Happenings on the Moon

Kindergarten Woes

I went to register LT for kindergarten a week ago. I've been excited over the fact that our entire kindergarten is full day in our district this year. If LT gets to be full day in September, then I've reached that golden moment of motherhood. Both of my kids in school, the same school, all day. Wow. Whether you're a working mom, or a stay-at-home mom, this is a big deal. For the stay-at-home mom, now you have time to actually do all of the things that take four times as long when you do them with your kids - the errands, house cleaning, bill paying. You can take a shower, go to the gym, sit in peace for an hour and read a book. For us working moms, we now have a lot more money in our pockets, and less juggling to do. Our day care expenses are cut more than in half. It's when actually working through the years with young kids starts to pay off. Maybe we can actually stop living paycheck to paycheck.

So I've been waiting with baited breath, because I'm not one to count my chickens before they hatch. I knew not to entirely count on it before all the hype about budget cuts, and what is surely to become the depression of 2009. I called the school a month ago to ask if the kindergarten would still be completely full day next year. The woman at the desk said yes. But still in the back of my head I'm thinking, I'll believe that after I actually register him for full day kindergarten. And I was right, because when I went in to register him, they're only sure they're running one full day kindergarten classroom with a lottery to get in. Same thing they had when Trouble was in kindergarten, and guess what, he went half a day. And just think about it. There has to be at least one full day kindergarten at one of the Title One schools in our town. There has to be one because certain kids, as a result of head start screenings, are mandated to have it. That means for the rest of us, there's not even 25 spots up for grabs. At this point, I'd be literally shocked if he got full day next year. I'm resigned to yet another year of half day, another year of day care costs over $1000/month. Ugh.

Now I'm just hoping beyond hope he doesn't end up in the afternoon class, because holy crap would that be inconvenient. How does that work for anyone's schedule. Is there actually a parent on this earth that is a fan of half day kindergarten? It's one big wedgie in the day's schedule. There's nothing convenient about it. I suppose if you're a stay-at-home parent whose kid has never been to pre-school or daycare it's nice. But I'm willing to bet most of those parents would rather their kid go all day too.

I'm chocking this lovely little jewel that's popped so unwelcome into my life up to Dub-ya and our very thoughtful Republican party. If it hadn't been for all those policy changes during the first five years of the Bush Administration we wouldn't be in this mess and my elementary school wouldn't be backtracking. We wouldn't be forced to keep throwing billions of tax dollars, attempting to bail out a sinking ship. Critics can badmouth Obama all they want. The way I see it, he has two choices. Stop spending and watch the entire economy collapse, or send us further and further into debt, trying correct the ginormous mess we're in. It's not really a choice is it?

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Why February Rocks

  1. My kids are off to friends houses and grandparents houses for February vacation. Hurray!
  2. The Boy Scout over night. Another night w/out the kids.
  3. I got a new washing machine to replace the one that's not draining, tripping the outlet, and not getting the clothes clean.
  4. I've learned that they now make soft light environmentally friendly light bulbs that don't make you feel like they're burning your eyes out of your head.
  5. We had a contractor come and saw an inch and a half of the book case under the stairs, so the hallway in the basement is now large enough to accommodate a new washing machine.
  6. Some days, it already smells like spring.
  7. I dragged my husband to see He's Just Not that Into You.
  8. I have now officially been with Blackstone for 16 years. We started dating in February.
  9. I think we may even go out for dinner tomorrow night.
  10. The working out is starting to pay off. I still hurt from new Aerobics Instructor/Drill Sergent Lady on Sunday, but the rolls are diminishing.
  11. Blackstone seems to have decided there is life after you crash your hard drive and lose 300 gigs of data that for some reason he thought was safe enough on an external hard drive that they didn't need to be backed up. (FYI - external hard drives are notorious for crashing. You should back up everything. I had no idea he wasn't.)
  12. Vacation in April is looking close enough to taste.


