Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Bacchanale

So I am emerging from the chaos of Easter here Chez VT.

Back when I had two little boys, I thought it was a great idea to continue the "Easter-as-mini-Christmas" tradition that I had grown up with.  Phil thought (oh ok thinks) I was nuts.

Fast forward many years and kids later, and Easter is pretty ridiculous around here.

Margaux got a car.  Everyone keeps fighting over driving rights.  


We just don't have enough toys.
We had some dear friends over who have 5 kids, and so there was much activity, egg hunting, and trampolining.

Overpopulation is a myth.  Look at all those cute buggers!  
Look!  A picture with mom!

Who knows what is going on here..
 Usually our children devolve into a pile of massive meltdowns at the end of big holidays, but Easter was strangely lovely.  Maybe having friends over helped get them over the hump.

And now I have to confess what came on Holy Thursday, of all things:

The "Ulimate Bar" from Pottery Barn

I guess the Easter Bunny thought we needed this.  Ahem.
Well.  Anyway.  Hope your Easter was filled with much love and laughter.  I am going to continue to lick chocolate and sit mindlessly on Facebook.  Woo hoo!

Happy Easter!  We survived Mass!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Big Catholic Fail, or How My Children Are Built-In Mortifications for the Soul, or Why I Needed a Pocket Knife During Mass

Lately I've been sucked into (OK, not really, but I'm off Facebook for Lent) reading blogs by mothers who are far better at instilling faith into their kidlets than I am.  This makes me feel really craptastic.  Although I am constantly reminding myself that we are all on different "paths" (oh Lord so new agey), it is still a struggle as I try not to sink into despair at my abysmal transference of my faith.

So today:  Palm Sunday, sort of a big deal to us Jesus Freaks.  The complications:  one kid with a game at 7:30 am (uh), one at 9 am, and then my husband had his own game at 11am.  Throw in some storms, some carpooling, and I came up with this whacked out plan that one would get to his "church school" class - he has his First Communion in a few short weeks - and the rest of us would go to the later Mass for Palm Sunday.  Which was during Phil's game - so this meant I would be taking all of them on my own.

Usually we put the two little ones in the nursery, so why didn't I do that?  I don't know.  The later mass gets close to Margaux's naptime, and I didn't want her just falling asleep on the nursery floor, and then having to wake her up, which would ruin her nap - and my (oh so selfish am I!) day.  So I brought them all!

At least we got our Jesus Sticks!
We all bravely filled up a pew.  But immediately I knew things weren't going to go well.  Sylvie was TALKING IN HER USUAL LOUD VOICE ABOUT SNOWMEN AND MONSTERS.  The boys were being goofy and poking each other with their palms (or Jesus sticks, as Sylvie called them), something they would never do if Dada were there. And then:  Sylvie, who was dressed in her usual whackjob attire (tights, no pants, leg warmers on her arms - judge away because YOU HAVE NOT TRIED GETTING SYLVIE DRESSED), said her ARMS HURT!  Well that was because she had somehow wrapped her wrists up to the point that they are turning red from lack of circulation in the threads from her unraveling leg warmers.  So I am struggling with these darn threads during the first reading with Margaux on my lap, because good grief it looks painful!  I try severing the offending threads with my keys, to no avail; but then the kind guy behind us gives me a pocket knife and phew - my whacky daughter is spared death by cheap leg/arm warmers.

And then the Gospel starts, and I make eyes at the older kids to pay attention, while Sylvie is digging in my purse for hand sanitizer.  She gets some, and somehow gives some to Margaux, who somehow gets some in her mouth, and starts spitting and crying.  I feel the eyes of the rich orthodontist - the one with the beautiful blonde 6 foot tall wife and their perfect children - boring into my back.  I call uncle.  We shuffle out sans Communion.

We're going to try it again this week for Stations of the Cross.  I hope this is what Jesus meant when he said Pick Up Your Cross.

Friday, April 11, 2014


Here, friends, is a bunch of random flotsam from our dizzy corner of the world (dizzy, that's how I feel lately; there is so much of which to keep track, especially during the spring soccer/recitals/First Communion/Easter season, and my poor little mind sometimes feels very very scattered.  Or maybe it's just all the aspartame I've consumed over the years that's finally rotting my cortex).

This is the case of champagne that the manager of the new Nordstrom Rack gave me when I introduced myself and told her of my devotion to the mothership:

These are the cutest little bottles of champagne ever!

