May 29, 2006

What I Did on My Summer Vacation(s)

Summertime always puts me in a reflective mood, maybe because I add another candle to the cake in July, and I find myself thinking of summers past. For the last 20 years, it seems I spent a good number of summers doing one of my favorite activities - MOVING. How did I manage to time the majority of my many moves during the months of June and August? In Texas? Between the sweating and my knack for bruising, I would have made out better if someone had just backed the moving truck over me a couple of times.

The College Years break down like this:

August 86 - May 87 - Dorm
Summer 87 - Home
August 87 - May 88 - 1st Apartment
Summer 88 - Camp
August 88 - May 89 - 2nd Apartment
1st Half Summer 89 - Camp
2nd Half Summer 89 - 3rd Apartment
August 89 - May 90 - Sorority House (yes, you read that right)
Summer 90 - 4th Apartment
August 90 - May 91 - 5th Apartment
June 91 - August 94 - 6th Apartment with the lovely Karla May

For those of you keeping score, that's 8 different Austin addresses in as many years, and I lived at one of those addresses for 3 years. That's a shitload of boxes and packing tape. I can hear that damn tape in my sleep!

In August 94, I moved home for law school, met T-Bone, and in June 97, we moved him into the Best Apartment Ever, where I joined him after the nuptials that December. We were there a year, then moved back to Austin in January 98, where we lived in a duplex about a year and a half before moving into the townhouse we built in May 2000. We were there about four and a half years, after which we moved into an apartment in December 2004, where we camped out for about four months while our house was being built. We moved in here in April 2005, not quite summer, but still damn hot. And the day any boxes get moved from here, I'm going to be in one.

I'm so happy to sit on the couch and sip cool drinks this summer while all those poor bastards are hauling their crap around in stinky trucks in the mind-melting sun. Sucks to be them. However, there is the matter of my 20th high school reunion in August, so I'm sure that little event will leave me sufficiently sweaty and bruised.

May 25, 2006

I Deserve This

You know the old "apple doesn't fall far from the tree" adage? I'm living it in spades, man, and I'm afraid I can't keep up with my apples. Olive has become a complete vigilante against dust and crumbs, and she patrols the house with wipees and her little broom, telling me not to "fweak" while she battles the fingerprints and cat hair. Which is all the more weird because when we go outside, she loves nothing more than to dig in the dirt and collect rocks. Not to be outdone, Peach recently told me she had to rearrange her dollhouse furniture to give the house "a better flow." What have I done ...

May 21, 2006

Stairway(s) to Hell

Friday marked the official beginning of summer at Casa de Bone, and I celebrated by breaking my toe after slipping on the stairs. Hooray! Just as we were leaving for a full day of fun at Fiesta Texas. I broke the pinky toe last year, and it has never been the same, but this time it was the fourth toe, which immediately turned black. I hobbled to the car and limped my way through FT for seven hours, only to get back in the car to drive two hours to a cabin on the Frio River my in-laws rented for the weekend. Everyone else was already there when we arrived (9 folks, 1 bathroom, mind you), and we were told we "got" the king-size bed. Upstairs. In the loft. For which there was a 15-step LADDER going straight up that I had to haul my fat ass and throbbing foot up and down all weekend. Oh, and did I mention I that I was so totally nauseated from the broken toe, the amusement park smells, and the car ride that I ate nothing all weekend but a few crackers yesterday afternoon? Yeah - it was great. Luckily, there were enough folks to wrangle the girls that I napped off and on to pass the time until I could come home to my own bed and my own Super Size bottle of Tums. I did rally for some wading at Garner State Park yesterday - Peach emerged from the water with bruises on her legs and scratches on her buns from sliding down the rock slides, and Olive developed a rash from either the sunscreen we used or something freaky in the water that I'd rather not think about. What with the broken toe, I completely spaced and left their toiletries bag at home, so I was without the hydrocortisone cream, Benadryl, and Motrin that might have come in handy on just such an occasion. All I had was diaper cream, so both my angels went to bed last night covered in Butt Paste. It's good to be home.

May 18, 2006

Vacation BS

It's that time of year, kids! Vacation Bible School registration! I've seen lots of signs around, and it seems that most churches are using the same themed program - that being, "Fiesta!" - so kids all about town will be partying with Jesus this summer. Ahhh, it just takes me back ...

