Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy 2015!

What can you say about the year your child was born? The year that will forever determine his age and become as much a part of him as 2012 is to Bobby and 1972 is to me? 

In this year I survived the final trimester of my final pregnancy, my final labor, and my final experience of raising a baby from birth to nine months old. My resolution for 2014 was to merely survive it. Attempting anything else, such as getting out of debt, getting in shape, doing more of this or less of that, felt overwhelming and unnecessary. Nails needed to be trimmed, baths administered, food prepared, sippy cups proferred, bedsheets stripped. And so as of two hours from now I will have survived 2014. I have two beautiful, healthy, complicated children. They are content and safe in their beds. They were manufactured in and then expelled from my body, a fact that still dumbfounds me. 

In 2015 there will be no pregnancy, labor, and very little breastfeeding. Next year will mostly be about potty training and negotiating a newly mobile baby. I don't know if a year from now Theo and Bobby will be safe in their beds in Bobby's current room or if I will still be out here on the couch. I don't know how my event will go, if I'll be out of debt, if I will be able to have Theo in preschool. There are a lot of unknowns going into next year.

My hope for next year is continued health for all of us. I hope I have a good event and see the back of this poverty for once and for all. I hope I get a little of my old self back - traveling with the band, taking up yoga again, dressing better when I no longer have to wear breastfeeding/puke-friendly clothes. I hope I take on Theo's second year with more aplomb than I did Bobby's. I hope I don't blow up like a balloon when I lose the calorie burning benefits of breastfeeding. 

It's 10 PM on New Year's Eve and I'm in bed watching Tootsie and I'm ok with that. I doubt I'll make it to midnight. If I don't, see all you guys on the other side!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Edge of Three

I just might be done breastfeeding. I hope not, but...I have a very painful right nipple with a Theo-tooth-sized tear in it, which I am "nursing" by not nursing. I fed him this morning while wincing with pain and left it at that for the day, feeding baby food instead. It's always an odd transition, adding in baby food. You're so used to breastfeeding, then you add in the multiple sit downs with food and spoons and cleanup and it feels like all you do all day is feed the baby. If not for this bite I would continue on at least three more months, but...I just don't know. There's something about this right nipple that he just loves to sink his teeth into. Bobby bit me but never broke the skin. I've been in the habit of nursing just in the morning and before bed, but tonight I just couldn't face that chomp so I fed him liberally with food and put him to bed. And it made me wonder...why continue, really, when the nutritional benefits at this point are minimal at best? Would a couple more months really matter? Is it just a "meeting an established goal" thing? Or have I been brainwashed by The Hippies again?

In other news, Bobby seems to have made some kind of developmental leap lately. It's hard to put my finger on it but there's just a different look about him - he is suddenly really cognizant. He gets jokes, sings songs, and really talks and expresses himself...a little too much. Somebody (probably not me) really taught him to be clear in his feelings - he now says things like "stop it, mama, I don't like that!" and "not yet!" when I need him to do something. A couple of days ago he really alarmed me by very angrily shouting at me to stop it and hitting me in the arm when I lifted him away from some toys to change his diaper. I had never seen such rage in him and it scared me - and this was after explaining what was about to happen, giving a countdown of time before the transition, all the things I always do and have done since that make transitions usually fairly smooth. I am loath to think this is our future - no longer a toddler who cries when he doesn't like something, but one who acts out angrily and shouts and hits. Well, it's going to happen - he's almost three and that's what they do. I'll never forget the day I was walking my dog past the neighbors' and heard loud screaming and saw one mother get out of a car yelling at the top of her voice, "we're not going!!!" followed by a small boy screaming and crying and then the other mom sheepishly following them into the house. I thought, that's life with a little kid - they act out so badly that you threaten to not go and then you have to follow through and not go. We haven't had to do this yet. But I know those days are ahead of me. And, as with all new phases, I am terrified.

Thankfully, with the new rage has come new awesome things, too - tonight at dinner he said, "I wanna kiss momma" and tenderly took my head in his hands and kissed my cheek. Singing songs together and sharing jokes is a new favorite pastime. I can actually kind of talk to him now. Oh, and he's completely stopped trying to kill his brother and has been nothing but gentle and loving towards him for weeks now, which is a huge load off my mind (the attempted murder-like behavior must have been just another in a series of inexplicable phases).

Here's a couple of photos I like to call Bumpus, Light and Dark

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Non-traditional Christmas traditions

I once said Christmas with toddlers is frustrating and exhausting. It can be, but thankfully was not this year! Keeping things flexible and simple is the key - easy for me to say, I know, since I have no obligations whereas most people do. 

Christmas Eve I had my single, childless Jewish friend over for Chinese food and romantic comedies (note: my tolerance for romantic comedies begins at 8 pm Christmas Eve and ends at 9:30 pm Christmas Eve). It was a lovely evening. I wrapped B & T's presents (B - dollar store matchbook cars, T - ikea finger puppets), set up B's second hand train table, gifted my friend red and green chocolate dipped coconut balls (my easiest and still yummiest candy recipe), and called it a night. 

The next morning I unleashed B on the train table (he loved it) and unwrapped his presents in front of him; I love that he's still so innocent that every present was equally exciting - the glow-in-the-dark dollar store snake was just as exciting as the new fire truck. I know this innocence will be gone some day and I will miss it so much.

The rest of Christmas was a bit exhausting - I will have to plan out a bit better next year. A friend came over so we could walk along the beach and then head to a friend's house to look at Christmas lights; the beach walk was fun but tiring as it was very chilly and a stiff wind blew the crap out of us. Then there was nowhere to eat since everything was closed in this little beach town, and we had several hours to kill before it was dark enough to see lights. So I was wind-chapped and exhausted and fed up, my back was killing me from carrying the lunging baby all day, the kids were soaked in their diapers and hungry and I just wanted to go home and collapse, but of course my friend who had invited us to see the lights insisted we stay until it got dark. So we toughed it out. Thankfully, it was worth it. Bobby loved the lights and it was a great way to end the holiday. I just wish we'd driven out there later!

When we got home even though it was way past everyone's bedtime, Bobby was so amped to play with his train table I just let him stay up. Got the baby to bed, then walked into the bathroom to find another giant waterbug. I yelled, "motherfucker!" and Bobby yelled back from the dining room, "trucker!" Killed it, then set about filling a hole around a pipe by the toilet with spackle where they must have been coming from. Ugh! My skin still crawls just thinking about it.

So then I sat down for some leftover Chinese, somehow got B fed and to bed, and that was it. It doesn't sound like much but other than those few hours when we were bored and looking for food in a shut-down town it was actually a really nice day. 

Today I went to meet The Atheists to look at Rose Bowl floats as they are put together for the big parade - but as often happens with meet ups with strangers in crowded public places, I never could find anyone so we just spent the day alone.

Tonight we de-Christmassed. I did it while B was awake so he wouldn't freak out. He was so attached to the Christmas lights and the tree that I was worried if he came home from school one day and everything was gone that he wouldn't understand what had happened.

I felt genuinely blue last night looking at the decorations and knowing another Christmas was over. I love the whole holiday season with all the parties and gifts and good will. Everything goes on hold around here and there's this huge build-up until Christmas Day. Today getting out of the car B said randomly, "I want more presents."

I hear ya, kid!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas to me!

So I bought a new car today. Ummm...what? Yeah. Let's just say I got an offer I couldn't refuse - a letter from my dealer hyping up year-end deals and slyly positing that at this phase in my car ownership I really should think about trading up. Indeed. 

I spent the day yesterday at a packed and chaotic pre-Christmas Babies R Us furtively measuring double strollers only to discover that none of them would fit in my trunk; on the way home I called the dealer to make an appointment. We simply have outgrown our old car. We just have. And as a single mother the idea of spending the next few months getting brakes done, buying all new tires, doing the big 50,000 mile maintenance...ugh, all those appointments and all that waiting around...honestly I wanted a new car just to re-set the clock on all that crap. If this one goes anything like the old one Bobby will be six and Theo four before I have to do anything with it other than oil changes. Woo!

