The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Category Archives for ‘Experiences’

Spider Egg Soap and Diaper Breath

I bet you thought I was never blogging again, didn’t you? Nah, I was on vacation. Yes, for three weeks.

OK, maybe not three weeks, but totally for 9 days and then there were a whole bunch of days before and after I had to devote completely to getting both my physical and mental shit together (I almost said ‘literal and metaphorical shit together’ but I’m pretty sure that would imply that I was handling feces and no one needs that mental picture).

I’m leaving to take all of the kids to the dentist, so this is going to all be very stream of consciousness/guerrilla-style blogging. Beggars can’t be choosers, yo. And I know you’ve been sitting there begging the internet for the seedy and mundane details of my existence. So here you go:

I forgot to put a new bar of soap in the shower this morning before I stepped in, so I had to use Jason’s ‘Axe Shock Shower Gel’. It felt like I was chewing wintergreen gum with my whole body. In a bad way. And Jason has this big weird sponge thing with a long handle, because he feels it’s important to lather and scrub his entire body specifically (I’m more of a fan of lazily soaping my face and armpits and letting the soap clean the rest of my body as it runs down when I rinse it off) and I noticed that the tiny little cleansing beads from the shower gel that are supposed to exfoliate and burst as you’re washing, were trapped in the crevices of the sponge and they looked like spider eggs. So now I’ll never touch the sponge or the shower gel again.

*Mental note: replace bar of soap in the shower.*

We went to this awesome dinner at one of our favorite restaurants last night. It was a whole fantastic ‘tasting menu and wine pairing with a local wine-maker’ thing that’s probably actually too high class for us, but whatever. Food. Yum.

It was lovely, but at least three of the courses involved large quantities of garlic. As in, huge cloves of roasted elephant garlic meant to be spread like butter on thin slices of bread. And gourmet garlic flavored sausages in a bed of chilled white beans with fried chips of garlic.

The food was amazing yesterday, but this morning it tastes like I spent the night licking the inside of our trashcan after I left raw chicken in it for too long. On my (humid, miserable, soul-killing) run this morning I leaked garlic from every pore. I’ve brushed, flossed and mouth-washed every millimeter of my oral cavity and I can still murder flowers if I lean too close while exhaling. I feel very confident this dentist visit is going to go just like my last wax appointment, where I took a deep breath to steel myself against the pain and humiliation of the process, stripped, laid down on the table, and the waxer took one look at me and gasped, What happened to you! (I’d forgotten to warn her about my summer runner inner-thigh chaffing. Once I’d explained it she said, Oh, geez, I thought you’d had some terrible bike accident or something!)

So what I’m saying is I’m just gearing up for a super fun awkward conversation where I explain to a dentist I’ve never met that my breath is horrible because I’ve been eating gourmet food, not because I have a disease that makes the inside of my mouth smell like a used diaper, while he wonders if it’s true or I’m a crazy who doesn’t really know how to brush my teeth.

(Side story: one time when Jason and I were dating in college he came over after he’d been hanging out with friends smoking cigars, and he went to kiss me and for several minutes I really truly thought he had silently released the most repugnant, foul fart that ever existed on the planet, but it turned out it was just his breath. Because cigars smell ok sometimes, but post-cigar breath is worse than farts that smell like your insides are decaying.)

I just felt like the internet should know (and breath a sigh of relief) that I’m taking my kids to the dentist. So we’re not quite feral here in the Newlin house. Close, but not quite.

A Plan Gone Wrong – Jonas and the Mason Jar

So… did I ever tell you the baby quail didn’t make it? The crazy bird lady emailed me the next day and said the little guy was dead by the next morning. I felt like at least we’d done all we could.

What happened today, on the other hand, I feel more responsible for.

This morning Jonas came running inside and said, “I have a new plan!” But Jo without a plan is like my hand without a glass of wine (just unnatural), so I didn’t listen particularly carefully when he went over the details.

“You know those tubes in our front yard? The holes in the ground?” he asked.

I thought he could mean any number of holes in the ground from the drainage tubes to the prairie dog burrows or the holes they’ve dug themselves, but I was distracted by my computer and making breakfast and again, this is just sort of how conversations with Jonas go, so I said, “I guess…” and he continued on.

“I saw a lizard run into one of them. So I’m going to take jars and put them in the holes and wait, and then when a lizard runs into them I’ll flip it up and put the top on it and I’ll have caught a lizard in my lizard trap!” he said enthusiastically.

This is when I should have said, “Why don’t you show me?”

But I actually said, “Sure,” and went back to returning work emails (and by ‘returning work emails’ I mean ‘reading Jezebel’).

A little while later he came back inside and said to Gray, “I really think this is going to work!”

At that point, my ‘Jonas is doing something weird’ spidey sense started to tingle a little bit and I said, “What are you using as bait in these traps?” to which he replied, with a little bit of disappointment, “Nothing,” and I calmed down. He clearly wasn’t going to catch anything with jars stuck in holes and no bait. Even the dopey lizards around our house wouldn’t get caught like that.

Gray agreed this was not a viable plan. “Jo, what if a lizard does go in the jar, but you’re not around? How will you get it?” he asked. I nodded. This seemed like a obvious flaw to me, too.

Jo looked slightly miffed and said, “I’m going to go back out and check on the traps,” before dashing into the heat again.

