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March 2006
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ringing in may ...

with some much needed bitching and griping.

April is over. Thank god. What a sucky, crappy, insane, long, fast, shitty month. Harper cut two teeth and two molars at the same time - I don't think she or I have sleeped in the past two weeks. And now that her teeth have broken through, she's still on this mommy-fixation kick because surprise! Mommy is the only one who's really taken care of her during this time. Who got up with her five times a night? Mommy. Who comforted her during the day? Mommy. Who can always get Harp to take a bottle and snuggle up to read a story and calm down? Mommy. So now who is the only person Harper wants at bedtime? Mommy. And who does she still want five times a night because now it's habit? Yup.

And on top of her need for me, Marc's allergies have been kicking his ass this month and making him totally useless. I was sympathetic for awhile, but after a couple of weeks I got downright pissed off. I told him last fall when his allergies hit that I should make him an appointment to get his allegra renewed. He said no, he had some flonase and that worked just fine. I told him over the winter that I should make him an appointment so he could get his allegra renewed so he'd have it before allergy season hit. He said no, that he has some flonase and that will be fine. Spring came and he started sneezing, so I told him I was going to make him an appointment with the doctor to get his allegra renewed. Amazingly, he still said no, he had flonase and that worked fine.

Except when it doesn't.

So after a couple of weeks of hearing him sneeze and wheeze and moan and sigh, I finally made him an appointment. And before he could get to the doc, he got a migraine on top of the allergies. So I finally made him that appointment to get a check-up on those too. Now he's finally on allegra again, but I think he waited so long that he's now one giant walking ball of snot. It's lovely. And he's rather incapable of being present in our daily lives.

And I'm fucking tired.

And guess what? Our plans to go to Maine in October for our tenth anniverary? And for our first vacation in seven - yes, you read that correctly - seven years is now kaput. Turns out when Marc was laid off last spring and he worked independently over the summer, we were unable to withhold anything. And now we owe taxes. For the first time ever. So the signing bonus he got at GMAC that was to go to Maine is now going to the government. And I, having been walking a very thin line between sanity and lunacy for about three years now and really NEED a good long break, am about to step off that line and go completely mental.

I need help. I can't do it all by myself, with no hope of a light at the end of the tunnel. I can't be expected to just give and give and give all day every day with nothing given back in return and yet remain happy and calm and stable. There are no grandparents or aunts and uncles nearby to take the kiddos for a night. There are no breaks. There is no help. I have a son with a constant schedule. I have a daughter who is in instant hysterics the minute I leave the room. And I have a husband with an apparently very delicate consistency who can't be bothered lest he get another sneezing fit because he moved or migraine because he didn't get 12 hours of sleep.

I've discovered that I cannot tolerate weakness. It's a bad, bad trait of mine, but there you go. Weak people piss me off and I have no patience and sympathy for them. I'm a horrible person. Shoot me now.

Is it so wrong to want a vacation? Is it so wrong to be mad with Marc because he can't take the kids for a day and give me some peace? Is it so wrong of me to be irritated with him that in the 13 months of Harper's life he's taken her out by himself a grand total of TWICE? And both times because I had to say You! Go! Now!! Somehow I manage to schlep those kids all over the place day in and day out and we live. Why can't he? Why can't he give me one goddamn day of peace and quiet? Why do I have to stay up until midnight every night, knowing full well that I'll be up every hour and a half with Harper between then and 7 a.m., just so I can get in some time for watching a show I want to watch or scrapping or cleaning up my area or reading a magazine? And on top of that be expected to not get irritated when Marc finally gets up, showers himself, irons his shirt, meets all his own needs, and waltzes out the door happy as can be half an hour later, off to a day with adults and lunches out (Indian - my favorite - twice last week alone, as I eat leftovers or peanut butter) and alone time in the car. As I sit there inevitably arguing with Henry, fighting to get Harper to eat, in need of a shower, the kitchen a mess, a big ol' To Do list for the day, and a total feeling like my life is one giant blackhole of anything remotely resembling my own life.

Sigh ... here it is, 11:38. Harper went to bed at 7:30. Marc went to bed around 8ish. Harper got up around 9:30 and after three tries I got her to sleep around 10. Now, 1 hour and 48 minutes later, she's fussing again. I guess that's my cue to try once again to shush her and then go to bed before my night of a million wake-ups begins.

