30 April 2009

welcome to misery

While I like typing Eureka! (a little too much, really), a more apt description might be "misery". As usual, the people and their agendas are over-shadowing what should really be our focus. I don't know how it happens but it is regularly clear that the dogs are secondary to the agenda. 

Nothing makes me sporky like the national specialty. And today it's going to rain. Perfect! And just for good measure, Eureka!

29 April 2009


This post is coming to you from Eureka!, Missouri, site of the 2008 Clumber Spaniel national specialty show. I arrived a few hours ago, missing the kids, spouse, and dogs back at home. CD always behaves as though flying solo is effortless so I am refusing to worry about them. Miss them? Yes. Worry? Not this time. 

As a result, I will attempt to keep the complaining to a dull roar when he goes away for the first two weeks of June. You heard it here first. Hold me to it.

21 April 2009

we are you and me

ChickyChickyBaby did this meme to help with a little writer's block. Maybe it will help me locate the blogger's mojo that has abandoned me of late. Maybe not. Anyway, should the spirit move you, feel free to do your own Couples Quiz. Leave a comment and link if you do.

What are your middle names?

Mine was Ann. I ditched it when we got married and moved my maiden name to the middle. He claims not to have one. There isn’t one on his driver’s license, green card, or passport. His siblings have said that’s wrong. Whatever.

How long have you been together?

Our first date was in October of 1998. We have been together since then.

How long did you know each other before you started dating?

We met briefly in July of 1997 and started sharing a house a few months later so it was a little more than a year before the date.

Who asked whom out?

He asked me to dinner (the place no longer exists) but I honestly didn’t know it was a date. I thought we were celebrating the release of Mulberry 1.4. I’m a little slow on the up-take. I think it took about a week or so.

How old are each of you?

We're both 43 but he’s a few months older. Dammit.

Whose siblings do you see the most?

His sister is the one we saw most recently. She left on Sunday, but it had been more than two years since I saw her. We see one of my sisters most often, about twice a year. His sibs are both in the UK. Mine are scattered about the US.

Which situation is hardest on you as a couple?

We would probably give different answers to this one. I think he would say, “There’s nothing difficult.” I will say how much he works and travels sucks big donkey balls. Since he loves his work more than anyone else I have ever met loves what they do, we find a way.

Did you go to the same school?

Not even close. I went to Williams, he went to Cambridge. The one in England. Undergrad through post-doc. I used to think Williams was old. It’s the second oldest in Massachusetts, over 200 years old. That’s pretty old, right? His college was founded in 1448. You read that right. 1448. 

Are you from the same home towns?

Not even close.  

Who is smarter?

He is. No question. Smartest person I know.

Who is the most sensitive?

I cry at the drop of a hat. Olympics, commercials, you name it. 

Where do you eat out most as a couple?

Does Wheel Deliver count?

Where is the furthest the two of you have traveled as a couple?

Paris. Honeymoon. 5 months after the wedding. Long story.

Who has the craziest exes?

Since he has no exes that anyone is aware of, I’m gonna go with me. You want the whole list of crazy or just the top ten? 

Who has the worst temper?

Me. If I ever see his temper I’ll get back to you.

Who does the cooking?

Me. He’s perfectly capable, and darn good at it, too, but if I’m home, I’m cooking.

Who is the neat freak?

He was once a neat freak and I’ve been a bad, bad influence on him. Let’s just say there’s only one of us who would consider vacuuming less than 48 hours before the cleaning crew comes. Tumbleweeds? What tumbleweeds? I don't see any tumbleweeds.

Who is more stubborn?

That’s one we might have to duke out and it probably wouldn’t be pretty. I think we are both less stubborn than the kids or the dogs, though.

Who hogs the bed?

He hogs the covers, but not the bed.

Who wakes up earlier?

Me. Me. Me. Whether I want to or not.

Where was your first date?

We went to dinner. I ate bean soup. I hate beans. But honestly, I didn’t know it was a date. 

Who is more jealous?

Not a clue. 

How long did it take to get serious?

Without a definition of “serious” I’m going to guess a couple of weeks.

Who eats more?

Maybe him, but I’m in a very bad, not enough chocolate in the world, stress bunny sort of phase. All food not nailed down is in danger.

Who does the laundry?

He does his laundry. Anything we share, that is the kids’, or is mine is my responsibility. He uses fabric softener (ewwww) and doesn't put most things in the dryer. Some people need separate bathrooms to stay together. This works for us.

Who's better with the computer?

We both can claim to be professionals but he runs circles around me. Regularly.

Who drives when you are together?

It varies, but I’ll say him about 65% of the time. The control freak in me does not handle this well but iPhone makes it all better.