It is possible that she also noted how much I bought:

The length of my receipt

I am not sure, however, I would have received the champagne if she saw how long my return receipt was:

My retail bulimia continues.  Seriously I have a problem.

Every year when spring FINALLY arrives I go with trepidation to Home Depot or a nursery, seeking out some pretty plants to put in the yard (or more likely, just on my patio, so I don't have to dig in the dirt).  Every year I survey the lovely plants and flowers, all very expensive.  So I buy two or three lovely pieces of nature, and without fail every year these expensive plants die.  Through ALL fault of my own.

So finally I bought a flower that even I cannot kill:

Yes, it's a little ridiculous, but it adds color to the patio, and I don't feel that terrible guilt and shame about killing yet another living thing (no, don't worry, the kids are alive!).
A random school rant:  we are in a very good school district.  So it makes sense to send the kids to public schools, because sending six kids to private school would likely mean that none of them would go beyond community college (because who can afford such extravagance besides neurosurgeons with trust funds?).  But sometimes I really question public schools.  The extended day (extended for 30 minutes due to the jillion snow days and a teacher rally), are really hard for both me and the kids.  Me because I feel like a real dork sitting here in the late afternoon waiting for them to come home; and for them because hello!  It's like a 9 to 5 job!  There is very little time left for homework (why homework why why why), and nightly practices and just jumping on the trampoline.

And then there has been mouthy disrespect around here.  I'm happy to blame my inept parenting and the occasional over-indulging them in various whims, but can I blame their mouthy peers too?

And then my son told me they are studying "spatial inequality" in Social Studies.  As in:  some people live in crowded apartments, while some people live in big houses.  So how do we engineer cities to eliminate spatial equality?  Seriously, school people?  Government intervention?  Jesus was OK with inequality.  Jesus had some spatial inequality in his own life, what with the manger and all.  But we can't talk about all of THAT in public schools.  And the constant exhortations to be "nice" to everyone don't really really make sense in a vacuum to me.  When you can't talk about the crux, the cross, the reason, for any type of virtue, it's hard to understand why one should behave kindly, except to avoid punishment.

Good Lord I sound like some old grumpy church lady don't I?

Don't worry, I'm really not.  I'm really just extra good at sinning.  I'm going to go drink some champagne and watch Real Housewives reruns now.
Last weekend Keane had a soccer tournament in lovely Wichita (or "Wi-CHEE-ta" as one of the charming Venezuelan dads on our team pronounced it).  And guess what?  I was the soccer mom!  I went with Keane, and left the rest of them here with PVT.  We thought it might be good (read:  PVT knew I might go insane) to switch roles.  I had never left Margaux, and she did fabulously.  I had a lovely time, too, with Keane and talking to OTHER ADULTS all weekend.  (Alas, now the whole soccer team knows about my irreverent mouth and crazy batshit driving.)  The only drawback of the trip?  Wi-CHEE-ta makes Tulsa look super hip and sexy.

That's all the super fascinating stuff around here.

You are welcome.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Miracle On 71st Street

Welp, guess what:  after 7 1/2 years of pining for some better retail around here, God has thrown me a bone:  The Nordstrom Rack has landed in Tulsa.  No, it's not the full line store, but it's a start.  And last night I had the most fun I have EVER had in Oklahoma:
With my friends from the 'hood.  Note champagne in hand.  Really?  Paradise.  
Yes, thanks to a dear friend I got an invitation to the "private" (private I believe meaning everyone in Eastern Oklahoma who has a Nordstrom card).  It was a party:  the place was a raucous bacchanal of retail madness.  As soon as I walked in I was given a bottle of champagne, and offered trays of canapes.

And oh the loot I got!
Yep, still with the champagne.  Driving the equivalent of an SUV.

I bought Adidas stuff for the boys!  Golf shirts for PVT!  Adorable dresses for the girls!  Funky girly bath accessories for Colette!  And pour moi?  New "exercise" attire, jeans, a purse, a couple of dresses and tops, and good shampoo!  Plus sunscreen and chocolates...oh the list goes on.

And them some women gave me little bags of chocolate truffles to bring home.  And I got recognized as the "Hip Mom" a few times. (Yes, I'm really a big deal.)  And then when I mentioned to an employee that I named my BLOG after their store, the store manager herself came to introduce herself while I was checking out.

