Preface to a New Year

I have a few blog entries I'm working on right now (Adventures in Non-Parenting Part 3 and a write-up of yesterday's hellish travel mishaps) but they aren't going to get done tonight, so I thought I'd throw up a quick "Coming Soon!" entry to preface the new year.


A new 365 project.

Yep, 2014 is an even-numbered year, which are apparently the years in which I do 365 projects.  Or something.  And this time around I'm going take a page from my husband's book, and do a photo every.  single.  day.  And then at the end of the year what a nice little flip-book I shall have!  Plus just imagine the hilarious chaos of photos that have nothing whatsoever to do with whatever I feel like writing about that day!  Chaos!  Hilarity!  All good things!

Because I am not quite so dedicated to perfection/craft/general manliness as he is, I am going to be taking those photos with my ever-present iPhone.  As such, these photos could be awesome, or they could be kind of lame.  But I'll do my best to keep it at least 85% suckage free around here, I promise.

(I may even re-vamp my header.)


Adventures in Non-Parenting, Part Two (featuring Toad)

There are a lot of things that go along with being parents that Nathan and I have never really experienced- including the age-old rite of passage that is The Christmas Program (from the audience's perspective, anyway).  Toad's parents asked if we might be interested in coming to his, and since we were going to Quail's ballet recital at the end of the week, we figured why the heck not?

It's about 12:25 when we roll up to the kindergarten parking lot.  The program starts at 1:00, and the doors open at 12:30.  I know that my sister-in-law (Toad's mother) has been here since the school opened for visitors at noon, holding a spot in line.  It's possible I think this is overkill...

...and then I see the line.

Nathan and I sign in and take our place at the end.  I have no idea where the beginning is, but after a few minutes of standing I tell him I'm going to try to find Toad's mom.  I trot down the hallway until I get to a corner, turn it, and trot down another long hallway until I go through a pair of doors into a breezeway, where I turn another corner, and continue to follow the line.  Every once in a while I have to dodge a handful of thigh-high children who obviously have their own traffic pattern that has nothing to do with the adults.

At last I come to the closed doors of the gym, where my sister-in-law is about fifth in line.

She was there at noon.  And she still wasn't the first.  Arriving an hour early was not, in fact, overkill.  Arriving a mere half hour early might actually qualify Nathan and I as "late".

I hug her and let her know where Nathan and I are, and then I begin the long trek back.

After a few false starts the line begins to move in earnest, and before too much longer we have shuffled our way into the gym, where an entire row has been reserved (thanks to the seat-holding powers of the otherwise pointless dark green programs) for Toad's assorted family members.  They're great seats- or so I think until all the tiny singers have trooped in wearing their various costumes and taken their various places and I realize that somehow I have selected the exact perfect seat to block my view of Toad.  Like, seriously- I couldn't have chosen a worse seat if I'd actively been trying to do so.

So I squirm and I strain and I focus my Irritated Glare at the back of a few heads until I manage to crane myself into a position to see him in between a pair of shoulders, and then the singing begins.

...I use the term "singing" loosely, because it doesn't quite capture the beauty of this experience.  I tell you, there is nothing quite like 200+ kids shrieking in off-key, unintelligible chorus- unless it is 200+ kids shrieking in an off-key, unintelligible chorus with a Southern Drawl.  Precious.  I suddenly understand the original purpose for the dark green programs: without them we'd have no clue what was being "sung".

It's more than just singing, of course- there are also choreographed hand and arm movements, which have the added benefit of serving as a sort of percussion section, since all of the kids in green (including Toad) have jingle bells attached to one wrist.  Some children have a better understanding of rhythm than others, which is only adding to the cacophonous chaos.

They are pretty cute, tho', although I hadn't realized until now just how large Toad is for his age.  And it seems I'm not the only one who thinks they're adorable: parents have begun flinging themselves at any and all photo-ops, questing always for the elusive "better angle" (apparently I'm not the only one who Chose Poorly in regards to seeing the only moppet I'm actually interested in).  I do mean "flinging" quite literally, by the way; one dude falls next to my chair and honestly it's kind of hilarious.

Speaking of funny, the next time I manage a glimpse of Toad I see that he's pretty much just phoning it in.  His singing seems distracted, and his movements are... lackadaisical, at best.  Underscoring this complete apathy is the sheer enthusiasm of the little girl to his right: she is really into it.  As a shameless performer myself, I can almost hear her thought process: Must make up for slacker neighbor!  More jingling!  Faster!

I feel you, little overachiever girl.  I feel you.

We are nearing the half-hour mark, which is what I have privately decided is about the limit of what my bony butt can handle of these hellish folding chairs, and we discover that there is, in fact, one part that all the children bothered to learn: at the very end they all yell "P-K-S!" in perfect, joyous unison.

(Yelling is easier than singing, I suppose, and comes more naturally to that age-group.)

The audience bursts into thunderous applause, and I feel certain that I'm not the only one who's feeling a deep and abiding gratitude at the timeliness of that ending.  Cute kids or not, my derriere needs a serious change of venue.


Adventures in Non-Parenting, Part One (featuring Grasshopper)

(Nathan and I are down South right now, visiting family for the holidays.  It is not the most relaxing of vacations, but it is Very Good.)

