Science is fun… Sort of.

A friend recently suggested that I attend this local science festival-type-thing with the kids.

It sounded like this when she told me: Oh!  They’ll love it!  They’re into science-y stuff!  They’ll have a great time!  You have to take them!  It’s so great!  It gets bigger and bigger every year!

Splendid, I thought to myself, free entertainment for the kidlings.  Encourage interest in the sciences. Sounds like a win/win proposition.

Most of you already know this about me, but for those that don’t: There are certain situations where I don’t handle myself very well.  These situations include (but are in no way limited to) any venue that is hot, small, or has people.  The recipe for a good time?  Put me in hot, small space that is brimming to the tippity top with humans.  For extra enjoyment, tell me to bring my kids along, so that my misery may be properly compounded by losing sight of one or more children on multiple occasions.

I should have taken the lack of parking and presence of traffic control personnel as a giant red flag, but it was too late to turn back.

All of my belly-aching aside, the kids thought it was fantastic.  They were hot and tired before we had been to even half of the exhibits, but they were excited and interested in what we saw.  They ate marshmallows frozen in liquid nitrogen, watched static electricity bend water, made slime, handled a crazy amount of rocks and minerals and more.

One nature exhibit had a coyote skin.  Goose started petting it, flipping it over, poking it in the nose, and studying it from every angle.  Buddy immediately bristled and asked the poor woman working the exhibit, “What did you DO to him?!?”  She did her very best to explain to him that she didn’t do anything to him, but sometimes animals die and isn’t it fantastic that he left his skin for us to learn from, and so on.  He wasn’t convinced, but his outrage didn’t last long.

You see, he found this hovercraft thing that he wanted to ride.ASML  He absolutely lit up with excitement.  He and Bear both took rides on it.  Goose wanted to stay on the sidelines with me and play with her slime.  Then I realized whose exhibit this was.  Actually, it was the giant display they had up with a map that said “Where is The Netherlands?” that gave it away.

Oh, I know where The Netherlands is, Mister.  It’s a black hole filled with wooden shoes and cheese and tulips and it sucks my friends into it but doesn’t always spit them back out.  And I don’t give a hoot if the cheese is amazing. (Please send Beemster.)

The Netherlands

The Netherlands
(Black Hole Concept Wikimedia Commons)

When the three kids started hanging from me like so many wet sweaters on a drying rack, we called it quits and went home.  So happy was I to be outdoors, that I nearly forgot how unpleasant the evening had been.

The kids are still talking about it.  They can’t wait to go back next year.  Science is great!  They want to learn all about it!  Super fun!  Great event that accomplishes its mission to get kids interested in science!

… which means… that next year… I will have to find someone else to take them, because I would rather be sucked into a black hole than try to navigate a mess like that again.  (Although, I’ll reconsider if I hear that one of the tables is demonstrating the grape fermentation process.)

What I did on my spring vacation…

Remember last year, when we went on vacation?
Right. Well, we did it again.
Don’t worry. It was much less dramatic than it was last year. It was mild.
But an entertaining story nonetheless.

So, we pile three kids, a mountain of snacks, and a fresh batch of Potette liners into the swagger wagon for our drive to South Carolina. The drive was blissfully uneventful.

And then… we went to the beach.  It really wasn’t warm enough to be in the ocean, but it’s not possible to explain that to 2 eager four-year-old children.  Buddy and Goose are playing and splashing in the surf.  I notice about half a dozen police officers strolling toward us slowly, eyes trained on the water.  I turn and see the source of the problem.  There’s a naked man in the water.  He’s drunk… or something and also headed in our general direction.  Though he was not super-close, we bring the kids up the beach to play in the sand so as to not interfere with law enforcement.

The gentleman in the water was clearly off his rocker and eventually comes up on the beach, a struggle ensues, followed by a squeal and the nudie crumples into a heap on the sand for a moment before they cuff him and take him away.  To be fair, I didn’t actually see a Taser, but I assume that’s what happened, as I have never seen anyone take a fall quite like that before.  It was spectacular.

What about the kids, you ask?  Are they traumatized?

No.  They couldn’t have cared less that the man was in his birthday suit.  Naked guy… big deal.

Police officers? No lights on. Again, unfazed.

