surprisingly hard to get a picture of. 
 Along the lines of "Awesome Traveler" she was not at all hung up on food. We didn't eat at a single typical "kid" place and she loved it. She had street tacos, ramen, hipster burritos, and basically her weight's worth of chocolate, donuts, and waffles.

We saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2 at El Capitan Theater, which was really cool. There was an organist before and curtains and all the awesomeness. 

We got back on Monday completely celebrationed out, but by Wednesday we were ready for birthday donuts (my absolute favorite tradition.) 

Here's to Seven, to my best ride or die. You are so, so cool. You've got this quiet confidence that seems to ground you in a way that is so unique and special. I love the way that you are in the world. You love adventure and mischief as much or more than I do, but you are also so sweet and kind. I'm lucky to be your mom, Baby Girl, and I can't wait for you to grow up so we can be best friends! 

Friday, May 5, 2017


That stands for Thank God It's Fucking Friday, for the uninitiated. Today was a roller coaster! The dogs woke me up at 3:00 because I'm really just a glorified doorman for the two and four-legged beings. Then I woke up this morning craving a breakfast burrito so bad that I contemplated taking an hour of personal time so that I could make one. But I decided to be a responsible adult and eat my damn banana at my desk like I do every. damn. day. Then a work friend stopped by my office and offered me a burrito! Who does that?! So we were off to a good start.

Then I get bombarded by custody staff who are at their ever loving wit's end with a guy, we'll call him Joe, who keeps setting fires in the hospital unit (which they sort of dislike.) Apparently I'm known as the "asshole whisperer" so I get tasked with trying to figure out a way to keep everyone from killing each other. I had the pleasure of assisting the officers with escorting Joe earlier this week because he's convinced they're going to kill him (they're not.) They're convinced he's a jerk who keeps setting fires and making spears. So while we're discussing what to do with Joe, an alarm goes off in my treatment area. Foreshadowing. It's Joe.

Fast forward twenty minutes and now Joe is in an open air holding cell (like a mesh phone booth), screaming at everyone. I get called down and when I get there they tell the custody supervisor and I that he's, brace yourself, spraying people with his colostomy bag.

I'm just going to let that sit there for a second.

Yep. Now I'm faced with either letting this guy continue to spin out of control (because, in case it isn't quite clear yet, this guy is sick sick sick) or trust him when he says he's not going to spray secondhand shit all over my shoes. I was very much regretting my capris and loafer choice right about now.

So I trusted him and thank God it worked out because the damn dog ate my other good work shoes.

So we got him calmed down and admitted to the hospital so we could get his meds straightened out. I didn't get shit on. Some other really boring stuff happened and I managed to NOT tell my boss "I told you so" when some boring stuff went haywire AND I still left on time and in enough time to pack Eli up for his camping trip this weekend. BTW, I am super jealous that Eli keeps camping so much and conversely I think he's really tired of camping.

Now I'm snuggled on the couch with Avery, drinking my redneck margarita, and the house is so so quiet (because I made everyone put on headphones, not because we're sweetly quaint.) I have big plans of absolutely nothing this weekend, maybe sprinkled with a potluck with friends if I can get the laundry in a manageable mountain. Tomorrow I want to write about how it's going with my intentional weekends/downtime, the epic budget tantrum I threw, and my new obsession with Fiestaware. For now though, I'm debating between starting a new book or catching up on Gray's Anatomy. Or maybe watching Handmaid's Tale though that might be too relevant and depressing right now.


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Stream of Consciousness Wednesday

For a girl who's first word was "Cheese!" her selfie game is really lacking. Also, I deleted about 127 of these off my phone. Who uses the burst setting besides toddlers?  

Apparently I also deleted a lot of other pictures, because I have about four of anything interesting and then six memes about ball sweat. Finding randomly relevant memes on the internet is my superpower. Side note: It's about a million degrees here suddenly. 

Moving on...

Eli's got a side hustle going mowing our neighbor's lawn (for $10 a week!) and now he's adding to his customer list. I'm stupid proud of him, even if it means I have to do my own menial chores now because he's busy working. He's taking it very seriously, which I love. 