How did I pull this off, given my current poverty? I just told the guy the truth - I have no down payment and can only afford about $50 more in monthly payments, if that. We agreed to a lease-to-own deal. Honestly I don't know if I got a good deal on the car or not; all I know is I can afford it and our growing family needed it. When I think of all the times lately we've been inconvenienced or had to not do something because we couldn't fit more people in the car or had no cargo space - and now the issue with the double strollers not fitting - it was time.

So we had a miserable day sitting around in the dealer for four hours. Theo lunged and whined in the carrier and Bobby kept pointing at the giant monster truck in the customer parking lot and saying, "this one! This!!!" I was alternately patient and fun and then fed up and bitchy. But we survived and I never have to see those people again and I helped some kind Egyptian salesman make his quota, so hey. Always happy to help a brother out.

When we got home we found a giant hideous flying cockroach in the bathroom. In my 13 years in this house I've only seen a couple of these. They give me the absolute heebie jeebies. I screamed and Bobby screamed and I killed it with copious amounts of bug spray (and subsequently had to scrub the room down as this is where Theo crawls and then puts his hands in his mouth - ugh). Bobby kept pointing at it and saying, "Spider Man". No, honey. Not spider man. 

I think I've had just about enough excitement for one day. Good night!

Sunday, December 21, 2014


Had a nice though tiring weekend of gigging each night and then alone with the kids all day with no plans (my personal kryptonite). But we made it through, with lots of driving back and forth on the emptiest, most scenic part of the 210 (our "nap route"), shitty drive-thru lunches, and almost no sleep as I got home at 2 AM the last two nights. The last babysitter of the year was in last night and now we're on our own until 2015. Gulp. I gave her a box of festive coconut balls for her trouble. 

Now that all edible gifts have been disseminated, decorations have been placed and cards mailed, the only thing left to do is make Theo a stocking as I did myself and Bobby two years ago. This should take each evening until Thursday easily. 

Last night saw my friend who's newborn died shortly after Theo was born. She just started her third trimester with the new pregnancy. I can't imagine how full of anxiety she must be; her husband recently posted a picture of an empty high chair on FB and it's been haunting me. I so hope this child a) survives and b) doesn't grow up with a dark cloud over his/her life. It's so hard.

Despite my dark themes lately I've actually been having some very blissful moments. Moments of "I have a great life". It helps when Bobby gives his brother a hug (no unpleasantness there for a while, mostly because I watch him like a hawk around the baby), or says "I wuv you" as I'm tucking him in, or shows delight over a new song I randomly start singing (today's selection was Paul McCartney's Jet for some reason - he is now obsessed with it and runs around yelling "Jet!"). The other morning he complained his leg was hurting and I discovered a play felt cucumber shoved up his pant leg a la Spinal Tap. He's been pretty mellow and happy the last couple of days which makes parenting suddenly seem like a good idea. 

My only problem at the moment is figuring out the financial gymnastics I'm going to have to do to stretch my money another month, and how to fill the next two weeks with activities with school closed a few days and all our friends out of town or busy. We'll figure it out!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Regrets...I've had a few

Recently one of my favorite radio talk show hosts mentioned that he always hated the song "My Way" but loved the line, "regrets...I've had a few". I've been thinking a lot about that term, "regret," lately, with regards to having kids, or not having kids, and paths not taken.

I'll admit I had that thought, "I regret having kids," at the worst of the Bobby-beating-up-brother era a couple of weeks ago. I was, and am, very ashamed of that thought (something I swore I'd never think, or feel, much like hitting Bobby out of anger, which has now also happened despite my protestations to the contrary). But it's a real thought and it happened and I believe in honesty above all, so there it is. Do I feel that way now? No. But ask on a bad moment when I'm tired and overwhelmed and sad - sure. In those moments my former life of constant navel-gazing and self indulgence sure does look a lot more enjoyable. I'd have to be crazy to say I'd rather wrestle a kicking, screaming toddler into pajamas than lie in bed drinking tea and watching documentaries. 

I always thought you would either regret having kids or you wouldn't. But I find now that it's a lot more complex than that. Much like you can still love your kids but not always like them, you can love your kids and love being a mother but sometimes wish they would just go away for five minutes. And then come back.

I've been trying to give myself, and my dark thoughts, a break lately. This is hard. I can no longer say this is way easier than I thought. It was, when I had one easy baby. every day is a struggle. It just is. But it would be a struggle if I were younger or married or more prepared or more of a kid person or surrounded by helpful family or anything. Little kids are hard, period.

So often I look back as I'm driving and see the faces of my little boy and my baby. This is our life right now - an almost three-year-old and his various issues, and a nine-month-old and his issues. And Bobby talks now but we're not able to converse, not really, so his inner life is still largely a mystery to me; Theo is a complete mystery as all I know about him is he hates to be put down or left alone. But some day these kids will be real kids - with friends and teachers and coaches and things they like and don't like. Will it be easier then? I no longer fool myself that it will - I just know that it will be different, and there will be a certain satisfaction that we've made it this far. I won't have a baby constantly strapped on my chest making me feel like I'm still nine months pregnant and making it difficult to maneuver; I won't have a toddler who screams and cries unpredictably all day long. Those things I am looking forward to letting go of.

A friend posted an advice column in which a woman asked if she should have a baby on her own and she said she didn't think worrying about regretting not having kids was good enough reason to have one. But the advice columnist disagreed and said knowing you'd regret not doing something is, in fact, a great reason to do it. I try to imagine not having these kids and what I'd be doing now instead but I know this is a moot point because no matter what I would have had a kid by now, somehow, whether by adoption or fostering or being a Big Sister or whatever. The 42 1/2-year-old me with no kids all alone in this house just never would have existed so there's no point in even trying to imagine her. The only difference is I lucked out in getting the idea just early enough that I was able to have two biological children, whereas if I were just getting the idea now the story would be a little different.

And so I power on with my baby in the Ergo and Bobby in the stroller and people look at me and give me a thumbs-up or tell me I have my hands full and I sigh and say yes, it's really hard right now. But life is really hard. And I'm glad they're in it. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Today I took the boys to the mall to meet Santa. Bobby was not having it. So there will be no Bobby and Santa pic this year. Thankfully I have my second son to enjoy this ritual with in the interim. 

This is very much a microcosm of the whole preschooler-new baby situation. So often I'm grateful for Theo in our lives because it reminds me of the more enjoyable aspects of parenting - how awesome and cuddly babies are, how happy and willing to please. Toddlers are so not. But I know the unpleasantness with Bobby is just temporary. It's not him - it's his age. In the meantime I can still get an oxytocin high off smelling the top of Theo's head. Ahhhhhhhhhh.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Nine months & stuff

Here's the wee laddie at nine months. He has now been out as long as he was in. What is Theo like at nine months old? He has four teeth all coming in at once. He sleeps from 5 PM to 6 or 7 AM without waking. He eats three containers of baby food a day and now eats baby crackers. I am considering upping his food intake and cutting down breastfeeds - but breastfeeding is so much more convenient that it's been slow going. Since he no longer wakes at night when sitters are here I am thinking maybe I only have a few more pumping sessions left in my life (for the rare occasions when a sitter puts him to bed), which fills me with joy. He is not independent and content to hang out in playpens or walkers like his brother - he hates being put down and left alone, and crawls around and stands only for a little while before wanting to be picked up...but then squirms and fusses unless you walk around with him. Our three days a week at home with no big brother are kind of miserable - I try in vain to get things done but he pretty much whines incessantly and refuses to nap for more than a few minutes. Our days here mostly involve me trying to put him down and get him to play unsuccessfully, picking him up to feed him only to have him squirm away, uninterested, sometimes giving him Tylenol thinking he must be teething and in pain, finally plunking him in his crib in an attempt at getting him to nap which pretty much always fails. Then it's time to go pick up brother. Sigh. There's just no relaxing at home with little kids. It just can't happen. 

Theo babbles, crawls, stands, and eats purees like a champ. Passed his nine month checkup with flying colors. I'm so glad I've never had to worry about underweight kids! The nurse messed up and told me he'd lost weight since his six month checkup and I immediately panicked and felt guilty about leaving him unfed all night and sometimes running around too much during the day to feed him as often as I know I should...but when the doctor came in he said we were looking at the wrong numbers and he had gained the appropriate amount of weight. Whew. He's had a runny nose and cough for ages but the doctor said his lungs and ears are clear, so...yeah.

