Monday, February 16, 2009

Romance Chez Mary

Valentine's Day has come and gone. One of the difficulties one faces while raising children in a semi-impoverished state (such as my own), is that finding the means to go out for a special evening with one's spouse is a rarity. Babysitters after all, charge money. And the last time when I tried to pay with a combination of monopoly money, a private Hannah Montana-style concert starring yours yours truly, as well as private tutoring in the dance moves made famous on High School Musical, I was thoroughly rebuffed (yes I can perform the dance to "We're All in This Together." Furthermore, I have performed it on stage in front of an auditorium of parents and peers. Just one of the perks of being a dance teacher to young kids). Teenagers these days are so picky. Come to think of it, I probably wouldn't have taken that deal as a teenager either. So this weekend Bert and I found ourselves babysitter-less for Valentine's Day.
The ever-resourceful person that I am, however tried to make up for this by lining up a babysitting exchange with a neighbor. By the way, a babysitting exchange is exactly what it sounds like. I agreed to babysit my neighbor's kids one night while she and her husband went out, and she in turn agreed to watch my kids while Bert and I went out. Unfortunately when we ro-sham-bo'd for the date night, I lost (no, we didn't actually play paper, rock, scissors to determine who would go out on Valentine's Day. How juvenile do you think I am? On second thought, don't answer that question. I did, after all just confess to knowing the choreography from High School Musical). It was determined that Bert and I would go out on the unlucky Friday the 13th and we would join the ranks of unpopular high school girls by babysitting on the most romantic day of the year. Except, unlike high school girls, I am popular and I would be performing this service for free. Lucky me.
Last week my sweet Duet caught a slight cold and was snoring at night. Poor Duet. Poor Mary. One of the difficulties one faces while raising children in a semi-impoverished state (such as my own), is that you end up sharing a bedroom with your husband and your nearly 2 year old daughter because you cannot afford to live in a place that has 3 bedrooms. And before I go any further, let me preemptively answer the question that is on your mind: yes, we tried having Una and Duet share a room but Duet awakens well before dawn, and in doing so wakes up Una. In this scenario I find myself with 2 cranky children and a cranky personality of my own. By sharing a room with Duet, I subtract one cranky child from the mix (since Una isn't in close enough proximity to hear her wake up) and this makes life more tolerable for all.
Where were we?
Ah, yes. The snoring child.
So last week Duet's snoring was keeping me up at night. That would have been acceptable if she'd chosen to sleep in until a reasonable hour. But she was instead waking up at 5:00 every morning. So I was averaging 4-5 hours of sleep each night for 5 nights and not handling the sleep depravation very well. By Friday night there was one thing that I craved more than anything else. That thing didn't involve Bert in the slightest. More than a pseudo-Valentine's Day date on Friday the 13th, I wanted to sleep. So I called my neighbor and cancelled her services for the evening, took a unisom, bade Bert good-night, and climbed into bed at 8:00pm. You'd better believe I slept in until 8:00am the next day. Happy Valentine's Day, indeed. Who needs dinner, chocolate, flowers, heart-shaped jewelry, or teddy bears when they can have sleep? OK, so I maintain that no grown woman should ever receive a teddy bear from her beloved. Especially not on Valentine's Day. And heart-shaped jewelry? Really? I'm sure I would have thought it was pretty when I was 5 and my favorite colors were pink and purple. But now that I'm all grown up, I prefer Tiffany, and instead of pink and purple, I choose blue. Tiffany blue. For the record, I'll take dinner, chocolate, and flowers nearly anytime. Just not when I'm sleep deprived.
On Valentine's night a rested Mary headed over to the neighbor's house where she raided the refrigerator, texted her BFF's, spent hours on Facebook, channel surfed, and put off studying for her algebra midterm. Just like all of the other Valentine's Day babysitters.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Where's The Humor?

Missing the funny posts? Me too. January's been insane. Bert's been gone for over half of the month and at the end of the day as a solo parent all I want to do is sleep. Hence, little time for blogging. On the nights he has been here, I've had something going on that's kept me out late. Sounds fun I know, but those events have included: CPR training, First Aid training, babysitting, picking up friends from the airport, and meeting with a group to finish a sewing project. Funny, the way that last sentence starts out, I sound like a teenager, then it takes a sudden shift and ends with me sounding like an old lady. For the record, I do not fit into either demographic. So, again the point here is I've had little time at home in the evenings to blog. Hence, my dearth of funny posts. If it's humor you're after (specifically something funny that I've written), may I recommend the following:

