Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What up, Tuesday?

Ugh.  U.G.H.

I made mistake last night of staying up late watching DVDs.  Both kids were in bed by 7:30, and Nelson is on travel, so I had the whole evening to myself.  I've been watching How I Met Your Mother.  My friend Kate lent me seasons one through three.  I love this show.  Do you watch it?  You should.  It's pretty much one of the funniest things on TV right now.

It was maybe 11PM and I was watching the last episode of Season One, Disc Two and who should wander down the stairs but Oscar.  The show was almost over so I set him up on the couch while I finished up.

I had been planning on going to bed at 11:30.  Now, let me just say that 11:30 is way to late for me to be going to bed.  I'm up by 5:30AM.  I need to be in bed by 10 at the latest.  However, I sleep terribly when Nelson is gone, so I stay up as late as possible, and then I read until the book physically falls on my face and then I go to bed.  I'm generally exhausted by the time he gets back, but if I don't max myself out, I'll stay up all night analyzing every creak and crack in my house (and there are a lot of them; our house is 92 years old and we have radiators) waiting for our alarm to go off.

So, around 11:30, I bring Oscar upstairs with me and he wants me to lie with him in his bed.  And I do, for about a half an hour.  Then, I get up to go to my bed, because I cannot sleep in his bed.  I don't have my alarm clock and he has all these animals and blankets and it just wasn't working for me.

When I got up to leave, Oscar started crying.  He wanted me to stay.  I told him he could come with me to my bed, and then he said no, because my room was too scary.  He said Mr. Skull was in there and we had to leave the light on (WTF, Mr. Skull?  Thanks, Oscar.)  We negotiated that I would bring his night light in and that would be good enough.

Well, surprise, surprise it was NOT good enough and when we got in there he melted down because my room was so scary.  I mean, it is pretty dark in there, I'm not going to lie, but I was right there with him.  Then, I melted down because I was exhausted and begged him to please, please, please just go to sleep.  He quieted down and I think I fell asleep like two seconds later.

I was woken what I though was five seconds later by Miles crying.  In reality it was an hour later.  So I fetched Miles and all of his blankets and bunnies and brought them to my room, where he proceeded to toss and turn for a flipping HOUR.

He was awake and crying again at around 4:30.  Oscar woke up and told me I needed to bring Miles back to his crib.  I knew that wasn't going to work because I was going to be up for the day in just a few minutes.  Both boys settled down just as my alarm went off.

Then, Valentine started nudging my hand because she wanted to go out.  And Oscar started making elephant trumpets.  And Miles started blowing raspberries on my stomach and yelling "El fan!" every time Oscar trumpeted.  Okay, that part was pretty cute.

The good part of all of this, is that the boys were in a great mood and played well while I showered and got dressed, and both got dressed without a fight.  The bad part is that I got no laundry or dishes done this morning and it's 9AM and I still haven't had my breakfast and am totally exhausted.  But, I have played monster trucks, been a pretend customer at Oscar's store, and attended a tea party with Miles William.  I also got two extra hours of nose-wiping in today.

Anyway, so that's my Tuesday.  What's new with you?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Actually, the line is over HERE

Warning!  Gratuitous use of all caps below. I was feeling a bit yelly.

I had a couple of books on hold at the library, so I decided that Miles and I would leave a few minutes early for preschool pick up and stop by the library to get my books.  Oscar's preschool is about 10 minutes, and the library is just about halfway between the house and the preschool.  I absolutely love when I can squeeze in errands while Oscar is at preschool, and I had already hit Trader Joe's and Safeway, so dropping by the library prior to pick up had me feeling very efficient and angelic.

Anyways, we arrived at the library right on schedule (12:45!) AND got the closest non-handicap parking space.  This was shaping up to be a banner errand running mission.  

Miles and I walk into the library and I let him put my book into the return slot.  Then we go around the counter to get in line. 

So, our library is set up as I imagine most libraries are set up: A long counter with three or four computers and librarians stationed behind it, as well as shelves and book carts and the like.  I don't know how standard this is, but our library has two check out lines; one where you can use a hand scanner and check out books all by yourself (self check out) and one where you actually go up and get checked out by the librarian. The self-check out line is actually at the side of the counter, as opposed to the librarian check-out line, which is at the front of the counter.

