6/20/08

Gone Postal

My environMENTAL streak set in today. That is, after the girls and I DROVE our non electric vehicle to the library. After story hour, I poured my melting toddler into the stroller, slung a pack full of gifts on my back, strapped Ana to my chest and set my sights on the post office. I have turned over a new leaf in life, now that I'm up to my eyeballs in children and diapers, I am sending baby gifts to every new mom I know. Maybe it's pity (welcome to MY world), maybe it's guilt for not sending them a gift for their wedding (WHAT!? I WAS broke!).
Regardless of the motive, I'm halfway to the post office with four gifts and two kids. No doubt, a sure fire recipe for disaster. I start by shoving the first gift box into a pink padded envelope. It-uh-almost-ugh-fit-ugh-!SMACK! Shelby's feet decided to defy gravity and I spun around with the half stuffed gift in hand only too late to realize I had cleared the work table of 10,000 Moving Postcards. Great.
With every yelp, Shelby's cries are squeezing more perspiration out of my forehead as she dramatically picks herself off the floor. I can't reach past the baby pack to legibly scribble an address without Ana's sticky fingers grabbing the pen from my hand. Beads of sweat are dripping down my face now, Shleby's yelping, I scribble a congratulations on the second gift box when Ana snatches a scrap of paper from the table. SWIPE!!!! A papercut across my nostrils. OWEEEE!!
I'm bleeding from the nose. Youch! So I squeeze it with my free hand and force myself to focus on the task at hand. I can't abort my mission-it'll be another 3 years before I get back here with gift wrapped presents AND the coinciding addresses. I reread my note: "Welcome to the World Baby Olivia..." Isn't this blue striped gift for Baby Graham? I did NOT just write ON the wrong gift....AUUGGHHHH! "Ana, PLEeeeeaasssse stop pulling the pen out of my hand!!"
By now, I'm seconds from a full blown heart attack, not to mention being drenched with nervous perspiration, AND every postal worker is lined up at the counter to watch the final scene of this ridiculous event I call my life.
One full hour later, I successfully mailed all four gifts (two of which were torn or scribbled on but who's counting?). AND THEN I pushed the stroller uphill two blocks to the car with Ana on my chest. It might as well have been raining because my luck couldn't be any worse. And the post office has a restraining order against me.

Upholding my Promise

I promised to live a more "Open Door Policy" life. I vowed to welcome friends and neighbors into my home, no matter what Class Tornado it was. To step over the laundry piles in the hall, push the toys off the sofa, sit down, slow down, put on another pot of coffee and talk. This was my 2008 New Year's Resolution. Well, last night I stuck to my word under less than ideal circumstances. Here's how it all went down.
The day began with the long drive over to Paso for a 2 hour swim playdate. We left Paso at 11:30 and barreled down the grade to Cuesta Swim Lessons in San Luis. Everything went amazingly well, we were actually on time, I had snacks and water, I forgot Ana's swimsuit, Shelby hadn't melted into a screaming banshee...yet.
The rest of the afternoon was spent at home until I realized we needed baby formula and pink high heels (when you have a Princess for a 3 year old you'll understand). So we finished the grocery list and headed to the Dollar Store for a bribe. "If we get high heels for you, then you can wear them ALL AROUND the grocery store while mommy shops!" THREE HOURS LATER, we were headed home. That's when the plan hit a road block, or rather, we were run off the road by a friendly mom carting two active toddlers who landed in our driveway and stayed for dinner. First of all, we had crossed paths with this family for the past two years: at library, at dance class, at birthday parties. So they weren't perfect strangers. And when they landed in our driveway I embraced my resolution, left a trunk full of groceries in the car and led them into my F-5 Tornado house. The kids played, we had water, the kids played, we had a beer, the kids played, John came home, the kids played, I formulated a late dinner plan and popped the question, "Would you like to stay for dinner?" It was nearing 7 pm already, what are you doing? This requires courses, cleaning, and doesn't include menu items like PB&J or raw carrots. Nevertheless, I was genuinely overjoyed when she finally accepted. I really have made some progress this year.
Nevermind the fact that we BBQ'd an enormous tri-tip and later found out she was vegetarian. Not a problem that her 2 year old inhaled 2 BOWLS of goldfish AND a vat of mac n'cheese (he did look a little orange in the face when they left). And my F-5 Tornado was gathering speed and demolishing every corner of my house (where did all those toys come from? where did the floor go?). We chatted up Disneyland details, poured some wine and doubled the fruit salad. When 9:00 arrived Shelby hit a wall. Remember the aforementioned screaming banshee? Well, that'd be her, right there in the middle of the disaster zone. "Herb, clean up on Aisle, uh, well, clean up on EVERY Aisle and bring security while you're at it. We have a Level 10 meltdown at Checkout 3." My sweet little princess, still decked out in her Tinkerbell Gown and sparkly new high heels grew fangs, a set of Pavarotti sized lungs and breathed fire. 9:22. SYSTEM SHUT DOWN. Bedtime! Bedtime! We couldn't say goodnight and goodbye fast enough. By the time the house was dark and quiet (and somewhat recognizable), it was after 11:00. And the best part?
It's 8:06, the morning after, and BOTH KIDS ARE STILL ASLEEP!!!! Eat your hearts out, people.

