Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Spring Break Wrap Up

So as I was saying, Thursday we didn't do a whole lot early in the day. Around lunch time, we met SAM and her peeps at Peabody park for a picnic lunch and some play time before heading off for haircuts. Both boys' hair had gotten really long and shaggy. Joshua kept complaining about his being in his eyes, so I had actually trimmed it up a bit and done a fairly decent job, but I wanted it cleaned up a little. Calvin, on the other hand, has grown quite vain of his thick, longish, Zach-and-Cody-esque blond hair and made whimpering sounds whenever I mentioned getting it cut. I promised him repeatedly that we were just going to trim it a little, and he reluctantly agreed. Last summer, I bobbed Somerset's long, tangly, ash-blond hair, and we all decided it looks much better cut above the shoulders. But it had grown out over the winter, along with her bangs, so I wanted to get it bobbed for the upcoming warm weather. I had also bobbed Genevieve's hair when she was only about eight months old, because she was born with a lot of hair that never fell out, and it was hanging in little rat tails down her neck. Genevieve and Joshua both inherited my mother's extremely fine, thin, silky-straight hair, although G's is an astonishing gold with highlights that no amount of money can buy. Hers had grown to shoulder-length since that first haircut, and I missed the adorable bob, so I was hopeful that she would allow her hair to be cut, and she did! She practically wrestled Somerset for the chair once Calvin got out, and she sat on the booster seat with the giant cape spread in a complete circle around her and the chair so she looked like a little floating baby head in a magician's trick.

Later that night, Aunt E and Uncle T came over for our weekly family Thursday Night Dinner. The kids engaged in their usual antics and showed off their newly stylish locks while I made a quick run to get Easter basket stuff, since I wasn't likely to get another chance before Saturday night. It promised to be a busy weekend. SAM hosted our weekly cocktail hour so her folks could hang out with her friends (whether or not that was a wise decision remains to be seen...), and we had a great time. The kids and I left fairly early when Genevieve started begging to go "night night night night night night!" except for Somerset, who stayed to prolong an abnormally good run of play with Miss M by sleeping over, and Big Daddy, who stayed to watch a stupid basketball game, because aliens have taken over his body.

Saturday I used the free tickets SAM had generously passed on to me to take the kids to the Botanic Gardens egg hunt. We met up with Stacey and the rest of her family and set about hunting for the elusive prize eggs hidden at random all over the grounds. I found one almost right away and tried to let Calvin claim credit for it, but the prize was a $50 gift card to Sachi, an upscale teen girls' boutique, so it's my prize after all. I think I can find a pair of jeans, a skirt, or some jewelry if nothing else. The rest of the eggs proved to be hidden extremely well, as none of us could find any more. The kids did get to participate in hunts for their age groups though, which yielded multiple McDonald's coupons and Putt-Putt Golf passes.

Saturday night, we had a sitter! This is an extremely rare occurance, as paying a sitter to keep four kids gets expensive rather quickly. We needed a night out, though, and we headed downtown to enjoy a nice dinner at Lolo's Table and then a $9 Mojito at Sauces. 1:00 a.m. found me straightening up the wrecked living room, assembling Easter baskets, and hiding eggs.

Sunday the older kids got up and rifled though their baskets and found eggs without bothering to roust us out of bed. We lay there half asleep, listening to the hunt and receiving periodic updates on the one egg still unaccounted for, until Genevieve woke up. She promptly dumped a lot of small, beady candy into our bed and demanded bites of her chocolate bunny on a stick. Once we got up and moving and fed, I took the kids to the playground while BD went for a run. We'd hoped to check out the new Cooper-Yound neighborhood playground behind Peabody Elementary, but the yellow caution tape strung all around sent us to our usual park. The new playground looks great, though! We can't wait to help break it in. When we got home, I started making the lasagna that I was taking to share with SAM and her family for Easter dinner. We had a lovely meal (sorry about the tablecloth SAM!) and Calvin enjoyed his now customary nap on his new favorite napping spot, SAM's couch.

