Thursday, May 31, 2007

Spooky house

When you were a kid, was there was always one house in your neighborhood that was spooky? I had that growing up. There was the "Glass House" -- so called because the last name of the owners was Glass. But they also had this CRAZY stained glass front door and the whole place was overgrown and downright spooky. I don't remember ever meeting the owners and on Halloween they always left out a bowl of candy so no one would bother them. We would dare each other to go up to the door to take a treat. I even had some pretty spooky dreams about entering the house and my friends and I would fantasize that they were really vampires.
I think the house across the street from my current abode would qualify as spooky house to neighbhorhood kids. I only have daylight pics, but trust me, it is a bit spooky at night.
The house is apparently in foreclosure -- there are a bunch of families living there and I can't get a straight answer as to who the owner is. They stopped mowing about 4 months ago and there is trash everywhere. I like my house and I think our neighborhood is fine, but this house just jacks things up.
Now I know how my parents must have felt about the Glass House. Us kids loved it because it was mysterious to us, but the grownups in the neighbhorhood must have seen it as a place that was bringing down property values. I've turned into a grownup because part of me just wants to go over and mow the lawn and ask the folks to clean up their driveway.
In any case, the house should be auctioned off soon and I really hope a nice, not too spooky family moves in.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Day at the beach, new roommate and raccoons

Over the long weekend we made the obligatory trip to the beach. We got a bit of a late start and didn't arrive until about 10:30... I thought we were going to be screwed in the parking department, but it turns out that the beach was half empty. Yay for us! The masses showed up much later so we had plenty of time to explore the tidepools and splash in the water. Oh, God, that water was cold. The weather couldn't have been more perfect and it was just such an enjoyable day with the kiddos. It was the first time in 4 years we were at the beach with little equipment and didn't have to change diapers or nurse a baby on the beach. Nice!

Here son was getting buried alive

Daughter found a bunch of hermit crabs in the tidepools

We came home from the beach to welcome my baby sister home. She's going to be hanging at our pad for a few months. She's been up in Seattle for a while now and we are really glad to have her, even though we know she can only tolerate California in small doses. Balz's (baby sis) arrival coincided with the arrival of some unwelcome creatures... raccoons. They seem to hang out in the summer and fall and disappear in the winter. Well, they're back and bigger than ever. They boldy walk up to our back door and walk along our crumbling back wall. They have some possum buddies who also often show up. I don't mind the possum because they don't seem to be very confrontational. But the raccoons... man, they seem to be looking for a fight.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Shrek the Third, The Scarlet Letter and naptime

I woke up this morning and decided that I hadn't spent enough time with the kiddos lately (love the cousins, but I haven't had much alone time with my own), so I decided to let son play hookey from preschool and I played hookey from work. I called up SIL to let her know she wouldn't have to watch my two today and she said, let's all take the kids to see Shrek. Well, I wasn't going to have them see that movie (they haven't seen the first two) because it is PG and I thought it might be a bit too old for them. Well, I decided a movie with SIL and the cousins might be fun so I agreed. The kids were all really good in the movie theater and enjoyed eating too much popcorn and licorice, but I don't know about the movie. I thought it was alright, but a bit too mature for the little ones. Many of the jokes were more for adults and the animation wasn't quite animated enough for a 2 year old. I would recommend it for the 6 and up age range.

Speaking of movies, husband recently put The Scarlet Letter on our queue in Netflix. I haven't seen that movie in years and I read the book even longer ago. It was a really good movie, but it got me thinking... man, would it have sucked to have been a woman back then. Yes, times were more simple and kids had a lot more responsibility at a young age, but us ladies were treated like donkey-shit. Take out the witch trials and the hanging if convicted of adultery and you are still left with half of the population having basically no rights. My husband might have liked it, though, because his smart-ass, free-thinking, pants-wearing wife would have known her place:)

I'm writing this as two children moan and cry about 20 feet away. It's been almost a week since daughter napped and her tantrum-having booty needs a nap so they are both stuck in their rooms until they fall asleep. Since we gave up the binky she doesn't seem able to put herself to sleep at naptime. Also, I have to have both kids sleep together because my baby sister is coming to stay with us for a bit and she is going to be using son's room while she's here (Balz, if you read this, don't feel bad, they actually sleep way better at night when they are in the same room). It truly sucks because by about 4 p.m. daughter is just a screaming mess and by 7:30 I'm ready to drop her off at the orphanage. I try really hard to get into the frame of mind that it's her problem, not mine, when she's having a tantrum. I try to play soothing music in my head and count to ten, but man, it really does get to you after a while. And it's not like it's a once-a-day thing... that I could live with. It's five or six times a day with each tantrum lasting like 15 minutes. And loud, oh, god, she is so freaking loud. I just am about at my wits end. I'm trying really hard to use positive reinforcement and not yell (like my mom did), but I'm not sure what to do next. My son, who has his own moments, was not nearly as volatile when he was her age. I think part of it was that when he was 2, his baby sister was born and I just didn't have the time to deal with any nonsense from him, so he quickly adapted. I need an infant on loan for about 6 months just so daughter knows she's not #1 any more.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

