The kids say thanks!

a nice warm feeling
kids are so stoked for new books
new readers for life

I got a surprise in the mail today – a big pack of thank-you notes and pictures from the kids we bought books for (through Donors Choose).

They are so incredibly stoked, it’s amazing. Their letters talk about how boring the TAKS textbooks are and how grateful the kids are to have "real" books to read. Many of them send their wishes for other kids and classrooms to be so lucky.

So give yourselves a big ol squishy hug for helping out these kiddos and their teacher. I’m going to try and post some of their pictures and letters, because it’s something you all should get to enjoy.

Yay blog readers for helping out! Yay books! Yay kids being excited about books!

Click here and you can see some of the pictures and letters they sent.

Thanksgiving haiku (from last year)

to tide you over
until food and time settles
old turkey haiku!

pie filling tastes of
relatives’ holiday stress
eat store-bought instead

grandmother’s china
filled with turkey and gravy
all it’s ever known

Thanksgiving morning
It’s time for the parade! For
us all to ignore!

ah, sweet potatoes
please do not be mad that I
like your topping best

stuffing or dressing
a debate for the ages
‘cept that dressing wins

broccoli and rice
with butter, cheese and butter
and Phazyme sprinkles

on this occasion
will football be allowed, or
must I talk to you?

can you snap out of it when you’re drowning?

can’t quite reach surface
it’s definitely there though
least, that’s what I hear

I often joke about being driven crazy. Right now, though, I’m beginning to wonder if it’s actually happened. The crying seems to be a hint that maybe something’s not OK. This constant, behind the eyes prickly feeling I have isn’t a good feeling. Only it’s not constant. Some days I’m great – a mama who’s taking over the world. But other days all it takes is one thing and I have to chew on the insides of my cheeks to keep from completely losing my shit. Today is a shit losing day.

It’s funny how, at about four months post partum, it seems like you’re getting the hang of things. You kind of have a routine, you recognize some of your baby’s cries, you know how to soothe her, you know ways to literally talk your older child off the window ledge (or the kitchen counter or the back of the sofa), you’re getting the hang of it. But other people see that you have the hang of it and they think you actually know what you’re doing. Offers of help don’t come as often as you still need them. Your spouse goes to work early and comes home late because he sees the house isn’t falling apart without him. But you don’t have the control over everything like people think you do.

It’s a precarious hold I have over my household and myself right now. Sure things are messy, but the kids are fed, clothed and happy. The bills are paid, the budget is kept, the sheets are washed, the floor is cleaned, the dog is alive, birthdays are remembered, Christmas presents are bought, books are edited, new books are written, the car has gas, the pantry has food, hair is washed, underwear is cleaned, batteries are replaced, plastic is recycled, frogs are fed, eye doctors are visited, well child appointments are scheduled, school is arrived at on time, as is dance class, old milk is thrown out, dishes are cleaned, clothes that are too small are replaced with clothes that are too big, prescriptions are filled, lullabies are sung, knees are kissed, tears are wiped away, snot is wiped away, wishes are made from tiny little eyelashes, and sometimes, every now and then, mama gets to take a nap.

Mama does a lot these days and she misses herself. I miss having dinner together as a family, too. I miss having a husband to wake up to in the mornings instead of a hurried kiss as he leaves the house at 4:30AM for work. I miss going places. I don’t go places very often, other than taking the wee one to school and dance and the occasional visit to the library. I could go places when he’s at school, but I don’t have the energy. I’ve been too busy being mama from 4:30 AM to 7 PM every day. Even if I COULD get out, it wouldn’t be safe for me to drive because I’m so tired.

And that is why I have the prickly feeling behind my eyes. I’m tired. I’m a little overwhelmed. I need my partner to be my partner and not a visitor the family gets to see for a hour and half everyday before we go to bed. I need a break, a vacation, a shoulder, a good cry. And I need to not feel guilty for needing that. Because I do feel guilty for needing it. I HAVE a partner. I HAVE great kids. I HAVE my writing. I do not live in Darfur. My husband is not in Iraq. I do not need the food bank for my holiday dinner.

I am lucky.

But I’m underwater right now.

I’ve got yer shat-tastic right here

many adjectives
most do not contain word "shat"
does that make them lame?