Monday was the last day of Spring Break, and we didn't do much of anything that I can recall. Stayed in our jammies for a good chunk of the day, played outside for a while in the fabulous back yard of my old friend Kimberly, and just generally hung out. I couldn't decide if I was sorry to see the break end or not. On one hand, it was nice not to have to follow the routine, and to spend time with the kids doing whatever we wanted. On the other hand, the week really drove home for me the extent to which I have not one minute to myself when we're out of school. At least on school days I have my 45-minute window between leaving work and picking up the kids. I use that time to go to the gym or grocery shop or run errands, and it disappears when I don't work. I'm a little apprehensive about summer now. I'd love for all four kids to go to the more relaxed version of G's Montessori school a couple of days a week, but it's not worth paying that much for childcare that isn't essential. I think I'll try to get a sitter to come in once a week, maybe. I won't have any time at home alone, but at least I can do some running around without four kids in tow.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Spring Break Days Two and Three

I know, I know, I'm behind. We'll say it's because I've been too busy frolicking with the kids to post, and not because of the annoying fact that Blogger logs me out of gmail each time I log in here, and I usually forget to log in here first.

Sooo, what have we been doing? Tuesday promised rain, which prompted reminders from the kids that I had promised a rainy day movie. I checked the listings for the $2.50 Malco in Bartlett and we decided on "Enchanted." Our last attempt at seeing a movie in this theater ended with me driving in circles cussing and wishng aloud that all of Bartlett would be wiped from the face of the earth, so I made sure to get directions off the interweb and write them down. (I'm pretty sure I turned right on Sycamore View last time, when I should have turned left--a fact which was not obvious to me because one end of Bartlett looks identical to the other.) We made it there uneventfully and in good time ('s a straight shot! There's something wrong with me, clearly), got our snacks and drinks, and settled in. I thought the movie was surprisingly good. I'm not one for musicals at all, but there was enough irony to satisfy my inner cynic, while the kids just liked the catchy tunes. The acting was mostly good and the story engaging. There were a few cringe-worthy moments, like Patrick Dempsey singing along with that sappy ballad, (am I the only one who remembers those raunchy pictures of him in some magazine, what, ten years ago?), but I liked the way the ending made it ok for the princess to stop being one, but also ok for the street-smart city career woman to become one if she so chose. G slept in my lap, which was great until I had most of a big Cherry Coke in my bladder. Hoping against hope, I laid her in Calvin's arms, and she stayed asleep.

Wednesday the kids seemed content to hang at home, since we'd had plenty of activity the previous two days. We pretty much stayed in our jammies all day, only venturing out for a quick run through the Taco Bell drive-thru. Thursday we met SAM and her parents and offspring at the park for a quick picnic lunch and a little playground time, then headed for haircuts. More on Thursday later...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Parental Multi-tasking

Or conversation held with a five year old while unloading the dishwasher...

Joshua: Why can't we have video games?

Me: Because I don't want you to play video games all the time.

Joshua: But we won't.

Me: Yes you would.

Joshua: Darn it!

Day One, Part Deux: the Recap

Before I talk about today, which is just starting, I thought I'd recap yesterday's announced activities.

The Germantown egg hunt was crowded, as I knew it would be. We left around 4:30 to beat the traffic, which worked until we hit the trafic turning into the park. After winding through the full lots in a line of cars, I parallel parked in a space not more than a foot longer than my van. We walked over to the main area and met up with SAM and her parents and kids before proceeding to the inflatables and petting zoo. The petting zoo featured baby ducklings and chicks that had been dyed unnatural shades of red, orange, and green so they could be squeezed and dropped by hundreds of stubby little hands, which made my heart hurt. There was also a tiny pig in a pink sequined dress and a trailer full of goats that the kids could feed. Once we had exhausted all of those options and tired of the crowd, we decided to kill time on the playground until time for he egghunt. Some people were already swarming ove to the fields, which had been designated for specific age groupings. The boys wanted to go ahead, so I sent them on and asked Calvin to take Joshua to the field for his age. Genevieve was loving the super-tall playground, which was really designed for older children. I circled the equipment ten feet beow her as she gleefully ran from one end to the other and slid down the towering slides in her big sister's lap. Before long, a dejected Calvin came back with the news that he was too old for the egg hunt. The highest age grouping was seven and eight year olds. He was really disappointed, and I started on a mental tirade about how we complain about kids growing up too fast in this country, but then we treat ten year olds like their childhoods are over. I suggested he just go to the eight year old one, but he said two people over there had already asked him how old he was. Of course, that set me off on the mental tirade about how as soon as they get too old to be cute little dress-up dolls, we treat boys like they are threatening and suspicious. Pretty soon, though, I remembered that there was a flashlight egg hunt scheduled for ages 10-12 later that night. It just never occurred to me that this meant that age group couldn't participate in the daytime hunt. How can my baby be too old?

