Working 9 to 5...and then 5 to 9

Tuesday, January 11, 2011
I am a full-time mom. With a part-time job.

I won't even try to quantify the hours I work as a mom. I take my job very seriously. I work at my job as a mom the same way I would any other job. I'm not going to get into it now, but trust me.

Right now, I get the hours between 7:30pm and 4:30am off to do with as I please. And by as I please, I mean sometimes work, sometimes clean up, sometimes blog and sometimes watch tv, not to mention pay bills, plan our week's meals, and read books. Oh, and I sleep, too.

Anyway, I also work Saturdays and Wednesday evenings, but not all of them. Saturdays are supposed to be 8-5 but I still haven't managed to get out of there by 5:00 because I take my job very seriously and am still new. Wednesdays are 3:15 to...actually, I don't know what time we're supposed to be out of there on Wednesdays, because I've only worked one Wednesday but I know that I was the last to leave and probably will be again tomorrow night.

I work for a program that places highly-qualified applicants in high-needs teaching positions in Denver Public Schools. What's their definition of 'highly-qualified'? I'm glad you asked. I can't tell you. I'm not kidding. But I can say that they look for certain characteristics that are indicators of success - things that, while not specific to being able to teach necessarily, are traits that are common in people who tend to be successful no matter what they pursue. You know the kind of person I'm talking about. The kind of person that takes on a challenge head on, figures out what they need to do to make it work, and then takes it on and shows it who's boss.

That's what we're looking for. And thank goodness we get over a thousand applicants for 30 or so positions because it's not always what we get. (It's usually what we get, but those don't make for good stories.)

For example, this past Saturday, my team-mate and I were doing introductions before beginning our day. We call our days "Events" because we each get assigned 3-5 interviewees and then we spend the day with them, having them teach a lesson, doing a writing sample, participate in a group discussion and then ending the day with personal interviews. So we're doing introductions and I notice one of her candidates nodding off. I'm worried for him because people fly in from all over the states to interview with us and often don't fully comprehend or prepare for the change in altitude. In my years here, I've seen many a pass-outs and decided to keep a close eye on this guy, who we will call Badger Ben. Badger Ben manages to get through the morning without any cause for alarm. He's got a water bottle and seems upright ok. Then we split up into our groups and my partner takes him away. I'd warned her about what I had seen and so she was aware. Ten minutes later, she comes running back. "Oh my goodness, you will never believe what happened," she whispers all excited. Apparently, Badger Ben was standing a'swaying while she was giving instructions for how the rest of the day was going to play out. Then, like a scene out of a Vince Vaughn movie, he put up one finger, turned green, and ran into the bathroom.

"Are you serious?" I asked her. "Did he pass out? Did he puke?"
"I don't know. He hasn't come out."
"Oh, god. I hope he's ok. Do you think he's ok?"
"I don't know!"

Badger Ben comes into the room and my teammate asks him if he's alright.

"Yes. I'm just feeling a little...under the weather."

He looked up at me and I knew right then and there that he was hungover. You don't look sheepish when you've got the flu. Not to mention that he was like 20something years old. I asked him if there was anything we could do or if there was anything he needed. He had signed up for one of the later interview slots and I suggested he go out and get himself a bloody mary something and he admitted that he'd been dropped off by his cousin and had no car.

We were surprised when he showed up to the interview. But I guess without a car he couldn't have really gotten that far, although I suspect that if I'd been in his shoes, I would have mumbled an apology for wasting everyone's time and started walking in one direction with my drunk-ass tail between my legs and called my cousin to pick me up wherever I ended up. But Badger Ben stuck it out. He did, however, address his writing sample to Principal Skinner, indicating that while he was aware that he had squandered an opportunity to be part of an amazing program by underestimating his ability to do car bombs at altitude, he still had a sense of humor. And for that, we say thank you.*

* I love Daniel Tosh.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
If you are the kind of person who is repulsed by shameless bragging, turn away now. Guide your mouse up to that x in the top, right-hand corner of your browser and click. Or maybe meander your way on over to You Tube and watch a cat jump out of a paper bag. Or go watch snow fall. But do not stay here. Because this will not be the post for you.

I'll start with E, not because I love him more (I don't) but because he was born first.

E is in a lovey phase of his little life. He often, albeit randomly, declares his love for me, for his dad and for B. But as much as I'd like to think I'm the love of his life, the other day I was buckling him into his car seat and he was all day-dreamy. He blinked repeatedly and then looked right at me. "I love Miss S*." I just smiled at him and reassured him that Miss S adored him too. "She was the birthday girl," he sighed, his voice full of awe and devotion.

We were at Storytime at a new library last week and unlike the Storytime we're used to, the librarian at Bemis lined up about 25 sweet little angels, led them into the Cloud Room and shut the door...leaving a room full of moms kid-free. It all happened so quickly. I took B back into the corner of the main children's library room where there is a castle built into the wall and we played for about five minutes before E came running out of the kid-sized door, his eyes scanning the room. He spotted us over the lower front bookshelves and came running back "just to say hi." And without any prompting from me, he returned to the Cloud Room and we didn't see him again till 25 minutes later when all the kids came pouring out of the room, buzzing with excitement about the dragons and knights from the puppet show. I was so proud of E. This time last year, he would have melted into a tearful puddle and refused to go into that room without me, but he's grown up so much in just the last few months. And to tell you the truth, I was a little bit proud of D and myself. We've tried to stay true to E and his needs, ignoring conventional wisdom or the pressure we sometimes get from other parents. E has made it clear since he was a wee little baby that he would not do anything a day before he was ready to, and we've honored that. We have respected his own personal timeline and I felt so validated, standing in that library with my brave little boy running off to join a room full of kids he didn't know in a place he was unfamiliar with.

E has been going through a verbal explosion. Using words like "perception" and "distracted" in conversation. And his phonemic awareness is also blowing up. "Books starts with B! Hu, hu, hungry starts with H!" He's been working on writing his letters and I've been working on reminding him that you're not born knowing how to write and that just because you can't draw a perfect letter 'a' on your very first try ever doesn't mean you never will. The kid is a perfectionist and it worries me how quickly he gets frustrated with himself.

He's also been a lot more...I don't know. Mature? I asked him recently if he thought he was ready to go to school (again, we've been following his lead on this one) and instead of the automatic "no" I've grown used to hearing, E paused and said, "Why do you ask?" I'm going to stop to remind you that E is a little over three years old. "Why do you ask?" Seriously? Anyway, I told him that if he thought he was ready, then we could start looking at schools to see if there was one he liked. "Sure." And since we were down by the Montessori school I had on my list of potential schools, I offered to drive by it. So we did. "I love it!" he said, staring up at the front doors. I scheduled a tour for the next day and we all four fell in love with it. We bought a $50 ticket for the enrollment lottery and we have our fingers crossed that we get in. We're still interviewing other schools but we really, really loved MPA.

Now onto the munchkin...BP no longer really fits, especially now that I know that "pterodactyl" is a misnomer. I'd call her my midget but I only have like five loyal readers and since I'm not sure how tall four of them are, I'd hate to offend. I often call her mon petite, but I'd also hate for someone to think I'm French**.

B has also been busy acquiring language. She points to one of her favorite snacks, plantain chips, and says "pits, pits, pits." She also says "pat" as in let me lay my head on you and pat your face, "bas" as in I hope you have enough soap and water in that tub to get the play-doh out of my hair, the yogurt out from under the folds of my chin, the pen marks off of my cheek and the bbq rib sauce from in between my fat little fingers, and "pees" for please give me whatever it is I want right now or I will scream! She also says "bot" for bottle, "poop" when she has a poop, when she wants to sit on the toilet and poop, when someone else has pooped, or when she sees a poop. She also says "pee" as in I thought I had a "poop" but really it was just a pee.

She still has anxiety separation, which apparently is normal at this age (15 months) but the thing with her is that she was born with it and it has never gone away. In fact, she not only has separation anxiety, she's also a jealous little bugger. When D comes home, he always walks in and gives me a kiss hello and if B is in my arms, she screeches at him and waves an arm back and forth, as if she could sweep him away. If she's anywhere else, she starts screaming, drops whatever she's doing and comes waddling over so that I can pick her up.

My most favorite thing B does, however, is when she grabs a book and walks over to you. If you're sitting on the floor, she stops a few feet away from you, turns around, and starts backing up to sit in your lap. It's the cutest thing ever. If you're sitting up somewhere, she literally scales your pant leg and claws her way up into your lap, all the while smiling and saying, "books books books." She sometimes even hugs her books.

And the best part of my day? The thing I love most about being a mom these days? When my two little monsters sit across from each other at the dinner table and do things to make each other laugh. Or when they play downstairs in the kitchen and take turns pretend drinking from each others cup. Or when E gets hurt and cries and B fake-cries along with him in a gesture of solidarity and then lays her head on him and pat pat pats him. Or when E hops out of bed and runs into B's room to give her one of his "softies" so that she can have an extra blanket in her crib. The love that constantly flows from one to the other fills me with an emotion so overwhelming, so all-consuming that I sometimes can't keep my eyes from welling up with tears.

*Remember how the 'S' stand for smart? Yeah. Miss S is not smart. She's super duper freaking brilliant. The girl kicked the CogAT's ass. And not just kind of kicked it's ass. She scored a 93% overall. Woo hoo, Miss S!

**I'm totally kidding. I spent a week in France and loved the country and it's inhabitants. Really. Viva la France and all that.

Here Comes Santa Clause

Sunday, December 26, 2010
We talked about visiting Santa. I explained that Santa was a nice guy and that E didn't have to sit in his lap if he didn't want to. He could just stand next to him. He could just stand near him. All he needed to do was politely inform Santa that yes, he had indeed been a good* boy this year and he would like a bread machine for the kid kitchen and some other gifts. That's it and that's all. Easy, right?

B has suffered a crippling fear of the beard since she was born. No surprise that she's hysterically screaming as if Santa was holding a jar of Vaseline in one hand and a thermometer in the other.

But the thing about pictures is that you can not hear just how loud they are both screaming. People stopped shopping to spectate. We drew an audience. It's like the whole mall came to a halt to pay witness.

My only regret is not having handed my phone to the chubby security guard standing perched upon her Segway and asking her to tape the whole debacle. And yes, at one point in my life I did say (perhaps out loud) that I would never be one of those moms that put her screaming kid(s) on Santa's lap. And guess what? I ate my words. But not because it was such a pain to get my kids all dressed up (no harder than any other clothes) or because I was all hell-bent on a picture with Santa (I don't give a shit about Santa.) I did it because my kids never do anything they don't want to do and every once in a while I think it's good for them to suffer just a tiny little bit so that they fully understand just how good they have it.


Had I known I was going to be in the picture, I would have worn my ugly Xmas sweater and red jeggings.

As we walked away, E was a tearful, boneless puddle. He looked up at me once we were on the other side of the velvet rope and sulked, "I don't even want presents from that man. T and Bangs are going to get me presents. Grandma and Grandpa are going to get me presents. You and Dad..." He ticked off a dozen gift-givers to prove that the presents from that man were inconsequential.

The irony is that on Christmas morning, on at least three occasions, E randomly looked up and like a preacher delivering a particularly moving sermon, he sent a shout out to the omnipotent, "THANK YOU, SANTA!" Hallelujah.

* I take real issue with the whole being "good" bullshit. Number one, is "Santa" really not going to bring anything if you're not good? Number two, I don't want my child to behave because of the looming threat of "Santa." And what do you threaten once Santa's come and gone? Number three, I don't believe in conditional love and I don't think Santa should either. Number four, E freaked the hell out for a few days before we realized why - he would get so upset when he did something "bad" because he thought that Christmas was forever ruined. It was too much pressure for his little shoulders to carry. D brilliantly explained that you just had to be more good than bad and that seemed to appease E and his sense of justice and morality.

Holiday Greetings

Thursday, December 23, 2010
We celebrate Christmas, without a mention of religion or Jesus or church, but with lots of mention of gratitude and compassion and generosity. We have friends from all walks, so I say Happy Holidays to you all!

The Christmas buzz is getting louder and louder around here. E helped me wrap presents while BP took a nap. We finished up our shopping this morning and stuffed D's stocking full of the "the things he loves" like bike tubes and whatnot. E watched the reindeer episode of the The Wonder Pets and will probably watch the 'Twas the Night Before Xmas episode of Dino Dan a little later. We read David Shannon's "The Christmas Extravaganza" before quiet time. We bought Prosecco for mimosas tomorrow, as we are invited to T and Bang's house for Christmas Eve brunch. We are getting pretty excited on Christmas Eve Eve.

Since most of you who are receiving an actual Holiday card from me have probably already received it, here's the picture that we ended up using. We've gotten some complaints - you can't see their faces! E looks so grown up! It looks like E has a lollipop head! - but you can't please everyone all of the time, so in the spirit of the holidays I say Suck It to those of you unhappy with our card. And that third complaint is actually mine. His head looks disproportionately large, doesn't it?

My Christmas present to those of you who celebrate Christmas will be the picture we took on Santa's lap. To those of you who don't celebrate Christmas, the picture will make you glad you don't. I hope you're ready for it. I don't usually build suspense for something in fear of letting you down, but holy crap, it is so worth it.

But for now, you get this. The love on their faces melts my heart every time.

Merry Christmas to you, and you...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010
...but not you.

Can anyone enlighten me as to why it's ok to send a big Fuck You to our Jewish, atheist, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and other non-Christian neighbors?

While I respect the Mile High Baptist Church for not being bigots and hypocrites, I am still in awe of this marquee. Is this really what Christmas is all about? Exclusion? Intolerance? Bigotry? And here I was, thinking the true meaning of the holiday was getting your hopes up, buying a bunch of cheap plastic crap from China, eating and drinking too much and then finding yourself slightly suffocated by the anti-climactic and somewhat stagnant air that lingers in the moments between the tearing through of presents and the cleaning up of wrapping paper.

Honesty is not your policy

Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Since my first poll was such a huge success - deemed Best. Poll. Ever. by @Jac, April, 2010 - I decided to hold another solicitation for input. And while I didn't even try to pretend that my first poll was "hypothetical," I will make a half-ass attempt at trying to create the illusion that this poll is. Smoke. Mirrors. Convinced? Oh, good. I knew you would be.


Here it goes.

What would you do if someone close to you (spouse, sibling, parent, or child) was actively cheating the IRS by pretending that they were not who they are, by say...changing the spelling of their name or forging their birth certificate or something?

Please go nuts in the comments section if you are so inclined.

Oh, and if you think this post is about you, chances are you are not paranoid because what is the likelihood that this exact post could be about someone else?

Asterisk Alley (finally)

Monday, December 13, 2010
I don't even know where to start. Should I talk about how my maternal love and devotion cured* E of SPD? Or that his dairy allergy** is finally gone? Did I already tell everyone that BP has (finally) started to walk***? Or that she is (finally) sleeping through the night****? Or about how I applied for a job I kind of wanted and then didn't get it, but then got a job that pays twice as much, fits perfectly into my schedule and is super awesome*****? I can't believe how long it's been since I posted and I'm overwhelmed with the prospect of catching up. Maybe I should just never post again. Sigh.

* Actually, my maternal love and devotion did not cure him. At least, it wasn't the cure. It might have helped. Hell, it might have almost cured him. But I still felt like a total jackhole when I rambled on to our amazing naturopath about how yes, I have seen a huge difference in E's behavior and it's hard to know what exactly did it - all the books I read or all the techniques I've thus implemented or how we restructured our daily existence and now include certain activities or how we remodeled our house or put in an indoor swing or the cross-brain exercises we do or the trampoline or the am I still rambling? - and Dr. Alba (god bless her) patiently listened and when I (finally) stopped to take a breath, she nodded and presupposed that based on the time lapsed between when E (finally) went off of dairy and when the signs of SPD started to wane, that perhaps it was all my well-intentioned meddling or maybe, just maybe, it was that his poor little brain was no longer being starved, it had finally reached the ideal equilibrium, the perfect balance of chemicals and minerals and vitamins and now his neurons were firing as they should. And while I worship Dr. Alba and live and die by what she says, I had to respectfully disagree...I really think it was orange Fiskar scissors I bought him at Jo-Ann Fabrics.

*** My mom was visiting and she cooked the entire time she was here (uh, hell yeah.) And the last night, she made bistec empanizado and E was halfway through a huge steak when my brother asked if anyone checked the bread crumbs for milk. "Look at who you're talking to," replied D. "Super Mom." The snark was still lingering in the air as I grabbed the canister and gasped a gasp so vacuous that it actually created it's own black hole, right smack in the middle of my kitchen.

It had been eight months since we'd been on Code Dairy, constantly checking labels, politely refusing to partake in the sharing of snacks unless 100% certain that offered food was 100% dairy-free (but always offering to share whatever we had), avoiding eating with others because it was just so draining to explain and re-explain that no, we couldn't have just one little whatever because it just wasn't worth 21 days of diarrhea, leaving restaurants because there wasn't a single thing that didn't have dairy in it, wanting to cry when conversations with servers made it clear that they could not be trusted to be the purveyor of dairy-free food "Oh, wait. How about the bisque? It only has cream. Oh...yeah. Or the club sandwich? It has butter, but butter is ok, right? Oh, it's not. Hmm, well this has mayo in it, so that's not good..." (True story.) We'd spent eight months with a pantry and fridge that was 100% dairy-free because of the fear of cross-contamination. And with the exception of the McD's fries incident^, we'd been 100% dairy-free for almost a year.

I'm holding the canister of bread crumbs and the look of shock slowly turns to panic. I look over at D and ask him what to do, desperate for an answer. E had already inhaled half a steak...what could we do? We let him finish eating and braced ourselves for the deluge of diarrhea that we knew would ensue.

Well, guess what. Nothing happened. So we waited some more. And then some more. And (finally) we waited a little more before realizing that holy shit, nothing happened. I called the fancy-pants pediatric allergist and asked her Why The Face and she said that he'd probably outgrown the allergy and we should go ahead and test it in 5mL increments.

Turns out that E did outgrow the allergy and that we are once again cow milk consumers. Reluctant consumers, because no one in this house actually likes milk, but consumers nonetheless. We like milk in it's more delicious forms (namely, ice cream) but I encourage the kids to drink their kefir and eat their yogurt so that they get the double whammy of probiotics and calcium.

*** Technically, BP took her first steps months ago, but she has finally committed to the act of walking, although she still likes to use walls, ledges, hands, walkers, whatever. And she does this really cute little hand-waving thing, as if she were winding herself up, when she does walk.

**** Royal jinx of epic proportions, but there it is. I made BP a deal, at our pediatrician's suggestion, that if she would start sleeping through the night, I would nurse her through the winter. I explained that it behooved her to night wean because a good night's sleep a nice mommy makes, and that it was either all or nothing. It was a tough go, but it took about a week (or twenty - I don't really remember) to extend the time between each night feed and viola! She night weaned. And for a while she was waking up at 4:00ish for a very early morning snack and then going back to sleep but for a few days now she's been sleeping through till 6:00ish. As much as I enjoyed BP's babyhood, I will never, ever miss the sleeplessness and brain-muddled grumpiness that marked those 13.5 months.

***** I applied for a job with the SPD Foundation and it was a really part-time job and the pay was a (bad) joke, but it didn't matter. I wanted to do something that I would enjoy, for something I believe in, without compromising my commitment to my children. I didn't get the job. I got an email that sounded like I got the job, but then (I'm guessing) the woman who did get the job applied and they gave the job to her. Which was great, because she was much more qualified for the position than I was as she had been in the field for years and had actually worked for the Foundation before. A couple of weeks later, a friend of mine forwarded a job posting and it was clear why I hadn't gotten the first job (other than not being the most qualified.) It was because this was the more better job for me. More about the job some other time.

^ Sub-asterick - We never, ever eat fast food. But we'd been at a park where all the kids had McD's and E asked for some fries. Feeling bad because I'd constantly been denying him foods, I relented and thought that a few fries would be a harmless treat. Ha! McD dips their fries in milk (and god knows what else.)