I haven't been a downer for awhile, but I needed it tonight before I popped. I'm heartbroken about not getting a little break in October. Seven years, people!! I deserve some time to be pissed about that! And yes, I probably shouldn't whine and gripe about Marc, and I'm sure he'll read this and I'll get an earful for once again "portraying him unfairly." But geez ... he gets to eat Indian food with adults while they talk about interesting things and he doesn't have to try to eat and talk while simultaneously feeding an octopus who refuses to eat and reign in a six-year-old with ants in his pants and a serious agenda of his own, and then finally manage to eat eight bites of now-cold tikka masala before the kids need to be cleaned up and put down for a nap and gotten on a bus and had their teeth brushed and gotten the floor mopped and fed the cat and maybe peed for the first time that day without trying to keep a kid from slamming her fingers in the cupboard door or eating her brother's toothbrush because she's just far enough out of reach that leaning over to grab the toothbrush would result in peeing on the toilet seat because heaven forbid peeing alone should happen - that would be too much to ask! Vacation? Seriously. I can't even get five minutes ... a whole week was a pipe dream.

But he's right. I shouldn't complain. Cuz afterall, the work weekend he was supposed to do over Mother's Day was rescheduled, and he bought me flowers the other day with a note "reminding me" that he loves me with all his heart. Because that makes it all better. So I'll just shut up now and go count my blessings before blessing no. 3 wakes up completely for the second time of the night ... and we're not even to midnight yet.

Bitter? Party of one? Um, yeah.

the end is in sight

HroomYes, it's bright. I know that. I keep walking by his room and thinking the light is on, but it's just the glow from his walls.

Vintage Orange, Solar Flare, and Grenadine.

Bright, brighter, and brightest, I say.

But it's cool. And he likes it. And he's waited way too long for his room to be done.

The bunkbeds and bookshelves will be put up hopefully within the next week or two, depending on when I make it to Ikea and when Marc has the time to decipher Swedish instructions.

But until then, the Star Wars/lava room is taking shape. Hooray.

Can you imagine the coats of primer I'll need to cover these walls when Henry tires of it? Oy.

Buy this CD. Be happy.


Have you heard this girl?! Oh my. I found her CD at Barnes & Noble the other day and haven't stopped playing it. She has this amazing voice, and when you hear her and listen to her words then look at her photo you say, "No way. She's too young."

Seriously. Buy this CD. You'll thank me.


HarpI love this girl. Big big big. Even the bad days with her are still better than the best days without her.

However ...

She is the worst sleeper. Just terrible. If she sleeps well at night ("well" meaning she wakes once instead of three times, and is awake for half an hour versus four hours), she takes crap naps. And if I manage to get at least one one-hour nap from her during that day, that's it. She'll be up probably twice that night, or will get up once and will stay awake for at least two hours.

We've tried it all ... more naps, less naps, earlier naps, delayed naps. Quieter days, busier days, inside days, outside days. Letting her cry it out, going to her immediately and pre-emptively. Bottle, no bottle. Milk, water. Rocking, no rocking.

You get the picture.

Nothing works for this child. And while I love her dearly, I get so darned aggravated during the day that nothing - I mean nothing - gets done because of her crappy sleeping skills. When she does happen to fall asleep, the world stops. I don't do laundry, I don't clean up the kitchen, I don't do anything for fear it'll wake her up. And yet when she's awake I have a hard time getting stuff done because she follows me everywhere and gets into trouble. We need a gate to block off the living room so I know she can't get into trouble if I happen to run down and put in a load of whites.

Today she napped a whopping 32 minutes and was up before Henry left for school, which meant the final coat of paint for Henry's room had to be done while Harper was strapped into her eating chair, howling out of lack-of-sleep and restraint-induced pissiness, in Henry's doorway while I rolled on Solar Flare Orange. I get nothing done. And I'm never free of her.

Sometimes Mommy just needs a break, you know? And I never get one. There's always a kid. And there's always at least one who is exhausted from lack of sleep and lack of nap and is thus in a crabby mood.

What I wouldn't give for a consistent 1-2 hour nap every day. Henry wasn't a great sleeper either, but at least he was a darn good napper ... until he gave it up completely the day he turned two.

Oh, the joy.

Young love.

Photo shoot with my sister, Becca, and her fiance, Matt, when they came to visit in March. How cute are they?!

Mattsside_1 Cuddle_1 Eyescloseup2 Img_6886 Img_6837
Img_6854 Img_6844 Img_6879 Puckerup

Ahh, to be young and beautiful and in love and anticipating the future!!

(Bec ... I'll give the CD with all the images to Mom when she's up this weekend!!)


this was my cat this morning:
a fluffy orange wonder
(with matted masses of fur in his armpits and crotch and sneaking into his shoulder blades and wrapping around his collar, despite brushing)

this is my cat as of this afternoon:
Marioshave1 Marioshave2
yes, he now looks like a squirrel wearing uggs and one of those furry hats russians wear.

it's stinkin' hilarious.

good times, laughing at the cat.

Spring day goodness.