I went to VBS at some holy roller church the summer before 4th or 5th grade. A bunch of kids in my neighborhood were going, even though none of us went to that church, and what I remember most about the whole experience is that we went at night, and we were transported to and fro on The Joy Bus. It was an old school bus all painted up with crosses, hearts, and flowers, and we had to sing Sunday school songs all the way there - most notably, "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart ..." The ride was so long, I usually ended up falling asleep on the way there and would wake up disoriented and quite annoyed with all that Joy flying around. Looking back, I really can't believe my parents let us go - At night! To a random church! With me, about 10, in charge of my brother - who was 5! What were they thinking?

The other highlight of the week was when I burned my eyeball while "making potions" in my best friend's mom's bathroom one afternoon, right before The Joy Bus was due to pick us up. I sprayed either the potion or some perfume right in my eye, and it was stinging and weepy for the rest of the week. I had a tissue permanently affixed to soak up all the tears and gunk. I got so used to the tissue that I forgot it was there, and I even had it on there when we performed our Passion Play at the end of the week. Our "costumes" were painted plywood with holes cut out for our faces, and somehow I managed to hold that thing up with one hand and the tissue on the eye with the other. As I delivered my lines, you could hear people in the audience whispering, "I didn't know Pontius Pilate wore an eyepatch."

May 15, 2006

Happy Baby Mama Day

A little late, I know, but we had a busy weekend with my family in town. Poor little Peach got sick on Saturday, but she rallied for her spring dance show on Sunday and pressed on for her last Monday of school today. Kindergarten graduation is on Wednesday, hence the house guests, and we're taking the whole crew to Fiesta Texas on Friday. To be followed by a weekend with the in-laws in a cabin somewhere on the Frio. Nine of us. One bathroom. Should be fun.

And About That Other Thing

You know, the job situation/full-blown career crisis? Today is the last day of my severance period, and I haven't found: a) a job; b) a direction; or c) a dead rich uncle, all of which send me searching for change in the couch cushions and car seats at this point. Actually, it took me almost a year and a half to find my last job, so three months isn't too bad - right? And because of the whole having-to-find-and-pay-for-care-for-Olive issue, we've decided to suck it up for now, and I'll just try to find something that works around me staying here with her for another year, after which - gasp! - she'll be off to preschool at least three mornings a week, and I'll have more time available to dazzle the legal community with my BFA, my JD, and a steaming pile of BS.

May 12, 2006

You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With

Today I had an appointment at GGMS to fill out the paperwork to formally enroll Peach for next year. Yep, they called on Wednesday, and we got "in" (WooHoo!), but I decided not to tell Peach yet. The plan was to go today, do the paperwork, and then get her a school t-shirt and surprise her with it when I picked her up this afternoon. Yes, I make a big damn deal out of everything.

I showed up a few minutes early, and the office was deserted. I didn't know where else to go, so I stood around for about 10 minutes, and no one ever came. I started wandering around the school, looking for someone, anyone, to herald my long-awaited arrival, and one of the guides pointed me in the direction of another office. Ok, thanks. Now it's 15 minutes after my alleged appointment, and that office is deserted, too. Perfect. I almost started laughing. I came out of the second empty office, and another guide asked if needed any help. I explained, and she said, "She should be here. I'm sure she'll be back shortly. Please enjoy our aviary while you wait." Look - you can distract me all you want, but I ain't leaving here until you take my money and put my kid's name on a class roster. I'll move in to the damn aviary if I have to - just give me the golden ticket!

I sat down to wait some more, and the director came up - again to ask if I needed any help. Well, they sure are polite. I explained, she checked the appointment book, and oh yes, there's my name, and the woman I was meeting must have forgotten and went to lunch. Now it's 30 minutes after my alleged appointment, and I have to go pick up Peach. We decided the phantom woman would call me to reschedule for next week. So, no paperwork, no t-shirt, no surprise. Damn.

I had a couple of errands to run, so after I picked up Peach, we got Sonic slushes and pushed on. I kept checking my messages at home, thinking that if the phantom woman didn't call me within the hour, she better be in the hospital or jail. She, in fact, did call an hour after the alleged appointment, apologizing profusely, and telling me when she was available next week. Oh yeah - watch this. I called her back and told her I could come back right now. BOOYEAH!