6/19/08

STILL...

8:36 a.m. Kids are STILL SLEEPING!!!!

MORE DISNEYLAND

This is obviously a HOT TOPIC for many parents, especially this time of year. I hear it discussed at swim lessons, in waiting rooms, at the bank, it even invaded my dinner party! Hell, I lie awake at night conjuring up more questions about it before story hour!
I've periodically added to the Disneyland Prep entry as I collect more information. If you care to revisit, go to http://culturednativity.blogspot.com/2008/06/disneyland-prep.html
or see the Best Of Cultured Nativity list in the margin.
I'll take more comments ANYTIME!

6/18/08

FOR SALE

I live in a ghost town. When John and I bought our little beach bungalow, the neighbors all gushed with joy at how we "completed the family feel" on the street. They explained how it had been so empty a few years ago but recently three young families had either moved in or had a baby (we did both). Winter nights the streets were filled with Christmas lights and inflatable snowmen. Hot days were spent riding bikes around the neighborhood and popping in for a beer at the neighbor's. Kids could be seen in every other front yard playing hopscotch, jumping rope. It all came to a crashing halt yesterday. I don't know how my Bad Karma could have come around so quickly but by the end of the day, I felt like "The Last Man Standing". I suppose all this vacancy began around Thanksgiving when our neighbor committed suicide. Yes, I said our neighbor committed suicide-TEN FEET from our bedroom. See http://culturednativity.blogspot.com/2008/01/best-of-2007-downer-drama.html to recap this depressing moment. That left us and the two single old ladies (85 and 92) in the two other homes on our side of the street. Well, come February they were both carted off to "The Home" within weeks of each other. We weren't totally alone just yet, 2 out of 3 houses across from us are still teeming with life. Then, last month, Chatty Cathy and her fireman across the street found a better deal a few blocks down and packed up in the night. At least my friend across the street, Martha Stewart's double, isn't packing up her coffee pot anytime soon. For God's sakes, the woman has FIVE kids, she wouldn't be crazy enough to pack up all those bodies and move, right? WRONG! I got that news yesterday.
Bartender, make it a double.
So, it looks like we're the only ones left around here. Did I forget to mention that the other 3 kid family on the next block down packed up their U-Haul last week and carted the whole fandamily to Idaho (I know, what WERE they thinking???). Okay, so it really is just me and my family and a whole lotta empty houses.
Anybody interested in moving into my neighborhood? We could use some life around here.

X Rated

It was our second day at swim lessons. The girls are both enrolled in a 35 minute class at the pool and they absolutely LOVED their first day. We were rightfully excited to repeat the experience again today (how the hell else would we EVER make it there on time???) I arrived ahead of schedule, for once, and managed to bypass the multiple errors I committed the day before. A.) NOT late, B.) NOT parked in the STAFF ONLY Parking, C.) Plunged Ana in the pool WITHOUT her socks-yep, that was yesterday, baby in swimsuit and hot pink socks. After delivering Shelby to her corner of the pool, I dressed Ana in her gear and slipped my cover up off. Mindlessly chatting away to another mom, I glanced down to make final suit adjustments and WHOAH! MAJOR NIPPLE EXPOSURE! Did she notice that? I looked around to check my audience. I'm sure everyone was too busy to notice that half sand dollar hanging out, right?! Right. No big deal, I've given birth with an entire audience in the room for god sakes, what's a half a nipple? Moving on, swim class, progress, fun, check. Ana and I hopped out of the pool a few minutes early so we could be prepared for Shelby's exhausted exit. I changed Ana and then attended to my own needs. Pulling my strapless cover up over my suit, I made haste to pull my top off before my cute little dress was soaked in all the worst places. Untie. Slip. Slide. I had the top of my bikini in my hand when I reached down to adjust my dress and realized it too had slipped, and was resting far below BOTH nipples (and lemme tell ya, after two kids, that was WAY down there!)
Can't wait to return to the pool tomorrow. Every eye oughta be on me, I'm sure to give 'em all a good show. Geeeeeezzz!!!!

