Thursday, March 31, 2011


When I was single, I kept a pretty clean car. I didn't live out of it, like some I could mention. (Hi, Sue!) Once you have kids, though, a tidy vehicle is one of the very first victims sacrificed on the altar of busy parenthood. 

I took a look around inside my minivan today. Here's what I found:

  • a philosophy textbook
  • 2 quarts of motor oil
  • several rocks from our last trip to the beach
  • at least 5 dirty socks
  • 1 Hello Kitty! rain-boot
  • 4 dessicated apple slices
  • a bag of out-grown kid clothing destined for AmVets
  • 3 finger monsters
  • an over-due school library book on Valentine's Day
  • $2.75 in emergency parking change
What to you have in your car?

Monday, March 28, 2011

The first fifteen minutes

Disclaimer: Totally stealing this idea from Dooce.

For those of you still considering having children, allow me to tell you about my morning.

My wake-up call was the same pleasant one as usual, Miles bringing me a cup of coffee, giving me a kiss and telling me it was time to go on duty. As he headed into the shower, Claire climbed into the bed from the left side for a snuggle, Aeron burrowing under the covers from the right. Then she put her icy, cold feet on my butt. This eliminated the option of going back to sleep.

I plumped up the pillows, and began to drink my coffee while the girls nattered on about I don't know what. Their chatter kept me from understanding what the yelling was about downstairs. All I could really make out is Kayla seemed to be screeching at her brother. Not that I needed to wonder long; Kayla came racing upstairs, snarling about how Cameron isn't ready to leave for school and she gave him a 3-minute warning and she's tired of waiting around for him and being late, and Dad should not give him a ride to school and he needs to walk, etc...

"Leave him." I told her over the rim of mug. "Fine!" She flounced out the door and off to school.

Heaving my first sigh of the day, I shoo the girls off to the kitchen, with instructions to get some cereal, climbed out of my warm, comfortable bed and went to consult with my husband.

"I told Kayla to leave without him," I said to the shower curtain. "Shall I tell him to start walking?" I was then told Miles' story of how he couldn't get Cameron to get outta bed this morning. "I rubbed his back, pulled off all his covers, talked to him. He just lay there like a lump. After a while, I gave up. So, yeah. He needs to walk."

So I heaved my next sigh and went downstairs to be the bad guy. I found Cameron slowly putting on a jacket. "Dude. You need to get out the door and get to school," says I.  "Kayla couldn't wait for you anymore, so you'll need to walk."

If I had thwacked the child in the face with a dead fish, he couldn't have looked more surprised.


"Cameron. Kayla told you she was leaving in 3 minutes. You weren't ready to leave. So now you need to walk to school.".

"Jen! I didn't know what time it was!"

"Cameron. You need to leave for school now."

"I wanna talk to Dad!"

"Dad's in the shower. You need to leave for school now."

He glowered at me. I gazed calmly back at him. 

"Fine. Have a nice day." in a dark, flat tone of voice. The door slammed.

Back up stairs, I reported to Miles. We mutually pondered the mystery that is Cameron in the misty confines of the bathroom. Then came the banging on our bedroom door. I opened the door and saw Cameron, ready to kick the door again.

"Cameron. You need to go to school now."

"I wanna talk to DAD!"

"Dad's in the shower. You need to go to school."

"Jeeee-nnnn! I can't make it."

"I know. You'll be late. Go to school, Cameron!"

Well, you can see how it went. After a couple more rounds of call-and-response, some tears, and Miles telling the kid the same thing, Cam stomped off to the garage, got his bike and helmet, and went to school.  Note: the arguing and struggle took more time that it would have taken him to walk to school.

Update: No yelling this morning and Cam was ready to leave a 7:35am. Can I get a Hallelujah?!?

Monday, March 21, 2011

The duality of man

With all respect to any Freudians in the house, I believe man has two primary aspects to his nature. The "animal" part, that is driven by instinct and/or emotion and the "civilized" part, driven by the rules of society and culture. "Animal" Jen is the one who starts craving hearty soup the minute the thermometer dips below 50 degrees. "Civilized" Jen is the one who worries other moms on the school run think she's a frumped-out slob.

This past week, I have had been able to observe first hand the power of "Animal" man. I am referring, of course, to the beginning of Daylight Savings Time, when all the suburbanites have sunlight after work.

I am amazed by the behavioral changes that an extra hour of daylight brings to the table. For example, each and every evening last week, promptly at 5:30pm, the smell of lighter fluid would begin to waft over our cul-de-sac. Neighbor Rodney was firing up the BBQ for dinner. Another wonderment; we met a woman and her two children out walking in the neighborhood last Thursday. We have lived a block away from one another for almost six years! Yet, this was the first time we had ever spoken. Her youngest is now 4, an age where you can take the little darling outside and be reasonably confident you can keep 'em from running into the street. So, as it was a beautiful sunny day, and there was some daylight before dinner, they went for a walk. And lo! Another family, with children the same age! All the kids played together, and us adults sat on the comfy furniture inside, watching the kiddoes through the open windows and had a glass of wine.

Lately, the warmth and the sunlight beckon me outdoors. I have an urge to play in the dirt, planting veggies, tidying up my rose garden, setting up my outdoor living room. I can't wait to be able to have dinner on the deck, to sit outside and watch the hummingbirds and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. I thrill to every flower bud on the fruit trees. I fantasize about warm, homegrown tomatoes.

What primitive instinct is at work here? Is it just that we are all starved for some Vitamin D? Or is there some atavistic urge that drives us outside into the evening sunlight? Or is it the promise of warm days to come, when fresh food is abundant, and we can relax, just a little from the struggle, such as it is, to survive?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I am never going to make it

There is no way I'm not going have a nervous breakdown before Claire & Aeron are 18. No chance whatsoever.

Today's example: Having just arrived home from the grocery store, I sent the girls upstairs to change out of their Uggs and into shoes & socks for school. I was unpacking groceries when I heard sudden, shrill, terror-stricken screaming from Claire. I stampede upstairs thinking the child is either being torn apart by rabid dingos, or she's fallen and has multiple compound fractures.

"Claire!" I yell frantically as I'm tearing up the stairs. "Claire, what's wrong?!?"

I dash into the family room, and she's standing there, red-faced, still squealing. She looks fine. No blood, no limbs bent in unnatural angles, fine!

"Claire! What?!?"

"My nose is bleeding!"

Two drops! She bumped her nose and couple of drops of blood fell! Oh, and they have nose bleeds all the time! 

I'm not gonna make it.