Tag Archives: new job

But Doth Suffer A Sea Change

A year ago, I asked the question, “Can Anyone Think of a Clever Name for Oatmeal Milk Chocolate Cherry Hazelnut Blondies?

A year ago I was a human in crisis. I was five months into unemployment, despairing of finding a job, bored, too heavy, more than a little depressed, and very nearly done with this blog.

Then came spring, seasonally and astrologically, and there was a sea-change of sorts, and I began to become, as Shakespeare said, something rich and strange. I started writing again, started reaching out into the void, searching out new voices, and the world reached back.

A year later, I am employed, and while admittedly, my job makes me crazy, it does keep us out of the poor house. I have shed some of the heaviness, and am continuing to do so. I feel far less isolated because of the wonderful community that I’ve gathered around me via my writing and reading, and yes, tweeting.

And the blog? Thriving. A lot has changed. More fiction, less fluff. More deliberate topics and prompt/meme choices. I think, too, and tell me if I’m wrong, that my voice has changed–for the good, I hope.

I never did get an answer to last year’s question, though…

Mama's Losin' It3.) What were you blogging about last year at this time? What has changed?

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And It’s Not Even Noon

So, here’s how today went. It snowed, just a little, not enough to make driving unpleasant, or so I’d thought.

An inch, powdery; a sugar coating for the dingy snowbanks and drift piles hemming in the roads and driveways.

But it was slick on the roads, slushy where they hadn’t plowed, and I was ahead of the sanders. Slow going. Despite leaving for work five minutes early, two-thirds the way to work, I was five minutes behind. And then, I hit traffic.

I commute on 13 miles of back roads, only crossing two numbered state roads, so “Traffic” is a relative term. On the last leg, I pass the turn for a regional high school. When the weather’s bad, but not bad enough to keep people home, there’s always a long line of cars waiting to make the turn, because they’re driving students who would otherwise walk, or stand outside waiting for a bus.

All I can say is, it must be nice, having the luxury to drive your teenager to school just because the weather’s nasty. Me, I’d have to put my kid out in the cold to wait for the bus, or tell him to wear an extra scarf for the walk. I have a job I have to get to, a job for which I’m now going to be late.

I’m ten minutes late, all told, by the time I get us there, unpacked from the car, into the house, out of our coats and boots, and upstairs to Betty’s room. No passive aggressive mention of my tardiness, which could, frankly, be good or bad.

Despite my lateness, I’ve got Felix and Betty dressed and breakfasted by 9, which is when everyone departs the house, leaving me to tend to Elmer, and hang out with Felix while Betty’s at preschool.

I take the boys up to Elmer’s room, get him changed, washed, moisturized, vitamined, and dressed, and kick back to let the boys play on the floor for a while.

Oops.

While I was changing Elmer, Felix was drawing with a pen and notebook he found in Betty’s room. he was drawing with a ballpoint pen on a mini notepad, on the white, yes, white, sofa in Elmer’s room.

Enter the streak of blue ink across Elmer’s pristine, textured white upholstery.

We’ll discuss the wisdom of a white sofa in a little boy’s room at another time.

Anyway, where was I?

ACK! Ink! On the sofa.

I scramble off to find some rubbing alcohol and a rag, but while I’m gone, Elmer decides I’ve abandoned him. Never mind he’s safely contained with Felix in a babyproofed room full of his own toys; he has been abandoned!

He’s a crier, folks.

So, I’m all panicky, Felix is worried because I’m worried about the ink, Elmer’s howling, snot and tears pouring down his little face, and the ink stain is ever…. so… slowly… starting to release and blot up.

I get the majority of the stain out, enough to contain the fury Mrs. C. will feel when she’s discovered someone’s sullied the white sofa. Hopefully enough to keep them from asking me to reimburse them for the cost of having it cleaned.

Because, yes, they told me once that I would be financially responsible for any damage Felix did to their belongings.

Sigh.

So, I scoop up the crying baby, soothe him, and realize it’s his naptime. I send Felix to play in Betty’s room for a few minutes while I settle Elmer down. It takes some time, but I finally manage to ninja him to sleep. I creep from the room on stealthy toes and collect Felix from Betty’s room.

We sneak downstairs.

“Mama, can we go to the playroom?”
“We can, but what do we have to do first?”
“Potty break!”
“Yep.”

“My pants are wet.”

So, while I was settling down the cranky, tired baby, who was crying because I had to neglect him for ten minutes to clean up a mess my three-year-old made while I was busy changing the baby’s diaper, my three-year-old had an accident.

