07 May 2008

The Road to Hell…

Is paved with good intentions.

Or so it is said.

You see, I bought the girls a sand box. Well, it's more of a sand table than a sand box, made by Step 2. But anyways, something for them to play with in the back yard.

See that? Good intentions.

It seemed like a brilliant idea, at first. We don't really have any toys in the back due to the pointy nature of the "gravel" landscaping our back yard. But then it came to me the other day- a sand box. We had looked into getting one last year but the idea was quickly kicked to the bottom of our "Hey, why don't we buy…" list due to other things.

So anyhoo, yesterday I bought them a sand table and this morning we went to Lowe's so I could buy sand.

I carried 50 frikkin pounds of sand from the car into our back yard. Twice. After a few minutes of rest (my arms were like jelly), I unceremoniously cut open the first bag of sand and dumped it into the table. And then half the other one (directions say this holds 80 lbs at the most).

The sand, I told the girls before I let them loose on the back patio, stays in the sand box. Inside of it. In. Side. Of. It.

So, imagine my dismay (although dismay doesn't really come close to describing the intensity of emotions I felt) when A. tells me S. dumped sand onto the patio less than an hour later.

It couldn't possibly be very much, I thought. I mean, the shovel that came with the sand box isn't exactly a work horse of a tool. Only a few teeny scoops of sand at a time.

I looked. And anger just filled me up so much I wanted to toss the whole damn thing into the wall. S. didn't dump the whole sand box out (thank God- I may have to give her away if she'd dumped 75 lbs of sand out of that fucking table). But there was much more than a few scoops. Enough to piss me off. Enough to leave me staring- angry, frustrated, disappointed- while I figured out what to do. I sent her to her room (and since she was apparently hiding sand in her shorts, A.'s bed is now awash with sand, too).

See, the great thing about having a sand table as opposed to a sand box, I thought, was that I wouldn't have to worry about them tracking sand into the house as it gushed out of their shorts, through the house, and into their beds and bath tub. Because they don't sit in it. They're supposed to stand up, and play with it.

So I have no idea how S. got sand in her shorts, or how she managed to track some of it through the house on the way to her bedroom.

All I know is that I'm starting to think this was the worst idea EVER!

How could I have been so naïve, thinking that the girls (S. in particular) would understand this one, very simple, very basic rule- Sand stays IN the sand table. Inside, like, not on the patio floor or even in our yard. It goes in the sand table. In. The fucking. Sand. Table.

Quite frankly, this makes me a little sad. Okay, more than a little sad- a lot sad. And possibly more sad than angry, even. Because I really thought I was buying them something that would bring them so much fun and me, so little heartache.

I'm sad because no matter what we do, or how we punish her, S. does not think that rules apply to her. And this is yet another example of her idea that she is "above the law" in this house.

I'm sad because every time I try to do something nice for them, it comes back to bite me in the ass somehow, and I end up wondering later if it was worth the effort or even money spent.

I'm sad because I feel like I can't do anything right. Not even for the girls.

I'm sad because I feel like anything that I do with or for or give to them is never enough. Never, ever enough. Because there's always something else. As in, "hey mom. Thanks for the table but I want you to buy me a (fill in desired toys of the moment)". Or, "I want you to do this, I want to go there and do that…"

I'm sad because I'm starting to think that the road to hell, as a parent, is most certainly paved with good intentions- fantastic intentions, even.

I'm sad because now I think- why do I bother? Why should I bother?

And just knowing that I think that at all makes me very, very sad, indeed.

(Note: I ended up making them clean up the sand with a broom and dumping the misplaced sand back into the sand table. Easy peasy. Kind of.)

11 April 2008

W.’s Law of Housework

There's a Murphy's-like Law-type thing that happens in my household after I've finished cleaning it. I hereby dub it, W.'s Law of Housework.

