- I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Well, I did something rather unlike me and failed to do my research. Everyone knows I do my research on freaking everything. When Mo and I went to Vegas last weekend, I knew where everything was in relation to our hotel before we even left Cali. Even my friends at work this week commented that I can usually be counted on to know all the details. Want to know when lunch is? Ask Niki. What room are we supposed to be in after breakfast? Ask Niki. What can I say? I am detail oriented, and I don't like to feel lost. Yet, somehow, I had not looked for a set/time list for the show until we were sitting in the worst traffic ever on the I5.
That was when I realized that there were three other acts BEFORE Rise Against went on, and they weren't ones we cared about. One could see this as a good thing (we weren't missing anything stuck in traffic). The bad thing about this was that Rage Against the Machine wasn't even going on until like 10:30. Wow.
Considering that meant leaving my mom with the kids until 1am, and it meant standing around (we had floor tickets) for 8 or 9 hours, and it meant getting maybe 2 and half hours of sleep before Disneyland, we were rather disappointed with this knowledge. At that point, we decided to try to see if we could sell them. We did some debating on just going and making the best of it, but we ended up selling them. We lost some money, but that's okay. I'd rather learn the lesson ahead some money and with a full night's sleep than just cursing the decision to go at all.
We had a really nice night. Marc remembered that I had commented on some exhibits that I wanted to see at the Grammy Museum this summer, so we went there. VERY cool. It is funny, when the junior class went to the Grammy Museum on a field trip, I have to admit I wondered about the curricular connection, but today I was so beautifully reminded how much American history is wrapped up in music history. It made me proud to be an American. Plus, the John Lennon exhibit and the Bob Marley exhibit were AWESOME. Very much worth the $10 admission (AAA discount, woo hoo!).
Afterwards, we went out to a restaurant I have wanted to try called The Yard House. Tasty stuff. Plus, they have a very creative menu. I think I want to go back and try more stuff. :-)
Marc and I were talking on the way home and realized that we never would have had a second thought about the long, late night show 6 or 7 years ago. Having kids changes everything... When you would rather wander a museum, enjoy dinner, and be sitting at home in your pajamas by 10:30 instead of seeing bands you love... then you are officially old.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Tiana went back to her Montessori school. Vinny started as an official day camp kid.
I didn't get done as much as I had hoped today, but I did get done an awful lot. Leslee, the other teacher who teaches 10th grade, met me there, and we got as much done as we could. Leslee thinks in a much more linear way than I do. She is a good partner for me. We plan together, and she keeps me on track. This is sort of how my mind works. It is a semi-organized chaos. Stuff gets done, just not very quickly or in any specific logical order. There are lots of jumps and turns and side trips. And is very seldom really written down.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
I needed this.
There is no feeling quite so wonderful as lounging solo by a beautiful pool found refreshingly free from hipsters or other painfully fake folk, no feeling quite so rejuvenating as reading a nonacademic memoir authored by a joyfully educated and entertaining narrator, no feeling quite so wonderful as reading away the morning poolside with nothing else to do but peacefully recover from a night spent gleefully covering a mile or so of bright lights and sights and people watching til 3am.
Yup. Life is good.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
He desperately wanted to see it and was so sad when he was reminded of it. He got very cranky today. I felt so bad for him, but I had to be strong. He has really been getting to a breaking point today. He keeps pretending to watch fake movies on his toy computer and trying to plan what he watches in the future. Today at the gym, he broke the rules and played video games at the gym. I saw him on the tv screens. He forgets I watch him. He does not forget that he is not supposed to play video games at the gym. I just don't think it is what he should be doing when there is all this stuff to play with, and I don't really like him playing games when I can't monitor him either. He's too young. I threatened to extend the ban if he can't follow the rules.
At least at home, every time he gets to the end of his rope, he figures something out. Today he got out puzzles. He did a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse puzzle this morning. Sadly, it had been opened a while ago and was missing a few pieces, but he completed it sans the missing pieces. What was exciting for me was that he gave up on it a year ago when he got it. While he did like puzzles then, that one was too complex for him. But today, he was able to do it. Then he found another one he hadn't opened before, and he did that this evening. He really enjoyed it being complete, and he stared at it and made stories about it. It was very cute.