Here is a comparison I made of Theo at one and eight months. I am shocked this is the same baby. He sure did turn out cute!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Making a list & checking it twice

Ok, Christmas is officially less than two weeks away. So far I have managed to:

Make a batch of peppermint fudge
Make a batch of English toffee
Make 20 red coconut balls and 20 green coconut balls
Make a batch of peppermint bark
Buy a tree and decorate the house 
Send out 50 Christmas cards
Get Christmas pajamas for the kids
Get Bobby's required outfit for his Christmas pageant 
Get all presents for the kids (well, let's be honest...Bobby)

I have yet to:
Mail presents to out of town relatives
Make a felt stocking for Theo
Get a Santa pic with the kids
Do any crafts such as make ornaments
Do any work on B's scrap book
Make cookies for book club cookie exchange 

...while simultaneously staying on top of cleaning, laundry, cooking, groceries, home repairs and maintenance, babysitting inquiries, my business, mailing out Christmas orders of our band's CDs, and navigating my precarious finances (when/how/how much to pay/deposit, which bills to defer until after Feb 1). Oh, and all this while keeping Bobby from killing his baby brother (today first thing in the morning Bobby announced he was "going to hit baby" and proceeded to walk into the bedroom and smack the baby's head hard before I could stop him. Suffice it to say what happened as a consequence was not good. This is what my life is now). 

But in happier news, yesterday was Bobby's first Christmas show. It was quite possibly the cutest thing ever. I wish the Blogger app would let me upload videos; here is a still I took of him with his class singing a little song about Santa with requisite hand gestures. He did great (as did the other kids - I don't know how they got these kids to perform like that; I can't even get B to put his socks on) and I was so proud of him. 

He also has gotten very into random songs I've been singing and loves to watch videos of them on my phone - one being Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmas Time" and the other The Andrews Sisters "The Pennsylvania Polka" and "Sonny Boy". These are the moments, people. Every once in a while I get a glimpse of Bobby as an older child - just in a look or a gesture - and get a feel of just how nice life is going to be when all this little kid hell is over. I hope when it is I can remember that even at two Bobby and I did have some really nice times together.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Perpetual Motion

When I was in about second or third grade we had an assignment in school to write an essay about someone in our class. For some reason our teacher wrote one about me (odd number of students?) and she titled it "Perpetual Motion". She described me as always moving - bouncing a leg, fidgeting, playing with my hair. I don't think it was so much about being high energy - which I definitely am not - but having nervous energy. All of the women in my family are high strung and nervous and I tend to gravitate towards people like this. But lately I've been wondering if I've passed this quality to my kid(s).

Twice now when I've picked up B from school the teacher has commented - laughingly - how he came to school bouncing off the walls and they had to tell him repeatedly to settle down and/or take him outside to run off his energy. I'm so used to him being like this that I don't even think about it; I only notice on the rare occasion that he's not like that, how shocking it is when he sits quietly or is gentle or contemplative. The other day when he was watched for a few hours by a sitter and then I had a few hours with him before heading out to my next gig, I was dreading having to take him out somewhere or dealing with him climbing the walls at home. To my surprise he pulled out some books and read them quietly, then spent ages stacking and playing with packs of wipes. He never does this. And I had a moment of, oh my God, is this what other kids are like? 

Our typical day involves letting B out of his room in the morning to have him immediately run all over the house screaming, banging into walls and kitchen appliances, smacking into me hard and trying to pull me into the floor, stomping on my feet and hitting and kicking me repeatedly. Evenings are like this as well. Try getting this Tasmanian devil to sit down and eat, brush his teeth, put on socks and shoes, etc's a Herculean task.

Is my kid hyperactive? I don't think so, although the jury is still out. I think he's high energy but I don't think he's unusual from what I've observed in other boys his age. But oh my God would my life be easier and more enjoyable if I had a quiet little kid who built model airplanes and worked on puzzles. Most days I just can't handle being a punching bag all day long, I really can't.

Still and all, I know his energy, and spunk and defensiveness, are good qualities for later in life. I see little boys who let other kids take their toys or get pushed around and do nothing, and I worry about them. Bumpus...Bumpus'll cut a bitch.

For now I can only channel his energy in positive directions, be thankful for the quiet moments, and pray for the day his brother is big enough to be his grappling partner.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

In dreams

I must be getting better sleep these days because I am dreaming a lot. Last night I had a vivid dream in which I was wishing I had just married and had kids with my last boyfriend and how much easier (and cheaper) my life would be. I woke up full of regret and longing, still brushing the cobwebs of the dream out of my brain.

Then as I took a shower and started to wake up I really contemplated life with that man and ended up laughing and shaking my head in disbelief. Easier? Not really. Not when I would have to balance a relationship and a toddler and a baby. I thought about having to cook for, clean up after, and maintain the daily life of an adult and two children. I thought about how resentful I would be, how much I would hate sharing children 50/50 with someone else. How tired I would be and how he could never do enough to make me happy. 

Cheaper? Not with his perpetual unemployment. Sure, I would save on babysitters. But I would be stuck paying his iPhone bill, car note, health and car insurance, plus groceries, utilities and countless other expenses. Talk about resentment!

And worst of all - I would be obligated to have sex with this person-! Ewwwww!

So yeah, I disagree with Freud's assertion that "dreams are wishes". No matter how imperfect our lives are right now, I really wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Can't argue with crazy in follow up to yesterday's post, I didn't answer my mother's email (honestly haven't had the time) but my sister did, telling her we're all worried and wish she would come home and get medical treatment and save her life.

Well! My mother lashed out at her, telling her she's controlling and going on and on about how great her religion is and how whatever she has can't be helped by medicine anyway (although she's never seen a doctor so she's just guessing)...the whole email was pretty hateful. I felt bad for my sister. I know she had hoped that maybe something could be accomplished here. But no - my mother is still clinging to this craziness. And she's being pretty mean about it, too. Well, that makes my position a little easier to take - just a quick polite acknowledgement and we're done. There's no arguing with crazy.

I know many people who have to deal with mentally ill relatives or ones with personality disorders or ones who are just plain shitty people. It's exhausting and upsetting and makes you feel guilty even when there's nothing to feel guilty about. I feel extremely lucky that the two crazy people in my life - my mother and father - are both far, far away and easy to avoid. If I lived near these people and had to have them in my life, and especially now the boys' lives, I would drive off a cliff. 

In other news, saw The Imitation Game today; it was good. Going to attempt to keep the boys up way past their bedtime to go see some Christmas lights tomorrow. Fingers crossed that isn't a disaster!

Friday, December 5, 2014

I wish...

Today is my mother's 73rd birthday. She sent me and my sister a letter apologizing to both of us and wanting us to know she does love us and isn't just down there in Brazil not giving a damn. She apologized to me for not recognizing how unhappy I was as a child and how she should have hugged me and told me she loved me more. She said she's not sure how much longer she's going to be here and just felt like she needed to say these things.

My sister and I are worried that she's preparing to die. But I also acknowledge that there is nothing to be done about it - she has chosen to be one of the thousands who will die well before their time for refusing medical care in the service of their "religion". And she's isolated herself thousands of miles away from everyone who cares about her. What can you do? I feel helpless but also resigned. I just see no happy ending to this story.

I'll admit I do have fantasies about taking her in and nursing her through the remainder of her life here at home - although I recognize the reality of this situation would be a lot messier and more unpleasant than I could ever imagine. After all, I don't really know my mother anymore - I haven't spoken to her (beyond one line emails about the kids) in eight years and haven't seen her in more than ten. I hear she is gaunt and sickly and looks like she's at death's door - I'm sure if I ever did see her in person again I would be shocked at her condition. 

This time of year, though, in addition to the fact that I get unusually sad that my boys will never have a father, I also am reminded that they have no grandparents, either, and this saddens me. I'm not going to try to pretend it doesn't matter that Bobby and Teddy have no father, because it does. just is. The same way this situation with my mother just is. 