For example, it is guaranteed that within a few hours of sweeping and mopping my floors (kitchen, dining room and both hallways), they will become pock marked with spilled chocolate milk, yogurt, and various other sticky-type substances which I am unable to identify. There is usually also a weird intensity that comes with these brand new messes. Super duper thick chocolate milk puddles, yogurt dripping off the table, down the back of the chair and onto the floor. It's as if these messes are trying to make up for lost time.

Within that same time-frame, I will find pieces of cereal (of various types. Today was chocolate peanut butter Puffs) ground up into my freshly vacuumed carpets (living room or girls' bedroom. S. is not very particular about where she likes to sneak and spill food.)

Scraping dried up toothpaste off of the girls bathroom counter so that I can actually see it, ensures that it will turn into another toothpaste-y mess after having the girls spend 2 minutes in their bathroom to brush their teeth (or some such activity which resembles brushing teeth). I swear more toothpaste ends up on the counter around their sink than actually on their toothbrushes. This is why I have to keep the toothpaste on top of the fridge and ration it out when it's time for them to brush their teeth.

Consequently, I also have to ration out their body wash/shampoo. After having to replace their body wash 3 days in a row, I got smart and bought a few little travel size bottles. I put some body wash in each one, put those on top of the fridge with the original bottle, and they get one little bottle at bath time. Otherwise, all 16 oz. of wash will end up as soapy bubbles in the bath tub, and the bottle will end up on the bathroom floor. All used up and unwanted.

After I have them move their dirty clothes from their bathroom to the laundry room, different clothes, hand towels and toilet paper spring up from between the floor tiles in full bloom. I'm lucky if I can still see the floor after their baths.

Toys make their way from their bedroom to the living room. Random assortments of blocks which have been crayoned, a broken crown, and stuffed animals gather in front of the couch, as if they're trying to hide from me. Waiting to go all commando on my house cleaning ass and overtake my living room floor! Some of them never make it past the kitchen though. I think those are the toys that just weren't determined enough to stage a coup -Hell, no! We won't go- back into that toy box, bitch- but thanks for playing.

Newly scrubbed walls and bedroom furniture in the girls room almost guarantees that one of the girls (again, usually S.) will find another rogue crayon, marker, pen… whatever; and try to go all Picasso on the re-virginized whiteness surrounding their room. And their desk. And their closet door.

A. occasionally includes a signature in her bedroom wall art pieces. That's nice, because then I know who to punish. Although it's really not that hard to distinguish between A.'s works of art, and S.'s "works of art". A.'s usually has letters, and people, and arrows pointing from one thing to another (she's gotten quite fond of creating illustrated flow charts). S. just scribbles. Scribble, scribble, scribble. Sometimes they look like something, usually they don't. But she is, by far, the most prolific vandal in this house.

Also, less in the house work tangent and more in the "random ass observation" tangent-

They don't seem to understand what "quiet time" means.

Quiet time: a time in which rowdy girl chil'lins must away to their once pristine, white-walled bedroom and *gasp* BE QUIET for a little bit. So that I, the mater familias, may enjoy the sounds of the keyboard tip-tapping (if that) and nothing else.

I have explained to them the rules. Numerous times, even.

"Its quiet time, girls. That means you go into your rooms, and you. Be. Quiet."

It is as if I'm speaking to them in Esperanto, but they only understand the black-hole-space-quark-left-of-Milky-Way dialect of martian-ese.

And of course, this means that they pounce in and out of their bedroom, grabbing at each other's arms in the hallway and bossing each other around- loudly.

This also means that occasionally A. will yell out, "Is quiet time over yet?"

Uh, did it ever really begin?!?!

I think W.'s Law can really be summed up in this way:

An object or space which has been thoroughly cleaned will remain cleaned only in the event that children have grown up and moved out of the house. Even then, a perpetually clean house will only remain such if said children have clothing washers and dryers in their own "spaces" (home, apartment, dorm room, rv trailer) and which they have been thoroughly trained in its proper daily operation, thereby eliminating the need to come home and toss five weeks worth of reeking laundry onto the floor for mom to do.

Note to the college kids: Using the washing machine to make moonshine is not considered proper usage of such appliances.