I would like to preface this post by saying I have not seen William Shatner’s new show on the TV. But I’ve seen the promos and they claim it’s "shat-tastic!"

You wanna know what’s really shat-tastic? Having your kiddo shout "I just had water poop!" from the bathroom.

Sigh. You can’t spell awesome without "me."

the fantasy shattering freezer

yay field trips are fun
help out the community
insult the freezer

Earlier this week the wee one had a field trip to our local food pantry. The wee-er one and I went along to help wrangle the kids (well, actually we went along because I can’t get the wee one’s booster out of my car so I had to drive him. Yes, yes, I’m Mother of the Year.).

The kids got to help sort the cans they brought and they learned about the color-coded system of filling food bags. As I’m sure you’ve guessed already, this was, shall we say, less than scintillating for a group of 4-year-olds. But they were all very well-behaved and the trip was short.

At the end of the visit, we were all invited into the walk-in freezer to take a gander at the gazillions of frozen turkeys. Most of the accompanying mommies declined a chance to freeze our butts off, but the kids jumped at the chance. As they filed into the freezer I made a crack to the other moms about how we should shut the door and high-tail it to Hawaii for an impromptu vacation. Didn’t get a super response from that joke. What? Can’t a mom joke about locking kids in a freezer?

Anyway, the kiddos came filing back out, shivering and giggling – except for the wee one. He had a trademark scowl and eye roll going on.

"What’s the matter?" I asked. "Wasn’t it fun to see all the turkeys?"

"They didn’t even have feathers!" he exclaimed indignantly – as if we had all pulled some kind of mean joke on him. "They were all cut up or something."

I guess that would be kind of disappointing. I mean, if you’re expecting a bunch of regular ol’ feathery turkeys frozen in suspended animation, it might suck to see a bunch of Butterballs.

So our trip ended with disappointment – there were no "real" frozen turkeys, and I missed my chance to skip town for Hawaii. Overall, though, the food pantry was surprisingly entertaining and educational. They do good work there, even if they refuse to lock children in their walk-in freezer.

What’s that funky smell oop oop

stink waves in the air
sniff sniff what the hell IS that
they’re dirty all right

Yesterday, in an investigatory effort to figure what the hell THAT SMELL IS in the nursery, I poked around every nook and cranny and came up with nothing. I finally decided it must be the dog. When all else fails, you always blame the dog, right?

Well, a few minutes ago when I went to grab the laundry out of the hamper in the nursery I made an exciting discovery. Seems a sleep deprived mama has been throwing dirty diapers in with the dirty clothes instead of in the trash can.

Mystery solved, my dear Watson. You don’t blame the dog, you blame the mom.

an equation for exhausted smugness

suck, snore, flail, kick, eat
conspiracy against mom
no sleeping for you!

Well, this morning was a whirlwind of productivity. It was so productive, I thought I’d come up with an equation in case anyone else wants to see how to do it. So here you go:

1 tired mama
1 rambunctious 4-year-old
1 growth spurting 4-month-old

1 person mama forgot to call to watch the oldest kiddo for the morning
20 minutes of waiting at mama’s OB/GYN for her appointment
1 vat of toys OB/GYN supplies to entertain kiddo

1 functioning pelvis as I find out I probably acquired a hairline fracture during pregnancy (or childbirth)

anything to do about said pelvis – it just has to get better on its own. Which it is doing. Sloooowly.

2 tubes of blood for standard "you’re getting old" blood test

$30 co-pay

$3 parking (doc doesn’t validate)
1 insane idea to go down to UT campus and get a library card

30 minutes driving around parking garage to find a parking space

15 minutes nursing in car
many happy feelings, as children are behaving quite nicely during all of this

what’s left of pelvis and knees (I fell on my knees this weekend – splat – on the linoleum and they’re all banged up and swollen and buzzy feeling) as we walk to library
optimistic feeling as college students don’t look quite as young as I thought they would
competent library workers who not only find the UTID I had as a student, but get my new card situated in record time

$40 – cost of said card because I haven’t paid to stay a member of the alumni association
more optimistic feelings as students smile at kiddos in library instead of scowling at them

several ounces of milk (in the form of yarf down the front of the sling and my shirt)
1 awesome book I’ve been trying to find

several more ounces of already digested milk, again, all over the sling and my shirt
2 more books

several MORE ounces of already digested milk down my arm
1 nice check-out girl at the circulation desk
1 happy 4-year-old (we got to park on the roof!)

$6 to park for an hour and a half. DAMN.

$10 for lunch at Sonic (bleh)

any ounce of energy I thought I’d have left
a surprisingly happy mama and kids, a sore lower half of my body, a bunch of great books, and the thrilled feeling of being on campus for a morning. It was so great to see that the students didn’t look like babies and that they didn’t look at my babies like they were tiny little noisy trolls leaving flaming wreckage in their wake.

It was a good and weirdly liberating (though prohibitively expensive) morning. Now I need to go ice myself down and take a nap.

voice over supahstah!

be your own VO
entertain passers-by and
possibly yourself

I thought I had a handle on the constant out loud narration of my life, but now that the wee-er one is four months old, I feel like I need to explain things to her so that her spongy little brain doesn’t atrophy.

And yet, even when I’m alone (which, granted, isn’t very often) I still narrate.

"I’m putting on my pants. Zip zip zipper!"

"This steering wheel is kind of sticky. I wonder why? Uh-oh, better drive straight. No crashing the car today. Crashing cars is against the rules. Hey look! A cow!"

"This is a pretty shirt, ooh and soft, too. Did you know some red dye is made of bugs? Gross, huh? But pretty red. Red red. FORTY EIGHT DOLLARS?"

"I’m gonna go potty now. Let’s walk down the hall. Hey, it’s the bathroom! Look at the sinks! Uh-oh, no soap. Good thing I have my handy-dandy rub-rub germ killer."

That’s right. Getting dressed, driving, at the store, in the bathroom… I never stop talking. Not only that, but I’m usually swaying while I narrate the mundane. Back and forth I rock, as if I’m quietly dancing to some hairband ballad only I can hear. I sway because it calms the wee-er one when I’m holding her, or when she’s in the pouch. Swaying is like walking for me now. I just do it, I don’t think about it. Even when I’m alone.

I also talk about myself in the third person.

"Mommy’s going to grab this can of beans from the shelf so she and daddy can have burritos for dinner!"

"No, no, mommy doesn’t like it when the car door shocks her."

"Where is Mommy’s wallet? She had it at home, she surely did."

I tell you what, the swaying combined with the annoying, simple chatter, and the third person references must make me quite a sight when I take five minutes to run up to the HEB for some maxi pads.

My glamorous life gives you chills, doesn’t it?

Purple finger

chat with poll workers
enjoy your civic duty
get that cool sticker

I voted early, a couple of days ago, and it was so much fun.

Fun? You ask, your skeptical voice reverberating in my head.

It really was! Not the actual voting, per se (that part entailed much bubbling with a pencil and reminded me of taking the SAT, except when I vote I know NONE of my answers will be counted correctly. Kidding, kidding… sort of).

The fun part was talking with all of the old people who were running the polls. They were much impressed that the whole family came to vote and were even more impressed with the pouch the wee-er one rode in.

"It’s like a papoose!" they exclaimed, and after much exalted chatting about what a marvelous idea it is to be able to hold your baby close and yet still have both hands to vote, they yelled at me for a minute when I got in the wrong line, and then they let me choose my ballot.

A nice old lady entertained the wee one while the wee-er one and I disappeared behind a cardboard box to do our bubbling, and another nice old lady chastised my husband when his cell phone rang. We were praised when we remembered to fold our extra long ballots before stuffing (I mean sticking! Putting? Placing.) them in the ballot box, and then we were wished a happy afternoon.

It was very pleasant and friendly, and though I guess my political views vary greatly from most of the folks in the room, it didn’t matter. We were a brief, bi-partisan, many-aged, friendly neighborhood gathering of folks happy to be doing our best to exercise our basic rights. It was nice. And kind of heart-warming. I didn’t want to yell "Bill O’Reilly can suck it!" and run from the room, which is what I usually want to do when I find myself in a gathering of people from my county.

Yay voting. Go do it. The old people will be proud of you (and you’ll feel good, too.).