Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Unfunny Jokes About A Minor Ailment

The persistent, unsightly lump on the back of my right hand?  NOT a spider bite but rather an organizational hematoma.
Insert "Bu-dum, Tsh!" after each of the below.

Well, at least your blood is organized.

Hey, a bruise!  Now in 3-D, with no monthly fee added to your cable TV bill!

Why did your organization do this to your hand?  Didn't they like your work as chair?

I thought latinate disfigurements were serious; that's just a big bump.

Hey, are you growing a spare brain?

Is that where you store your acorns for the winter?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The students are back

And now that I am department chair, it seems like they are all in the hallway waiting to stream into my office.

In other news, Winton is asking to sit on toilets these days.  This would be even better if he were actually eliminating while on the toilet, but it is promising--though, after 40 minutes of his insistence that he "need[s] to poopy!" without producing anything other than a dry fart, also quite frustrating.

Class in 3 minutes. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Good things

1)  I got the last space in the parking lot near my office's building.
2)  The children's preschool had power and was open today.
3) BGE reconnected our power at 8.45 this morning, and some things in our fridge were still cold.
4) It was cool last night, so even though we had no electricity, I had a very good night's sleep.
5) The cats caught a mouse this morning and Husband and I managed to pick Pepita up (the one who was at that point holding the still living mouse in her mouth), hold her face over a tupperware box, enjoin her to let it go, succeed, catch the living mouse in the box, slap a lid on it, take it out back and release it.  Maneuvers that optimistic and rife with the potential for tumult don't usually go so very smoothly.

I love the weather events that make our neighborhood quiet.  I'm a little sad about the noise that will come tonight as everyone reoccupies their houses.  Last night on the back porch was tranquil, peachy-skied and quite lovely.  Mind you, at 11.40 pm I heard what sounded like 2 gun shots in the total darkness out there.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


My birthday today, sandwiched between an earthquake and a hurricane.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

And now,


Things to be thankful for:
1) The dog only has earmites, and I think there are over the counter treatments which I'll be able to buy sometime between my afternoon meeting and retrieving my car.
2) The loaner car I'm using while our car spends our meager savings for us is VERY swank and nice to drive.
3) The weather is gorgeous today.
4) The earthquake yesterday didn't damage anything.
5) I can tell when Clara's clingyness on drop-off is false, so I don't currently feel tortured by guilt.
6) Winton's classroom includes a toy set of cupcakes in a cupcake tin, and Winton is instantly, completely absorbed when presented with it.
7) The scratches from the cat-fight that erupted in my bed last night are hidden by my skirt.
8) The look on the mechanic's face when I removed the child seats yesterday (in order to transfer them to the loaner), revealing 5 years worth of cheerios on the back bench seat.  My god, it's amazing the car doesn't have rats.  Disgusting.  Mechanic: clearly concerned our car will make him ill.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Riding it

Still same day as last post: we had an earthquake, the car needs $950 USD of repairs, I scraped the loaner's hubcap against the curb (just a little but enough to cap off a stressful day with a heaping of self-loathing: why can't I even drive??).
Because of the earthquake the children didn't get to nap at school and they are now acting like confined squirrels.
I should be washing lunch boxes and cooking dinner.

I understand now why people drink.  And do drugs.


See if you can prioritize the list below.  I could do with some help.

Though I have cleared my desk, the onset of semester has my head full of competing teaching chores (none of which I have started work on), unfinished book bits, and nervous energy around being department chair and getting our new curriculum reviewed asap and figuring out the details of chairing a job-search committee.
I've also taken the car (pulling to the left strongly enough it can almost do a u-turn all by itself) to the mechanic, and consented to have one of the two other expensive pieces of maintenance done.  I feel the need to hold money in reserve because our damn roof started leaking again on Sunday.  Damn.  Must contact roofer.
Everything feels urgent.
Winton skinned his knee again this morning.
My spider bite hasn't gone away (it's been over a month).  I should show it to a doctor, I guess.
And I'm hungry, but forgot to bring my favorite kind of chocolate with me (not a crippling crisis, thankfully, as I do have back-up chocolate).

Paralyzed by options, I shall continue to stare at my computer (which isn't working right and which I'm waiting for IT to fix).

Monday, August 22, 2011

One of those days

The cats kept invading Clara and Winton's room last night, forcing open the squeaky door and waking Clara up by sleeping on her feet.  Clara kept waking up Winton by screaming that I come remove the cats.
Eventually I shut the cats in the basement.

This morning's tiredness hang-over accentuates other irritants: dog vomit on the kitchen floor; tired children fussing over breakfast; Winton smearing yogurt on his legs; internet down.

