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November 2010

Occupational Hazards

I put a baby gate on Patrick's door a few weeks ago in an attempt to balance the mulitple needs of the family; namely: the cat likes to sleep on Patrick's bed during the day but if we leave the door open so he can pee somewhere other than the rug, Caroline and Edward slip in and play Godzilla in Lego Tokyo. So we fished a gate out of the basement and crammed it into Patrick's doorway and it has been annoying me ever since. In theory it is a swing gate that enables a person to glide through while carrying three stacked laundry baskets but in practice I tend to just climb over it and this is exactly what I was doing last Thursday night when I caught my foot and lost my balance. Edward - who hates to be apart from me, especially when I am enjoying the freedom of the Lego city - was standing on the other side of the gate as I fell, so my superhuman maternal instincts had to kick in and rather than crush Eddybear I flung myself to the left.

I was on the phone with my mother at the time so she heard me say "Aiiiieeee!" followed by "Edward are you alright?" before "Gotta go!"

Edward was fine. The toes on my left foot, however, had not fared so well.

You know when you stub your toe really hard and it hurts like a merengue fetcher but you breathe in and out a few times and the pain begins to fade? It was like that but without the fading. Five minutes after the fall I was still gasping in agony.

Edward crouched next to me and said, "Yook at all de cuhyeurs, Mommy." I agreed that my foot was rapidly turning an interesting series of colors.

I still had the phone in my hand so called Steve who was down at the Ffarm.

"I think I broke a bone," I announced when he answered.

It wasn't a great connection.

"You think... what?"

"I think I broke a bone," I repeated.

"You think you broke your hip?" He sounded concerned.

"No, no, my toe. I think I have just broken my toe."

"Oh," he said, "well that's not nearly as a bad as a hip. Huh. I wonder if I've ever broken a toe? Yeah probably. There was that one time... ."

I told him to save it for his memoirs. He told me to stick a bag of frozen peas on whatever area was most swollen and take some ibuprofen. I said I would call him back. I hollered for Patrick and announced that I had hurt myself. He said, oh, really, what'd you hurt? I indicated my foot.

Patrick said, "Oh my gosh that is too disgusting for me to even look at. I can't believe you showed that to me." Then he looked around and said, "Hey! The gate's down! Edward didn't go into my room did he?"

I somehow doubt that he will be going into medicine when he gets older.

I asked him to please just try to be useful and he said he'd attempt to go find Daddy's old crutches. He added that he hoped I would be able to move soon because having me lying outside his door made him uncomfortable.

The phone rang. It was my mother.

"What happened? Is Edward ok? You MUST stop screaming and then hanging up on me."

I explained and she tsk'd and then I decided to call my friend Noelle with whom I consult on all medical matters. She said she thought big toes should be checked but that she'd ask her husband when he was free. Then she offered to do whatever, whenever to help. I love my friend Noelle. 

By this time my normally fat foot was swollen to ridiculous proportions and the first two toes were mottled dark blue and red. I scooted down the stairs on my bottom and then hobbled to find some ibuprofen. I took two. Then I took one more. I corralled the children by sheer force of will (where had Caroline been this whole time? I have no idea. we'll probably figure it out next Spring when we go to start the riding mower and all the wheels fall off;) deposited them into their respective beds and collapsed into mine.

The next day my toes looked terrible and the big one hurt like first love. I decided I should get it examined by a doctor, a decision which was only made possible by Noelle meeting me in the parking lot of the clinic and taking Caroline and Edward (I know what you're thinking and yes Lancelot probably would have driven all night - again - just to buy me some shoes but Steve did eventually come home early; just not that morning.) Anyway Noelle took Caroline and Edward to the library. I got an xray. And I had broken my big toe.

There is something strangely satisfying about having your dire health suspisions confirmed. Like, SEE? I TOLD you it hurt. 

I now have a little shoe boot thingy for that foot and a new defensive reaction that prompted me to snap at Patrick as my superspecialsnowflake teased around me in line at the grocery, "If you pretend to step on my big toe one more time so help me I will actually slap your face."

He was shocked. I was, a little, too. 

So that was the big event from my week and if I thought getting three kids up and out in the morning on a cold day was a solo challenge all I can say is that I never imagined trying to do it while limping with one foot in a flip-flop.

