9/6/08

You Can't Go To School Naked!

The girls and I arrived at Story Hour our usual 8 minutes after it began. The children were quietly seated on the floor and the librarian hovered above them with a book about Kindergarten. We quietly made our way to the rug and cuddled up together. Then the librarian asked, "Has anyone ever gone to school naked?"
Considering this particular librarian (and I am not making generalizations) looked like she didn't get naked to take a shower, I had to giggle.
She stared at the group through her coke bottle glasses and adjusted the silk necktie on her tightly buttoned blouse.
The kids snickered a little as she held up a book titled, You Can't Go To School Naked! by Diane Billstrom.
Then she said, "Well, does anyone know why you can't go to school naked?"
Oh boy, toddlers, nudity, and an opportunity to speak. This is getting good.
A little boy's voice sang out over the chatter, "Because nobody wants to see your penis!"

9/2/08

The Best Summer Dinner

Although my husband was too tired to jump up and shout "Hooray! My wife is the greatest cook EVER!" (even though I know he really wanted to), I know the Thai Beef Salad Wraps were the perfect ending to an unperfect day. A light meal for hot weather, crunchy veggies and warm strips of beef, easily and quickly prepared, and all wrapped into a neat, no mess tortilla.
John and I shared the responsibilities of this meal (rare, I know). He grilled the meat and stepped in to wrap up and plate our meals. I shopped for the ingredients-this is the most time consuming part of the meal-and did the prep. Besides the fresh herbs(who stocks fresh mint regularly?), all else is pretty basic and super yummy.
Not necessarily a child friendly meal so whip up some Mac n'Cheese for the chitlins, put em to bed early and savor this sweet and savory light summer meal under the stars with a glass of Pinot Noir or a dry Viognier and any adult counterpart.
THAI BEEF SALAD WRAP
http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=689928
Also, the Menu calls for grilled soy-glazed eggplant, it's disgusting. Don't bother.

I forgot the tomatoes for this recipe so I borrowed from the one neighbor I have left in my hood. Being in his 50s, he was shocked to learn that I actually cooked meals for my family that didn't involve a freezer bag or a microwave. For the rest of you mommas who believe in the occasional home-cooked meal, this one's worth your time. Bon Appetit!

Surviving One More Day

It is our last day of "Summer" together, the girls and I. We have been graced with amazing weather this morning and I'm working up one last plan for the day before we begin a MUCH anticipated school year.
I've been mentally ticking off all the valuable lessons I've learned this summer about myself, my parenting acrobatics, and my downfalls.
#1. Summer School = Sanity. You better believe we'll be all signed up for that business next summer.
#2. Routine Activities Rock. Soccer, Gymnastics, Dance, Swim Lessons. They are all, sometimes all at once, important for brainless parenting success. Someone else entertains my child each day, leaving me a second to catch my breath.
#3. Extracurricular Activities are Expensive. I'm sure I spent more money on the three activities in which Shelby participated than I would have if she'd attended preschool for two months. Result? Toddler's exposure to variety of experiences. Crazy frazzled mommy.
#4. Single Parenting Should Not Be Accomplished In An Isolation Chamber. When your husband disappears and you opt of summer school, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, go it alone. Seek help, seek colleagues, seek assistants (in the form of babysitters), plan playdates. Any mom who tells you she loves her children so much she can't get enough of them is full of S&$%! We all need a break from each other. We all need a break.
#5. Go Outside. Personally, I find I can busy myself around and in my house for an entire day. That is, if it doesn't include two frustrated, screaming toddlers. I like my music, my writing, my books, my craft projects, movies, etc. The outdoors to my children is like the water to a fish. They literally dry up and shriek uncontrollably when they cannot go outside.
#6. Make routine purchases. Movies, activity books, art supplies, toys, cooking ingredients. These are all tools for survival. Unfortunately, I didn't realize this until the last month. But activity workbooks, bubbles, and fingerpaints are on my weekly shopping list.

Is there anything I've missed on this list?

9/1/08

Kiddie Math Continued...

(This entry is the second half of Saturday's entry:please see first entry below for clarification)
After locating Minnie, we safely transferred children, mom, and three loads of God-knows-what-crap into my car. Then we shoved both car seats in my trunk and drove towards our house. Knowing that A had previous plans for a meeting in town I generously offered her my car for the rest of the day. (A clash of images crossed my mind= A, in tie-dye, stepping out of a newly washed, black Lexus) Of course, my ulterior motive was simple, get my two kids safely home in time to lower the stress levels and possibly put Ana down for a nap before piano lessons. Then maybe, I'd only be left with one kid and two piano lessons. Little did I know my friend, had other plans.
First off, she declined my offer and "moved in" with us, unloading her items and opening her laptop in the kitchen. No problem, she has work to do and my kids are happily entertained by her kids. There's plenty of time to wear out my kids, put Ana down for a nap and plug Shelby in to a movie when my piano lessons arrive.
We chit chat over coffee and devise a plan to get Minnie some help. Did I mention A forgot her wallet at home? The plot thickens. My AAA card and a free tow to the nearest mechanic is our plan of attack.
An hour later, I set off to meet the supposed tow truck driver in hopes of wrapping the whole mess up in time for piano lessons. As I pulled out of the driveway I reminded A, "My cell phone died so I won't be able to call."
Realizing I had left her at home with FOUR kids, I sped away ALONE in my quiet car, turned up my Phoenix CD (because I have no iPod and my radio antenna broke) and cruised the highway. Fully decompressed by the time I reached Minnie, I parked my car alongside the highway and settled in to the rhythmic blink of my hazard lights as I flipped through a new Sunset Mag. 20 minutes passed and the tow truck driver was officially late. 15 more minutes passed and I thought about what my house looked like under siege of four toddlers. 10 more minutes and I was officially scared to go home and a little pissed off that my piano lessons arrived in 41 minutes and there was no way Ana would be interested in a nap.
Turning over the engine and slowly chugging home, I shook my head at the fact that I had lessons arriving in 38 minutes and FOUR kids at my house. Relax, I told myself, A is there to keep an eye on them.
I pulled into my driveway to notice a large and colorful circus tent had been erected in the front yard and all four kids working away like an army of ants transporting indoor toys to various bags, trikes and other receptacles strewn across the lawn.
A waved, "Hi!"
"Sorry," I said,"No tow truck driver."
"I know," she answered,"they called 10 minutes after you left to say they were running really late."
"Okay," I reasoned,"so now what?"
A explained that the truck driver should be arriving to Minnie any minute so she would take my car to meet him (and I hoped, any combination of kids).
She took the car keys and pulled out of the driveway. I surveyed the damage to my house and the FOUR kids now under my management. 31 minutes to piano lessons.
That's when A's oldest daughter tugged on my shirt, "Um excuse me, my brother just pooped in his diaper (she was pointing to her 3 year old brother). Could you take him away and change it, please?"
OMG, you have to be kidding!!!!
Crossing my fingers in desperate hope of his answer, I mused, "Um, Marky, do you want your diaper changed right this minute or do you want to finish your lunch first?"
His big brown eyes fluttered as he considered his options.
"I finish my lunch first," he proclaimed as he shifted into a squat position.
I cartwheeled across the lawn and into the house. Phew, that was close! How long can I avoid that diaper? Hopefully long enough.
The clock ticked away. 17 more minutes. I raced around the living room frantically devising a distraction plan in the form of activity books, a movie, and various sugary treats displayed on the toddler table. I cannot believe I'm managing FOUR kids with piano lessons.
With less than 4 minutes to go, I heard my car pull into the drive. THANK GOD!!!
A bounced out of the car with news of Minnie's safe arrival to the mechanic. With obvious guilt, I blurted, "Marky pooped in his diaper right after you left and I couldn't do it. I couldn't change it. I know you changed Ana's diaper while I was gone but I couldn't return the favor."
She was laughing hysterically. Oh, phew, I feel like a real dolt right now.
I continued, "I set up some distractions inside and..."
The piano students had arrived. A was bouncing Ana on her hip, and the house was a disaster, and my children were happy, and perfectly distracted. And I was relieved. And I was leading my piano students away from four kids and into the quiet and clean studio. And everything worked out fine.
P.S. After piano lessons, A and her kids remained at my house until her mom finished work to retrieve them. When they left they diligently cleaned up every last item. We had survived 6 and a half hours at home together. My house was tidy. My nerves were frazzled. We are still searching for a missing set of plastic vegetables that probably migrated to some cranny in the garage. But in the end, I didn't have to change that diaper.