Were they bent that they weren’t allowed in the water?

Yes, yes they were.

Buddy yelled repeatedly to the officers, “Can we go back in the water yet?…. What about now?”

Seriously, all they gave a dang about was getting back into the frigid water for more wave splashing.

Fast forward two days…

I am putting the kids down for a nap.  I cover them up, one at a time, starting with Goose…. Bear…. Buddy…. as I’m backing out of the door, Goose sits upright, acts like she’s trying to pull a piece of hair or fuzz out of her mouth.  She looks worried.

Me: Goosie, what’s the matter?  Got fuzz in your mouth?

Goose: No… *pause*… my money is gone.

Me: What money?

Goose: My gray money.

Me: Ok, where did it go? Let’s check your bed.

Goose: Nooooo… *starts crying*

Me: What’s wrong?

Goose: I ate it! *cries harder*

Me: (thought bubble) I’m soooo not getting a nap today. Crap. And where on earth did she get a coin?

Me: (Actual words) Ok, can you breathe?

Without relaying the entire conversation: she could breathe and swallow.  I wasn’t much worried.  It’s small enough to pass.  No big thang…. except she kept insisting that it was stuck in her throat…. hmmmm….should probably have that addressed.

To the ER we go.  Ever wonder what a quarter might look like in a 4 year old’s stomach?

I got cash.

This is what a quarter looks like inside a pre-schooler.

As I suspected, the doctor told us that the quarter would exit on its own eventually and would likely go unnoticed as it would be wrapped in a package and flushed away.

The next day, we are out and about when we come upon some sort of craft fair and some bounce houses.  Naturally, the kids beg to go bouncing.

Me: Now, hold on guys.  Let me find out how much it costs.  I don’t know that I have any cash.

Goose: I got cash. *rubs tummy*

Does a 4 year old understand irony?  Indeed, she does.

I spent the next several days standing nearby the toilet hoping to hear a clink but it never happened.  I really wanted to see it, but I wasn’t willing to dig for it for obvious reasons.

It was a Mississippi quarter, if you were wondering.

The rest of the trip was much less theatrical and therefore, not worth rehashing.

It was really a fun trip, we enjoyed family time immensely, and I was exhausted and glad to be home when we returned.  That was nearly two weeks ago and I still haven’t unpacked, so if anyone would like to come over, unpack, do all of my laundry, and finish the 7 other blog posts that I’ve started and not finished… be my guest.

Wish You Were Here…

This is bound to be one damn long post… you’ve been warned. I’m a little emotional so apologies in advance for errors in grammar, tense, style, etc.

In case anyone wasn’t aware, the fam and I went on vacation this past week in Myrtle Beach to visit with the in-laws. We planned to leave on Monday. The week prior to our departure was rife with stomach bugs and other forms of viral unwellness. The Saturday before we left, our beloved lab mutt, Liesl, hurt her back. I opted to leave her where I work (a veterinary hospital) while we were away and hoped that the rest and therapy and careful attention of the medical team there would prove to help her.

We leave on schedule that Monday afternoon. I was apprehensive. 3 kids in a car for 13+ hours during the overnight hours seemed daunting. We prepared for the worst, including the possibility that we would have to stop somewhere along the way for an overnight. I had DVDs, snacks, books, and various other sorts of entertainment available (Thank you, Target Dollar Spot!), as needed to distract the children. But truly, I just hoped they’d sleep.

Goose and Buddy ended up sleeping a good part of the way. Bear was bothered by the lights from oncoming cars and slept very little. Even so, all three of them were champion road-trippers. We made the trip in 13.5 hours with exactly 2 stops. I don’t think hubby and I, when traveling alone, ever accomplished the trip in that length of time.

It’s Tuesday morning when we arrive, and while most of that day was wasted in catching up on sleep, we still managed a short trip to the windy, cloudy beach. Wednesday and Friday, we also go to the beach only this time both days are beautiful. Breezy, but sunny and warm. Goose runs straight into the waves, which were very very cold. The chill didn’t bother her at all. She jumps and splashes in the waves for as long as I can stand to be there with her.

Bear was having fun running along the beach until a wave barely touches his foot and sends him screaming back up the beach to drier ground. He would not go near the water again.

