Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Why Living Overseas Sucks Sometimes...

...because at Easter time, here are the things that you CANNOT find, no matter how many overpriced expat grocery stores you spend hours driving to and searching through:

I really don't think I need to add anything to this. Well, maybe just a few words to express what a bummer it is that in the Easter aftermath, I am left with NO delightful marshmallow chicks or creme-filled chocolate eggs to keep me going for weeks to come. We just have a few handfuls of jellybeans and a basket full of Hershey's Kisses that I was able to scrounge up.

Unacceptable. Mairin no likey.

There. I will leave you with that as I send my sincerest wishes that you will enjoy and appreciate your leftover Easter haul. Eat some Peeps and candy eggs for me! Just don't tell me about it. Seriously.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Why I'm SUCH A Freaking Nag...

On occasion, I have been known to be called a nag. On all of these occasions, the accuser has been my loving husband. All I have to say is: GUILTY AS CHARGED. Now, you may wonder why I would willingly ADMIT to being a nagging wife (tempted as you may be to point out that that is the fiber of which bad, bad wives are made); in fact, not only do I admit to it, but I am PROUD of my nagging-ness.

- Here is a conversation which Loving Husband and I had this morning:

Nagging Wife: You are going to meet Skye and the nanny in the lobby at 10:45 and take Skye to class today, right?

Loving Husband: Of course I am.

- Now, let's jump ahead in the morning to about 10:30:

Nagging Wife (thinking to herself): Hmmm...I wonder if I should remind Loving Husband about picking up Skye. No, no, he'll just get mad at me for nagging. I'm sure he'll totally remember on his own.

- Jump ahead AGAIN to the staff lunchroom at...oh, say, about noon:

Nagging Wife: How was Skye when you dropped her off? Did she scream a lot? How much did she cry?

Loving Husband: Oh, crap! I completely forgot to take her, and I just realized it ABOUT TWO MINUTES AGO!

It is at this point that Loving Husband runs out of the room, frantically calling the nanny to find out what happened, and comes back in the room relieved to announce that the nanny finally gave up waiting on his slacking self and took Skye to class on her own.

So, you know. The whole nagging thing? I'm thinking it's not so bad. Actually, what I'm REALLY thinking is that it's totally, totally justified.

Just saying.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Children Are Magical Creatures...

...and I don't mean that in one of those new-age, "children are mystic souls because they are so special" kind of ways. I mean that my kids can actually DO MAGIC. OK, I've never actually seen this magic performed in front of me, per say, but I know that they can do it. Because I've witnessed its aftermath enough times to know that it exists. There is just no other rationale for some of the things that go on around our house on a daily basis. In fact, those Harry Potter movies are starting to make A LOT more sense now that I have kids. And I'm pretty sure that YOUR kids can probably do magic, too. Doubtful? Here are some examples of the normal, everyday magic that my kids perform routinely, and I will bet my LAST DOLLAR that you will end up vigorously nodding your head and saying, "Oh, yes, YES! It all makes sense now!"

And now, the evidence for your perusal. Behold my childrens' extraordinary, magical behavior!

• The way that they can take a meal that I've lovingly prepared from a recipe found in a gourmet children’s cookbook and, with one look, make me instantly feel as if I’ve just served them something that I’ve fished out of a dumpster minutes before. And not a dumpster behind some classy, 5-star restaurant, either. More like the dumpster behind a place with the words "Mo" and "Food and Bait" in the name. Then I slink away in shame. And somehow blame myself. What's up with that?

• The way they can turn an early bedtime with the BEST intentions of a restful night’s sleep into a morning that requires an EXTRA cup of coffee because SOMEONE woke me up all damn night with either one or a combination of the following activities:

- kicking me
- throwing all of the covers off of me, causing me to wake up, curled into a shivering ball on the edge of the bed
- crawling back and forth from the head to the foot of the bed, flopping down every time in an attempt to find a comfortable spot
- asking for water
- rolling over and smacking me in the face

• The way that they can take something we’ve been REALLY looking forward to (like, say, a weekend or a holiday) and with ONE temper tantrum turn it into our worst nightmare and make us question our very sanity for even imagining that we might get to actually relax for 10 minutes.

• The way they can take something as tedious and mind-numbing as the book we’ve read OVER AND OVER 1,000 times and turn it into the most awesome, exciting book that ever, ever was with just a few giggles and claps.

• The way they can turn intelligent, educated and articulate adults into cavemen within a matter of sheer seconds. How many times have I found myself discussing something of EXTREMELY high-brow caliber with my husband (because, you know, that is how we roll in our house. OK, so maybe we’re discussing who sucks on Top Chef or something of THAT caliber), only to turn around and say something like, “Skye want bath? Want bath? Get all clean? Scrub scrub? Clean good!” or “Time for Pumpkin night-night! It’s sleep-sleep time. Sleep good! No sleep bad!” If a stranger walked into my house during one of these conversations, they would most likely think that I’d either sustained a deep and lasting head injury, or that I’d just finished watching a Kardashian marathon on E!