It is possible she came to introduce herself since she noticed I may single-handedly help her meet her sales goals for 2014.

Pure, unadulterated bliss for 90 kid-free minutes (thank you Grandma!).

Now of course I didn't want to dampen my euphoria by actually trying stuff on - the line for the dressing rooms was not for the cowardly.  So I will undoubtedly make the retail walk of shame and have to schlep some of this stuff back (which of course is not a problem with Nordstrom's legendary return policy).

Oh happy days are here again.  You can read more about this miracle right here.

Sisters in their new $13 Hello Kitty Dresses.

"The most incredible thing about miracles is that they happen."  - G.K. Chesterton

Monday, March 24, 2014

Desperately Seeking Sitters

So we VTs survived another spring break!  I should qualify that:  this break should be called "late winter break," because it is almost always way too cold for cavorting in swimsuits with umbrella drinks, contrary to what one conjures up.  I don't why these schools have to have "spring" break in early March.  Anyhoo.

I had the prescience about a week before "spring" break to book a sitter for the last evening of the week so PVT and I could celebrate having survived.  We were excited to go to this new outpost of "Noodles, Sushi, Cocktails, Happiness."  So:  we raced back from a soccer game; I "de-mommed" and put on hottish jeans, a semi-flirty top, very high shoes (you know me), and even put on my new eyelash fillers, all while getting the kids' dinners so the sitter wouldn't have to bother (important detail).  I had the sitter's dinner ready too (also important).  PVT showered.  Woo hoo!  We were ready to rock!

And then.  5:30 came.  5:45.  I text the sitter:  "Are you still coming?"  Our reservation was at 6 pm..  6 pm, 6:15, 6:30 (I am starving by now and have some tater tots), 6:45...the sitter texts:  "Oops sorry!  I forgot!" and then..."just remind me if it's been a while since you asked."  Meh?  A week and a half is long term?  It's my job to remind her to come?  Much groaning and gnashing of teeth ensued.

The mythical perfect sitter
So thus ends babysitting relationship #624 in the 11 1/2 years I have had children.  Ah for eff's sake.  This one started out great:  she was taking a year off before starting her Master's degree (hopefully not in anything requiring, um, punctuality or a calendar).  All she was doing was babysitting and teaching yoga in the meantime.  But it seemed that each time she came, she would arrive later and later - sometimes up to 30 minutes late.  Then one time she texted right when she was supposed to arrive:  "I am not going to come - I'm not feeling well!"  Another time she didn't show at all, so this was her second no show.

I don't get it, you all.  Now I know my kids can be punks, but every sitter has been exceedingly complimentary on my kids' behaviour - they save their ornery antics for us.  I pay these sitters crazy well (around $15 per hour plus tip - I am always so happy everyone is alive when I return).  I make sure they are fed.  I am rarely gone longer than 2-3 hours.  I rarely even have them put the kids to bed!  So what's the deal?

I have found that the high school girls - smart ones from nice families - are the best.   They still play with the kids, they try to clean up, they are eager to do a grown up job.  In fact, we have one of these right now, and she is fabulous.  But then:  they start driving, they start dating, and poof!  They are never available ever again (I know; this is what happened to my own stellar babysitting career).

We've tried franchises like Seeking Sitters.  They always provide someone competent and lovely.  But the problem?  It's just a someone.  They can never guarantee the same sitter, so you never build up a relationship with any one girl.  Plus they usually have a four hour minimum - four hours?  I never need to be away that long, or pay that kind of money!

We tried too.  After vetting about 30 replies based on the sitter's grammar and ability to compose a sentence, I narrowed my search down to a hand full, and found two I really liked:  one had just moved here a week ago from Boston to live with her fiance and was searching for a job.  We had her once before she found a real job.  The other was a senior at a local ultra-Christian college just down the road.  She was really good too - until she asked if she could live with us and be a "live in nanny" - which sort of creeped us out.  So that ended too.

We also have a lovely, energetic young widow we have used - she brings her own daughters along, and the kids love it - it's always a big raging kiddie party here.  But she is busy with her own girls and life, and I am loathe to bother her that often.

The great irony is that we rarely go out - maybe every other month? - although we'd like to more often.  My more critical needs often fall during the day - sometimes I would like or need to be at the big kids' school, and it's nap time or something I can't bring the littles too.  Sometimes we need help getting kids to and fro on these increasingly busier weekends, and I don't want to drag the baby all over town.