6/17/08

Redemption

Our Father's Day was a big flop (I think hubby's opinion might go something like, "It F*&@ing Sucked").
For starters, the girls and I spent half the day out at the Lake with my dad while John headed to the beach for a dad's day surf. All fine and good so far, every one's happy and entertained. Things went awry when we arrived home an hour and a half behind schedule (packing up four days of crap and two cranky, waterlogged kids by myself in 2 hours or less is no small job). Unannounced to me, the surf was crappy and John returned home early to an empty house. He spent the next three hours alone, cleaning the garage (Happy Father's Day). Dirty, frazzled, sun baked and exhausted, we pulled in the driveway, flopped onto the sofa and unenthusiastically wished John a (monotone voice) Happy Father's Day(no fanfare, no card, no balloons, no gift). Ugh. Silently taking note of the sparkling clean and organized garage but forgetting to thank him. He then expressed an interest in visiting our neighbor's house to share some wine and say goodbye at their "little moving away party". Not really my idea of the perfect father's day with our family but...if that's what you want. Without so much as a grimace, I dragged myself off the sofa, showered and bathed the kids, threw a travel gift together and dressed everyone in party gear to walk down the street. We arrived late and soon realized that their informal goodbye gathering was actually a Double Birthday Bash/Baptism Party/Father's Day/Going Away Party complete with gifts and goody bags. Is it just me or are we a little unprepared and really out of place? I awkwardly handed the mom our completely inappropriate gift wrapped in newspaper. What are we doing here?? ran through my head a million times as I shook hands with every extended family member, oohhed and ahhed at baby's first birthday cake and gripped a plate of catered appetizers. A burned copy of The Backyardigan's CD wrapped in newspaper. That was our road trip gift. Holy lame-Oly. We should leave. Now. Why are we here??????
When we finally made our exit I breathed a sigh of relief after waving our final goodbyes. Home sweet home I thought, rummaging through our kitchen for some measly excuse for a dinner. John grabbed a beer from the fridge and paced around the back door. "Are you going somewhere?" I finally asked. He explained that he promised "The Guys" at the neighbor's house he'd return to the party with more wine. And with that brief explanation, he turned with a jerk, laid his finger aside of his nose, and flew out of sight. The kids immediately fell apart, wailing with exhaustion, Shelby sobbing, "But where did daddy go?" After 37 minutes, when I thought the roof might actually blow off from the endless shrieking generated inside our house, I gave ol' dad a ring. "Your daughter (Background Screaming) would like to give you (Shrieking) her Father's Day (Wailing) Gift before she goes to bed." I hung up, eyed her ceramic Daddy plate from school, rummaged for some paper and scribbled a brief but polite Happy Father's Day note. Part of me kicking myself for dropping the ball (it's the FIRST time ever I have been completely unprepared on a His Holiday, I swear) and the other part of me reveling in the timeliness of my mistake. He was home in 3 minutes flat. I practically chewed my lip off in an attempt to "bite my tongue" over his decision to leave us, literally. Don't ream him on Father's Day, he can do what he wants. That's not nice. It's not like you planned something extravagant for him here at home. Rip him a new one tomorrow.
That lasted until the kids were asleep and he opened with, "Did I do something wrong?" And then the floodgates were open, the dam burst, all bets were off, and I sprang into action with my teeth bared and my claws out. Boy oh boy did I put the finishing touches on a perfectly horrible Father's Day.
SSOOO, this entire week I am making an effort to be not just good to my husband, but unexpectedly great to the mostly amazing Father of my Kids. Last night, I whipped up a gorgeous meal for dinner and had it on the table when he arrived home. I cut my gym workout short this morning so I could pick up coffee and muffins on my drive home (and I wasn't late). I'm working up my next surprise to redeem myself for being such an ungrateful, bitchy, and thoughtless wife to the Father of My Children (despite his rare and minuscule shortcomings). I'm hoping to quietly redeem myself by the end of the week. I'll keep you posted.

6/16/08

2=Crazy

I took the kids up to The Lake for the past few days and camped out at my parents' "Cabinet". The cabin overlooks the water and is exactly as it sounds, VERY SMALL. John joined us after work each night for dinner, followed by enjoyably sleepless nights in our tent, on a semi inflated air mattress with two snotty nosed & phlegm harking kiddos. Why do they always get sick the day we arrive somewhere fun?
Our days were filled with water, mud, and sun. I painstakingly applied and reapplied sunscreen, tightened their hats, and coated them in bug spray to ward off ravenous mosquitoes (No doubt forgetting myself who is now suffering third degree sunburns in all the obvious places alongside several nasty bug bites, scratch scratch!) . My mom, Gigi, assumed the position of Life Jacket Enforcer on the dock, diaper changer, chef, and playmate to the girls when up at the Cabinet. Not to downplay my dad's efforts, Grandpa was the Royal Assembler of All Things Inflatable, as well as the Official book reader, motor boat driver, and Master Kayak Captain for Shelby. Needless to say, the kids were well taken care of at The Cabinet.
I indulged in all the grandparent help. The grand finale was the night Gigi offered to keep one kid in the cabinet so we didn't have to wake up all night. Really? Are you serious? OKAY! We elected to hand over our second born, teething, congested Bundle O' Joy, goodbye! Byebye!..... Auggh, glorious sleep!
Dragging and puffy eyed, Gigi offered her morning after feedback: "I forgot what mothering was all about. I don't know how you do it."