Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Living the Dream in September

It's not really a receptacle for honey
We've finally arrived at the apex of human achievement.  There's a Honey Bucket in the driveway. 

Lucien asks every day if he can go outside and poop in the Honey Bucket.  I'm trying to impress upon him that, if given the choice, most rational human beings would choose the comfy bathroom ten feet away over the Honey Bucket.  Deaf ears so far.

I shouldn't be surprised.  This is the kid who recently wrote a song entitled "Buttcheek Monster" and sings it at inopportune times, such as in the middle of his swim lesson. I keep telling him to stop singing and learn to, you know, possibly, swim.  Deaf ears so far.

Yesterday he asked me to say "cheese" five times in a row and, not seeing any obvious catch, I obliged.  He then made the most realistic mouth fart sound I've heard (the kid should teach seminars), pointed at me and laughed.


 Congratulations -- it's still a boy!

September has not been our favorite month this year.  It's actually in hot contention for our least favorite.  Alex is preparing to take on a new role at work but is still working his old role, too.  Two roles at one time is a sh*tty equation that equals bags under eyes and weak high-fives in the hallway as our primary means of communication.

While Alex wrestles mental collapse, I'm handling the education situation for Lucien. We are still vacillating between keeping him where he is or sending him to private school given his recent learning disability diagnosis. I have daily meetings with any one or more of the following: school psychologists, occupational therapists, doctors, teachers, and/or potential private school administrators. I'm pretty sure it is all of their jobs to confuse me.

I'm going to figure it out, though.  I've come to think of myself as an education detective. I'm collecting clues and every piece of information I gather -- good, bad, neutral, or wtf -- is critical to solving the case.  This sometimes necessitates me crawling into a private school administrator's lap and inspecting her closely with a magnifying glass.

  • Fancy Private School isn't sure they have the resources to support his learning disability -- CLUE.  
  • That administrator told me to "follow my gut" and my gut was to punch her in the face -- CLUE.
  • Lucien is one of 500 kids in his current classroom -- CLUE.
  • All the mothers in this parking lot seem to be wearing the exact same black yoga pants -- CLUE, I DON'T LIKE UNIFORMS.

The public school tells us Lucien's learning disability, while obviously impacting his learning, is not severe enough to warrant special services through the public school system. I asked the school psychologist if we could test him again, but maybe this time I could coach him to throw it?  Tell him not to try at all?  Slip him some Benadryl beforehand?  Maybe we could encourage him to just sit there, stare into space and drool a little?

She looked at me all horrified -- CLUE.

Sometimes Alex comes home from work and steps over my overwhelmed body lying prone in the middle of the floor.  He usually says, "Do you want a glass of wine?"  and I usually say "yes" and then he says, "Do you want white or red?" and I say, "It doesn't matter, I'm not drinking to enjoy the wine tonight."  And Alex understands but he still brings me the best bottle we have and pours it into a decanter.  That's why we're still married.

Coco's school is a whole different kind of stress.  Her preschool has requested lunches be packed in environmentally low-impact packaging and contain lean proteins, fruits and veggies only (there goes the ole ziploc bag and leftover pizza slice).  They've also requested the size of the lunch "fits the child's appetite."

I guess I can measure the contents of Coco's stomach each morning after breakfast and develop an algorithm to pinpoint how much she's likely to eat at lunch.  This may be tedious for us both but -- hey, when did preschools get so bossy?

Education is hard.  Maybe I should homeschool HA HA HA HA HA.

To distract myself from the heftier side of life, I've begun focusing an inordinate amount of time on things that don't matter.  In related news -- Mantisy is thriving!  When it comes to mothering a praying mantis, I am flawless.  I caught his most recent meal straight out of the air with a pair of tweezers last night. In the seconds immediately after the capture, as I stared at the moth struggling between the tweezer prongs and realized what I'd done, I was scared of myself a little bit.

I've also painted the back of the house with five bazillion different paint samples. The house currently looks like a really ugly quilt, which has alarmed most of the neighbors.  The people at Benjamin Moore told me the other day, "You should probably just pick one because that's pretty much all we've got, lady."

The house project has encountered some delays but we're still on track for completion by 2020.

 This is our "deck."

The grass is gone thanks to the unplanned sewer line replacement.  The kids come into the house dusty or, if Seattle is being Seattle, muddy.

This is part of my scary house quilt.

Alex and I have been getting babysitters and spending Sunday afternoons together.  We talk and walk all over the city.  Sometimes we end up at Farmer's Markets where we buy mass quantities of beautiful, beautiful tomatoes.  This would be fine and good if not for the fact neither one of us eats tomatoes.

But they're so pretty.  Maybe I should smash them up and smear them on the back of the house.

What's happening to us?  The squiggly answer is obvious -- corn puffs.  Mercy! 

At least we've got a Honey Bucket -- CLUE.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Under pressure

Our house is under a lot of stress these days.  There is literal stress, as in the exterior of the house is being ripped apart by a friendly team of men climbing scaffolding and swinging from ropes.  They're currently rebuilding a couple balconies, replacing millwork, building a deck, and making a general mess of our yard.

At first it was jarring to turn around and see their faces on the other side of our second-floor windows but I've gotten used to it.  I may never shower again, though.

There is also a less tangible kind of stress in the form of Alex's current workload, which has never been heavier, and Lucien's struggles.  We had Lucien tested over the summer because he was having a painfully hard time reading.  The results came back a lovely potpourri of conditions, some of which were completely foreign to me.  That's my Lucien, all right -- something most people have never even heard of, let alone experienced.

We are now deciding whether to move him to a private school.  Their tiny class sizes and non-traditional teaching methods are tempting.  In private school, students learn math by rolling around on the floor with puppies and spelling is taught in outer space because gravity puts too much pressure on the brain.  C'est incroyable!

We will make the hard decision, and make it soon.  I'm stressed but have realized that, should we choose "incorrectly," we are not necessarily sending Lucien down a path full of fleabag motels and prison.  Though it's certainly a possibility.

Parenting is mind-boggling.  You never think you're going to find yourself in a place until you suddenly find yourself in that place and then you find yourself saying things and making decisions you said you'd never say or make. Raising children is really like playing one big fat joke on ourselves.

But you really really love the jokes and would do anything in your power 
to give the jokes their best shot.

We now have a pet praying mantis, scooped up by Lucien in Eastern Washington on the way home from our recent road trip to Colorado.

I lectured Lucien all the way home:  if we take the praying mantis out of hot, arid Eastern Washington and take him to opposite-of-all-those-things Seattle, we had a responsibility to take very good care of him.  We had to keep him indoors and catch insects for him every couple days to ensure he's well fed.  I was super serious about it and I'm not sure why.  There was just something about that adorable little mantis face that won me over  --

Lucien's interest waned once "Mantisy" came home but I still cared way too much.  I wanted Mantisy to be happy in our home, wanted him to believe being scooped up and removed from his family was the best thing that ever happened to him.  And that is how I came to be chasing a small spider around my bathroom with a Dixie cup at 7:00 a.m. this morning with a toothbrush hanging out of my mouth.

But he's still alive a month later!  My mantis baby!

Coco's in a different preschool now.  She apparently graduated from "pre-preschool" to just plain "preschool."  What the hell does that mean?  Have we all gone mad?

Preschool is out of control.  It began with the application paperwork, innocuous enough in the beginning with questions like "child's name" and "child's age" but quickly spinning into crazy town with "does your child need hugs during his/her school day?" and "In 14 years, what do you want your child to remember about this year?"

My answer to that last one was, "frankly, she's not even going to remember your names in 14 years so don't knock yourselves out, really." and summarized with, "Look, just keep her alive for 4 hours so I can get some sh*t done.  That's what preschool is for, thanks."

I was OK with gathering the school supply list with the standard boxes of Kleenex and whatnot but was confounded by the emergency preparedness kit.  Coco needed, among two dozen other things, an emergency blanket (which, once I got in my hands, appeared to be a large piece of tin foil), a "cozy toy" and my favorite -- a "comfort letter" to be read in times of national crisis or other assorted emergency.

The preschool provided a sample comfort letter to inspire us, which was very helpful except once I'd read it, I couldn't think of any other way to write it.  I ended up re-writing the sample letter but I used "Dear Coco" instead of "Dear Blank" and drew a bunch of hearts all over it to make it more personal.

It's probably better than what I really wanted to write --

Dear Coco, 

If you're reading this letter right now, first up congrats on suddenly knowing how to read and second, it means something's gone terribly wrong and we'll likely never see each other again.  I'm sorry you're wrapped in a piece of tin foil right now.  Aren't you glad you have your "cozy toy" with you?  Don't get too attached to it, though, because if food supplies dwindle, you'll have to eat it.  You've been a great daughter, honey, and it's been a helluva ride.  YEEEE HAWWWWW!  

Your likely already dead mom

Before all this back to school nonsense, we joined a group of friends for one last summer hurrah, a weekend camping trip on an island north of Seattle called Guemes.  It was beautiful, serene, peaceful.  It was also, as a friend described it, "a freaky tent-city wife-swap scenario."

 I assure you no wives were swapped.  
I cannot make that same promise, however, about the husbands.

To get to Guemes, you must take a five-minute car ferry from Anacortes.  It is quite painful when you miss the ferry by two measly minutes, like we did.  You must then stare at your destination longingly for the next hour and mutter about how it would be faster to just swim there than wait for the next ferry.

 tiny car ferry

 hiking with Coco is just pure delight

Crabbing was a big activity for the weekend.  It produced quotes such as, "Man, I would give anything for a crab sexing chart right now."

A couple of the dads hopped into kayaks one evening after dinner to check on the crab traps.  They assured us they would bring home a late night snack and lucky for all of us, they didn't lie. 

When they returned quite late carrying some very unhappy creatures (who were then unceremoniously dumped into a pot of boiling water on the beach), one dad thumped his chest and grunted, "Men go out to sea.  Men bring food."

To which we replied, "Men inexplicably gone half the night. When men return, men give us crabs."

 It was a fine, funny crew

You know what I learned recently?  I'm happier when I don't read or watch the news.  I can be having the best day of my life but then I innocently read a little news online and BAM.... time to hide in the closet, drag the kids and Al and the dog and the praying mantis in with me, and cover ourselves in tin foil safety blankets until the apocalypse.

That is why this blog will continue to be a news free, fluffy frivolity zone.

Like this raw chicken leg strapped to a kayak.

I don't know what I want you to remember about this blog post in 14 years,