08 April 2008

The Not-Fun Fair

The Tucson 4th Avenue Street fair came and went this past weekend. Over 400 vendors selling various types of crafts, art, clothing and other goods, it seemed like an interesting time to me. And I thought I read somewhere that they would have activities for the kiddos, too. Like a jumpy castle or something like that.

So Saturday, I talked dh into coming and we loaded up the girls and head downtown.

Within minutes of spying the start of the booths, A. began badgering us about doing something fun. "Just wait," I told her. "We're looking for it."

Several more badgerings and a complete walk around the entire fair later, not a single jumpy castle was to be seen. Or anything else "kid-friendly" for that matter, in terms of entertainment. There was a really small Ferris wheel towards the end, but it looked lame, I was tired, the girls were tired… A. was already upset that we didn't find a jumpy castle, I didn't think she'd notice the stupid Ferris wheel (and she didn't) and so we proceeded the three blocks or so back to the car.

The admonishments began simple enough.

"Mama, that fun fair wasn't a fun fair," A. told me once we got settled into the car. "It was a no-fun fair."

I couldn't exactly argue with that… we did see some cool paintings but really the most beneficial part of the whole afternoon is that I felt better knowing I had gotten so much walking in that day. Other than that, I was in complete agreement with A. What could I do but apologize and promise we won't come back ever again?

You'd think a promise like that would allow her to just. Let. Go.

But no.

Sunday A. began to really turn on the heat about my terrible decision to drag them all to the fair on a very warm Saturday afternoon for an activity that had very little entertainment value for any of us.

"Mama, remember the time you took us to the no-fun fair?"

How could I forget?

I can't. Because even if my addled brain somehow dumped that afternoon from my memory, A. will be there to pick it right up and shove it in my face.

I know this, because that's all I've heard about it in spurts throughout the week, since Sunday.

"Mama, remember that time you took us to the no-fun fair? It wasn't fun. I don't want to do that again." She has said accusingly.

Over, and over again.

As if I'd spent her college fund on blow and hookers. Or something.

Could I feel any more terrible about spending a perfectly good Saturday afternoon at that fair? A. will make sure that I do, I'm almost positive of this.

However, the other upside (for me, not so much the girls) is that I got to see all of the cute, neat little shops up and down 4th Ave. that I've never seen before. A few I've heard of, barely, like the Chocolate Iguana ( I believe it's a coffee shop). So I did come up with a list of places I'd like to try eating at, or visiting some other time.

Just, not while the "not-fun" fair is going on.

03 April 2008

Can I have a Real Baby?

First, some backstory.

I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned that A. is completely obsessed with having another baby brother or sister. This is a request she's been making for about a year now, and she's turned up the heat after two of our friends had babies in December. Well, now she not only wants one more baby brother or sister, but two. I asked her how many kids would be in the house then, wondering if she really meant two more babies. She counted, "me, S., one baby girl and one baby boy- that's 4". Apparently, she knew exactly what she was asking for. But this is one of our more interesting exchanges regarding infant additions to our household.

*note: we haven't completely written off having one or two more children. Just. Not. Now. Or next year. Or the year after that. And yes, I am perfectly comfortable with their being a 9-10 year age difference between A., the eldest, and the baby. Completely.

So anyways, without further ado…


A: Are we going to go to New York?

(I have no idea where she got this idea from)

Me: No.

A: Is that because it's not on the planet?

Me: No. It's on the planet. We're just not going there.

A: Ever?

Me: Maybe someday, a long, long time from now.

A: I want to go to New York and get a baby.

Me: What kind of baby do you want to get?

A: One that comes with pink, and can wear flowers and stripes and dresses.

Me: You want a girl baby?

A: Yes.

Me: Do you want a real baby or a doll?

A: A real baby.

Me: One that pees and poops?

A: Yes, but I want you to clean it up when it poops.

Me: Mmmmm. So, you don't want a real baby?

A: I do, I just don't want to clean it up when it poops. I want you to do it.