And on the dog walk we got busted stealing figs off the tree that overhangs the alley.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Baltimore City School Dilemmas, Part One

Clara will need to attend kindergarten starting Fall 2012.  We live in Baltimore city.  We makes heaps and heaps of money, but have heaps and heaps of debt too, so, you know, we're doing fine but aren't, for example, fixing the wrongly plumbed bathrooms or re-grading the back-yard after the sewer replacement five years ago.  School's gonna need to be free, or as close to it as possible.

The school we are zoned for is Waverly Elementary.  This morning's dog walk featured a detour to their playground (from which one can see the back of the school quite clearly as one is right next to it) and prompts the following observations:

-Parents dropping kids off at daycare?  Very friendly. (Plus)
-Daycare's windows featuring spray-painted lettering on the inside of the building. (Minus)

-Side of building features a mural which says "The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet."  Correctly attributed to Aristotle (Plus) but ominously punitive-sounding (Minus).

-Playground has elaborate equipment and that rubbery flooring that seems ubiquitous these days (Plus).
-Playground also features broken glass, bits of garbage, lids to soda bottles, miscellaneous scraps of paper and unidentifiable crap (Minus).
-Playground also clearly set on fire at some point as some of the molded plastic is melted into Gaudi-esque formations and handles on some plastic things have been broken off leaving hard plastic protrusions (Minus).

-Next to playground is a bush under which is a vast rat warren (Minus).

But the parents were nice.  But but but.  That's not enough.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Claraism du Jour

Clara [concluding a multi-part story about a little girl and her blanket]: "And then the little girl died back into chocolate."
Me: [pause]
Me: "So, when people die, they turn into chocolate?"
Clara: "Yes.   Not mud or anything dirty like that."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Scared of School

Drop-off is tricky now that Clara and Winton are both at the same school. 

C's new class is usually outside playing when we arrive, which means a playground good-bye (always more prone to emotional malfunctions: somehow the open space opens up all kinds of possibilities for little girl distress).

Once she is Ok, W and I head inside to take C's bag to her classroom on the 4th floor.  W loves this part as C's new class features a big white rabbit that actually LIKES to be petted by children (though I swear she tried to pee on me).

Then W and I take the elevator to the ground floor and start his drop-off.  He seems mostly over his distress, but still clings a bit.  Today he needed a teacher to hold him when I left.  She said, unintentionally unhelpfully, "Hey Winton!  I'll hold you up to the window to wave good-bye to your Mom, OK?"

Problem: window faces into playground.  To wave good-bye to W meant I had leave via the playground, thereby re-encountering C.

That may have been just as well this morning as Clara seems to have realized (on her 3rd day in her new class) that she doesn't get to play with her friends from her old class anymore.  She was crying when I emerged on the playground. 

So, Winton got a quick, falsely exuberant goodbye wave from me with my most furrowed and anxious facial expression (how much of that do my sunglasses hide??). . . and got to see that I was carrying a bawling Clara.

Winton is getting into the new routine, but is still scared of school.  Clara is just realizing she's going to have to get to know a bunch of new girls because Henry sometimes wants to run with the feral pack of little boys: she's scared of school.  I still have a book to finish (it's shockingly plausible that I will eventually finish, actually), but the halls here are slowly filling with people, and irksome meetings are starting to pepper my schedule: I am scared of school too.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


1) Winton did NOT need to be prised off me this morning at preschool, and was in fact playing happily with a toy when I walked out of the classroom.

2) Clara announced, when I left her with the 4s and 5s, "Mummy, I'm going to have another GREAT day today!" and then gave me a kiss on the lips and ran off with Henry.

3)  My erratic inner workings kicked in today, 3 days later than usual, revealing that happily I am merely old, not knocked-up.

WHAT a good start to the day . . .

Monday, August 15, 2011


After months of hot (excessive) and dry (the kind that makes the red dirt crack deeply, as if recently subjected to an earthquake), Baltimore has turned itself into a thunderous place.  The skies are heavy and dark, the roads run with deep, swift water. Cars are drowning in flash-floods.

I am hoping this is not pathetic fallacy (when the weather mimics the psychological state of characters in a work of fiction: eg Shakespeare's King Lear mad on the heath in the middle of a thunderstorm).  If so, it is very ominous. WHOSE psyche is being dramatised outside?  Hmm?

It seems too vengeful to be Winton's mood, for though he cried again this morning, he seems resigned to my cruelty.  I will walk away and leave him at preschool.  He knows it.  My kisses, back-rubs and reassurances that indeed it is scary to start a new school, but it will get better are inadequate comfort.  He's sad, scared, but not thunderous.

