Monday, September 30, 2013

McDonald's Parenting

I am a better parent because of McDonald's, and I will tell you why.

At home, dinner almost always comes at a frantic pace where children are demanding food and I'm staring at a fridge that's three days over-due for grocery shopping that I would have done that very afternoon after going through a similar ritual that morning of being genuinely surprised by our lack of orange juice and bread (where did that stuff go?? I swear we just had it...) except that it was ballet night so I had to rush from work to collecting kids to getting them into leotards and classrooms and now it's 5:15pm and they are explaining how at any second they really might waste away into nothingness because they are just starving (I cannot put the sort of emphasis a 6 year old manages to convey in that single word through text alone, but trust me, it makes it sound like she hasn't eaten in months and is about to waste away into nothingness at any second) and why don't we have anything good to eat and no they cannot possibly wait ten minutes for macaroni and cheese to cook since they don't really like anyways.

But that's not even the part I wanted to blog about. 

When something resembling food is scrapped together as quickly as humanly possible (peanut butter on crackers totally counts as an entree, right?), it is thrust into outstretched hands and instantly followed with demands for tv, for one cannot possibly be expected to eat without proper animated entertainment. Putting on an episode of My Little Pony is the easiest option right then, as it makes them temporarily satisfied and gives me 22 minutes to put away the clean dishes and reload the dirty ones or to pick up a layer of the constant mess that permeates everywhere despite my best efforts to keep on top of it or to sort through piles of school papers looking for that field trip permission slip to paperclip $4 to before I forget. Or maybe, maybe, to even just sit down for a moment or two.

You see, that time in which they are occupied with food and television is both the time I use to get stuff done and the time I use for myself. However, did you notice what was missing in that list of what I do? Eating. I learned a loooong time ago that it is a frustrating and mostly futile process to try and eat yourself, because by the time you have prepared something for yourself and answered demands of milk refills and napkins and insisted they actually eat some of their food, you won't have sat down for more than 90 seconds at a time. Anything that was hot is now passingly warm. Anything that was cold is fast approaching room temperature. And you still haven't eaten more than half of it before they are done with their meal and need to be pushed through homework or nudged into the bath, your own food completely forgotten about in all the craziness. 

So I cook and eat my own dinner after they go to bed most nights, and continue to let them watch tv instead of sitting at the table.

Except on the nights when I decide the lack of food to offer coupled with hungry whiny tired children and an exhausted mommy somehow becomes deserving of McDonald's on the way home.

Then we sit at the slightly sticky fast food table together, each of us spinning slightly on our own spinny chairs, and talk about what they did at school today. I listen to their stories, even the imaginary ones featuring the happy meal toys, as I eat my chicken sandwich, and smile at them having the same (probably not for the best, but some things just can't be helped) simple adoration for french fries as me. And we have a lovely and peaceful family dinner together.

(I usually don't even have to get up more than twice to meet the demands for forgotten honey dipping sauce or an extra cup of water.)

And so, fast food makes me a better parent on those evenings when I'm hungry and tired myself and the guilt over what nutrition is actually being consumed is outweighed by how desperately I just need food to appear right then.

And yet, I treasure the time that desperation gives me and the relaxing peacefulness we cannot seem to find at home.

Is it worth it?

Some days it really, really is.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

How to Buy Children's Shoes

  1. Discover one (or more) your offspring desperately needs new shoes
    1. You cannot physically cram the shoe onto the foot any more, despite being 98% positive they wore that exact pair yesterday without issue
    1.  The shoes are literally falling to pieces as we speak, and duct tape just isn't going to cut it this time
  2. Ignore your personal guilt for not noticing that your little precious snukums sneakers were on the verge of demise 
  3. Declare it to be shoe shopping day
  4. Ignore the chorus of whines about how they really really REALLY don't want to go shoe shopping
  5. Attempt to cajole into cooperation
  6. Go with Plan B. of yelling BECAUSE I SAID SO and muttering about how you'll make them walk to school barefoot tomorrow if they don't get their little rears in gear and get into the car now after they refused to go along with your previous nice mommy asking
  7. Briefly ponder whether you could stop by the liquor store en route to the shoe store 
  8. Decide that although being intoxicated just might make shoe shopping more enjoyable for everyone involved, it would still probably fall under bad parenting
  9. Feel guilty about yelling at the kids
  10. Promise to do fun things afterwards as an awesome bribe reward and to compensate for your personal guilt
  11. Have no less than three highly embarrassing and/or disgusting and/or terrifying parenting moments between parking the car and actually entering the shoe store
  12. Tell your children to sit on a nice quiet bench out of the way while you go track down a sales person with a measuring board
  13. Pretend you didn't see the little one fall (or was it pushed?) off the bench before you had even turned around
  14. Wince at your child's feet measuring weirdly, even though you knew they have measured that way every other time you have bought her shoes in her entire life which is why you are paying lots of money to the fancy shoe store instead of just getting her a pair of sneakers at Target
  15. Argue with your child over why they can't have ones that light up, have heels, make noise, have wheels, or come in a color that can be described as "daybright" (aka neon, aka my eyes are blind)
  16. Wonder, not for the first time that day, what possessed you to have more than one offspring as the one who isn't getting new shoes decides the perfect time for throwing a loud tantrum over her lack of new shoes is the middle of your argument with the other one 
  17. Attempt to short cut the tantrum with an old and probably of questionable hygiene peppermint dug out of the depths of your I-swear-it's-purse-and-not-a-diaper-bag-because-non-of-my-kids-are-in-diapers-anymore bag
  18. Ignore the part of your brain that is debating whether sacrificing good parenting standards is worth it for shoe shopping 
  19. Finally come to a grudging compromise with your child for several not-covered-in-flashing-lights-or-suitable-for-a-small-hooker pairs of shoes to try on
  20. Attempt to wrestle a foot into a shoe, while judging that your child has probably never put on shoes before in her life as she clearly has no idea what would be helpful to you in this process
  21. Chase your child's prancing feet around the shoe store on your knees as you attempt to feel whether there is enough growing room to keep you from coming back in less than 6 months 
    1. Ideally one pair would last for about the next ten years, but you know that's probably not actually feasible
  22. Finally catch the little monkey and hold her foot down with one hand as you poke at her feet with the other, demanding to know if she can feel your thumb or if they're pinching anywhere
  23. Cringe as she nearly bowls over other shoe store patrons in testing how the shoes feel when running 
    1. "These ones are good, they make me run faster!"
  24. Realize your not-getting-shoes offspring has been on a mission of destruction while you had been on your mission to see what sort of growing room a size 2 was offering 
  25. Attempt to neutralize some of your shame at what has happened to the store by hastily shoving shoes back onto shelves and hoping the sales staff didn't notice too much
  26. Repeat steps 18 through 23 at least half a dozen times
  27. Finally track down a pair of shoes that fit 
    1. And aren't an invention of Satan 
  28. Feel a (brief) moment of parenting success
  29. .....Which is promptly shattered when your other child knocks over a big display
  30. Extract the destruction queen from her latest conquest just in time to see the other one run out the store door
  31. Apologize to the sales associate attempting to ring you up as you bolt after the escapee
  32. Attempt to get your credit card out of your no-really-it's-not-a-diaper-bag-I'm-pretty-sure-I-just-like-big-purses-because-they're-so-trendy-these-days bag while keeping a firm hold on hands of your shoe store destroying legal custodys (aka children)
    • It's an acquired skill
  33. Pay far too much money for a pair of shoes your child will wear for 180 days of her life (if you're lucky)
  34. Smile at your child's joy at new shoes as she jumps up and down telling you that her new shoes even make her jump higher 
  35. Start laughing when your kids ask where their bribe reward for good behavior is as you load them into the car
  36. Decide maybe everyone needs ice cream anyways, bribe reward fulfillment or no
  37. Have the most angelically behaved little sweethearts anyone ever saw the whole time you are eating ice cream
  38. Sigh as the angelicness promptly turns back into bickering the second everyone is back into the car
  39. Conclude that you just need to live at the ice cream parlor
    1. Spend the rest of the drive home contemplating what sort of financial investment that would be, and whether it really just might be worth it
  40. Shoo everyone into their rooms (but mostly just yourself) for some rest time once you get home
  41. Realize you still need to get them snow boots some time soon
  42. Decide that this really might be why the internet exists with free return shipping
    1. Which can be taken care of tomorrow

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Flood

It's hard to know just how widespread or 'national news' worthy events in your town are when you're living through them, but I suspect a few of you may have heard about Boulder in the past few days and our little rain problem.