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The Woman of the House

I don't like to rely on my husband for much of anything. Not that he isn't reliable, I just hate not being able to handle things by myself. I pity those women who came generations before me, who hadn't the slightest clue how to manage the financial aspects of their lives if and when they were widowed. If one of us were to die tomorrow (god forbid) chances are he'd be much more lost than me. I just don't think it's even within me to hand over that much control over my life to someone, anyone, else.

I feel this way in my parenting as well. I made a deal with myself eight years ago. I would NEVER be the mother to say to my kids, "Just wait until your father gets home!"

Maybe you're one of these women. I don't mean any disrespect. But for me, some how it just signals to your kids that they've won. Mom's given in, she's not the boss. And how often does dad actually DO anything when he gets home? Oh, there may be a bit of yelling, but seriously, whatever. I remember thinking that as a kid too. Well, if that's all you got, that's really lame. My respect just dropped ten points. Maybe we're in negative numbers now. We're probably inventing new, imaginary negative numbers. Actually, forget the numbers. It's probably better represented by a formula where the limit is approaching negative infinity. The punishment was always way worse when mom inflicted it herself. Those times she was just too tired, or just didn't have the energy, those were the times she'd resort to the old standby. And I'd climb the stairs, rolling my eyes, thinking, "Yeah, I know. Just wait. I'm in for it now." I'd have to physically restrain the snickering.

So when I gave into the idea of being a mother, I promised myself that those words would never cross my lips. And in eight years, they never have. Blackstone likes to jump in every now and then when he feels one of the kids is disrespecting me in front of him. I have seriously conflicting feelings about this, though I've never discussed it with him. I appreciate he wants the kids to respect me, I also know that he's not doing me any favors by trying to demand they respect me. There's only one person who can make them respect me, and that's me. I don't really feel he's doing me any harm though, so I just let him. The boys know how it is when we're mono e mono. They know who the boss is, and they don't need dad there to coax them on who it is.

Not that the boys and I don't have our moments. Believe me. We HAVE our moments. I don't call them Trouble for nothing. But I always face them head on. No cop outs. No excuses. No giving in. They lose their allowance. They have friends sent home. They get punished with extra chores. They get time outs. They sit on my office floor while I work. They, on occasion, get spanked. They have their treats taken away. They have video games and TV taken away. I can get real creative. When I'm at a serious loss, I'll take a moment, breathe deeply, and channel Bree Van de Kamp. Go ahead and laugh. It keeps me strong, I swear. And not once have I ever backed down. They WILL listen to ME. They will not have to have their father tell them do it. They will do it because I demand it of them.

Does this make a good parent? Who the hell knows. I'm sure I'm giving them my own personal brand of dysfunction. There's never any way around that. But I will get through this parenting thing, do my damndest to look in the mirror at the end of every day, and know that I stayed true to myself, did the best I possibly could by them and by me.

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Life By Automation

I'm finding more and more, I want things in my life automated. Maybe it has something to do with my profession and the way so many of the procedures I write are scheduled to run automatically. Obviously, it has quite a bit to do with how technology is always improving and there are more opportunities for doing this. Regardless, the more of my mundane, repeating, monotonous chores I can arrange to happen without my having to do anything, the better.

I spend a great deal of time online. I work online, so it's all day at work already, but I also take advantage of many of the ways doing things online can save you time and errands. I've done my banking online for years. I have the large majority of my bills scheduled to be paid automatically so I don't have to do it myself. I develop my photos online. I do my grocery shopping online. I do a good chunk of my other shopping online too. I've never been a great fan of actually shopping. I don't have much patience for it. The trying on clothes. All the people. The parking. And if i have to bring my kids, forget it. Chances are I don't want or need it that bad. I purchase my music online, reserve and renew my library books. Hell with my Kindle, I don't even have to get on the computer. I can have a new book at my fingertips in minutes without even getting out of bed. Technology rocks.

It doesn't just end with the computer though. Is there anything better than direct deposit? And a coffee pot you program to start brewing before you get out of bed in the morning? And the programmable thermostats, so you can have the heat go down after you go to bed, and come on and warm up the house before you get up in the morning? And exactly how did we live before the DVR? I'm in love with my automatic garage door openers right about now. I have the weather forecast delivered to my phone every morning. I know it's not just me enjoying how technology can make your life a little more pleasant. Hell, a lot more pleasant.

Christmas, for me, is a prime example of where technology and automation reign supreme. I enjoy the spirit of the holidays, the decorations, the food. Most of the time I don't feel it's worth the hastle, though. To that end, I try to make the process as painless as possible for myself. I have a fake prelit tree. I generally end up putting up the tree and almost every last, blessed decoration myself. If I'm not going to be a raving bitch by the time I'm done, it better not be anymore taxing than it absolutely has to be. Even then, I'm going to resemble the Grinch much more closely than Martha Stuart by the time I'm done. I like it to be done, I just HATE the doing. I wish I was one of those moms with the cocoa, Christmas music, smiling away in blissful euphoria while I was at it. Nah, scratch that. I don't even want to be like that. I just want to sit and drink the cocoa, preferable spiked, and listen to the music while someone else does the dirty work. And is dirty freaking work. Digging out those dusty totes. Battling the dust bunnies while plugging everything in. The endless pine needles. The horrible, itchy scratches on your hands from putting up the tree. Yeah, Christmas joy my ass.

The Christmas decorating in it's entirety generally takes me one full day. It's all I'm wiling to devote to it. I know, some of you space the whole thing out. Tree one day, wreaths and candles another, etc. I don't have the patience for that. I need it done and over with, and all the crap put away. And once I'm done, I want to be done and not have to think about it anymore. So a couple of years ago I bought light sensored candles for the windows. This way I don't have to worry about turning them on and off every day. Small tasks like that drive me insane. Only problem is one window that gets too much light from inside and doesn't go on when the lamp is on. I'm thinking next year I'll move the lamp. This year, I put my Christmas tree on a timer. Also fabulous. Genius concept that I don't have to crawl under the tree every night to turn it on. Some inventions are worth their weight in gold.

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Smart is Back

The day has finally come, and I'm so overjoyed that we no longer have to endure GW and now have President Obama. It's almost hard to accept that it's reality. You crave something so desperately for eight long years, and in the mean time drudge on day after day, watching people you despise run our country into the ground and when it finally ends, it's almost hard to breathe. I keep waiting for someone to come and snatch it away. It's too good to be true. It's hope and intelligence, reason and compassion personified. I sporadically found tears of joy and relief running down my cheeks in the past week. The passion with which this country has embraced our 44th President is nothing short of awe inspiring. The shear number of people that descended on Washington this week, with not even a hope of actually seeing the President in person, but just to be there in the midst of this historic event, even if they had to watch it on a big screen television at the mall, now that's really saying something.

Of course, we can't expect Obama to turn this mess around in a few months. He is a human being, not a magician. I completely understand that. But just to have a President that can speak to people, speak and sound intelligent, speak and really reach people, oh at the moment, that's a really nice feeling. I hear he even wrote his own inauguration speech. *Sigh* I'm in love. The birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, spring is in the air. . . Well, maybe I'm getting ahead of myself, but at least there is hope in my soul and a happiness in my heart while NE is plunged into the worst deep freeze of a winter we've had in a decade.

I threw an inauguration party. It just had to be done. I bought a life size cut out of Obama and we took pictures with him and played pin the sticker on Obama. We also played pin the shoe on bush. Curls did a great job putting that one together. And we had a Bush pinata filled with Dum-Dums, toy soldiers and horses. They were selling actual Bush pinatas, but they looked nothing like him, so I bought a cowboy pinata and taped his face to it. Worked out great.

My boys both have t-shirts that read, "Smart is Back" and on the back "Obama 2008." They wore them to the party and school yesterday. I'm thinking they'll be great for 4th of July too. Blackstone and I have t-shirts too. Somehow my woman's large felt more like a woman's medium to me, though. That and my tight jeans landed me some not so flattering pictures. On the bright side, perfect motivation to take off those holiday pounds and then some. Pictures like that are almost enough to turn me anorexic. I'm too smart and hungry for that, however. I just ramp up the workout schedule and cut the calories dramatically. I know I'm doing it right when I eat just enough that I don't want to gnaw off my arm and wake up starving every morning. This lately lands me eating oatmeal and drinking chocolate soy milk at 6:45 AM and watching news coverage of Obama while tears run down my face. A very heart healthy start to 2009.

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The Year in Review

I could spend some time marveling at how the year flew. I won't. It always does, so lets get on with it.

No one in my immediate family died or divorced, so that was nice. My parents even renewed their vows.

We almost made it through the year without the police being summoned to the house. Almost. Made it all the way to December before Trouble ran away and was escorted home by the police. Now, if I can only manage to break him of his new found klepto ways, maybe we won't have another visit next month.

Neither of the boys required a trip to the emergency room. No broken bones, no stitches. A serious miracle to say the least. Of course, Blackstone did manage to scratch his cornea and I had to spend endless ours in the ER with him one Friday night.

I got a new job for the first time in eight years. Big move for me. Now I work in the used automotive parts industry. Still doing web development, of course. And also getting some experience working on internal MS SQL applications, which is great. Actually kind of a good industry to be in at the moment. The cost of scrap has tanked and new car sales are down which means there will be an increasing demand for used auto parts next year. It gives me a little peace of mind in this economy, which is more than the majority of Americans can say.

Mostly, as 2008 draws to a close, I'm so looking forward to Obama taking office. I know that 2009 promises in many ways to bring more economic downfall, a higher unemployment rate, more home foreclosures. I am thankful to not currently be one of the many, many people worried if they will still be employed in the coming months. I am, however, a bit worried about my husband's business. So far, he's winded this storm well, but how many companies that owe him money will go bankrupt and not be able to pay him for work he's done in past months? No one is immune to our current economic struggles. Even cautious, frugal, college graduates like ourselves, who knew better than to buy a home with a variable rate mortgage we wouldn't be able to afford.

But in spite of the bleakness that surrounds us everywhere, there is hope that things will turn around. Obama, with his promise of hope, one that I fully believe he will achieve, will be there to lead us through this terrible time. Through what at the very least will be a continuation of this recessesion, and may be, may already be, a depression. I believe there is no better person to lead us through, to  help turn our economy, our schools, our health care system around.

So lets welcome 2009 in with a gusto we haven't had since 2000. Because every year since Bush has been elected, ringing in a New Year with the biggest dumb ass to ever grace the White House in office has been rather bitter sweet for me. I look forward to 2009 with more happiness, brighter eyes, and lighter heart than I've had in a decade.

Happy New Year! And Good Riddance Bush! Please, let the door hit you on the way out. I'm not close enough to throw my shoes.

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Slacking

Yeah, I've been slacking over here, when it comes to the blog anyway. In real life I've been working hard and playing hard. Went to NY to see the Rockettes. Totally amazing. Saw the Twilight movie on my birthday. Totally fun, but not as good as the book. Tends to be the way that goes. I've been out dinner more times than my wallet can really handle it, especially on top of the Chritmas shopping. I've placed the order for the Christmas Cards. I'm working on organizing the pictures to get the new calendar together. And spending more time than I should on Facebook. And I'm cooking dinner for 12 tomorrow. And I'd better not be getting another god damn sinus infection. The ENT tellls me I need surgery. I have a deviated septum, a polyp blocking each of my sinus passages and a cyst. So basically, my sinuses are F$@#!-ed. I'm going to see a homeopath at the end of December to seek an alternative, but surgery may be on the horizon for the New Year. I seriously hope it can be avoided, but we'll see. I can't have six of these damn things a year.

Happy Thanksgiving! Here's hoping you hear the Thanksiving song at least once and your turkey's not dry.

Kisses,

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Some Days Are Just a Special Kind of Hell

A week without our nanny tends to throw us into chaos. We've never had to endure a week when we didn't have forewarning. We only had a few days warning before the trial started, and none of us seemed to have any idea it would take this long, except possibly the lawyer, but he didn't do a very good job sharing. My mother has been wonderful, completely bailing us out. But I've felt very guilty about taking up so much of her time, and I know she's not been feeling that well, so today, I asked my niece to come down. I gave her all the directions and instructions, everything was supposed to be settled.

This morning just got off to a bad start. I was running a few minutes late. I drive the boy from down the street who goes to the same pre-school as LT to school in the morning. I'm going there anyway, and his mother has class and can't do it herself. It is a special kind of torture having someone else's kid to deal with in the morning when you're trying to get out of the house. Today he got LT all riled up, forgot his back pack at the house and I had to turn around and go get it, smooshed a nutri-grain bar on the back seat of my car, and generally tried my patience in every way.

It was in the midst of turning around and heading back to the house that my niece called to tell me her boyfriend's car wouldn't start and she couldn't get down here this morning. I'm not quite sure how successful I was in trying not to berate the neighbor's child at this moment. I was seeing white spots. I took a deep breath, retrieved the back pack and brought the kids to school, all the while reminding myself that the kid absolutely grating every frazzled nerve was not mine and I could not beat him. Then I called my husband to see what help he could possibly offer because this is the first month at the new job and I am trying, at this point, to at least not make a bad impression when it comes to all this personal crap. He says he will go get the niece and drive her down and pick LT up from school early, since she won't have a car. This will work. I still have to leave work earlier than I was planning to drive Trouble to basketball practice and one of us has to drive her back at night, but at least I can go to work.

It's at this point I hit the construction detour. Now, I knew there would be a detour. I had hit it the day before and somehow managed to get around it, though I don't know how. And I'd printed some directions that someone in HR had emailed out. I get out the directions and immediately can't follow them, so instead I decide to follow the truck detour, because that's the only detour they seem to have marked. This takes me on a fifteen minute detour around a pond through the back woods of nowhere. I get to the T-intersection that says, "End of Detour" and haven't the foggiest idea of which way to turn. Of course, I guess wrong, and this sends me on another ten minute detour. Now, I need a drink, and it's not even ten in the morning. I have to call my boss and tell him that I got lost. Really, tremendous impression I'm making.

I get home just in time to get Trouble to basketball practice where I sit in a freezing gymnasium where the florescent lights and dozens of thumping balls and screaming kids are doing nothing for the headache I've developed. The boys, when I get home, are bouncing of the walls.  After dinner, LT takes one of those go-gurt tubes, and sprays it all over his brother, the couch and the wall. That lands him in time-out where he sits wailing. Blackstone has decided to take a shower after his day in the field, only to find a deer tick, Stand-By-Me-Style, to cap off our day.

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The Tree Affair

Our nanny has been suing her neighbor for years now, because he/she cut down her tree. Over the past few years, there have periodically been hearings about said tree, but the trial regarding the tree began last Wednesday. Yes, last Wednesday. And today would be Monday, and the trial continues tomorrow. Honestly, it never occurred to me the trial over a tree would last days, possibly weeks. Good god, no wonder lawyers make so much money. Everything takes so long.

Apparently, there is some dispute over where exactly, the property line is. There have been surveyors and witnesses called to testify. From what I understand, at this point she has presented her side of the case, now the defendant has to prevent theirs. This is likely to go on all week. The tree is starting to annoy me.

I know our nanny feels that her neighbor is trying to take advantage of her. A foreign woman, living alone, might appear to be an easy target to knock around. She needs to take a stand for herself. Maybe the neighbor thought the tree was on his/her property. I don't know. All I know is this tree is miles from my house, or at least it was, several years ago, and it's turning my life into complete chaos.

My mother has been coming down to watch the kids while I'm at work. I'm less than a month into the new job and I'm trying not to let this interfere too much. I've just broached my niece about coming down here to watch the kids the rest of the week, which might be do-able. However, she comes with her boyfriend since he's the one with the car and her six-month-old baby. It makes me just slightly nervous. But my options are starting to run thin. This will mean adding her to the list of people authorized to pick-up LT from pre-school, providing directions and instructions for his pick-up, as well as Trouble's from the bus stop. And should I ask them to bring the boys to karate, or should I just plan on skipping it this week? Trouble's already missing cub scouts tonight because I forgot to tell my mother to have him home for it. Oh, well. I did book an appointment with an ENT, book a chimney sweep (3 weeks out, ugh!), and I'm well into my search for a housekeeper. Have I mentioned I've been having trouble finding the time to clean my house lately? The weekend was a blur. Blackstone spent all day Saturday at a conference while I cooked, cleaned, interviewed a cleaning woman, and dealt with the kids. Sunday, I worked all day. I took some side work from my old boss. And Blackstone went to visit his dad, who has just had a hip replacement to replace the first replacement from fifteen years ago.

If it weren't for the fact that we love the pre-school LT is at, and that there is no bussing or extended care for him where he is, I'd seriously consider putting him a pre-school/day care facility. This is starting to get annoying. But he has less than a year left, it's his second year, it's where Trouble went to pre-school, these teachers have known him since he was born. I can't just go and change that now. It's only until June, and I think at that point I'm enrolling the boys in day camp full-time for the summer. Then, since our district has full-day kindergarten, they'll both be full-time next year. And they love Nanny and she adores them. And the woman, in three years, has never once called out sick. She's only been late once. The woman's amazing. She's also a little crazy over her tree, or what may or may not have been her tree.

I like my life with a certain amount of crazy in it. Really, I do. But this god damn tree. It's driving me over the edge.

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What Day is it Again?

How is the new job going? Well, but adjusting to clocking a 40 hour week is definitely taking it's toll on me. I was working more of a 35-ish work week. I had it good. I knew I had it good and moving on to another job would be much more demanding on me. It's a big part of the reason I've stayed put the last eight years. I was rather hoping I'd be able to stay put for another year or so, until LT was in school all day, but alas, that was not to be. The new place is willing to give me some flexibility, but I'm used to being salaried. There's definitely a heightened sense of time when you're being paid hourly, punching a clock, and trying to make a good impression.

Add on to that the karate lessons, sports classes, cub scouts, homework, housework, dinner, laundry, birthday parties, and the fact that my husband works like a 60 hour week and I'm home with the kids alone at least two nights a week, and those 5 hours make a big difference. All of the sudden, blogging, reading and exercising have gotten more difficult. And seriously, during the week, forget about cooking. My husband's gone half the time anyway and the kids would much rather eat chicken nuggets anyway. I'll make due with a frozen dinner, protein shake, or humus and crackers, anything as long as it's washed down with a beer or glass of wine.

I had to cancel my PT appointment last month because it conflicted with both the kids schools' open houses and Blackstone had a meeting. I had to cancel my hair appointment this month because I couldn't see taking two hours out of work the first week at a new job. Hello gray, not so nice to see you again. Next month screw it, I'm taking the time. And I got a sitter for the PT appointment tonight, because another month and my body will be screaming at me. 40 hours at desk is not good for your body. And i've already requested a keyboard tray for my desk at work. The position I've been sitting typing at is very uncomfortable. My desk was definitely not designed for a short person. The tray came in today and I'm hoping it gets installed soon because my elbows are not happy. I've already suffered through one shot of cortisone in the wrist, and I really don't want carpal tunnel. Short of the epidural, that was the largest needle I've ever had the displeasure of being jabbed with.

So that's where I've been. My head it spinning. I can't wait until the new job settles into a comfortable humdrum, but that's probably not going to happen for another month or so at least. I just found the coffee maker today. I was excited to learn that our district now has all full day kindergarten. So another year and I won't be paying crazy money for child care and trying to work from home occasionally to off-set the cost. There is a light at the end of this tunnel and I can almost see it. But at the moment, I still feel like I'm running in the dark, trying desperately to avoid the cliff that's looming out there.

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