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We have become pretty smooth about leaving Carla with a babysitter. In fact, we have a regular sitter whom we ADORE, and… I don’t think we’ve left Carla with anyone else (outside of family).

Oh. That’s not true. We did hire, on occasion – with permission, lest you think I am a no-good babysitter stealer – a friend’s regular babysitter. She was also great, but has since moved out of town.

Anyway, today I feel pretty easy breezy about leaving Carla. I still write out emergency phone numbers and where the sitter can reach us, and I still set out Carla’s nighttime pull up and pajamas, but other than that, I think I have Chilled Out quite a bit.

The first time we left her alone, I was A Mess. I typed out and printed a full sheet of instructions (even I am cringing a bit, thinking back on it) (although let’s be kind to Past Me, who was simply terrified of leaving her baby [her more than one-year-old baby] for the first time) with everything from emergency numbers to snacks Carla could eat to where extra burp cloths live in Carla’s bedroom. Gulp. Okay, just admit it: I even put “Call 911 in case of emergency” at the top of the typed up sheet. I just… I don’t know. I remember thinking, in a panicked fashion, what if the sitter sees these “in case of emergency” numbers and thinks I want her to call THEM instead of 911 if Carla is choking or on fire or something? Gah. Poor Past Me. (And lord only knows WHAT the babysitter thought, and whether she still tells that story – to uproarious, incredulous laughter, no doubt – at family gatherings and nights out with friends.)

Outside of being A Little Crazy, I try to be a decent babysitter-hirer. I try to ask her to sit well in advance. I fill her in on details a few days before, and I provide dinner – and a sweet treat – every time she comes over. (Although my husband and I discuss whether she even eats it, at this point. And whether she even LIKES the food, which I lazily lovingly purchase for her at the gourmet food store up the street and then put on a plate for her, and cover in saran wrap. And whether I should just have some sort of Frank Conversation with her about whether she would prefer I order pizza for her.) (One of my friends doesn’t feed her sitters at all. She used to ask her regular sitter if she’d like pizza or something, and the sitter always said no, so she stopped offering.) (That makes me anxious, thinking of someone in my house and me NOT FEEDING her.) I try to keep up on her life, to a not-creepy extent, and to offer her a ride home if it’s cold or rainy. I try not to text her too often during the evening. And we get her a Christmas present each year.

She is completely lovely, and she knows CPR, and she has lived on our street her whole life and has babysat for all our neighbors and she has a good day job and she is kind and easy going and Carla loves her to pieces. Of course, she has now gotten engaged (because OF COURSE, she is amazing) and so our days with her are numbered.

PANIC.

With this unknown limit on our babysitting time with her, I was almost glad when she wasn’t available for an upcoming event my husband and I are going to. Because it has forced us to find another sitter. (NOT the one whose number I got at a chain restaurant on the urging of my mother-in-law. I mean, the waitress seemed LOVELY and was very good at her waitressing job, but… I don’t know. Maybe this is a perfectly natural way to pick up a new sitter? I HAVE NO IDEA.)

So in a moment of boldness, I texted one of the lovely women who sees Carla each weekend for Sports Things and asked if she might be available. She was (although she charges FIFTY PERCENT MORE than our regular sitter GAH) (does this mean we are underpaying our beloved regular sitter? GAH) and so now I am hopeful that we will have a good backup.

But now I am pre-panicking about Dealing With Someone New. Do I… resurface my (potentially insulting but THOROUGH) sheet of instructions? Do I… have her come over 30 minutes early so I can walk her through Carla’s routine? The best part is that Carla already knows and likes her, so at least I don’t have to worry about Stranger Danger kicking in when I’m trying to get out the door. If this were a Brand New Person, I would have her come over to meet Carla before the real night out, or at least have her come over for a very short sitting experience – an hour or two, maybe, while I ran to the grocery store.

But what about her? How do I make her comfortable while making myself comfortable with leaving my child in her care?