I told Peach we had one more errand to run - where? - to sign you up for GGMS! With a big grin she said, "They said I could come there?" Yes, my angel, they did. We skidded into the parking lot 10 minutes later and beat it to the second office before the phantom woman had time to disappear again. No money exchanged hands because I need to get T-Bone's signature on a few things, so I'm going BACK on Monday to turn everything in at once.

It's been such a long journey, but I know it will be worth it in the end. As long as they don't close up shop and turn back into a meat-packing plant over the weekend (insert "Twilight Zone" theme here).

May 9, 2006

School Daze

Warning: I really wish I could make this a "long story short," but since this issue has occupied the better part of the last year of my life, I don't think that's possible. Make that 4+ years, actually. Feel free to skim. So -

Schools. I used to think those people that were freaking out about where their kid was going to go to school and how they "did" in the "interview" at said school were so stupid. "I'll never be like that. That only really happens in lame ass movies." Well - Hi, I'm Lame. And I know you've met my Ass.

When I was pregnant with Peach, I had the perfect job, which I loved, but I really didn't want to go back to work after she was born and leave her with someone else. True, we needed me to work, but once we figured out how much full time care would be, what was left of my pitiful state-issued paycheck wasn't a whole helluva lot. So, I went back for two months after my maternity leave was up, and my grandmother came and took care of Peach until I quit. I kept my eyes and ears open for jobs that could somehow work around my life at home, and a year later, just as I was about to put in an application with some Horny Housewives party line, T-Bone saw the posting with Law Nerds, and by some miracle, I got the perfect job again. Except for I hated it, but that's another story.

Working from home, especially in the beginning, was quite challenging, so we thought maybe if Peach went to a Mother's Day Out or preschool just a couple of mornings a week, I could get a little more work done. She was about 18 months by this point, so every place I called either was full for the next two years or had no waiting list at all, and I thought, "But why don't they have a waiting list? What the hell's wrong with them?" So we decided that if Peach was ever going to leave the house, we had to get on some lists. Enter that rascal Maria Montessori.

I had read a lot about Montessori education because - have I mentioned this? - Peach is brilliant, and I liked the idea of her opportunity for learning not being defined by her age or some other BS but by her ability and interest in learning. I had some recommendations from friends, so I began the visiting. The first school closed their waiting list for Peach's age group a few months after she was born, so that was a no go. I visited two others - one that was too loosey-goosey, even for me, and one that was more hardcore, so no thank you there, too. And then I went to Groovy Granola Montessori School, and that was IT. I could see Peach a couple of years down the line getting down and dirty with all those awesome materials and working her magic with those little brooms and rags. She would DIG it all. "Yes, please sign us up! Are these the hoops I jump through to get her in here? Okay - look how high and fast I'm jumping! Jump! Jump! Jump!"

And then wait. wait. wait. And get letters three years in a row that say no. no. no. Too full. Too many siblings. Blah. Blah. Blah. I'm glad GGMS is so in demand, and obviously they're doing something very right, but dang. In the meantime, a wonderful thing happened. We had also put Peach on the list for her current school, and although things didn't look good when we applied, a month before school started when she was three, they called with a spot. "Yes, please, we'll be there tomorrow." And we loved it for the next three years. Although it was technically our "second" choice, I could not be happier with her experience there, and I would love for Olive to go there as well. However, every year when we got the rejection letter from GGMS, I thought, "Well, GGMS has elementary classes, too. Surely we'll get in by then."

Silly, Lame Ass. Our story picks up in October when GGMS called with an opening! "Yeah!" Right then. "Oh." In the lower elementary class. "But, she's only 5," I said, "and besides, we're committed to her current school for the year, and we couldn't leave now even if we wanted to." Which we didn't. "But ... how does it look for next year?" GGMS told me to call in February because we were so far up the list, since we had been on it for frickin' ever, and we would see about getting Peach in for the fall. So, I was feeling pretty good. The goal was in sight, or so I thought. I went to the Open House in January to see if this was still all I'd built it up to be. I cried the whole way home because I was even more certain that that was where Peach belonged. I called in February (around the 5th - I didn't want to look TOO desperate), and GGMS basically said we'll call you in March, IF there's a spot. March comes and almost goes, and I couldn't stand it. So I called and was told that the enrollment process was just about over and so if I hadn't heard anything yet, it probably wasn't going to happen. "OK. That's what I figured, BUT here's why I'm calling ..." and I relayed the October and February conversations I had had and was then told, "Oh, yes. Peach. Oh - she's six. And she's a girl. That's what happened." Um, what? Too many 6 year olds, too many girls. "If she'd just been a boy, she would have gotten in." And so it starts ...