I know I need to write her back but I just don't know what to say. I guess thank her for the apology...? Is this the moment to say all the things that need to be said? I don't see her as this monster anymore, just a sad, sick old woman full of regrets. I hate that things have to end this way - I will never be able to reconcile the fun, hip, interesting woman my mother was when she was younger with this situation - and I so wish things could be, could have been, different.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Rainy days

I'm on a bit of a high right now because I survived our first rainy day with nothing to do. I was dreading it for days but it all worked out. I got us out to the mall and used the free play space which we hadn't been to in a long while - no big kids, thank God, and they had removed the stupid coin operated cars that Bobby used to jump in regardless of if another parent had paid for their kid to ride in it. Bobby played too rough with some of the other boys but I was all over him, not taking my eyes off of him for a second, and just handled our business. A stay-at-home-dad said he didn't know how I did it and bowed to me. Score. 

Some days I am just all in. And others I can't deal. Thankfully despite a bad head cold that's kept me up and miserable breathing through my mouth the last three nights, today I was all in. Parenting kids this age takes a ridiculous amount of energy and creativity. I've had a bit of a shock having to re-adjust back to the days of keeping the boys separated at all times, but it can, and must, be done. The hardest is the mornings, but I just have to go back to the days of leaving the baby screaming in a room while I tend to B. It sucks but it's better than peeking into Bobby's room to catch him beating his brother's ass and freaking out.

I announced all the details of next year's event last night to nothing but accolades. I love to see the customers' delight and excitement when they see who I've hired and what the event is going to look like. Short of a few tweaks to my online registration form, we're pretty much set until registration open Feb 1st. 

I officially have $3000 to survive on until then. God help me.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Weekend wrap-up

So I nearly crapped my pants while driving home in the pouring rain tonight. Thankfully I made it home in time to rush up the stairs, leaving the kids in the car. When will I learn I can't drink lattes???

Thanks for all the comments about my last post. It cheers me to hear that other children B's age behave like this from time to time and that it is normal. I really don't think anything is happening at school otherwise he wouldn't be so happy to go and so sad to leave. I think he just thinks it's fun to lord it over this smaller, slightly annoying creature. I tortured my aunt's lovely, gentle cat just because I felt like it when I was a kid - who knows why? Kids can just be little bastards sometimes. Anyway no more scary incidents today just because I kept the baby either in his (my) room with the door closed or on my back. We went to a birthday party, all with younger kids, and I had to stay right on top of B to make sure he didn't victimize them. I'm sure people there thought I was being a helicopter parent - I was, but for the sake of the other kids! Hell hath no fury like a two-year-old being approached by a one-year-old to take his toy. 

Thank God for the return of preschool tomorrow. Thankfully my sister and brother-in-law visiting kept us busy so the four day slog went quickly and was actually quite enjoyable (other than B trying to kill his brother). Christmas will be the same - I intend to use one weekend day at the school's weekend program after Christmas so I don't lose my mind. 

I hope that now that Theo's first little tooth has busted through he'll be a little happier. Poor guy was miserable last week. So he was a Thanksgiving teether and his brother was a Christmas teether. Interesting. Have not felt it while nursing yet but I am dreading that first bite. 

I think like a lot of parents right now I am feeling very drained. Let's hope I get a decent night's sleep tonight and am ready to take on the day tomorrow!

Friday, November 28, 2014

The deep end

Thanksgiving morning started off with Bobby brutalizing his brother repeatedly and me throwing him in his room to listen to him scream hysterically while I calmly prepared our Tofurky roast. This morning started with Bobby brutalizing his brother and me finally snapping and smacking him hard on the head.

Yup. It's happened. I've hit my child. And you know what? I can't promise it's not going to happen again.

What happened today was after Bobby repeatedly pushed his brother on the ground and smacked him, I smacked Bobby on the top of the head. He cried. I put the baby in the other room and drew Bobby on to my lap and explained he has to be nice to his brother, if he doesn't want him touching his toys he needs to just move them, that hitting hurts, doesn't it? That we're a family and we need to do just hugs and kisses and no hitting because it hurts. I asked if he understood and he said yes. I hugged and kissed him and told him I loved him no matter what. And then he went into the other bedroom and smacked his brother on the head. 

I hit him today because after yesterday I was so frustrated that he just didn't get it that I felt like the only thing I hadn't tried was showing him how bad it felt to be hit. But I know this wasn't the right thing to do because how can you teach someone not to hit by hitting? I get it. But nothing is stopping this shitty behavior. Nothing.

It's so maddening because everything was going so well - he liked to play with him, would hug and kiss him, maybe was a little too rough sometimes, but I could let them play together and mostly it was fine. In the last week or so something has taken a very sinister turn and now Bobby just loves to kick, punch, hit, and jump on top of his brother. It's shocking and awful. And he does it all with a big smile on his face, and when I angrily tell him to stop he just laughs at me and does it again. What the fuck do you do when your child acts like this???

I spent all night googling this question and the answers are all things I did (other than the hitting - nobody advocates that!) - the explaining, redirecting to proper behavior, giving more special time together, etc. I bend over backwards, and always have, to make sure Bobby never feels slighted by the arrival of the baby. And yet here we are nine months in and I am seriously worried Bobby is going to kill his baby brother. 

The only thing I'm going to have to do now is keep them separated. No more crawling around together on the floor, no more baby playing in Bobby's room, no more letting Bobby hang out in baby's crib while I cook breakfast. Nope. Baby is going to have to be in the carrier at all times unless Bobby is restricted somehow (he seems to want his high chair again which is awesome) or just put in another room and left to scream there until I can come pick him up. It's all horrible but it's the only way to keep him safe right now. And the only way to keep me from smacking the shit out of his older brother.

How did we get here? He used to be so sweet and kind, giving baby his pacifier and wanting him to be put on the floor so they could "cwawl awound". Then all of a sudden this week pushing his brother onto the floor, stomping on his chest, smacking his head, kicking his head when he's standing up. Awful! I've yelled, I've begged, I've bargained, I've said I understand how he feels, I've modeled proper behavior so he knows what to do instead, and now I've hit him to get his attention and nothing stops the behavior. So for now I just have to separate them. That's all there is to it.

Of course right at this time I had to listen to a podcast about the Uni Bomber and how his brother turned him in and how toxic their relationship was - and now I'm terrified my boys are never going to get along and instead are going to grow up constantly fighting and hating each other. We got off to such a good start and now...I don't know. Let's hope this is just some weird phase. Bobby also hauled off and smacked me across the face the other day, too, which he hadn't done in ages. What gives?

Don't tell me he needs more love and attention and special time from me without the baby. That's all we fucking do. I'm beginning to wonder if all this attention focused on Bobby is what created this monster. 

Right now I am that frazzled, impatient, angry, raggedy single mother I never wanted to be. Regretting everything. Hating my life. It sucks. I am utterly exhausted and worn out and there's no relief in sight. Just more of the same, day after day. Once Theo is too big to be carried or restrained I honestly don't know what I'm going to do. I feel like in a very short time it's going to be like living with a lion and a tiger in my house. 

I hate to say it but I so wish I'd had girls. I am entirely unprepared for this amount of aggressive male energy and I really, really hate it. The constant destruction, climbing the walls, and now this aggression towards me and the helpless sweet baby (who in a few months will morph into a little destruction machine, too) just makes me want to cry. 

Oh yeah - Happy Thanksgiving. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Whatever gets you through the night

My voyage on the living room couch continues. T has been sleeping twelve hours straight for weeks now, other than the occasional coughing fit. One night last week it was so bad I went in and nursed him, then busted out the nose frida to clear his runny nose, then set up the humidifier. We have all had this cold for what seems like forever, with Theo having it the worst. I keep panicking and googling his symptoms to see if I'm being neglectful in not taking him to the doctor (remember I have zero experience with this) but everything I read tells me he's fine and it's just a cold. All of our noses run every day all day - which says to me we're all allergic to something in or around this house. I don't do anything about it because I have no intention of putting a two year old through an allergy panel just to be told it's something in the air that I could medicate him daily for, which I won't do. I mean, it's annoying but it's just a runny nose. 