Genevieve refused to leave the playground, so we stayed and played while SAM and her multi-generational entourage took Somerset and headed off to the hunt. Calvin tried to buck up and played with Genevieve, sliding with her and making sure she didn't fall. Pretty soon we lured her away with the false promise of swings and headed toward the hunt areas. We stopped by the giant inflatable slide, which had been passed over before because of the long line but now stood practically abandoned. Calvin offered to slide with Genevieve, but I didn't think he could carry her up the steep, laadder-like steps to the top, so he slid alone. Genevieve still wanted to slide, so I climbed up and slid with her in my lap, which she loved.

We finally made it to the ball fields, where the plastic eggs had been strewn about on the ground. Just as we walked up, the siren sounded, prompting parents in the nearby one and two year old area to clutch their offspring to their chests while attempting to run faster and farther than any of the other adults. I marveled as the ground was mysteriously cleared of eggs in an outward-moving arc, even though I never saw anyone bend down to pick them up. It was like locusts moving over a corn field.

A dejected Joshua came ot with only one egg, having dropped the second and final one he found. Somerset and Miss M did okay, each finding about five eggs, one each with a "You've won a prize" message inside. Somerset's prize was a neon blue "Bubble Wand." I felt so bad for the boys and their reluctant but cooperative agreement to go to Los Tortugas, which seemed less than promising to them, that I heaved a deep sigh and asked if they wanted to go to CiCi's pizza instead, which perked them up considerably. So I wrote myself a mental raincheck for Los Torugas and set off to the wilds of Poplar Plaza and the $3.00 pizza buffet.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Spring Break, Day One

I thought I'd keep a log of What We Did Over Spring Break in an effort to make myself feel like we actually did do something with our spring break besides not travel. Sooo...

Monday, we woke up and had breakfast, played inside for a while, played outside for a while, etc. At one point I climbed up in the attic in an attempt to find something green for Calvin to wear besides the god-awful ugly Scooby Doo tshirt with lime green accents, which is all he can come up with and we must wear green because it is St. Patrick's Day, for the love of all that is Irish! Remember being a kid and thinking all holidays were an equally big deal? I didn't find him anything, by the way, but I did find a dress for Somerset and a cute embroidered butterfly shirt and khaki capris for Genevieve.

The roof guy I called, like, a month ago finally called and came by to give me an estimate. I'm waiting to see what the new guys who fixed our neighbor's roof last week say. Right now I'm just killing time until our 4:30 ETD for the Germantown Easter Egg Hunt, which was moved from Saturday to today because of rain. I'm not sure why I feel compelled to make the trek out to G'town and let my kids bounce in a crowded moonbounce and pick up fleas in the petting zoo before wrestling a pack of preppy suburban kids for a few Hersheys-filled plastic eggs, except that A) it's free and I am my mother's daughter, and B) I loved Easter as a kid and it makes me kind of sad that my kids don't get some of the same experience with it that I did. So, church is out of the question, but I can do plastic eggs in the burbs.

While we're out that way, I'm finally going to experience the much-hyped wonder that is Los Tortugas. I'm excited about the food but apprehensive about taking the kids out to eat by myself in an unknown setting. More on that adventure later, if I don't chicken out.