As I was starting lunch for the kids he came back in through the garage door with scarlet cheeks, poured himself a glass of cold water, took a big gulp and said triumphantly, “It’s working! There is a lizard in my trap.”

I’m no spring chicken. I’ve been around the block a time or two and I’ve been Jonas’s mom for six and a half years. I know if he says he has a baby bird in the garage, there’s a goddamn baby bird in the garage, and if  he says there’s a lizard in his trap, there’s a motherfucking lizard in the trap. This was when I could tell I’d made an error in judgement. Whatever contraption he’d designed had probably trapped a gila monster or a rattlesnake and now I was going to have to deal with it.

“OK,” I told him, “take me to it.” Ben came with.

He led us down to the end of the street where there’s a medium-sized desert wash. At the house right next door to the wash he pointed to a drainage tube that was sticking out of some decorative rocks in the yard. There was a green glass mason jar shoved in the tube.

dead lizard 3

And inside the green glass jar was a fairly large, horned lizard.

“I haven’t tried to take it out yet,” Jonas said. He was obviously a little nervous about the size of the creature he’d managed to catch. But clearly, having an audience was bolstering his courage, so he reached down and began to carefully pull the jar out. I caught this part on video:

After this it all started to make a  little more sense. I’d thought he was going to put a jar in the hole with the open side up, like an old fashioned net in a pit type trap, but instead, he’d sealed off the entrance with the jar, assuming there was another end to the tube (in the backyard maybe?). Actually, though, the tubes are just buried so the water flows more easily forward, I guess, and only open on the front end. So the lizard he’d “caught” was already hiding in the shade of the tube when he put the glass jar in, and had either suffocated or cooked to death (probably the latter) after the jar had been attached.

Ugh. I know life is treacherous and death lurks around every corner for these creatures, but I’m sad we were party to the end of this little guy’s existence. And cooking to death in a glass jar? Who can imagine a more horrible way to go (besides maybe being eaten by rabid beavers, that might be slightly worse)?

I’m trying not to get too worked up over it because I know Jo felt bad and that he’s just a kid interested in animals and wildlife. I like that he’s out and about exploring the neighborhood. I’m proud he’s brave enough to sleep in the backyard alone and tries to save injured baby birds. But I guess next time he has ‘a new plan’ that involves the neighborhood wildlife I should walk it through with him.

By the time I was finished cleaning up lunch he’d caught a new friend (this time with his hands):

keiko

 

He named her Keiko. So clearly he’s not as traumatized as I am, and the wildlife hasn’t learned its lesson. Ah the circle of life.

How to Choose the Perfect Swimsuit For a Pool Party

Step 1: Gather every swimsuit in the store you could ever possibly want, even the hot yellow one-piece with side cut-outs. You never know, it might not make you look like a bratwurst being sautéed whose casing suddenly splits and guts spill out the side. Options are your friend.

Step 2: In the dressing room order the suits from Likely Horrifying to Might Not Hate Myself In It to increase your chances of ending on a positive note instead of walking out the store and directly into oncoming traffic.

Step 3: Do a rapid try-on of all of the suits and drop each into one of two piles you’ve designated, Let’s Never Speak of This and I Didn’t Throw Up When I Looked in the Mirror. When you get to the reversible corset-style bikini you were sure was going to be adorable, but somehow manages to mash the small amount of boobs you have down under the cups, while simultaneous shoving all of your fat into the space between the top and the bottom in a way you’ve only previously seen on PeopleofWalmart.com, briefly consider writing a nasty letter to the designer but decide it’s not worth your time. When you’re finished, kick the rejects under the door out into the communal dressing room space. The sales girl will understand. Ain’t nobody got time for properly rehanging suits that just humiliated you.

Step 4: Perform a second round of judging on the ones that have ‘made it to Vegas’, if you will. This time really make them perform. Give them the 360 degree treatment. Jog in place. Do a couple of downward-facing-dogs, if the dressing room permits. Get rid of anything with twee ruffles or patterns that just aren’t you. Narrow it down to the two best candidates.

Step 5: It’s going to come down to either the one that makes you feel sort of whorish, or the one that makes you feel kind of old; it always does. Try both on again and do your very best to look at yourself completely objectively. Imagine you saw you at the pool. Which of the swimsuit judgement trifecta would you lean over to your best friend and say: Damn, she’s slutty, Damn, she’s fat, or Damn, I wish I was her?

Step 6: Determine you’re fat, slutty and incapable of being objective.

Step 7: Spend 10 minutes taking a selfie in each suit and framing them side-by-side so you can text them to two friends for their opinions. Make sure to send it to friends who will:

1. Text you back immediately.

2. Be bitchy enough to point out that the suit color makes you look sallow.

3. Not sabotage you to make themselves look hotter when standing next to you.

Step 8: Once each friend has texted you back picking a different one, because they’re useless, make an executive choice based completely on what you had for lunch. If it was a salad, pick the slutty one. If it was a burger, go with the one with more coverage.

Step 9: When you’re in line to pay, send the selfie of the one you picked to your husband so he can reinforce your choice with the ‘HOTTT!!!’ he would send back even if you’d sent him a picture of you wearing the horrible corset one.

Step 10: When you get home, lock yourself in the bathroom and try on the winning suit again. Take selfies from every angle because you read that’s the way to get a more accurate view of  yourself. Wonder if you have that wrong because you’re still taking a picture of the reversed angle of yourself. Feel confused and sad about your understanding of the universe.