This fall hundreds of entries (so I'm told) were submitted and only the finest chosen for publication. I'm happy to have made the cut (I don't have much going on for me right now, so allow be to be proud of this one accomplishment. But since it's merely a self-published book, it's not even that much of an accomplishment. Anyone can self-publish. It's not like I've just been spotted by some famous publishing house and am on the road to stardom).
My copy just arrived in the mail and I must say that it lives up to its title. Something Cleverish, indeed. There are lots of funny vignettes inside and I'm sure you'll laugh. Even if you don't, your money won't have been wasted. I'm not out shamelessly peddling my wares. Let it be known that I don't receive any commission, cash, points, widgets, or any other item for selling this book. All of the proceeds go to the NieNie Recovery Fund.
Haven't heard of NieNie? Don't worry, I hadn't either until my friend Mrs. Furious introduced me to her story (long story short version: young mother of 4 suffered major burns over 80% of her body when she and her husband were in a private plane crash in August. Both have survived and are undergoing a major recovery effort, complete with major medical fees, hence the fundraising book).
Looking for a way to entertain yourself and help someone in need? Kill two birds with one stone (but not the pretty bird on the cover of the book), by buying Something Cleverish here.

Don't worry, folks. I'll be back with my A game before too long. This week's looking crazy too, but in the meantime you can enjoy reading my funny, original, never-been-posted story in Something Cleverish.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Oh Happy Day!

I couldn't sleep last night, I was so excited. I was like a kid on Christmas Eve and, unlike the year I found out that Santa wasn't real, there were no disappointments when I woke up this morning. I've been wearing a smile all day long and I don't intend to stop any time soon. I'm giddy with excitement and pride, and so full of positive emotions right now. I'll try my best to write my thoughts, but I fear they won't be too articulate for I don't even know where to begin.

We started the day out by making Obama cupcakes so we'd be ready for our inauguration party. Look out Martha Stewart, you've got a some competition from a political nerd.Duet took an early nap, so she was in her crib for the oath and inaugural address. Perfect. Amazingly, Una watched the entire thing with me. Being able to eat cupcakes and ice cream in front of the TV, definitely helped to keep her happy.
What a powerful event. The excitement from the crowd as conveyed through the television was electric. I wish I'd been there, but my schedule wouldn't allow it.

Something amazing and historical happened today. We, for the first time have an African American president. Without downplaying how significant that fact is, I feel that Barack Obama is so much more than just that. I truly feel that he is a good man and a wise leader. I haven't felt that way about any president or candidate before. And I must admit, it feels incredible to have a leader in whom I have confidence, respect, and admiration. Call me idealistic, but there's something different about this man. He is outstanding and capable and I'm full of hope that he can bring our country together and get us on the right path again.

Earlier this week I was in a meeting about teacher training. One of the speakers stated that exceptional teachers do two things: teach their students who they are, and give them hope. I thought Obama's inaugural address did just that. He reminded us that we are a nation of diverse individuals founded upon the ommon principles of "honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism." He spoke of our current difficult times as well as some difficult moments in our history and then offered hope by reminding us that we are strong and have overcome so much and declaring that we can do it again.

He called upon us to be hard working and responsible and pledged that he will be the same. His history has already shown that he has been. He is effectively leading by example. Although there were somber moments in his speech, there was not a sense of despair, but one of hope. We are Americans and we can get through this. He'll lead us through. I've never felt prouder of my country or more patriotic than I felt today. I shed a few tears of joy throughout the proceedings.

Now it's nearly midnight and I've been watching inaugural news for the better part of the day. It's time I moved on to tomorrow. The beauty is, when I wake up he'll still be our president. I'll probably still pinch myself just to make sure I'm not dreaming.

By the way, did you see their first dance at the Neighborhood Ball where they were serenaded by Beyonce? Even through the fuzzy reception I get on my TV, I could see and sense the emotion. And I got teary eyed, again.

Monday, January 19, 2009

At Your Service

I originally was going to title this post "Mary Poppins and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day(s)," but I'm trying to focus on the positive. Let's just say that in the last 4 days, everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong. Some highlights (just to name a few):
1. On Friday afternoon, waiting with my children for 2 hours at the pharmacy while my insurance company tried to fix a clerical error they made a few months ago that does not allow us to get prescriptions filled. Due to the long holiday weekend, the issue is still unresolved and we're still waiting to get Una's prescription. Luckily we're no longer forced to wait at the pharmacy. Even more luckily, it's not some urgent medication, like insulin, that she needs.
2. Making not one, but two trips to the car repair place to fix a problem that wasn't fixed properly the first time. Since Bert's not around this required the use of two different friends who helped me transport the cars (thank you D and K).
3. Hitting black ice on the freeway and spinning completely out of control into another lane entirely. Both the car and I emerged unscathed (but just barely). I narrowly missed getting hit by a large 4 wheel drive truck and a semi. Luckily I was alone and did not have my kids in the back seat. I can only imagine how traumatizing that would be for them.
And people, those are just a few of the highlights. It's been a constant stream of misfortune here at the Poppins household since Thursday afternoon. But as I said, I'm keeping this positive, so back to the "At Your Service" Post.
Today is national service day. I hope this isn't the first time you're hearing about it. Since Bert's out of town and I've got sole custody of the kids until he gets back later this week (much later, unfortunately), I haven't been able to go anywhere to do a service project out in the community. I have yet to find a terrific community service project to do with two kids in tow. Some places require that children be at least 16 years of age and other places wouldn't really be a suitable environment for Una and Duet. I did notice that a lot of organizations in my area are holding food and clothing drives for the needy, so I decided to participate that way. Una helped me choose some clothing and canned goods to donate and off we went. No, we weren't out there mingling with others in our community, but considering the two limitations I have, I think we've done pretty well for ourselves.
Join in the fun. The day's not over yet. Happy serving!