And my mother has told me she is never, never moving to Tulsa.  Short of never leaving the house until the baby is 12, any ideas, friends?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Seven Quick and Totally Disjointed Takes

Because of the jillion and seven snow days we have endured in Tulsa this year (oh and an upcoming rally for teachers in the capitol, ahem), our school district has come up with the super idea of adding 30 minutes per day to each school day throughout March.  

I think this is the dumbest thing ever.  The kids are EXHAUSTED.  Especially Colette.  They are gone almost as long as they would be if they were child laborers.

What's my solution?  Home school, you say?  Sometimes I wonder:  my ideal would probably be to ship them out for a couple hours of math, science, crafts (I break out into severe hives whenever glue, scissors and other creative implements are wielded), and stuff I don't feel qualified to teach them, but keep them here for some reading and writing.  Is there a school like this?  Because as happy as I am to send them out for a while, the house starts feeling really empty in the afternoon. 

So the other day when it reached into the 60s and OOOOH spring after a hellishly cold weekend I decided that they did NOT need to be doing anything in a classroom; they needed to be in their backyard flouncing around on the trampoline.  So I made the trek to two schools and checked the whole lot of them out.  My noted excuse?  "Dentist."  I guess the children saw that, because the next day Will asked, "Mom, can you check us out again?  Just say we have to go to a funeral."  Nothing like teaching your kids honesty.  

In my continuing quest to fight this post-40, post-baby malaise, I've been taking a class at our local gym:  it's called Insanity.  It really is:  it is about 50 minutes of intense crazy cardio, plus whacky things like "power moves" (jumping in the air while rotating comes to mind) and push ups in a sideways plank position.  I wrote these things like I know what I'm talking about but I don't.  Margaux at long last just loves the kiddie care, so I feel not terrible about leaving her about 50 minutes.  And for a little bit, I pretend that I'm not an old mom with an expanding midsection and flabby thighs, but some crazy fit 20-something.

But where is the shame in being a 40ish mom with a wee bit of paunch and a few new white hairs?  I wish I knew.  I wish I weren't so darn vain.  

I was approached by a friend this week to "ghost write" the story of her divorce.  It is quite a store, full of drama, tears, and all kinds of nut-jobbery.  She's right:  it would make a great story a la Brandi Glanville.  I really like this lady; I am terribly intrigued; and I would love a writing project that is not necessary for my own tired brain to invent.  But?  I am terribly nervous that I would become overly emotionally involved in all the details (there are many kidlets involved here) (I would make a really, really bad psychologist), and I'm not sure I'm strong enough to take this on - without letting it seep into my own already chaotic life.  

I could easily do a daily post on Sylvie's wardrobe choices.  
Today:  bridal veil, bridal bouquet, two shirts (Just Do It Ducks), socks on hands, tights and mismatched socks (on feet) 

What a lovely video:  

That's all I've got for now.  

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Lent, Soccer and the Season of Penitence

Well, we've slouched into Lent here, and when I say slouched do I mean it:  I had grand ideas of limiting screen time, and I think we've been actually pretty successful with the older kids - they are at least being mindful of screens and building Legos a lot more - but GAH the younger ones.  Sometimes I just need to think or cook or do the laundry and boom.  Back to Scooby Doo.

But I have not had chocolate in two and a half days!  And NO FACEBOOK.  I know you can't stand it either - the unbearable suffering around here.  But when I want to ignore my children and absentmindedly scroll around on Facebook, I CAN'T.  I have to either do something more productive...or pay attention to the little buggers.  The horror.

So I'm slogging along, trying to be a slightly holier person.  It's pretty darn hard for a hedonist like me.

Speaking of self-inflicted misery, here is a link to my "detox journey" for Tulsa Kids.  Although let's ignore that it is a three day detox and I did about 3/4 of a day.  I think what I learned?  I was just meant to chew.

Anyhoo.  Today starts the spring soccer season, and it is about 33 degrees and raining.  And windy.  Spring soccer season always starts about two weeks to soon.  By the Grace of God Will's games (yes there were two) were cancelled, but Rory and PVT are in Oklahoma City playing in this awful muck.  I wholly understand the desire to play soccer when it's 70 degrees, with no wind and no humidity; under any other meteorological conditions I am left confused.  And then we have two more games this afternoon.  So I'm here worrying and fretting that no one gets a nice old case of pneumonia before spring break.

Come soon spring and Easter!