Category: Family & Friends

From spouses to spit-up

Why I Think I Need A Netbook (Help! Do I?)

A friend of mine came over last Friday night brandishing his very new accessory.

With a flourish out of his briefcase, he produced a netbook. (In case you don’t know, it’s a mini-laptop with limited features and a downsized operating system used for simple tasks, not to replace a computer – in most instances.)

I picked it up with one hand easily, without feeling any stress in my wrist the way I do when I heft my 17″ widescreen laptop into its “doesn’t quite fit” soft-shell case to put it in the “barely fits” backpack to take it to school with me or out of the house to work. It starts up quick as a bunny and there it is. A teeny screen that seems much bigger now that I’ve gotten so used to using my iPhone to surf the Internet when I’m not at home.

The keyboard looked like a 97%-er (aka almost normal size) and there was no number pad, but really, if you’re going for small you kind of have to be willing to sacrifice the number pad.

Here’s where my desire comes from. I want something I can easily transport but that I don’t have to squint to see. My iPhone is portable as all-get-out, but it’s small. My laptop is easy to read, but it’s big. I don’t even need a hard drive, since I save most things on Google Docs or some other online service. The Macbook Air is lovely, just lovely – but I’ve always had PCs and I’m just not sure I’m young enough to learn all the new tricks that are necessary to switch over and be a 700-year-old hipster. (OK, 35, whatever, LOL)

So I’m thinking netbook. A little thicker than the Air, but not much heavier, and has an overall size difference of a few inches diagonally.

But it would be great to take to Caribou or Starbucks and take up less space while working on the little table. It would be great to take to school without having to make my backpack almost 10lbs. heavier (since my surgery this has become of greater concern. My back muscles do a lot of extra work already while my stomach muscles heal). It would be great to take almost anywhere.

But how do you decide what kind of netbook is best for your needs? They all seem to be sold just on the merits of being small but I want a good processor that lasts. What kind is that? Plus, call me old fashioned, but do they come in colors? I like colors and don’t think I’m the only person wondering why, after computers have been with us over 20 years, they haven’t come up with some better color choices.

Oh, one other thing. Is there a PC version of the Macbook Air and I missed it? Some super-slim no-hard-drive PC that slipped under my radar?

Thanks for your help super-smart-Internet folks. I appreciate it, as always!

The Nutcracker Makes Me Feel Like A Bad Mommy

I know, you’d think it would be ignoring my toddler while she stares at me and I continue to write a blog post, completely refusing to make eye contact with her because then she’ll start talking to me and it will be totally distracting – but that’s not what makes me feel like an awful, total failure of a mother.

The Nutcracker comes every year, and it’s a beautiful Chicago tradition and spectacle and it’s not even expensive. ($20 for adults and $10 for kids) and I have been trying to figure out the right age for S to see it for the first time.

Then, when I’ve decided she’s just not quite old enough yet – at five – to sit through that kind of performance AND not be totally freaked out by the evil rodents I start to wonder, “Did I decide she wasn’t old enough yet because I don’t want to deal with the city and the people and the sold-out crowd?”

After I’m done beating myself up for my crowd anxiety issues, I think, “Oh, hey, I need to put her back into a ballet class. I said I was giving them a break from activities over the summer and I’m pretty sure that November can officially be considered not summer anymore.”

So why didn’t I put her back into ballet at the end of summer? School started, for one. I felt like I wanted her to focus on her new school and the bus and all the little things she would have to get the hang of now that she’s in Kindergarten. But how long does that really take?

Ultimately I am either in the “not yet” place or the “too late” place. That magical sweet-spot of “oh NOW” never seems to be part of my plans. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe it’s because I live in a world of eternal distractions.

Not forever.

S, now that she’s in Kindergarten is hardly distracting at all. There’s a schedule. A routine. It’s the one year old that kills me. You can only put so much routine on a toddler/baby. They aren’t into that.