And even Clara is in a surprisingly good mood today, despite starting in a new, unfamiliar class.  This is 100% due to the presence of Henry.  Her FAVORITE friend in the world, and she gets to be in the same class as him for these last two weeks of summer camp.  She's freaked out by having to use a new bathroom, but happy to be with Henry.

So, we'll see.  I'll be attentive today to whose mood it is exactly that the skies are throwing around.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Claraism: further to the cats she wants to get when she "grows up"

Me: "Why will they have to live in a cage, Clara?"
Clara: "So that Pepita doesn't chase them and bite them."

(Ah the continuing kittenish scourge of Pepita: increasingly affectionate, but sustaining her daily number of violent attacks on anything that moves)

Winton Preschool, Day Five

Winton [in car, crying as we pull into the preschool parking lot]: "I don't want to go!  I want to go to Clar's class.  I want to go to Miss Susan [Clara's teacher]."
Me: "Why?"
Winton: "I scared."

Me, in my head: Well, duh!  This is in fact the first major new experience he's ever done on his own.  Before he has always joined Clara and had her there for support.  No wonder he's freaking out now: he's not in  Clara's class, so though he is "at her school," he has to get to know his new teachers all by himself.  I never realized it before (because his confidence has always been buoyed by Clara's precedent), but Winton is shy.  Who knew?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Claraism du Jour

Clara: "Mummy, when I grow up I'm going to get a cage and have a Mummy Cat and Baby Kittens in it."
Me: "Ok.  When do you think you are going to be grown-up?"
Clara: "uuuhhhm.  I think in the winter."

Winton, Preschool Day Four


Tears and wailing on the way to the classroom ("I don't want to go in there, Mummy")
Violent rejection of teachers through his tears ("I don't like you either!")
I sat with him for 40 minutes and then prised him off my chest and passed him to  one of the teachers he "doesn't like" today.

God.  Is there a worse feeling in the world?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Winton, Preschool Day Three

The return of guilt.
His teacher suggested he stay for lunch today: I had been planning that he would stay for lunch and nap.  He WILL stay for lunch and nap, but now I feel terrible.  I am a bad mother.

I am back to wishing that I could take both my children home and smother myself with them.
I am aware that as they get older, their need for me decreases (so, by working, I wasn't there as much in the early years when they needed me most.)
And the third culture literature book? It ate my summer and meant that Clara and Winton have had a mere 10 days vacation over the whole stretch.

Guilt Guilt Guilt Guilt.
And some more Guilt.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Winton, Preschool Day Two

Less easy.  He needed me to sit with him while he ate his grapes (s-l-o-w-l-y). 

Sometime after I eventually left he apparently relieved himself of all the poop he held in yesterday morning as, when I picked him up at noon, his backpack included a loosely wrapped package of festering shorts.  Yum.

It is now 1.44pm and he is NOT sleeping.  He should be.  He's very tired.  He's telling Basil bear to "stop iiiiiiit"; I wonder what the hell the bear is doing.

In what part of my brain did I think I was going to be able to get them to sleep (Clara is home too), practice yoga, eat a leisurely lunch and then, when they awoke, spend a fun afternoon at the tulip garden kicking soccer balls into flower beds? 

I must have been on crack.  Instead it took forever to get them home, fed and in bed.  By that time the floor was covered in soup.  By the time I cleaned that up, I needed to eat.  Now I am too full to bend over, and the kids aren't sleeping (so, no yoga).  And when we give up the pretense of napping at 3, they will be too loudly, crazily, red-eyedly tired to take out anywhere, even to the tulip garden.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Winton, First Day

First day at preschool:

Me: "Ok, Winton.  Do you want to sit at the table with Miss Katrina and eat your grapes?"
Winton: "Yes, Mummy."
Me: "And then I'm going to blow you five kisses and leave, Ok?"
Winton: "Yes, Mummy."

[settling him at table with tiny pot of sliced green grapes, blowing five kisses]

Me: "Right then, Bye!  See you at lunchtime."
Winton: "Yes, Mummy."

[Mummy walks away.  What?  Really??  Yes.  It WAS that easy.  I wonder what tomorrow will be like.]

Friday, August 5, 2011

Wrapping up the past to put in the future's cubby

Today is Winton's last day at daycare. Though monumental to me, it is just like any other day this summer (too hot, too full of NPR news about how the climate, and fiscal climate, are irretrievably broken).  It feels imperative to tie up loose ends.  To that end, this is today's agenda:

1.  Drop Clara off at preschool, pausing to mediate as she returns Sadie's towel and apologizes for having stolen it.

2. Drop Winton off at daycare, pausing to hold him on my lap and feed him ice cubes in a reprise of yesterday's injured-lip debacle.

3. Stop at Panera (the one I used to go to when I was a bachelorette newly arrived in Baltimore--I don't think I've been there in the last four years) and read my writing buddy's work for this afternoon's meeting.

4. Walk over to Target and buy $190 of diapers (size 6--what an embarassment of un-potty-trainedness), new backpack so Winton has one for school (girly enough that he'll like it, hopefully not so girly he'll be teased), gear for trimming the children's hair, new undies for me (Hanes: tres chic--ha), and Dora towel to replace the one we returned to Sadie.

5. Home to de-loot the car, write this and eat a quick lunch.

6. Load car with Maria's good-bye present (the chocolate and wine will have to go in a cooler so they don't spoil in the heat), and diapers/ wipes.

7. Writing meeting at a local cafe.

8. Go to Clara's school, pick her up, give her a tour of the classroom she will be moving up to in two weeks AND also drop-off the diapers and wipes Winton will need starting Monday in what will be his new classroom.

9.  Buy flowers for Maria.

10.  Go to Maria's with Clara to pick up Winton, drop off Maria's present and flowers, tearily say good-bye and try to steal the baby doll Winton has been so keen on the last few days.

And the lump on my hand persists.  And my hair keeps falling out.  I am loveliness and calm incarnate.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Rattlin'

My head's all a rattlin' because I need to finish Chapter Four today to get it to my writing buddy in time for our meeting tomorrow.

Tomorrow is also Winton's last day at Maria's.  He starts at Clara's school on Monday.  I've been taking one or other of the kids to Maria for four years.  I think I'm about to find the transition very hard.  I am agonizing extensively over the appropriate goodbye gift.  Really what says "thank-you for doing what I couldn't and probably pulling it off far better than I would have"?  A card seems inadequate.

And I need to screw up my courage to be a pain in the ass and ask Clara's school if she can be in the same group as her friend Henry for the next summer camp session.

And I have a painful lump on my hand (bone chip?  spider bite?).

As if sensing my need to slow down and take a minute to breathe (pah!), Winton had his biggest wipe-out ever this morning.  In an effort to jump up Maria's steps when we arrived, he instead tipped forward and slammed his head onto the concrete, while biting his lip.  Blood on his face, his shirt, the step.  I spent a good amount of time in Maria's kitchen daubing blood off his bit lip and musing on whether this was an emergency room visit.  No.  Not.  Bleeding stopped.  Winton got to eat a lot of ice which kept the swelling down.  When he got up and demanded his Dora doll, I figured we were in the clear.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Clara stole someone else's Dora towel from school over a week ago, smuggling it home by wrapping it up inside her own towel.  She has presented a variety of stories: A.J. gave it to me; it was in the "found" box; Miss Pam gave it to me; it was lost. 
I have let her keep it because . . . well, honestly because I wanted to avoid the melt-down that would happen when I took it away. 
Yesterday Husband discovered that on the back side of the washing instructions label it says "Sadie."  Ah.  O sh*t.
It appears Sadie was away for a week, and Clara stole her towel.
We shall have to return it. . . as soon as I can schedule a good time for Clara's EPIC meltdown at preschool.
Question: When and how did Clara get so good at subterfuge?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Winton, Clara: "parenting" styles

Clara, herself a dodgy sleeper at the best of times, spends a lot of time trying to get her toys to sleep.  She makes them nests of rolled up blanket, hides them in quiet corners, darkens rooms and then tiptoes away.  Should a stuffed cat or Dora doll disobey, Clara's punishments are severe: no parties for you, green cat! No cupcakes!  You cannot come to my show!

Winton borrowed a baby doll from daycare yesterday, one of the ones with eyes that open when the doll is upright and close when it is prone, and a little pursed mouth to accept a toy bottle.  Though he enjoyed the effect when he stood on the doll's neck, he also spent much of this morning feeding his baby, wrapping it in a blanket, and holding it lovingly.  He'd look down into its plastic face and say "Awww, baby! So cute" and then hug the thing to him gently, tenderly.

And I say, "Awwww, my baby, you are so cute."

Monday, August 1, 2011

Claraism du Jour

Daddy: "Clara, that's a lot of toys.  You're going to make a mess."
Clara: "But it will be a clean mess, Daddy."
Daddy: "What's clean mess?"
Clara [gesturing to indicate a circle with her arms]: "It's one pile Daddy.  A mess mess is lots of balls."