Me: Yeah. That's not going to happen. Sorry about that.

02 April 2008

Trail of Tears

Do you know what happens when you get soooo tired that your eyes close and you doze off for thirty minutes in the late afternoon while the girls are still up and at 'em?

Yes. That is a trail of Lucky Charms cereal (and the spilled chocolate milk), which mysteriously jumped out of the cereal box in the pantry and scattered itself all over my kitchen, dining room, and front entrance.

Or maybe not so mysteriously. Because I know exactly who the culprit is.

I don't want to give her away, but I'll tell you that she's very short, her first name starts with an S. and ends with an A.

And the trail didn't stop at the front hallway.

It continued on into the living room. I don't have pictures of that though, because when I first told S. to clean up, she started right there in the living room.

By eating the cereal off the floor.

She's so delicate, let me tell you.

She was supposed to clean up the rest, too. I gave her thirty minutes. Thirty minutes because after that it was going to be time to go to the gym.

Because S. is a stubborn, stubborn child and refused to clean up the rest of her mess, and because dh was at a class until 6:30- I missed Body Combat tonight. Which now makes me cranky, because I've gained quite a bit of weight in the last several months, and then more in the last three weeks. I've been much better about getting to the gym lately, I go at least twice a week, but I'd like to go more. Anyways, now I get a little cranky when I miss the gym- like I did on Monday. And now tonight.


But I think I'm going to go the gym anyways and just do some time on the elliptical, or the tread mill or stair climber or some such thing. Which I hate more than anything. Which is why I take the classes.

But one way or the other, I have to get out of this house.

Otherwise, I just might end up tossing dishes into the wall (which I occasionally fantasize about when I'm uber-pissed). Or maybe even kids...

I'm just joking about that last part, folks.

But seriously...

30 March 2008

Paper-girl Turf Wars

Just a few miles from my house, there is a 4-way intersection which has become taken over by grown women (and one man, but he's rather unimportant) selling newspapers on the medians.

For months, there was just this one lady. I don't know her name, I think it might be Valerie (I've seen something to that effect written on her safety vest) and I've never bought a paper from her but we'll call her Paperlady A. She's tall and skinny with short, dull brown hair and a very, very red face. Sometimes I wonder if she thinks to put on sunscreen before she steps out onto that median to sell papers for the next 6 hours (yes, 6). I wonder all kinds of other things about her as I drive by almost every day. Does she have a home? Is she single? Does she have kids? Is standing in the Tucson sun for hours a day worth it? Does she make any money? What does she list as her occupation? Newspaper girl/woman? Where does she eat lunch? Does she step inside a gas station on either side of the median and grab a hot dog and an extra-large icee?

But in the last few months, a few other women have appeared in that same intersection, also selling newspapers.

Paperlady B appears to be fairly short, although also very skinny and has an under-bite which causes the bottom part of her jaw to jut out. I wonder, for some reason, if she has false teeth, and if she's wearing them.

The lenses on her sunglasses reflect the sun in such a way that makes her sunglasses seem large. I always think of a fly with a thousand eyes scanning the busy intersection when I see her. I don't know why. I just do.

She always wears a bandana of some sort, although she has ratty hair that hangs out the back. I can't tell if they're dreds in the making, or really just ratty. And usually Paperlady B wears long, flowy, print skirts that make me think of hippies and gypsies. The other day she wore a skirt with blue jeans underneath. It seemed a little too warm to me for layers, but that's just me. She also has a dog. It sits under an umbrella that's usually perched a few feet away from her as she walks up and down the corner, hoping for someone to roll down their window and wave a dollar bill around. She has a large blue thermos, too. But again I wonder all the same things about her as I do about Paperlady A, and more. What's the dog's name? Is it a boy or a girl? Does she drug it, as it is never on a leash and yet I've hardly ever seen it move? How did she get there? Does she have a car? Where does she park it? At the gas station across the street? Do the gas station people know? Do they care?

So then there were two- Paperlady A and Paperlady B. I'm assuming they sell different papers, as there are a couple local papers here in Tucson. I've never seen them talk to each other. Paperlady A stays on her median, and Paperlady B stays in her spot caddy-corner from Paperlady A's median.

Then a month or so ago, another lady (we'll call her Paperlady C) showed up on Paperlady A's median. Paperlady C has a little more girth than Paperlady A and B. She wears a khaki (I think) ball cap, with her light brown hair hanging out the back in a pony tail. She dresses a little more sportier than the other two. Jean shorts and a plain t-shirt underneath her lime-green safety vest. She, too, keeps a water cooler nearby. I wonder if she has kids, too. If they're all grown up and out of the house and she needed a hobby so she took up selling papers in a busy intersection to ward off Empty Nest Syndrome. I imagine her going to her grand-children's soccer games, taking pictures that will never see the light of day on her point and shoot camera and cheering until her throat becomes hoarse.

Again, I can't explain why this is my vision of her life when she's not in that intersection. It just is.

Oddly, the first time I saw Paperlady C on Paperlady A's median, I wondered if Paperlady A knew that someone else was on her turf. I envisioned the two of them gently placing their stack of papers down and start tearing at each other's safety vests and hair, trying to punch each other in the nose. Like a grown up version of King of the Mountain. Except on a brick-lined median in the middle of the desert instead.

The turf war I like to imagine in my head never happens though. That disappoints me a little.

However, not long after Paperlady C tried to depose Paperlady A from her median, I finally saw the two of them standing together. I watched them speak with each other, praying the light would stay red long enough to see my flights of fancy come true. There were bold gestures on both parts, and before the light turned Paperlady A did in fact end up walking to the median across the street. She didn't look happy. It's possible I imagined that, though, because it's more fun to think the seeds of conflict are growing as opposed to them reaching a reasonable compromise.

Compromise is boring.

I do suspect, though, that they worked out some sort of time-share because I've noticed lately that one of them will be on the contested median in the morning, and then the other one is there in the evening.

I've been chronicling these events to dh as I've watched (and imagined) them unfold over the last few months. When I mentioned my time-share theory the other day he laughed. It amuses him that I've gotten so wrapped up in this whole thing when, really, I don't have a clue as to what is really happening. Maybe they were comparing notes or something that day I saw Paper ladies A and C talking. Maybe Paperlady A was complaining about her husband/live-in boyfriend. Or maybe even her girlfriend. I have no idea.

"I don't know what is really going on out there," dh said to me, "but I don't think I want to know, at this point. I like your version so much better!"

And you know what? I like my version better, too.

I can't explain why I'm so intrigued with the homeless/not homeless Paper ladies occupying practically every median in that intersection. I think that it's just that I see them every day as I'm driving the girls and myself to one errand or activity or another. Also, I tend to have a rich "inner life" (i.e. Imagination). Or so I'm told.

But this "rich inner life" springs to action while I'm driving, especially.

Everything and nothing runs through my mind when I'm behind the wheel more than any other time of the day.

Probably because I can't safely knit and drive at the same time.

In any case, I'm going to continue keeping a watchful eye on Paper ladies A and C. Maybe one day I'll see the knock-down-drag-out fight I've been waiting for. Because, really, what's more amusing than two (homeless???) women coming to blows over who gets the median so they can sell their papers?!!!

Nothing, as far as I'm concerned!

21 March 2008

Tulibu Dibu Douchoo or That's Not Really What The Song Says, Lady

I'm not really an American Idol fan. The few times I have watched it were the try-out episodes because I think it's funny to watch the people who actually think they have talent but truly don't.
Apparently, though, American Idol becomes much more interesting when you call it Music Idol and base it in Europe. Then it's not so much a matter of talent, but knowing your lyrics especially when the language isn't native to you.
And now, for the funniest wanna-be-music-star performance ever (in my humble opinion), I present this chick who thinks she is singing Mariah Carey's song, Without You.

Seriously, couldn't she google the English lyrics from Bulgaria?