We were gifted this little red bistro set and I've been working on setting up a little patio spot on the back porch. I bought these lights off Amazon and they are even better than I'd imagined. Now I'm on the search for a rug. This has become my favorite spot in the whole house. It makes me so giddy happy that I watched the sun go down yesterday waiting for it to be dark enough to turn the lights on.

I'm starting a new class tonight, and (hence the procrastination) and I just went over my old presentations. This is easily my favorite course to teach. One of my students told me last week, "Everyone knows that psychopathology is Dr. Chiconky's jam" which made me feel both awesome and kind of old. Sort of like when Syd told me that she collected my gray hairs because they're so sparkly.  

Monday, May 1, 2017

Forward progress

Nothing very interesting happened last week, or at least nothing that I thought to take pictures of. BUT, after my "poor me" post last weekend I got some great advice both here and on my Facebook. I tried a few things this weekend and it made a notable difference in the Sunday rage.

Social media (and the associate black hole of time): I took Facebook and Blogger off my phone. I'm not saying this in the self-righteous, I don't do social media way. I still love to check in with my friends, show off pictures of my kids, and watch ridiculous videos. However, given that I don't have access to my phone 40 hours out of the week, it's really easy for me to get sucked into the ether when I do finally get to catch up. That leads to a compulsive cycle of clicking through FB, Instagram, and Blogger and then back again and before you know it, twelve hours has passed. By making it slightly more inconvenient to check in, I've cut down my screen time by at least a million percent. I kept Instagram on because I do love being able to post pictures and I find IG to be the least timesucking mesmerizing media.

Time limits: This one was huge. I gave myself permission to spend x amount of time on chores. And then be done. It was so liberating to allow myself to stop before the house was spotless, the checkbook was balanced, the blog was written, the laundry was completely done, and all the dinners and lunches had been prepped for the week. I cleaned some, I worked some, and I sat on my porch drinking a beer. All about the balance. I also set time limits for my kids, obviously and out loud, so that everyone knew that we were picking up and cleaning for an hour and then we were done. That's not to say that I've let the house fall into squalor. I've tried to consistently enforce an after-dinner chore every day so that things don't build up through the week. The kids have responded well and my house has remained tolerably hygienic.

Intention: A great friend from work shared an article with me (that of course I can't find now to link to) about setting your intention for the weekend. The biggest takeaway I got was the idea that you needed to know what you wanted out of your weekend. Was I looking for a productive weekend, a restorative weekend, or a weekend of reconnection? Knowing what I wanted helped me prioritize what I planned. This is important because I like to do all. the. things. This weekend I wanted to reconnect so I made sure I prioritized spending time with C and the heathens.

All in all I think it worked. I definitely feel like the weekend was time well spent, and I went into the week much more relaxed than last week. Obviously it's not perfect, but I think I'm headed in the right direction.

With all that being said, here are a random smattering of our shenanigans this weekend. Eli has become a grown-up who apparently spends a lot of time away from us which kind of breaks my heart and has given me a terrible case of baby fever. Friday night I dropped him off in a sea of middle schoolers at a training event that went until 9:30. Am I the only one who still puts their 5th graders to bed at 8:30? That seemed ragingly late but maybe I really am the meanest mom ever. While he was there, C and I took the girls to see Boss Baby.
This is how I manage kid movies that might suck

Saturday morning we dropped Mr. Independent off at Boy Scout Campboree and shit you not, he didn't even turn around to wave good-bye when he jumped out of the car. I took this ninja shot and you can tell just how thrilled he was by it.

The kids' school had their PTO carnival, so we took the girls and set them loose to run amok. I feel like it's always 1 million degrees on Carnival Day, making it all the more awesome and sticky. 

Saturday night we babysat three friends so there was even more amokking. Poor Scout had to spend the night on the leash because she's a jerk with shitty manners. 

Sunday I did my absolute best to avoid grading the 21 20 (WTF?!) page papers that my students turned in last week and needed to be done by Friday. If you've got to grade papers, this is the way to do it. Also, Course Developers, please stop assigning novels to be turned in the last week of class.  

And then Sunday night, mindful of the pending doldrums, I used my best negotiating skills to "convince" the girls to brush my hair and read to me in exchange for an extra 20 minutes before bedtime. Suckers!