And it’s not even noon.

I Am the Brute Squad

I was walking into a local Dunkin’ Donuts this morning, with Felix and Elmer in the stroller. I have a highly maneuverable Britax model, and after all these years, I can negotiate most entryways with some semblance of grace.

That said, when people are kind enough to hold doors for me, I am always grateful, and I say so.

Today, two gentlemen held the outer and inner doors of the Dunkin’ Donuts for me. Gent A says, “You need your own doorman!”

I laugh a little, and agree, “I do!”

Gent B says, “You need a daycare.”

Wait! What?

I, who never think of the snappy comeback in time to use it, drew upon my inner Andre the Giant, and replied, “I am the day care.”

His expression made my day.

He wasn’t being nasty; I mean, he held the door for me, but who says that?

Story Hour

The Codman Estate

A few weeks ago, Mrs. C., and I took the kids to the Codman Estate & Farm to see some animals and get a little fresh air.

It was a ridiculously gorgeous day, and they had a blast running around the Estate. They saw some cows.

They found sticks!

They frolicked by the old mansion!

It was lovely and inexpensive and low key. Three of my favorite things!

Full Time Day One

Of course, I woke up with a sore throat. My morning voice sounds like Kathleen Turner in Jewel of the Nile, but the cough? Way less sexy.

My small boy woke up on the wrong side of his big boy bed, and insisted he would get dressed at Betty’s house. So off we went, we driving in the rain to music like the soundtrack to a film Wes Anderson hasn’t made yet.

October has come in with a vengeance – wind, rain, and cold. I’m thrilled! I love when the darkness comes earlier. Cold and darkness don’t frighten me. On the contrary, they draw out my best instincts. They ignite my great passions, words, food, music. My creative energy is always higher in the dormant half of the year.

All I have to do now is harness enough physical and mental energy to be creative.

Despite being stuck inside while the wind gusted and the rain fell, the day passed uneventfully, which was blessing. It has been a long time since I’ve had a ten hour workday.

Of course, uneventfully meant two poop accidents, one swiftly delivered time out over slapping, and the baby not napping more than twenty minutes at a time, each of the three times he was put down. Parenting, even (especially?) for those of us in loco parentis, is always eventful.

Listening to White Noise

I was just standing outside, supervising the dogs’ morning constitutional in the chilly backyard. I was shivering, but not from the cold. More from being sleepy. I was listening, as I mostly try not to, to the noise pollution that comes as a result of living a quarter mile from an Interstate (even if you can’t see it for the marsh and the trees), a football field’s distance from a major state road, and on one of the only north-south roads to cross-over the aforementioned Interstate. A random, rhythmic cacophony of white noises, punctuated by blares and screeches and thumps that I effectively tune out the majority of the time.

The dogs were done with business, and Maurice especially wanted to potter around (he’s a very busy dog), but I had to call them in. There was laundry to switch, breakfast to be made, myself to be made ready to face the six and a half hours of work I have to endure.

And, as I have since I went back to part time work earlier this summer, I counted the number of days until I return to full time work. And I found I could do it on my two hands. Now, suddenly, long lazy afternoons at home to play with my small boy, to play on the internet, to write, to make dinner for my family, approach extinction at an alarming rate.

And I resent it.

I resent the intrusion of this thing I must do, when there are so many other things I want to do, not the least of which is go back to bed for another hour or so.

I am aware that my experience is not unique. I am aware, acutely so, that I am lucky to have the paycheck I require, given the state of things. I am also aware that there are people who genuinely love the work they do, and for whom this struggle is minimal, or perhaps even non-existent. I used to love this work of mine. And even when it started to go sour, I still didn’t mind getting out of bed in the morning.

I have, I guess, lost my taste for it.

And my bed was a warm, squashy haven this morning until the alarm went off and spoiled everything.

And the noise pollution this particular morning begged me to write about it, but there just wasn’t time to do it properly.

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Penny for My Heart

“Carry me.”

“Carry you?” I repeat, in my astonished voice, all full of mock gravitas.

“Carry me to the car!” he chirps. He’s even hopping like a little chickadee.

“Alright,” I say, “but if I’m going to carry you? You need to carry the car keys for me. It’s a really important job. Can you do that?”

“Yeah,” he says, reaching simultaneously for me and for the keys.

And because soon he’ll be too big to carry, I scoop him up and settle him on my hip. I carry his still-warm-from-his-nap, pliant little body out to the car. Freedom these days means leaving the confines of my work life, and returning home where I can breathe again. And, even weighted down with thirty pounds of boy, I am flying!

