Thursday, August 28, 2014


So, yeah. Remember that time when I said I couldn't believe how relaxed I was and how well everything was going? OH MY GOD did all that go flying out the window the last couple of days! Talk about a torrent of tears of exhaustion. Yesterday I was so freaked out that things weren't going to get done, and so mad at myself for underestimating just how long everything was going to take, that I literally did cry angry tears of exhaustion and sheer helplessness. It reminded me a lot of my trip to Kauai - I had to admit to myself that this is too much and I simply cannot do it all. But in this case I can't just get on an airplane to fix the problem. Much like going into labor, there's no way out but to go forward. Painfully, exhaustingly forward.

I guess I just forgot how awful the last week is - how the emails and orders come in every few minutes, the phone rings off the hook, the last minute paperwork piles up, and forget doing any packing or organizing for the weekend - you can't even pee, eat lunch, or take a sip of water. It is fucking relentless. And guess what? All those people who wait until the last second to sign up or have issues at the last minute? They are the same type of people who can't figure out how to get their PayPal accounts working, have no credit cards, keep breaking up with dance partners, never check their spam folders, and swear up and down they signed up for things they didn't. In other words - these people suck!

If it's so bad why am I taking the time to write this? Well, I am finally feeling somewhat on top of things, plan on working late into the night, and I need to take a frigging break to complain about all this, since god knows I can't post this on Facebook!

I had to call in a sitter to watch Bobby all day yesterday; I cannot believe I actually thought I wouldn't need this, or that I could even go to a play date all day! Was I nuts? There's no getting around the fact that this time of year, for just a week or so, the kids just need to disappear. That's a dark thing to say, but it's true. I simply cannot take care of them and work like this. It's physically impossible.

So going forward, now what? Three things - more delegating, more babysitting, and more working ahead of time to leave these final days for customer service exclusively. 

There's lots of unpleasantness brewing, too - tons of ugly controversy over the wording and format of my contests; I keep discovering mistakes I've made, such as on the printed schedules that I then had to re-do to the cost of $300 which also means tons of work tonight that I could have done last night; oh, it's a huge cluster-f that accurately reflects the state of my Swiss cheese-like brain for the last year. Sleep deprivation is doing me no favors right now.

So on we get to my 17th event tomorrow. I'm sure some things will go well and others won't. Hopefully I will make enough money to survive another year. At least I'm not pregnant and nauseated. Or suffering from my jaw clamped shut from stress, unable to eat or brush my teeth for several days like during my event in 1999. So, could be worse.

Monday, August 25, 2014


There's always this point early in the final week before my event after I slacked off all weekend that I start to panic that not everything is going to get done. Or rather, that everything will get done, but incorrectly and sloppily, under a torrent of tears of exhaustion at 4 AM. This has happened to me more times than I care to admit - I was determined to not have that scenario this year, but now I'm not so sure.

It's just stunning how time consuming returning phone calls and emails is when they've been piling up all day, plus doing all the paperwork of processing new sign ups (printing them, cross checking with PayPal, entering them into the database, then filing). By the time I did that tonight it was 10 PM, I was fried and had a headache, and I still hadn't even started any of my actual work which now has been pushed to tomorrow night. Ugh. 

Thankfully this part all ends Thursday - and the customer service part Wednesday as last year I came up with the brilliant idea to shut down registration a day early so I have time to pack and organize and don't have to do all that at 2 AM (under a torrent of exhausted tears). So I am very much looking forward to that.

Today I killed time doing a Silverlake walk and then took B for a much-needed haircut that went WAY better than last time. It's so hard when you just want to work but you can't get on your computer because you have two little kids needing your attention all day...and the complicated, annoying customer service requests are just piling on...I kind of want to punch them (the customers) all in the face right now. But that's just the exhaustion talking.

The good news is since T rarely took a bottle during the last few baby sitting nights, this means I now have more than enough pumped milk so at least thank God I don't have to pump anymore nor do I need to worry. And you know what's awesome? I will never have to worry about breast feeding or pumping during my event ever again. You know what else is awesome? I will never have to be pregnant during my event again. Frigging hallelujah. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

One week

My event will be halfway over in a week. Just about every day I revel in how relaxed I am. For so many years this time was just awash with stress - I mean, intense stress that would take me about a month to come down from. I chalk up my new found zen to a few things:

Technology - a working website I can control myself and an online registration form that never crashes help a lot

I have delegated a lot of the more time consuming projects (like picking all the contest music)

I have become more efficient and a better time manager 

But I think the real reason is that I am in mom mode, which means that for 2 1/2 years I have been in this constant state of hyper vigilance that is really useful in event production. I work every single night no matter how tired I am, I answer every email and phone call immediately because you never know when I'll be unable to for several hours or days, I launch right into unpleasant tasks because I'm used to doing unpleasant things all day (taking a toy away, scraping shit out of pajamas, etc). So I find much to my surprise that even with a toddler and a new baby I am way more effective in my work, because in my home life I have to be effective whether I want to be or not.

So I have just a few more days of customer service and organizing and then it's all systems are go. My nighttime sitter for the event unfortunately now can't make opening night - she is sending a replacement I've used before - and I am dreading this, but really, Bumpus doesn't know either of these gals so who knows how he'll react if he wakes up and I'm not there. The sitter, and the daytime sitter, will just have to handle it because I have three contests to run, three sets to sing, and 1000 people to process into the event. Oh, and I'll be in a Cleopatra costume. So everyone's just going to have to figure it out.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Experience vs. Attention

So yesterday we had the odd and frustrating experience of driving around in nearly 100 degree heat in Pasadena looking for this birthday party...and never finding it. This was the one we were invited to by one of Bobby's schoolmates. I am flummoxed as to what could have happened - I went to the right address and the right park, but the park was completely empty. I emailed the host and she said we must have been in the wrong area and she was sorry we missed it. Bizarre! It made me so grateful that B is still at an age where he kind of doesn't know what's going on. Although he'd been chanting "party party party" in the car he didn't seem to care when said party never materialized. Especially when I busted out the other kid's present and gave it to him instead. I still wonder how long I'm going to get away with eating donuts and ice cream in the car and not giving him any.

The language amazingness continues. Yesterday in the bathtub he was saying his ABCs and counting to ten. He is also just a bit starting to grasp that he should call me mommy, and he's getting the hang of please, thank you, and bless you. Hearing the baby sneeze and B say "bless you!" just melts my heart.

I went out dancing last night, mainly to judge a contest, and actually had a good time and got to dance a bit thanks to other people of my dance generation also being there to judge. It's rare I get to see any of those people. And for the first time in ages I didn't feel like I was dancing like crap. I think wearing comfortable flat shoes helped. God I hope I get to dance at my own event!

Lately as many of my friends in real life and also online contemplate having a second child, I find myself trying to be a cheerleader for the idea - go for it! It's not as hard as they say! You'll never regret it! One of the many concerns is that your attention will be divided and you'll somehow be depriving one or both kids of attention/resources/love etc. But I see it as a trade off. Your first child gets your undivided attention, but your second child gets your experience. Yes, I don't spend hours playing with Theo. He doesn't come out to events with me, spends a lot of time in the car or another holding device, and in general doesn't get the same level of round-the-clock care his brother did. But he gets me at my best - fully present, joyful, not traumatized by a bad birth experience, relaxed and in control. I feel like all things considered I was pretty on top of things with B, but with your first every day is a new experience - right now I feel confident caring for anyone from birth until two and a half; I get those ages, I speak their language. Anyone older? Forget it. So with Theo, even with him of course not going to be exactly like his brother, I know what to expect. And I have gear/systems in place to handle the next phases - sitting, standing, crawling, everything in the mouth, climbing out of the crib, etc etc. I worry a lot about when/how to move Theo into B's room, and how that'll go over. Well, B was about 18 months when we made that shift so I figure I have a long time to figure it out. Maybe if I make a big deal about getting bunk beds Bobby will be more excited about sharing a room with little brother. I hope like everything else about their relationship so far that the experience will turn out to be a positive one.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The secret lives of toddlers

Yesterday there was an "incident" at school. Just a little head bonk/bloody nose thing, B was fine. But had the school never told me, I never would have known. It makes me wonder about all the things that go on at school, good and bad. I wish I could attach a GoPro to his head just to see what he does all day. Who are his friends? How do the teachers treat him? Is he popular? Shy? Mean to other kids? Nice to other kids? When I left him yesterday, two things made me really happy: he ran into the arms of his teacher, and a bunch of the more verbal kids said, "hi, Robert!"

I'd like to think my kid is well liked by his peers. But of course all parents want that for their kids. Nobody wants their kid to be bullied or left out. If he's anything like his mother he will probably take control of any group he gets involved in and start organizing (read: dictating) things. But he may not be at all like me. Which is why we need the tiny camera.

We got an invite in our cubbie for a classmate's birthday party Saturday. I think we're going to go. I'd be fascinated to see him interact with kids from school and meet some other parents. So far his friends have only been the kids of the mommy & me moms I've known for two years, or the other dance people's kids who he doesn't see that often. The thought of him having friends outside of me is utterly bizarre but kind of cool.

It's a lot like listening to him play in his room after I put him to bed - it cracks me up hearing him sing little songs and bang his toys around. Despite his recent loquaciousness, I still don't, nor may I ever, have any idea what goes on in his little toddler interior life. It's a total mystery to me. 

Five months

Monday, August 11, 2014


The funny thing about your children starting to talk and help out around the house is that suddenly they have preferences. I've been asking B to pick out pajamas each night - his favorite is the orange with the cars; second is the blue with the cars, followed closely by the green with dinosaurs. Lately he's also been picking out his clothes - he seems to favor his yellow long sleeve shirts, and only wants to wear his swim shorts. He loves his string cheese and applesauce. It is so weird to hear him ask for things. It's even weirder to have him go into the fridge and get what he wants, bring it to me, and say, "open it!" To which I always say, "please?" and he responds, "please?" I always think of the Far Side cartoon of the scientist with the special headphones that allow him to hear what dogs are saying...but it turns out all they're saying is,"Hey! Hey! Hey!" Turns out Bumpus has a lot more to say than just "hey"!

You are now going to hear me say something that is about as rare an experience as hearing me say, "I met this great guy last night!" - that is, that I'm actually doing all right for money right now. The event is shaping up great. Whereas last year was the year of looking at my checkbook and saying, "what happened to that $10,000?", this year is going to be the year of "what should I do with that extra $10,000?" I still owe a fortune on my line of credit so if it turns out there is indeed a surplus once all the dust settles, that's where it'll go. Could it be that after seventeen years of scraping and toiling I have finally hit my rhythm with this thing?

In other news, sleep continues to elude me. The last few days (especially due to the late nights) I have left Theo cooing and squawking in his crib at 5:30 and taken off to sleep on the couch like an errant husband. I'm not proud of it, but I have the monitor on and the extra couple of hours of sleep in the morning makes a huge difference. I won't be able to do this in the hotel during my event unfortunately, but at least it's partially solving my sleep issues at the moment.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Week wrap up

It was a busy week. Mainly I was derailed by being out three nights out in a row, so my normal pumping/working time was taken up by other things, and my days were so sleep deprived on account of the late nights that last week was really just about survival. It was painful having to put off the many complicated customer service issues that couldn't be handled on my phone ("sorry, I'll get back to you when I can get on my four days"). I hate being unable to get any quality work done before 7 PM...but I have two little kids so everyone is just going to have to suck it.

You're not going to believe what I found out when I tried to enroll Bobby back on Kaiser so we could all be with the same company. Quick re-telling of the story: back in December I enrolled through Covered California to get a really great health insurance policy for myself; I went through a broker who told me to list my income at a certain number so I could get this great policy. Unfortunately at that number the kids were automatically shipped off to MediCal - which turned out to be untenable as I had a $2800 "share of costs" per month I'd have to shell out before MediCal would kick in, essentially a $30,000 deductible. So I said the heck with it and got Bobby on Health Net and Theo on Kaiser for a total of about $600 for the three of us. I called last week to get Bobby back on Kaiser, and was told I'll have to call back in late November to get him set up for January due to open enrollment. Fine. But then the guy asked more detail about our policies and told me that had I just listed my income at $5000 more I could have had all three of us on Kaiser all this time for just over $200 a month-!!! I was flabbergasted, a little pissed, and a little relieved. I blame the broker for steering me wrong - but he didn't know what a nightmare MediCal had become. And who knows, maybe this information isn't correct either. So I half expect to make that call in November and be told something completely different. But, boy I hope it works out! Can you imagine what an extra $300-$400 a month could do for me?

Today I went to a gathering of some of our dance friends and was told that my friends who lost their little baby just days after Theo was born are expecting again, due the day before Bobby's birthday in March. I am so happy for them I could shit.

Here is an extremely rare photo of the three of us taken at the Ventura County Fair on Wednesday:

Monday, August 4, 2014

Four weeks to go

Today I took the initiative to put B on the wait list for the Monday/Wednesday/Friday preschool program as opposed to the Tuesday/Thursday program he's on now. I find I'm using the place on weekends as a third day anyway, and it costs more to do it that way. Honestly, that Friday-Monday stretch is killing me. It sounds so dumb when just a few weeks ago I had no breaks at all and managed all right, but I feel like I can afford it now, so why not a third day? All his teachers say he's doing great. And when he turns three in just seven months the price drops again. I don't know when a spot will be available, but when it is, I'm taking it!

And all of a sudden, Bumpus is talking. And I mean really talking, not just repeating what he hears or saying random words. In the past two days he has told me to "sit down" and eat with him, asked me to "pick up the baby" when he cries, brought the baby carrier to me and asked me to "wrap up the baby", asked for "more milk please", said "shut the door" as he did so, etc etc. I know a lot of your kids have been talking more than this since they were one, but for us this is a big deal! I'd like to think preschool has a lot to do with it.

My event looms four weeks away. I can't decide if I am relaxed because I have gradually made the event easier to manage (read: delegated) or if I am relaxed because I am always "on" now anyway so I am used to this level of activity. I spend all day chasing Bumpus and trying to keep Theo happy, then get Bumpus to bed, nurse and get Theo to bed, make my own dinner, take care of household duties (garbage out, laundry, bill paying), work for a couple of hours, pump, then collapse into bed. This is way more than I used to do in a day. Yet I'm used to it now and feel odd when I don't have that much to do. I am already getting my pre-event dread of my post-event malaise. I had thought having two kids would put an end to that phenomenon. Turns out it does not.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Good Moments

Today I rather spontaneously took B to the Baby Kennel and spent the day at home with Theo. I had no plans, just thought we'd chill and have some baby-and-momma time, preferably in water of some kind.

For the first time ever I took the baby into the (only slightly warmed) hot tub with me, naked as a jay bird. As I was lowering his body into the water he had this look on his face of "this feels vaguely familiar". And he loved it. He kept pulling his feet up into his body and sticking his little butt out. It was pretty much the cutest thing ever.

I spent a lot of time, as I often do, searching his face and features for signs of my family. Eye color - us. Almond eye shape - the donor. Little chin - us. Prominent forehead - donor. Auburn hair color - donor. Strong, muscular legs - us.  And I looked at his sweet little face and thought about what an incredible miracle he and his brother are and how grateful I am. I teared up and hugged him and he tried to eat my nose. These are the good times.