Everyone keeps saying, "Peach will be fine, wherever she goes to school." But I don't want her to be "fine." I want her to be challenged and excited and acknowledged. She loves learning, and we want to foster that attitude as long as we can, and I really think that a Montessori education, at least for a few years, is the perfect avenue for that. But, I digress.

So, I thought, that's it. The dream is over. Until two weeks ago. GGMS called and said there's a spot and are we still interested and when would we like to come visit, etc.. I was so stunned and uninspired in my answers, I'm sure it sounded like I had been napping, but I was really just so surprised. We went today, glowing teacher recommendation from her current school in hand, and Peach loved it. She had just said the day before that she wanted to draw her own cartoon characters this summer, and the class we visited was studying animation. In the parking lot, we had just had a conversation about Roman numerals, and there they were, posted on the wall. They had fish and a frog, and she excitedly told the guide about fishing for tadpoles and all the frogs we have around our house. And the guide listened to and engaged her further, and you could just see those little wheels spinning. She totally gets it. I love that. T-Bone loves that. And I know if Peach goes to GGMS, we'll see more of that.

May 7, 2006

My Secret Revealed

Your Superhero Profile

Your Superhero Name is The Rainbow Mask

Your Superpower is Near-death Experience

Your Weakness is Dust

Your Weapon is Your Golden Analyzer

Your Mode of Transportation is Catapult

Apparently, this was my destiny. Don't believe me? Check this shot of me circa 1978 after a thorough face-painting at NIOSA:

May 5, 2006

The Artist Formerly Known as Peach

Today was the Art Show at Peach's school, and each kid submits a self-portrait. Even though she's been wearing them for two years, this is the first time Peach's glasses made the cut for her self-portrait. And, as you can see, they are quite important. And please note that the bow matches the shirt. That's my girl.

May 3, 2006

Kewt 'n Kuddlee Kidz Korrall

I hate it when child care centers and preschools have cutesy, corny names - and if they have any spelling or grammatical errors in the name, I think they should be immediately shut down or at least severely fined by state authorities. I mean really, you're supposed to be a "learning" center, and yet you make flagrant misuse of apostrophes and the letters K and Z at every turn just because you stupidly think it looks cute? I HATE that!

I drive by one of these joints everyday - A Kidz Haven - and I can't decide if the name or the nasty taco wagon permanently parked out front offends me more. Poor kidz. But it got me thinking, and so, a quick perusal of the Yellow Pages bore these results:

The Cutesy:

All Aboard Daycare
Baby Land Daycare
Beautiful Babies and Toddlers Learning Center
Candy Cane Nursery School
Gingerbread House Nursery and Kindergarten
Jelly Bean Haven
Ruby's Precious Gems
School of Blooming Flowers
Sunshine's Fun Time
Three Bears Child Care Center

The Krazee:

Just Bee Kid's Inc.
Just Bee Kidz Two (yep - two different locations, two different whack spellings)
Kiddie Korner Child Care Center
Kid's Kottage
Kid'z Kountry (!!!)
Kidz & Kompany Playschool and Daycare
Kountry Pumpkin Daycare

The Littles:

Lil Angels Daycare
Lil' Darlings Daycare
Lil Super Quail Center ( I checked this twice - it is a daycare)
Little Bunnies Learning Center
Little Dudes Learning Center
Little Folks Nursery
Little Lamb Child Care Center
Little Munchkins Learning Center
Little Pee Wee's Child Care and Learning Center
Little Rascals Learning Center

The Creepy:

Baby Love Child Care
Edward's World
God's Little Miracles
Heavenly Bundles Daycare
House of Little Angels
Lil Anointed Angels
Margaret's Touch of Care
Tender Mercies Learning Center
Tiny Feet Daycare
Visiting Angels

And my personal favorite - no joke - Loose Screws Child Care. Say that again after saying, "And where does your child go to daycare?"