You will no doubt appreciate my restraint in not posting a picture of my toe. It turned black.

+

My hair. Yes. My hair is straight. The curls weren't so bad. In fact I like my curls. But after Caroline and Edward were born my hair fell out and three years later the hair around my face has grown back like... a ball of lint? A tumbleweed? Here. Click on this (happy holidays, by the way, because this is the closest we might get to cards this year) and note that the last century to be attracted by permanent curl clumps hovering over the ears was the 18th. It had to go and there didn't seem to be enough product on the planet to enable me to flatten it.

So the woman who cuts my hair suggested Coppola Keratin straightening (now with x% less formaldehyde! maybe!) Actually what she said as she looked in bemusement at my hair - noting that the frizzy stuff just didn't seem to grow - is that there was this fairly new thing on the market that might have been created specifically for me and my hairline from the more humid parts of Hell.

I said, ooooh, asked how much and then said, ah. And that was the end of that until my mother sent me a birthday check with the instruction to spend the money on something just for me. It doesn't last forever but for now I wash my hair and do absolutely nothing to it and it still looks... normal.

+

So it is Black Friday and I have absolutely no idea what I am getting anyone for Christmas. I had planned on the Fisher-Price iXL things for Caroline and Edward because they like to listen to music and books on their Playskool Just for Me players in bed every night and those things are on their last legs. But I looked at the iXL at Target and I'm concerned that the stylus will be too hard for them to use. Have you seen one? Do you have one? Any other suggestions? I find this age particularly trying to shop for because I want to get them things they can grow into and the leap from 2 3/4 to 3 to 4 is pretty enormous. Right now they both like music. Caroline likes to listen to it (LOUDLY) and dance while Edward likes to listen and try to identify the instruments. Edward still loves all cars and trucks and trains. He has been carrying around a toy catalog (he calls it his magazine) and he sleeps with it turned to page 42. This page has a parking garage with cars but it looks more littler toddler appropriate. I was thinking about the Fisher-Price stand and play ramp with the wheelies but, again, I am worried that it might be too young. Do you have any preschool car enthusiast for whom you have succesfully shopped in the past? I could use ideas. He is also DESPERATE to learn how to read if that offers any other hints.

[He keeps saying, "What does that spell?"

Caroline will glance at the word - like C-A-T - and say, "Oh, Edward that's easy! That spells 'dangerous.'"

What Caroline lacks in actual knowledge she makes up for in unmitigated gall. The other day I got a note home from the preschool saying they had been talking about the Spanish words for parts of the body.

I said, "So Caroline, what is a cabeza?"

Caroline instantly said, "Cabraza is an empty oval, Mommy."

Yeah. OK.]

Anyway, ideas for Edward would be appreciated. Also Caroline. Good grief. She is so hard to shop for because she has the attention span of a hyperactive gnat. She likes everything but nothing for more than a few minutes at a time. One second she'll be lovingly cradling a doll and pretending to feed it cereal; the next she has literally chucked Baby over her shoulder into the window and is demanding paints. And then there are the nephews and Steve... . Patrick is easy this year because he filled two catalogs with dozens of sticky notes and then went back through and coded them with a star system to indicate the urgency of his desire - although you sometimes have interesting esoteric ideas for him so if you've seen anything to appeal to... his type lemme know.

In fact, if you have ideas about presents for just about anyone you know please tell me. I'm stumped.

PS Patrick and I went to see Tangled today. It was awesome. Patrick thought it was "ok" but I loved it.


9 15/16 Out Of 10

Our Trip to Chicago

I. One

    A. The Drive

    B. The Waterpark

II. Two

    A. The Wedding

    B. The Party

III. Three

    A. Chicago

    B. Legoland

And to think I believed that all the outlining we had to do in the fifth grade would never be utilized later in life.

Patrick and I had a ridiculously perfect trip and I am so happy we went. Last night before he went up to bed he kissed my cheek in passing and said, "I love you" - as spontaneous an outpouring of emotion as I think I have ever gotten from him.

IA.

We listened to the second Artemis Fowl book and I tried to not worry too much about the fact that I am a terrible driver and we were swimming through sheets and sheets of rain. Patrick and I developed a system wherein I would stop to use the bathroom, he would insist he absolutely did not need to go and then fifteen minutes after we got back on the highway he would say, uh, I think we need to stop again.