So I'm still on the couch even though at this point I don't think T would wake up and see me there and want to be picked up. I haven't decided about moving back into my room. One, I kind of like being sentinel out in the front room - if anyone tries to break in the front door they'd have to deal with me and my mace first before getting to the kids. Two, I get the fireplace and the TV and the ability to listen to podcasts on my phone to go to sleep. Three, T still wakes up way too early for me so I can sleep an hour or two later while he hangs out in the crib (sometimes happily, sometimes not so happily). I can't say that I am getting a full night's sleep although I am probably getting more sleep than I give myself credit for. I still wake up a lot. Call it hormones, anxiety about being away from the baby or anything else going on, or just the weirdness of being in the living room on the couch, but lengthy stretches of sleep still elude me. Is it better than being the open all night milk bar? Heck yeah. 

Last night I had a horrible nightmare that I had a maxed-out credit card (I actually pay my bill in full every month and have for years - I'm what the credit industry calls a "deadbeat" because they can't make any money off me, ha!) and a maxed-out line of credit, and my event lost a couple hundred attendees because of my price hike. Oh, it was awful! And it felt so real because this was my exact scenario in 2001 when I was paying over $1200 a month just to keep up with the minimum payments on all my debts. It sucked. And yet that same year I was somehow able to buy this house with no money down, and a few years later experience a real boom for my event that back then looked like it was on its last legs at only four years old.

You just never know what the future holds. Let's hope it's something good, for all of us!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The secret of how to get toddlers to eat apparently douse everything with ketchup. The last couple of nights B has positively cleaned his plate - a big plate with veggie meatballs, mini popovers I baked, and bought spinach bites - and I'm pretty sure it was because of the ketchup I added as an afterthought. A quick Facebook post on the topic confirms that apparently everyone knows this trick except me. I'm not much of a condiment person (I'm pretty sure this ketchup is from the first Obama administration) so I find this a bit baffling. But hey - if that's what it takes to get B to eat real food and not just yogurt for dinner, bring it on.

Oh, and here is B's first school picture! Ain't he just the cutest?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Food Issues and Other Minefields

Re-wiring one's brain is hard. I did this years ago to combat depression and anxiety (you wouldn't know it reading this blog lately, but trust me, it used to be way worse, and by "it" I mean "me") and am now attempting to do it again to be a better parent. It's hard work. But I'm determined to get there.

I'm proud to announce I've gotten a lot better about not snapping at B when he gets really out of control and tantrum-y. Several times over the last few days when I could see that ol' train a-comin' I would instead take a second to quell my own instinct to either slap him (have never hit him and never would), throw him in his room (did this twice), or just snap at him to knock it off, and instead would go hug him and ask what he needs. It's incredible how quickly this stops the tantrum train! He has enough language to tell me now which makes this approach possible. And I can tell by what he wants that the tantrum started by his perception (often correct) that I'm not listening to him or can't understand him. I've done the what do you need/hug approach enough lately that he now will say "I need a hug, I need a hug!!!" when he feels himself getting upset. It's pretty awesome. Why can't things always be like this??? Well, because my brain still goes to the angry place too easily. When someone is whining at you over something you think is unimportant and stupid you just want them to shut up. But there's a better way to get there. I just need practice!

I appreciated the suggestions about mealtime battles. I love the idea that when it comes to food, we as parents decide the when, what, and where, but the toddler decides whether or how much. This is another area where I seriously have to get out of my own way. I find it absolutely maddening when B doesn't eat, or doesn't eat enough, despite the fact that he's gaining weight and thriving. So...why am I so bothered? I think it's a few reasons. One is just my normal, cave mom instinct that if he doesn't eat he will die, which is a tough one to quiet. Then it's the fact that I love to cook and always fantasized about enjoying meals with my children, but I know this reality is many years away and that depresses me. Finally, to me food is love (you could call it my "love language") so on some level when B rejects food it makes me feel personally rejected. I know that sounds stupid, but it's deep in there, I think. I'll never forget the time I slaved all day to make Thanksgiving dinner for an old boyfriend only to have him make fun of the whole thing and tell me everything that was wrong with it. Talk about feeling rejected!

So I'm trying some new things when it comes to food - things that are so simple that I should have done ages ago but just haven't had the balls to - such as setting a time limit for eating, enforcing the "eat what I give you or forget it", and then trying to not be upset and disappointed by the amount of food waste/rejection that goes on. It's not personal even though it feels personal. Tonight I actually got him to eat this curried rice and lentil dish I'd made for myself. He didn't eat a lot of it, but he did eat some, which is something. I think I'm just going to keep trying adult food and see what happens. I am terrified of becoming one of these moms who only feeds her kids macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets. Seriously, I can do better than that! 

The food thing is a work in progress and is very emotional for me. It reminds me of a clip from one of my favorite This American Life episodes called "Are You Going to Eat That?" in which a father recounts his frustration at his anorexic daughter's refusal of food; he says that as a parent his one job in life is to provide food for his children to keep them alive, so it just killed him inside and made him feel like such a failure when she refused to eat. 

Oh, the things we do to our parents that we can't even fathom! 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Eight months

Hard to believe a mere eight months ago today I was writhing in agony in a hospital bed. Feels like a million years ago.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It's business time

I've been neglecting my business horribly and now it's nearly December. I decided I need to nail down everything - bands, themes, schedules, teachers - by Dec 1 so people can start thinking about signing up Feb 1 and I can think about paying my $@!?! bills.

After two months of lame procrastination about firing this year's dance floor rental guy (I drafted a harsh letter, then tamed it down, then had friends read and edit it, then didn't send it), he finally called today and asked if I could make a decision about next year by January so he wouldn't have to store the floor - he said he planned on recycling it. I told him yes, I had decided not to use it again. He said ok. We said goodbye. That was it. In the end as much as I wanted to stick it to him for how much this floor was a disaster (people are still talking about it on Facebook...ughhhh) and even more so for that awful confrontation we had, I think this way is really best. He knows he screwed up. He took the financial hit way worse than I did. I'm sure he's totally embarrassed by the whole thing. I'm going to have to see him every time I sing or go out dancing from now on. So it's best to just let the petty stuff go and keep it friendly. I'm a true believer that less is more when it comes to stuff like this, so it's probably a good thing I chickened out and didn't send the letter. 

I once wrote a very angry, spiteful letter to my mother and never sent it, too, and boy am I glad I didn't!

The holiday season is upon us and I'm kind of getting into it. I am pinning new candy recipes and planning on upping my game with actual gift boxes and candy molds. I'm also psyched to decorate this house non-pregnant - no more fears of tripping/falling/over-exerting myself. It is truly a pleasure to be once again able to not drink enough water, not eat enough protein, forget to take a vitamin, eat sugar and carbs, and not worry about it affecting a little helpless being in your belly. Of course I'm not really off the clock until I stop breastfeeding, but for now I relish the freedom. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Battening the hatches

After posting last night I got notified of a post on my neighborhood FB group about more break-ins - then joined a website called Next Door where you are connected to neighbors talking about community stuff, and yes, we are experiencing a bit of a crime wave around here. This is what happens when you vote to release non-violent criminals early from prison, people. I called the cops and they said they have seen an uptick in burglaries and other petty crimes, and that a recent bill passing has caused a flood of criminals back on our streets. Awesome.

At least the officer told me they have stepped up patrols and are very aware of the situation, so that made me feel better. And after two weeks of being given the runaround by various companies I finally got a guy over to start my replacement bars and (at my sister's suggestion) a new, more intimidating front gate. There will be a lock on it and I won't hesitate to use it if I ever feel uncomfortable - I wish I could keep it locked all the time but with a pool guy, gardener, mailman, and utility guys coming to check the meter, it's not really practical. But at night to keep random solicitors off my porch? Absolutely.

For those who have asked I do have an alarm, with a big sign, and the alarm is on all the time, even when I'm home. I couldn't live without it! At least I know if I'm out and a door is compromised that I'll get a phone call, or if someone has opened a door the keypad will show me that something's not right. Which is all the more irritating that that guy had the balls to come up to my house with bars on all the windows and a big alarm sign. Seriously, go pick on someone else!

But for now I feel a bit better. I'm doing all I can do to secure our home, and I have awesome gay neighbors who will kick anyone's ass, so I really have nothing to worry about until there's something to worry about. I sleep with my new mace next to my pillow and won't hesitate to spray a bitch. 