binkys, stray cats and positive reinforcement

We said goodbye to daughter's binky yesterday and it has been hell around the Crouse Haus ever since. Although son can be a sissy (I can say that because he won't read this) about the small stuff in life, he has always been good about major changes. Giving up his binky at age 2, no big deal, moving to a big kid bed, cool, potty-training, no sweat, introduce a baby sister to the family, love it. All of the major things have been SO easy with him. Daughter is quite the opposite. She's so tough when it comes to a scraped knee or missing a turn in Candyland, but take away a girl's binky, you're in for trouble. I rue the day I forced the binky upon her. She didn't get one right away and was a champion nurser, but she was too good. The girl wanted to be latched onto me 24 hours a day. I had a 2 year old to entertain, so when she was about a month old I introduced her to one of her best friends (her absolute best friend is her "piggy" which cannot be replaced and I will never take away). She didn't want the thing at first but she finally agreed and has rarely been seen without it in the past 2 years.
We went for her first dental visit a couple of months ago and Dr. "B" said it was time for the binky to go unless we want to face lots of cash for orthodontic procedures in the future.
Yesterday we told daughter that if she wanted to mail her binkys to the "Binky Fairy" to give to new babies then she would be rewarded with a big-girl toy from the toy store. She agreed through tears. We mailed the things off and she picked a lame toy.
Yesterday went OK, with only a few requests for "binky-bink". She finally fell asleep last night but woke everyone up howling at about 1 a.m Husband has absolutely no patience for such nonsense so I banished him to the couch and daughter "slept" with me. She actually kept me up most of the night. Today was very tough for everyone. Son was seen most of the day with his hands over his ears because he was tired of his sister's screaming. It tried me a bit, but husband more. We had a huge row (can I say that if I'm not English?) and I am glad he is going to work tomorrow.
Tonight went OK... they are both sleeping now and I hope there won't be a repeat of tomorrow. But in case there is, I'm making up the fold-up couch now for husband.

We have a cat that is now hanging out in our yard and husband is trying his darndest to make this stray a part of the family. The cat has a slight limp, which is improving, and looks seriously malnourished. When the animal first started coming around last week, husband left some milk out for it. He stepped it up a notch yesterday and purchased cat food and cat treats... Cat food for God's sake! If there is one animal I don't want, it's a cat. I wish this animal no ill will. I'm not an animal-hater, but I don't do litter boxes and I don't agree with outside cats because all of the cats in the neighborhood already do their business in my yard and it grosses me out! Anyway, the kids are thrilled and love seeing the cat in the morning in the yard and feeding it with Daddy in the evenings. I'm going to make up flyers tomorrow and paste them around the neighborhood. I don't want to take it to the animal shelter because chances are that it will be euthanized and I don't want that on my conscience.

I'm looking for advice for positive reinforcement for preschoolers. My sis-in-law and I trade off childcare these days. She watches mine 2 days a week so I can get in a full day of work those days and I watch hers on three so she can go off to help support her family. In theory it works out well and we don't have to pay for childcare and all that. My son is in preschool for 9 hours a week and her daughter is in kindergarten, so it's not too bad. But most afternoons I have four children ages 5, 4, 3, and 2 running amok in the house. All the while I'm trying to potty-train, keep the house somewhat orderly and keep the kids stimulated without television. The kids have been hard of hearing lately and a bit disrespectful in both houses. Sis-in-law and I want to implement some reward charts for the kids and I'm trying to come up with good behavior to reward for these ages. Any ideas on what you do to give your kids incentives to be good citizens would be appreciated. We're not going to reward with toys because they are already so spoiled it is CRAZY (that is probably part of the problem and something I'm working on) but will probably reward with trips to the zoo or beach or something.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