And then, there was the meltdown this evening. Tiana was trying to go to sleep, and he kept being loud. He decided that he wanted to play in the hall outside her room. When I told him to go in his room, he went... and blasted music. I tell him to close his door, he turns it down. I tell him to turn it off, he argues with me. BLEH.... I eventually get him to turn it off. But then Tiana is crying. So I go in to rock her to sleep. I am just getting her calm, her head buried in my chest, and Vinny comes in and stands behind me and starts making goo goo eyes at her. She sits straight up. AGH. I whisper to him to leave. He speaks at full volume and says, "No, I want to stay here with you." An argument ensues. I finally yell at him, "Leave! And you are being a bad boy! We had an agreement. You be a good boy, I don't extend it. No TV tomorrow night." (All the while still attempting to rock Tiana to sleep- she's teething and it was not an easy night). So what does he do. He stands in the doorway and screams at me, "YES TV!!! I AM WATCHING TV TOMORROW!" Agh!!!!
I stand up to put Tiana down. He takes one look at me and runs into his room. I put her down in her crib, she starts screaming so loud my ears are ringing. I find Vinny cowering on his couch. His butt has never landed in the time out spot so quickly. I made him stay there until Tiana was asleep. He kept her awake... he can wait in time out for her.
By the time I finally got her to sleep 10 minutes later, I was not up for the post-time-out-pow-wow, but I made it through it and got him in the bath. At that point, I was terribly ready to put on my jammies and climb into bed, but still needed to look for Vinny's immunization record for his appointment tomorrow. At that point, I realized my bedroom door was locked. What? No one was in there... (Okay, not no one. The cat was in there. Joy).
"VINNY!" He had tried to tell me he had done it earlier, but I didn't understand what he meant when he said my door was stuck. That was hours ago. (Poor cat). As Marc and I tried our 6th or 7th solution attempt, Vinny calls out from the bathtub, "Where are you going to sleep if you can't get it open?" Marc answered, "In your room." Vinny calls back, "Where am I going to sleep?" My answer? "The bathtub." Apparently he didn't think that was very funny. He started crying. Hahaha. I am so mean. I calmed him down, but honestly, it was kind of funny. It impacted him enough it was one of the first things he told my mom when my parents showed up to rescue us. "Grandma, if Papa didn't get it open, Mommy and Daddy were gonna sleep in my room and make me sleep in the bathroom!"
It has been one of those nights.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
If logic won every time, I would get up at 5:30a.m. and hit the gym every morning. But sleep wins that battle pretty much every time.
If logic won every time, we would eat nothing but healthy, low fat, low calorie, organic food, all of the time. But my desire to spend less than $300 a month on groceries wins the battle to shop solely organic most of the time (I buy it when the price difference is less than a buck, and I always buy organic milk), even though I am 100% aware of what genetically modified, anti-bacterialized, pesticide sprayed food is probably doing to our bodies. And my perfectly human desire to consume Del Taco chili cheese fries somewhat regularly often beats out my knowledge of what they are doing to my waistline.
If logic won every time, I would rush through my laundry to play with my kids and think less about my to-do list and more about being a good playmate while playing with my kids. But the to-do list wins a lot of the time.
But I am trying to win the battles one at a time. It is just so... darn... hard.
Like the tv...
During the school year, we had a system down for Vinny with television. He is allowed to watch television in the time between waking up and leaving for school and in the time between returning home from school and dinner, if there is any time. We had a fairly strict "no tv after dinner" rule that was in effect during the week but not weekends. This overall was easily accepted. We occasionally stretched rules, but for the most part, we were consistent.
Then two things happened... I pulled Vinny out of preschool to spend time with me during my short summer break (I only get 5 weeks) and he also learned how to use the remote controls. This was somehow a cosmically bad combination that resulted in a tv addict, demonstrating warning signs of becoming a full on couch potato. So the ban began.
I think this was a healthy change. Today, he asked once if he could watch a show, and when I reminded him there was no tv this week, he just said, "Oh yeah, I forgot," and headed into his room to get his remote control car. He bought the car with his piggy bank savings last week. He spent much of the day racing it all around the house.
Unfortunately, because Tiana is only old enough to be of so much companionship, and Daddy was busy doing some volunteer work all day, that meant mommy was the constant companion. I do enjoy all this time with him, but I did want to get some of my own stuff done too, which was difficult without a television to keep his attention.