This is how we wound up in the bathroom of the Mobil gas station outside of New Lisbon, Wisconsin less than half an hour after we toured the BP ditto of somewhere slightly north of there.

At Mobil I offered to wait outside the men's room for him but Patrick scanned the area and said he would rather go into the ladies' with me. Fair enough. I think eight is old enough to do a solo public bathroom trip but I also think eight is old enough to decide if he feels something is sketchy and would prefer to conduct his private business behind a lockable door guarded by his mother. Besides, who cares, really, whether a boy is using the stall next to you? It's not like he adopted the sink as a urinal.

So Patrick used the ladies' room and as he was washing his hands a pretty blonde woman with two equally pretty little girls said, "Excuse me." My heart sank. Because I was certain she was going to be quivering with outrage over the fact that my male child was violating this female sanctum and I was going to have to either smile weakly and confide that I was honoring my son's phobia about being out of my sight in odd-smelling public places and hope for maternal sympathy; or bristle aggressively and say, "WELL, Madam?"  

What she said was: "I'm sorry but... are you Julia?"

And I said, "Yes?"

And she said, "The blogger Julia?"

And I lit up with pleasure because how fabulous and flattering and BIZARRE is that? So she said nice things and I thanked her and Patrick said, "So you're famous."

There are probably many different ways a child can utter this sentence to his beloved mother - each of them tinged with awe and respect - but Patrick chose to incorporate air quotes around the word "famous" giving blog fame pretty much the exact quota of respect due. 

I still think it was awesome and HI SUE. I hope the rest of your trip was a pleasant one.

IB.

After we checked into our Queen Suite (which looked an awful lot like a Queen Room) I thought it would be nice to pose for a Mother-Son picture before we hit the waterslides. Patrick disagreed.

We both won that argument, sort of.

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The waterslides were like being on a cold wet rollercoaster and I had forgotten how nauseous it now makes me to go around and around and... BLEH. I went down the twisty whatsit with him as many times as I could before I begged Patrick for a reprieve and dinner. He consented. Afterward I told him that I had zero interest in going back to the waterpark but I would if he really wanted to do so. The other option was for us to locate the giant four-story indoor playground. He said that sounded like fun, so I brought my book and my laptop and he grabbed the resort map and orienteered us through a maze of hallways to a truly impressive Habitrail for children. On the far side of the mesh walls was a bar and wireless internet - we were both happy.

IIA.

It was the best wedding I have ever attended. It was the wedding everyone pictures when they say they just want to have something simple with a few friends and family at home. The bride and groom each read a poem, the officiant did the three minute soap opera service (do you x take you y - ok, kiss) and then there was an elegant tea with sandwiches scones and champagne. Perfect.

IIB.

I took Patrick back to our hotel after the wedding. The plan was to change, get dinner and then take him back to my friend's friend's house where a babysitter was going to take care of him and her daughter (who Patrick liked already from the wedding) while we went to the reception/dance party.

We dithered and by the time we were ready to eat I realized it was Saturday night, we had no reservations and we needed to be in-and-out in fifty-five minutes. I called down to the concierge and explained my problem and she suggested that we just eat at their restaurant. I said, oh, can we? And she said, of course!

Full disclosure: the hotel was The James and the restaurant was some... I dunno... the chef had his cookbook displayed prominently on every available surface but I didn't study it... steak place that seemed to think it was all that and a taro nest of purple peruvian waffle fries.

So Patrick and I went down to the lobby and through the bar and I cheerfully told the maitre d' who raised his eyebrows at me that the concierge had said they might be able to get us in for a quick dinner and he... snubbed me. Snubbed me! He said they were not seating and *hand wave* they could probably get us a "quick dinner" at the bar.

I dragged Patrick (who was about to settle himself on the nearest bar stool - it's a weekend night and the bar sat about 20; if you were the bartender would you want one of your seats taken up by an eight year old? me neither) off to the lobby where I stood chewing my bottom lip and trying to decide how I was going to feed him and still get to my party. I finally went over to the concierge to see if she had any ideas.

She said, "Did you just call?" and I said yes but the hotel restaurant was not open.

