Sunday, May 31, 2009

Stick A Fork In Me...


As I mention over there on the left, Urban Dad & I have opted to homeschool our munchkins. We don't know for how long -- I figure "until I'm in over my head." 'Cause let's face it. We can say we're homeschooling all we want. But the fact is that I'm the one here while U-Dad is at Great Big Urban High School for upwards of twelve hours a day, where he is loved and adored by all of his students. Seriously, his homeroom kids are gone already, because they are Seniors. They came back on Friday, his birthday, to give him a cake that said, "To The Greatest Man On Earth."

Seriously, what is that like? 'Cause me? I'm the b*tch that Urban Kid 1 puts up with until U-Dad comes back.

Ok, no, it's not that bad. I exaggerate. Well, most days anyway.

But we're in a weird phase right now where every.little.freakin'.thing is an argument. Honestly, if I suggest that the sky is blue, she'll argue about it. That the left shoe should go on the left foot? Fight. That we need to be somewhere by 10am and need to get gathered? It's, "I'm not going." Five going on thirteen. (What the hell am I supposed to do at thirteen?)

It's not like I'm doing a full day of school with her. I don't figure that we're "officially" homeschooling until September, when her peers all head off to Kindergarten and it's the U-Kids and me, still in our pajamas. So we do some stuff. All that stuff listed over there? We don't do it all each and every day.

But wow, lately doing a bit of math is like asking her to present a survey of the Jacobian Conjecture (yes, that's a real thing! no, i've no idea what it is!). And it ultimately ends with her exclaiming that what this math sheet really means is that she is the most unloved 5yo ever born. And when I took this kind of "Don't Bother Trying With Me, Lady, I'll Hate It All" attitude when teaching, at least I could send them away after an hour, and I got paid at the end of the day!

Do you remember how exciting it was with the new school year? All of your new outfits and pencils and folders and the Trapper Keeper? (What would I give to get a Trapper Keeper today?)

And how by the end of the year you couldn't get out of there fast enough?

Guess where Urban Kid 1 is right now? Guess where her mom is?

The stuff that we outsource is winding down, which helps. Art has wrapped up, except for one class. U-Kid 1, bless her dramatic little heart, has opted to give her last class to her little sister so that we can see if she might like to do Art too when we return in the Fall. Spanish has ended. Now I have to stalk get in touch with U-Kid 1's BFF for playdates, but that's ok. Soccer ends this week for the Spring session. We'll pick up the Summer session, but that's cool. It's outside, and Urban Dad can take her sometimes. And believe me, he will. Piano ends in a few more weeks.

We just might make it.

Despite my whining, I love what we've opted to do here. It's working out well -- U-Kid 1 can't go to Kindergarten; she's well past K-level work! And Urban Dad is supportive and helpful and throws himself straight into the fray as soon as he hits the door. Evenings and weekends, I can almost fade into the background and re-group while he takes them for walks and cleans and feeds and gives baths and does bedtimes (it's all total p*rn for women... and it works).

But right now, I'm done. D. U. N.

(btw, tomorrow is the free day at the chicago history museum. guess where the u-kids & i are heading?)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's Time To Turn OFF THE TV

As you know, I'm currently plowing my way through all of the episodes of "24" that I've stacked up on the DVR since "Redemption" was on last November. And that my arms hurt.
And I have a confession to make:
Every time I see this guy... which is often during this particular stretch...
All I can think is that he looks like this guy.

So this brings me to a few conclusions:
1. These two were possibly separated at birth.
2. I am watching too much "24."
3. I am watching too much "Blues Clues."
4. I need to get back to that book that I was reading (Crichton's "State of Fear")
5. My brain hurts.
6. My arms hurt.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Remember when I presented Jack Bauer as May's Flavor of the Month?

And my plan to do arm exercises as I worked my way through Season 7 of 24?

I enhanced the plan a bit. I have to give props -- I got a lot of this idea from Here's how I'm playing now:

I must do either a tricep dip or a (shudder) push-up (gag!) each and every time Jack Bauer does any of the following:

Says, "Dammit!"

Says, "We Don't Have Time," "There Isn't Time," or something to that effect

Kills someone.

Says, "Drop the weapon," "Put down the gun," or something to that effect
(remember that scene in the prequel Redemption where he pleaded with the little boy to put down the gun...? i was begging Jack to shutup already!)

Apologizes for anything.

Says, "NOW!"

Uses or threatens to use "enhanced interrogation."

Any product placement (but only the first time we see it per episode; i'm only human here)

Can I just add that if he headbutts someone that I will voluntarily do five extra??

I'm about 7 or 8 hours into this endeavor. And can I just say, "C'mon Jack... lighten up. Can't we all just get along? You're killin' me here!"

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Do They Still Make Sun-In?

Oh Good Lord, have I been a lazy blogger! I can only do a fraction of the justice that the various this-and-that's actually deserve, but we'll just do a Cliff Notes of what's important.

Namely: I will not be as blonde as I should be this summer. And that's ok. I can white-knuckle it. (For now.) You see, I had a hair appointment on Saturday morning with Lee the Hair Whisperer. As such, I was hunting down videos for Urban Kid 1 that don't make my skull split for one reason or another (another post). And reminding Urban Dad over and over and over again that I would take U-Kid 1 off his hands for the morning, but he was on the hook with U-Kid 2.

Backstory time: Lee the Hair Whisperer has been preggers of late. This was quite a surprise to her since 1.) she's 46 and 2.) she wasn't actively trying to get preggers. In fact, when she missed a period, she thought she was starting menopause. The baby's father immediately started e-mailing her links to abortion clinics. When she made it clear that she was thrilled to have and raise this baby, with or without him, he became The Invisible Man. So she's been on her own. Not only has she handled this well, she's straight-up embraced the entire challenge. I'm in awe of this woman.

Knowing her due date, I made an appointment for a month before. And another for soon after her return. Starting on Wednesday, I was counting the hours until I could joyfully sit in her chair, drop some earphones onto U-K 1 and gossip heartily while Lee worked her magic.

But on Wednesday night, Lee went into sudden labor, as in massively hemorraging. Thirty minutes later, she was in emergency surgery, delivering a beautiful baby girl appropriately named Grace. They both nearly returned to their Creator as a package deal, but are doing much, much better now. Little Grace came in at 6 lbs, 2 oz and is doing a little time in an incubator to make sure that her lungs are good and ready for The Big World. If she's anything like her mom, she'll be good at working the chat, so let's get those lungs up for what's coming!

But yeah, Lee was a little tied up on Saturday a.m.
It's hair, people. Although I occasionally toy with the idea of renaming this blog Urbane Mom, I'll never be that bad.

BTW, meet Grace:

Gorgeous hair, of course.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

London Calling

A postcard arrived in Urban Dad's mailbox at Great Big Urban High School yesterday with a picture very similar to this on the front:

The following was written on the back:
Hello! From London! Your favorite English student is exploring the world. I'm working in London as a tour guide. It's fun and I love it! I travel a lot in between. It's amazing meeting so many people from all over the world. I'm booking an around the world ticket in Sept. and moving to Australia! Thanks for telling us to get out there and see the world! Best advice ever!
(little drawn heart) Beata
YouDaMan, Urban Dad! YouDaMan!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Breaking the News to Urban Kid 1

Two nights ago, it was beautiful in Chicago. Urban Kid 1 was comfortable running around in capris and a tank top, steadfastly refusing her mother's offers to grab her a jacket. Urban Dad finally already!! got home waaaaay late from another long day at Great Big Urban High School. We piled the U-Kids into the CR-V and headed to Evanston to Gigio's, a nothing little pizza joint that U-Dad has strangely liked for twenty-odd years.

U-Dad & U-Kid 1 began negotiating for chocolate ice cream with sprinkles, because on a beautiful night in Chicago -- especially one of the first ones that comes paired with long hours of evening light -- bedtimes becomes more of a philosophical idea than a concrete reality.

Well, for U-Kid 2, it was a concrete reality. We parked near the apartment, off-loaded the off-spring and headed towards the door. Except that U-Kid 1 had nailed down a deal of some sort for chocolate ice cream with sprinkles. (u-dad needs nary a Push before he falls right Over, in my humble opinion) So I took U-Kid 2 in for her Evening Toilette and left U-Dad with this instruction:

I'm The Bad Guy all day long. You get to tell her about R moving to Colorado this summer.

He willingly obliged, God love 'im.

Seems that they sauntered down the block -- well, he sauntered, U-Kid 1 hitched a ride on his shoulders. And as they motored down the sidewalk, he told her the news. And we learned that U-Kid 1 not only has a heart -- a sweet, giving, wonderful heart --but that it can be broken.

Her first reply was, "my first two best friends have moved away!"

(reminder: young M left for Vegas about a year and a half ago. U-K 1 still talks about her.)

So they got the ice cream at our regular spot and sat at a table outside. U-K 1 wasn't interested in staking out her own chair or initiating conversations with passers-by (puh-leeze don't let anyone tell you this Chatty Cathy homeschooled kid isn't socialized) or working U-Dad for another fun stop along the way home. She just sat in his lap and let him hold her.

Since then, she's been out of sorts. She just seems sad. I try to pull her out and ask her what's on her mind, but she practices for adolescence by saying just says, "nothing" or "I don't know." She's just not her bright-eyed, upbeat self. Occasionally, she'll ask why R is moving. I tell her that R's mom and dad made a decision to head out there. I'm trying to make it clear that this move is not any kind of comment on R or U-K 1 or their friendship. And when she asks why R's mom and dad want to go to Colorado, I'm not sure what to say. It's pretty in the mountains, and they can afford to buy an actual house with an actual yard and live on one salary so that when R's dad is furloughed from United, he can stay home with the kids for a few years because R has some sort of epilepsy and they want one parent to be home and not travelling for work? Seems a bit heavy to lay on a 5yo, huh?

Our hope is to keep her busy this summer. We'll skip town for a stretch. And then try to keep putting her in front of friends who are actually physcially here.

In the meantime, lots of hugs (she's become a touch clingy the last few days), an extra chapter or two of the bedtime book, me trying to keep my patience a little longer, etc. And tracking down R for playdates.

I'm open to suggestions for anything else, too!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Adventures in Potty Training

So we've been trying to get Urban Kid 2 trained. And "Green Eggs & Ham" has become a favorite read while having a sit-down in "the powder room." Of course, nothing happens until ten minutes after we finally wrap it up and move on with the day. But my point is this:

As I read GEH to U-Kid 2, this is the voice that I hear in my head. (u-dad suggests that this alone is reason enough to never again pick up the book) See if you can tell who it is.

(for you young'uns out there, this is from way back when snl was funny)

And as long as we're exploring the weird voices in my head as I cheerily read GEH for the twelve-hundredth time while waiting bored out of my mind patiently for a 2yo to do something on the potty, I can't help but be reminded of this old e-mail that was going around a while back:

Children's Books That Never Quite Made It:

The Boy Who Died From Eating All His Vegetables
Curious George and the High-Voltage Fence
Daddy Drinks Because You Cry
Dad's New Wife Robert
Eggs, Toilet Paper, and Your School
Fun Four-letter Words to Know and Share
The Kids' Guide to Hitchhiking
The Little Sissy Who Snitched
The Magic World Inside the Abandoned Refrigerator
The Man in the Moon Is Actually Satan
Places Where Mommy and Daddy Hide Neat Things
The Pop-Up Book of Human Anatomy
Some Kittens Can Fly
Strangers Have the Best Candy
Things Rich Kids Have, But You Never Will
Whining, Kicking, and Crying to Get Your Way
Why Can't Mr. Fork and Ms. Electrical Outlet Be Friends?
You Were an Accident
Your Nightmares Are Real
You're Different, and That's Bad

This is why it's good that kids can't hear their parents' thoughts, huh?

And yeah, it's gonna be good for everyone if U-Kid 2 gets the hang of the process pretty soon.....

Monday, May 11, 2009

Urban Mom Strikes Again!

I have an amazing talent. And if you & I should ever meet and hit it off IRL, it's one you should certainly know about.

I make people move. As in, far away.

Seriously, you want to connect sometime and have a drink? Great! But let me warn you that you will need to pick up moving boxes on the way home.

My most recent recipient of this talent is Urban Kid 1's little buddy "R." R's dad is a pilot for United; her mom is a pilot for UPS. I met R's mom at the playground one day as our daughters played together. She had a new baby boy in her arms, and the loneliness was radiating off of her like a painful sunburn -- they had moved here about 15 minutes after the new baby came. Since then, we've become friendly, able to chat away a workout at the gym or a few hours at the playground. U-Kid 1 loves going to R's for a playdate. She adores R and thinks that R has the coolest mom evah.

But R's dad is a pilot for United who knows that he will be furloughed (aka: downsized, right-sized, let-go, laid-off, shown the door, don't let the doorknob hitcha where The Good Lord splitcha, etc.) in September. However, he can get a free move out of United if he does it really, really soon. A $30,000 value! This led to R's mom and dad discussing various places they could live and raise the kids.

Did they settle on Chicago? No.

The outskirts of Denver.

And they've already bought a place and are looking to move soon.

So while U-Dad's brother and his two kids live near Denver, and so we may see R and her family again in the future, let's face it: we won't see them at the school playground, or the gym, or the park or anywhere else but on Facebook now and then.

About a year and a half ago, U-Kid 1's friend M moved to Las Vegas. Her very-cool mom met a very-cool man who lives in Las Vegas. So off they went to make a very-cool family. (details here)

U-Kid 1 still talks about M. And young M and her very-cool mom will visit this summer. (ohpleasegod be when we are in town and not during our annual road trip!!) But still. The day-to-day encounters continue to be missed.

Being a homeschool mom, I don't take connections like this lightly. I don't mess around with U-Kid 1's schedule so that she can have regular groups that she sees. If she hits it off with someone, I make sure to connect with that kid. For example, she has a best-buddy in Spanish class (backstory here), who also lives in the South Loop -- inconveniently located for someone between Wrigley Field & the Lake. But I plan to exchange info with her babysitter before summer comes and catch up. And hopefully the girls can be in Spanish together again come Fall.

Oh, and about me making people move.

One wonderful lady moved to Atlanta. Something about her doctor-husband getting a grand opportunity there or some blah-blah-blah.

Another went to St. Louis, via a stint in Portland, Oregon. (yeah, she's in St. Louis, so I can catch up to her now when I visit Best Namma Ever! and Pink Power Ranger, but still..... not local anymore)

Anne is heading back east.

She introduced me to an interesting fellow-mom once. But before I could even get the friendship off the ground, she was off to Utah. Something about her husband and his job. Blah-blah-blah.

Another friend went to San Diego.

Yet another went to Minneapolis.

George went back to New Jersey.

I even sent a doctor back home to Michigan!

Seriously, is it me?

'Cause I'm getting a complex here.

And the effect is rubbing off. Urban Dad found a rare jewel in the English Department at Great Big Urban High School -- a teacher who he actually likes and enjoys chatting with. Yep, she's applying to teach for a Department of Defense school in Japan and asked him to write a reference letter.

The poor Urban Kids. They don't stand a chance if this keeps up!

Oh, and I expect that U-Kid 1's Spanish Class Buddy will up and move to Melbourne or some other far-flung place. Call it Waiting for the Next Shoe To Drop.

*sigh* Throw some prayers and happy vibes this way. I'm going to need to tell U-Kid 1 about little R bailing out soon.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Yeah, it's made the rounds for a couple of years, and everyone has seen it. But this always makes me giggle stupidly (i know, short trip). I think it's because we all know families like this -- where you couldn't get more different people out of the same set of parents. Pink Power Ranger & I are an excellent example. Luckily, we use our powers for the forces of good! And the guys in this particular video really remind me of the sons of the Urban Kids' Godparents. It's like looking into a crystal ball into the future for their kids.

Enjoy the love!

(and yes, i've been a lazy blogger lately. workin' on it!)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Flavor of the Month for May

Remember how I intro'd the Flavor of the Month feature by kicking out my former bad-ass spy, but now totally wussed-out Eurotrash ex-TV Boyfriend?

Time to move on to a new bad ass, this one All-American.
(Whatcha got there in your pocket, Jack? Probably your cell phone. Need help fishing around in there? I'm here to help. I like to help.)

Jack Bauer. Saving the world, once again.
(Tell me, Valerie, do you want me to bring you sushi? Spring rolls? A burrito from Chipotle? Tell me, I have to know, dammit! I live to make you happy!)

Now May is the perfect time for him to be Flavor of the Month here. You see, every year I record all of the episodes of "24" and then gorge myself on them, burning through them all in about two weeks. I just cannot wait a week between episodes. I'm like this with many things. Urban Dad has to hide Christmas presents that come in the mail because I can't wait until the 25th to open them. Any time of the year, I barely have the UPS package signed for and I'm tearing into it. Even if I'm the one who ordered it and know exactly what is in it.
(Once, someone tried to tell Jack Bauer a "knock knock" joke. Jack Bauer found out who was there, who they worked for, and where the goddamned bomb was.)
(Does something feel strangely Freudian about this picture? Or is it just me? Have I sunk to a new level of weirdness? Probably....)

The 8th season of "24" ends in May. I can finally start digging into my delicious TV treat!
(The city of Los Angeles once named a street after Jack Bauer in gratitude for his saving the city several times. They had to rename it after people kept dying when they tried to cross the street. No one crosses Jack Bauer and lives.)

Lest I feel too lazy lying on the floor or sprawled across the couch burning through the DVR, I have found yet another way for Jack Bauer to satisfy me. (no, i did not share a first way; you're an intelligent adult -- figure it out)
Don't misunderstand -- Jack Bauer is not TV Boyfriend material. Let's face it. It does not pay to be a woman in Jack Bauer's life. They seem to have very stressful and/or very short lives. However, a month-long fling once a year is a perfect fit.
(Jack Bauer doesn't speak any foreign languages, but he can make any foreigner speak English in a matter of minutes.)

Also, I hate doing arm exercises. I don't like to lift weights. I've always hated push-ups and refuse to do a single one more for as long as I live. As I result, even at 5'6'' and 120 lbs, I have the beginnings of Bingo Wings. And summer tank-top season will soon be underway.

Ok, Val, what in God's name does this have to do with Jack Bauer?

I plan to take a bench that is by our front door and move it in front of the TV set. Every time Jack Bauer either shoots someone or says, "Dammit!," I will do a tricep dip.

I figure that by the 24th hour, I will have arms like Linda Hamilton.

Urban Kid 2 & I are off to St. Louis tomorrow to collect Urban Kid 1, who has been at Grandma Camp at Best Namma Ever!'s house. After staying a few days, all three of us will return to Chicago. When I shall begin my new exercise regiment.

With Jack Bauer.

(Jack Bauer killed so many terrorists that at one point, the #5 CIA Most Wanted fugitive was an 18-year-old teenager in Malaysia who downloaded the movie Dodgeball.)

So while I'm "out of pocket," have a great week!