1/17/09

Hey Jackass

I picked Shelby up from preschool and her forehead greeted me at the door, red, splotchy and swollen. As she put it, "She wanted to get out of the sandbox and her forehead fell on the black top."
Not five minutes after preschool pickup I rolled up the car windows and smashed all her fingers in it.
Then, when we finally got home after dual wailing from both kids (one cries and the other one starts in), and something compelled me to invoke the spirits of that show JACKASS. I've owned this car for 5 years and have been under the impression it had safety windows that would automatically unroll if anything was stuck in them. So the girls and I all stood in the driveway, I put on my Johnny Knoxville sunglasses, placed my left hand in the open window and with my right hand, rolled it up. "OOOOOWWWWWWWWEEEEE!" And the window just stopped, like a vice on my friggin fingers!
My children stood in awe of my intelligence and I can't even begin to imagine what the neighbors thought. The only upside, besides my swollen fingers, was that my children went from obnoxious crying to a silent state of shock at their own mother's stupidity.

1/15/09

The Usual Guilt

Why is there so little thought applied toward the second child and yet, whenever I make time to consider her needs and development there is an overwhelming amount of guilt? I turn to admire her, the next thing I know my mind wanders around the events in her daily life, my attentiveness to her and all of a sudden I am cloaked in guilt and self doubt about my parenting and lack thereof.
When #1 was 17 months, I'd recently discovered a new world of activities for her: library story hour, gymnastics, parent participation preschool, parks, museums, playdates. I was overflowing with enthusiasm for this new parent-child world I had never before explored. We had an activity almost every day, it seemed.
And then I analyze the schedule of #2 that is wrought with interruption. Every morning we get up and have breakfast but it's cut short because sister needs to get to school. We run home for a movie, a snack, or a walk and then finally a nap. Which is also cut short because we must pick up #1 from school (on time-OR ELSE). There are playdates, but usually for #1 and little #2 must tag along. There's dance class, but #1 actually attends the class while #2 twirls in her tutu against the one way glass of the lobby.
A few weeks ago I approached the possibility of enrolling #2 in a class on the MWF that #1 attends preschool. After all, taking them both to a new class would defeat the entire purpose of evening out their score cards, right? So, correct me if I'm wrong (PLEASE) but it seems there is some sort of phenomena in the toddler activities available to us within a reasonable driving distance. But before I explain that, in support of my efforts to find an appropriate class for #2, I have contrived a list of activities already considered: Parent & Me Gymnastics, Parent Participation for Toddlers ages 1-2, Parent Participation for Behavior & Sleeping Habits with Toddlers 12 mo-18mo, Musical Movement for Toddlers. And excuse my printed screaming but THEY ARE ALL CONDUCTED ON DAYS BEGINNING WITH THE LETTER 'T'!!!!!!!
With guilt arrives action and with action arrives discovery and with discovery comes frustration which leads me back to guilt. Somebody stop this vicious circle, please.

1/14/09

My Twenties, Before and After

First off, I want to apologize for the previous post-apparently, I had a LOT to say about remodeling. Secondly, my obsession with my aging face has put me in a funk. I think about it so often I've practically solidified a false sense of myself. I swear I look like an old leathered hag walking the streets of town.
It's funny how life works: From the day I could speak, I became focused on growing older, gaining more independence, more responsibility. To be old enough to have my ears pierced, my driver's license, the privilege to walk into a bar. Wrinkles and arthritis never crossed my mind. And then, when I turned 21 I had the world on a plate, my skin was dewy and taught, my body spry, my chest full and firm. And for exactly 9 years, I stopped wanting to be old. I just wanted to be.
When I reached 30 I analyzed my life again, my face, my body. And suddenly, I was looking back instead of ahead. No longer aching for the next step, I was moving forward with my neck strained to see all that was behind me. And after 2 years of this 30 something life, I'm trying to figure out how to recapture the skin I had in my twenties because I'm a realist. I know I can't recapture my unbridled optimism, or the firmness of my boobs (without a hefty price tag), I am well aware of the impossibility of renewing my naivety, or my flat stomach. But I can strive for the skin of youth. And forever after, I shall recall the face of my twenties.
And so it goes, we are born, we climb the mountain of our youth to capture the best of ourselves after only two decades. And then we begin the unavoidable slide down a long and slippery slope of life for the next umpteen decades. Our intellect may improve, our social mores refined, but forever after we shall work towards the physical image of our twenties.
And now I shall spend the rest of my day in bed because I've completely depressed myself.

