Thank You

I know you all have nothing better to do than read my blog today. Nobody is tearing apart their kitchens or anything. Nobody is watching the Packer game. So here I am with a quick word.

(After a month of total radio silence)

After the recent spate of horrible news across the globe, both close to home and far from it, I felt like having a blog in which I alternately moan and crow wildly about my life and family was terribly fatuous. 

So let me say this: I am fantastically lucky! I have a cosy place to live, quirky boys of all ages to adore, an enormous city full of friends, a family that has (mostly) stopped asking when we are going to move, an enviable degree of health and safety, the audacity to turn down a perfectly good job, and a sunny disposition. And a blog. I have a blog, to keep me out of jail.


Another year, another wonky tree

Is there stuff I want? Sure. 

1. Equity in education

2. A dishwasher

But I can wait for that stuff. I’m confident, or at least hopeful, that those things will come in time. Until then, it is a privilege to lead the life I lead, and I will do my best to be worthy of it.


Also, it is amazing to climb into a bed with clean sheets fresh from the laundry! Maybe I should try washing ours more than every few mon–what’s that? Still on the air? Oops! Err forget that last! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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Shelf Life

When we are (okay, when I am) looking for new and innovative ways to clear some space around the Fun Apartment, the answer usually involves the local Salvation Army or more shelves. When considering the bathroom, I figured that toilet paper is generally useful and not really an item one outgrows. So, I began my campaign for some bathroom shelving.

Really, the bathroom is not pulling its weight, storage-wise. I mean, look at the place:

The potty isn't there anymore, but when it was, it was like having 1.5 bathrooms.

The potty isn’t there anymore, but when it was, it was like having 1.5 bathrooms.

It is practically monastic in there. It’s also acidic, thanks to all the vinegar.

My request for bathroom shelving was hung up in committee for a while. (You know the old saying: if a man tells you he is going to take care of something, he is going to take care of it. There is no need to remind him every six months.)

But, finally after the annual shelving sale at this blank-ity blanking place, and after one weekend of having to kick the work crew out once in a while so I could pee, well, looky here:

Trust me, they are *level*

Trust me, they are *level*

Now all I need is are some bins, because I don’t really want to discuss the function of tampons with boys of any age, but particularly not those living in my household, aged four and six.

And since this whole shelving thing was working so hard for us, we looked around to see what else we could store on shelves. Here’s what we came up with:

Tiger Sharks! The Giant Squid!

Tiger Sharks! The Giant Squid!

That’s right! Two can sleep more efficiently than one if they are stacked up on top of each other!

This is exactly the kind of sleeping arrangement I wanted when I was a kid, largely due to this exhibit at the Milwaukee Museum. I was fascinated by those the little pretend houses, where curious strangers from the future can peer in the windows. One of them–maybe Dutch? German? Not sure–had a little bed cabinet built in the corner with a curtain drawn across it. I don’t know if English has a strong enough word to express how badly I wanted to sleep in that  cabinet/caboose/magic tent. But, alas, it didn’t happen for me. So, in order to live out my dreams through my children, I seem to have recreated it for the boys.

After all, isn’t this a little bit magical?

Scoot over, kid.

Scoot over, kid.

It’s going rather swimmingly. After all, we reasoned, a four year old could probably stand to stop sleeping in a crib, even if we did pull one of the sides off to make it look more like a toddler bed. And–even more thrilling!–at least two square feet of floor space reclaimed! The boys love sleeping in their little compartments and, unlike some of our neighbors, they don’t really keep each other up with raucous parties.

And now bedtime is less fuss, more fun. But we still have to whisper. Eh, I’ll take it.

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Filed under Home Ec, Living Small


Despite all my readiness for school to start, however, I was still caught off guard. By sending both lads out the door in backpacks, I seem to have worked myself out of a job. So now I need to find a new one. One that pays.

All of our representatives are currently assisting other customers.

All of our representatives are currently assisting other customers.

So I put all my hard-won skills from the past four years together into an awesome new resume!