Buddy prefers the sand to the surf, too. He tells me that he will get swept away by the ocean if the water touches him. I don’t know where he heard this. I did certainly did not say it. I tried in vain to convince him that he wasn’t in any danger if he was with me or daddy. He remained unmoved.

Thursday, daddy went golfing and the kids and I went shopping with their grandmother. They made Build-a-Bear Dinosaurs. Buddy has a spinosaurus named Dino. Goose has a velociraptor named… Rose. And Bear made a wooly mammoth named Wooly. Dino sings “Happy Birthday”, Rose growls, and Wooly giggles.

Bananas Foster & Cherries Jubilee

Hubby and I managed a date night at The Library Restaurant, which is such a wonderful place. The food was outstanding. The service was wonderful. It was quiet enough that we could actually have a conversation over our crab cocktails and flambeed desserts.

We plan to leave Myrtle Beach Saturday.

We press on. Just as we hit Delaware, Goose starts complaining about her tummy hurting. I think she may need a potty break. We stop. (Shout out here to the Potette, AKA “Car Potty”, for saving us from near disaster on numerous occasions during this trip. While “car as restroom” is not optimal, it certainly beats “car seat full of sewage” when time is of the essence.) We move on, hoping to reach a hotel in Wilmington. We get to the hotel as Goose says, “My tummy really hurts!” I calmly tell hubby that I will get us a room and he should get a bag for the kid to barf in (Potette to the rescue, again.) We hope all night that it was car sickness and not a stomach bug. We made it through the night without incident and head to the Bronx zoo late in the morning.

The zoo was fine. The kids had fun but were disappointed that we couldn’t see everything because we had gotten there late and it was cold and sort of drizzling. We were finally home later in the evening Monday night. I think the whole family was happy to be back in our own house, and in our own beds. It was the longest vacation hubby and I have ever taken in our almost 13 years of marriage. I’m thinking it may have been a day or two longer than necessary.

And now today.

Today has been a very sad day. Libby is somewhere over the earth on her way to Holland with her sweet kids. They’re gone. I know it’s only for 20 months, but I miss them already and selfishly would have liked to stop the plane, but I’m told that I am not the center of the universe. Here’s wishing them safe journey, and a wonderful adventure in Europe. We will keep in touch… I have to figure out Skype, and where to get a passport. RIP MaryAnne.

And finally: Liesl. I had been calling in to check on her daily during our vacation. It was weighing on me. I know she had a slipped and/or ruptured disc. We decided against surgery given her age and the arthritis in the rest of her joints, figuring that a serious surgery followed by a lengthy recovery and rehabilitation was probably more than she could handle. I hoped that while we were away, the wonderful team that I work with might be able to improve her mobility at least a little by the time we got home. She had acupuncture, chiropractic care, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, massage and a battery of meds. They put her in a cart (essentially a wheelchair for dogs). They let her lay in the sun and spoiled her with cookies. They cuddled and doted on her. I can’t thank them enough for that. I know that she spent her last days content and as comfortable as possible in their care. I am sorry that I wasn’t with her, too. This morning we went to see her, and made the decision that no pet lover wants to make. She was never going to get her back legs to work again. She was essentially paralyzed in her back end. And so we stuffed her full of some foul-smelling cookies that she seemed to really love and then… we said goodbye.

For nearly 13 years, she was with us, through 3 houses, and 3 kids. We adopted her from the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society just a few months after we were married. Since then, she has been thieving our socks, shoes, and underwear, tipping over trash cans, barking for cookies, entertaining us with her soccer ball antics and generally making a nuisance of herself. My heart broke today, and I will miss her terribly.

I haven’t told the kids yet. I couldn’t. I’ll try tomorrow.

For tonight…. I’m going to try and get some sleep.

Oh yes, it’s ladies night. Oh, what a night. (The Bon Voyage)

Alternate title: Moms Gone Wild

Alternate alternate title: Leaving on a Jet Plane

When you’re socially inept, like myself, it is often challenging to find friends, especially good ones.  I am ridiculously fortunate to have some amazing friends.  The kind of friends that make you feel as if you’ve known them forever from the moment you first meet.