Friday, January 16, 2009

We're Good People

So, I've been quite taken with this US Airways jet landing in the Hudson river story. Perhaps you've heard about it. So scary (especially as I think about Bert getting ready for two flights this week). Yet so miraculous. The hero of the day is the airline Cap'n. Out of respect, I should probably write "Captain," but out of respect for the cereal I know and love, I'm calling him Cap'n. Plus, the Cap'n and I have something in common so I feel that I can be a little more familiar with him. You see, I just found out that the Cap'n and I hail from the same hometown. I'm not saying that makes me a hero (although I did just get certified in CPR and First Aid, so you never know), but I'm pleased to be presented with more proof that great people come from my hometown. Mary Poppins, the Cap'n, Christy Turlington (don't pretend you don't know who that famous model is); it's an impressive group. So thanks, Cap'n for all your fine work and for making the people of Danville proud.

By the way, Wed night I managed to be in bed before 10:30pm and had a great night's sleep, thanks in part to Bert who woke up with little Duet (wh,o as you may recall, likes to wake up before the break of day). Trust me, I needed the clarity of mind that comes with a good night's sleep for on Thurs I encountered a lot of minor emergencies (such as a subbing job, a last-minute trip to the garage to get our car fixed that resulted in getting home well past our kids' bedtime). With all of the unplanned activity, I ended up staying up later than I'd hoped since I had a lot to catch up on. My bedtime was more like 11:00pm. Tonight I should manage to meet my goal.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pardon Me, I Seem To Have Lost My Motivation. Have You Seen It?

So it's pretty obvious that I've been neglecting certain things as of late. Like writing about my progress. I can explain. There hasn't been any progress to write about.
I was doing quite well staying on top of most things up until the Christmas season was in full swing and then I had to make some concessions. That's normal. That's part of life. Right?
Well, the trouble is I didn't bounce back after the holidays were over. I'm not exactly sure why. Yeah, I've been busy. But I was busy before too, and that didn't stop me from keeping up with my goals.
It's OK though. I'm ready to start anew now. And I'm not going to beat myself up over my lack of motivation the last few weeks.
It's midweek now, Wednesday to be exact, and I think I would profit from some consistent sleep. I'm hereby imposing a bedtime upon myself. 10:30, to be exact. Lights out, under the covers, no excuses.
The theory is, if I'm getting ample quality sleep, I'll have the energy I need to accomplish all of my other goals (like posting daily, for example. It's such a fun creative outlet for me, I really miss it when I let it slide).
So, I'm raising my nightcap (Mary Poppins-style--tonight it's a cup of herbal tea) to all of you. Here's to a restorative night's sleep. The first of hopefully many. And here's to the energy that will magically manifest itself tomorrow. I can hardly wait.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Chew on This

Tonight I underwent some special training with a Little Anne doll so that I could become CPR certified. Now I can start a BSC with all of my BFFs and start advertising my qualifications and babysitting services on fliers distributed throughout the neighborhood (help me out here, folks. Tell me I wasn't the only one who read the Babysitters' Club series and dreamed of having my own such club). I haven't done any CPR training since I was a teenager. And as a throwback to my teenage years I guess, I was chewing gum tonight (not something I usually do these days). This proved to be a bit of a problem when I was practicing mouth to mouth on my friend Little Anne. Note to reader, it's not easy to give breaths while chewing gum simultaneously. Unfortunately I didn't think about this until I was mid-breath and the instructor was hovering over me, noticing that Little Anne's chest wasn't rising, and encouraging me to try again. I choked under pressure and swallowed the gum. That seemed to do the trick. Like a pre-teen girl develops seemingly overnight the summer between her 7th and 8th grade year (or in my case; the 11th and 12th grade year), Little Anne's chest started to swell. So did my pride. I'm kind of a CPR pro now, and I've got a signed card in my wallet to prove it.