She said, just a moment, and picked up the phone. Her end of the conversation went something like, "REALLY? Two people? REALLY? At this hour? REEAAAALLLLLLY?"

Then she hung up and smiled and said, "He can seat you in about five minutes."

I thanked her and when we returned to the maitre d' he said, "Oh. Great. The gang's back" and proceeded to send us to a table at the absolute furthest corner of the restaurant. That wobbled. In a cubbyhole. Next to the kitchen. I was amused by how pointed it all was but the waiter was very kind and I don't think any of the other diners were too bothered by the fact that we were sitting there eating and doing Patrick rules sudoku (one person has three minutes to complete a line column or box before handing it to the other person - it's very civilized.)

I'm still not sure what the guy's problem was.

Then Patrick took his first second and third cab rides, he hung out with his new friend, I danced briefly and an enjoyable time was had by all.

IIIA.

We decided to walk down to the Art Institute from our hotel and we took turns taking pictures.

This is one of Patrick's of the Wrigley Building. He loved the skyway.

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The weather was perfect.

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As you guys promised, he loved this.

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He took this one underneath it.

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I don't suppose I can sink any lower in your esteem after admitting that dinosaurs perplex me so I might as well tell you that art museums bore the beejeezums out of me. I just don't get it. Any of it. 

Touring an art museum with Patrick however... good god it was so incredibly fun. He had such visceral reactions and such strong opinions and nothing he said was ever what I expected - it was like being administered a series of low voltage shocks repeteadly over a period of four hours, which was the longest I could give him before we had to go check out of our hotel. He would have stayed all day.

We started with the miniature rooms, which I thought were charming and Patrick found only moderately interesting. Then we went to see the Impressionists and just as I was working myself up into an ecstatic sigh over how dreamy it all was Patrick dismissed the entire collection.

"I have one word," he said, casting a critical eye over the Monets and Manets that ringed the room. "PASTEL."

"I like them," I said.

"You would," he retorted and I think it was my second snub of the weekend.

I tried to run through the Asian art collection but Patrick practically tripped me and forced me to look at Buddhas and screens until my eyes were about to fall out.

"This does nothing for me," I said.

"But it is so old," he said. "Here. Someone carved this in the 15th century. Isn't that COOL?"

"No," I said.

Then we got into the modern wing and Patrick inflated to twenty times his actual size and began to vibrate with appreciation. Well, mostly. He loved Rothko, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly and Lichtenstein. He absolutely adored a two part thing by Cy Twombley that looked like scribbling to me. He liked the Mondrian. He wasn't a fan of Matisse. He spent a long time with one particular Picasso before he slowly nodded.

I just spent twenty minutes trying to find a link to this one painting so I could show it to you but the art institute site has defeated me. Suffice it to say it was a painting with color blotches on it and Patrick spent such a long time in front of it that I thought he had fallen into a trance. 

Trying to entertain myself (and stay awake) I asked: "What does it look like to you?"

He was silent for a minute and then said, "I see a mountain with people climbing up it and there is snow and mist swirling around."

I thought wow hey I'm starting to get this and said, excitedly, "Oh! I can see that too!"

Patrick looked at me and said, "I was being sarcastic. It's abstract. You don't need to see anything in it, you know. You don't need to be literal with it."

Snubbed again. 

I finally found a comfortable bench and handed Patrick my camera (flash turned off naturally) and told him to go amuse himself. He did.

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He asked me to take this one and he chortled as he set it up. The joke you see... I'm laughing as I remember how funny he thought this was... the joke is that the piece in front of Patrick is a photograph of a woman looking at a painting. In the painting (Caillebotte) a man and woman are looking away. Patrick wanted me to take this photograph of him not looking at the photograph of the woman looking at the painting of the people not looking at her.

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It was all very meta. He couldn't stop giggling.

IIIB.

My mom asked, "How was Legoland Chicago?"

I hedged, "Well... Patrick liked it."

Mom said, "What? Was it like Chuck E Cheese?"

"Stupider," I replied.

And it was.

IV.

Meanwhile back at the old homestead...

I was on the phone with Steve on Saturday morning. In the background Caroline and Edward were kicking up a fuss about something. Steve had just told me that Edward had woken him up in the night and he, too, now knew the joys of trying to sleep in the race car bed.