The other night I was on the phone at 1am and I heard this weird slapping sound. I didn’t think anything of it and then out of nowhere the baby was standing at the ottoman of the chair I was sitting on. I screamed, because babies are SCARY in the middle of the night when they’re where they’re not supposed to be. The slapping I heard? Her hands on the floor while she was crawling silently from her bed, through the hallway, through the playroom to open the living room door to crawl up to the ottoman and then stand up.

All in total silence (other than a few hand slaps) – that’s creepy, man.

Bittersweet Holiday Season Approaching

There is SO much stuff I have to do before December.

Still don’t know what’s going on with Thanksgiving – I wish I could just skip the holidays this year. Go to Disney or someplace completely weird and off-the-wall (for us – for you Disney people that would be normal and cool) to celebrate the holiday so I don’t have to think about death and loss and no one to tell me the family stuffing needs JUST A LITTLE MORE poultry seasoning five HUNDRED times until your mouth can’t taste it anymore.

Now it’s officially not just my family stuffing recipe, it’s the one that’s been handed down for generations. Because they aren’t there to point to and say, “It’s her recipe.” anymore.

I want to give my kids a beautiful holiday season. I want to find a way to celebrate and remember my grandmothers without ruining the holidays by being a huge-ass bucket of sad mommy. I want to be here, at home, where I feel safe and have my house be filled with the familiar aroma of turkey cooking and stuffing being made.

And stuffing being cooked in the bird. You have a problem with that? Use a better internal thermometer. I’m not ruining a tradition because somebody else gave their family salmonella or e-coli or some other “the stuffing wasn’t brought to the correct temperature” virus. I will happily risk my life yearly in order to eat stuffing from inside of the body cavity of a dead bird. Holla.

The wind down of my college classes is barreling down. Two classes can be done and over with December 3rd, and my goal is to make exactly that happen. Then I can just show up for the in-person classes and rock my final exams and be done for the semester.

I didn’t have any fancy folders, no new backpack, no cool spiral notebooks this year. I used a manila folder for every class and the backpack we’ve had since S was a baby five years ago. I used pencils and pens from around the house and my iPhone calculator (thank you graphing calculator app!) to get everything done.

Even without the super-cool accouterments available to students I managed to perform at a level I can be satisfied with. My late paper (late because there was some communication confusion on both our parts) is going to be accepted and not penalized, so I may just keep my A in that class after all.

Everything is going to wrap up nicely this year, it seems.

Other than my grandmothers both being gone. If I can just navigate around the edges of that hole in my heart, it might be an absolutely beautiful holiday season filled with satisfaction, knowledge of (many) jobs well done that have kept our bills paid, and the love that we have for each other as a family. Because lemme tell ya…Team Family is rocking so hard we broke the amps.

Yes, they were turned up to 11. How did you know?

A Mouse With A Message

I saw a mouse the other day and had this wacky thought to look it up. No, the mouse was not in my house. Then I would have killed it rather than looked it up. I’m not much of an animal lover outside of my dogs.

Basically, it’s all about the details. While it is good to pay attention to detail, freaking out over every little thing isn’t going to help.

Maybe that little mouse was a message from above, reminding me to relax and look at the big picture. The one where I have amazing children who love me, a husband I couldn’t make more right for me if I tried, and a life that I could have never imagined and am enjoying quite a lot.

Surgery Update!

Today I went back to school and didn’t feel like I was going to die after a half hour.

Talk about some GOOD healing 🙂

I knew what my body needed most was protein but I was so nauseous it was difficult to get or keep anything down and with the internal sutures all over the place the number one goal was not to puke and rip out all those lovely stitches.

Gross, right? Yeah, totally.

There were three days where I ate nothing and could barely keep down sips of water. You’d think I would have lost a bunch of weight, right? Okay, maybe not, but on the third day, when I gained a pound, I realized that what everyone tells you about “it’s all about calories in vs. calories out” is a damned lie.