For the librarian line, there are those black nylon retractable ropes on either side of the line, to separate it from the self-check out line (to the left) and the entrance way (to the right.) There is also a bookshelf with updated monthly with seasonal selections that is kind of in between the librarian line and the self check line.  Because of this book shelf, the retractable rope separating the two lines is pretty short, because the bookshelf also kind of separates the lines.  

Since I'm picking up books, I go and stand in the librarian line. I notice that there was a woman standing sort of off to the side, kind of in the self check-out line, talking on her phone.  She didn't have any books, though, so I thought she was just an asshole talking on her phone in the library.  At this time, there is one librarian working on scanning returns in and another librarian helping a patron apply for a new card. No one else is standing in the librarian line, so I am first.

"Hey.  HEY." says phone lady.

I turn to look at her (the self-check out is slightly behind the librarian check out line.)


"The LINE starts HERE.  Behind ME." 

And she says it all snotty like, as though I am trying to cut in line, WHICH I WAS NOT, but I was just totally shocked by how completely rude she was, because number one, get off your damn phone when you are in the library; and number two, she was standing IN THE WRONG LINE and I know it was the wrong line because there are SIGNS hanging from the ceiling dictating which line is which, Self-Check Out and Assisted Check-Out; and number three, just be polite, okay?  Just say, "Excuse me, but I think the line starts back here." 

Because if she had said that and BEEN POLITE I would have said, "No, actually the line to see the librarian starts here.  Go ahead, you are in front of me," because if you know anything about me, you know that I am a slave to line rules.  I believe in lines and standing in them and standing in them properly.  I believe in waiting your turn and no cutting or butting or complaining because our ability to stand in an orderly line and wait our turn is the only thing that separates us from the animals and the very foundation upon which our society was built and continues to thrive.  That and our ability to wear scarves.  And and also opposable thumbs.  Those are important, too.

Anyways, if I HAD been in the wrong line (which I was NOT) I would have been more than happy to get in the proper line.  Like I said above, I BELIEVE IN LINES.  But, let me just say again, SHE WAS IN THE WRONG LINE. 

But, I was so disarmed by her blatant rudeness and her vocal implication that I had broken the rules of the line (because I don't have anything better to do than cut in line at the library?), that I just moved and got in line behind her even though I was absolutely certain that she was in the wrong line.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.

About 30 seconds later a third librarian materializes and says to the rude, wrong line, phone lady, "Can I help you?  Are you self-checking out?"  You know, because she was in the SELF-CHECK OUT line and NOT the LIBRARIAN LINE.  And she's all, "Oh, no, I have a book on hold," and he was like, "Okay, that line is right over here," you know, WHERE I WAS ORIGINALLY STANDING, in the front of the counter as opposed to the side of the counter.

And then, THEN, get this, she was trying to get a book that she had put on hold like 30 minutes prior.  Really, rude, wrong line, phone lady?  Really?  That's just not how it works.  Yes, the system immediately flags the book so no one else can check it out, but you have to actually give the librarians a chance to get the mother flipping book off the shelf, flag it with your name, and put it on the hold shelf.  And, also?  Putting your specific book on the hold shelf is not priority one. They have some other things going on. 

So, lets just lay out now all the reasons rude, wrong line, phone lady is a tool: 

1) She was standing in the wrong line; 
2) She was really rude when she told me I was in the wrong line and implied that I was cutting in front of her; 
3) She was talking on the phone in the library;
4) She does not pay attention to signs;
5) She clearly does not understand the Rules of Standing in/on (depending on where in the country you hail from) Line;
6) She has ridiculous expectations of library staff;
7) She was standing in the wrong line (worth repeating.)

Then she went off to the adult circulation desk to bother them about her book and I got my books (which had been placed on hold several days prior, and then waited until I was notified that the books were ready for pick up) and went to pick up Oscar. 

In closing, I just want to urge you all to stand in line proudly and properly, and should you expect a line violation, do not jump to conclusions.  Instead, calmly inquire and be polite.  If there is a violation, any right-minded person will apologize for and quickly correct said violation and if they do not?  They are most likely the type of uncivilized individual you really don't want to tangle with and in this instance you should just let it go.