I may have made a mistake in combining two healthy changes at once. I went on a "non-water" beverage fast this week too... meaning I am only drinking water. Ok, with a couple of exceptions... a cup of coffee in the morning (to save my sanity) and an occasional glass of wine. This came about after reading about a rather convincing study that seems to link diet soda to weight gain. It made a lot of sense. I started thinking that, if I am going to drink soda, I should just stick to the all naturals, like Hansen's and Trader Joe's, which are made with real sugar. However, if I am trying to lose the baby weight, I really cannot be consuming all those extra liquid calories. Sigh.
Moderation is really the key here. A soda every now and then is decidedly not that bad. But I am bad at moderation in this area. It is my one true weakness. I am the type of person who feels like I need to be drinking something pretty much all the time. And soda makes me happy... so soda is what I choose more often than I should.
But losing the baby bulge would make me happy too. And I have been really consistent about the gym, and eating about as healthy as is realistic for me, so there has to be some other change if I want to really get over his plateau that I am stuck on weight wise. So drinks have to go. If cutting out the liquid calories and turning to water for my thirst doesn't push me over this plateau, I don't know what will.
However... I forgot what it is like to cut so much caffeine out of my diet at once. The one cup of coffee is nothing compared to the 3-5 sodas I normally consume a day. The afternoon caffeine headaches have been intense. I try to overcome them with ibuprofen, excessive amounts of water, and good distractions, but they are exacerbated by having to hear, "Mommy.... Mommy.... Mommy... Mommy.... all day long."
At least I have a busy week to keep my mind off of it all. Healthier me... here I come.
Vinny just loved VBS. He was sad for it to end and has been playing "VBS" ever since. He had a babysitter last night and made her play too. Her favorite part was when he made her "wait for [her] parents to come pick [her] up."
Friday was wonderful. While Vinny was at VBS, I went for a baby-mommy play date at a friend's house. Her eldest son is a little older than Vinny, and her youngest son is a little younger than Tiana. Her eldest son was at day camp that morning, so we got together with just the babies. We haven't done this (get together without the big kids) since I was on maternity leave with Tiana and my friend was 9 months pregnant.
It was wonderful. The babies played for a while and then both of them napped, and we got to catch up on conversation without hearing, "Mommy... Mommy.... Mommy..." every 10 seconds. If you are not a mom (or if it has been a while since you have had young children) you don't realize how difficult it is really have a conversation with another mom while your children are around. Babies not so much, but once your kids can talk, they really dominate your focus. I adore Vinny, and I love my friend's son too, but it was really nice to have the time to focus on the babies and then just chat, especially with such a wonderful friend with whom conversation flows so easily.
After that, I picked Vinny up from VBS and set out on a jam packed afternoon. We had stayed pretty much home and in town, doing chores and running errands, all this week, so I decided Friday could be an adventure day. We set out for an awesome indoor playground called Bright Child. If you have ever seen the movie "Just Go With It" with Adam Sandler, it is the playground in the movie they called "McFunnigans." Vinny just loves it. Last time I took him, Tiana was still a newborn, but this time she was able to get out and play, and she really loved it too. At one point, I somehow ended up sort of chilling in a corner of a playcube two stories off the ground watching Tiana go in and around these giant rolling things. It was fun. It reminded me of playing at Discovery Zone as a kid, which was one of my absolute favorite places when I was 8 years old.
On the way home, we stopped at the Oak Park splash pad so Vinny could play for a bit. It is right down the street from Bright Child, so I figured we might as well. As we were pulling in, there was a huge rattlesnake crossing the road. Some guy stopped me from pulling in, or else I totally would have run it over. There was a group of people just frozen, staring at it, waiting for it to continue crossing the road and going on its merry way. I am glad he stopped me. I don't know that it would have died right away, and it might have panicked and attacked one of the people. It was a woman with some children, the guy, and another lady with a pug (whom she was incidentally holding up so high he was practically over her head). But this was the first time I have ever seen a rattlesnake, so it was a little exciting, at least for me from the safety of my car.
Vinny didn't last too long at the splash pad since it was not the hottest day. We made it back in time for me to hit the gym, which was wonderful for him, because he got to play on the outside playground for the first time. It is really big and looks really fun, but Vinny has never been allowed to play on it before, because it is for kids 5 and up. He had a really fun time.
Yesterday, Marc took me out on a date, which he planned himself. This is one of my favorite things about Marc, which I am starting to realize I am really lucky to have. He does actually still enjoy getting out with me, knows what I like, and plans fun dates without much input from me. Sometimes I suggest places I want to go, but there is something really nice about when your husband does all of the leg work, from getting the babysitter to making the reservations. He is creative too. Our very first date ever, when we were not actually dating but just friends getting the feel for possibly dating, was to Golf and Stuff and then a walk on the beach. The next date we attempted to learn to surf together (we were unsuccessful).