“My coin!” he whines, about halfway down the long walkway from the mud room to the driveway.

This morning he found a penny on the floor of the minivan, and he has been pressing it between his fingers, safe in the pocket of his cargo shorts, waiting to bring it home to show his Dad. He’s still young enough to find small talismans everywhere.

I reach into his pocket and find the penny, caught in that deep pointy part where the seams all come together.

I hand it to him, and we continue on our way. He has the car keys in one hand, his penny in the other.

“Lovey, do you want to open your door?” I ask.

The minivan has the automatic sliding doors, and he loves to press the button to open his door, but it takes both hands for him to both hold the remote and push the button.

So he sets his coin in the vee of my tee-shirt, just a little to the left of my sternum, where humidity and the curve of flesh defy gravity to keep the penny in place. Over my heart.

Mama's Losin' ItInspired by the prompt to define freedom, though, as these things often do, it went in a different direction.

For Glory and Hershey’s Kisses

In the house where I work, there are two pottying locations for the preschoolers in the house, both of whom, as of last week, were digging in their heels at the idea of leaping into that brave new world of character branded undies.

The one on the second floor is a potty seat on the toilet in the kid’s bathroom. It’s from Baby Bjorn, and is trés cushy for their tiny tushie.  I know, ergonomically designed potty seats? Yes.

The one on the first floor is more the toddler chamber pot model, also from Baby Bjorn. Because I am basically a selfish creature, and am glad I live in a culture that flushes its waste, I am loathe to encourage its use.

Both kids have tried (and by tried? I mean sat their naked bottoms down for a glorified story hour) a couple of times, but at work? No one is having any success.

Felix has had a few moments of potty glory at home, but I refuse to turn this blog into a potty training diary, so I’ll gloss over that. Those successes, however, combined with the fact that at work the reward for producing on the potty is a Hershey’s Kiss, brings us to Friday’s sad tale.

It’s nearly time for naps, and Betty has secluded herself in a corner of the room, playing quietly with some of Felix’s cars. On her face, an expression best understood as Pooping Face. Felix is expending the last of his energy reserves running the fifty foot track around the oversized sectional. He is a ping-ponging particle of exhaustion in the pre-nap time super collider, and we are nowhere near miles under Geneva.

I am wise to all of this. I am about to suggest we go upstairs, change some Pull-Ups, and get these kids down for naps.

Mrs. C. catches on to the Pooping Face. “Betty, honey, are you pooping? Do you want to sit on the potty?”

A brief raise of Betty’s impressive brow, and then a casual, “Okay.”

Since she’s generally downright mulish about using the potty, Mrs. C. jumps at the opportunity.

Felix thinks ahead several moves, calculates the probability of chocolate, and announces he would like to pee on the potty as well. Of course, we are already moving, a parade of pottying, into the laundry-room-slash-bath on the first floor so that Betty can poop in the potty instead of in her Dora the Explorer Easy-Ups.

I attempt an intervention, as his nap is coming up now, whereas (at the request of Mrs. C.) Betty’s nap is at least a half hour away. I figure if Felix can just hop on, try, succeed or fail, be rewarded if necessary, and then head off to bed, there will be ample time for Betty’s pooping shenanigans. Because with Betty? There are always shenanigans.

Fast forward twenty minutes. Mrs. C is reading stories, Betty’s still on the chamber pot, wee Elmer’s starting to fuss for a nap, and Felix is very quietly approaching critical mass.  He has a genuine desire, fueled by milk chocolate wrapped in silver foil, to pee on the potty. He has a fierce sense of justice. It. Is. His. Turn.

I suggest that we have only a few minutes before nap time, and his expression goes from imp to gargoyle faster than you can say “Hershey’s kiss.” He wants a turn, he wants a treat. He is really freaking tired.

I explain this to Mrs. C., whose myopia under certain circumstances is staggering.

Mrs. C, once the situation is clarified, decides she will take Betty upstairs to finish her poop session, leaving the downstairs chamber pot for Felix. I happily tell him to drop trou and take his turn for glory and Hershey’s Kisses.

And then? The proverbial poop hits the fan.

Felix begins to cry in earnest. Great, heaving, messy, snotty sobs, and hot tears. Like his mother, he is an ugly crier.

“But she says I can…”

“She said …. upstairs.”

“But she said… she said… I… I… upstairs!”

He’s screaming now, shaking with anger, and I’m frustrated with him, with Mrs. C., with the whole damn situation.

