Monday, December 31, 2012

Work Center Mayhem

Last month I got to be in charge of the toy section at work.

This week they are having me deal with endcaps. All the endcaps. Of the entire store.

Today was a long day, and not just because it started at 4am. Part of the masterful plan of how the store management is executing these shifts in work centers for me is changing my work center, handing me some vague and poorly laid out instructions, and then coming around to tell me what I have done wrong after I've been working on it for half my shift.

My biggest consolation to myself today was remember my first day over in toys. It was awful. Actually, that's not true. My first day was alright, as there was nobody there paying any attention at all to what I was up to. My second through 4th days in toys were just awful.

But! It got better. In fact, I was down right enjoying myself over there the past few weeks. And boy was I clinging to that memory this morning.

So perhaps I was just jumping the gun by having lots of people around today to pay attention to what I was up to and offer suggestions for what to do differently before I had already finished, right?

With those calculations, things should totally get better by about... Thursday.

Sigh.

If you need me, I will be taking a heavy dose of cold medicine to ease my haggard sinuses and/or liquor to ease my haggard soul and attempting to come to some sort of positive view of the world of Target with enough delusion to be optimistic about the rest of this week. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Rationing of Wedding Bells

December began with me attending the wedding reception of a good friend of mine. A good friend of mine who had been dating (not engaged, not living together, just dating) her suitor for longer than my entire marriage lasted.

My ex-husband got married again this past summer. This was actually a fairly significant delay in their original plannings due to his and my divorce not being finalized until last February (as a direct result of his less than stellar record of getting his portions of the paperwork completed and back to the court in a timely fashion, but we don't need to get into karma for this conversation) and other military influences.

And then there's me.

Personally, I'm coming to the opinion that one marriage per decade is plenty, and having that attitude completely justifies my lack of serious (or like, any) dating for the time being. After all, I'm only 27, I have another 3 years before I would even be eligible to consider marriage again should I follow my own philosophy. 

The biggest positive of the shit show that became my 20s is that I got a marriage and kids out of it. It's amazing how once you have children there is no longer any pressing desire to procreate, and there's nothing like a less than Disney marriage to make one rethink that fear of being alone. Sure being alone can suck at times, but it can also be a whole lot less crappy than many other situations.

And since those boxes have been checked, I have had no overwhelming worry about doing them again. I was all about getting married and having babies when I was 18. Now it's 'been there, done that' (and look how great that all worked out for ya) as I survey my life. And I want to do other things. I want to get promoted at work and feel like I have a career. I want to buy my own house for me and my children to grow up in. I want to spend time with the people who are important to me. I want to dream of traveling the world and creating a lasting piece of literature.

I have my children. I had a marriage. That was enough. Right now, I just want to be me.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Notes to Myself for Next Christmas

You are only allowed to buy one new roll of wrapping paper per year. You just got pink Tinkerbell wrapping paper on clearance. You are not allowed to buy any more for next Christmas. And you probably made Baby Jesus cry with that particular choice.

Prioritize teaching your children to give to others. Adopt one of those needy kids/family paper thingies from the tree in the supermarket. Have your children pick out the items for them and help drop them off. Also investigate whether they're old enough to volunteer for Toys for Tots or a similar program. Remember about this before the third week of December.

Require the girls to clean out their toys before they can receive more. I know, you hated doing this as a kid yourself, but you're still failing to do it for them as an adult and teaching your children that they MUST KEEP EVERYTHING. While you're at it, clean out your own stuff as well....

Figure out a budget for presents before you figure out what toys you want to get them, and make the toys fit the budget. And don't do it the other way around like you did this year. Pricing out how much you think the stuff you want to get them will cost and then saying you're underbudget because you stayed under your initial guesstimate does not count.

Take each of the girls to pick out a present for their sister. You should have started doing this two years ago, now stop being a lazy bum and make the effort to take each of them out shopping one day by themselves in the month of December. It won't kill you, really. 

