Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It’s getting better

Things are much better around Casa de HOK. The kids are bickering less. The Honey Badger isn’t quite as fierce. Campbell isn’t as whiny. I don’t have a constant kettle whistle of stress going off in my head. B has his office all set up, which means we don’t have to listen to him on the phone anymore.

The day after Christmas was the first one where I felt normal. The rush to unpack before my parents arrived was gone. The panic about whether I’d get Christmas done in time was gone. I could finally relax and enjoy being in the new house.

A lot of my being able to relax has to do with my parents’ being here. My mom got Lily’s entire room – furniture, closet, dresser – all set up and pretty. She has also been hanging artwork, which is something I’m horrible at. My dad is putting up blinds and installing dimmer switches and attaching hooks to doors. I think I may ask them to move in.

In addition to all the help with the house, having my parents means we have man-on-man defense against the kids. My dad has made a daily trek to the park with almost everyone in tow, and my mom has taken the big girls to Target to pick out room stuff.

In the meantime, I’ve been unpacking and sorting books – oh my dog we have so many books – and organizing our closet. And I am purging like my life depends on it. The pile of boxes in the garage that are filled with broken toys, destroyed shoes, incomplete puzzles, dried-out play dog and Happy Meal toys grows by the day. As does the pile of stuff to go to Goodwill and the lady who organizes our school’s used-book sale. It is so nice to get RID of clutter. I may never unpack the rest of the boxes in the garage because I don’t want to bring anything else in the house.

I’m going to go dark for the rest of 2011 to allow myself to get my bearings and prepare for 2012. I hope you all had a happy holiday season. Best wishes for the new year.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Getting Settled

If you could hear the noise in my head, it would be a long, slow, high-pitched whistle, like a tea kettle, but more annoying. Thanks to help from dear friends, we are mostly unpacked. The only boxes left are the ones filled with books and the ones I look in and say, “I’ll think about it later.” All the important stuff, mostly, has been found. The kids’ rooms are mostly set up. The kitchen is functional – I have a pot of soup simmering away right now.

And yet. . .

  • There are no pictures on the walls.
  • We have no Christmas tree.
  • All of my books are piled in boxes in my room.
  • I haven’t bought a SINGLE.CHRISTMAS.PRESENT for the kids, or anyone else.
  • I have at least three knitting projects to finish before Sunday.
  • We are apparently hosting Christmas brunch.
  • Three of the four kids seem to be coming down with something.
  • When they aren’t acting sick, the kids drag out every single toy I just put away neatly.
  • I am so far behind on laundry I may resort to going to the Washateria.
  • My clothes are in piles on my closet floor because I no longer have a dresser.

I’m going to go hide in my closet and breathe into a bag now.


And, yes, I realize these are all middle-class, white-girl problems, but I’m still overwhelmed.

Monday, December 19, 2011

We’re moved in

And by moved in, I mean, 90 percent of our belongings are still crammed in cryptically labeled boxes stacked in the garage. I spend my time poking through boxes, looking for something specific, only to find it, set it aside, and never see it again. I swear whole boxes are picking themselves up and hiding. Or my family is trying to gaslight me, again.

Yesterday we did actually make a lot of progress thanks to my m-i-l, some friends of hers, and my divine neighbor L. The beds are all put together and made. My big bookshelf is up and ready for books. Boxes and boxes and boxes of china (“Just how many place settings did your grandmother have? The boxes just keep coming.”) have been unpacked. The TV is set up, but we don’t get cable or Internet until tomorrow.

The kids have had the best time digging through boxes, rediscovering all of their toys. Campbell found his Geo-Trax and spent hours playing with them. Lily is finding all of her American Girl doll stuff and getting Ginny settled in her new room. Quote of the weekend: “Yay! I found Ginny’s wheelchair!” Ella has been sorting through boxes of books and deciding which ones she wants in her room, rather than in the play room.

I’m now at the stage where I’m looking in boxes and thinking, “I don’t want any of this stuff.” In our old neighborhood, I could have put everything out in piles on the curb, and it all would have been taken within hours. Our new neighborhood doesn’t allow stuff on the curb, and there’s no one driving through picking up. I guess I’m going to be calling a charity group to come get a large donation.

If I’m quiet for the next week or two, it’s because I’m still digging through boxes and setting up the kitchen and trying to make Christmas happen for the kids. I did at least manage to get the stockings hung by the chimney with care.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Yesterday afternoon, I was lying down trying to get over a killer migraine when B poked his head in the bedroom. Our landlady, whose office is behind our cute little rental house, had stopped by to tell him that she’d gotten a text from her son that the elementary school had gone into lockdown.

I flew out of bed and to the computer, hoping to find some sort of information on line. None of the news sites had anything, so I texted my friend L, who was in charge of carpool. She texted back immediately that she was with all our kids, safely in a classroom, and asked me to call the other mom in our carpool group.

When I’ve seen reports of lockdowns on the news, I’ve always looked at the parents standing outside the police line and wondered why they had shown up. What were they thinking to do? Stand in the line of fire? Push the police aside and storm the building?