Since we have been married, he has surprised me with dates like tickets to plays at the local cultural arts center, Aloha Steakhouse on the beach in Ventura (I was 9 months pregnant with Vinny and miserable at the time, but it was fun), a weekend in Coronado including a gondola ride with champagne and strawberries, dinner at Duke's on the beach in Malibu (that one was one of my favorites), a comedy night at a Polynesian restaurant, fine dining at a tiny place owned by a guy who used to be the private chef to the president of France, dinner at Cafe Firenze (a restaurant owned by a Top Chef contestant), and recently, Fogo de Chao (a churascuria that I went to on a work trip and had been bragging about). Yeah, it is pretty much all food. Despite being somewhat picky, I am kind of a foodie. There is nothing I appreciate more than an amazingly prepared meal. I appreciate people who can cook better than I can. Last night, he made reservations at The Melting Pot, which I have always wanted to try. It lived up to the hype. In fact, it sort of exceeded my expectations.
Perhaps the best part of last night was the fact that Marc super scored on the babysitter by getting on of the other site directors from his work to babysit (Marc is a site director at a day camp). He frequently asks his co-workers to babysit, and we have never fully recovered from the loss of our favorite one, Tina, who moved to Asia to do missionary work. I may have a new favorite in Shaina. Although she is the site director of one of the sites here in town, she really should be a preschool director, as that is her passion and her gift. I can see why. We let Vinny set up a "campsite" out back yesterday, and she played with Vinny and Tiana in it until practically dark, and then she was an awesome sport and played VBS with him for hours, listening to the theme song about 12 times. She even dragged his tent in his room after dark for continued hours of play. She must have really worn him out, because he is still asleep and it is almost 9:00a.m.!
She is amazing. If you are ever looking for an incredible babysitter (for nights and weekends only though), I am happy to pass on her information, but I don't know how free she is. My husband's company does keep them all pretty darn busy. Today, Marc is driving a bus full of students to summer camp up in Central California. At least he loves his job. :-)
In other news... I have implemented a one week tv ban for Vinny. I am not anti-tv at all, but Vinny has been starting to demonstrate addictive behaviors. I am not exaggerating. It all started when he learned to use the remotes a couple of months ago. Now, he plans his television watching way in advance, and sometimes, when we are out, he begs to go home so he can watch tv. If I tell him he can't, he just melts down and will not calm down until I promise him when he can watch it next. When he did this yesterday afternoon because I wanted him to enjoy the beautiful Saturday afternoon instead of watching a movie, I'd had enough. I will not raise a couch potato who sits in doors watching a movie on a sunny summer day instead of playing outside and using his imagination. So, I have banned him from watching tv for a week. I figure that should be enough to break the habit. Now I will have to figure out some healthy guidelines for once the ban is over.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Meanwhile, I've been getting stuff done. Laundry and other housework, running errands, etc. It has been necessary, but I am over it. Vinny drives me crazy when we are just stuck at home getting things done.
Next week is my last week of break. I am much sadder about this than I thought I would be. Normally by now I am kind of excited to go back. I am just wishing I had 3 weeks left. I feel like this summer went faster than any of the others before this. I feel like I just started making plans and reconnecting with my friends and getting the feel for summer life... hanging out with my kids, barbecuing, and just feeling free. I'm not ready for it to be over.
I need to make the absolute best of next week. Making plans, trying to be patient with my son and his 5-year-old bad attitude, going to the gym as much as possible.
In addition, I think I need to ease myself into the school year. I am going to make myself a rule for August. I must leave by 4pm four days a week to still attempt to enjoy the summer.
Sigh... I think its because I have two of them now. Kids, I mean. I need twice as much time to completely savor them. :-)
Sunday, July 10, 2011
So, we are headed home from camping. Just a short weekend trip. It was a lot of fun. We hiked down to the beach about 50 times and did lots of playing in the sand and enjoying the California sun.
But ya know what. I have determined something about camping. It is not worth it.