Human Tissue, Truck Surgeon, Short Order Cook, Hostage Negotiator, Paleontologist, Pack Horse, Play-doh Sculptor, Head House Parlor Maid, Cat Wrangler, Hypnotist, Life Guard, Comforter-in-Chief, Shipwreck Historian, Dishwasher, Gourmet Chef, Homework Overseer, Pixar Consultant, Wardrobe Consultant, Minimalism Advocate, Scheduler, Bum Wiper, Morale Officer, Laundress, Sporadic Blogger, YMCA Promoter, Block City Urban Planner, Scooter Mechanic, Personal Shopper, Nutritionist, Microapartment Poster Child, Lego Engineer, Associate Miracle Worker, Train Conductor, Children’s Book Critic, Playground Attendant, Bad Habit Enabler, Vehicle Sketch Artist, Yoga Pants Model, Stick Figure Drawing Archivist, Bin Counter, Chelsea Neighborhood Tour Guide, Benevolent Matriarch, Personal Organizer, Shepherd, Bag Lunch Caterer, Lullabye Siren, Basketball Coach, Child Labor Scofflaw, Puppeteer, Napkin Holder, Sandbox Dispute Mediator, and Box Wine Sommelier.

If you’re hiring, do let me know! I’m sure I’ll be cozily re-ensconced in the working world in no time!

In my actual (obviously unsuccessful) job search, people ask me “What do you do?” And I answer them honestly: I don’t really know. I was a teacher, but my license isn’t for New York, so in practice I am ostensibly a freelancer of some sort. I write, I edit, I design, I format, I market, and I do it for rock-bottom rates! I just don’t do it very often, or for very many clients.

And please nobody tell the Man of My Dreams or the PTA president that I finished my last project and am really just blogging. And watching TV in the middle of the day. And throwing stuff out by the armful.

So far, I haven’t developed a drinking problem. But there’s still time. It’s not yet 2:00.


Filed under Not cool, The outside world

Firsts and Lasts

It was the first day of school. Maybe you noticed. Personally, I did not need facebook to show off all the pictures of my friends’ kids to remind me that it was coming. I was counting the days. After all, two months is a looooong time to spend with companions whose ability to reason is sporadic, and whose moods are dependent upon their hunger levels, last night’s bedtime, and when they last pooped.

So when that school bell rang, I was ready. And it wasn’t just one lad in a tie and a button shirt this year. It was TWO.

That’s right, it’s PreK. All day PreK! Every day PreK! Universal, free for everybody PreK! Socialist PreK! Bloody Red Communist Agenda PreK, even! And my kid is going to it! I could kiss the mayor!

Because not only was I ready to place these children in the hands of trained professionals, they were ready to go, too. At least the little guy was. When he heard that his first two days would be half-days, the expression on his face could not have said “bullcookies” more clearly. He was inconsolable. That kid wants to eat school lunch in the worst way. So, off they went.

Whatever. Bye Mommy.

Whatever. Bye Mommy.

And just like that, I worked myself out of a job.

Huh. That was quick. And took freaking forever.

I have definitely overshared on my occasional ambivalence toward being a stay at home mom. But I have also loved this time. I guess now that it’s pretty much done, I can weigh in for all those other parents who fought the Mommy Wars–and not the ones over who is going to put on their shoes Right. Now. Or I am leaving without them. I mean the agony of deciding whether to stay home with their kids or go back to work.

If you chose to stay at home with your kids, you made the right choice.

If you chose to go back to work, you made the right choice, too.

And now I am going to kick back and eat some bon bons and cover myself in glitter, because that’s what I was totally promised four years ago when I signed up for this gig.


Filed under Not cool

Dark days

I had one of those days. The “they might come to take my kids away, and I wouldn’t be sorry. In fact, I would be willing to drop them off” days.  The “I turned forty but the kids ate what career I had and I still don’t seem to be getting paid, but I’m working all the damn time” days. 

I gave myself a time out. In the hallway. There may have been wine involved.

Later, when the man of my dreams showed up to rescue me, he did it with flowers and whiskey. Swoon.

Is this a cry for help? I don’t think so, but I could do without those kind of days. 

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Grandma Makes Her Move

It was bound to happen sooner or later. But when I was least expecting it, when my back was turned, I was unseated as the family member with the smallest home.  Over the course of mere hours — HOURS — Grandma swooped in to claim my title. After we packed what seemed to me to an almost obscene amount of throw pillows and pretend flowers, she is now cozily ensconced in an assisted living facility.

It was not without some family drama, but Now That’s All Over. I have to say, I could use some assistance in our living. That place looked pretty good to me. After all, we are totally cool with small spaces, and I wouldn’t mind the cafeteria with full meals cooked by someone else. There’s a library with large-print books, all of which seem to be shouting at you from a great distance away. And there’s bingo. I love bingo.

The boys were also very into the exciting new home for great grandma, because it has this terrifically thrilling feature: showers with benches.  

The Shower Scene.

The Shower Scene.

When I called yesterday to check in on how she’s digging her new digs, Grandma regaled me with tales from the day’s field trip. It sounded awesome, and everyone got ice cream cones. But apparently, it takes a really long time to load the bus.

Y’know, Grandma doesn’t even need all the assistance. Nobody has to help her get dressed or change channels for her. She just needs someone to pop in a few times a day and remind her of things. Really, who among us couldn’t use that? Oh, and the food — she can’t really see so preparing a meal that isn’t ice cream can be kind of tricky. This woman is 98, people — almost 99 — and she just needs reminders and somebody to cook for her. That’s pretty great. I only hope I’m still upright when I’m 98. Maybe they will have a room right next to Grandma. . . .

Hey, the door's always open!

Hey, the door’s always open!

Until then, we’d better stay here, because something tells me that the assisted living facility might notice all four of us racing around the place in wheelchairs and throwing tantrums when somebody else yells “Bingo!”(Me, probably.)

But a girl can dream.

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Filed under Living Small, The outside world

Loco-motion sickness

We are on the Fun Apartment’s annual staff retreat out here in the Midwest and my eyes are getting all stretched out from looking at all these giant spaces of, well, space.

In addition to space, we are also seeing a lot of the technicolor yawn. Yep, that’s right. These boys are not used to riding in cars, so when we peel off for great white North, there seems to be nothing but cookies tossed in the back seat. In addition to needing to be strapped in and out every ten minutes, they also vomit rather spectacularly at regular intervals. Yum.

This is not a new problem, however. I even cleaned vomit out of the infant car seat. And each time it happens we get a little smarter about it.

Because we have a system for dealing with the blown chunks. It involves a lot of bags. In fact, we are even ready to officially endorse the bags of this large regional chain over those of this large regional chain.

Another secret weapon is this.

Trader Joe's really does have everything.

Trader Joe’s really does have everything.

By some members of our household it is know as the puke box. I like to think of it as “Cookies in. Cookies Out.” But by whatever name, it is essential to our travel supplies. If one lines it with the aforementioned bags, it is entirely sealable and reusable.

On Day One, there were no fewer than four upchucks. Three were fairly manageable, and confined themselves to the curvy borderlands of New Jersey. But the last one, in the flatness of Ohio? That one surprised us. We were caught unawares, and so was the gas station where we stopped to spray everyone down and change into the backup huking clothes. They were caught so unaware that their bathrooms were out of order. The man of my dreams stood there with puke in his upturned hands and a look of horror on his face. The nice people there suggested that he try the Dairy Queen next door. Off he went, with the cookie-tosser in tow, while I proceeded to mop up the evidence. Back they came, carrying a bag of Dilly Bars. “The bathroom door had a code,” the man of my dreams explained sheepishly.

So guess what we had for dinner. In the car.

But now after that promising beginning, the vomiting team seems to have dry heaves. Do people need time to get used to riding in cars? Or is it just an auspicious start to an awesome summer vacation?

Probably, they are just waiting for me to relax on a nice, busy stretch of Chicago traffic jam. Seriously, I think there are still people trying to get home from the Chicago World Fair of 1893. Maybe they are feeling sick after riding the first Ferris Wheel.

P.S. My brother in law insists that “selling Buicks” is another vomiting synonym. I would be happy to learn more of these, if you have any to share.

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Filed under Not cool, The outside world