Two of them are leaving for Holland very soon (the country, they are moving to Europe, not kidding).  The divine Ms. SheNayNay is  permanently returning to her mother ship land and the sensational Ms. Libby is staying  for 18 months. *sigh* I’m going to miss them terribly.  And my kids will miss their kids.  And I will miss Mr. SheNayNay’s Oscar the Grouch pajamas.  And I will miss Coffee Talk with Mr. Libby…. well, maybe not the last bit.

So what’s a gal to do when two of her friends are going on an amazing adventure in the Nether-regions?

HAVE THE MOTHER OF ALL LADIES’ NIGHTS, THAT’S WHAT!

Begin at the beginning, shall we?

The limo arrives at my house around 5:45PM.  Libby, SheNayNay, and….. (Here’s the part where I wish everyone involved had chosen their own pseudonyms, but since they didn’t, I’m forced to either create my own or leave them nameless.  Apologies in advance.  I remember every one of your beautiful faces and I am glad that you were there, but I won’t name anyone without permission.) 101 Ways to Wear a Scarf were already on board, wine glasses in hand.  2 other friends and I jump in and open the second bottle.  We pick up 2 more friends, so now we are 8.  It took almost no time at all to drain the 2 bottles of wine that we started with, so we ask the driver to stop for more.  A total of 4 bottles of

Blurry Limo interior

wine were consumed in just over an hour between home and the restaurant, so many (all?) of us were a bit buzzy by the time we sat down for dinner.  We were having such fun in the limo that I was a little disappointed that we were at the restaurant so soon.  A word of advice: if you ever have occasion to text the word “limo”, please be aware that auto-correct may change it to “limp”.  Awkward.  (I’ve included a blurry picture of the limo interior for your enjoyment.  I didn’t occur to me to wait for the vehicle to stop moving before trying to photograph it.)

Another friend met us at the restaurant for dinner, and so now we are nine at a table for ten with a single sad solitary chair at the end of the table.  I reserved a table for 10 knowing there would only be nine, but my brain can’t process an odd number reservation.  How lucky.

As it turns out, yet another friend was surprising us for dinner.  It was, I believe, a surprise for our guests of honor, but one among us spilled the secret to me in advance.  Hooray for the Hail Mary babysitter that made it possible! It wouldn’t have been the same without her.

Full table, full bellies and empty bottles.  Dinner was wonderful.  I do not remember what I ate, but I think it was good.  Someone, during dinner, may have drunk dialed Mr. Libby.  I can’t remember clearly who that might have been (Why are you looking at me? I would never…) or even why the call was placed.  I… ummm, I mean, whoever it was, may have tried to procure a ride in a police cruiser, just for fun, from a friend’s hubby who was with Mr. Libby for the evening.  Truthfully, the details of dinner are sketchy at best for me.  Someone else might be better able to recount them.  Feel free to fill in the blanks in comments, ladies.

Mary Anne

I do recall being chastised for excessive phone handling, but as my phone is my camera, if any pictures were to be taken, phone handling was required.  At some point in the evening Libby declared that my phone needed a name since I spend so much time with it.  Allow me to introduce you to Libby’s phone: Mary Anne is a trusty steam-powered cell-phone, who will have to finally be retired upon leaving the country because her cell phone company will not support that phone any longer upon her return to the states.  Mary Anne’s final fate is unknown at this time.  I vote for a shadow box to permanently display her in Libby’s home.  Or she could become the furnace of the new town hall in Popperville. (What you cannot see about Mary Anne, is that she is actually taped together at the back.  Can you believe that phone can make a phone call and actually text?)  I thought that naming my phone seemed like a good idea and suggested Tangerine or Clementine to reflect her fabulous orange case.  Libby seemed in agreement, but a few hours later referred to it as “Mandarin”, and that’s what stuck.

After dinner, the ten of us walked to a nearby club.  We chose this club specifically because it promised fun 90’s music for our inebriated enjoyment.  It was dark.  It was a little seedy.  It was nearly uninhabited except for the DJ, the bartender, and a handful of random characters.  The music was decidedly mediocre in spite of our efforts to guide the DJ by way of repeated requests. (Hey, did he ever play Regulators like I asked at least twice as a tribute to the late Nate Dogg?) Libby was especially vocal about demanding that he play the whole song.  I do not understand why he kept lopping off the last 30 seconds or more of every tune.