Lets keep it civilized out there folks.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

RTT: Books, bras, and boys

Whazzzup, Tuesday?


*Nelson has taught Miles to say, "Whazzzzzuuuup?" Like those 1990s Budwiser commercials?  It would be cute if it weren't so terribly annoying.  There is no reason for that pop culture catchphrase to make a come back.  None at all.

*I just finished reading One Day by David Nicholls and I definitely recommend it, particularly if you like modern British fiction, like Nick Hornby.  Becky, you should check it out.  I mean, it's no Hunger Games Trilogy, but it is so totally different from the series, it is a good follow up.**

*I got measured and bought my first bra since becoming pregnant with Oscar. It's been awhile.  I feel like a new woman.  I look 10lbs thinner and my back hurts less.  It is amazing what a new bra can do for you.  If you've never been fitted (and you have breasts) you should go and do it.  It will change your life.

*I had hauled out all the 18-24 month winter clothes for Miles only to discover that that are just a smidge too small.  Well, some of them fit fine, but some of the pants are too short and the shirt sleeves are leaving about an inch of exposed wrist.  We decided to get out the 2T stuff last night.  The stuff that Oscar wore last winter. Some is running big, but some fits perfectly.  Which is not all that surprising considering that Miles will be two in two months.

*Miles will be two in two months.  Oh. My. God.

* I need another baby.

*We've decided to wait and not even try to have another baby until next fall.  While I know this is financially and mentally the best decision for our family, I'm still feeling an incredible longing to be pregnant again and have a little baby again.  It is really right to wait. I just want a baby. So. Bad.

*I could be pregnant by this time next year.  Gah!

*We went to the pumpkin patch this weekend.  It was so fun. Miles calls pumpkins "pun-keys" and it is so adorable.  Obligatory pumpkin patch montage to follow later this week.

*In the past six weeks, there have only been two nights where my bed has been completely kid free all night long.  Two.

*I'm not sleeping very well these days.

*My friend's daughter, Olivia, turns three today.  Happy birthday, Olivia!

*A photo of my Dark Knights:

Okay, I'm out.  Go to Keely's and visit some other RTT bloggers, will ya?

**Disclosure: Those links take you to my Amazon Associates account and should you purchase them via the links on my page, I will get a (small) proceed.  Though really I recommend just going to the library and borrowing them.  That's what I did.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Stepping in: An update

After reading everyone's comments and emails on Monday's post re: the homeless family living in their car on my block, I decided that I was going to go out to the car that evening and bring the family some dinner and take it from there.

At around 4pm, I looked out the front window and the car was there but the family was gone.  They were still gone when my family ate dinner two hours later, and had not yet returned when we brought our kids up for bed at 7:30pm.  By the time Nelson and I finished with the kids, it was dark out so I could not tell if they were back, but regardless I'd decided not to go out after dark because I though that could seem threatening.  I mean, it is a woman, living in her car with her kids.  Were it me and my kids, I'd be freaked out by someone knocking on my window after dark.

I had though that they spent the night somewhere else, because by the time the sun was up the next day, there was still no one in the car.  However, Nora's dad told me that even that he had seen them in the car when he was coming by early in the morning to drop her off.

Anyways, I saw the woman return to her car after school started (but at this point I still though they'd spent the night elsewhere, hopefully indoors) and sometime after Benji was dropped off.  I decided that when Benji went down for his nap and I took the boys out to play, I would go over to the car and speak with her.

Oscar wanted to start out in the back yard, so we spent about an hour back there, until Valentine cleaned his clock. We were playing fetch, and she was lapping the yard and just completely took him out.  She ran smack into him and he flew about a foot into the air and landed on his face.  So you can imagine how that went.

We came and I cleaned him up.  I looked outside again and the woman was still in her car, but she was sleeping.  Oscar did not want to go back out anyways, so I decided I'd just force the kids out, in the front, when she woke up.

Except that she did not ever wake up.  Well, not until she went to get her kids from the school.  She was sleeping with her coat (or something) over her face.  It seemed rude to wake her, as I imagined that she was not getting much sleep at night.