15 April 2009

make it stop

Last Saturday, during which Verizon decided three days without internet would be good for me, Oliver turned 4. Four. Years. Old. It couldn't be possible. And tomorrow Eleanor turns 2. It's not surprising I have been waxing nostalgic about their births. The good, the bad, and the war zone. I get even more nostalgic knowing I'll never do it again. Not sorry, as I think out family is perfect as it is (could use a bit more cowbell clumber though) just nostalgic, and maybe a little bit weepy.

So far, four has been a lot like three, with quite a bit more back talk. We seem to have gone from zero to every other word in a matter of hours. Oliver seems to be saying "NO!!" constantly, and the rudeness has kicked up a notch or twelve. He's also showing us glimmers of the switch being flipped, something I keep hearing usually happens between four and five. He's just teasing me, I know, but it's better than the lip and attitude he's showing more frequently.

As for Eleanor, she hit the terrible twos a couple of months ago so I'm not expecting much to change. And she's looked two for quite a while. The only mystery is how far above the 95th percentile is her weight and how far down on the chart did her height go. At least she won't need any shots at the doctor this time.

All this is not to say we are not seeing milestones. Just today Oliver finally rode a tricycle all.by.himself. CD captured it with his camera at pick-up time.

07 April 2009

click clack coma

It's been forever since I posted a picture of the kids. Bubba got in there as a bonus. Eleanor's hair is long enough for pigtails now, and Oliver looks more grown up every day.

Tuesday nights require Scholastic DVD since CD has a conference call during the time he usually amuses the kids while I cook. Tonight I left the job to Randy Travis and his excellent narration of Click Clack Moo. I wish I had audio of Oliver's imitation. "Cows that type? Hens on strike? Whoever heard of such a thing?!"

06 April 2009

all in the details

We have some really smart bloggers here in Pittsburgh, women who seem to know what I'm thinking before I do and say it far better than I ever could. Two recent examples are from RedPenMama and My Very Last Nerve.  Go read them. I'll wait.

Marriage is hard. Marriage with children is even harder. I sometimes think I lack the superhuman skills necessary to successfully navigate life with a spouse and children so it is heartening and encouraging to discover I'm not alone. Not by a long shot.

As I read both the posts linked above I kept saying, "Yes, yes, yes that's it exactly!" to myself, but Gina's post kept niggling at me for days. She's got it just right. The responsibility. Keeping all the balls in the air and not letting any of them drop. Totally exhausting. But something kept poking at me and wouldn't go away. Finally, when I was in the shower this morning, the puzzle was solved. What was bothering me was the alternative to being responsible. Could I let go of the details and be okay if a ball was dropped, even an inconsequential one?

I was told some years ago that my control freak tendencies were abundantly obvious to everyone but me. Talk about a world-rocking revelation. At that time I had lived on my own for nearly 10 years. I liked things the way I liked them. And for the most part, didn't really have to adapt or adjust for anyone else. (My son's particularness brings it all home to roost, but that's a post for another day.)

Now here I am. Husband. Two kids. Schedules to keep track of, houses to deal with (yes that's intentionally plural but not by choice), high maintenance dogs, volunteer work, and a full time job on top of it all. In general, I like being the detail person. But as Gina pointed out in her brilliant post, it is exhausting. David Allen points out how exhausting it is to have it all in your head in his book Getting Things Done, but I have found even having trusted systems doesn't solve the problem entirely. It's still complex, hard, and exhausting.

So I started thinking about the alternate universe, the one where my husband keeps a few of those balls in the air for me. He is an involved parent, no doubt about it, but I am the one who keeps track of the little details. I make sure the nap blankets are clean for Monday morning. I know who prefers waffles to french toast and which school has an in-service day on Friday. I check the weather before dressing the kids. My husband is unlikely to send my daughter to school on a cold day in a sundress, but I also know he is unlikely to check the weather forecast. He has the same "I'd walk through fire for these kids" desire to protect them that I have. It's just little stuff. Details. How much do I care? Could I let go?

I'm trying. I left the house this morning to catch the bus with Eleanor and Oliver wasn't dressed. When I picked him up at school I noticed he was dressed reasonably well, but the only coat hanging on his hook was a sweatshirt. Though it was 55 when we got up this morning, I knew the forecast called for dropping temperatures throughout the day and it was likely to be cold, windy, and possibly snowing by the time we fetched Oliver at school. It was all of those things when we got there, even the snow. I had a moment of panic, a few more moments of being annoyed with CD, then remembered it was really all my fault. I was a little too optimistic on Sunday (and in denial about the cold weather some of the locals were tweeting about) and put all the winter coats in the basement to be washed. Finally, I felt ridiculous for misplacing the blame, and for messing up a detail that is my responsibility. My only defense is exhaustion.