Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Nope. Not countdown to 2016...countdown to the beginning of my kid-free days. But I have a bit of a hurdle first. I have a lot of empty days with both kids and no plans - the next four days in a row (no school), then Tuesday and Thursday next week and all the following weekend. I've been frantically texting all day in an effort to set up play dates and get togethers, with some success. But I'll admit, all this upcoming unstructured time has me quaking in my boots a bit. Especially because it is likely to be uncomfortably cold/raining much of this time. 

What happens after, you ask? Bobby starts five day preschool on Jan 11, from 12:30-5:30 each day. Which means I will only be responsible to entertain two small children all day on weekends and holidays from now on. YES.

The Boyfriend unfortunately will not be available to help any time soon. I think he's gotten himself into a bit of a financial pickle because of Christmas and is now working long hours every day to make up for it. I feel a bit guilty as we both have our own businesses and yet I never seem to work at all and am living quite comfortably (this year, anyway), and he works his butt off and always seems to be broke. For now all I do is shrug and try not to pry too much into his affairs; until we're legally linked in some way, I consider that stuff his problem that he's just going to have to figure out on his own. I go back and forth between trusting that he got himself into some financial trouble and he's doing all he can to fix it, to worrying that he is not capable of fixing it because he's just not a financially astute person. He has told me repeatedly that he sucks at managing money and if we get together he wants to give me all his money and have me give him an allowance so he doesn't over spend, something I would be happy to do. So at least he's aware that he needs help. But for now - not my problem.

I did, however, take a big step forward today and hang up his pile of shirts in my closet and clear a drawer for him. I was reluctant to do this - because, you know...- but I realized it was either that or have my bedroom look like a Goodwill exploded in it at all times, which drives me nuts. 

Personally I am enjoying this time still living alone and being independent. I don't know how long it will go on - a few more months? A year? Forever? - but I am in no hurry to have him move in or get engaged or anything like that. I need more time. Thankfully he does, too, so we're on the same page there. I've already had my kids, so what's the rush?

For 2016 I will not make unrealistic demands on myself as far as resolutions; I have two small children, I will consider the year a success if we're all alive at the end of it. But here are some things I would really like to do (and it's ok if I don't):

Lose 5-10 pounds
Take up yoga again
Re-subscribe to The New Yorker
Engage in some home improvements, most notably switching rooms with B and moving T in with him and setting up a nice new bedroom for myself including a new, two person-friendly bed 
Set up an area for coats and bags in the house
Bring some order to my office, currently a catch-all junk room

What are your hopes for the new year? (I'd like to point out that my phone just autocorrected "hopes" to "herpes". All righty then.)

Monday, December 28, 2015

Why do we do this?

This was the topic of conversation between a girlfriend and I the day after Christmas. Why do we do this? The holidays are so insanely stressful. Why do we do these rote, ritualistic things, year after year, instead of doing things we actually want to do? 

If I did what I want to do at Christmas I'd be on a beach on Kauai. Why am I not doing that?

In the intro to this week's This American Life episode, my imaginary boyfriend, Ira Glass, makes a point about adults trying to recreate the magical aspect of Christmas from our childhood by doing the same things over and over, never thinking that we're killing the magic of Christmas by doing just that. And yet we feel pressured to create "traditions" and consistency, because, well, that's what you do.

I had to endure a somewhat last minute trip to visit The Boyfriend's half-sister in Simi Valley on Christmas Day. Nothing bad happened, but oh my God, a three year old and a one year old running around in a non-kid proof strange environment surrounded by people who were no doubt skeptical about us at best - my stress level was off the charts. Who is this woman with her sperm donor-conceived kids who's been dating the estranged half brother for a few months? Oh and she has a giant red cold sore on her lip, awesome. I did not want to go there. But I had to because relationship. Thank God I had thought ahead to book the kids all day at the baby kennel the next day so I could meet a girlfriend for a movie and an extended bitch session over sushi. Lord did I need that.

So Christmas was ok. We drove around to look at Christmas lights on Christmas Eve, then opened mountains of presents Christmas morning, and thankfully the kids really enjoyed it and did not push and shove each other and scream "mine!" as I'd feared. The Boyfriend got me a vintage watch as requested and I got him tickets to The Cure.

Still, the whole time all I wanted was for all of this holiday bullshit to be over so B can be back in regular school and I can enjoy our normal routines. I don't judge myself for this. I know almost all parents - certainly mothers, and certainly stay at home mothers - feel this way at this time of year. Maybe it will be different when the kids are older and are less work. And it's not that I didn't enjoy any of it. It's just that the holidays with all the breaks from school means my normal work load goes WAY up around here. And who the hell wants that?

This week will be worse since B will have a four day stretch with no school and yet no Christmas to keep him occupied. I've taken the liberty of booking both kids at the baby kennel on Saturday just so I get a break. But still. This week is going to suck. Still, once New Year's is over, it's only one more week until B is at school five days. And that, for me, is going to feel like Christmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas week

Christmas is this week. Did you notice? 

I am pleased to say that, knock wood, our weeks of sickness appear to be behind us. Baby is eating well again, as is Bobby who was getting a little too thin. And you all know how frightening/disheartening it is when your children don't eat, from worrying about them to being slightly annoyed by all the waste of food (and your time and effort making it). 

Before you have kids you think you'd rather die than scrub vomit out of car seats or carpets and that you could never survive that. And oh, it is horrible. But you do survive it. Much like you survive childbirth and that first time your baby's hard palate clamps down on your sensitive nipple. You survive. 

By some miracle I was able to do almost everything I needed to do for Christmas - the only thing I had to skip was my movie club (no sitter) and one of my book clubs' annual cookie and book exchanges (again, no sitter, and too sick to bake cookies in our plague-infested kitchen). I was able to do my band gigs, go to a fancy dinner, go to the other book club's holiday party and gift exchange, AND make candy for all of my band members, friends, one sitter, house cleaner, and preschool teachers and assistants. I am SO glad that the holidays are a dead time of year for my work. I don't know how the hell people handle full time jobs, kids, holiday travel, and elaborate gifts for multiple family members. I would lose my mind from the stress. 

It's funny to think of last year vs. this year vs. next year. Last year was ok but kind of lonely; this year will be much less lonely; next year I will either be on my own again or living with and/or engaged to this man. Let's see what happens!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

5 months

The Boyfriend and I hit five months together today. This is a laughably short amount of time for most people, but for me it's practically a record. We got past our difficulties of a few weeks ago with communication and compassion and now we're doing just great. He's paying off debts, just got health and dental insurance for the first time in years, and will get checkups. I love that he's getting his act together, and is doing it for us, yet unbidden by me. 

I am thrilled at the prospect of having a boyfriend for Christmas and New Years. I don't think I have ever had this before. Certainly not anyone I felt good about. 

Tomorrow is Bobby's preschool Christmas pageant. We have to get up crazy early to get B to school four hours earlier than usual, then only to be done by about noon, and then have to figure out what the F to do with the boys the whole rest of the day since Thursday is not a regular school day for B. 

I am so stoked that these long, empty weekdays with nothing to do with two little kids are coming to an end. My old mommy & me friend who moved to the east coast a couple of months ago used to help pass the hours, and the void left by her absence has not gone unnoticed. I made a cursory attempt at finding other groups to join, but it's crazy hard to find stay-at-home moms free on weekdays who have three and four year olds. Everyone has long since gone back to work at this point. I've accepted that I simply do not have the skills to entertain two small children all day, every day, for weeks and months on end. I just don't have the creativity or energy. Thank goodness there are preschools for this purpose. 

So we have a couple more weeks of weird school closures this month, then one week in Jan, and then B starts five day school. It is the last of my full time parenting. I do feel some guilt about having him in school five days a week when, technically, I don't need him to be there; there's no reason, other than the preservation of my sanity, to have these kids in any kind of school or daycare setting. But as my Christian friends say, I'm just going to give myself the grace to know what I need to survive. And Bobby is thriving in school, and loves it. Theo will, too, no doubt. 

Tonight I went out of my comfort zone and let B help me make cookies for school tomorrow. I think he was kind of underwhelmed by the experience - I was trying to actually make cookies, not have a learning experience where it was ok for flour to be thrown around the kitchen or frosting to be spilled on the counter. But I did it. I made cookies with a three-year-old and survived. I must get some mom points for that, right...?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

...and on and on...

I was watching a movie Thursday night when I heard screaming coming from the baby's room. Of course, covered in vomit. I got him and his bed all cleaned up just in time for him to throw up again, then cleaned up a third time just in time for a third vomit. Finally I just gave up and put burp cloths under him and switched those out. I slept on the day bed up in the attic next to his crib, getting up to rub his back every time the dry heaves attacked his little body, which happened every 20-30 minutes all night long.

This is parenthood, people. It ain't pretty.

The next day was a school day for B. Just as we were getting ready to leave the house the baby projectile vomited all over me, head to toe. I stripped off my soaked shirt, pants, socks and shoes, stripped the baby, threw on clean clothes, wiped his chin, and left everything in a big vomity pile on the floor while we went to take B to school. At that point I just didn't give a fuck anymore.

Things seemed to look up from there - Bobby was fine, baby on the mend, and I was able to take part in some much needed fun holiday activities during the weekend, including setting up our tree. 

Then today as we were taking a long drive up to Malibu for some outdoor time, the baby vomited copiously all over the car. Poor Bobby almost followed suit and we had an agonizing wait as I tried to get off the freeway and pull over so I could clean him up. Thank God I'd stashed some extra clothes and a wet bag in the trunk - it took ages to clean the seat, car seat, and baby, especially when all I had was a handful of wipes. We turned around and came home and I'll just have to finish cleaning the car when they're asleep.

So, yeah. Not been good around here. I just want this nightmare of sickness to be over. For the record, everyone I know with little kids is going through the same thing right now, so I know it's not just us. After about ten days of this, though, I'm pretty fucking burned out.

I do have some excellent news, though. As of tonight, and with many phone calls, office visits, and paperwork, I now have us all starting free health care in January, which will save me about $600 a month and cover Theo's upcoming preschool fees. We may only have this for a year - who knows what'll be happening when we have to renew - but even that is such a massive savings that I figured it was worth all the trouble. 

Also, after much back and forth with B's preschool, it looks like he can start all five days on Jan 11, which is going to impact my life dramatically. To be the full time caretaker to two small children only two days a week instead of four is going to be huge - and will hopefully jumpstart our stalled potty training. I am giddy with anticipation. Also, there is a chance T may be able to start earlier than June - I was told to check in in February. 

That freedom train is a-comin'!

Thursday, December 10, 2015


Be prepared there's a lot of TMI in this post.

We are on day 5 of this stomach bug misery. On Monday we were doing ok - B in school, kids not sick, me on the mend. But I woke up feeling horrible on Tuesday - so horrible that I texted my kind cleaning lady, who had offered to babysit before and was coming to clean, to see if she would watch the kids instead of clean while I lay in bed. She said she would, but about a half hour into it I could see it wasn't really working - the kids don't know her, she barely speaks English, and has no idea about the daily life around here, stuff that whoever is watching your children needs to know, like who gets which sippy cup and what to make for lunch and how to work the tv remote, etc. So I sucked it up and took them up to the attic play space so she could clean instead. 

Then at three in the morning I was woken by Bobby's screams. He had puked on his bed and all over the floor. Cleaned that up, comforted him, put him back to bed. Twenty minutes later the same thing...and every twenty minutes thereafter for the next three hours. 

One good thing about kids this age is you can teach them to puke in a bucket or toilet. Doesn't mean they'll always make it, but they at least try. This is a game changer.

So Wednesday I kept him home from school and we just lay on the living room floor and watched tv all day while Theo ran around and tore the house apart. It sucked, but I have to admit it's much easier looking after a lethargic sick kid when you're also sick than it is one who's bored and full of energy and just wants to yell in your face and climb on your stomach. A Bobby that sits quietly and politely asks for drinks is way easier to handle. 

Baby is still healthy but I am waiting for him to start puking any time now - no doubt sometime convenient like when he's on the couch, my bed, or in the car seat.

My living room rug is a total loss at this point. I have given up all illusion of control  - I have done more loads of laundry, thrown away more half-eaten food, and scrubbed more carpets in the last two days than I ever wanted to in my entire life.

Thank God for television and grocery delivery. As of Wednesday there wasn't a scrap of food left in this house, but I got $200 worth delivered this morning.

The Boyfriend is also sick but unlike me has to work long hours every day. And that's another thing I'm grateful for - I don't have to work!!! I can't imagine how stressed I'd be if I knew my job was on the line every time we have these miserable weeks-long illnesses.

As for me, I am still totally nauseated. I'm able to eat a little bit here and there so I'm not in any danger, but I feel horrid. I've felt like this since Saturday night and it's now Thursday. When does this fucking end? It's like being pregnant but with no cute baby at the end. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Stomach bug #5,635

Yup. Got struck down by yet another violent, horrid stomach bug this weekend. Thankfully the kids are so far fit as fiddles, but I started to feel off during my Saturday night gig and then spent the next day puking in the bathtub. Awesome. And again I say...why???

Thank GOD The Boyfriend was here and we put our Christmas decorating plans on hold while I malingered in bed and he took care of the kids all day. This was definitely trial by fire, but he did great. Fed them breakfast, lunch and dinner and entertained them all day. I still changed the poopy diapers because he couldn't hang. So far during these horrid episodes I have always had someone to help - always a babysitter just happening to be available, etc. I honestly don't know what I'll do when the day comes that I'm that sick and nobody can come help. It happens so regularly that my good luck is bound to run out. Today I still feel shaky and weak and vaguely nauseated but at least it was a school day and I am way better than yesterday. 

So, Christmas is deferred for another week - no decorations, tree or lights yet. Thankfully B doesn't seem to mind. I did get all my cards done tonight, though. So there's that. And this: