Monday, August 25, 2008

Ahhhhhggggg!!!!!!!!!!!! I feel a little bit better. Have you ever had one of those days? You know, the kind of day where you wake up having had about two hours sleep (I'll spare you the details about my sleepless night), and then you come downstairs to Raisin Bran crunching under your feet in the kitchen and the aftermath of an early morning, parent-free painting session? Then you decide it would be a good day to finally getting around to scraping the old nasty caulk out of the old nasty shower that has mold growing from like two tenants ago which has been sealed beneath the old nasty caulk? And you've been staring at that (insert colorful adjective here) shower so long and thinking how nasty it is and you decide that you just can't stare at it another (insert similar colorful adjective here) minute? So you hike up your maternity night gown, grab the screwdriver and start scraping away, choking on Tilex fumes and wondering if this will definitely rule out Harvard for baby #3 seeing as Tilex inhalation is probably right up there with hot tubs and ice skating when it comes to things you're not supposed to do while pregnant.

Then you realize you're out of everything that you usually eat, so you decide to make a grocery list but the children can't stand that you are using a pencil and they aren't and they want to use your pencil RIGHT NOW because it is obviously the best pencil known to man and the only pencil anyone would ever want to write with RIGHT NOW. So you hand over the pencil to one of them, the shorter one, because he seems more vulnerable and more in need. And the other one gets really upset because she too has rights in this family and knows when she is being deprived of something. So you go find pencils for all and set about writing your grocery list. Here is the list:
  • caulk
  • Tilex
  • milk
  • bread
  • cheese
  • tortillas
  • ground turkey
  • potatoes
  • pie crust
  • frozen peas
  • avocados
  • pineapple
  • apples
  • peanut butter
It's a sad little list isn't it? Somehow that list ended up costing me about $140 at the grocery store and taking about two hours to shop for. That's probably because I drove about 15 minutes out of my way to the giant grocery store with the free childcare so that I could have a precious hour to myself to waddle pregnantly down the aisles looking for good deals on caulk and peanut butter. Apparently every other mom in the universe had the same idea, because when I got to the grocery store with the free childcare, the free childcare place was totally full and had a line of moms and kids waiting to get in. I thought about waiting in line with the other moms and kids and knew that I probably had the same pained, desperate look on my face and would've fit right in in that line, but I decided to make the executive decision to go to the "cookie store" (the store where they hand out free cookies) instead of the free childcare store. I am the captain of this ship after all and I can make these kinds of decisions. Charlie was so not on board with this plan. He was stumbling around the store with the free childcare, mouth open, crying inconsolably, his new light-up tennis shoes lighting up the floor in a festive way that belied his tragic state.

A slightly crazy woman stopped me and wanted to give Charlie something from her purse. She searched for this thing (what could it have been?) for a few moments and then gave up and told me how cute the kids were, etc. I don't understand the people who want to try to have a conversation with you while one of your children is having a meltdown. Do they really think you can sit and chat in that moment? Anyway the slightly crazy lady looked down at my stomach and realized that I was pregnant and then she crosses herself, as if to say, "Dear God, please don't let that ever happen to me." I get these kinds of responses from people daily, if not multiple times a day. And not just when the kids are being "spirited." The kids could be silently reading library books in their Sunday best and someone will feel compelled to walk up to me, take one look at my belly and say, "You're going to have your hands full!" Thank you, hands-full people. Message received. Apparently no one has ever heard of having three children before in their lives, or they just think that I in particular have no business having three children because this is like the theme song of my life right now. "You're going to have your hands full."

What, like I don't already?

We ended up at the cookie store where I had to do my best negotiating to convince Emma to ride in the rocket ship cart (the two-seater cart with steering wheels), rather than letting her push her little person cart around the grocery store. The cookie store thinks they are being clever by having these little people carts for the kids, but really they are making life a lot harder for the mom people as we are always having to convince the little people that they would much rather ride in the rocket ship than push their own little cart willy nilly down the aisle, into people's ankles. Anyway, I successfully got both kids in the rocket ship cart and managed to get almost everything on my list (and then some, as you probably deduced from the $140 spent). I still do not have caulk. They apparently don't sell caulk at the cookie store. That will be tomorrow's adventure. Home Depot, here we come!

I'm sure there are some people at Home Depot just waiting to tell me that I'm going to have my hands full. What they probably don't realize is, I already know I have my hands full. And I will continue to have my hands full. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Artist Teacher-

Emma is constantly walking up to people and telling them she is an artist and that when she grows up she's going to be an artist teacher. I would not be surprised in the least if she becomes an artist teacher. She is a girl obsessed with making things...and bossing people around. From the moment she wakes up in the morning she begins working on a project (or "projeck" as she calls it). This is not the tidy, cute little preschool projeck you might be thinking of. It generally involves scissors, a ream of computer paper and takes over most of the kitchen floor. Her favorite space for creating happens to be right next to the trash can and recycling bins in the kitchen. Many times I will have to move some work in progress so that I can scrape the remains of whatever meal we've just eaten into the trash. It is sort of annoying. I tried to set her up with a little studio space near the trash can and I've been trying to encourage her to sit at her table (now called the "art table") to do her work. But old habits die hard and I still find her spread out on the floor, scissors in hand, surrounded by tiny bits and pieces of paper, crayons, glue, beads, and other objects one would not normally think of as an art supply (such as bottles pilfered from the recycling, strings, rocks, pine cones, and Rolo wrappers).
My attempt at art supply organization.

Emma sometimes reminds me of the students I taught at the Art Institute when I was a TA in grad school. I was their English teacher and they all seemed like fish out of water when they were in my class and told to make something using only words. They were much more comfortable constructing art work out of their own hair or used band aids than writing essays and short stories. I can totally see Emma fitting in with those kids and I both fear for her and am extremely proud of her talent.

When I was in grad school I used to love going to the student show at the end of each school year and seeing the work that the undergrads had produced when people like me weren't forcing them to read and write. I remember one student had taken an army of stuffed birds, hung them from the ceiling and fashioned little helmets and armor for them out of metal that she had designed and welded to fit their tiny bird bodies. It was so moving to see this fleet of birds with their protective gear, and to imagine the mind and the soul that thinks that up and is able to execute it. There was another student who made an installation that was an exact replica of a dentist's office waiting room. The student art show was like a crazy science fair gone wrong and it was just such an exciting thing to be a witness to all that creativity.

Now I feel like I'm living in my own student art show a lot of the time. Here is a picture of what our playroom looks like at the moment. I promise when we got up this morning (about an hour or so ago) everything was in its proper place. Little People in the Little People basket, Thomas Lego3s in the Thomas Lego basket, puzzles in their bin, coloring books in theirs. See that overturned white chair? It is now a mountain that the kids were scaling with their mountain climbing ropes (those yellow and purple strings on the floor). See those green bins stacked up with the strange spire on top? That's a city. And that white board balanced precariously on the windowsill? A car ramp of course. (sigh.) Here's a picture of Emma with her "baby bounce" that she made for the baby to sit in when he is born. I think it is supposed to be some kind of cross between a bouncy seat and a Bjorn. Not a bad idea really.

Sometimes I think about jumping on board the homeschooling bandwagon (everyone seems to be doing it these days), but I'm not sure if it would be such a good thing for my kids. I think Emma might turn out a little (um, how can I put this delicately) weird if she were able to stay home all day making things. I mean at some point do you sort of run the risk of being so "creative" that you can't quite function in the real world? I wonder what the girl behind the bird armour is doing now? I'm sure, like me, she has some pretty hefty student loans to pay off. Welding tiny bird fashion does not seem like it would really pay the bills.

In the end I'm really proud of Emma and her amazing powers to create. She really can't seem to help herself and so I might as well be supportive and get out of her way. That's definitely Charlie's attitude. He is probably her biggest fan. He is able to admire her vision without worrying about the mess she's making, her proximity to trash or her future college plans. I could probably learn a lot from both of them.
Emma's homemade dollhouse and road...note the perfectly good Pottery Barn Kids dollhouse in the background.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Long time no post

Sorry I haven't posted anything in a while. I haven't been writing in general and it's really making my mind all cobwebby and sluggish. Not writing begets more not writing and so it is a terrible downward spiral until one forces oneself to get back to it and put fingers to keyboard. So, here I am, easing back into things, cobwebs and all.

Here's some stuff we've been up to lately...

My friend Ramona told me about this blog The writer of soulemama is so talented that it puts all of us normal moms to shame. But she is not talented in the annoying, great-now-I-feel-like-a-loser kind of way. She inspires you to greatness in your momness, causing you to want to elevate your life with kids to an art form. I even bought soulemama's book The Creative Family and I have just devoured it--reading bits over oatmeal or while the kids are taking a bath. She is an amazing photographer that soulemama and her pictures will make you salivate even more than the Anthropologie catalog, I'm telling you. She depicts a world that I so crave for myself that I can almost taste it. Her family is constantly digging up the earth of their luscious Maine property so that they can plant something or they're hanging clothes (that she has made of course) out to dry on a clothesline--the littlest soulemama offspring standing on a stool and pinning the clothes herself. She tells you how to repurpose your husband's old shirt into a pair of super hip pants for your toddler and she also encourages you to keep a basket of yarn out for little ones to play with and run their hands through. Who needs a Bob the Builder computer when you've got a basket of yarn? Why didn't I think of that? Even if you aren't the least bit crafty, she will get your mind a-workin so that all you think about are the crafts. I keep finding myself staring into space and imagining the things I could make if I just had a little time and little hands weren't constantly all up in whatever it is I'm doing. I'm hoping to teach Emma to finger knit soon. According to soulemama, children as young as three can do this. I think if I could just get that girl hooked on some kind project then we could all sit around knitting together, growing things, wearing Brandon's old shirts as pants. That is my fantasy.

I've also been passing the time by learning how to hypnotize myself. I have been listening to a friend's Hypnobabies CDs in an attempt to prepare myself for a "pain-free" birth. I know, I know. It sounds kind of crazy, huh? But according to lots of people, it's supposed to work. I always seem to fall asleep during the hypnotizing so hopefully I will just sleep through the whole labor and wake up when I've had my baby. I'll let you know how it goes!

I also spend way too much time looking at real estate web sites dreaming about buying a house someday. We are hoping to be able to buy something in about 9 months to a year. Soulemama's got me wanting a big old house with lots of land with room enough for a banging wall and my own studio to make things and write in (actually I wanted all these things pre-soulemama, but now the desire is palpable). Maybe we could have some goats or something too? It's not likely to happen where we live though. We are destined for townhouse living for some time with prices the way they are here. I am just really itching for an old house with lots of character, a yard, room for the kids to have birthday parties and their own gardens in the back yard, etc. I know that if I had those things, I wouldn't be any happier than I am now. My life wouldn't be this beautiful soulemama photograph. It would just be more rooms to clean, a lawn to mow, a banging wall to tend to. It would still be me living my life after all.

So, since I am slightly real estate obsessed these days, I found this article to be really interesting. It's about how the ideal American house has changed over the past century and how it's changing now. I am sure that I'm not alone in my American's probably indicative of some big cultural shift that I'm part of but can't see because I'm too close. I'm pretty sure there are millions of pregnant ladies out there blogging about houses and goats and hypnobirthing all over America right now. I'm okay with being a cliche.