Last fall, when I was at our preschool during the shooting on the UT campus, I was calm and collected the entire time. But I was there, with my kids, sure that they were safe.

Yesterday was completely different. I had no information, other than a few texts, on what was happening. The ONLY thing that stopped me from getting in the car and driving up to the school was the fact that L was with my kids. She’s like a second mother to them, and I knew she’d make sure they were safe.

So I stayed home and paced the floor, stopping to check the news sites and yelling at the Statesman on twitter for not having any information posted.

Finally L texted that it was all over and they were on the way home. I may have started crying. And I may have gotten weepy again when the girls got home and we talked about what happened. And again when I talked to Ella about Columbine and why reports of guns at school are so scary for adults.

In the end, according to the chatter on the school moms’ Facebook Group, the whole chain of events kicked off when someone saw a dad carrying a furled umbrella that looked like a gun and reported it to the office.

I’d like to take that umbrella and beat that dad within an inch of his life with it. Who the f*ck thinks it’s a good idea to take something that looks like a gun on to a school campus.

We never had lockdowns in quiet, little Sarasota, where I grew up. Our most exciting events were tornado warnings, in which we were told to lie down in the street right next to the curb or make a break for the YMCA across the street and hope for the best.

Ours wasn’t even the only school lockdown yesterday – a high school where a friend teaches was locked down because of shots fired nearby. And last Friday, a middle school in Lake Travis was locked down for four hours because someone said the saw a gun.

What is this world coming to?

I hugged all my kids extra tight last night and spent a long time lying in bed thinking of the what-ifs. All I could picture were the films of the injured student at Columbine climbing/falling out of a window. I didn’t get much sleep.

This morning the girls trooped off to school like nothing had ever happened. I gave them a hug and kiss as they left, even though I wanted to keep the home forever.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Religious education

As I have mentioned before, we are not a religious family at all. My kids' only real religious instruction comes from attending a very liberal, tree hugging preschool housed in a Methodist church on the UT campus. We are far from the only family at the school to not attend church, but I’m thinking we may need to, just for the sake of cultural references.

Campbell’s class is doing a little Christmas pageant tonight, which includes a few songs and a re-enactment of a scene from “The Little Drummer Boy.” I got to watch rehearsal, and I spent an inappropriate amount of laughing, but in an affectionate, I love these kids, kind of way. (But maybe not this kid.)

The kids all have roles – angels, wise men, shepherd, Mary, Joseph, drummer boy - the usual cast of characters. Campbell has been assigned the role of Joseph, and as I was helping him into his costume, he asked who Joseph was.

The best I could come up with was, “Joseph was Jesus’s dad. Except not really. God was kind of Jesus’s dad. I guess Joseph adopted Jesus and raised him. He was married to Mary, who was Jesus’s mother.”

I sort of sputtered out about then, and the preschool teacher stepped in, adding, “Joseph was Jesus’s earthly father.”

Yeah, I’m going to hell for sure.


But at least I have a cute little Joseph.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Ouch, my ego

This morning I worked my shift at our little co-operative preschool. I LOVED co-oping when Ella was little. I still liked it, mostly, when Lily was going through. But now that I’m on my 3rd and 4th kids in the school, I dread my work days. It’s not that I don’t have fun, because I do. But being in a classroom with nine 4 and 5 year olds makes me twitchy and tends to trigger a migraine.


While I was crammed into a little chair at lunchtime, I had this conversation with one of the kids in Campbell’s class, who shall remain nameless.

  • Boy: Are you someone’s mom?
  • Me: Yes. I’m Campbell’s mom.
  • Boy: How can you be a mom? You don’t look like a mom.
  • Me: I don’t? Why thank you.
  • Boy: No. You look like a grandma.

I think it may be time to turn my hair pink again.

And an update on our house nightmare – we’re still in the rental, still waiting to find out when we’ll close on the new one, still driving each other crazy.

Friday, December 02, 2011

The honey badger

So I had planned to write about how we’ve finally sold our house and how hard it was to say good bye and all the good memories like bringing babies home from the hospital. But then Wendi went and posted this, and it’s pretty much perfect.

And now for something completely different.

Remember the video of the honey badger making the rounds a few months ago? The one with the funny narration about how bad-ass the honey badger is? We’ve to taken to calling Elizabeth the honey badger, because she “just don’t give a sh*t.”

She is fearless and stubborn and determined and sometimes just plain mean. She doesn’t care that Campbell outweighs her by at least 20 pounds. If he has something she wants, she will.take.him.down.

Elizabeth has absolutely no fear of me and the consequences I offer. I’ll tell her not to do something, like throw a toy at my head, and she’ll immediately do it. I’ll put her in time out, only to have to sit on her as she kicks and flails and screams.

Friends and family who have not experienced Elizabeth in honey badger mode don’t believe me. Teachers and other parents at preschool don’t believe me. And why should they? I mean look at her . . .

honey badger

How can someone who looks so cute – she was very proud of picking her own outfit – be such a monster?

Approach at your own risk. She might just rip your arm off. Honey badger don’t give a sh*t.