He said, "There are about three inches of snow on the ground and it's still coming down pretty heavily."

I said, oh heavens, and tried to remember where I had stashed their snow boots. Then there was a crackle and a hiss and Steve said, "Aaaand the power's just gone out. Bye!"

It stayed off for two entire days during which time Steve had the twins but no electricity, which means no heat, no water, no light, no television and no internet.

GOOD LORD.

He was very cheerful about it, though, and when I floated home with Patrick brimming with joie de vivre I didn't even murmur when he asked if, maybe, he could go meet up with his friends down at the Ffarm for a few days?

He left this morning and I think he earned it.

PS I have ads up after a bit of an ad shortage so please feel free to check out the nice people who have thrown change into my open guitar case.

This is a board book about Christmas elves that actually looks kind of cute. Also that reminds me I am on my perennial quest for a decent chocolate advent calendar, by which I mean an advent calendar that contains decent chocolate that does not taste like wax. Any ideas?

This is a book about the hazards of drinking cow's milk, a subject about which I know nothing.

This is a book about how to make cute little cakes on sticks, a subject about which I wish to learn more.

And THIS is a link to Clarity the jewelry maker.

Speaking of Clarity, several weeks ago she sent me an email and said that she appreciated the blog love we gave her and as a token of her gratitude she wanted to make me a little something. And I said no no no... well OK! She asked for my ring size and when I told her she laughed and said that she was always up for a challenge and the idea of making a dainty delicate BIG ring appealed to her.

I have very fat fingers, you know, and well you may laugh but one day I shall be able to survive for weeks on an ice floe because of all my stored resources.

A little while later the most beautiful ring appeared in my mailbox - all lacy silver swirls with a moonstone for Patrick flanked by two blue topaz for Caroline and Edward. It really is gorgeous and I love it and if you look very hard at that top picture of me and Patrick I am pointing at the camera with it.

Anyway she bought another ad and it is on the sidebar and she is a blog reader that makes lovely and very affordable jewelry to make people (like you. and me) happy. So check her out.


Ringing Like A Bell

I knew Caroline was under the weather when she came downstairs on Sunday morning only to get a pillow from my room and make herself a new bed on the couch. I asked if she felt ok and she rested a hand against her brow and whispered, "No."

I was so moved by the pathos of her Little Eva that I went to get the camera and she obliged by re-enacting her original pose. I am considering buying her a fainting couch for Christmas.

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She really did feel crummy - melodrama notwithstanding - and she punctuated this fact by waking up that night and vomiting all over her bed and the carpet and her pajamas and the pillow and the lamp and East St Louis. Good Lord. Steve was down at the Ffarm (he spent five days there; annoying the squirrels, mainly) and I missed him at that moment more than I ever had in my life: his gentle smile, his sturdy commonsense, his ability to scour surfaces with Clorox... but we managed without him and I eventually got her back to sleep. I stayed with her for an hour or two and then stumbled back to my own bed where I slept for another hour or two until Edward woke me up by crying Mommy mommy mommy. I went back upstairs dreading a new hazmat situation but found Edward sitting up and smiling at me.

"Edward," I said, "It's three in the morning. What do you want?"

He said, "Should you cuddle in the race car bed?"

I said, "No. I love you. No. Good night" and started to walk out the door when he extended his two fat hands imploringly and said, "But I missed you Mommy."

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Clearly I am besotted with him (I know I have said it before but Edward is just so... pretty. and chunky. and soft) and thus I did, indeed, agree to cuddle in the race car bed. Actually I fell asleep in there and woke up in the morning to find Edward lovingly patting my face and suggesting that I needed to go downstairs and make waffles. It took me a minute to figure out where I was, two more to realize it was a school day and half a second to determine that we were running really really late. I did not make waffles.  

Caroline and Edward stayed home from school on Tuesday - because not only am I a courteous user of parking lots, I am also thoughtful when it comes to not exposing other children to stomach viruses; although I admit: I WAS TEMPTED

... quick parking lot story:

the day after I wrote that last post I was about to pull into a parking space at Target when a man pulled into it from the other side. I mean he was in the next aisle over and pulled through a space in order to take the one I was about to use. When he saw me he immeditely gestured to show that he was willing to pull out and I waved him on because I just wanted to be near the shopping cart corrall with the jumbo two-child seat carts and there were plenty of other spaces. So I drove on and parked and got the cart and got Caroline and Edward strapped into it and when I finally moved toward the store the guy was waiting for me at the door so he could apologize for cutting me off. It was completely unnecessary but I was very touched and it was all I could do not to tell him that on my crazy perseverators list of parking lot offenders he had barely made the 2010 Top 100.