• The way they can take the most innocuous things, such as bedtime, and turn them into terrifying dangers because OH MY GOD, Skye got some mosquito bites in her sleep and now she is going to get Dengue, and will someone please take that kid’s temperature already?? Then make sure that the mosquito net is all the way around the crib when she goes to bed, ALL THE WAY AROUND!

It’s exhausting. Really.

• The way they can take a perfectly tidy house and, within SECONDS, turn it into something I'd be embarrassed for my high school locker mate to see. And she left jell-o in our locker for months AFTER it had turned into nothing but mold, because she had no idea that it was in there under all of the papers and empty Doritos bags that were thrown on top of it.

• The way they can turn an exciting Saturday night from dinner out at a new restaurant, followed by a late movie, and maybe a drink after, to the couch, followed by some TV and ice cream, and maybe an early bedtime with crosswords after. What is TRULY magical, though, is the way they will make us think that this is the greatest Saturday night EVER. Like, in the whole history of Saturday nights. Sometimes we even LOOK at each other and say, “Isn’t this great?”

There is no way that can be happening without some SERIOUS child voodoo, black magic SOMETHING going on.

So, tell me- what magic can YOUR kids do?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My Week As A Single Mom- Day 7 Highlights

I watched The Amityville Horror on TV last night (side note: you probably already know this, because you are much, much smarter than I am, but watching horror movies about haunted houses is not exactly the greatest idea in the world when you are home alone in a house that constantly makes noises that are mystifying and bizarre. However, at this point, I might just welcome an evil demon presence because, hell, it’s company…). I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the original movie or not, but there is a countdown of every day that the family spent in the house, with the musical score becoming more and more terrifying as the days pass. By the last scene, on Day 28, the music is so haunting and angry that you just KNOW that some really bad sh*t is about to go down. Well, in my house, it is the opposite- the music started 7 days ago. The deep, haunting, bad-sh*t-is-going-to-go-down music began and has progressively gotten lighter and happier as the days pass. This morning, I LEAPT out of bed with the soundtrack from Snow White playing in my head. Yes, I WOULD give a whistle while I worked! I WOULD cheerfully tidy up the place! I WOULD hum a merry tune! Because tonight, my Single Momdom comes to an end- an END! You know what I’m going to do tomorrow morning? Nothing. You know what I’m going to cook for dinner tomorrow night? Nothing. You know what I’m going to say when Kaia starts crying that it’s not FAIR that she can’t watch TV show before bed or that she doesn’t WANT to take a bath? “GO TELL IT TO YOUR FATHER”. That’s what.

You get my drift, though believe me, I could go on and on. And on and on and on….because it just makes me SO happy!

But, the day is not yet over, and Jabiz doesn’t get back until midnight, so here are today’s highlights:

Day 7:

• Was SO determined to not oversleep again that I woke up on my own every 15 minutes from 4:00 a.m. on. Which was good, because both the kids were up at 5:30. Even Kaia who could have slept as LATE as possible because she didn’t have school today. I guarantee all of you that if she DID have school today, I would have still been trying to coax her out of bed at 6:15…because that is just the joy of having kids.

• Enjoyed a Skype chat with Jabiz, during which he informed me that he’d woken up only an hour ago. That was at 10:15 a.m. I’d already been up for five hours. Grrrrrrr…give a whistle, give a whistle, give a whistle…stupid whistle.

• Discovered that Parents magazine is now available on iPad. This is ironic because I have been meaning to order a subscription to be sent to my parents so that whenever I see them, they can give me the issues. However, I keep forgetting to subscribe, and now I know that my forgetfulness is not a character flaw, after all, but really just the universe sending me a message:

Must. Get. iPad. Really, really, really, really, really.

I could take paragraphs and paragraphs here telling you how much I luuuuuuuuuuuuurves me some Parents magazine, but they don’t pay me to do that, so let’s move on.

I do, though. Love it. I don’t even care that my 25-year-old self would be completely disgusted to read that sentence. Screw you, 25-year-old self, I WANT to learn about easy dinner makeovers and how to make cute Halloween cupcakes. Deal with it.

• Came home to find the kids ALLLLLLLLL kinds of riled up. That is what happens whenever Kaia doesn’t have school but we do and the girls stay home together all day with the nanny. There is something about being home without Mom and Dad that brings out the stir-craziness in my kids like nothing else. Of course, it also helps that our nanny, god bless her, is a softie when it comes to Kaia and does things like let her eat cereal for lunch and have cookies for a snack right after. But she stays cooped up in the house with The Crazy all day with the patience of a saint, so whatever. A few short rounds of Shopping Cart Vs. Doll Stroller, a couple of laps around the house, a few times playing Follow The Leader up and down the stairs, and they are ready to flop on the couch with me and stare at the ceiling.

• Skyped with Jabiz while he was sitting in the airport in Vietnam, waiting for his flight to come home. Watched as the kids waved, kissed the screen and showed him their books. Because my kids? Are the cutest things in the world, and I am not just saying that because they have my DNA. I truly, truly believe it. I DO admit that I may carry a teensy little bit of bias around with me, though.