In summary, there has been a lot of rain, and all the water that falls in the mountain flows downhill (along with dirt, rocks, mud, and the occasional car or building).

There have been mountain towns completely washed away. There have been mountain towns completely isolated and required air lifting out by the national guard. There are mountain towns still holding their breath, hoping the storm moves out before they suffers any more damage.

Out of the mountains isn't fairing much better. A good portion of Longmont was completely destroyed from the St. Vrain River, and parts have been turned into islands off and on completely unable to get out of the city. Oh, and the water supply was contaminated from the waste water plant so a boil order is in effect for those folks until further notice.

Boulder has managed slightly better, in so far as most of the city was never COMPLETELY cut off from getting out (although there have certainly been road closures all over the place). But many homes flooded, many people were displaced, and clean up will be long.

I got lucky.

Turns out my new little condo happens to be on the "high" side of town, so in addition to having the distinct and obvious advantage of living on the third and forth floors right now, things like my parking lot have stayed relatively clear and non-lake-looking in appearance. Additionally, the building as a whole has kept things like power and water and hasn't felt particularly affected by the whole incident.

But then I read the road closures, and realized they were blocking off intersections within a few blocks of me on account of water and debris. Entire sections of ROAD are missing all over the place. And it keeps raining.

Thursday morning started like any other. I was dragging kids out of beds, coxing them into clothes, debating breakfast options while trying to get hair and teeth brushed. It was raining, just like it had been all week. I didn't think anything of it, they had been wearing rain coats and boots to school every day without incident.

Then my mom called, and asked how we were doing.

I was totally bewildered by why she would be calling right now, and her concern over... um, what??

She informed me about the school closures, the flash flood warnings, the desecration of Jamestown and now dangerous state of all the getting into or out of the mountains.

Oh. Well then. I guess we don't need to be in such a rush to get out the door after all.

I called in to work Thursday and Friday, and the kids and I spent a couple days taking full advantage of the use of a certain gentleman's Netflix account and waiting for the rain to stop.

My (very wonderful) mom was able to get out of the mountains through a very round-about way detouring through Central City and then down to Golden on Friday afternoon, and brought the kids back up with her so I could at least work my scheduled weekend shift at Target (and I was rather glad for the respite break from being in small confines with just my little people at that point regardless of the reason for it).

The school district in Longmont declared Friday (or was it Saturday??) that they will be closed this coming week at least through Thursday. The Boulder school district includes the mountain ones, and had issued a statement that schools would be OPEN come Monday with the exception of the mountain schools and a select few that were still physically under water.

But then it started raining on Sunday, and serious concerns about whether my kids could get back out of the mountains came up.

I was surprised by how emotionally distressing I found it to be facing the prospect of being that forcibly separated from my little girls despite them being in a very safe place. Turns out I don't like the idea of them being trapped up in the mountains away from me. But my mother, either out of compassion for me or personal bravery on her part (or desperately wanting a break from her little grand children), took a break in the weather to chance getting down here after all.

I was very relieved, and looking forward to settling back into our routine of school in the morning (not to mention the ever important Ballet Class on Monday afternoons).

...........And then I was notified that Boulder decided to close schools district wide after all for Monday and Tuesday.

It's ok, I didn't really need to go to work anyways. And, um... there's no such thing as too many Disney movies??

I'm totally lying right there, just so you know. There is totally such a thing as too many Disney movies. See also: too many days trapped in a small space with a melo-dramatic high energy extrovert who is literally bouncing off of the walls at this point and whom never stops talking to me and a small demon in pigtails who likes to bite when she's feeling ornery or bored and expresses all opinions by screaming these days.

In summary, my area has been hit pretty hard, my family is fine and with all their dwellings secure and not evacuated, and I am eagerly anticipating another few days of lock down mode with my munchkins.

That was also a lie. Nederland has school age care and preschool programs up and running for tomorrow, and I'm slightly regretting my haste to pull them back out of the mountains since the City of Boulder is not nearly as awesome at coming together and taking care of the community and it's needs.... including the needs of their littlest members (or at least the sanity of their keepers.)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Homework Time

Kristina's class is full steam ahead for math homework on a nightly basis, and because she is slightly behind on reading (I honestly thought if she was read to a lot something would just click... Eventually........), I have been informed she will have nightly extra reading homework as well. 