Just a minute ago, I started thinking I should pick up the house a little and do dishes before we leave, because I know Big Daddy enjoys coming home and finding the house neat and cozy, and I like to do that for him when I can. But then I remembered that I'm taking four kids on an Easter Egg hunt and out to dinner by myself and decided that he won't mind doing the dishes himself.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Input your input

Memphis City Schools invites you to fill out a survey about qualities you think the next superintendent should possess. And no, I don't think "bullet-proof" or "super-strength" is on there.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sleep, the other white meat

It's Monday, the day after the shift to Daylight Saving Time, and I am a sleepy girl. Why, because I lost one hour of sleep on Saturday night? Of course not, that's ridiculous! (And I like DST, for the record.) All that did was put my bedtime at 2:30 instead of 1:30 that particular morning. And why haven't I been sleeping? Because my night owl husband has corrupted me, that's why.

I'm a good sleeper. I am the kind of sleeper who lays her head on the pillow, closes her eyes, and is instantly asleep. Over my ten years of parenting the spawn of Mr. Insomnia, I have had my sleep patterns disrupted and shortened and violated in ways so far reaching and long lasting that it would give some of you nightmares if you even knew. I have gone stretches of two to four years with almost literally not a single night of uninterrupted sleep. And then gotten a short respite, only to have more babies and start all over again. And really, it wasn't that bad. It turns out that I function pretty well with interrupted sleep. It probably helps that I can always fall back asleep immediately.

But this is something new. What has been happening is that I drift off for a bit while nursing the baby to sleep, then wake up to move her, and get sucked into watching a movie or talking or something with BD, and then before I know it, it's midnight, or one o'clock. I try to keep it closer to 11:00 on school nights, since I have to be at work at such an ungodly hour that I am required to get up at 6:00 a.m. (theoretically, if I want a shower). But I'm not always successful. I admit, it's hard to resist the allure of adult time after all the kids are in bed, because there's just so little of that kind of time these days. But if mama doesn't get some sleep soon, things may get ugly.

Friday, March 07, 2008


1. When BD saw Calvin yesterday afternoon after school, he asked him what had happened with his homework. He said he'd done it all first thing that morning, before class started. When his Dad said something to the effect of "See, you got it done. It all worked out," Calvin replied "Yeah, by cheating." When BD asked if he had copied someone else's work and was assured by a mortified Calvin that of course he had not, he asked why it was cheating then. Apparently, C is under the impression that doing homework in the morning rather than at home, at night, as the term homework implies, is cheating. His father attempted to convince him that it isn't, but I'm not sure he bought it.

2. I think this is my new favorite blog. Out of blogs not written by people I know, of course.

3. It's choice transfer time in Memphis City Schools. Since most optional programs begin in first grade, most of you will need a choice transfer for your child to go to kindergarten at a school outside your zoning area. Some of the zoning boundaries have changed. Look here to see if yours has. Look here to see if your assigned school is on the naughty list. If you don't even know what your assigned school is, look here. If your school is a "High Priority School" under NCLB guidelines, the district must approve a transfer to a school in good standing. All the other information you might need about open enrollment can be found here. Good luck!

4. Uncle Toby may have temporarily derailed the train to Beach Body '08 last night by baking and bringing the best homemade pound cake ever to Thursday Night Dinner.

5. Calvin's play was yesterday. I now believe he should wear an exaggeratedly-floppy newsboy hat every single day. He was too adorable. Aunt Elizabeth got some pictures (see TND link above) but it's kind of hard to see the costume. (It's kind of easy to see how very pointy my nose is, though!)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

It's All Small Stuff

Last night, Calvin came home from play practice and promptly vanished. For a while I thought he had gone for a run with Big Daddy, but then I saw his mop of blond hair sticking out from the wad of covers on his top bunk. I figured he was just tired and crashed, which happens sometimes. But when he woke up while we were all eating dinner, I could see that something was wrong. All I got was a shrug when I asked what it was, so I took him into my room and cradled his whole ten-year-old lankiness in my lap. "I forgot my homework folder," he said tearfully, burying his face in my chest. I asked him what was in it, expecting something major, but it sounded like just basic homework stuff. I marveled once again that this child came from me as I asked him if he was upset because he thought his teacher was going to "yell" at him. Yep, that was it. I said "You know, when someone is angry with me or yells at me, I just think to myself 'This person is angry with me, but that doesn't hurt me. It makes her feel better to yell at me, but her words don't touch me. They're just words.'" This is actually a greatly cleaned up version of what I would be thinking, and BD pointed out when I told him this later that no one yells at me because I am scary, but still. You get what I'm saying.