I don’t know what the truth is, but in the meantime I’m just eating the way I always do and exercising as much as I can within doctor constraints, which are many for the next month or so.

In family news, we’re trying to figure out Thanksgiving. We have a few different options and are trying to figure out which one we want to go with. They all have pros and cons and I’m just not sure what I want from this holiday season. I want to enjoy myself, I want my children to enjoy themselves, and I want to really feel the presence of my family around me. So no getting rid of the kids and partying like rock stars for Thanksgiving, I guess. (LOL)

But I’m able to drive, walk, and sit in lectures.

It’s a start.

The Evolution of Halloween in My House

Trick-or-treating has always had a special place in my anxiety-filled heart.

No matter how good I get at greeting and talking to strangers, there is something about wandering the town that has always made my heart speed up a little and that slight feeling of panic start like an undercurrent beneath everything else I’m thinking and feeling. The anxiety is like the Loch Ness Monster – you know it’s there but if you try and focus on it, you just can’t find the source. It’s elusive, and you begin to wonder – is it even there? Am I just making it up? Is there just excess electricity in the air?

But it remains.

I finally got to the point the year before last where I was comfortable going with my hubby and doing the wander-around-the-block thing. But there were so many older kids that were pushing past my babies that the anxiety wasn’t just an undercurrent. These little asshats that would push preschoolers. Me? I couldn’t really do a thing other than hope my kids weren’t pushed on their asses. I mean, what do you say to a 10-year-old slutty witch? Her life will be what she has coming to her soon enough – she doesn’t need me giving her a memory that lasts to her 40s that reminds her even then that her studio apartment and barfly ways were her destiny long before she found herself in a position to be surprised by it. Or she could grow up to be a senator’s wife. Who knows. But when you lash out at anyone – children or adult – you are leaving yourself in their brain forever.

This year, hubby is working. He’s going to be leaving at 2:30, a full half-hour before trick-or-treating begins. So it’s going to be me and the three kids. Wandering the neighborhood for four hours and filling up bags of candy they’ll never be able to finish before it goes horribly stale. Never knowing what a smarties orsweettarts or pixie stix are because those are the only things I snag from the candy haul, and they last almost all year. (I mean, they’re pure sugar, who needs ’em, right?)

But going alone – with three kids – this is not something I am looking forward to and my anxiety thinking about it – writing about it – is just beyond anything I could describe with something as clear and simple as words.

Once I’m actually doing it, I’ll be fine. I always am. I just hate anticipation. Hate.

I also don’t like being alone for things like this. Not one little bit. I mean, if I wanted to drag a stroller, reusable shopping bags (best trick or treating bag, ever, right?) a baby and two kids around my neighborhood, I wouldn’t have gotten married and skipped straight to a sperm bank and insemination. I put up with the hassle of being in love and compromising with my life partner because he’s supposed to be part of these anxiety-causing situations. You know, to relieve the anxiety. To keep the kids safe from kids who are old enough to think that costumes are stupid but still want free candy so have the audacity to come to MY door in nothing but sweats and a hoodie and try to get some. That happened last year. I not only did not give the kid candy, I gave him a lecture that started with “Oh HELL no.”

He left, and when they crossed back and RE-WENT to all the houses on the block, they skipped my house. No eggs, no muss, no fuss. Because I made sense. I told him you don’t have to buy a costume but if I made the effort to spend my money and my time on candy he could put in the effort to figure out how to make a costume, money or not.

See, I’m a sweetheart. I didn’t shame him. I just called him lazy. Totally different, right?

When the van full of kids showed up in front of my house with nothing but a clown nose and rainbow afro to share between the five of them, they all passed the afro and nose and the one who put it on then said trick or treat.

I gave them extra candy because they put a little effort into it. I really have low standards. It’s why I get frustrated when people don’t meet those low, low standards.

But trick or treating. Yeah. It’s less stressful than handing out candy, I guess. So we’re going to do it. One kid is going to hit the motherlode when they come to my house and see a bowl full of candy – hopefully they’ll just take one or two – but there’s always the gory mask and nothing else kid or the slutty witch or slutty nurse that will take more than they should without a thought to the little kids.