Step 11: Find several possibly symmetrical lumps on your abdominal region and try to decide if they’re ab muscles or bumpy fat pockets. Flex your stomach as hard as you can, then jiggle the top layer with your hands. Decide they’re probably fat.

Step 12: Flex your butt cheeks and observe your thigh dimples. Pinch your back fat. Smush your tummy together so your stretch marks look like dog jowls. Have a long inner-dialog about flaws making you human, how photo-shopping is ruining the self-image of society and that not being proud of your strong body is setting feminism back 50 years.

Step 13: Pull out the swimsuit you bought 5 years ago that someone once took a cute picture of you in. Wear that to the pool party. Never actually remove your cover-up.

You’re welcome.

Monday Night We Went Paddle-boarding…

Let’s go stand-up paddle-boarding at night on the river! they said. It will be fun! they said.

At the Walgreens ‘just over the hill’ from the river (Thomas and Power) buying water before we headed to the river’s edge:

Check out kid, Anders – So where are you guys going tonight?

Us – We’re going paddle-boarding on the the river! Fun, right?

Anders – Oh yeah? I had some friends do that as their Prom date last month.

Us – Really? That’s so cool! What a fun and unique Prom date!

Anders – Yeah… well-

Sarah (my sister) - Don’t tell us they found a snake or a dead body.

Anders – …OK…

Us – WAIT, WHAT?!! Which one???

Anders – Well you told me not to tell you-

Sarah – Was it a snake??

Anders – Uh, no.

Us – DEAD BODY?!

Anders – Uh, yes. They had to wait for the police to come. They were stuck there for hours.

Us – !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That’s how this whole experience started. I’m unapologetically terrified of a couple of things: creatures that live in water and the dark. These fears are probably a result of the combination of too many horror novels when I was an adolescent and the constant barrage of nature documentaries and animal reality shows about natural bodies of water with the word ‘Monster’ in the title playing on our TV by Jason and the boys. I’ve been emotionally scarred by Stephen King, PBS and Animal Planet.

That said, I do my best to suck it up because fraidy cats have no fun. When we got to the river, it was a dusky 8pm, and I was feeling confident about the experience, despite the ominous prelude by Anders, the Walgreens checkout voice of impending doom. I mean how likely was it that we’d find another dead body? Seemed like probably the Prom couple had taken one for the team and filled the dead body paddle-boarding quota for at least a little while, right?

We ditched our shoes, valuables and clothes in the car and walked barefoot through a tiny, unlit parking lot down to the edge of the water where another group was exiting. You guys will have a great time, they promised.

When we mounted the boards and paddled out to the middle of the river it was still light enough to see what color the boards were, but the light was quickly draining away. Within 15 minutes most of the sky and the water were black. This probably should have been when my survival instincts kicked in and I said, Nope, nope, nope… Imma go home and drink wine and watch the rest of OITNB. You nutjobs can swim around in the dark muck with godknowswhat, but sometimes paddle-boarding makes you feel like you’re The Messiah, walking on water. We were five ladies on an adventure! We were brave and enjoying the quiet and beauty of the wilderness at night! This was fun!

As we started off, against the current, the gal who owned the boards and was leading the excursion, explained several things:

1. The kids who found the dead body were using her boards when the incident happened. Probably the worst part of the detailed story was how the kids had flagged down a boat to notify about the body (they didn’t have cell phones on them) and for a brief period of time the boat owners decided the right thing to do was get the kids in the boat and tie the body to the back so it didn’t float away. Go ahead and take a minute to go over in your head how, exactly, that would work.

2. Last week when she was out at night with a group a fish had jumped up on the board of a chick, who FREAKED THE FUCK OUT, and fell in the water.

3. The river is really shallow and there’s lots of moss, so we should try to stay away from the mossy sections so we didn’t get stuck. Not that we’d really know where those are. (Also moss kind of feels like a dead body when you poke it with your paddle.)

4. We shouldn’t worry about the loud splashing we’d occasionally hear. It was just beavers. (BEAVERS??!)

I had worn a headlamp, but quickly realized when it was on it both attracted bugs and blinded me when my arm passed in front of the light as I was paddling and it reflected into my eyes. So I left it off and it just served to made my head sweaty.

At that point I was doing ok and mostly keeping up with my sister, whose Native American name would be, Is Good At Everything. Things were ok when I was in the middle of the group and the random splashes were off in the distance. It was fine! This was fun!

And then a ‘beaver’ (or some kind of large, murdery supernatural water creature, either/or) jumped out of the water DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF MY BOARD.

Let’s just get one thing clear: I’m that girl, in the horror movie, who gets killed within the first 16 minutes because she screams so loud it would be completely annoying to have her around any longer than that. I can’t help it; I’m a screamer. It’s instinctual. It’s probably one of those recessive traits that’s mostly selected out because it’s fucking irritating and once a man finds out you do it he’s 70% likely not to want to procreate with you, but I can’t help but shriek bloody-murder if you scare me.

And that beaver? SCARED THE FUCK OUT OF ME. My throat still hurt from that scream Tuesday morning when I woke up.

Things went rapidly downhill from there.

I was flushed with adrenaline and terror, so I couldn’t make my legs and arms stop quivering. The trees on the side of the river began to look ominous and occupied (by hungry animals? river people with banjos? dead bodies?). I tried to keep up with the group, but eventually fell behind.

And then I fell FAR behind.

Like so far behind I could only see the very last person, 50 yards ahead of me, who was also pretty far back from everyone else.

I began paddling harder, trying desperately to figure out what I was doing wrong. Should I dip the paddle down deeper? Was it facing the wrong direction? Was I just a pathetic weakling at the back of the herd who was meant to be picked off by a predator as a warning to the rest of the group? Yep. Probably the last part.

Sweat streamed into my eyes and I got caught in a current dragging me both backward and into the completely terrifying silhouette of trees on the shore that likely eat people. I dug my oar in and paddled furiously, only managing to remain stationary, staving off imminent demise until I eventually exhausted my physical resources and was dragged back into the hellmouth.

Far ahead I could hear the members of my group discussing going further. Let’s just go a hundred more strokes, I could hear them decide. Just go a little faster, they yelled back at those of us lagging.

This was when I lost whatever shit I had that was trying desperately to stay together. I just wanted off the goddamn river. I wanted to be anywhere else on the planet. The darkness felt oppressive. The moss just under the surface of the water was clearly evil. The wispy clouds blocking out the stars were coming for me. There were murderers or monsters lining the shore. River sharks waited for me under my board. The splashing beavers were aggressive and probably rabid. The dead bodies were preparing to rise up, pull me from my board and hold me under the water until I would submit and join their ranks. THINGS WERE NOT OK.

I yelled to the rest of the group, “I’M GOING AS FAST AS I FUCKING CAN! I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE. I WANT TO GO HOME!!! I WANT TO GO HOME!!!”

I feel like you think, right now, that I’m probably exaggerating, because you know me and that’s what I do. I’m somewhat hyperbolic. But you can poll the other gals on the trip and they’ll tell you that I, a 36 year old mother of three, grown-ass woman, had a nervous breakdown on the Salt River because I’m afraid of the dark and beavers, and everyone had to turn around and go back due to the fact that I could not deal.

It is what it is.

I calmed down somewhat once the group was surrounding me, but then we spent another half hour or so paddling up and down searching for the exit point, and I can tell you with great assurance that I’ve NEVER BEEN MORE RELIEVED than when I stepped on the dry dirt. Even though it was still reallyfuckingdark and I was pretty sure I was going to step on glass/scorpions/hepatitis before I got back to my car. At least I was away from the zombie beavers.

 

 

Balance, Logic, Fudge

Blogging has been difficult for me lately. It requires a certain amount of uninterrupted thought and for the last three weeks I haven’t been able to generate a complete sentence without someone asking me to make them some jelly toast or if we can go to the pool now.

Yesterday it had gotten to the point where I knew if I didn’t put together a blog post immediately, I just never would again and I would become constipated by my own thoughts until they eventually shriveled up and died inside me, poisoning my insides. (That’s what happens when you keep your thoughts trapped inside you.) So I sucked it up and put a post out, but I’m out of practice, so the process was plodding and painful.

I’ve decided the only solution is to force myself to produce until things feel a little bit more natural again. It’s the prune juice for my creative process. I just need to get it all moving until I’m regular, right?

So I’m just going to blog the inside of my head for awhile until things start to spark on their own again and I’m back in the groove (or some other defecation metaphor, if you prefer consistency). Feel free to move along if that’s not your thing. I’ll get back to attempting to construct coherent narratives eventually.

The inside of my head this morning:

Yesterday evening I took a hand-balancing workshop taught by a traveling circus couple. They were amazing. He’s Cuban and English is clearly not his first language (balancing actually might be his first language) and she’s sweet, blonde, voluptuous and bendy. He had us kick up into handstands endlessly and hold them as long as we could while he poked our legs from either side to help us stay up and demanded we stay tight or use our fingers more. She would then explain the technique and tricks in more detail while he demonstrated things that seemed scientifically impossible, but were really just the result of insane strength and coordination.

handbalancing

They taught us a trick called a crocodile, on two posts, that I don’t have a picture of us working on, but the result looks like this:

crocodile

I didn’t get my hand off the second post, but I did manage to balance with my legs and chest up for a few seconds after working on it for twenty minutes and I was pretty fucking proud of myself for it. That chick is making it look way easier than I was, but that’s definitely what I looked like in my head. With a little more shaking and sweating.

Last night I dreamed I joined a professional rollerskating performance troupe. Obviously my own psyche thinks I’m kind of insane, also.

I woke up this morning to aching arms, shoulders and abs, but I had a plan for this week and that plan included running Monday, Wednesday AND Friday morning, so I dragged myself outside even though it was already hot, humid and miserable at 5:30AM.

But the world was beautiful:

morning run

And Pandora rewarded me with my one of my favorite songs right as I set out, I Will Follow You into the Dark. Have you ever seen the video? I Youtubed it a few months ago and it managed to make me love that song and Death Cab for Cutie even more than I did before (which was like a really super lot already):

Death Cab for Cutie is one of those things that speaks to me. The songs just make sense in a simple, analytical, beautiful way. I feel that way about Alton Brown, too. You know, the chef? The way he explains The Why of food preparation by celebrating the science behind it while still appreciating the beauty of flavor just really makes me want to make-out with him. Even the 51 year old balding him. I strongly believe the powerful nature of logic does nothing but support the wonder and beauty of the world and I <3 those guys and gals who regularly turn that concept into art.

I got through my four miles a little faster than I had all week despite the heat, which just goes to prove, once again, that running is so much about your state of mind.

Today I’m doing a final walkthrough on a house I feel a little bittersweet about selling. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it here before or only on Facebook and I’m too lazy to go back and look, but it’s my best friend’s childhood home. I helped her parents purchase a new home, a little further south, with a more comfortable layout for them and we’re closing on the sale of the old one next week.

You know how you always have that one friend who has a house everyone ends up hanging out at? The house that always has snacks and good places to sit and the parents don’t hassle you or roll their eyes when you come over and watch TV and drink all the sodas out of their garage fridge? That was this house. I can’t even count the number of times I spent the night or dances we got picked up by our dates from at this house. There was the one summer the cockroaches were particularly bad in Dobson Ranch, so Rebecca and I would take the rolly chairs from the kitchen table and race the creatures across the floor when we spotted one. Or the time I hosted a Ouija Board seance by candlelight (because I’m the most dramatic) and we’re pretty sure we contacted the spirit of River Phoenix. Her mom even threw me a baby shower there when I was pregnant with Ben.

So I’m a little sad to see it sold, and I think the rest of the family feels the same. But I know the new home will make my friend’s parents happy and a new family will make memories in the old house. I hope they remember to always have lemon bars and fudge in the pantry.

Summer Break – A Nervous Breakdown in Four Acts

Summer Break – Act 1 (The First Day)

Mom (eyelids popping open at 5AM on the dot with terror at the realization): THE KIDS ARE OUT OF SCHOOL!!! Shitshitshit. I need a plan. It’s going to be ok. Everything will be ok with a plan. And plans start with lists. I just need to make a list.

*Gets out paper and pen and writes Things to accomplish this summer at the top.*

First needs to be ‘Go to the Dentist’ because that’s one of those things you do in the summer to get it over with, right? Although we didn’t go last summer… or the summer before. So the point is, we really, really need to go to the dentist this summer.

Also, the little one still isn’t swimming by himself. And he is definitely too old for that shit. But every time I put him in lessons he screws around and snows the teacher and learns nothing. So I pay $175 for a month of bullshit. OK, I’m taking this into my own hands. I taught swim lessons for years in high school and college, there’s no reason I can’t teach my own kid how to swim, right? We’ll just go to the pool every day until he can swim across the pool. NBD.

What else? The middle one needs tutoring for reading and writing, so I need to get that set up and confirmed. And they each need a regular physical activity and a creative one. There’s a skateboarding/parkour gym not to far from us. I’ll look into classes there. And Mesa Center for the Arts has ceramics classes for all ages. That should work.

We also need a family “Summer Project”. I know! We’ll make a Lego/origami stop-motion movie together! It will be so fun! We’ll probably get famous after it’s done and have our own reality show about how we make movies together as a family, each using our own individual creativity and skills to create great collaborative works of art.

And of course we need to clean out and reorganize their bedrooms. Plus there will be absolutely no TV or video games until after 4PM and we are definitely not eating out. I’m going to plan all of our meals for the week and grocery shop on Mondays so we can have wholesome, inexpensive meals all summer.

I think that’s it!

  • Go to the dentist
  • Teach the youngest to swim
  • Reading tutoring for the middle
  • Parkour classes for the oldest
  • Skateboarding lessons for the other two
  • Ceramics class for all
  • Family Lego/origami stop-motion movie
  • Clean out and reorganize bedrooms
  • No TV/video games until after 4PM
  • No eating out

I don’t know what I was freaking out about, this summer is going to be great! If I just calendar everything out and allot the appropriate amount of time for each activity, we’ll be able to enjoy the summer in a fun, creatively stimulated, healthy way. This is going to be the best summer ever.

Act 2 (The end of week 1.):

Mom: Huh. So going to the pool every day is not only exhausting and time-consuming, but creates more laundry than Lindsay Lohan on a press-junket for an ill-fated made for TV Movie. And now I don’t have time to do any laundry because when I’m not driving one kid to an activity, I’m entertaining the others because I won’t let them watch TV or play video games. AND THE FEEDING. My god, the feeding. I get up and make breakfast. Once that is all picked up it’s roughly 19 minutes before it’s time to start lunch. And before I can even think about walking away from the kitchen the fruit needs to be cut up for snacks and it’s time to start dinner.

So far the skateboarding and parkour is going pretty well, but those classes are in direct conflict with my workout schedule, so that’s out the window.

Oh shit, and we haven’t worked on the stop-motion movie in days. In fact, we haven’t gotten past setting up the camera and the lights. Fuckfuckfuck. I’m instilling in my children the habit of starting projects that never get finished. I’m raising failures right now. That’s what I’m doing.

Can’t forget to clean their rooms. When will I have time to do that?? We don’t even have time for the tutoring homework!

And I haven’t made the dentist appointment yet.

I need to redouble my efforts.

Act 3 (Three weeks in.)

Mom: OK, guys, I’m going to swing through In and Out Burger and get food for lunch. You can eat it in the car if you promise you won’t spill on the upholstery. You need to pause your video games and look at the menu to tell me what you want me to order. I need to run into Walgreens on the way home really quick so I can get more wine.

When we get home you can watch TV if you want. I think there’s a Dirty Jobs marathon on. I just need you to leave me alone for a few hours. I have to send some emails and then I really need to take a nap. I’m physically and emotionally exhausted from you people and fulfilling your wants and needs every moment of every day. It’s summer, right? Naps are ok. I think naps are a summer thing. Please just don’t talk to me until it’s time to get ready to go to ceramics class. Please?

Act 4 (The end of summer.)

Mom: I’mneveraloneI’mneveraloneI’mneveralone. I just want to be alone. Like more than I want to breathe. I’m being crushed to death under the warm, suffocating weight of family-togetherness. It’s almost over, right? I think it’s almost over. I looked at the calendar and I’m pretty sure they go back to school soon. Even though we didn’t finish the stop-motion movie, they ate more fast food than pregnant Britney Spears and no one in our family has qualified for the XGames yet, I haven’t murdered any of them, so I’m pretty sure if I can just finish this out, I win at summer. Winning is what I’m doing right now. Winning in the non-homicide sense. And what more, really, can be expected of a parent?

… oh shit. We never went to the dentist.

 

 

 

“Rescued”

Reason #8,512,294 I never get anything productive done:

Jonas: Mom.

Me: Yes?

Jonas: Can you come outside? I want to show you something.

Me: Um, I’m right in the middle of something. What is it you want to show me?

Jonas: Well… when I was just riding my bike over to Joshua and Eli’s to see if they could come play, I found a baby bird and I brought it back to our house.

Me: What?! No you didn’t. Are you serious?

Jonas: Yes. It was alone! I rescued it!

Me: Did you touch it? The mom won’t take it back if you touched it.

Jonas: I didn’t touch it! I put it in the cup holder on my bike. And there wasn’t a mom. It was in a box.

Me: Oh for chrissakes. Where is it?

*He takes me out to the garage.*

rescued bird 1

 

Jonas: I’m going to put him in a little box and feed him.

Me: Jo, you don’t even know what he eats.

Jonas: I do! All birds eat worms. I know LOTS about birds. Way more than you do.

Me: I’m not saying you don’t. I’m just saying I don’t think you know enough to keep him alive. Or happy. Would you be happy in a tiny little box where you couldn’t move?

Jonas: I’m going to put him in a bigger box. And I can definitely keep him alive. I’ll give him water and food every day. I’ll catch a worm every day for him.

Me: What about when he gets big and needs to learn to fly? You can’t teach him to fly.

Jonas: I could! I could definitely teach him how to fly. I’m sure of it.

Me: Oh good lord. I seriously don’t even know what to do. You need to show me exactly where you found it.

Jonas: OK, but it’s kind of far. And through one of the other gated neighborhoods, so you can’t drive.

*After a 20 minute walk through several neighborhoods and a wash behind some houses.*

Jonas: See that box right there? He was in that box.

Me: So you were riding your bike and you saw the box 20 feet off the path in the wash and you got off your bike to go look inside it?

Jonas: Yes.

Me: Why?

Jonas: I like boxes.

Me: Right. So then how did you get it from the box into your cup holder if you didn’t touch it?

Jonas: I picked up the box and carried it over to my bike and tipped it into the cup holder.

Me: Got it. I don’t see a nest anywhere nearby…

Jonas: Look, Mom!! *Points to the carcass of an identical baby bird  covered in ants about 5 feet further down the wash.*

Me: Get away from that! Don’t touch it!! Come over here right now! I’m calling your father!

Jonas: See! I rescued him! That’s what would have happened to him!

Me (on the phone to Jason): So your youngest, my favorite-

Jason: Uh oh…

Me: Brought home a live baby bird (I explain the story in detail). I don’t see a nest anywhere. And I think it’s not ok. It’s moving its wing and chirping, but not its legs. I seriously don’t know what to do with it.

Jason: Take it home and put it in the big green container in the backyard that we had the lizard in Jonas caught a couple of days ago. Give it some water in that little dish I had in there. I’ll take a look at it when I get home and do something about it.

Me: Oh for the love… fine. I have neither the time nor the emotional energy to feel responsible for the entirety of the health, safety, hopes and dreams of yet another creature in our home! Do you have any idea what kind of a burden it is to wake up in the middle of the night worrying about the general happiness and emotional security of everyone who lives under our roof? Even the ones who can’t communicate their own happiness to me?

Jason: …no?

Me: IT’S EXHAUSTING. This is why I drink.

Jason: I thought real estate was why you drink. And the boys fighting. And spiders in the washing machine.

Me: All those things too. It’s why I have to drink so much. I blame you for this, you know. I never brought home creatures for my parents to deal with when I was a kid.

Jason: I know.

rescued bird 2

 

*Updated to add the rest of the story*

So it turns out the little guy is a baby quail. After I posted this blog, my sweet friend, Shar, pointed me to a website run by local people who help sick and injured wildlife. I followed their instructions to email a picture of the bird to them and in less than 10 minutes someone had replied with the name and phone number of a woman in Apache Junction who takes in and rehabilitates sick and injured birds (or baby birds without their mothers).

I called Barb, The Wildlife Rehabilitator, specializing in quail, dove and bunnies (so it sez on her biz card) and she gave me her address and told me to bring the bird right over to her. Of course, at this point the kids had to be at the skateboarding school I signed them up for classes at this summer in 20 minutes, so there wasn’t time to take the bird to her before dropping them off. Additionally, I had planned to go to circus school after the skateboarding classes (Jason was meeting me there to receive the kids). I intended to throw something on over top of my circusy workout outfit to make it slightly less weird, but because of all of the bird clusterfuckery, I didn’t have time to figure anything reasonable out and ended up running out the door just in that. I also didn’t have much time to find something appropriately sized to transport the bird in the car, so I grabbed the first thing I saw that would work.

This is how I came to meet the other moms of the kids in Jonas’s new skateboarding class while wearing a black fitted tank top and these tights:

galaxy tights

 

And carrying a plastic novelty movie popcorn bucket with a tiny injured baby quail inside. Oh and with blue hair, of course.

Luckily, it’s skateboarding class, so dude, these moms don’t judge. (I <3 skateboarding class.)

After securing the kids in their classes, I hopped back into the car (realizing I was super low on gas) and headed 17 miles East into the wilds of Apache Junction to find the wacky lady who takes in tiny injured birds. When I got to her house, she immediately picked him up (it also turns out the whole ‘don’t touch a baby bird because then its mom won’t take it back’  or because it’s definitely covered in germs that will immediately kill you, is all super old-wives-taley) and said something is definitely wrong with his legs and she doesn’t know if he’ll make it, but she’ll work with him and do her best.

Then she thanked me and told me to tell Jonas he’d done the right thing (who knew that was possible) and asked me if I could possibly deliver another bird to one of her rescuer friends on my way back West.

How do you say no to a woman who takes in injured baby birds as a hobby?

Which is how I ended up speeding down the 60 toward a church parking lot to meet a woman I’d never met, freaking out I was going to either be late to pick up the kids or run completely out of gas (or both) with this guy in my car:

rescued bird 3

Luckily, I found ‘Gennie’ (the other nutty bird lady), handed off this fellow and made it back to the skateboard gym without running out of gas exactly as the kids were being released from their classes.

I haven’t heard anything from Barb yet today as to whether our quail made it through the night, but I’m going to check in with her later and will definitely keep you updated. I feel better that at least we did everything we could.

(We also rescued a prairie dog from the neighborhood pool on Tuesday this week:

drowning prairie dog

 

So if this is the universe’s way of testing us to see if we’re terrible people, I would just like to know if we’ve passed or if we should expect a family of homeless coyote to show up at our doorstep seeking shelter next.)

36: Pros vs. Cons

I had a birthday over the weekend. It was a good time, but I’m feeling conflicted about the whole ‘turning 36′ thing. Certain parts of the process are categorically offensive and should be outlawed as inhumane. For instance:

1. When your girlfriend points to you and says to the waiter, “We’re celebrating her 30th!” and he chuckles because he can tell she must be kidding.

2. When your mother gives you a tankini swimsuit for your birthday because, “You’re always complaining about your stretch marks! I thought you’d like to be more covered!”

3. When the cashier at Smashburger asks to see your ID after you order a beer, but as  you’re having trouble extricating it from your new wallet he says, “Oh, it’s OK, you don’t need to pull it out. I’m just supposed to ask!”

4. When bitches in their mid-20s complain about how “old” they’re getting and it’s not legal to punch them in the face (you bitches know who you are).

5. When an acquaintance mentions her “kid in high school” and for a second you wonder if she’s super old or was a teenage mom… until you remember your kid starts high school in 3 months… and you weren’t a teenage mom.

6. When your husband begins to steadily ascend on the Comparative-Attractiveness Scale (because: Men + Age  = Distinguished) while you spend most of your free time (and half your income) fighting tooth and nail just not to lose ground (because: Women + Age = An Entire Aisle in the Grocery Store Devoted to Pleasegodmakethisstop).

No one should have to deal with that shit.

But, there are things about 36 that possibly make up for the horror-show above. Like:

1. Realizing dark lipstick no longer makes you look like a teenage prostitute and you can totally pull it off.

2. Knowing you’re in the strongest physical condition you’ve ever been in your life because you finally have the time, determination and cash flow to make it happen.

3. Still being that bitch who complains about getting “old” to all your friends in their mid-40s.

4. Not giving any fucks about your stretch marks anymore and still wearing your smallest goddamn bikini because you worked hard for those ab muscles, even if they’re covered by a few battle scars.

5. Giving way fewer fucks in general about what anyone else thinks about you, your weird hobbies, habits or outfits.

6. Getting to have a Trophy Husband without even getting divorced and remarried.

7. Having kids you are proud of, who no longer require you to handle their feces on a regular basis and who occasionally even let you go to dinner without them.

So… I think at the very least, it’s a wash. But possibly things are tipping in the direction of 36 not being THE WORST. I’ll let you know in a year.

 

The Emotional Spectrum of a Text

The requisite thought process when you* get a text from a number you don’t recognize:

Me: Yay, a text!

mysterytext

Also Me: Uh… who is this?

Me: This is awkward. This person is nice enough to send me a text asking how the handstand workshop I went to last night went and I don’t even know who it is! I’m such an asshole.

Also Me: Maybe it’s Rebekah or Sean.

Me: I have them both saved in my phone… and they were both at the workshop.

Also Me: Right. It could be Tatiana. We talked about this workshop at class a few weeks ago and she said she thought she was going to go, but then she didn’t show last night.

Me: She’s never texted me before and it doesn’t seem like something she would just randomly do. She would FB message me, or text Rebekah if she wanted to know if it was a cool workshop. It’s not her.

Also Me: OK, so it’s someone who I know well enough they want to know if I enjoyed my class, but not well enough I have him or her saved in my contacts or have ever texted with them before…

Me: This is stupid. I should just text them back, “Who is this?” It’s a reasonable question! Whenever I text someone I haven’t texted before I always sign it. That’s common courtesy.

Also Me: It just seems so confrontational. This person is just trying to be nice! And what if it’s a weird phone thing and it is someone I know really well and my phone is just being a dick and lost the contact? That shit happens. And if I’m weird about it I could totally alienate someone who I really like. Then they’ll never text me asking about my random hobbies again. Or, what if it’s a friend I talk to online all the time who just decided to text me instead of messaging me because it was easier from her phone?

Me: Well this can’t be that hard to figure out. I just need to reason through it. Who knew I was going to a handstand workshop last night and has my phone number?

Also Me: Well, I ‘checked in’, announcing I was attending a handstand workshop, on my completely open Facebook account last night.

Me: And my cell number is both on my super-unprotected-in-any-way Facebook account and in bold at the top of my website, plus on signs in front of all of my listings and on every email I send out.

Also Me: So… the entire Internet and most of Arizona.

Me: Right.

Also Me: OK, OK. Maybe just text them back, “It was great!” and see what they reply back. That could give me some clues to help figure out who exactly it is.

Me: Not a bad idea. But what if it’s a stalker?

Also Me: You mean like a fan? Of my blog?

Me: Well, a ‘fan’ writes comments on the blog. Or possibly messages you through the website or Facebook to say they like your writing or think you’re funny. A ‘stalker’ goes to the trouble of texting your cell about your personal activities.

Also Me: You think I could really have a stalker/fan?? That could be kind of awesome. Only the really good, popular blogs have stalkers. And if this person is a stalker, they seem like a really considerate one. I think I might enjoy having a stalker who texts me to ask me how my day is going and how I’m feeling every once in awhile.

Me: Remember that time early on in real estate when I did an open house and the next day got those emails from some guy who said he’d come through to tour the house? They started out super friendly and complimentary and rapidly turned to creepily describing my outfit and my legs the day before.

Also Me: That still gives me the chills. I was alone in an enormous house with that guy. Ugh. OK, better to figure out who this is before responding in a friendly and inviting manner.

Me: I’ll just have to wait and try Googling the number when I’m not driving.

Later…

Me: AHA! It’s Rachel, the owner of the Circus School! I guess she wanted feedback on how the class went because she wasn’t there.

Also Me: So it wasn’t a friend who cared enough to ask about the class.

Me: Or even a stalker/fan.

Also Me: Like 33 people read the blog. It’s probably not shocking there’s no stalker/fan.

Me: *Sigh*

 

Updated (because I love that you guys take time out of your busy days to fuck with me) to add:

mystery text 2

 

*And by ‘you’, I mean ‘me’.

Residually Problematic

Yesterday evening when I got home from the Mother’s Day staycation I went on with my mom and sister I was jumping on the trampoline in back when I noticed something florescent green attached to the side of our house about 10 feet up. It was on the stucco that runs along the bottom of the balcony off the master bedroom. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was one of those sticky hands you get out of a vending machine for a quarter that only have three practical applications:

1. Collecting cat fur and bacteria.

2. Slapping your brother in the face and saying, “It’s not my fault, I can’t control it!” when he cries.

3. Sneaking up behind your older brother when he’s doing his homework and using it to grab his papers off his desk so he gets really pissed off and locks you out of his room.

I went inside to find Jonas to resolve the issue.

Me: Hey Jo…

Jonas: Yeah?

Me: Is that your sticky hand on the house?

Jonas: Where?!! 

Me: Right under the balcony.

Jonas (runs outside and back in excitedly): Yep, that’s mine! I thought it had landed on the neighbor’s roof. 

Me: Well, I need you to get it off the house.

Jonas (in a full sprint upstairs): OK!!

10 minutes later as he retreats down the stairs…

Jonas: I can’t reach it. I need to construct something to get it down.

Me: Construct away, I have faith in you. I just want it off my house. 

3 minutes later…

*Splat*

Jonas (running down the stairs and out the back door to retrieve his prize): I got it!

Jason: Alright, hand it over.

Jonas (furiously): No! I just want to play with it for 10 minutes!

Me: It’s fine, he can play with it for a few minutes before he needs to get ready for bed, can’t he?

Jason: Do you see those greasy marks on the ceiling over there? 

sticky hand story 1

 

Me: Huh, yeah. I didn’t notice them.

Jason: They’re from the sticky hands Jo and Gray got out of the machines at Barro’s on Friday. This is why I took the rest of them away.

Me: Oh… right. I thought you were just being cranky. 

Jonas: We didn’t know that was going to happen! We just thought they’d stick and fall down.

Me: I get it. But now it looks like an octopus barfed on our ceiling, so you can’t play with them any more. 

Jonas (angrily stomping up the stairs): It’s not fair!

20 minutes later (I’m watching TV and don’t look up when Jonas comes down in his jammies).

Jonas: Mom, we could paint the ceiling, couldn’t we? Then it wouldn’t look bad.

Me: Yes, dear. We’ll probably do that eventually. In 20 years when we go to sell it. 

Jonas (comes over to my chair and nudges me with something in his hand): Here. I have white. 

sticky hand story 2

 

Jonas: It has some green in it, but I think if we use a really really small brush we can get the paint around the edges. Or Dad has a sponge. We could use that to get the green off and then paint the ceiling. See? It’s fine. 

Me: … Yes.

Jonas: So I can have the sticky hand back?