Back to the point.

When we first arrived a young man offered (or was coaxed? I wasn’t party to this, so I have no idea) to buy shots… except that there were 10 of us and he only had $12.  The bar tender was handing out some delightful (ick) shots in plastic tubes with foil seals (faux test tubes, I suppose) that came in a variety of colors, none of which are found in nature. Yet another friend joined us, and now we were 11.

Mostly there was a great deal of dancing and merry making.   I am certain of this because my right knee was suffering mightily the next day.  Somewhere around midnight, with my buzz waning and sleepiness descending, and the failure again of the DJ to play Regulators,  I heard that the Secret was heading home and opted to hitch a lift with a sober human instead of calling a cab.  3 of us jumped ship with the Secret, leaving 7 behind to continue the dancing and DJ abuse.  I’m told that they rolled in around 4am…. I think I would have been asleep by then.

It was a memorable night for all, at least I hope so, because a wonderful memory is what we hope Lib and SNN will take with them across the world to start a new chapter with their families.  Damn it.  I’m getting all weepy, again.  Your absence will be felt, ladies.

And, yes, I’ll consider getting a passport if Scarves, and Lashes (and anyone else who wants to go) think they can tolerate the excessive hand-holding that will be required to get me there.

I just saw Halley’s Comet, she waved.

An image of Halley's Comet from 1910.

Image via Wikipedia

I am a giant pain in the rear to live with and I marvel that my husband has continued to hang around for over 12 years.  Perhaps he’ll stick around for 64 more.

When he asked for my help packaging an item he needed to ship out, I told him I’d be happy to assist after the kids were asleep.

We put the little ones to bed and set about finishing up the usual day’s chores: straighten the living room, start the dishwasher, pre-load sippy cups with milk for the morning.  Standard tasks done, I waited for him to finish the dishes so I could help him with the box.  I’m not a patient person.  My impatience is visible no matter how hard I try to disguise it.

Hubby looked over at me from the sink, “Oh, you’re ready now?”

“It’s fine.  Take your time.” I told him, using my most sincere voice.

“You don’t mean that.  Let’s do it now.  It’s like Halley’s Comet, I don’t want to miss it.”

Startled, I said, “What do you mean, ‘Halley’s Comet’?”

“I mean it only happens every 76 years or something that you have spare time in the evening.”

I was stunned, and he is absolutely and indisputably right, which is a pity because I’d really like to deny it.  He wasn’t angry, although maybe he should have been.  It was stated fact and nothing else.  The evenings, like this one, are often spent catching up on email, …ahem… blogging,  playing video games, studying, or working remotely.  And if I’m not somehow tied up on an electronic device, I’m likely not home.

That isn’t to say that he is 100% engaged all the time either.  If he isn’t attached to his laptop, or phone, or outside working on his car, he’s probably not home.

I’m not complaining.  It’s all very equitable.  I just can’t help wondering if it isn’t somehow wrong.  I love my technology.  I do.  My iPhone connects me to the universe.  I check it often.  Really often.  Too often?  I mean, just because I check it in the middle of the night if I happen to wake up, doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem.

Right?

Just in case, I’m scaling back.

Don’t worry, the blog, the email, etc will carry on as usual, just perhaps a little more slowly.  I’m starting with small manageable things like leaving my cell phone upstairs and out of earshot from dinner time forward, and wearing a watch when I go out so that I don’t have to handle my phone to see the time (which becomes a legitimate excuse to check for messages while I’m at it.  That’s reasonable, isn’t it?).

So far, so good.

The point is (of course there’s a point, I just prefer the scenic route) that I don’t often make an effort to connect with people, at least not in a human way (face to face, telephone, smoke signals), but I’m going to start trying… so, if I show up unexpected and uninvited on your doorstep, you’ll know why. (I’m mostly talking to my husband here, I would never show up at someone’s house spontaneously, and since he and I live in the same  house, I can hardly be considered uninvited. Regardless, I should hang out with him more often.)

All the women who are independent….

A few weeks ago, I used the snow-blower.  It was the first time ever.

I just heard half of you say, “Big Deal.”  Step off.

I decided that it was time I learned how to use the damn snow-blower earlier this winter.