What a nice man.

Anyway.

Steve was gone and Caroline was sick but Steve came back and Caroline got better but the twins did not go to school and I was running on 150% children for days and days. We read a lot.

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I had a realization recently that even if we had never had the twins it would have been fine. Really. Not that I don't... good grief... ADORE them and feel utterly and completely grateful that I have not one, not two but three perfect lumps of perfection... just that it would have been ok. I would have been ok. At the time we were leaping through flaming hoops to get a pregnancy to work I could not see that possibility. I wanted to have another child so much - and I really do get a tremendous amount of pleasure from kids; mine, yours, that one over there - and the miscarriages made me so unhappy that I was convinced that I would be miserable for the rest of my life but I don't think I would have been. It would have been disappointing and it would have taken an adjustment for me to accept the life I had versus the life I thought I would have but I think - I hope - that I would have gotten over it. I would have been lucky to just have Patrick and Patrick would have been superb as an only child.

That said 

watching the three of them interact slays me.

Edward plays hard to get

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But eventually relents

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Patrick explains tension and wind speed

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Caroline says, right, got it, thanks

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And then there were bubbles (if you enlarge this one her expression is worth the trouble)

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I have a friend, a very old friend, a very very very old friend who is getting married in Chicago on Saturday. Steve said, GO! For gods' sake, GO! Take the weekend. Have fun. We'll be fine.

And I thought well ok. I will. I will go. I will take the weekend. And I will have fun.

Then I thought about it some more and realized that I would have even more fun if I brought Patrick with me. And we stopped at the Dells and went to a waterpark on Friday night. And then we painted Chicago, Patrick-style.

So that is what we are going to do. Tomorrow I am getting Patrick early from school and we're going to drive to Wilderness in the Dells (they're running a great special - $99 including waterpark passes and my choice of a queen suite or a queen with wet bar; I laughed.) Saturday we will be attending my friend's afternoon wedding and that night Patrick is going to stay with my friend's 7 year old son and my friend's friend's 7 year old daughter and some as-yet-unspecified caregiver and I will go to the bar they've rented out and dance. Well... "dance."

For the first time ever priceline completely let me down as I was forced to pay a truly ridiculous amount of money for a hotel Saturday night. All week I kept creeping up my priceline offer thinking surely I would get an acceptance but no. Eventually I googled something like "what the hell Chicago hotel prices 11/13 insane" and got three words and a number: american, medical, association, 22000. As in, twenty-two thousand people will be attending the AMA conference in Chicago. Plus the Bears are playing the Vikings at home.  We were screwed.

Oh well. I reached a point where it began to feel like I was bidding with goblin gold and said to hell with it and got us a room that will make Patrick swoon. Although I prefer to be thrifty and this was anything but thrifty it will be the urban evening Patrick craves and fifty years from now who'll know the difference?

As I drove to school today Patrick planned our itinerary for Sunday. He wants to go up the Sears Tower and he wants to ride the El and he wants to go to the Art Institute and sketch (this surprised me quite a lot but it is dawning on me that in his own way Patrick is something of a serious artist - he just doesn't work in any form I recognize as such; how nice for Patrick that my bourgeois limitations will provide such a sturdy foundation from which he can launch himself) and he wants to walk around on sidewalks.

He said, "I just want to become PART of the city you know? Also, I'll need lunch."

On the drive home I worried about how we were going to do all this immersion in the three hours we had before we would need to leave and I mentioned my concern to Steve when I got home. Steve suggested we take another day and just keep Patrick out of school on Monday.

Caroline is shocked.

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So that is what we are going to do. I am so excited and not to beat the dead pharmaceutical rep but I cannot help but feel my new tra-la-la-la-la attitude is due in large part to the Celexa. I haven't felt this breezy in years. I even bought red shoes. Red! Oh and I met my new Someone and I liked her and she's having me read a book on Buddhist meditation techniques that I promise I will get to just the second I finish... fiction.

Any other thoughts on what Patrick might like in Chicago? Although I lived there for... three years? Five?... the only thing I remember is that last call doesn't happen until breakfast.

PS Patrick has started a new sideline from Letter Comix: State Comix! I thought this one was pleasantly odd.


Stick It In A Bottle

I know what you were about to say. You were about to say, "Really? You don't look a day over 39!"

And I would swat you playfully with a ham sandwich and confess that I am actually four days over 39 and you would look covertly at the laugh lines that are taking over my face in much the same way ice cracks on a river and think, "Honey, I was being polite."

This is why we are such good friends.

Halloween.

Caroline was a cheetah. Edward was a football player. I asked if he wanted to bring his little Nerf football with him for the Halloween preschool parade and he said no, he wanted to bring the bulldozer transporter. This is an unusual prop within the football context and his masquerade was further complicated by the fact that Edward, when asked, would say he was dressed as a panda bear.

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Ummm, ok, Edward.

(My heart is broken by the difficult lighting in our back hall; please pretend the glare is extra goodness.)

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And they were excited, my god. Caroline spent the entire drive to school talking about how much fun it was going to be and the parade and the costumes and Edward practiced growling. You know, like a panda bear. When we arrived in the classroom 100 percent of the children were in costume and 95 percent of them were in hysterics. Caroline took one look at the sea of weeping princesses and opened her mouth and HOWLED. Edward - who is skeptical about the advisibility of my leaving him at school on the best of days - twisted himself around my legs like a python and refused to release me so I had to shuffle towards the cubbies three inches at a time. Caroline followed, wailing, "I feel very sad! I am upset; I am more than upset! This is terrible! I should go home! I feel worried and angry!"

Edward tried to burrow into my sock.

I crammed their coats and nap mats and lunches and backpacks into place as quickly as I could while I kept up a running monologue about how FUN it all was going to be. Then I gave them each a firm kiss, promised to pick them up later and I bolted for the door.

I am pretty sure that I would have worried about preschool Patrick all day long after such a weepy, clingy start but the nice thing about... age? more children? experience? Celexa?... is that I did not. I thought, holy cats, those poor teachers are going to have a hell of a day with all those strung-out toddlers and I hummed as I drove away

Patrick was a spacetime portal. I originally asked if he was a portal through time or space and he gave me the look that Oxford dons used to reserve for the more feebleminded of legacy scholars and asked as sarcastically as one can address one's sainted mother how I proposed a person could travel through space without also travelling through time or - more laughably still - was I suggesting time travel could bypass space altogether?  

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As a nod to the whimsy of the occasion he also wore socks that matched each other. Oh TEE HEE HEE.

Then we went trick-or-treating in the village and Caroline was brilliant with her perfectly timed 'Trick or Treat's and breathy 'Oh THANK you's. Edward was a little confused by the fact that people would open their front doors but we weren't supposed to go into their houses and at one point he saw the football game and barrelled past the offered candy bowl to sit down in front of their television. You could tell Steve wanted to do the same thing. Patrick kept asking me about the legality of what we were doing - going to people's houses, trespassing on their walks, demanding candy... he thought it was a grey area at best

Parking lots.

Steve says I am not allowed to talk about this any more but I am perseverating about parking lots.

1. Patrick's school was built in the days when children walked to school on their own two feet, probably uphill both ways. The end. The original parking lot was designed to hold six Edsels. To accomodate the modern commuter child another parking lot was carved out at some point and then a side lot was put in and the result is that there is just enough room now to get the school busses in and out and the car children dropped off in an orderly fashion provided everyone is patient and takes their turn.

Unfortunately many of my fellow parents seem to think that they need to drop off/pick up their child from school right away and that the rest of us chumps are waiting in line... why? Who knows. The point is that they drive in the opposite direction from the yellow arrows. They double park. They stop mid-traffic and get out to open the minivan door. They ignore the valiant fifth grade crossing guards who wave like to crazy to direct them to just move it along, putting up a finger like, "Oh, just a moment, I'm just trying to get my child into school" as if the twenty cars beind them have pulled into the parking lot by mistake or something.