Rszhenryandharpoutside_1 Rszflyingharp_1 Rszrunningharp_1

Love being outside.

Not loving the black background. It works with the new banner, but it bugs me. Will go away this weekend.

And thanks, everyone, for all your thoughts on the schooling issue. Marc and I are reading and discussing everything you wrote. I'll be getting back to you all with further questions or comments. I'm so appreciative!

Back to the pix, now. Harper's walking ... trying her best to run. Loves when Henry runs circles around her. Adores her brother, she does. See that grin on her face in the third pic? She's running toward Henry as fast as her little two-weeks-of-walking/barely-a-year-old legs will carry her!!

I need some advice.

About three weeks ago an incident happened with Henry at his school that got me doing a little research. And now I need some help making a decision.

One of the deciding factors when we moved to this 'burb was its good standing educationally ... supposedly one of the best districts in the Cities. We chose our house because it's in an older neighborhood with big yards and big trees ... and a nice little elementary school within walking distance. After seven years in the city, the idea of putting little Henry on the bus was more than I could handle.

So we moved in, a year later he started kindergarten, and all seemed well. Until this incident. And the resulting look into the school system.

Turns out Henry's school has the *lowest* test scores in the district, the highest diversity, and one of the lowest socio-economic ranges. Huh. Our $300K house is in a low-income school district ... didn't see that one coming. So I started looking into other elementary schools in the district and discovered that while Henry's school's test scores are in the upper 60s and low 70s, the other elementary schools range from mid-80s to mid-90s. BIG difference. But the other schools are all newer, in newer neighborhoods, with higher economic status and lower diversity. NOT saying economics and diversity go hand-in-hand with test scores, just reporting what I've found. And because they are in newer areas, they are pretty much full and only taking kids who move into that zone.

So then it was on to looking at charter schools and private schools.

While I love the idea of a private school, I just can't stomache the idea of spending the money on it. I  want to teach my kids through experiences ... take them places, do educational and out of the ordinary things with them ... but we can't do that if we're spending $500+ a month on Henry to attend a "quality" school.

And then I read about a new charter school starting up a few miles away. It teaches kids off of a Classical Core Knowledge curriculum (ie kids learn art through studying Matisse and Monet, learn reading through getting a basic knowledge of Latin, etc.), which sounds pretty fascinating to me. I love that it would challenge Henry and he needs that challenge. He gets so easily off track and distracted, yet he's so smart that he still knows exactly what's going on while he's being a disruptive force. I don't want him labeled negatively and then swept under the rug because of it.

So anyway, back to the charter school ... it's private school-quality education but is tuition-free because of it's public/charter status. The rub? At this point it's opening to K-3, with the HOPE of expanding a grade a year, with any luck up to eighth grade. But what happens if they DON'T expand? And even if they do, where does Henry go, with his superior and non-mainstream education, once he's out of this school? He'd go to private school, because they'd be the only schools equipped to continue the education this school had begun.


And now my problem ... do we take the risk and potential future financial burden and give this school a try? Do I keep trying to find Henry a public school with better test scores that I can drive him to starting this fall? Do I keep him at his current school and then stay on his teachers to make sure he's being given the best education and most fair assessment possible?

His teacher told me at parent/teacher conferences two weeks ago that his school is looking into starting up a gifted and talented program and she would recommend without question that Henry be in it if it gets off the ground. But if it doesn't?

I just don't know. I want him to have the best possible chance of reaching his fullest potential. This kid is already saying he wants to go to MIT to build robots that go inside of people and make them better ... this kid is too smart for baseline education.

I wish I'd looked more deeply into his school before we moved here. But I was so pregnant and sick at the time, our house had sold much faster than we'd anticipated and we needed to find a house in a hurry, and on the surface this neighborhood and school looked perfect.

Is it inevitable that our kid will get screwed up regardless of what we do, so I may as well follow the path of least resistance? Is there no guarantee that he'll respond to a charter school and we'll end up doing more damage than good by bouncing him around? If we change next year, that will make his fourth school in three years; coming from a childhood of bouncing around every two years to new schools and new states, I'd say it's not always a good idea. Then again, complacency and stagnation aren't good either.

Crap. Motherhood is hard. Agonizing over what's best for your kids is no picnic, and the thought of making a move that ultimately hurts Henry is just way too scary. I already see the behavioral and attitude changes he's adopted since beginning kindergarten and I have to wonder if it's just the natural progression of little boys when they start to grow and mature and get introduced to peers, or if it's due to being in a "lower income, higher diversity, low expectation" school environment. If the parents of these kids who just slide by don't give a damn, how is that going to affect MY child? Regardless of how much I DO care and push and encourage?

Throwing this out into the void. If you have some experience, some advice, I'd love to hear it. I'm at a loss.