So, I wasn't paying a ton of attention to what was going on outside because I had three kids inside.  And then Nora came home from school and I was getting her set up with her snack and homework, and putting the two little boys down for their afternoon nap.  When I looked back outside, maybe thirty minutes after school let out, her kids were changing out of their uniforms (which I obviously looked away from and felt terribly embarrassed for them.)

I checked back 15 or 20 minutes later and they were gone, but the car was still there.  I looked outside and I saw the three of them (two boys and their mom) walking down the street with a large jug, possibly looking for water? I don't know. The boys looked to be either twins or very close in age, maybe 10 or 11 years old.

I did not notice them come back.  Nor did I notice them leave, but they did, sometime around 4pm.  I missed my opportunity.

I am hoping they will come back.  They have been here off and on for the past few weeks, so I'm guessing they have a few different spots where they park.  I actually drove around a little bit yesterday morning after I dropped Oscar off at school looking for the car.  I only checked the blocks nearest the school since she had been walking there to pick them up.  I did not see the car.

I am considering going to the school and waiting to see her get the boys, and then approaching their teacher.  My friend Jane, who is a teacher in DCPS said that the teachers probably know something is up, and can probably offer some kind of help.  I might go this route if they do not come back by next week (there is no more school this week.)

Benji's moms know my across the street neighbors, J and M, from church and Monica told me that M used to do direct service work with the homeless.  If the family does return, I'm going to ask her for her assistance with helping the them get the services they need.  Living in their car is just not good long-term housing solution, particularly not with two children.  I'm kind of hoping that they've gone to a shelter, or obtained some transitional housing somewhere.  I don't like thinking of them out there as it gets colder and wetter with each passing night.  I hope they are okay.  I hope they find help.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stepping in

"Have you noticed a gold car parked on our street?" my neighbor asked me one day last week.

"A gold car?  Parked where?"

"Down in front of my mom's house. It's been parked there for about two weeks, on and off." 

"No, I don't think so.  None of our neighbors have gold cars." 

"Yeah, I know, that's why this one stands out. My mom noticed it a few weeks ago." 

"Is it parked there all day?" 

"Yeah.  And all night." 

"Oh.  Do you think someone is living in it?"

"Yeah, we think it's a woman, with a couple of kids that go to the elementary school [half a block away.]"

"That's awful." 

"I know.  We are trying to figure out what to do.  She's not there today though.  We don't want to call the police because we don't want to get her in trouble or get her kids taken away, but it seems like we should call someone." 

"If there is a family living in a car they obviously need help."

"Right, that's why we don't want to call the police.  We don't want them to just chase her away." 

"Well, I'll let you know if I see the family or the car." 


Today, as I was pulling out of the car and heading to the library to pick up some books on hold, I noticed the car.  It was about 20 minutes before school let out, and there it was; a gold car, parked in front of my house, with a woman sleeping in the driver's seat.

I called Nelson (who was home for the federal holiday) and told him to look out the window.

"Yeah, I see her, but she's sitting up now." 

"Maybe it's just someone picking up their kids.  Let me know if they leave." 

When I got home 20 minutes later, the car was still there.  My neighbor was outside, also off for the federal holiday, and I walked over to ask her if the car in front of my house was the same car she'd been seeing for the past few weeks in front of her home.

Before I could even ask, she said, "That's it.  That's the car." 

"That's what I was coming over to ask.  I noticed it on my way to the library." 

The driver had gotten out, crossed the street, and was walking toward the school.

"Her kids go to that school.  I saw them there this morning.  She had her son go to the trunk and get something out.  There was a lot of stuff in there." 

"How many kids does she have?"

"Two, I think." 

"Wow.  I can't imagine living out of my car with my two kids." 

"I know.  I don't know what to do.  I don't want to report her and have her kids taken away.  She's obviously trying to do the right thing, getting her kids to school and all.  But they can't just live out of a car.  That's not good." 

"No, that is not good."

"Do you remember how cold it was last week?  I looked out one night and the windows were all fogged up.  It looked like they had a little TV in there or something." 

"It was cold.  We turned on our heat. We should do something, don't you think?"

"Yeah, but what?  I was thinking I would offer to let her in my house, but I don't know her, you know?"

"No, no, I don't think you have to do that.  But there has to be someone we can call.  There are services for people who are homeless, shelters and things like that.  I have a friend who works for social services.  I will call her and see what she says." 

