Monday, August 24, 2015

Work.

I mean, I have read my archives OF COURSE because I am Narcissus.  And for the last 9 years, all I have done is bitch and moan about working almost full time at the office (4 days) for a week the week before classes start at my school and my lovely grad students come back to town.  But holy hell am I glad this is not my reality.  All the loans, all the years of genteel grad school poverty, all the dissertation sweat.  It was all worth the wonderful flexibility we usually enjoy.  But seriously, I worked 9 hours at work and am still working from home tonight.  And I need to be back tomorrow morning.  And it's HARD.  I stayed up until almost midnight getting all my shit ready (but I looked like (chubby) working Barbie in my a-line black skirt, chambray Oxford, pearls, leopard stilettos, and bright red lipstick, damnit) and making crockpot chicken tortilla soup with fresh garden and CSA veggies.  Then I was up at 5 to exercise for 85 minutes before getting ready for work.  AND I BLEW MY HAIR DRY.  Tomorrow I do all of that again but I have a PTO breakfast at the kids' school that I am hosting on my way to work, and dinner hour is easier because Ben is home, so there are no babysitter instructions to write either.  When you only need a week of childcare every year, it's kind of a cobbled together week, KWIM?

In any case, I missed my windblown toddler and her merry band of pranksters.



Friday, August 21, 2015

Since we've been home

I stood behind the Parent Teacher Organization table at the kids' school today for 7 hours at registration.  7 HOURS.

But the good news is, we had a team of lovely volunteers and collected TONS of contact information so we can recruit EVEN MORE VOLUNTEERS.  Harry and Jack are thrilled with their teachers and class lists, and we are so excited about another school year and in disbelief that we have 2 preschoolers, a second-grader and a fourth-grader.

And Ben made delicious tacos and strawberry margaritas on the table when I got home.

We have been laying low and enjoying some really cold weather since we've been back from vacay.

Ben and I saw The Gift the day after we got home-- which was a BRILLIANT night for a date night-- and it was scary and fun to watch in a theater full of people who screamed.


 The kids have wanted to go to the pool even though it's been between 45-70.
 But Ben and I have stayed strictly on the side.
 Except for family float Sunday, the last one of the season.
 Dorothy was yelling, "Mommy!  I stuck!  Mommy! I can't get out" and this is what I found when I went to investigate.
 We got a new blender and Dorothy and Cooper want to make smoothies every morning.
 So cold we had to wear coats to the park!  And we ate muffins so messy they could only be consumed outside.
 Another cold park day; another Frozen princess dress.
 Cooper helped me staple flyers for registration.
 Ben had to work late, so I thought it would be easier to take the kids to play at the library and out for pizza and ice cream than deal with them at home. LOL

 And then we closed down the park
This is my favorite video on my phone right now:

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Long Way Home

 I know we have talked about ho much I hate to fly.  But have we discussed how much I like to drive?  Road trips are my favorite.  I helps, of course, that we are totally open in the summer and don't have to be in a hurry to get anywhere.  But here's just something fun about loading the car with so much shit Ben can't even look out the back window and driving driving driving.  We only ate at one fast food restaurant on the whole trip (Culvers) because we made a point to slow down and enjoy ourselves.

We also packed one picnic to eat on the way down.  We got to Nashville-ish around lunch on our way to Disney, and shortly before we pulled into town our DVD player broke, and the kids' iPads were almost dead even though we planned to be on the road for 6-8 more hours.  We had been on the road since 4:30 am, so the iPads had been champs, and we'd already watched 3 DVDs.  Ben and I rallied, and I Yelped a park with a good playground and electrical outlets, thinking we could let eh kids run around while we plugged everything in because our USB car charger wasn't working either (OF COURSE).  We drove to the park which was a bit more out of the way than it looked on the map and it was CLOSED for BOMB TESTING.  So we picnicked at an elementary school and let the kids play.  Then we had mandatory nap time.  Then they played DS games.  Then everyone bitched and moaned for a couple hours when the iPads finally died.  And then we ate dinner at a Panera and charged the Pads long enough to get to 20% battery and coast into Macon for the night.  But we even enjoyed all of that.  Road trips are fun.  (and, I mean, I gave out trinkets whenever we crossed a state line and everyone had coloring books and crayons, and travel bingo cards and books, etc.  But still, the iPads and Nintendo DSs were the best.)

Lunch picnic:
 Mandatory nap time
 Pretty rest stop

 Baby photobomb

We were, of course, excited to get to Disney, and we had luau reservations, so we went as fast as we could.

We had no such constraint on the way home, so we decided to avoid any stretches over 6 hours.

First up:  THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS.
 They were so very beautiful.  Ben and I kept pulling into lookout spots and taking selfies.
 We spent the night in Gatlinburg, which is like the Wisconsin Dells only with gorgeous mountains.  The kids liked it a lot.
 The pools at the hotel were gross, so the kids swam in the hot tub in Dorothy's and my room.
 The front desk lady told us to lock the car so bears didn't get into the below-ground parking garage.  Um.  So.  Obviously I did not go into the garage at all.  Here we are relaxing on the balcony while Ben packed the car.
 We had a truly terrible pancake breakfast-- the pancakes wee good, but the children were bad, bad, bad--and headed into the park to climb its easiest and most popular trail:  a 1.3-mile uphill walk to a waterfall.
 But first!  We had to explore the visitor's center.

 OUR WALK WAS SO BEAUTIFUL.




 And just when we were too hot and too crabby:  THE WATERFALL!


 The only bad thing that happened on the whole stop was totally my fault.  Since we were completely for sure expecting to be eaten by bears because of all the "how to deal with bears" lit in the hotel and at the park, it was not a big deal at all compared to mauling and death.  But.  When the kids picked out souvenirs, 3 of them got binoculars and Harry got a little combo tool thing (all plastic, all toys).  Cooper immediately wanted what Harry had and whined about it but could be distracted with nature.  At the top of the trail, he started whining about how he didn't like his binoculars and gave them to me to carry.  Then he started agitating for Harry's toy.  Cooper whined and cried and complained THE WHOLE TRIP.  At first, Ben and I tried to fulfill his every wish to make him happy, but it didn't matter what we did or bought or brought him to eat-- he was whining about something for 15 days straight.  At the top of the waterfall, I just could not take it anymore.  When I realized he was winding up to scream at me about Harry's toy for 1.3 miles down the mountain while I carried Dorothy and sweated through my clothes, I yanked the toy off of Harry's neck, intending to put in in my purse.  Instead, I accidentally took off his hat, too, and DROPPED HIS TOY DOWN THE SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN.  Terrible parenting.  I didn't even buy him another one.  Bonus:  Cooper was shocked and didn't whine as much going down. As much.

Ben would not stop at Dollywood.
 Instead we went to a terrible O'Charley's in downtown Knoxille


 Next stop:  OXFORD, OHIO where I got my MA.  I hope one of the kids goes to Miami-- it is amazing.  A tiny oasis of a college town rising out of miles of Ohio farms.  You can walk the whole town easily, and you are always surrounded by bars, restaurant, drive-thru liquor stores, red brick buildings, and beer and cookie delivery joints.  It is the Disney World of colleges.  We drove right to my old apartment
 Then we went to a favorite bar (Mac&Joe's) that had really intolerably bad service

 So we had dinner at Bagel and Deli, a sandwich shop so delicious it's pretty much the reason we detoured to Oxford in the first place.
 I have waited 14 years to eat a Wamm-O bagel again.
 There's also a UDF gas station witht he most amazing milkshakes.
 The next morning I went for a walk on campus and saw this guy on this skateboard Segway thing
 And my old building!
 The old courtyard we used to stand around and smoke in!
 Exactly where I was standing when 9-11 happened.
 The seminar room!
 And of course, more Bagel and Deli for breakfast (I had a Konrad bagel this time around.  We also enjoyed a pig in the mud, a gandy dancer, a Missy's bloodbath, and assorted bagel and cream cheese combos-- that place is worth a 5-hour drive and I hope it's not 14 years before I am back.)

 So trippy to see these 4 in utpown Oxford because they were not even in the realm of possibility last time I was in that town.
 OXFORD, I WILL MISS YOU.  UNITL WE MEET AGAIN.
 To keep the nostalgia going, we drove the 80-ish minutes down the road to Muncie to visit Ball State, where Ben got his MA.  Ben or I made that drive almost every weekend between 2001-2003, and it was SO WEIRD to do it again with all the kids.  Of course, we went straight to Ben's old townhouse.
 We have this same pic of the two of us standing by Ben's Celica the weekend he moved in in winter 2001.
 We wandered the campus looking for a place to buy hats and t-shirts, and it looks the same-- still big and so pretty.
 Then we drove the short 4 hours to my parents' house and had dinner and spent the night, leaving only about 3.5 hours to go the next day.

Dorothy misses 2 weeks of unfettered access to junk food.
 I think they all missed their toys.
 And their dog, of course.