Reflections of A Remodeler

After two years and 6 months, I officially have baseboards. And to think, when we moved in I was convinced we'd have the place whipped into shape in one year (max). Pshaw. It cannot be done. Tearing down walls, reworking the flow and space of a home, decorating to reflect every family member's needs, killing bamboo in the foundation, it all takes ions of time and mega ounces of determination. I'm not saying this house is complete. But the sight of baseboards make me swoon.
I've encountered a few neighbors who've stopped by to inquire about our progress, where we came from, what we did, how we maintained our budget and our sanity. I keep revising my responses, editing my advice, and here's what I've accrued thus far in my remodeling experience.
Clear the space. If it's built-in or added, if it's not an exterior wall, either physically or mentally remove it. Imagination will take you a long way when remodeling. Because I'm impatient, and knew our budget was limited, I worked within the exterior walls of our home, not wanting anything to do with city planning, permits or adding to our floor plan. Recognize your limitations before you start. Some bonuses include raised foundations or attic space for rewiring, plumbing, moving a bathroom-neither of which we had in our case. Drawbacks can be open beam ceilings and a concrete foundation (both of which we have). Always consider a closet moveable space. Windows are a little more difficult. But windows can be replaced with doors rather easily.
Reflect on your family and your wardrobe. In order to make a home work for you, admire the qualities of your family. If you have three young children, than putting a giant glass coffee table in the living room is probably a mistake. But creating storage and "play stations" for them may be a more applicable solution. Are you tidy and simple, than modern may be attainable. Are you packrats who love knick knacks and tall stacks of books, try a more eclectic tone. We fell somewhere in between with the intention of erring on the modern side due to our wee tiny house.
Where is the traffic? This is a good question to ask when approaching a kitchen. Where does your family walk, chase, skip and hop around the room? Do you cook with a partner or usually alone? You may want to create more work/counter space than what's there. You do want to imagine the old kitchen with NOTHING in it besides walls (exterior)and windows. How could the space work best for your family? Do you need two work stations in the kitchen nook? Do you need a computer space or an office? Be realistic. You will not miraculously begin filing your bills just because there's no place for them to be stacked. Where do your kids like to play? Are they independent kids who spend time in their rooms or do they like to drag their toys to the middle of the kitchen where you're attempting to cook dinner? Is there a space where you can compromise? How can the arrangements grow with your children? Sure, a bistro table may seem like a romantic item to put in that awkward corner of your living room, but if you have a monkey child like I do, that bistro table is gonna cost you a trip to the ER. Save that vision for your retirement years.
Look at your wardrobe for inspiration. The colors you wear are most often the colors which make you feel happy, relaxed, confident, sexy, calm. These are the colors you want to surround yourself with in your living space. In my living room, I chose bright colors of both cools and warm tones (blues/greens and oranges/reds) which I thought reflected myself and my family. Hot pinks and bright reds for our vibrant girls and happy times and cool turquoises to both calm and give a fun beachy twist. In our bedroom I used oranges and deep taupes and beige, almost sultry with a masculine feel. Then I accented with silver lamps and lots of sparkly glass vases and candlesticks.
Have a Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. The first being those major items you cannot live with a moment longer, it must be changed/deleted/added. The second Plan is for items you really want to accomplish but the budget may be tight when you get to that point. Plan C is the dream category. For us, Plan C is remodeling the master bathroom and closet, a front patio deck, an overhaul of our guest quarters. Our Plan A began with a safe and kid-friendly yard for the girls to play in. Because we knew that if they were happy (and occupied), we'd be happy (and available to make remodeling progress).
Think outside the box. Not every home needs 4 inch colonial style trim, brushed nickel lever doorknobs and white hollow core doors. Study the architecture, the vintage, the soul of your house. Find some other homes that look similar. Gather ideas. Go for a drive, stalk your neighborhoods, buy magazines, step inside your library. Flip through the pages of 1 million home style pictures and sleep in your house at least 3 months before making any major decisions. Consider your roof, the addition or deletion of skylights, patios, bathroom vents, kitchen hoods. Roofing our house was the last thing we did after moving appliances, replacing skylights, and removing a covered patio.
My goal in this house was to make it the furthest thing from a track house. What's your goal?
For those of you considering or already drowning in remodeling hell, I hope this helps. And I do expect comments from any and all of you post, present and future remodel survivors. MORE TO COME...

1/12/09

Be Sure to Wear Panties to Preschool

Lesson Learned: Flashing others is not okay, even at preschool.
It's been particularly warm at our house the past few days, and particularly windy. The windy was the part I forgot when I donned a full skirt and heels this morning before heading out to take Shelby to preschool. And of course, as we passed through the front gate and paused in front of the glass doors, my arms full of toddlers and treasures for share, the wind found its way underneath me and swept the front half of my skirt up around my waist. Never mind the entire preschool class and teachers seated on the rug with front row seats to my Mommy Marilyn Monroe Show. It was the man's "Whoah!" that turned my cheeks a crimson red from a rarely seen dad standing behind me. Perfect. Thinking the worst was over, I returned to the preschool to pick up Shelby and was mid-buckle of the second child into my car when the wind revisited. This time, raising the back half of my skirt to reveal my yellow lace thong and complementary "jigglers" on either side. I glanced back to see if anyone was watching and caught the interested eye of the only other man-parent who runs the after school pick up. Someone must have mentioned the possibility of mom-flashing today that they all flocked to the parking lot on the same friggin day. Lesson Learned.