"You know," I told him gently, "all you can do is say 'I'm sorry I left my folder at school and couldn't do my homework. I'll have to turn it in tomorrow for a late grade.' And then, in a couple of days, you won't even remember it happened. Your teacher will not be mad at you and you will still have straight As on your report card like you always do. It's okay." He seemed dubious, but he had to agree that this was his only option. I coaxed him back to the dinner table with the promise of a warm buttered roll.

I tried to cheer him up over dinner by assuring him that everyone forgets things sometimes, and that maybe this teacher will cut him some slack since she's in charge of the play he has been practicing for and which is today. But all along, I was ruminating on the irony of me, a parent, trying to basically teach my child that none of this crap really matters, but without actually saying that. When you are a laid-back borderline nihilist with a semi-anxious child who still believes that everything matters, parenting can be tricky. On the one hand, I feel that I am spared a lot of the emotional grief and drama that I see other people struggle with by the simple fact that I do not care about almost anything except the people I love, my family and friends. There really is not anything anyone can do to me that will phase me in the least as long as I and the people I love are healthy, alive, together, and not homeless or starving. That's what I've stripped it down to. In any other situation, I will play out the scenario to its possible ends and feel assured that nothing of real consequence can happen as a result of my being "in trouble" for whatever reason.

Of course, I don't want to turn my sweet boy into a smug cynic. I realize that my complete lack of ability or desire to buy into any ideology or participate in any structured, organized group or team is probably not the best thing to pass on to my offspring, although I am fine and happy with it for myself. So I have to strike a balance, and try to help them learn not to sweat the small stuff without telling them yet that almost none of it really matters in the long run. And I'm also aware that just as I have to help Calvin see that some things are not such a big deal, in a few years I will be singing a different tune, trying to make Somerset care if she gets in trouble at school or makes bad grades. Maybe I should leave that one to BD.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Beach Body '08

Since I have been slacking on my weight loss goals lately, I thought it might be good to put my intentions in writing and post them for all the world (ok, all twelve of you) to read.

In the past year or so, I've lost almost 30 pounds. Almost. I started 2007 weighing almost 170 pounds, and now I weigh about 143, give or take a fluid pound or two. I haven't been in the low 140s since my third child was about six months old, back in 2003. I had my third baby in September (14 months after my second baby), turned 30 in October, and after the initial post-partum weight loss, began a slow gain that had me pushing 170 by the time I went back to teaching in 2004.

It feels good to be back near 140, but it also feels like I should make a short-term push to get to 135, which is just ten measly pounds more than my ultimate goal of 125. I weighed 125 for three years as a married adult, and for a year after my first child was born, so I think this is a reasonable weight for me and my 5'3 frame. It's not like I'm shooting for the 105 I (effortlessly) weighed when I graduated from high school. I might be happy with 130 if I had a more typically-feminine, pear-shaped body, but I don't. Instead of carrying weight in my hips and butt like my Mom, I carry it mainly in my belly, and all the way around my torso. It ain't pretty, and it's certainly not healthy. Belly fat is bad for the heart, and since I very seriously plan to see my hundredth birthday, I need to work on that.

So, it's back to the gym for me today. I was supposed to go back four weeks ago, but illnesses--mine and the kids'--have kept me from going. And then there's my own laziness factor as well. But I'm trying to motivate myself by thinking back to this time last year, when I had (once again) given up my gallon of sweet tea a day habit, was exercising at least three times a week, and the pounds were melting off like butter. I'm renewing my commitment to stick to the low-cal frozen lunches at work, which, combined with my daily granola bar for breakfast, allow me to sit down to dinner having eaten only about 500 of my allotted 12-1500 calories a day. That said, I also need to watch my portions at dinner. I love my own cooking. It is a curse.

If I need any more motivation, I can always bust out the pictures of me in my grannified, looked-like-a-house-dress bathing suit from beach house '07. Because I won't have a one-year old, adorable baby girl clinging to me and cleverly disguising my bulging midsection so much this year. And I need to save up calories for the week of mojitos.