Bake more Christmas cookies/fudge/treats. BEFORE Christmas. Also involve your children more. I know, sugar cookies with them this year was an exhausting event with marginal results. But come on, they're not going to learn if you don't teach them. And if they don't learn, they can't make you delicious peppermint fudge in a few years.

Make gifts for the grandparents with the girls. If you need to do this in September to get it done, so be it. Paper cut out mittens never go out of season when properly sprinkled with love and glitter.

Remind people at work that you worked Black Friday Open, Black Friday Close, Christmas Eve Close, and 4am on the 26th of December AND the 1st of January this past year. You earned selfishly picking which holidays you want off this upcoming holiday season. So take them.

Watch more holiday specials. Sure they get cheesy after a while, but a little classic Grinch cartoon goes a long ways in making it feel like a special season. Even when you're all grown up and cynical of the idea of any special magic associated with any specific day on the calender.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Month of December

Everything has been frantic.

There are the early mornings and how all day every day Target is a mad house, with a constant GOGOGOGOGO demand from superiors overriding every simple action I do.

There are birthday parties and homework and school registrations and sick days and doctor appoints for the kids, with just keeping track of it all becoming a major accomplishment in of itself.

There is the lead up to Christmas, with presents to buy and wrap and give.

There are cookies to bake and fudge to make and candy canes to eat, with my personal motivation to do any of it a half an inch off the floor which only leads to being sad about my lack of fudge.

There are the houses to see and the finances to wrangle, with hopes and dreams being balanced between time and money in a soul-crushing situation. 

There are board meetings to attend and fundraisers to do and emails to send and thank yous to write, with a grand scheme of which I believe in but the daily stuff is hard to care about and even harder to not excuse with such poor excuses of 'I'm a single parent with a full time job'.

There are trips to plan and travel to book and suitcases to pack, with parts I don't want to do making the doing of any of it all the harder.

There is snow to drive in and boots to find, with picture perfect beauty to look at but causing all the more delays and stress.

There is sleep, with which I am not getting nearly enough of.

There is blogging, with which I long to do more.

There is life.

And in the month of December, my plate of life is heaped to a daunting height. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Why It's Good My Children Can't Read My Mind

"Is that Rylie's car?"
"No Honey, that's only a generic asshole who just cut me off in the roundabout."

"Mommy what are you eating?"
"Chocolate. The good stuff. And it's ALL MINE!" 

"Who's that?"
"Random drunk person in Mommy's facebook feed which you shouldn't be looking at."
 

"But I don't want to have a sister."
 "Tough shit kid, you don't get to argue with biology." 

"Santa Clause is scary."
 "Does that mean 'Santa' doesn't have to buy you presents this year?" 

"Can we have a treat?"
"Can I have a martini?" 

"I want to make cookies!"
"I want to lay on the couch and take a nap, guess who's not getting their wants today!"

"My sister isn't listening to me!"
 "Welcome to my world, child, welcome to my world." 

"How come we don't have a dog?"
"Because Mommy decided two small needy demanding creatures to clean up the poop of was enough." 

"Where do babies come from?"
  "Stupidity and sex."



Friday, December 14, 2012

Shot Through the Heart

This morning I drove the girls to the elementary school, where Kristina went into her Kindergarten class and I brought Adrianna into the preschool classroom next door for her to visit before she starts after the winter break. She was evaluated again last month, and Child Find determined that needs continuing speech therapy services, but now that she's going to be three they require it to be through the elementary school therapist program, hence her starting at the preschool.

After visiting for a while, I drove Adrianna to her regular preschool and headed home myself for a much needed nap. After all, yesterday began with a 4am shift at work and ended with Adrianna's preschool post-holiday performance potluck dinner, so I felt somewhat justified in my overwhelming desire to spend what little time was left in the non-kid part of the day with my pillow.

A few hours and two snoozes later, I pulled up my facebook feed.

And it was filled with comments about the elementary shooting in Connecticut.

No sooner had I tracked down and read a couple actual news articles about it than emails from the Nederland elementary school started showing up in my email.

And I find myself in an interesting place.