Typically, this is hubby’s “job”, and I am happy to wait patiently in the house while clears the driveway, but lately, I’ve been thinking.  Why is it his job?  Why can’t I do it?  What if I needed to do it?  I don’t even know how to start it.”

I tried to think of things that I do that he doesn’t so I could justify my continued ignorance.  There are the usual things: scheduling the doctors appointments, keeping up with preschool agenda, choosing the kids’ clothes every morning.   But ultimately, he could do any of those things if I asked him.  I just haven’t.  He already does laundry, dishes, etc.  So really, there isn’t anything that he absolutely couldn’t do without my help.  Certainly, I rely on him to do lots of things that I prefer not to do (take out the garbage, address spiders and other crawly things, etc), but some things I simply would not have any idea how to do without him.

There was the snow-blower, which I’ve already mentioned, but you can add using the lawnmower, the generator, and the grill. How exceedingly girly of me. And how silly, too. I’ve always prided myself on being able to manage basic car maintenance (except changing a tire, that’s going on the list, too), and here I have let all these other things slide by in the convenience of my cozy marriage.

So I asked him to give me a snow-blower tutorial, and I got to test it out a few days later.  We got out of bed in the morning to a pile of snow.  He asked if I was going out that day.  I told him that I wasn’t and he decided he’d handle the driveway after work.  I took the opportunity to apply what I had learned.

It wasn’t pretty.  The driveway had thin strips of deep snow in between the passes that I had done with the blower because I went too fast and didn’t overlap enough, but that didn’t matter.  Pretty wasn’t the point.

The point was that I went out and I did it.  By myself.  And I did it well enough that I could have easily gotten the Swagger Wagon out of the driveway… even though I didn’t have anywhere to go.

It turns out that there was a purpose for all the snow this winter.

It reminded me that I’m a capable human being.  I get it.  And now, I’m ready for spring.

Turn and Face the Strain….

Changes.

Where to begin? I should probably start by telling you not to expect much by way of humor in this post, and whatever does seep through the cracks is likely to be negative and sarcastic, because that’s where I am today.

I’m reevaluating my priorities. You see, I’ve been suffering this semester with my MBA coursework. When I say “suffering”, it is not hyperbole. I mean actual physical distress: migraines, sweats, nausea. Suffering. I sit down with text books and my laptop nightly, only to sit idly staring at the pages or the screen. I won’t do it. I’d like to say that I can’t do it. But that would be a cop out. I could. I just won’t. My brain has completely shut down in regards to my current coursework, and I’m too tired to work through it. I cannot complete an MBA without these courses, and I’m not going to be able to complete them, not this semester, and possibly not ever.

It occurred to me tonight that in place of the guilt/worry/stress involved with this degree, I might be reading for leisure, or playing a video game, or blogging, or having a conversation with my husband. We have wonderful conversations when there’s time to talk. Why am I running myself ragged?

Sometimes it’s necessary to face the strain and decide what to do with it, so, I’m withdrawing from the program.  I already feel like a tremendous weight has been lifted.  I can breathe.  I can sleep.  I can dance. I can frolic. I can…. you get the idea.

So, am I giving up on academia for eternity?  No.  Not yet anyway.  I have a new plan.

I’m going to get a Graduate Certificate in Human Resources.  It should take 2 semesters.  I’ll start in the fall.  And when that’s done… then… I will be done with academia forever.

The brilliant part of this plan is that all of the courses are topics that I find fascinating and am eager to learn more about, no panic inducing financial or statistics courses in the program.  I’m actually looking forward to it.

Also starting this coming fall, I will have a glorious 2.5 hours, twice a week, entirely to myself. Entirely.  For the first time since childbirth, I will have a short time to myself that isn’t earmarked for someone else (work, husband, etc).  It will be mine.  All mine.  All 3 of my children will be attending preschool at a wonderful place that the whole family loves and that feels like an extension of our home and family.  I can’t tell you how excited I am.  I agonized for weeks over what to do with preschool next year when this arrangement presented itself.

2011 is shaping up to be a great year… MBA drop out aside… although… I think that maybe a blessing, too.

So, prepare for more regular postings… I’m going to have a little time on my hands. 🙂