We pretty much have not tent camped since we did youth ministry when we first got married. We've never done tent camping with kids. Seems like it just wouldn't be that much fun.
|Vinny thinks the RV is the greatest thing ever.|
Plus, it is so damn much work. All the packing and shopping and then even worse... the unpacking. A vacation just should not be so much work. Don't get me wrong- I had a good time, but you know what my favorite part was? The beautiful San Clemente beach. I am really starting to think a condo or hotel is the way to go next time.
|Vinny roasting "smarshmallows"|
Something, I never thought I would say, but I may be a little beached out. Summer is half over, and I have definitely done as much beaching as I had hoped to. I have been about 10 times, if you only count this whole weekend of beach as one time. I love the beach, but I do need a break for a few days. I am getting a little tired of cleaning sand out of tiana's every crack and crevice.
Vinny is going to Vacation Bible School this week, so this is a good week for a beach break. If you ask him, he will not agree. I have created a monster there. He was still in the water at 8pm last night. He can't get enough of the waves. (He apparently has had enough of mommy boogie boarding though. I accidentally crashed into him yesterday and he was not a fan of that experience).
I can't believe I am 3/5 finished with my summer. :( I only get 5 weeks off. I have 2 weeks left. We go back on Wednesday, July 27, but I planned to go back Monday so I can get everything ready for next semester and my first week. I have done ZERO schoolwork this summer, by design. I have worked continually every summer since I started teaching. Not teaching, but conferences and planning and whatnot, but this summer, nothing. To make up for it, I have given myself two days. Probably not enough, but it will have to do.
Meanwhile... to make the best of the next two weeks. There is still so much I want to do. Sigh.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
So, last year we somehow did not go camping at all, so early this year, we planned to camp at the beach. This has been a bad week and my mom has been sick, so I was put pretty much in charge of all the prep.
Camping is a lot of work (before anyway) and I am not really great at this kind of stuff. Lots of small stuff was forgotten, which of course I felt guilty about, and meant a last minute trip to walmart. Oh well.
But when beautiful oc waves were swirling around my skirt at sunset last night, the fact that I forgot trash bags didn't really matter. Happiness.
I guess we just aren't in the camping mode though, because we somehow completely forgot to bring the trash in last night when we went to bed. Big mistake.
At a little after 11, as I was just started to drift to sleep, I heard noises outside. I had flashbacks to the time we were camping at at Carpenteria and some teenagers stole a bunch of food and beer out of our cooler, and I realized that the cooler was outside. So what do I do, I open the window and stick my head out and make a growling noise hoping to scare them.
However, as I stick my head out, I look down and realize that directly below me is the trash... and a big... giant... skunk with its head in the tipped over trash. As I growled, his tail went straight up. Oh boy.
I quickly shut the window. I run back to my parents.
"There's a skunk in the trash."
"How do you know it's a skunk?"
"Well, the black fluffy fur and the white stripe down the back gave me a clue."
Thus, the skunk caper began. We didn't hear him anymore, so we went back and forth about whether to forget about it or to go outside and get the trash. Somehow, after he returned half an hour or so later, it ended up my mom and I outside braving the possibility of being skunked to clean up the trash while marc and my dad watched from inside.
Some big brave men.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Things that bug the crap out of me:
- Strangers in public giving me stupid unsolicited advice like "Did you know they make rubber toys to help with teething?"
- Strangers talking to my kids and doing stupid crap. Like the annoying, smelly, possibly high, guy in the T-mobile store who felt it necessary to make goo goo ga ga noises three inches from my daughter's face. She speaks English, not nonsense, and back the hell away dude, you are too close!
- Strangers shouting orders at my children in the store. Like the stupid woman in Fresh 'n Easy who thought it was funny to keep shouting "Go to sleep!" at my crying daughter in the cart as she walked past. Yeah, she's freaking crying. She's sitting up in a metal cart, it is almost dinner, and she's hungry. What makes you think she is going to be going to sleep? And who the hell do you think you are barking orders at her anyway?
- That Fresh N Easy doesn't take manufacturer coupons. What the heck? Doesn't every store accept coupons? You are a stupid store.
- That Fresh N Easy makes you scan all of your own groceries, bag them, and then the stupid thing gets all screwed up all easily and stuck.
- Stupid people who don't give a flying you-know-what about other people and smoke cheap stinky cigars next to children (or ANYONE for that matter) during fireworks shows. Seriously?
- The fact that I STILL have a toilet and sink sitting in my bathroom after two weeks. Really? I want my freaking bathtub back.
- On that note, the fact that we started our bathroom remodel in April and it is July, and it is STILL not done, despite the fact that we are paying people for all of it, not doing any of it ourselves. What the hell? How could this possibly all be taking so long?
- That my baby cannot keep her hands off things in other people's mouths.