I think if I were a sitter, I’d want to know:

  • Emergency numbers, like who to reach if the parents never came home (gulp)
  • The number and name of the place where the parents will be
  • Location in the house of first aid materials
  • Specific instructions about what the child can/should eat and cannot/should not eat
  • Specific instructions about bathtime/bedtime routine (what time, what to wear, what happens when, where pajamas and pull ups and toothbrush and loveys and other-such live)
  • If there are Other Rules and Expectations – like if I’m supposed to be doing dishes, or not going into a certain room, or no television (for me or for the child)
  • Expected duration of the evening
  • Any Common Issues – like, the child will definitely cry some when the parents leave, but will get over it quickly; or the child will try to hide before bathtime, and here are the places where she typically hides; or the best way to distract a child from Extreme Feelings is to make goofy noises and faces; or the child tends to sob quietly for awhile before falling asleep, and it’s normal and doesn’t require extra soothing

I would be very interested to know what other parents do to find a new sitter, and then, once they have a new sitter, prepare for the new sitter. And what sitters like/how they prefer to be treated.

A fun thing that happened over the winter holidays is that my husband and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. Seven years! Seems like nothing compared to the FIFTEEN years we’ve been together, but fun nonetheless. And we hired a sitter and went out to dinner, to a place we’d never tried, and the evening was warm so we went to a nearby town that has a quaint little main street, and we got ice cream and walked up and down the sidewalks and went into a bookstore (and got glared at for still holding our – empty – ice cream containers). It was lovely. I wore stockings with polka dots, which was A Big Fashion Risk for me, so that felt bold and daring, and it’s always lovely to have a leisurely evening with one’s beloved, with good food and ice cream to boot.

To celebrate, my in-laws got us a present! It was a lovely surprise, because they don’t normally get us presents… (Or do they? Now I am re-thinking that statement. They got us a huge, beautiful wooden cutting board last year, and I have some vague recollection that six years is wood… we haven’t even USED the cutting board because it is too beautiful and because I don’t know how to clean it properly SIGH) Anyway, they got us a set of those adorable copper Moscow Mule mugs you see at restaurants, because the seventh anniversary is supposedly the copper anniversary.

It was very unexpected and something we would never buy for ourselves, so it was really fun. And I went right out and bought vodka and ginger beer and limes and something else that goes into a Moscow Mule and we had Moscow Mules that very evening. Quite delicious, despite the fact that I do NOT like vodka.

Apparently you can make something called a Dark and Stormy that is quite similar, but involves rum instead of vodka. But I like rum even less, so we did not try that one.

I would love to try something similar with gin, which is my liquor of choice, but all the recipes I found just sounded… suspicious. I canNOT imagine gin pairing well with ginger beer. And drinking gin and tonic in a copper mug just… didn’t feel right. (Perhaps I am overthinking this.)

But after that, I really didn’t have occasion to try any more fancy cocktails. My husband isn’t really an alcohol drinker, and I’m much more of a wine person. And I just couldn’t muster the enthusiasm needed for making a fancy cocktail on a weeknight.

But those adorable glasses were just sitting there, unused!

So I bought some grapefruit juice and some more limes and some club soda, and I concocted a mocktail with those ingredients. And once the club soda ran out, I used grapefruit LaCroix instead (which I’d purchased… oh… a year or so ago, when it seemed like LaCroix was all the rage and it turned out I am not a fan). And the copper mugs keep the drinks very cold and make them seem MUCH more frivolous than juice and soda might normally seem.

Mocktail.JPG

I don’t even remember what The Thing was, now. It was something ridiculous. Like, tomato sauce. We have these shared shopping lists on our phones: one for the grocery store, one for Target, one for Costco. And my husband was going to Target that very day, so I put “tomato sauce” on the Target list.

When he came home, I helped put the shopping away. No tomato sauce.

“Oh no!” I lamented. “You forgot the tomato sauce!”

“No, I didn’t,” he said.

I looked at him, blinking. “. . .”

Him: “We don’t get tomato sauce at Target.”

Me: “I know we don’t usually get tomato sauce at Target. But… I put it on the list.”

Him: “But we don’t get it at Target. It’s less expensive at the grocery store.”

Me: “But… you weren’t going to the grocery store today. And I need the tomato sauce tonight. And I PUT it on the LIST.”

Him: “But we Don’t. Get. Tomato sauce. At Target.”

Me: Primal scream.

How..? How can something so perfectly logical to one half of a couple – a couple who have been together FIFTEEN YEARS and who know each other QUITE WELL – be so completely illogical to the other? HOW WILL WE SURVIVE?!?!