So with the start of the school year our routine has added Homework Time before bed. 

Not to be left out anything, Me Too (also known by her birth name, Adrianna, on occasions when separated from her big sister) has insisted on having her own homework every night as well. 

(Note to self: get a preschool workbook for her to do pages in)


It is really rather cute, at least during the moments when I'm not getting twitchy from explaining to Kristina how to count basic addition. Again. For the fifth time today. After going over it half a dozen times yesterday. And the day before that. And the day before that....

(See also: why I don't do homeschooling) 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Tired Is As Tired Does

You know that moment when you're overly tired and really should just go to bed but instead of going to bed you're continuing to try and do stuff and of course everything you're trying to do is way more frustrating and difficult than it should be simply because you're tired and therefore have decreased mental functionality? 

(Some might also ascribe this as "motherhood", but I am still foolishly optimistic that it is merely poor coincidence and not a true state of being for the next fifteen years.) 

(Also, I may be too tired right to objectively judge whether six years is still plausibly coincidental.) 

I got to that point tonight, and it was, of all things, over picking out my work clothes for the next day. 

I knew I was tired when I abandoned the battle to sort through the latest batch of six large trash bags if hand me down toys in an often futile feeling attempt to get my living room back into an almost clean state. 

I knew I was frustrated when I stopped trying to get the still-not-working-right Internet back online for the fifth night in the past week. 

I knew I had reached my limit of skill when I finally completed assembling a tiny chest of drawers for Kristina's room that took over two hours and made me swear I would never buy anything with particle board and drawers ever again. 

So I went to bed. 

Except that part of going to bed means laying out my clothes for tomorrow because I do not have the functionality of a slug when I first wake up and cannot handle things like "select a pair of pants" to save my life. 

And all my two pairs of work pants were dirty. 

Thus began the quest for tights, which quickly turned into destroying what slim semblance my closet had for organization as I cursed emphatically over my inability to locate a single fucking pair of tights in any of the fucking yet-to-be-unpacked boxes and bags floating around my bedroom. 

Midway through I attempted to re-strategize and make do with a pair of pants that weren't my usual work pants instead, which is how my sweaty tired ass got stuck in a pair of corduroys I had no business trying to put on in the first place, which I knew but somehow did anyways on account of really clouded tired judgement. Do you remember that scene from Friends (many eons ago...) when Ross had leather pants he couldn't get back up after going to the bathroom in a date's apartment? I honestly not sure of that scenario is better or worse than the inability to get ones pants off in the first place, however I am quite certain that both of them just suck for the person with the sticky booty. 

Finally I grew to accept the utter lack of tights and reasonable other pant alternatives and settled on a pair of possibly-yet-to-have-holes-in-them nylons instead, even though I will undoubtedly rip the knees out within twenty minutes of being at work. At work we sell tights. Oh, but don't buy the cheap target ones, I ripped holes in a pair of those just trying to put them on the last time I got them. 

So then I pulled out the skirt I was going to wear from the depths of the piles of clothes strewn about just to make sure I was good to go in the morning only to discover that I have gotten a little bit curvier and now it doesn't sit low enough on my hips to keep me from looking like a cheap hooker (see also: the story of my in middle school, chapter 7: the blossoming of hips), and really, the last thing I need at work is get in trouble for something dumb like a dress code violation just because my pants were dirty. 

Luckily I have another longer and more accommodating of hips skirt which I usually wear except that a couple weeks ago I ripped the split seam out of the back when I was riding bikes out to the storage bins behind Target where we keep all the extra back-to-college inventory and totally forgot to beg my mommy to fix it. But I have safety pins.... Yep, nothing like safety pinning your clothes together to make you feel like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, who, incidentally, was also a cheap hooker. 

Somewhere, there is an alternative universe where I manage to just buy a new fucking skirt when I rip the old one and have piles and piles of tights in every color.

However, there's also probably a universe where I just get enough sleep and have enough time not spent hollering at children to stop doing whatever it is you are doing that is making your sister scream so that I'm not so tired I feel like I don't even know how to handle life most of the time. 

It's good to have dreams.