Right now Bumpus is in his bed in his dark bedroom saying "penis!" over and over again. Life goes on, huh?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Feeling vulnerable

A lot of big, emotional things have been going on around here lately. Not in our family, but just in general. Between the weirdness around feeling unsafe at home, the fire last week, and my friend dying in a car crash, it's just been an odd, uneasy time.

Went to the friend's funeral. He was just a year older than me and fell asleep while driving late at night. I have never been to a funeral of someone who died young and tragically. We packed the tiny church with about 400 people. I'm sure his family were shocked by the outpouring of love from so many people. I didn't intend to cry my eyes out - to be honest I didn't know him that well - but of course the cocktail of religious songs and verses, other people crying, and thinking about one of my boys dying before me, made me break down. I feel like as a mother of small children that death is at the door all the time - only just now am I able to sleep (if you can call it that) apart from Theo; even with the monitor right by my head I still live in terror of something happening in the night. I know much of this comes from past trauma - loss, abandonment - but I also know this is normal for most parents. I try not to live in the what ifs because that's not a good place to be, but every night I worry that Theo will not make it through the night, and every day I drop B at school I worry that something will happen and I'll never see him again. There, I said it. I worry about losing them all the time. 

It doesn't help that we had yet another weird incident here at the house last night - the kids were in bed and I was watching TV, it was just past 8 PM and there was a knock at my door. I look out and there's a young guy there, who immediately launches into this spiel about wanting to get my name, address, and phone number so someone can call me and sell me a newspaper subscription - but they also need proof of ID from me, preferably in the form of a canceled check. He just rambled on and on while I tried to figure out how to get rid of him - I didn't open the door, but didn't want to piss him off, either. When he finally stopped and asked if I wanted to participate I said, "sorry, no, sorry," and then ran into the kitchen until I heard my front gate close. I googled the scenario - the whole needing a canceled check BS - and sure enough found this is a common scam, although one friend of mine said that she actually did this once and the guy was in fact legit.

But I feel very vulnerable. Between the guy poking around up here a couple of weeks ago, now this kid, even the fire the other night - I just feel like something is up in the neighborhood, like we're being targeted. Now, I could just be overreacting - it's not like this was the first supposed high school kid who's come to my door asking me to help them earn money for college - but it just puts me on edge. Can people please stop coming up the three flights of stairs to my house and leave me in peace? Even better, can people stop pretending they're not criminals trying to hurt me? Or at least not pick on the totally broke and stressed out single mother of two little kids and mess with someone who has the support system to handle being messed with???

I'm going to call the cops again tomorrow (called last night but was put on hold for an eternity) to just tell them what's been happening and see if we can get some cruisers over here or something. Whatever this dark cloud around here is will probably pass eventually, but man, the sooner, the better!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Never a dull moment

You know those dream sequences in movies where the dreamer keeps hearing this really annoying beeping noise and then they wake up and it's their alarm clock? That happened to me last night. I was having this epic dream and kept hearing this series of beeps. Finally I woke up but could still hear it, and thought maybe it was an alarm clock somewhere in the house and was about to get up and look for it to turn it off when I heard a commotion at the neighbors' house - people slamming doors and dogs barking, then a man yelling, "fire! Fire!!!" I looked out the window and saw a huge pillar of fire in the sky. It was next to my right side neighbors, just two doors down. I went out to the back yard (it seemed to be focused on the back roof and porch) and watched it with the people who were unfortunate enough to be right next door. They said everyone got out all right, but it was a huge blaze - I mean this place I've been looking at from my back yard for thirteen years was fully engulfed in flames. It's a large old Craftsman fourplex. Just then the firemen got there and went to work. According to news reports they had it out in 45 minutes. I was up until sunup with all the adrenaline and noise (I woke at about 4AM). Today there was a contractor's van out front and a huge pile of debris and charred wood in their yard; then later a U Haul with a few things thrown in it and some people milling around. I feel so bad for them. Along with illness, car accidents and burglaries, a house fire is way up there on my list of things that would seriously fuck everything up right now. I wonder what caused it, if everyone really did make it out, including pets? I may never know. 

In other news, Bumpus went poopy on the potty last night. Oh, and my band has been asked to play NY's Lincoln Center next June. So, count that as my goal for my first ever trip sans children. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

First of many parent-teacher meetings

I had my very first parent-teacher conference today. I was curious how B is at school and also wanted to talk about potty training. I stress out when I see moms of younger boys bragging about how they are "fully potty trained!" and always wonder if there's something I'm supposed to be doing that I'm not. I still have this weird memory of going to some acting school when I was a kid (about six maybe?) and my mother coming into the one-stall bathroom with me just so she could go, too, and the other kids teasing me incessantly about how I supposedly still needed my mother to help me in the bathroom. I don't want it to get to the point where B feels like he's behind the other boys in that area (although I know he's young yet).

They said he's showing signs of interest but isn't there yet - not remaining dry for any significant portion of the day and showing only sporadic interest in the potty (just like at home). So at least I don't have to feel like he's ready and I'm failing him somehow. He has only just in the past few days asked me to change him. He's getting there. 

Otherwise they gave a glowing report and said he's a joy to have in class - his language is a bit behind but since he's progressing all the time they're not concerned about it. It's just not his strong point. I can live with that.

I was curious about his pushing/possessiveness of toys, but they seemed to think this was normal. It does make me wonder how they address the parents of the "bad" kids - in today's hypersensitive environment I somehow don't see them saying, "so, your kid is the class bully," but if they don't bring it up, how would you know...? I definitely wonder about the class dynamics and how all the kids relate to each other. But there isn't a polite way to ask that really. 

In other news, as the open enrollment period draws ever near for health insurance (11/15), much to my chagrin, I discovered that the Kaiser guy who told me I could get all three of us under my awesome plan if I just inflated my income a little, turned out to be utterly full of shit. I would have to make $55,000 to get the kids off MediCal, and at that point our premiums would be out of control expensive. So I am back to plan A which is getting Bobby back on Kaiser paying full price out of pocket. So instead of saving $300+ a month I will be paying $100 more than I am paying now. As mentioned before, I just can't seem to catch a break financially lately. 

Operation Mom Sleeps on the Couch is going swimmingly. The last couple of nights T has slept all night without waking. Unfortunately my sleep still sucks since I have trouble falling asleep, wake up multiple times a night, and then pop awake before 7 AM (thanks to the time change). So at the moment I'm worse off than I was before. But I will continue this plan and, if all goes as it has been, wend my way back to the bed and see if T stays asleep or if my presence starts waking him again. If not, it's couch city for me for a while yet.

Monday, November 3, 2014


Despite dire predictions, Halloween was actually kind of fun. I hauled our butts out of bed early for B's school Halloween parade, and I'm glad I did. Even though B was pretty subdued (nearly all of the kids were - I think they didn't quite grasp the concept), I would have felt awful if we skipped it just because I didn't want to get up early. They marched the kids around in a circle and then had snacks. Apparently there was a snack sign up sheet I totally missed. Oops.

Killed time while B was at school and then headed to a friend's house for a small party and trick or treating in their (far nicer) neighborhood. This seems to be an LA thing - leave your shit-ass neighborhood to descend upon one where people pay 4x the property taxes for the privilege of giving your kids candy. Somehow I managed to keep B in the stroller while the other, older kids ran up to the houses. I just couldn't handle a crying baby and a two-year-old on the loose in the dark with hoards of people milling around. It was exhausting pushing the recalcitrant double stroller uphill and carrying the baby in the rain, but B was having such a good time, and I was enjoying his enjoyment so much, that it was really ok. Got home by nine, kids in bed, feet up in front of the telly, nice cuppa. Not bad. 

Got the terrible news that a fellow swing promoter I've known some 20-odd years fell asleep at the wheel and died Thursday night. Funeral Sunday. The whole community is in shock and sad. 

I've taken to sleeping on the couch all night with the baby monitor on to see what T does. When I sleep in the bed next to him he wakes up and stands up every hour or two until I pick him up. That had to stop. Not surprisingly, after three nights in the couch last night he only woke up once. My goal is to have him not wake up at all and make my way back to the bed eventually. I wish I could say I am getting better sleep, but it has not happened yet. Out of habit I pop awake every couple of hours, and now with the &@$! time change we're all awake at 6 AM (!). Hopefully this will change back soon! We were on a really nice late schedule there for a while. If I can just get the sleep all night/sleep in thing together, I'll be golden.

Today I decided to join a Y so I can get back to yoga. Family plans are fairly cheap and free child care! I think returning to yoga could do a lot for my shitty attitude lately. I need to get my zen on.

Friday, October 31, 2014


Early in the day at the preschool Halloween parade, not so much:

But then later that night:

Meanwhile at home, momma and Theo (aka Bebess) had our own fun:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Preventative measures

So today I high-tailed it to my dealer to buy a spare tire at a cost of $150. To be accurate it's just a donut, but at least I will never again be stranded by a flat tire. I may be stranded for other car problems, but at least not that! And next time I will be emotionally prepared to call friends, move car seats, etc. Ok, I get it. This is life with two kids and nobody to help. Everything clicks along just fine until something goes wrong, and then it all goes to shit.

I am still waiting on an estimate to replace my dining room window bars. After waiting all morning, the guy called and said he never got my text with my address (and his voicemail was full when I called). So...yeah.

On a happier note, a new interesting development is the fact that Bumpus now wants to play with his brother. Like, all the time. Which is great because it gives me a second to breathe...but also makes things hard because unless they are right under foot in the kitchen (which poses its own issues), I have to constantly check on them. The other day I caught Bumpus jumping up and down on Theo's stomach as he lay in the crib (Theo thought it was hysterical - not hurt, I guess...???); today B had covered T with my big, heavy comforter and T was smothered under it screaming his head off. Not to mention a million other dangers when there are two - the lid of the toy chest that can slam and break tiny fingers; the big heavy rocking car that can crush limbs; the toddler toys with small parts that can choke a baby. I'm kind of amazed any younger siblings survive, honestly. Thankfully B never mistreats T but he's way too young to grasp that he's big and strong and T is not (I insist he be gentle but in the heat of the moment that gets forgotten pretty easily). Also his desire to play with Theo means constant distraction - getting Bumpus to eat, brush his teeth, change a diaper, put his shoes on, do anything, has turned in to an absolute nightmare. I am worn out from the repeated cajoling, threatening, bribing, trying to make it fun, etc etc that is now required for every single thing we do all day long. Half the time I have to shut Theo in my room in the crib and leave him in there crying hysterically for 45 minutes just to get a spoonful of food down Bumpus' gullet. I'm hoping the novelty of Theo on the Move soon passes enough that B can focus again. And I do love that he wants to play with him, I do. But oh my God, is it exhausting for me!!!

Lately I've been thinking of how many times in the past people would ask me how hard all this was and I would say, honestly, that it wasn't hard at all. Now when people say that, I find myself saying, honestly, that yes, it's really really hard. Parenting a toddler and a baby all alone with no help is really hard. I have the "trifecta of shit" - no partner, no nearby helpful family, and no dedicated friend with no family of their own who can drop everything to help me. It is a small miracle I got a hold of Mom Guru right when she was able to come get me and that her husband was able to take most of the day the next day to come to my house, remove my wheel, take it to a store, buy a new tire, and come back and put it on. Just about any other day of the year this would have been totally impossible and I would have been stuck trying to get someone to watch the kids on a weekday while I did all of that myself, using cabs back and forth. It could have been so much worse!

But yeah, B is definitely a three-year-old in training. Testing the boundaries, needing everything a certain way (and if not, having to go back and do it all over again - just getting him down the stairs to the car can often take fifteen plus minutes as he goes back up and down over and over), emotional fallout constantly, loving something one minute and then hating it the next - it is so tiring to deal with this all day. Most times just trying to get any semblance of dinner is so impossible with his squirming and kicking and wanting to turn the lights on and off and wanting to touch this and wanting a different spoon and needing me to wipe his hands that I just throw the towel in and throw the food away whether he might have been able to finish it or not. It makes me shudder when I think this is how every night of our lives is going to be for years and years - he may sit more still, but I bet getting him to eat what I eat is going to be an uphill battle, with a lot of complaining and whining. I intend to institute the "you"ll eat what I make or get nothing" rule as soon as appropriate!!!

Monday, October 27, 2014

SMC nightmares, part 2

Bad vibes, bad vibes!!! The torment continues. So after getting B to school today I spent the day working on securing things around here - got LifeLock for identity theft (always a worry of mine), ordered mace (thanks for the suggestion!), and made a call about getting the kind of crappy window bars on my dining room window replaced with something more substantial. Then when I went to pick up B at 5:30, just as I got on the freeway, we got a flat tire. 

No problem, right? Call the KIA roadside assistance or AAA and get it fixed, right? Wrong. My car did not come with a donut or a spare. Stupid me, I assumed the KIA assistance would bring a tire, put it on, bada boom bada bing. Nope. They could only tow me to a dealer...and at this point the service departments of all the dealers were closed. And I have two little kids in the car, how are we going to be towed? Nobody, not the KIA assistance people, the dealer, nor AAA had an answer for this problem. So it's dark, it's getting cold, Bobby hasn't eaten anything but school snacks since breakfast, and the baby is screaming, and I am completely stranded with no way to get home. I was just about to throw up my hands and call the police when I figured I could start working my way through my contacts to see if anyone could pick us up that either had car seats or that I could install car seats for. Thank God my old friend Mom Guru just happened to be home and available - she came to get us while we had AAA tow my car the six miles to my house, then tomorrow her husband will come over to fix the flat with a new tire (and bring another spare!!!).

Finally got everyone into bed at 9, hours after their normal bedtime. I am exhausted and pissed off and emotionally drained. Yet another situation where you think you're doing the right thing to protect yourself and your family from potential disaster, and yet you can never do enough, and the things you do end up not working. So frustrating!!! 

I need a fucking vacation.


It's been a weird few days. Lots of bad feelings and weird incidents, but I'm so frigging exhausted I feel like I'm in a fog, and this fatigue fog is kind of protecting me from the worst of it.

Friday I came home from a brief grocery trip to find my gate open and voices along the side of my house. It was my neighbor talking to a young black man who was randomly standing by my dining room window - meaning he had climbed two flights of stairs to get there, he didn't just take a step or two off the street. He immediately explained that some guys were chasing him and he was hiding. There was nobody on the street for miles. He made a quick exit and I rather stupidly wished him to "take care" and "be safe"...but then my neighbor said he didn't buy the guy's story, said he'd watched him saunter up the stairs and walk all around my house, snooping in windows. I called the cops bit of course they said there was nothing they could do about it. I've been horribly on edge ever since - clearly this could have been horrible, had my neighbor not been home, or had I surprised him inside my house instead of just my yard. I don't even want to think of what could have happened. I feel incredibly vulnerable and unsafe. The worst is because of the kids I can't keep a loaded gun lying around like I use to to make me feel like I would at least have some chance of defending myself if the worst happened. I am so not in any space mentally, emotionally, or financially to be able to handle being the victim of a crime right now. Especially not a break in which would make me not want to be here, my safe place. Please tell me we thwarted the thieves and they've moved on! People tonight at my gig told me this is a common scenario (the I'm being chased bit) and that not even my window bars will protect me - that they'll just pull them right off. Oh great. 

So the next day I had all day with the kids (after zero sleep and jumping at every noise) and then a miserable drive to San Diego and back for a gig, got home after 3 AM, and then another long day with the kids only to put on yet another Halloween costume and do yet another gig tonight. Beyond tired doesn't even begin to describe how I feel right now.