OK, you all. Thanks for sharing the week with me, I hope that you’ve been able to find some solace at my expense, and maybe get a little ego boost as an added bonus!

And please don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m pretty freakin’ happy about the fact that you won’t be hearing from me tomorrow. My fingers and my soul need a rest. Well, what they really need is a trip to the spa, but I have to work, so I’ll take an evening of unplugging my computer and watching the Top Chef reunion episode instead . You’ll be hearing from me soon enough, though- god knows I can’t stay quiet for long…

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Week As A Single Mom- Day 6 Highlights

Day 6:

One more day to go!

• Set the alarm for 5:15 in order to help the day go more smoothly. Woke up to the sun shining on my face and looked at the clock- 6:07 a.m. CRAAAAAAAAAAAAAP! Turns out that in all of Kaia’s procrastination before going to sleep (she sleeps in my bed when Jabiz is out of town), she knocked my alarm clock off the bedside table and the battery flew out. She put the clock back, but not the battery, which is REALLY the key thing when trying to wake up anywhere near your target time. And there I was, thinking I was soooooooo clever, having a battery-operated alarm clock instead of digital in an attempt to combat the frequent power outages that so entertain and delight us here in our compound. Looks like the Electricity Gods found a way to show me that non-digital isn’t exactly the panacea that I'd thought it was, is it now?

Ran around like the Mad Hatter with his giant pocket watch, shrieking, “We’re late! We’re late!”, snatching Skye from her crib and begging, PLEADING with Kaia to just please, please, please not take more than 10 minutes to walk from the bed to the breakfast table. Threw my hair up into a ratty ponytail while trying to convince myself that it was the sexy, disheveled look that Jennifer Aniston is so good at pulling off.

I’m pretty sure that I don’t need to write a sentence describing exactly HOW MUCH I did not look like Jennifer Aniston when I walked out the door, but just in case I do, here it is:

Jennifer Aniston I was not. Jennifer Aniston’s homeless cousin? Maybe.

• Saw that GINORMOUS Disney Princess ABC Writing Book was still on display in the lobby amongst the book sellers’ tables. Got sinking feeling that it would making its way home with us later…consoled myself that maybe it would keep Kaia busy and help stop the insanity while I made dinner. Still NO Strawberry Shortcake books. Guessed that there must be some kind of nationwide shortage or something, but figured that it would be a good lesson on how you can’t always get what you want, life’s not fair, blah blah blah….time to get over it, for god’s sake.

• Went to meet the nanny and Skyelar in the lobby to take Skye to class. However, THIS time she put her advanced deduction skills to good use and figured out what was up as we were halfway to the building. Let me tell you, my kid’s no dummy. Sometimes that is a curse instead of a blessing. Clearly, she was thinking, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me TWICE, shame on me!”

The screamfest began.

More screaming.

Still more screaming.

There is nothing more humbling than walking into a classroom with a child who is ALREADY half delirious from sobbing and telling the teacher, “Yeah, so, um, call me if there are any problems, OK? Oh, and here is her snack bag. You know, just in case she ever decides to open her mouth to EAT rather than to scream,” before sprinting out the door.

• Walked back to my classroom repeating to myself, “It will be fine, it will be fine, it will BE FINE!”. Am pretty sure that I now have a reputation around school as The Crazy Lady Who Talks To Herself.

• At this point, I’m going to ask you to close your eyes and open your imagination. Can you see me? There, in the car? Going home? No? You can’t? Oh, that’s right, it’s because there is a GINORMOUS Disney Princess ABC Writing And Learn book shielding my entire body.

I’m not going to say anything more about that, except that it DID keep Kaia busy and occupied while I was making dinner…well, until Skye wanted to play with it, too, and it all ended in a screaming tug-of-war over the dry erase marker that came with it. Oh, well. At least I got 15 minutes of quiet. That right there is worth the price of the book.

Kaia and her Book Week loot...

• Took my devotion to simple meals one step FURTHER by serving pancakes for dinner. I made them a BIT healthier by adding cheese and soy breakfast sausage to them, and the mix is the kind that you need to add MILK and EGGS to (not just water- no, no, we are a fancy house). When all is said and done, though, they were still pancakes. Tried to pass it off as a “Breakfast For Dinner! Aren’t We Wild And Crazy?” theme night to feel better about myself and try to mask the fact that I’ve just given up. Clearly, that worked SUPER well.

One more day, you all! One. More. Day.

Good night!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Week As A Single Mom- Day 5 Highlights

Day 5:

• Woke up to the sound of Skye screaming in her room at 5:15 a.m. Thought to myself, “Oh, well, at least I’ll have plenty of time to get ready and not have to stress about being late.” I, of course, did not factor in the kind of mood that Skye is in when she wakes up at 5:15 in the morning (and I have Jabiz to thank for passing on his Surly Morning DNA to both of our kids. BOTH OF THEM. Not even one takes after me and is able to handle the early morning with grace and dignity. Thanks, buddy, for creating little morning monsters and then ditching out on me…appreciate that). So, cue to the scene of me sitting on the kitchen floor with a sniffling, whining Skyelar clutching her cup of milk in one hand and my shirt in the other. Needless to say, we ran late. Again.

• On my way out of the house, I was in such a hurry that I accidentally slammed my hand in the door, taking skin off of two fingers. Tears. Mock cursing. More tears. More mock cursing. Moving on.

• Went over Kaia’s Wish List for Book Week. You see, yesterday her class went to the book sellers’ stalls to make their Wish Lists of books that they want to buy tomorrow so that parents know approximately how much money to send with them. Kaia’s list consisted of a lot of Strawberry Shortcake books. A lot. Pretty much every Strawberry Shortcake book every written. She then expressed her grave concern (and this was said with the most serious face that a 4-year-old can muster) that all of the Strawberry Shortcake books will be gone by the time her class goes tomorrow, because all of the other girls had put them on their lists, as well. Fast forward to me wandering over to the stalls during my morning break to check out the selection and discovering to my utter horror that THERE WERE NO STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE BOOKS LEFT. None. At all. Oh. My. God. Inquired whether there would be more brought tomorrow, and informed the book seller that NO, sticker books are NOT the same thing and are unacceptable, and YES, you should definitely try and find more stock. You just do that.

I’m pretty sure that you can already guess that I spent the rest of the day convinced that the lack of Strawberry Shortcake books would result in Kaia’s inevitable souring on book fairs and would start her ugly downward spiral into complete disinterest in reading and illiteracy.

I have no idea how I manage to function in normal society everyday, either. But I do.

• Took a trip to grocery store after school because
I was too scared to NOT go home with the new C batteries that Skye’s Snugglekins monkey hammock cradle-thingy needed in order to make her stop screaming. Enjoyed a semi-successful outing, during which Kaia only asked for 38 things as opposed to her usual 67 things. On her list of Things She Absolutely, Positively Could Not Live Without Today were cookies (though my daughter calls them “biscuits”, because in her world, foreigners outnumber Americans ten to one), a flashlight, unrecognizable sugary orange liquid trying to pass itself off a yogurt, popcorn, car seat covers (???), and Blue-Tack. My girl loves herself some Blue-Tack, and that she DOES get that from me. Along with her obsession with Post-its. What can I say? Makes me proud.

• Learned a valuable lesson from last night and made plain spaghetti for dinner. Plain. Just spaghetti and sauce. Why? Because I just needed my kids to eat something without acting like I was serving up a big old pot full of toxic sludge. Especially since when I opened Kaia’s lunchbox to clean it, I saw that everything was still exactly as it was when I packed it last night, with the exception of the M&Ms from her trail mix. Yep, that’s right- the only thing she ate ALL DAY LONG was candy. And THAT, my friends, is known as Good Parenting.

• Was in the midst of cleaning up after dinner when I suddenly realized that Skye had been quiet and out of the room for a while. Now, I know that I’ve already described her Community Monkey habits, so I immediately headed for the bathroom. I found her standing in the middle of the room with a guilty look on her face, but nothing in her hands. Noticed a very familiar smell in the air, and then slipped on a waxy coating on the floor.

Why, you may ask? Why, because my little monkey had taken my overpriced, American-brand deodorant and drawn all over the floor with it, like a giant, freesia-scented crayon that would no doubt offer the floor 24-hour wetness protection. The deodorant stick was shoved into a drawer, just a sad little nub of its former self.

• Decided that it was time to put the kids to bed.

Serenity Now!

Good night!

Monday, April 11, 2011

My Week As A Single Mom- Day 4 Highlights

Good lord, it goes on...

• Woke up freaking out about Skye’s first day of school. Yes, it is strange to have a kid’s first day of school occur in April, but our school is rather awesome that way, and is allowing Skye to start attending now in order to prepare her for when she starts going everyday next year. It is going to take a miraculous feat of organization to have today run smoothly, though, so the freak-out commences.

• Woke up Skye at 5:30, so that she would be ready to take a nap before class. Her class runs from 11:00-1:00, so I figured that if she woke up at 5:30, then she might be ready for a bit of a snooze around 9:00. The other scenario, that could very likely happen, is that she will NOT nap and will thus be the grumpiest child who ever went to school, and her teacher will hate me forever. It could seriously go either way.

• Explained to Kaia that NO, she could not start the week off by being an uncooperative, sassy ratbag, and that she DID have to actually eat her breakfast and get her clothes on in a somewhat timely manner before we could do anything resembling leaving the house. To my utter relief, she understood this and bucked up a bit. A bit.

• Left my nanny with a list of instructions that were more precise and complicated than a recipe for making a soufflĂ©. Not that I’ve ever made a soufflĂ©. But that’s because the directions are too hard to understand. So, you see my point….

• Got a quick Skype-chat in with Jabiz before my first class, and read all about the great time he had at the Bob Dylan concert last night with the SUPER great group of people that he went with, and exactly how much fun it all was. I don’t think I need to tell you in too much detail about the jealousy and bitterness I was repressing and I forced my fingers to type words expressing my happiness for him, and how much he deserved it. Because I know that you understand.

• Put my organizational and physical fitness skills to the test as I ran around campus like Forrest Gump, because there was NO WAY that things like a job or classes to teach were going to make me miss Skye’s first day. I impressed even myself as I sprinted between buildings and made it back in time for my 11:00 class, albeit I made it in the form of a heaving, sweaty mess. But still.

• Speaking of taking Skye to her first day of school, did I mention The Screaming? Oh, The Screaming. Spent the next hour with my phone RIGHT ON MY DESK because I was convinced that the teacher was going to call me any second and tell me to come and pick up the wailing banshee that I’d sneakily tried to pass off as a human child.

The "Before" Picture

• Held my breath as I walked to pick up Skye after class. Saw through the door that she was NOT crying, and was happily pretending to iron with one of the teachers. Tried to take a picture to show you, but got a shot of a big old flash reflected in the glass instead (I have SERIOUSLY got to learn to take better pictures). Then tried opening the door JUST A SMIDGE so I could get the shot, but as soon as Skye spotted me, she broke into a pitiful sob and ran over to me. Was informed by the teacher that she thinks she’ll be fine.

• Carried my sobbing child to the lobby to meet the nanny, who would take her home. As luck would have it, this was during the school lunch period, as well, so when I passed Skye over to the nanny, EVERYONE (seriously, everyone- including those people who were in buildings clear across campus) got to witness the sheer magnificence of her lungs as she howled and clutched at my shirt. The positive side of this (because I am all about seeing the positive side, in case you haven’t noticed) was that those people who surely thought I was exaggerating Skye’s audio tendencies then began nodding their heads and saying, “Oh, oh yes, I see now”. At least, they did so in my mind. But I’m not quite 100% sure that it happened in real life. How could it NOT, though?

• Got an email from Kaia’s teacher informing me that on Wednesday, the class will be going to the Book Week book sale instead during their library time. She encouraged parents to come and help their kids choose books, but also said that if you cannot make it, you can still send some money and allow your child to choose for themself.

So, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it or not? But Jabiz is out of town? For a week? Did I mention that? This means that, given the fact that I have a class to teach during Kaia’s library time, I will have to just hand her a fistful of cash and hope for the best. And that the GINORMOUS Disney princess book proudly displayed in the center of the book stalls gets snatched up before then. Surely it will. Won’t it?

• Made homemade macaroni & cheese with white beans, congratulating myself on making such a healthy dinner for my kids and getting all geared up to brag about it all over Facebook. It seemed like such a great idea…until my kids would refused to touch it, that is. I have no idea why, because I thought it was delicious, but I practically needed the Jaws of Life to pry their mouths open and eat. Even Kaia, who was looking forward to her dessert of chocolate pudding all afternoon and bragged about HOW MUCH FOOD she was going to eat in order to get it. Instead, she took about four bites and declared that she did not want dessert, after all. So, you know, there’s that.

How many more days?

I'll just leave you with this:

Good night!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My Week As A Single Mom- Day 3 Highlights

Well, we survived the weekend! As per her usual MO, Skye redeemed her cute little butt off by being wonderful all day. Kaia was rather fabulous herself, though if Jabiz asks, I will martyr myself from here to next year! No, not really….well, maybe really, given the fact that he is out seeing Bob Dylan live in Ho Chi Minh City tonight. Which, you know, is ALMOST as much work as taking care of two kids under the age of five by yourself for a week....

Anyway, here are the highlights from Day #3:

• Reveled in the fact that ONCE AGAIN my kids slept past dawn and required me to only drink two cups of coffee instead of my usual weekend amount, which is…too insane to admit.

* Video Skype- chatted with my parents, which 1.) entertained the kids, 2.) gave us an activity that last A FULL HOUR, and as an added bonus, 3.) provided some much-needed grown-up voices in the house. I am once again bowing down to the Technology Gods and all that they do which is right and good.

• Found out that one of my friends had mixed up her weekend plans and was, indeed, free today to get together, as was another of our friends. Cue to the scene of me joyfully weeping tears of gratitude , and believe me, I wish that sentence sounded less pathetic just as much as you do.

• Since the weather was finally Not Raining (there are only two kinds of weather in Jakarta: Raining or Not Raining), decided to check out a new playground that I’ve been dying to go to, as I’ve been hearing rumors of this mythical place that is outside, has actual playground equipment PLUS a water feature, and is not ridiculously overpriced.

• Arrived at the playground and became the subject of much gossip and speculation as I fell to the ground crying, “I’ve found you! I've found you! Finally, I’ve found you!” while rubbing my cheek lovingly against the spongy ground. At least, that is how it happened in my head, but in reality I managed to maintain my (questionable) cool.

• Realized that Skye is 19 months old and has NEVER been on a swing, and that sentence alone could make a compelling case against me for child abuse. This realization was compounded by the fact that when I tried to put her in the adorable bucket swing, she freaked out and kicked her legs, clearly not having any idea about the newfangled contraption into which I was attempting to put her.

Fast forward 10 minutes when she was in the swing, throwing her head back and screaming, “Wheeee!” as I pushed her dutifully.

Fast forward 45 minutes, when we were still in the EXACT SAME SCENARIO, because it turns out that to Skyelar, swinging is the greatest activity in the history of the world and there was NO WAY that she was getting off that swing without a good fight. I figured that the kid had about a year’s worth of swinging to make up for, so I did my best to avoid making eye contact with the parents of the other kids who were waiting to go on the swing and just kept on pushing. Yes, I know- I was THAT parent, and usually I hate THAT parent, too, but in this situation, I just didn't care.

• Briefly thought about emailing Playhouse Disney to gently suggest that maybe-just maybe- they might consider making some new episodes of their shows, because if I have to watch the same episode of Mickey Mouse Playhouse or Special Agent Oso ONE MORE TIME, I just may lose my effing mind. Seriously, they have, like, five episodes of each show that they play over and over. Or at least it sure seems that way, because Kaia can recite most of them word-for-word and her memory is not THAT good, nor do we watch THAT much television. And believe me, Special Agent Oso, I GET IT- in order to wrap a present, you get some paper, put it around the gift and slap on some tape (otherwise known as the Three Special Steps). And as much as I enjoy the giddy anticipation of seeing if he will be able to finish wrapping that gift with only TEN seconds left on the clock, I hope I never, ever see that episode again. No, no- EVER! Just in case I wasn’t emphatic enough about that.

** People who don’t have kids or the Playhouse Disney channel will think that I am a raving lunatic right about now, but those with the above mentioned will totally get me. Not only will they get me, but at some point during the reading of the paragraph, the words, “You say it, sister!” will have escaped their mouths.

• Was positive that Kaia was asleep, so went into the bedroom to turn of the bedside lamp that she apparently can’t go to sleep without. Almost had a heart attack when SHE WAS NOT IN THE BED AND THERE WAS NO SIGN OF HER. ANYWHERE. Frantically started searching the room and checking the windows for signs of intrusion, but still no sign of her. Was just about to have a complete and total freak-out when I heard rustling and giggling coming from the clothes hamper. Yes, that is correct, in case you thought that you’d heard me wrong- the CLOTHES HAMPER. Where she’d been for god-only-knows how long, with the lid down. I opened it, and she just looked up at me and said, “Any questions?”. Seriously? Seriously. Who the hell is raising this kid? Oh, wait…

And so ends Day #3, and I am off to start preparing for Skye’s first day of school tomorrow. These preparations will include meditating, positive affirmations about my ability to handle what will no doubt be a LOUD, traumatic and embarrassing situation, and pleading with the universe for leniency. But she is going to look SO freaking cute in her little uniform that it will be worth it. I hope.

Good night!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

My Week As A Single Mom- Day 2 Highlights

We're living it up over here!
OK, well, here are the highlights from Day #2: The good, the bad and the ugly.

Day 2 Highlights:

• Success! The kids actually slept past dawn this morning, my plan worked! This was the first morning that I’d opened my eye after the sun came up in…I have no idea. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time, meet my pre-kids self who thought that waking up before 9:00 on weekends was early, and slap myself in the face. I would deserve it.

• Left Skye with the nanny while Kaia and I went grocery shopping and realized that no matter how many things I cut off the shopping list in an effort to save money, I cannot seem to spend less than a ridiculous amount on food. And where does the bulk of it go? Cheese. Yep, that’s right- cheese. And not fancy cheese, either (well, sometimes it is, but most of the time it’s not). We’re talking plain old cheddar and mozzarella cheese, with a bit of Parmesan and ricotta thrown in. Not the highest ticket items on the list…unless you live in Indonesia, apparently. But I am from Wisconsin, and cheese is part of my DNA, so good-bye $35.

• Told Kaia that we could get some ice cream on our way out of the mall. However, miscalculated where the ice cream shop was and ended up at the opposite end of the mall. In an effort to spare myself the walk back, not only did I allow, but I SUGGESTED that Kaia get cotton candy from a kiosk right in front of us instead. Yes, yes I did. I broke one of the Parent Commandments, and one of the big ones, at that:

Thou shalt not feed thy child five pounds of sugar in one 15-minute sitting unless thou art a complete moron.

I don’t know if you’ve ever ridden in the car for 45 minutes with a 4-year-old who has just gulped down a WHOLE bunch of cotton candy, but it isn’t pretty. I just kept picturing her sugar crash in my head, and hoping (HOPING!) that Skye would not have had her nap yet, so that we might all enjoy an hour or so of comatose bliss.

• Entered the house JUST IN TIME to find out that Skye had woken up moments ago from her nap. And she wasn’t happy about it. No, she was not. At least she doesn’t make others suffer with her when she is grouchy, though. Oh, wait- no, this is Skyelar we’re talking about, so actually the entire neighborhood within a 5-block radius knew how unhappy she was.

• Grudgingly said good-bye to the nanny as she left for the rest of the weekend and assessed the situation. Kaia’s sugar coma had kicked in full-force, and she was curled up on the couch with her new sleeping bag, barely aware of any movement or sounds going on around her, while Skye walked around the house shrieking angrily for no apparent reason. On the positive side, Kaia was not in the least bit bothered by her. You know, given her coma and all.

• Decided to get the kids out of the house by either going swimming or, at least, for a walk. Here is where you should allow your imagination to manifest some lightning, followed by a torrential downpour. Sigh.

• Twice- yes, twice!- followed the sound of Skye’s screaming to find her standing on a chair that had slid out from under her, leaving her in a bit of a bridge position with her upper body clinging to the table while her legs and feet slowly slid backwards. The second time, the chair actually slid out from underneath her completely, sending her falling to the ground. And if you think she handled THAT well, then you’ve never met my Skye!

• Gave Skye my phone to play with so that I could have 20 minutes to let the ringing in my ears die down a bit. In that 20 minutes, she managed to mix up several names and phone numbers (I’m still not sure how), call one of my friends (though there was some confusion as to which friend, since she’d mixed up the names), take a picture and set the alarm for 4:30 a.m. I didn’t even know my phone had an alarm, but Skye managed to set it in a matter of minutes.

• Took the kids on a walk after the rain stopped. The walk was cut short, though, by the differences of perspective that Skye and I shared. Basically, my perspective was that we need to hold hands when walking in the road for the sake of safety, and Skye’s perspective was that 18-month-olds should be allowed to run wherever they like in the road, and cars will just go around them.* This resulted in our complete alienation of the whole neighborhood as I carried a screaming, flailing Skye the 2 blocks home. And I swear, I’ve never seen so many of our neighbors hanging around outside before, and while I’m not sure EXACTLY what was going through their minds, it was clear from the looks on their faces that they thought I was handling the situation completely wrong.

***Before you call Child Protection Services, I should note here that our compound (along with the rest of Indonesia) doesn't have very many actual sidewalks. So don't go thinking that I walk my kids around in the street because I like living dangerously. If you know me at all, then you've most likely already caught on to my delightful mix of paranoia and over-protectiveness. If you don't know me, then believe me, you'll catch on soon.

• In an effort to combat the 5-pounds of sugar, I made pasta with butternut squash for dinner, and witnessed Skye reach a new and exciting milestone in her young life: the first time EVER that my darling daughter pushed her dinner bowl away from her, crossed her arms, and looked at me with a face that said, “Yeah, I just did that.”

• Explained to Kaia that family movie night could NOT consist of watching any of the movies that we have seen more than four times, for the sake of my sanity.

I am SOOOOOOOOO having a glass of wine tonight!


Friday, April 8, 2011

My Week As A Single Mom- Day 1 Highlights

So, since my husband is awesome and totally smart and talented and all that, he often leaves town to go to conferences and such. This leaves me walking a veeeeeeery fine line between feeling ecstatically proud of him for his accomplishments and motivation to develop himself both personally and professionally....and wanting to take everything out of his suitcase as he is prepping to leave, throw it at his head and scream, "What the hell are you thinking, leaving me home alone with these kids for A WEEK???".

I know, I am an awesome wife. And he is a lucky, lucky guy. You should definitely tell him that. Like, right now.

It's not that my kids are awful; quite the contrary, they are really wonderful, delightful kids. They are just wonderful, delightful kids who have A LOT of energy, and who don't always do the things that normal people might consider doing on a daily basis, such as sleeping, eating, or doing anything practical at a pace faster than that of a snail on valium. I mean, seriously? How long can it possibly take to put on a school uniform in the morning? And why does it take 30 minutes to get IN the car and strapped into the seat, but 10 seconds to get OUT?

So, in the interest of making every single person that I've ever met suffer right along with me, I have decided to document my week as a Single Mom here.

So, here are the highlights from Day #1 of Single Momdom:

* Was terrified that the compound electricity would go out all night again (as it had the night before, resulting in two very HOT, scared and cranky kids. And don't even get me started on the mosquitoes that came out as soon as the air con died off...), so I woke up every 30 minutes in a panic to reassure myself that the air con and fridge were, indeed, still alive.

* Had decided that I was absolutely, positively going to go to a party held by colleagues tonight because I need to get out of the house, dammit. Two hours later, I re-evaluated and decided that there is absolutely, positively NO way that I am doing anything that involves getting off my couch tonight because I need to relax, dammit.

* In a moment of weakness, I volunteered to go and read to Kaia's class as part of the school's Book Week next week. I was then asked if I would instead read to the ENTIRE EARLY YEARS PROGRAM as part of the morning assembly. Because I am a complete idiot (and because the head of the Early Years division is a friend of mine), I said yes. Right. That is going to go just swimmingly. Because I? Have no idea how to keep and maintain the attention of 50 3-5 year-olds for longer than about 20 seconds. Any help in this area would be greatly appreciated.

* Sent this email out to everyone I know who has kids:

Dear Everyone,

Is anyone down for a play date or something on Sunday? I will go anywhere and do anything, I do not care as long as it gets us out of the house!


* Received emails back from everyone I know who has kids letting me know that they are going out of town/busy this weekend, but all would love to get together NEXT weekend.

* Encouraged my kids to stay up a BIT later than usual in hopes that it will result in them sleeping later in the morning. This will either work or will result in the kids waking up at the same time as usual, but crankier than usual because they got less sleep. Fingers crossed.

* Watched as Kaia made a card for Jabiz, then took pictures of herself on Photo Booth showing off the card so that we can send him the pics. At the same time, Skye brought over her picture book and showed me every picture that she knows. This makes everything warm and fuzzy, and all I see are puppies and rainbows dancing around in the air. And no, I've not had any wine, so shut up.

* Began mentally planning the tour of outlet stores that I will take when Jabiz gets back, because he sooooooo totally owes me.

* Am now sprawled on the couch with a marathon of "Hot In Cleveland" episodes a-waiting, and I'm not even a little bit embarrassed about that. Like, at all. Because I will watch anything featuring Betty White and Wendy Malick, anywhere, anytime.

Good night, everyone!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Death Of A Kindle

Just yesterday, I experienced a very sad loss, the kind of loss that one does not get over quickly. I will feel this loss deeply and profoundly for many months to come, so much that a part of my life
may be altered forever. It’s just indescribable.

And the worst part is that it was completely unexpected. Not like one of those deaths where you slowly see it coming for weeks, or even months ahead of time. The ones where you can actually witness the life just gracefully slipping away, so that when the time actually comes, it is almost a relief and you are able to grieve and then move on. No, this was out of the blue, just one day there and the next day- poof! Gone.

I’m very sorry to say that yesterday I lost my very good friend and companion, Kindle. Amazon Kindle, to be respectful of her full name (yes, my Kindle was a girl).

R.I.P, Dear Kindle
Kindle and I have been close friends for about three years now, and during those three years, we were inseparable. I will never forget the first time that I saw her in the Aramex post office in Doha, and I just knew that we were going to be soul mates. She was beautiful- so sleek and prim, always pristine and classy. And she was the perfect complement to my crazy life- always able to follow my wherever I went without taking up much room, offering me the newest and latest things before they were available anywhere that I was. She was also speedy and efficient, which is a quality that I really value in a life partner.

Kindle and I went everywhere together- on vacations, to the hair salon (hell, to ALL of my appointments, let’s be honest.), and on long car rides. Or, we’d just hang out at home and kick back. Whatever. It didn’t matter, as long as we were together.

Unfortunately, Kindle left us much too soon. Her life was tragically ended at the hands of a semi-feral 18-month-old who apparently has STILL not yet learned anything about ownership, boundaries, or the treatment of fragile devices.

I wish that I could say something comforting, such as, “She went quickly” or “At least she didn’t suffer”, but I am afraid that is just not true. I spent an agonizing few hours with her while she wheezed and gasped, until her screen finally went dark. Too dark to read by. And then she was gone.

You're not supposed to ruin your eyes when you read it!
You may be wondering why Kindle’s death has so deeply affected me. You might say, “There are lots of Kindles out there. Surely you can find another!” but that is just not so. Where I live, in Indonesia, friends like Kindle are difficult- if not impossible- to find. And the unreliable mail service leaves me unable to search out and acquire a Mail Order Kindle.

No, Kindle was a one-of-a-kind here in Jakarta.

And now, I will have to carry on without her, doomed to a life of wandering into book stores, hoping for the opportunity to pay $30 or more for the latest book that I covet, but more often than not walking out, disappointed.

At least, until my parents come to visit us this summer and introduce me to New Kindle, that is. But that is still 12 weeks away…so…sigh.

Rest in peace, Kindle, I will miss you. I will really, really miss you. And I take comfort in knowing that a great lesson has been learned from this sad event.

I will be sure to give New Kindle a place of honor on a high, high shelf in the closet, where semi-feral tiny beings will not be able to reach!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

This Is What Passes For Fun Around Our House

This was Day 5 of our Spring Break. Clearly, and we did not provide enough stimulating activities for our kids as they were forced to create their own amusement with their Zhazhu Pet. And I have to say, that annoying little bundle of fur that I initially cursed as Kaia opened it as one of her fourth birthday presents suddenly came in LOADS of handy as we were lying on the couch wondering how the hell our kids sleep so little yet have so much energy.

Oh, and we finally cut Skye's bangs. Because she was starting to blindly run into things. And resemble the neighbor's shaggy dog. And yes, we cut them ourselves, because we were just not physically or emotionally ready for the screamfest that we were sure a trip to the hair salon would manifest into.

Just smile and tell us that it looks OK. Seriously.