After several more attempts, I finally translate that he thinks he will have his turn upstairs, too.  I gently explain what Mrs. C. actually meant. Why, at this point, I tried to reason with him is beyond me. He’s beyond reason. And his screaming? Has set Elmer screaming, too.

So, I do what any end-of-her-tether parenting rockstar would do.

“That’s it! We’re all done. You need to go to bed!”

And I scooped Felix up, left the howling five month old in his bouncy seat, and hauled my son upstairs to the room where he sleeps when he’s at Betty & Elmer’s house. I deposited him on his bed with his Beek, and walked out. I left him there, sobbing and miserable, and ran downstairs to rescue sobbing and miserable little Elmer.

Who quite literally passed out cold on my shoulder. Poor guy just wanted to be held while he fell asleep.

I took sleeping Elmer upstairs, swaddled him and tucked him into his crib, then went to check in with Betty and Mrs C., who were still pooping. Or not pooping.  But sitting there. Attempting to poop. For nearly 40 minutes. While her mother gazed at her, doe eyed and proud. Of a few toddler farts and a whole lot of farting around.

Dismissed, I went in to check on Felix, who had, like wee Elmer, passed out cold.

Forgoing his chance for glory and Hershey’s kisses for some much needed sleep.

Milk, Hummus, Apples, Trees

It’s really sad when a successful day at work involves getting all in-your-face with a three-year old.

A week ago Thursday, I was charged with picking up some milk and hummus on the way home from taking the kids to story hour at the library. This should have been easy. Story hour was great. Felix and Betty were glad to be on an important errand for Mrs C..

Betty sometimes has issues listening. Personally? I think it’s because there’s inconsistent parental discipline. When it’s convenient, they discipline. When it’s not? Meh. As with all things, you (or in this case, your nanny) reap what you sow. When we get out of the car in a parking lot? I expect hand holding and listening. I simply expect it. Felix knows this.

By the time we got to the entrance of the grocery store, I was already frustrated with Betty.

The little market in town has child sized carts. Great idea, right? Adorable?

From my perspective, they are an invitation for jealousy and chaos. So, I told the kids that we were not getting a cart at all. We were walking to the dairy section and the prepared foods case to get milk and hummus, and then we were going back to her house.

“Mama lets me get a little cart.”

Deep breath.

“I know, but today, since there are two kids, and only two things to get? We are not getting any carts. I will carry the groceries in a basket, and we will all walk on our feet.”

“I want a little cart.”

That was when she stopped. Right in the sliding door opening. She planted her feet and stared up at me, with a sly little side-eye that she uses to tell me that she doesn’t plan on doing what I ask of her. Predictably? I am frustrated and annoyed. She refuses, again, to walk. Now? She is blocking the entryway, and I am not fond of children who make public nuisances of themselves. The side-eye continues, accompanied by a half-smile which I believe usually charms her parents. To me? It’s an open act of defiance.

Felix is standing by my side, observing the exchange, and I know that I need to establish myself as alpha of this little pack now, or my own offspring will sense and exploit my weakness. This is not my first time at the rodeo, after all. I give her one more chance to walk nicely, and then I decide for her that she will ride up in a regular cart and Felix will walk alongside. If she cannot listen? Her independence will be curbed.

I take her face gently between my palms, so that we are eye to eye. I speak quietly, firmly. I will not tolerate her behavior. She must listen to me. If I say that we are walking nicely with no tiny carts? That is what we are doing.

Felix takes a hold of the cart, chattering away to me, as we continue through the store. He is deep into the why’s now, and wants to know why Betty wouldn’t walk, why Betty has to ride in the cart, was I angry? My forthright, non-confrontational answers are more effective than time-outs will ever be. No, am not angry, I am frustrated with behavior that is disruptive and unhelpful. Betty was not listening. Betty was not doing what was asked of her, which is not acceptable. If we want to have a happy and enjoyable outing together? Everyone needs to listen, and cooperate.

Betty is unhappy to be the subject of this line of questioning.

Not surprisingly, at least for the day, her listening skills improve dramatically.

We pick up the milk and the hummus and return home without incident. Whereupon I realize I have inadvertently picked up fat-free milk instead of 1% milk. What with all the distraction, and my being less than familiar with this market and the outrageously expensive brand of organic milk, which is labeled differently than I am used to, it was an innocent mistake. One I am truly sorry for, but not willing to self-flagellate over.

Mrs. C. treats this as something akin to the end of the world. With sighing and fretting and a martyr-like I-guess-I’ll-return-it-tomorrow you-do-have-the-reciept.

And I wonder if the apple has fallen from the tree at all.