My husband and I are the only couple of our generation (in our nuclear families) yet to breed, which makes us something of a hot commodity: we are young, we are cool, and we don't have our own kids to distract us (/give us limiting, parental-like morals).  In short, we enjoy a certain favored status amongst the niblings: they are excited to see us, and we are excited to see them, and awesome chaos generally ensues.  We get a little taste of having kids, and then we get to give them back.  It's great.

I want to share a few of our most recent adventures in non-parenting...


When we were asked if we'd watch Grasshopper for the evening while his parents went to a Christmas party, we said, "Absolutely!"  Grasshopper is a little over three years old, and great fun- plus we feel a special bond with him since we were there for his birth.  Even better, his parents offered to loan us their second car for the remainder of our visit, effectively saving us about $400 in car-rental fees.

(Best-paid night of babysitting ever?  Probably.)

And, since Nathan had to return the rental car to the airport, anyway, he was also going to give their friend Robert (who was flying home that night) a ride.  Perfect!

We arrive a little before four (which is when Robert was due to show up at the house), and kiss the siblings goodbye.  Grasshopper is still sleeping, so they don't wake him- but they do warn me that lately he's been suffering separation anxiety and to expect tears.  I brace myself accordingly.

Around 4:10, Robert still hasn't arrived, and Grasshopper wakes up crying.  I go in to soothe him, but he is not having it.  He wants his parents.  I explain they are not here, and we walk around the house together so he can see I'm not lying.  He cries the whole time, and does not want comfort from me.

By 4:25 Robert is still MIA, and Grasshopper is still crying.  I say to Nathan, "Look, when Robert gets here you two just go in the rental car, and once I get him calmer we'll follow in the Civic."  I'm starting to feel stressed out, because Robert's flight is to China: if he misses it, it's kind of a Big Deal.  Plus, you know... still-crying child.

Robert arrives a little after 4:30, and he and Nathan take off.  I get Grasshopper dressed, and honestly it would be funny if it weren't so heartbreaking.  He is still sobbing desperately, but is completely obedient.  He gasps and shudders and puts on his pants and shoes as directed.  We go down to the garage and while I am trying to wrestle the carseat into place he stands there crying, then eventually drags a stool over so he can sit there and cry.  Because, Gentle Readers, I am taking my time.

Not intentionally, oh no!  But for the life of me, I cannot find the damn latch system.  I have shoved my arm into the seats up to my elbows, and I still can't find the things I'm supposed to attach the car seat to.  I even go so far as to get out the instruction manual, but there is no reference to them.  Finally, in frustration, I just seat-belt the stupid car seat in (and latch the top) like the diagram shows me.  I jerk it around a bit to make certain it's secure, and then I tell Ethan he has to get into his car seat.

Except, of course, he does not want to get into the car, not even to go to Chuck E Cheese (which was the original plan for after we picked Nathan up from the airport).  I explain to him that we have to, so his options are to get into the car seat himself, or have me put him in, but those are the only options.

I feel like an ogre.

He opts to have me put him in.

(He's still crying.  Have I mentioned he's still crying?  It's close to 5pm now.)

So.  We are in.  We are buckled.  I hit the remote garage opener- and the other door, the one not behind the car, opens.  I close it, hop out, and hit the button on the wall.

Same result.

So I go manually wrestle the garage door open (and curse my lack-of-height), hop back in the car, and put the keys in the ignition except no I don't because they're the wrong keys.

I swallow my curse word, get out, close the garage door, swear to Grasshopper that I will be right back, run upstairs to grab the other key I saw hanging on the hook, run back down, hop back in and-

Yeah, you know where this is going.

Maybe, I think desperately to myself as I pocket the other set of not-the-car-keys, Maybe Nathan knows where Robert left the keys to his VW.  Because he told us we could use the VW tonight if we wanted, and I know for a fact that it has a latch-system.

So I release Grasshopper (still crying!) from his belted purgatory, wrestle the stupid car seat back out of the Civic, and call my husband.

Aaaaand go straight to voice mail.

"No," I say, visions of dead phone dancing in my head.  "Oh no no no no no..."  A still weeping Grasshopper holds my hand as we trudge back up the stairs, and I try again.  Still straight to voice mail.  Near to weeping myself, I try one more time-

It rings.  He answers.

"Do you know where Robert left his car keys?" I ask.

"I have them in my hand," he says.

Of course you do, I think.  Of course.  You do.

"...you're going to have to take a cab home from the airport," I say in my Small Wife Voice.

"Um, okay," he says.  "Text me their address, because I don't know it."

We hang up and I do, followed by,

Do you want me to order pizza?


And then I turn to Grasshopper, who wants to know why we aren't going to go rescue Uncle Nathan from the airport.

"I have the wrong keys, baby," I say.  "He is going to take a cab.  Now, do you want to watch cartoons, or do you want a story?"

"Cartoons" is, apparently, the magic word, because as soon as we are settled on the couch watching something with trucks, the tears have vanished and he's every bit as snugly and happy as you could want.

It's 5:25.  I cannot help but be impressed by his stamina, anyway.

Grasshopper solved, I turn to the task of ordering pizza.

The first place I contact won't deliver to us.  Neither will the second.  At which point Nathan walks in the door and I whimper, "Please find a place that will deliver!" and go curl up with Grasshopper, desperate to lose myself in the world of technicolor talking vehicles and easy solutions.

(The rest of the night was a breeze; Nathan found a Dominoes willing to come out that far, and after dinner Grasshopper and I played with blocks until his parents got home.  No one had any hard feelings, and when we left the next morning he cried for us, so all in all, I'd call it a successful adventure.)