I was in middle school here in Colorado when the Columbine High School shootings happened. I remember my mother being freaked out by it, and watching the news as it was unfolding and they kept adding to the victim count. The effects were felt for years afterwards, as we practiced drills all through my high school tenure about what to do in a "lock down" situation (aka someone is on a shooting rampage) and had regular assemblies on everything from depression in yourself to watching your classmates for troubled behavior indicators.

And at the time I thought the level of fear and paranoia being shown was unwarranted. 

But now I am a parent of a Kindergartener. I totally get the base emotional response of wanting to go snatch them up immediately and not let go of them. Because somehow, if you just hold them tight enough, they will be kept safe.

The world doesn't work like that though.

Horrible things happen in seemingly senseless and cruel ways.

If it's not a shooting in a Kindergarten class, it's an airplane being hijacked, or a military base being targeted, or a drunk driver fatally crashing into a dozen cars.

You cannot live your life terrified that at any second something like that could happen to you.

It could. It totally could be you or your child or your family any one of these times. And the most pragmatic reason for it NOT being you or your child or your family lies heavily with dumb luck.

However, it also can be statistical.

Yes, today 18 small children went to school and didn't come home. However, how many days in how many Kindergartens across the country was that not the case for how many years? You have to trust a world that is entirely unpredictable and untrustworthy that tomorrow will hold true to yesterday, and that today is an extremely rare unlikely anomaly in what will happen. 

Of course, telling a parent of a dead 5 year old that their baby is a statistical anomaly doesn't mean jack shit to them.

And so then balancing objective reason, personal emotion, and compassion becomes an even more complicated juggling act.

Personally, I am glad for my time as a military spouse. It gave a crash course in dealing with that soul crushing wave of fear that came every time there was another casualty within his deployed unit. This fear is real, but so is the ability to control it within oneself, and the knowledge that you cannot let it consume your life.

The fear for my children is real. But Kristina will stay at school until the last bell rings and she is loaded onto the school bus to come home today. And I will hug her and ask her how her day was and we will walk into the house with her chattering a million miles a minute about her friends like she does every day and I will smile at her being incredibly grateful she is safe. And come Monday morning, I will load her back onto the school bus to go back to Kindergarten just like nothing changed at all.

Because that is all I can do.

And hope and pray that the next statistical anomaly isn't going to be my family, isn't going to be someone I love.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

An Extremely Random Tuesday

We got just enough snow to make the ground slick last night. When Target called their plow company first thing this morning to get the lot covered with ice melt, the trucks didn't even have the plow blades on them because they've been using them to prune trees. Could be interesting to see what happens if it ever decides to snow in Colorado again....

***************

This may or may not be fake. That detail sure doesn't stop me from including it in my very random random blog post! 


Did you know dinosaurs made lemonade? Like there weren't enough reasons to think a Velociraptor would be the BEST PET EVER, now it will totally be a business investment for your lemonade stand too!

************

I impulsively ordered Christmas cards with family pictures on them this evening. 

(Hey mom, I ordered Christmas cards with family pictures on them that may or may not make it to the relatives before Christmas. I know how you like to keep these things classy.)  

I like to remember the first year I did it with baby Kristina and how I swore up and down I would do this every year with a big long letter of life. It's fun to remember how comically naive you were. 

There will be no letter this year. But you're going to get your picture card. Maybe even before Christmas. And you're going to like it. 

I also like to have goals. Like next year, perhaps my goal will be to do this before the second week of December. Or to consider drafting a Christmas letter. Or maybe just writing a really good blog post that doesn't include questionable homophobic literary illustrations about lemonade loving dinosaurs and include my blog address on them. That's totally the same thing, right?

*************

Adrianna is starting a new preschool part time in January for her continuing speech therapy services. Her current preschool teacher asked me last week if they have any requirements for potty training. I spoke to the new preschool teacher yesterday, and asked her. 

Apparently the answer is yes, the class is potty trained. 

However because she has an IEP ("special ed") plan for language development (which is why she's attending this school at all), they will let her start in pullups with the expectation of her transitioning to underwear in the immediate future. 

Alrighty then. 

Potty training.

I'll get right on that. 

Now where did my copy of Toilet Training in Less Than a Day go???

************

All of our "fresh" bakery goods sold at Target come to us frozen. We literally take the frozen cupcakes and loafs of bread out of the freezer, put a shelf-life date on it, and set it on the shelf to thaw. It's really hard for me not to tell people they're dumb when they talk to me about only liking the "fresh" bakery items. 

However, we just started carrying "fresh" previously frozen apple pie. This will make people super excited, since they were all dissing on our frozen apple pie in the freezer. 

Like I said, it's really hard for me not to tell people they're dumb.

************

Kristina dislikes Kindergarten because they make her sit and learn stuff instead of just letting her run around and play.

I think Kindergarten is just fucking awesome. 

***********

I hope you have many hours of restful slumber tonight and a wonderful day tomorrow. Or at least, no less than normal rest and a day that doesn't make you want to drink any more than you already do. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Did You Know There's an Elf?

Did you know there's an elf? Did you know there's an elf on a shelf and he sits there talking to himself?

Did you know there's a mama? Did you know there's a mama in a pajama who doesn't understand all the shelf elf drama?

So, now we get past the cute and only slightly plagiarized from the adorable book Bedtime Mouse part where I confess my horrible parenting.

My children do not have an Elf on the Shelf.

And it's not even for a good reason beyond I just don't feel like doing it!

You see, I think the Elf on a Shelf is incredibly dumb. Actually, I have to try really really hard to see the appeal of any of the "lying to my children" aspects of Christmas. Kristina asked me how Santa knows she's been good. My best answer was a slightly exasperated "because he just does".

But getting back to the elf.

The Elf on Shelf comes out every December for families which are not mine, and every night the crimsonly clad creepy creature moves around the house to prove it's "aliveness" and "watching of the children" to get them to behave.

And I just have so many moral issues with this.

(Clearly my own parents failed in their parenting of me by not elfing it up so I would do such with my own offspring for the sake of nostalgic tradition.) 

The blatant lying to your children aside, there's the part where you are convincing them to be good by making them paranoid that they won't get stuff. You are artificially inflating the wanting of toy crap to an even higher than it already was AND teaching them that their only motivation to behave is because a doll might see you being naughty.

And even if that was the preferred method of parental enforcement for you, why on earth would you relegate it to only be a one-month-a-year thing? Make them freak out because there's a gnome in your home and he's watching you every second of every day forever, so you better behave, or else you won't be allowed to live here any more.

Just for the record, there is no gnome in our home sort of scare tactics being used on my children.

(For now...)

We do not elf in this family.

And it's probably for the best, as I'm quite certain I would totally be THAT parent.









Luckily thanks to the internet, I now know I would not be alone in my horribly inappropriate for small children shelf elf antics. 

[Note to self: bring this tradition into the house when the girls are teenagers to make sure they have appropriately developed senses of humor]

Sunday, December 9, 2012

How to Feel Better About Your Parenting

  • Watch an episode of Toddlers & Tiaras. 
    • Between the kids acting like complete terrors constantly and the parents doing appalling things from maxing credit cards to pay for pageant dresses to drugging their small children with Redbull, you'll suddenly feel like you have the best parenting morals of all time because you don't spray tan your 2 year old and you actually send your children to time out when they scream at you and start smashing things on the coffee table.
  • Organize their toys. 
    • Nothing makes you stop feeling guilty for not buying your child more stuff than realizing just how much stuff they already have. And then swear you're getting rid of half of it before you let Santa Clause so much as think about coming down that chimney.
  • Show them pictures from when they were littler. 
    • They just love this, the little egotistical creatures that they are, and hearing the stories about how that was their first trip to the zoo and here is them with their cousins a few summers back. Plus then you get reminded of all the fun stuff you've done with them (plus the hell-on-earth part of "plane travel" and "long car rides" seem much less important a couple of years later).
  • Remember what it's like to be little.
    • Sometimes it's hard to be little. Also, remember that you totally turned out fine despite the occasional bad day on the part of your parents (unless of course you didn't, and then you can just tell yourself how much better you're doing than your parents ever did until your child rats you out in therapy 12 years later).
  • Spend an hour at home without your phone/computer/other adults. 
    • Don't know what to do with them? Sit on the floor, and ask them what they would like to play. They will take care of the rest so long as you're not distracted. And then you become the most awesome parent ever as you make a blanket fort and eat 37 pretend dishes of ice cream and let them win at Candyland, and then can totally return to the world of doing laundry (or procrastinating doing laundry by playing on the internet) guilt free for the rest of the afternoon.
  • Snuggle with them at bedtime.
    • It's not much, but a few minutes of quiet time together can go a long ways to making you feel more rewarded by being a parent. 
  • Let them have a treat occasionally. 
    • Not often mind you, only every once in a great while, but perhaps just that one night you could hand them a piece of left over Halloween candy even though they didn't eat their dinner, or stick in a package of those horribly tooth rotting fruit snacks they love so much into their lunch. The simple surprise of getting it is almost as good as the treat itself.
  • Buy yourself a new shirt/pants.
    • I'm sure you had a favorite piece of clothing that your child destroyed or stained or otherwise made unwearable thanks to your post-baby-belly-boobs combo, replacing it will make you less begrudging of the basic hardships (like the horrors of blowout diapers) of being a parent. Plus feeling that you look good in the body your children left you with is at least 85% direct influence from how your closet is fitting you (nobody feels good about themselves in a shirt two sizes off with milk stains).
  • Look at them when they are sleeping. 
    • Yes yes, there is always that chance of waking them up, but nothing is more endearing than that little monster in peaceful slumber. You may want to take a picture of it, and keep it handy for the moments when your child is truly being a terror (after all, they're only like this half the time, the rest is spent in the much-more-appealing state of slumber). 
  • Laugh
    • No really, just laugh. Laugh with your kids. Laugh at them destroying your upstairs bathroom plumbing by flushing Spiderman down the toilet. Laugh at them dumping a big bucket sand on their sister's head. Laugh at yourself when you reach the ultimate moment of mommy-low by having peanut butter sandwich in your hair at the grocery store, snot striped sweat pants you swore you'd never wear out of the house, and a cart-full of screaming children and quickly melting popsicles. Laugh at all the times you want to put your head in your hands and cry in despair, because sometimes, it actually makes you feel a tiny bit better (or at least distracts your children from screaming long enough to enquirer as to why you are laughing and not screaming back at them).

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Miss Celia Bubbles the Turnip

I wrote this for a writing challenge with a friend of mine. The premise was a 600 word children's story, but then there was a joke about it being about turnips, so I totally went and actually wrote mine about a turnip. I hope you enjoy. And just in case you care, it ended up being 671 words in it's first draft seen here.


It was a sunny afternoon as Celia Bubbles skipped down the sidewalk. She wasn’t a very good skipper, mind you, as she was a turnip and it is difficult for turnips to skip. Most turnips don’t ever get around to leaving the vegetable patch, preferring the company of rutabagas and kale to people. But Miss Celia Bubbles the Turnip wasn’t like most turnips. You see, Miss Celia Bubbles the Turnip wanted something that the vegetable patch couldn’t give her. She wanted to go on a grand adventure. And so, today, she had decided to go have herself a grand adventure. Getting out the vegetable patch proved a bit of a pickle for her, as she almost fell into the gardeners pickling jars being used for the poor cabbages in her attempts to detach herself from the soil. But after that slight mishap she managed to roll herself under the garden gate and set out at an awkward skipping past towards a grant adventure. However, that had been some time ago, as the near pickling happened nearly first thing that morning, and Miss Celia Bubbles the Turnip was beginning to wonder where she might find herself a grand adventure, or if she had accidentally gone the wrong way. She started to plop her little turnip self down on the curb to ponder which direction a grand adventure would be, when the crew of the Fresh Salad Food Truck across the street happened to lay eyes upon the biggest and most delectable looking turnip they had ever seen.  Miss Celia Bubbles the Turnip only managed to avoid becoming the dinner special by quickly rolling herself onto a passing wagon. The owner of the wagon, Little Rita Redding, hated eating vegetables and was absolutely terrified by the turnip appearing in her wagon, so she set off running full speed ahead. This was just excellent for Miss Celia Bubbles the Turnip getting away from the Fresh Salad Food Truck crew, but wasn’t so good for poor Little Rita Redding who quickly became tired from eating so many gummy bears at lunch time. No sooner had Little Rita Redding stopped to catch her breath and rest her chubby little legs, than a vegan St. Bernard named Waffles caught scent of the most glorious turnip he had ever smelled sitting in the back of a little girl’s little red wagon now parked in front of his yard. He knew his vegan family would praise him as the best dog of all time were he to bring home such a delectable looking fresh turnip, and as he was always eager to please, he immediately bounded over the recycled tire fence to catch that perfect smelling turnip. Poor Little Rita Redding spent all of her time playing video games and thus had never played with a dog, and was even more terrified of the approaching Waffles than she had been of Miss Celia Bubbles the Turnip. However, this time when she set off running again as fast as her poorly conditioned heart and lungs could stand she left her little red wagon behind, and Miss Celia Bubbles the Turnip soon found herself covered in St. Bernard slobber as Waffles carried her back over the recycled tire fence surrounding his hard. Luckily, those recycled tires had holes in them just the perfect size for a larger than average turnip, and she was able to make a quick escape once Waffles was distracted by an invading Squirrel. Miss Celia Bubbles the Turnip had never cared much for squirrels before now, but decided that perhaps she had been a bit harsh to judge them, as the Vegan St. Bernard seemed noticeably worse for her condition. After escaping from Waffles, Miss Celia Bubbles the Turnip decided she had had quite enough of looking for a grand adventure for one day, and started to skip her way back home to the vegetable patch just as the sun was starting to set. Another day, she told herself, and I will find myself a grand adventure.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Perks of a Sick Baby

Sick babies and/or children aren't one of those things you think of as having a lot of upsides.

After all, there's the part where they threw up on their bed (and in all likelihood, your bed as well), and the part where they can't go to their normal activities (which often causes inconvenience for those who do things like "plan" around preschool and gymnastics). You get to spend all sorts of time exposing yourself and your sick child to the germ infested cesspool that is the pediatricians, and then the possibly even more questionable cesspool that is the pharmacy. And then, when they finally are sleeping you still can't relax or get anything done because you're too busy calling the nurse hotline to make sure you're not overlooking something like that little cough that actually might mean they have pneumonia instead of just the stomach flu and need to be rushed into the hospital.

However, once you get past the part where you're washing vomit out of your hair and unable to go to work, there are some ups to a sick kiddo.

They are totally happy to sit with you and watch Disney movies all day. A normal day requires lots of mommy energy to take them to the park and play a dozen games of candy land, but when they're sick they are SO chill. And it's kinda nice occasionally for a little change.

Naptime is back in full force. And you are just being a GOOD PARENT when your kid is sick and they want to nap with you. You are just prioritizing by ignoring the need to fold laundry in favor of making your sick baby happy with a little co-napping. Also, you get to nap too, which is great since you were up half the night before dealing with vomit.

There is no expectation of you making cook dinner. They don't feel good, all they want is to drink some juice and maybe get coxed into eating a few crackers, they certainly aren't going to notice the lack of full meal being presented to them.

And my personal favorite, you get a total pass on all the normal behavior that you feel guilty about as a parent. Like sippy cups, that Adrianna is getting kinda big for and I've been trying to use less to her great disappointment. The doctor saying to keep her well hydrated is a total pass at letting her carry around a sippy cup of apple juice 24/7 again. And we don't even need to go into the pacifier thing beyond the part that the sick baby (who may or may not be a month shy of her third birthday) wanted blue pacifiers and so the sick baby (who is supposed to be getting weaned from these things) got a new package of blue pacifiers when we were picking up her prescription.