It drives me crazy and, really, won't somebody think of the children because someone is going to get hit one day with all these cars going in all these different directions.

2. Preschool. Oh god the preschool parking lot. When I can, I try to park close to the door in a spot that abuts the sidewalk because Caroline and Edward are like squirrels and no matter how many times I have told them they need to stand RIGHT THERE while I get the other one out of their car seat the moment either of them are able to wiggle free they leap from the car and bound into traffic. Last week I couldn't get a good spot because a woman was pulled horizontally across three spaces while she waited for her husband to unload their son and escort him into school. Two parents, one child, three parking spaces.

So yesterday I was behind someone as we were both pulling in and I was pleased to see that there were a couple of free spaces adjacent to the walkway and close to the front door. Score! The woman in front of me pulled in and I started to pull in next to her only to discover she had parked two and a half feet over the line - there were two free spaces and she had taken both of them.

I was annoyed. SO annoyed in fact that I did what I do not think I have ever done in the history of my life and I sat there, paused in the turn that I was unable to complete and I rolled my window down and I waited. I waited because I thought once she opened her door and realized that she was five feet from anything she would turn to me and say "Oh I am so sorry!" and then I could say, "Oh don't worry about" and my passive-aggressive moment would pass. Instead I sat there and watched her use the rearview mirror to reapply hair spray (I wish you could taste my scorn - it's delicious) and when she finally opened her door and saw me half-parked behind her she said, defensively, "He had his door open." Meaning that rather than wait a minute for the car next to her to get his child out she decided to take up two spaces and use that extra sixty seconds to do her hair.

I rolled my eyes at her and I meant it to sting, damn it.

Five minutes later I accidentally opened the door to the school at the exact moment Caroline was taking a step forward and her forehead hit the edge hard enough that she flew backwards. Within sixty seconds (during which time Mrs Aquanet-TwoSpace walked around me and my spilled tote bag and Edward wrapped around my head like a balaklava and sobbing Caroline and shut the door behind her - we might become enemies) Caroline had a lump on her head the size of a kiwi with a nasty blueblack ridge down the front of it. A teacher got her an icepack and the director came to give her opinion on what we should do. At first Caroline just cried but eventually she rallied and went limp in my arms, fluttering her eyelashes and doing this fake hiccup sob she likes to do. I knew she was starting to feel better since she was attempting a death bed scene. She was painting by the time I left the classroom but I still felt vaguely guilty all day - like my desire to hex the parking lot woman rebounded on me and whacked poor little Caroline in the head. 

Why, yes, I did go off the Paxil. Why do you ask?

My doctor didn't mention anything about withdrawl side effects (and it's possible that he wasn't expecting any - either because I was only on it for a month or because I immediately started Celexa) so I was especially grateful for your cautionary comments and was alert for any weirdness. It was actually fine. I might have been a little crabbier for a week or so (see: parking lots and the yobnuts who infest them) but I am feeling MUCH better now. Not the least bit sleepy and I didn't turn a hair when my brithday dinner plans got waylaid and my friend suggested we bring the children to her babysitter across town and just wing it. Wing it! Me! The idea of packing the kids up at night and leaving them with a stranger no matter how warmly recommended would definitely be enough to generally spin me into a tizzy but it was no big deal. They all had a good time and when we went to pick them up Edward was asleep, Caroline was chatty and Patrick was zen.

I have my appointment this afternoon with my new Someone and I am excited to get started on some behavioral stuff and see what she thinks about the Celexa. Hot cha cha.

Two more: 

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PS Seriously. I try to be understanding. Really I do. I try to be patient. I always tell Patrick that it doesn't matter what other people are doing, all that matters is that your own behavior is appropriate. But in a situation (like a hypothetical school parking lot) when you know that every person there is trying to accomplish the same goal as you are WHY are people so pushy and selfish and annoying? WHYYYYYY? This one woman (who has a very very very sweet child in Patrick's class by the way) drives through the parking lot the wrong way EVERY SINGLE DAY. 

Explain it to me. Or condole with me by telling me about the self-centered strangers in your day.

PPS Our internet modem died a horrible death and the soulless zombies at hughesnet (hate them) are not able to get us a new one for another week. So if you attempt to communicate with me using anything other than pigeon for the next seven days I will be unable to respond.