Of course today we had to have yet another in a series of unpleasant playground incidents. We've been going back to Third Trimester Park (gated, toddlers and babies only) because we've been having some nice relaxed times there. However, today once again a bunch of big kids were there, totally inappropriately, because their parents were hanging out somewhere else in the park and they were bored. So these three tween-aged girls were going down the little tiny slides and riding the tiny little tricycles, and at one point playing this not-so-friendly game of keep-away from Bumpus, which irked me, but eventually they tired of it and left. But then these two boys did the same, and they weren't so nice - sticking their tongues out and making faces at him while he guilelessly chased after them thinking he'd made friends. Then another older boy, about ten or so, who had been playing with the girls, came over and asked the boys what they were playing and could he play, too, and they pointed at B and said they were running away from him, and the boy oddly said, "I always do." At this point I jumped up and walked over to them and told them absolutely not, to stop it right now, that they were not playing nicely with him, I saw what they were doing, that he's only two years old and to leave him alone and stop being mean to him. One said B had thrown sand (he did not) and the other said they weren't doing anything. Yeah, right! 

What exactly goes through the mind of a ten or eleven-year-old that makes them think it's ok to tease and humiliate a little toddler in diapers? What the fuck is wrong with people? 

We've dealt with this several times before and I've always let it go because B is oblivious and it usually doesn't go further than running away from him - and unfortunately B is so friendly and trusting that he gets himself into these situations where kids start to mistreat him, whereas if he was more shy or afraid of people stuff like this wouldn't happen. But I'm no longer going to keep my mouth shut. Until B can defend himself I'm going to do it - I'm going to immediately shut down that mean teasing keep-away bullshit kids do. And you can bet if one day B or T treated a little kid like that I would kick their asses. 

I think kids get to a certain age and you think you can let them loose on a playground and they'll be ok without your supervision - what parents don't seem to get is your kid might be causing the problem and you have to be there to keep their behavior in check. Every time we've been through this there are no parents for miles, otherwise I'd go to them instead. And for fuck's sake, stay out of the toddler playground!!!

Right now I just feel shitty and scared and like no place is safe. Our home is vulnerable to intruders and there's nothing I can do to protect us; you go to a nice park for babies and a bunch of adolescent jerks victimize your toddler. Is no place sacred???

Monday, October 20, 2014

A church for the rest of us

Yesterday after months of false starts I finally got around to attending that "atheist church" I first heard about last spring. To be fair, it's not a church - they don't call it a church, it's not in a church, has no one "preaching", etc. It was just a gathering of about 150 people in a meeting space to sing pop songs (Rocket Man and Rollin' on the River), listen to a lecture on Big Bang theory by a physicist, and hear about volunteering opportunities in the community which was a big part of my going. A couple of guys led the "service" and very little was said about atheism or escape from religion until the end when they told their stories about leaving Mormonism. One anecdote was so eerily familiar to me it stopped me in my tracks. I thought for sure only my former religion made people go through thought processes like this; apparently it's more common than I thought:

He told a story about having recently left the LDS church and one morning couldn't start his truck. Immediately his well-trained brain starts its usual convoluted path - "why is this happening? What did I do to make this happen? What is God trying to show me with this? What lesson am I meant to learn from this?" etc etc etc. And then he realized all he really had to do was call a mechanic. I had many, many experiences like this after leaving my religion. I find being able to inhabit just this world we can see, hear, feel, smell, taste, and not worry about anything else, incredibly freeing. 

I wish I had been able to stay for coffee afterwards - I was dying to tell my story and hear others' - but I had a movie date with a friend. Next time - and there will be a next time - I will make sure to reserve time for this. The crowd was very diverse, interesting, and normal. No weird cult-y feeling, no feeling of wide-eyed desperation like you would get walking into the dying churches of my former religion. This new "church" has been expanding and opening all over the world. After a childhood spent in the tail end of a fad religion of the 1880s that is now uttering its last gasps of life, it's refreshing to be at the forefront of something new and exciting. Who knew the most galvanizing new religion would be no religion?

I'm excited to get involved in the volunteer opportunities with the kids someday. This is really important to me since despite my current poverty we still have so much more than so many, even myself at their age - we own our house, they have a room, we have a car, our bills are paid, there is food in the fridge and clothes on our backs. I don't want them ever taking this all for granted. I know I don't!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Obligatory pumpkin patch visit

Despite the snarkiness of this title, we actually had a fun time today. I guess it goes to show when you're determined to have a good time, you do. So despite the fact that:

When we were getting ready this morning T spit up all over the kitchen floor and then crawled in it, and

Some asshole on the 118 mouthed "bitch" at me as I passed him (what the hell is wrong with people??? I gave him a "what the fuck is your problem?" stare down as I passed), and

Bumpus had multiple screaming meltdowns all day; much of the day was spent with Theo lunging unhappily in the Ergo while I tried to steer the stubborn double stroller with one hand while dragging a screaming Bumpus by his arm through the hay with the other, and

I went as part of a new meetup group and yet never was able to connect with anyone, so spent the day alone, and

I had to spend $30 for entrance fees when I thought it was going to be $3, and

I had the unpleasantness of trying to explain to a two-year-old that yes, I know you want to go on that train ride "right now!!!", but you have to get back in the stroller so we can go all the way across the farm to buy tickets to then come back and ride the train (note to self: fucking buy long strip of tickets before your kid sees anything they want to do), and

I had to several times at the sand box jump up and tell B to stop grabbing other people's pumpkins and kicking them, while holding Theo on my boob, and

I had to endure yet another in a series of bitchy grandmothers reprimanding my son because he wouldn't immediately let her grandkid have something he just started playing with just because they wanted it right now, and

I could not, for the life of me, remember where we parked, so was stuck with 17 pound space heater on my chest (Theo) and awkward, difficult to steer double stroller in the uneven dirt for ages in the hot sun going up and down aisles looking for our car, and

Both kids screamed and whined the entire 1 1/2 hour ride home...yes! Despite all this, believe it or not, we still had a great time! We picked out pumpkins, Bobby got to go on a train and in the jump house which would have been impossible last year, I got cute pictures, and one woman took one look at me with my toddler and baby and said, "girl, you frigging rock." And watching all the very pregnant women chase their toddlers around, I thought, man, am I glad that's not me anymore!!!

Many times today I thought how much easier this would be with a partner. Having two children instead of one has really brought this issue home for me, and it sucks, and I hate, hate, hate admitting it. But there's no denying it. Putting aside the "guys never help anyway" argument, let's assume they do help, even a little. Days like this would be 10,000 times easier, and more fun, with a partner. There, I said it. Being a single parent of two little kids is fucking brutal. It takes every ounce of physical, mental, and emotional strength I have to get through it. But you do get through it, and all parents struggle, and all parents understand that outings like this, holidays, and vacations, are not for you to enjoy right now. They're for your kids to enjoy. And somehow right now I'm ok with that. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I've got the words, I've got the tune

So last night I entrusted a new sitter with the day-into-night care of both kids while I drove up to UC Santa Barbara to play an awards dinner. It was nerve wracking because I've never used her before nor do I typically leave the kids unless they're already in bed asleep and don't even know I'm gone...but in an effort to start building towards my future freedom, I need to let some of that "but I'm the only one who can make Bobby dinner!"-control-y stuff go. And of course everything went fine. The kitchen table was greasy and Bobby was sleeping with the light on and came bounding into my room first thing this morning because his door was unlocked, but hey - I think I can say I've found an excellent candidate for future all-weekend sitter.

I have finally used up all the milk I pumped for my event six weeks ago, which means I am chained to the pump again every time I need to go out. If this pump weren't on loan I would burn it in effigy once all this is over. Spring can't come soon enough. Once everyone is outside my body and off the boob I plan on doing yet another thing I swore I'd never do which is get a tattoo commemorating the fact. Long term readers of this blog will get the connection when you see it. 

I am beginning to think my very presence at night is waking young Theo every couple of hours. Our sleep is horrible. If it weren't for the couple of hours in the late morning when I plunk him in his playpen full of toys in the living room while I go back to bed I would be a basket case. I am plotting to take up residence on the day bed in the attic space for the foreseeable future. There is nowhere else T can sleep (I wouldn't put him up there due to fall hazards), so I'm curious if I slept elsewhere for a while if he'd stop constantly waking. Possible? I don't know, it's just a theory. I've been super wishy-washy about this whole sleep thing mostly because every time I think I need to do something dramatic, suddenly we have a few good nights...only to have a bunch of awful nights follow. So I may try sleeping upstairs. Or not. 

Here is a pic of Theo charming the pants off a dance friend in her mid-nineties today: