Two New Roommates

It’s worth noting that I think RR is fantastic. But you are the best listeners I know and I appreciate that you put up with both the gushing and the angst, often in the same breath.

I also appreciate that you refrain from taking my mother’s position which is “if you say things like that about her, they will come true.” Did I mention my mom and dad are moving in with us? Hot damn.

Really though, hot damn. We don’t have relatives nearby and extended family has played a huge part in both of our lives. Our numbers are fewer and farther so knowing that we can bring Grannie and Pop Pop over to this side of the country is a wonderful, wonderful thing. They will be living with us until they find a new house which could be a few weeks or a couple of months. There’s lots to say about this but since you were so patient about yesterday’s post I’ll just say, babysitting!

So give us your tips and suggestions for living with your parents. And, of course, if you have tips for living with your grown children, share those, too! All the better for everyone!







Parent Teacher Conferences

This is long so if you want to skip the usual angst, the question is: how do you talk to your kids about parent teacher conferences?

I wonder how many times I’ll write about meeting with RR’s teachers. I have already, at least once, and I’ve yet to feel anything but nerves about it. The same holds true for my evaluations at work. I’m usually doing the best I possibly can (and often, better than most) but I know I can always do better and I have always worked with people who were diligent about pointing out areas for improvement. It makes me queasy just thinking about it and I won’t even be in that position again until October 2014. I’m too hard on myself. I don’t want my kid to feel the same.

That said, our most recent parent teacher conference left me with a gnawing pit in my stomach. RR occasionally pushes instead of asking another child to leave her space. RR loses her concentration at the end of the day and “unravels”. RR sometimes yells “to block out the noise of the classroom”. RR did not know how to roll a mat until last week. RR is too focused. RR won’t potty train, “Is there something anatomically wrong with her?” RR sometimes answers questions with nonsense. RR doesn’t recognize when other children are sad. Or, alternatively, RR recognizes it but doesn’t appear contrite, choosing only to offer an ice pack. RR doesn’t pay attention to where other kids are on the play structure. RR doesn’t know how to say, “you hurt my feelings” and tell the other children how to make it better. RR sits with the teacher at lunch because she gets”overwhelmed sometimes”.

I wish the list of good things was longer. It starts with “RR is a little ray of sunshine” and ends with “RR is a pocketful of joy”. You guys, that’s what they say about someone for whom you have no other comment. The equivalent of “She has a great personality” or the single comment “Stay sweet!” in a yearbook. When pressed for something positive, we heard the following four things:

She has great fine motor skills. She can string beads all day!
She loves the sandpaper letters!
She can skip!
She is very focused! Sometimes she doesn’t even look up when we are talking!
She doesn’t find the transition from school to home that hard (i.e. she has good manners).

I really appreciated those, especially on the heels of all the rest. I know they are sharing what she is working on so that we can do the same at home. But, and I never thought I’d say this, I missed the chart with all of the developmental milestones the class was working on over the year and seeing her progress in a clearly defined way. Sure, it’s completely arbitrary and I didn’t always agree with it but within the current system I have no way of knowing if my child is delayed or otherwise not progressing as her peers are. And I’ll be honest, I very much care about whether or not she needs assistance and getting it for her. I also want to know what’s “just being three”. We think she’s a perfectly regular child (although is proficient and noted skipper).

A friend commented that we don’t need to be told how awesome our kid is because we already know but I that’s the thing. I don’t know. I think she is but I don’t know. And my thoughts don’t matter if what she really needs is someone to help her stop holding her ears when she hears loud noises. What I know is that we have a quiet house. We’re not yellers. We don’t have much background noise. Trucks startle me, too. I don’t cover my ears because I’m grown enough to know people would look at me oddly. She’s three. She covers her ears. What about that isn’t normal? But I don’t know. So when they say occupational therapy and, of course, everything above, I think that I don’t know anything. Nothing at all.

My own parents must have had these conversations but they never talked about it with me. I wonder how we will do it as RR gets older. I feel like she should know that we meet with her teachers, that we care about what they say, that we care about what she says about those things, and that we’re a team in getting the most out of her school experience. But what do you do with the outright negative stuff? How do you temper it and learn from it (especially when you’re me, who clearly has both problems with authority and a complex about feedback of any kind)? I want to start setting up habits now so that when she’s sixteen it’s less of a squirming, uncomfortable experience. Dinner table seems a recipe for indigestion. Car seems trapped. Where do you do this and how do you do it? And of course, I’m not telling my three year old any of the above. As far as she knows, she is awesome and doesn’t need anyone to tell her she isn’t.

Stop. The Cuteness is Killing Me.

You all, RR is killing me lately. With everything. In almost every possible way. Fair warning, if you’re here for my devastatingly quick wit or brilliant storytelling, this post is all about RR and involves a ridiculous amount of parental bias. Obviously, all of the other posts before and in the future are totally breathtaking and impartial.

As much as late-two/newly-three sucked the wind from my sails, three and some is leaving laughter and joy in its wake. RR is happy and kind, patient and curious, delighted at every new skill and determined to use them. Many of the developmental milestones I hoped for (and wondered at their absence) are suddenly here and, for the most part, are far more fun that I thought they would be.

We recently visited my family and my sister, who possesses colorful language and a flair for using it, inspired me to use the term “craphead”. While both Debra and I are a bit salty, we far prefer terms like fuck and douchecanoe (has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?). RR, bless her heart, overheard and immediately repeated it, something she has never done before, despite living in a house where we don’t check ourselves. Thankfully, she hasn’t repeated it since. I don’t want to have to explain to her teachers why she hasn’t picked a better curseword to glom onto.

All of a sudden she loves us. This morning, she gave me a hug and kiss goodbye (skills she possesses but uses sparingly) and told me she loved me. As I walked away, I heard her say to Debra, “I love mama.” Debra replied that she loved mama, too, which made me feel happy just in case one of us died on the way to work and those were the last words I ever heard. What? That doesn’t ever occur to you?

I’m constantly impressed by how easy she is in so many ways. She goes to bed at 7 every night without so much as a raised eyebrow (she does this without meaning to and, since it’s one of the things I love about my wife, I get a thrill seeing it in my daughter). She eats vegetables and prefers them to most other foods. She eats chicken and beef without complaining and eschews chicken nuggets. Believe me, I wish this weren’t the case since it would make eating out far easier. This morning we tried Chia Seed Pudding and it was priceless watching her face as she rolled the sweet gelatinous seeds around in her mouth.

She has started peppering her speech with words like “otherwise” and “perhaps”. She hums while she plays, little tunes she’s heard once or twice. Songs we have to work to recognize. Songs she’s made up. She holds the leash while we walk the dog and tells him “you’re killing me, Moses” when he pants too near her (like mother, like daughter). She sometimes looks just like me, and as much as it doesn’t matter, it still makes me happy.

Maybe we’re lucky not to have had another one. This one is pretty fabulous.









Supreme Court Decisions

My twitter account is following #marriageequality and #scotus this morning but I can’t keep up fast enough to read.


Not Potty-trained and Three Tomorrow

RR continues to regard the potty with derision and mistrust. Earlier this month we called timeout for the remainder of June, hoping that a few more weeks of peace would help us more effectively kick the diapers to the curb come July.


At any rate, my child loves diapers. Pull-ups have been a deeply felt injustice. This June break has been a break for us, too. A chance for us to say goodbye to sweet changing table shenanigans (my wife) and begin to more consistently encourage her to dress herself (me). As far as I’m concerned, the biggest perk to diaper changing has been being able to dress her in whatever I wanted. Tiny, adorable dresses TOTALLY make up for poop.

Alas, I’ll have to begin consoling myself with someone else’s Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler. Also, a THREE YEAR OLD. That is some crazy shit.

When She Isn’t Demanding Popsicles

Beth mentioned an excellent and hysterical web series that, if you haven’t checked it out, is well worth seeing. Hell, you might even watch it again because they’ve managed to distill two years old into comedy (and less tragicomedy which is what two is, mostly).

Convos With My 2-Yr Old

We have our fair share of those exchanges  On the other hand, because RR is so happy to play alone, we also spend a lot of time listening to her babble softly in the other room. Here are two minutes and 40 seconds of that babble. Consider it the anti-popsicle rage soundtrack.

No Popsicles for Breakfast…Today

This morning my daughter asked for a red popsicle for breakfast. Actually, that’s not quite how the conversation went:

RR: I want a posicle.
Me: We don’t eat popsicles for breakfast. Would you like blueberries or eggs?
Me: I’m sorry. We don’t eat popsicles for breakfast. Would you like these blueberries?
My wife: How about yogurt?
Me: I didn’t offer her that! It’s not on offer! This is just like the other day!

Moment of silence wherein I realize I sound like an asshole but also don’t want to sound like I’ll give the breakfast table terrorist anything she wants and so continue on even though I feel bad, my wife probably feels bad, and RR feels…

RR, sobbing and tugging her ample cheeks miserably: I WANT A POSICLE, MAMA! POSICLE!
RR, dissolving into a puddle of tears: PEES!
Me: I can see you’re sad. Are you sad?
Me: You’re sad because you want a popsicle for breakfast?
RR, sobs abating: Yes.
Me: I’m so sorry you’re feeling sad. Would you like my blueberries instead?

And you can imagine how successful THAT was. The worst part was, I’m totally down with popsicles at breakfast! I’m a breakfast pie enjoyer myself. I’d much rather pour delicious sweets into my mouth in the morning than eggs and blueberries. Alas, I am also obsessed with consistency and once the “no” had sprung from my lips I refused to cave.

We’ve definitely been struggling with my desire to be consistant with what we tell RR – over time and as individuals – and D’s desire to stop the whining and get a smile. Eventually we’ll find some sort of middle ground but this whole parenting gig isn’t for the weak of heart (or of relationship). I’m constantly grateful for the solid base we’ve built upon.

In other news, the IUI was Sunday and my body has responded to it reasonably instead of cramping and swelling and generally acting like an asshole. And now we wait.


Preparing for Summer

Summer is coming and it’s getting hot. We like the air conditioning in the car to be on. In fact, we like the house cool as well. This is a turnaround for me. I grew up in Arizona and we enjoyed a fiery furnace every time we got into the car. Air conditioning doesn’t actually have any impact when it feels like you’ve turned on all the burners of the stove and then curled up on top for a nap. Actually, that’s just what the steering wheel feels like. Seat buckles blister flesh. Don’t worry though, since you’ve been sucking down hot pokers, you won’t actually be breathing and you won’t miss that piece of thigh.

Since the air is dry, houses are often cooled with water, affectionately called swamp coolers. That’s right, Arizonans intentionally import the sort of air that breeds mosquitos and alligators. It works, mostly. Here in the middle south, we cool the house by dehydrating the air, which, thank god, because the vast amount of wood in our house releases all of the smells it ever had when the air is damp – the good smells: pot roast, sunshine, grass and the bad: dog, socks, and more dog.  We turn on the air conditioner to stay cool and to be able to inhale without wrinkling our noses. As I said, it’s taken me a long time to embrace the fact that the cost of having on the air conditioning is worth it. Yes, we’re more comfortable but also, we’re still married – touch and go when my wife is sweating angrily at me and glaring at the thermostat.

I tell you all that to tell you this: my daughter doesn’t like to have the heat or the air conditioning on in the car. She clambers into the car shouting, “No fan, mama! I NEED THE WIND TO BLOW ME OUT! ” And that’s why we’re driving around with all the windows down and the sun roof open while the heat, humidity and chance of divorce rise exponentially.

Norman Rockwell

On Saturday we were up earlier than usual (thanks, RR) and found ourselves wondering how to spend the morning. Usually we go to a music class and the park but, as fun as this is, I sometimes miss mornings spent wandering through the farmer’s market and coming home with a loaf of bread, a pint of strawberries and a bag of kale. We CAN of course, but we don’t. It’s crowded and smothering by the time we arrive at 10 and we aren’t ever out of the house in time to visit in the empty, early hours. Although RR doesn’t ride in an aisle-clogging stroller*, we still move pretty slowly. I just can’t bring myself to contribute to the congestion. Instead, we go to a music class less than a block away from the place that makes me feel 24 again, sun-kissed, in a sundress, my only responsibility a date that night.

Don’t worry, I married her.

So on Saturday, facing freedom for the first time in awhile, we found ourselves at a loss. With no errands to do and too much rain to work in the yard or go to the park, we were left staring at each other. In fact, RR would happily sit around engaging her crayons, grapes and toy lions in complex conversations. And while I’m happy to let her, that was on tap for the afternoon. So what would I do on a perfect morning that isn’t the farmer’s market? Turns out, what I’d do is pop RR into her bike seat and ride with her and my wife to the library, just a couple of miles away on neighborhood streets. Since it looked like rain,we stuck the books to return into plastic bags and set off. By the time we got to the top of our street (and I do mean top – the hardest part of a ride anywhere is getting up the Everest-esque hill), sporadic sprinkles had turned to rain and it remained persistant until we arrived.

I LIKE to be anywhere in the rain. I don’t mind getting soaked through. D prefers an umbrella. Something about glasses and raindrops. I’m happy to find out that RR doesn’t mind weather much either. Any query about her comfort level (we had her raincoat with us but not on her), was met with delighted shrieks: “go mama, yet’s catch mama!” and “I am going so fast!” and “mama would YOVE this!” (mama is right behind us baby, but yes, she does love this). We arrived wet but not at all miserable.

Our library is small and comfortable. The children’s section is as large as the adult section and is incredibly welcoming. RR noticed a dinosaur book on a tiny table and crawled right up on the chair to read. “This is just perfect, mama. Deeyiteful!” She played with wooden puzzles while I looked for new Madeline books and some old standards, including Where the Wild Things Are. I find Wild Things sad and a little scary although my sisters both loved the story (along with, apparently, the rest of the universe). I thought I’d give it another try. It must be good, RR didn’t even demand an encore reading of Madeline when I finished.

As were were leaving we ran into friends from the community. I’ve never lived anywhere else where this happens so consistently and, while it means I don’t honk at the cars who I think so justly deserve it, it does make me endlessly happy. We rode home in warm sunshine just in time for lunch. It could not have been a better morning. July marks our 5th anniversary here. It’s mornings like this that ensure we’ll be here for the 10th.

*There is some sort of space time continuum that ensure all strollers at this particular market take up three times their actual dimensions and move six times more slowly than actual speed.


And just like that: totally worth it.