(At least now I know I will have to include “Special dispensation” or “One-time exception to the precise location of the typical purchase of this item” should I need The Thing at Target in future. Marriage: A Perpetual Learning Experience.)

You know that feeling, when you’ve been going along, feeling smug about something, and then all of a sudden you run smack into the fact that you shouldn’t be smug at all?

Yeah. That’s one of life’s least satisfying feelings.

My husband has always been a coffee drinker, and he spends, like, $8.99 for a 10-oz… bag? sack? container? why cannot I not think of the appropriate word here?… vessel of coffee at the grocery store about every week. I don’t really know how many cups he drinks each day, or how much coffee is required to brew a cup of coffee anyway, but he needs a new bag almost every week. So that’s about $1.28 per day on coffee.

I, on the other hand, would order a box of 24 Keurig pods of English Breakfast tea for $11.99. And I use one K-cup each morning. That’s about $.50 per day.

Smug superiority.

But then for Christmas, my husband got me this awesome little thing called an “IngenuiTEA” which brews loose-leaf tea… and then it has a special mechanism that allows you to put it on top of your mug and the tea comes out the bottom, into the mug, leaving the leaves behind. It’s AMAZING. So amazing that we put the Keurig away, possibly forever.

Alongside the tea brewer, my husband got me a cute little tea sampler with a bunch of different types of black tea and a tea called “mango tango” and an Earl Grey that smells so floral and sweet that I want to wear it as perfume.

I drink two cups of tea every morning. Let’s go back a second: I didn’t do that with the Keurig. I simply set it to the largest brewing size, which was probably about 12 ounces, give or take. Maybe closer to 14 ounces. I don’t really know, the machine did it for me. (I’m going to be one of the first people who starves to death when the robot resistance begins, aren’t I?) So in terms of K-cups, I was only drinking one cup of tea per day. But now, I brew the tea according to the directions, which are “one heaping teaspoon per eight-ounce cup.” So I use TWO heaping teaspoons to get to the actual amount of tea I require to feel human each day.

And now that I’ve tasted all these little samples, I am so excited to try all sorts of things. Oolong! Rooibos! White tea! There must be other types! (My previous experience with tea was limited to English Breakfast, chamomile, chai, and Throat Coat [by Traditional Medicinals – this is not an ad, I am simply obsessed with this tea when I have a sore throat]. Occasionally, I have enjoyed some green tea. Especially when it is mixed with lemonade, by a barista at Starbucks.)

So recently my husband and I had occasion to go to the mall, and we stopped at this tea place. I was aware of this place because it typically had a staff member prowling the hall outside its door, holding a tray of tiny cups of tea for passersby to sample. I had never been inside. It’s the size of a closet, but has so many teas I was promptly overwhelmed. I don’t know the first thing about buying tea! My little sampler had fooled me into thinking I had some sort of Tea Cred, but lo – I have no cred at all!

Luckily for me, there was a little table with some tea samples on it, and I tried some, and smelled some others, and thought, okay, I could see myself drinking this tea… Or, no way would I even shampoo my hair with this… Or, blech ptthhh pttoooey.

I talked myself into one of the teas, and then picked up a package… and. Oh. It was $12.50 for two ounces. That’s $12.50 for about six my-size cups of tea. That’s more than $2 per morning drink. That’s… Crazy.

(Turns out tea is one of my starling expenses TM Swistle.)

(Along that line: I really wanted to get my husband a… what is WITH my brain today? I can’t think of ANY WORDS. Let’s see if I can talk my way to the correct name of this thing. I really wanted to get my husband one of those little kits that has nail clippers and a nail file and a cuticle pusher-backer-thingy [that’s a word I’ve never known]. I’ve been thinking about it for at least a year, and occasionally when I would be in Nordstrom, I would think about it. And I even went so far as to ask one of the Nordstrom salesclerks whether they had any – this was some months ago – and they said, oh we typically get those in around the holidays, they’re really a nice stocking stuffer. Which is exactly how I was envisioning this kit: as a little add-on, not a big gift on its own or anything, just something fun but practical. So when it got to be Decemberish I went into Nordstrom and started poking around, and lo and behold there was one of these little kits in the Men’s Vanity Section. And I picked it up and… it was $125. Um. No. I am not paying THAT for that.)

(Never did figure out what the word was. Manicure kit? Why does my brain insist that the word/phrase I’m looking for starts with an S?)

After this parenthetical interlude, we are now back to the Tea Saga:

So I put THAT package back on the shelf and was fully prepared to walk right back out of the tea closet and rescue my Keurig from its lonely place on a shelf in the basement.

But my husband encouraged me to just try something! Don’t leave empty handed! Hadn’t I been yearning for some jasmine green tea? Perhaps the store sold THAT.

And indeed! The tea store had rows and rows of little cupboards – kind of like the little boxes at a post office – containing other teas, all lined up in the wall behind the counter. (Which I found very awkward and stressful, to be honest. Because you are trying to read all the little names and prices while looking over the shoulder of the teenage salesperson who wants to ring you up and nudge you on your way so she can get back to gossiping with her friend about Manda’s new tattoo.) I got really flustered, trying to acquire as much information as possible without taking too long or looking tea-stupid. And jasmine green tea was indeed one of the options! It had a terribly, ridiculously high price stamped on it. But I imagined that was for a POUND of tea, and I was so flustered and uncomfortable, I didn’t want to ask any questions to clarify that point or anything. To sort of hedge my bets, I guess, I asked the salesclerk for the smallest amount of tea possible. Which turned out to be two ounces. Which turned out to be the exact price stamped on the jasmine tea cupboard. $15. For two ounces. Of beautifully perfumey tea, all furled up into little pearls.

And then it turns out you need someplace to KEEP the tea – the tea from the little wall cupboard doesn’t come in its own tin, as it does when you buy an entire tin at the grocery store. So I had to pay an additional $5 for a little thing called a “macaron” (because it indeed looks like the cookie of the same name) and then I slunk out of the tea closet with my “my morning drink costs less than yours does” smugness shattered forever.

Well, I have resigned myself to the fact that I Must Do This Yearly Recap, even if it’s the only post I do all year. (To be FAIR, I did write eight other posts in 2015.)

(This yearly recap originated with Linda of All & Sundry. If you’re so inclined, you can read past versions of my responses: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.)

  1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?

I became an aunt! Which also means I threw a baby shower for the first time. (I think it turned out okay!) I taught myself some very beginning basics of graphic design. I spent a night away from my daughter (and in a different state, even!). That’s all I can remember.

  1. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Last year, I said:

I think last year’s are pretty good priorities for the year ahead: baby, husband, balance. But I’ll add a couple of things:

  • I want to do better about accepting that I am me, and I am not perfect, and that is okay. And if other people can’t deal with that, fine. I can’t live to make other people happy.
  • I want to try to DO things with Carla. Most of the time I spend with her is in the evenings or on weekend, which means that most of the time I spend with her is spent doing errands or housework. I would love to do OTHER things, like crafts or museums or walks or… I honestly don’t know what. Just things that we can do together that extend beyond the routine.

I think I have been better – with room still to improve – on the husband front. Balance is something that has gotten out of whack in the past six months, but I am working on a plan to improve that. I still feel like I have A Lot of Work to do on the Being a Good Mom front. But for the most part, Carla is happy and well-adjusted and healthy and growing and generally pretty awesome, so I am at least not COMPLETELY effing things up.

I do think I’ve made some progress on the “accepting I am me” thing. It’s hard. But I am just trying to be more honest about my needs and it has worked out fairly well. I’m not perfect at it, and it doesn’t work perfectly, but it’s progress.

The trying new things with Carla HAS gone well. We started her in swimming lessons, which we now do almost every week. She goes to a little gymnastics group most weekends. We have been to the zoo several times, to the history and art museums, to the farm, to the spray park, to many playgrounds. We have made pizza together and cookies and chocolates and played with play doh and paint and sidewalk chalk. It has been a lot of fun and I don’t regret a single minute of it.

This year, I want to prioritize my husband, quality time with my kid, balance in my life… and I also want to really work on personal fulfillment. That sounds… vague and a little frou-frou and a lot privileged, but I think it will honestly help with the first three priorities. At least, I hope so. And I’m going to try.

  1. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes! My sister had a baby!!!

  1. Did anyone close to you die?

No.

  1. What countries did you visit?

Not really a big year for travel. I visited three states besides my own: Illinois, Florida, and my home state. All with Carla.

  1. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?

More time for my husband. More time for writing.

  1. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Nothing jumps out at me.

  1. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I am going to go TOTALLY FRIVOLOUS with this one, and say: making incremental improvements to our house. We re-did the front landscaping (which I mentioned last year as my biggest failure), and we got a new dishwasher and a new kitchen faucet (and a new faucet in the guest bathroom to boot) and I feel like we have finally gotten into a rhythm with normal house maintenance stuff that makes me feel like the walls aren’t going to cave in around me at any second.

  1. What was your biggest failure?

Being too yelly.

  1. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nothing out of the ordinary.

  1. What was the best thing you bought?

We bought a NEW CAR last January, and it is awesome. It has seat warmers, which is just about the best invention ever. It’s my husband’s, though, so I don’t get to experience it every day. And our BRAND NEW DISHWASHER is awesome, too!

  1. Whose behavior merited celebration?

This goes 100% to my husband. Not that my parents (whom I have listed here in previous years) weren’t ALSO wonderful. But my husband has been… amazing. First of all, he graduated from his fellowship – which means he finished TEN YEARS of training. And he started with a practice and has been working his tail off to build a patient base and establish himself. And even with all that, he’s been incredibly supportive of me and just a fantastic father to Carla.

  1. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

I can’t even.

  1. Where did most of your money go?

Taxes, loan payments, mortgage, savings, daycare. Plus, you know New Things, like the aforementioned car and dishwasher. New things ain’t free, yo.

  1. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Last year I said: The holidays this year. Carla is so excited about EVERYTHING, and it is so fun to see that.

I didn’t even KNOW what excited was! She has been so delighted about the holidays and so delightful! I’ve gotten really into decorating and trying to make things special for her because she enjoys it so much.

Also: NEW NIECE!!!!

  1. What song(s) will always remind you of 2015?

Hmm. I have a constant rotation of Adele, Justin Beiber, and The Weeknd on autoplay in my head… but I don’t honestly know the title of any of the songs that are lodged in my brain. And I definitely listened to the Taylor Swift 1989 album a billion times. I love the whole thing. There were some others, this past summer, but damned if I remember them in any way.

  1. Compared to this time last year, are you:
  2. a) happier or sadder? Sadder.
  3. b) thinner or fatter? Fatter.
  4. c) richer or poorer? Richer. Dual incomes, baby!
  1. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Writing.

  1. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Same as last year: Fretting. Crying.

  1. How did you spend Christmas?

In my house, with a real tree my husband and Carla and I picked out together and decorated together, with my parents. It was low-key and simple and there was lots of wine and it was very, very nice.

  1. Did you fall in love in 2015?

Ugh. Every year this one makes me gag a little, but I definitely fell more in love with my husband. He’s a practicing physician and getting to that point beside him has made me love him in new and better ways.

  1. What was your favorite (new) TV program?

The Leftovers. And, new to me though not to anyone else, Louie.

  1. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I can’t really think of anyone I hate.  

  1. What was the best book you read?

Did I read any books this year? I feel like I STARTED a few, but not sure how many I finished. The Martian? Oh – and there was the new Tana French book, right? I liked that one.

  1. What did you want and get?

A Fair Isle sweater from Boden!

  1. What did you want and not get?

A white Christmas.

  1. What was your favorite film of this year?

Um. Did I watch any films? I think I watched Spy with Melissa McCarthy – that was pretty cute. Oh! And Carla and I watched her first Disney movie (The Little Mermaid) together which was a super fun experience.

  1. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Practically the same answer as last year:

I was 34, and I cannot for the life of me remember what I did for my birthday.

  1. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Same as every year (don’t I ever PROGRESS as a person?!?!):

Being able to just LET GO and not freak out about EVERYTHING.

  1. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?

I have full-on embraced the leggings-as-pants “style” that I used to disdain. COMFORT IS KEY. In your face, Past Me!

  1. What kept you sane?

My husband. My iPhone. Talking to my parents every other day.

  1. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I don’t even know.

  1. What political issue stirred you the most?

Nope. Not even going to.

  1. Who did you miss?

I guess I most missed the bloggers I used to interact with regularly, back when I blogged frequently and they blogged frequently. I suppose I should figure out a way to do Twitter (which makes me uncomfortable for some reason).

  1. Who was the best new person you met?

I don’t know that I met many new people this year.

  1. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.

You can live in disrepair for a long while and come to believe everything is okay. But life can be immeasurably better if you fix what’s broken.

  1. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Wish we could turn back time to the good old days / when our mama sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.

 

Happy New Year, Internet! I hope to see much more of you in 2016.

I have a high tolerance for broken things, I guess. Perhaps this is called “being lazy” or “being cheap” but I like to pretend I’m tough and who needs things to work anyway?! Weaklings, that’s who!

Turns out, having things that work is pretty awesome.

The driver’s side window of my car stopped working, oh, seven years ago? Eight? Niner? I can’t remember, so let’s just say it was not working for the better part of a decade. I can’t remember why I didn’t fix it in the first place, although I suspect it had something to do with the cost. During some routine car maintenance, the mechanic noted that the window wasn’t working, and that it would cost some ungodly amount to diagnose the thing and then there would be some sort of additional price tag on parts and labor and. Broken window it is.

Oh! There was one time where it miraculously healed itself for about three or four months, which I remember QUITE CLEARLY was in the summer of 2012. I remember this because I had just begun a new job that required the use of a passcard to get in and out of the garage. And the window worked! After having not worked for a long while!

But… The following summer, it no longer worked. So I would open my door every morning and every evening to let myself into the garage.  I felt like such a weirdo, opening my door a crack, awkwardly confusing the parking garage attendant who was never sure if I was trying to park in the entrance way or what. Sometimes I would pull up too far from the swiper, so I’d have to awkwardly half-leave my car to reach the little swiper box. I was unable to get the mail from the mailbox while in the confines of my car. Drive-through ATMs were an exercise in absurdity – and I definitely dropped my ATM card at least once as I was trying to lean out the tiny crack in my door to wedge it into the ATM machine, and then couldn’t reach it, and so had to pull forward, but the person behind me in the ATM line had no idea of my struggles so she drove up and over my card and it was a Big Thing that still makes my face flame with embarrassment. I couldn’t shoo the occasional fly or mosquito out of my car. I had to go into the pharmacy to pick up my prescriptions and into Starbucks to get my coffee. You know. Pretty unimportant stuff on the Larger Scale by which we’re all expected to measure day-to-day annoyances.

This past summer I finally got it fixed. I have no idea why this summer was The Summer. None whatsoever. Oh! Yes I do! Last winter, I drove my in-laws’ car for a while while (yes, two whiles, they are both intentional, if lazy, come on, we’ve already established I don’t mind THAT) they were out of town. And the driver’s side window worked, and I found out how excellent it was to just… ROLL DOWN THE WINDOW! Such easy breezy freedom!

I believe I made some sort of hyperbolic statement to my husband about how it vastly improved my quality of life, and voila! We decided to cough up the money to fix it. (It was STILL an ungodly amount of money.)

But it is SO NICE.  A whole new world of drive-through decadence is now at my fingertips!

Then there was the faucet in the kitchen. It was… wiggly, I guess you could say. No longer properly attached to the sink part. And the spray was coming out all wonky, or sometimes very weakly.

But it was some sort of complicated faucet that my husband couldn’t switch out by himself, so it was going to require a plumber and a new faucet and someone would have to stay home from work to get the thing installed. And did I mention expensive? Blech.

It took about… two years to finally get it fixed. And I LOOOOOOVE my new faucet. LOVE IT. It’s shiny and it works and there’s no weird Sink Gunk collecting around its neck and man. Two years I could have been enjoying it!

What else?

OH THIS IS THE BIG ONE! Our dishwasher started acting up over a year ago. First, the latch that holds the door closed broke somehow. It got loose and then would work its way backward into the housing of the dishwasher, requiring the use of a knife to coax it back out to a position appropriate for actually keeping the dishwasher shut.

Then it started making horrific groaning noises, as though the sheer burden of washing dishes was causing it the utmost despair.

Then the little release toggle thingy (yes, that is a technical term) for the soap dispenser only worked intermittently, which meant that I felt OBLIGATED (because I am crazy) to re-wash multiple loads of dishes.

Which my dishwasher really took to heart, by the way, because a month or so ago it decided that the dishes needed a LOT more washing than I was directing it to do, and it would just start up. By itself. At any time of day or night. OPEN OR CLOSED. You try loading a dishwasher after dinner when it suddenly starts spraying you with water because it thinks it’s in the middle of a rinse cycle. In its final days, the thing was running practically all day long. Of course, the soap dispenser didn’t work so I ended up washing those dishes by hand anyway (am crazy). Can’t wait to see my water and gas bills! (You would be correct in assuming that I failed to disconnect the power cord until the Day of Washing was well under way.)

So for Christmas, my husband and I gifted each other with a New Dishwasher! And lo, it is wonderful and washes dishes – with soap!!!! – when we ask it to do so, and no more frequently than that. It latches shut. It’s quiet. It is wonderful.

Now that I am fully aware of the wonders surrounding Fixing Things and Having Things That Work, I can’t wait to fix ALL the broken things in my house! The banister spindles that are not properly adhered to the railing! The screen in my daughter’s room! The lattice around the back porch! There are probably dozens of other things that I am not thinking of!

Fix all the things!!!

Is there anything more delightful than a toddler? Carla is learning new things seemingly by the minute and I feel like I can see her brain develop and her skill set grow EVERY DAY. She is becoming more and more HERSELF, a sweet, spunky, independent, imaginative little girl and it is so fun to witness.

In the morning, just to give you a tiny slice of our day: She helps me get her pancakes, and she sets the timer on the microwave (what, I’m not making her pancakes from scratch or anything). She puts her dishes by the sink so I can rinse them, then puts them away in the dishwasher. She can count how many raspberries I put in a Tupperware for her lunch. She can use the potty by herself (well, when SHE feels like it) and can dress herself completely. She knows how to brush her teeth and wash her face and comb her hair. She likes to “call” her daddy on the “phone” in the mornings, to ask him where her barrettes are or to let him know mommy broke the diaper pail AGAIN and he needs to fix it. She can open the freezer and pull out an ice pack for her lunch box. She loves to jump on my bed, singing Five Little Monkeys at the top of her lungs (but god help anyone who tries to start with five and work down to one – oh NO, you start with ONE little monkey or face her wrath). She can procure the dust buster from the laundry room, turn it on, and vacuum up the (inevitable) crumbs on the floor. And then she can put it back! And turn off the light in the laundry room! She can go upstairs to get things. She can put her clothes in the laundry bin. She brings me my shoes. She can put on her own coat. She can open the door by herself (yikes) and walk down into the garage (by herself) and climb up into the car (with a little help). She sings almost constantly, and asks questions about everything – at every noise, “what was that sound mommy?” and “was that a garbage truck mommy?” and “is the squirrel getting a nut mommy?” and “is that a pumpkin mommy?” – and is unbelievably delightful.

But man do mornings make me want to burrow under the covers for EVER AND EVER.

We are NEVER on time. There is NO listening. There is a LOT of running away. All of these delightful skills she has? She does them on her agenda and only then. Should I ask her to do something, it is met with either defiant NOs or cheerful obstinacy or just plain disobedience. Should I lose my patience and try to pick her up, there is much kicking and wailing and – my favorite (NO) – the Boneless Maneuver, wherein she goes completely limp and is impossible to hold.

I wake up at six every morning. I wake Carla up at 6:45 on the dot. We have the same routine every single day. And yet some days we are out the door at 7:45 (ideal) and other (MOST) days we are out the door at 8:15.

By the time I drop her off at school and climb back into my car to head to work, I am frazzled and exhausted and out of patience. (Apparently my patience reserves are very shallow.)

I feel like I have tried everything: Steely calm in the face of anything. Constant narration of what we are doing and what we are about to do and how we are going to do it. Easy breezy casual “whatever you want to do, sweetheart.” Doing everything for her. Letting her do everything herself. Setting aside special cuddle time where we read a book or two before we jump into the morning routine. Bribery. Threats. Yelling (not my preferred mode of operations). Occasionally something will work – like the “if I get to the count of three and you aren’t brushing your teeth, I will do it for you” method that’s having limited success these days – but its efficacy is always short-lived.

And putting on a pair of shoes and a coat continues to take eight billion years.

This is a phase, right? This is a phase. It’s got to be a phase. Tell me it’s just a phase.

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