"Alright, let me know." 


I called my friend at DSS and she suggested I call the abuse and neglect hotline and make clear that while I am not calling to report abuse or neglect, there is a family living in their car that clearly needs aid.  She assured me that my state does not remove children from their parents for being homeless (though she did say if there were signs of abuse the kids would be removed.)

So that is the right thing to do, right?  To call DSS?  They will send someone out to talk to her and offer her services.  


"They are still out there, Nelson.  School let out over an hour ago." 

"She probably lost her job or something." 


"Should we go out and offer them food or something?"

"No.  I don't know.  Maybe. I should call.  Should I call?  I should call." 

"Yeah, I guess you should." 

"I'm going to call." 


I still haven't called.  The car is still parked outside of my house.  The woman and her two children are still sitting in the car.  It is 88 degrees out there.  They have to be hot.  It is clear this family needs help.  I should call.  

However, there is a part of me that feels like it is none of my business.  Like, she is living in her car and that is not my business.  I should not intervene.  It would be...nosy of me?..to try and help her.  Something like that.  Like I should not be getting all up in her business and calling DSS to come and help her.  Like it is not my place to step in and tell her what help she needs.

What if she does not want help?  

What if she feels angry that someone called? Or, worse, what if she feels embarrassed?

What if someone coming out chases her away and then the kids don't make it to school anymore because she's afraid to park around here?

Then, at the same time, I think, No.  I should call.  If her kids are going to the school down the block from me, then this woman and her family are my neighbors.  I should help them, do what I can to get them some assistance.  I believe in this, in helping our neighbors and fellow human beings.  

Calling is the right thing to do.  DSS can offer this family food and real beds for the night and transitional housing and financial assistance, all things they obviously need if they have been living in their car for (at least) three weeks.  I know that calling is the right thing.  So why am I writing this blog post to delay calling?  Why am I so nervous and reluctant?  

Whatever, that does not matter.  Calling is the right thing.  So I am going to call.  

I'm also thinking I am going to bring out some food at dinner time.  Or is that too much?  Would that be too embarrassing for the mom?  And, also, if I do that, she will know I was the one who called DSS.  For some reason I feel like I do not want her to know, like she'll be mad at me or something.

What would you do?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Preschool: An update

Yesterday, the lovely and thoughtful Becky sent me a note wishing me luck on preschool drop off (and also lamenting the suddenly freezing weather) and it occurred to me that I haven't updated you all on how all that is going.  So.

If you'll recall, two weeks Oscar had become quite nervous about school, particularly about Lunch Bunch (LB) and was getting very upset and argumentative about going to school and LB.  My strategies were not to over talk things, remain calm when Oscar got worked up, and to reaffirm his feelings and reassure him.

I continued those strategies, but I also implemented some excellent ideas I got from you, readers!  Both Frogs in My Formula and Anymommy suggested I send him to school with some family photos, which I did; and Monica at Susanica suggested I write him a little note and I did that as well.

I started doing both the photos and the notes last week, and his teacher reported that he loved them, so I've kept that up.  As of last Friday (as a reminder, he only goes to school on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays) he was no longer telling me he did not want to go to school or that he did not like LB.  He has actually been excited about both (now, go knock on wood for me, okay?).

The first day I noticed the change was last Thursday, the first day I put the photos and note in his lunch.  Oscar had been weepy and telling me he did not want to go to school all morning.  I had all the kids suited up to go, and I need to run up stairs and use the bathroom.  I took Benji with me and left Oscar and Miles downstairs.  A moment later, when I was coming down the stairs, I witnessed Oscar give Miles a very hard two-hand push to the chest that resulted in Miles flying backward about a foot, landing on his bottom, and almost cracking his head against one of our metal radiators.  Oscar did not know he was being watched.

"Oscar Dominic!  What on earth do you think you are doing!  You cannot push your brother like that.  He could have gotten really hurt. [Note: Miles was unharmed and not even crying] That's a time out!"

"But Mommy, I can't have a time out! I have to go school today!"

A complete 180 to avoid time out.  Now, normally I'd have had him sit his three minutes on the steps no matter what, but we were already running late (due to massive pants pooping and general toddler assholery) and the cleaning people were there so I didn't want to deal with a scene.  I forced an apology and we left.