But, to be honest, it’s probably going to be an adult who takes more than they should.

Don’t they always? Push that envelope. Lie about your accomplishment to sound more special than you actually are. Pretend you’re going to hang out with a friend and then ditch her at the last minute. Or just decide you don’t feel like doing something you promised you would. Adults are always the ones doing the truly horrible things – so why get worked up about some kids in outfits those same bad adults let kids wear out in public? Exactly. There’s no reason at all.

Maybe I’ll consider Halloween my New Year for the year. I mean, the government considers it April 15th and companies can have a new year start whenever they like as long as they’re consistent. I don’t need to wait for January 1st to make my life better and keep people that are close to me the type of people I’m proud to be associated with.

Not liars and not people who lie to my friends. (See, those “horrible things adults do” examples up there? Only one of them is from me. The other two happened to people I know, not me directly.)

I know so many people now that I think it’s time to circle the wagons and count up who we have in here that’s worth protecting. Because some amazing people I know aren’t getting the attention they deserve because I’m wasting it on liars and fools.

There may always be liars and fools, one of the secrets of networking is that you don’t need everybody you meet. It’s important to remember that like attracts like and that when you discover a bad apple, they’ll probably only ever introduce you to other bad apples. Honestly, even if they do know amazing people, is it worth the effort and risk and life-force necessary to keep up your connection with the one bad apple?

I think not.

Hopefully we don’t get any bad apples while we’re out trick or treating tonight. We probably won’t. Halloween pretty much rules. Low crime, one poisoned kid ever and that was by his own dad, it’s kind of a free-range parent’s dream. And, as much as I wish I could just keep my kids in my pouch like a mama kangaroo, it’s time for me to be that free-range parent I want to be. That I dream of being. The one that lets my kids be …. less afraid when they grow up.

I used to write crazy-long posts like this. I stopped. I read somewhere no one wants to read super-long posts.

But that’s another thing. I’m writing this for me. I hope you enjoy it, but it’s for me. To look back and remember. To know what I wanted. To know who I was. Because it’s so easy to lose track of who we are.

Girl Scout Leader? Why Yes, Yes I Am…

Or at least I will be after tonight.

I have to decide if I’m going to be a Brownie leader for S, a Daisy leader for A, or both.

There’s an open house tonight where I get to go, potentially get interviewed, and network with other crazy ass amazing moms that want to lead large groups of children in crafts and other enriching activities.

I’ll fit right in, right?

Here’s hoping, because I was a co-leader way back in the day and think that it could have been totally amazing if I’d had the chance to have more creative input and more … MEness in the whole thing. I am not a good second fiddle.

But crafts and stuff like that … that would be wonderful. Being part of something for my kids … I’m looking forward to it!

Update: Ok, there’s a background check I have to pass first. But then? I’m in and should have a troop up and running in a couple of weeks. As a bonus, I ran into someone I met through the Foundation there. Love her! Looking forward to getting to know her better. She said she thinks I should be on the board of the Foundation. Me. On a board. Wow.

We’re Like a Family of Plague Rats

No costumes required or anything. We just carry the sickness with us wherever we go. It’s kind of like magic, except no one is smiling and the only look of amazement is when someone is about to throw up.

Here’s the weirdness: D and A both have the coughing/lung/sinus sickness. Me and S have the tummy/barftastic/sore-throat sickness. Hubby? He isn’t sick at all.

We’re all wondering which of the two sicknesses in the family will be the one he ends up with. You would think the one I have because we, you know, breathe shared air and sleep together and snog and stuff. But he’s also D’s favorite and she’s on him 24/7 rubbing her face on his shoulder and doing the forehead-touch-hug thing and – again – sharing air.

So I’m thinking of putting together a betting pool. I truly hope he doesn’t get sick at all, but if he has to get something, the cough is the way to go. It lasts two weeks instead of three solid days, but also doesn’t include a fever and throwing up, which is a super bonus.

This morning I got my oldest off to school and she was only 15 minutes late. A huge accomplishment considering that I feel kind of like I want to curl up in a ball and die. Or just sleep for a couple of days. Whatever.

On my way back to the car, where my other two were locked in the car and into their booster and carseat while I ran my oldest 20 feet away into the office so she could go to class, I ran into the vice principal. I totally thought I was about to get the “your kids are going to DIE leaving them in the car for 60 seconds like that!” lecture, but it was not. (I should have known. The VP of my kids’ school is really an amazing human being – I adore her.) It was just a warning that they’re doing some crisis testing today so when I pick A up this afternoon there will probably be a whole bunch of cops and fire trucks.

Guess SOMEONE is going to be taking all the kids out of the car to pick up A this afternoon, huh? Yeah. Let’s not let every cop in town see some kids locked in a car. That could go horribly wrong.

Cause, you know, they could DIE in that car. Even when it’s only 40 degrees outside, I hear the inside of a locked car can reach temperatures equal to or greater than the sun.

Cautiously Optimistic About A 4.0

I’m past the midterms and now it’s all downhill.

Only 56 days left until the end of the semester. It feels like I’ve been back in college forever but, at the same time, feels like it’s flown by. Yesterday I was late to a class for the first time, but was able to get into class in time to score the points plus some extra credit. Being old helps, because the moment I knew I’d be late (we took A to the urgent care for her cough) I sent an email letting my professor know I was going to be late. Sending that note made all the difference and I didn’t get dressed down for coming in late.

It’s the same philosophy I used to use with bill collectors when we had them:

  1. They really just want to know what’s going on.
  2. Avoidance never, ever makes things better.
  3. Being honest is the best you can do, because then your story never changes.

I’m really thinking I might pull off the 4.0 – then once I get my DePaul Transcripts released I’ll have that 4.0 to add to it and might – just might – be able to transfer into the UIC Honors College. Wouldn’t that be nifty? I think so.

Now I just have to read the 2008 party platforms for both the Democratic Party and the Republican party. That and an essay on Affirmative Action (I did not pick the topic, I assure you) will get me through this week. Yes, the week my darling hubby is working 36 hours of overtime.

Oh, in related news, today I swept the floors, emptied the dishwasher, AND cleaned the toilet until it sparkled. All while managing to get my kids to school, bring my sick kid home from school, and get everyone home safely.

I almost feel like superwoman. Until I remember everything I didn’t get done. Then I’m all kinds of humbled.

He Got a What??

Randy went out and got a job.

It’s an overnight, three day a week, 12 hour shift thing.

Because – and I’m dead serious – he loves manufacturing. I’ve been asking him since before we got married what his dream job was…and he finally came up with something … and it’s a warehouse?

He’s all, “Working with  my hands, blah blah blah, man crap, blah blah blah, forklift, blah, management, blah blah.”

I’m not even kidding.

But it doesn’t affect the business and it doesn’t affect school and he will know by January if the “blah blah management blah blah” part is true. If it is…it looks like he’s going to be … that guy.

I’m just trying to wrap my head around it. It would be wicked-cool if it worked out because then I could take day classes to my heart’s content and not worry about taking Calculus OR my Fine Arts requirement OR Statistics and Probability.

It’s tough to go to school when you don’t have a regular schedule, a regular worklife, and one car. We’re on the hunt for a Dave Ramsey-style beater he can commute with that will cost a grand and last a year. We might have to go up a little from a grand, but we’re trying to stick close to it. It’s not for style, it’s not for the kids, it’s just a work-commute car.

So now we’re going to have like eight different income streams coming into the house. I haven’t counted exactly but that’s a roundabout number. It’s just getting insane.

On the bright side? As of Monday we can start doing the “Countdown to Insurance coverage” – way better than a “Days to Christmas” countdown. LOL