When we got to the school, Oscar went in without argument, I helped him hang up his coat, and then I left without so much as a tear.  I told the teacher about the photos and note and that was that.

I came to pick him up after LB that day and Oscar ran up to me and said, "Mommy!  I wasn't nervous in Lunch Bunch today!" and he was just so proud of himself.  The teachers tell me he loves the photos and the notes so I've kept doing that and yesterday, when we got to the school, he skipped ahead of me with his friend R, put on his hand sanitizer all by himself and went into the classroom without me.  I barely got a kiss goodbye.  He hung up his own bag on his hook and took off his hoodie by himself and hung that up as well.

And that, was that.  

Today, they are going on a nature walk and Oscar can't wait.  When I told him that he did not have LB today (they have staff meeting the first Thursday of each month) he was very disappointed.  He's a like a different kid.

When I pick him up at the playground, he shouts "MOMMY!" and runs into my arms at full speed, chattering about his day.   I'm so relieved that Oscar is adjusting, but I have to admit I'm kind of glad to know he still misses me, he still needs me.  I mean, how many more years of those flying hugs to you think I have?  Not many, I bet.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The thing about three

Oscar has been three for nearly four months and there is definitely something about three that differs from two.  There's certainly his language development and his ability to problem solve.  You can have actual conversations with him and he can put together multi-piece puzzles; he can dress himself (when he wants to); he's completely toilet trained; he's more empathetic and seems to understand better when he does something wrong and why it is wrong.  All very cools stuff.

There is something else though that I haven't been able to put my finger on.  Something...annoying? Frustrating? The thing that every says make the threes harder than the twos.  I think I put my finger on it last night.

Oscar is looking for a fight.  He is always looking for a fight, with Nelson and I mainly but with Miles, too.  Okay, well not ALWAYS, but when he wants to argue with us, he goes for it full throttle.

And example:

Last night at bedtime he went upstairs pretty easily.  He even got undressed for his bath with little fight which is unusual.  However, when I lifted him into the bath, he lost his shit.  Like, big fat tears, flowing snot, sobbing lost his shit.


Not wanting to make a big deal about it, I just took him out of the tub, ignored his hysterics, and instructed him to put on his PJs.  It was raining yesterday so he wasn't really "dirty," and I just didn't think it was worth the fight.

As soon as I took him out, he ran from the bathroom, and  began doing laps around the upstairs, naked.  Our bathroom as two doors, so he was running in and out of the bathroom which is an established no-no in our home, because the bathroom is very small and covered in ceramic tiles and a kid (or adult for that matter) could very easily slip and fall and get very hurt.

After his third lap I asked him to stop and get dressed.  He laughed manically and refused, so I shut both bathroom doors.  He lost his shit again.


I once again ignored his hysterics and explained that he was not allowed to run in the bathroom.  I told Nelson to help him get dressed.  I came out of the bathroom a few moments later with Miles William and  saw Nelson trying to wrestle Oscar into some PJs that appeared a little small.

"Hey, I put out some warmer ones that will fit him better.  They are on top of his dresser."

I went and grabbed them and again, Oscar lost his shit.


"Oscar, these ones are warmer, and they will fit you better."


"Okay, fine, Oscar, wear the other ones."

These little dramatic scenes go on and on all night.  We are reading books in the wrong order; he doesn't want to be covered with blankets; he can't find his bunny or blanket; he doesn't want to share books with Miles.  It is like he is trying to work us (Nelson and I) up and get us angry and frustrated.  Truth be told, sometimes it works.  And, of course, when we get angry it just makes things worse.

And then there Miles.  Poor Miles, who seriously wants nothing more than to play with his big brother.  Offers Oscar the best monster trucks and willingly shares his snacks; goes along with all of his big brother's games so happy to be included.  Oscar has been shoving him, ripping toys away from him, stealing his snack, yelling at him for playing "wrong."  It breaks Miles' heart, and mine too.  In fact, I am much more likely to loose my cool with Oscar and his antics when he directs his bad attitude towards Miles.

It is so frustrating, but we are doing our best to not engaged Oscar in his ridiculous hysterics and properly discipline him when warranted.  I know (hope) this phase will pass.