15 year reunion and wating more

Saturday night was a night I had been nervous about for a couple of weeks. It was my 15th high school reunion. I went to lunch with an old friend a few days before the reunion -- she wasn't going to attend -- and she asked me, "why do you want to go? Didn't we hate high school?" That question made me stop and think. Yes, for the most part high school was painful for me. I had a couple of close friends and was a good student but high school definitely wasn't for me. I was, and still am, painfully shy. I've diagnosed myself with social phobia and working at my job for 12 years has only seemed to cause this social phobia to get worse -- I work on the computer, from home and don't see any of our customers.
Why would I want to go back? I guess the reason was that I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I wanted to walk up to someone I didn't really know and strike up a conversation. And I did it. It was painful and it required 2 glasses of wine, but I mingled with a couple of old classmates that I hadn't really known 15 years ago. Did I have a good time? No, but I'm glad I went. If I gained anything from the experience it was the knowledge that talking with another human being won't cause me to die and heck, the person I'm talking with probably won't just walk away from me while I'm in midsentence.
I also learned, from my a friend's husband, that my shyness isn't obvious to the world as I always assumed. He was shocked to hear that I considered myself socially awkward.
Well, I won't go out and make a bunch of new friends while at the park with the kids, I might be a little less hesitant to strike up a conversation with another mom.

OK, folks, I want out to Southern California. Less than a year ago I talked my husband into moving into a slightly bigger house in a neighboring city. We didn't need to move but I was convinced that living in this city would help me meet other parents and help the isolation I feel working from home with the kids. We now live in a house I love (although it is old and needs work we haven't the money for) in a great neighborhood. We can walk to most all shopping and services we need and we are surrounded by great parks. The schools in the area are supposed to be good and the city is very safe. I'm about 25 minutes from the beach and the weather is great. What the hell else could I want? Well, now I'm thinking I made a bad decision. We are strapped with a huge mortgage that forces me to continue at my job and doesn't leave any savings for fixing up the house, which really needs fixing up. The city we live in is only about 10 minutes from where I grew up. I hated it as a teen... living in an upper middle-class area when my family was always struggling even to buy clothes at Sears. I felt like an outcast and that other kids were so materialistic. It is still that way here. You should see the outfits that the 5 year olds wear here. For Mother's Day my husband treated me to a manicure -- the only other manicure I've had was before my wedding, so it was a real treat. When I went to the nail place, there were like 6 or 7 young girls in there getting mani/pedis. I'm talking 8 year old girls, for God's sake!
I find I'm wasting time in the evening, time that should be spent writing, looking on the computer at property in Washington State. My little sis lives up there and it just looks beautiful. I have visions of a house on an acre or more of land where my little ones can run free. They would have places to climb trees and explore, something they can't do here. I daydream of the two of them going out on a summer afternoon and exploring and using their imaginations to conjure up all sorts of adventures. They only get one childhood and I want more for them than I feel they'll get here. Husband is not on the same page as me and I feel like a bitch even approaching the subject since it was me who put us in this house in the first place. Who am I to ask for more when there are billions of people in the world who will never even have what I have now?
Anyway, I'm obsessed and I've got to do something. Either shelve the idea completely so I can focus my attention on my wonderful family, or stop being a pussy and just tell husband what I want to do. Poor man. He married a woman to whom the grass is always greener.

**update: Apparently my sister thinks I was drunk when I wrote this. Of course there is the obvious misspelling in the title, which I didn't catch. No, I wasn't drunk this morning, just dog tired and had a lot on my mind. Also the grammar is less than stellar -- not that it is ever that great when I'm just writing off the cuff. Also, I'm lazy and don't usually read my posts before I post them. That'll teach me. Thanks, Balz!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Case of the Monday's

Beware, there are references to preschooler poop in this post. I'm only sharing it to perhaps scare my little sis:)
I ended the evening at Chuck E Cheese with my kids. Not somewhere I usually go unless it's a birthday party my son really wants to go to. Otherwise, let's just say I'm not a Chuck E. Cheese kind of gal. Heck, I don't even let my kids go in the play area at McDonald's. So there I was, sitting at this place, eating cardboard pizza and wishing I could order one beer with my meal... alas, I was alone (husband jogging at home) and so I couldn't induldge. Why were we there? Daughter filled up her potty chart and this was her wish. To be honest, I think son had something to do with it.

I'll let you in on how she filled in that last square on the potty chart. It ended with a poop, but not in the usual celebratory manner. We had just arrived home from dropping boy and girl cousin off and I was bringing in the trash cans when daughter runs up to me and says, "poop!" That means, "get me to the bathroom now, mother, if you don't want me to soil these nice new underpants!"
I whisked her off to the bathroom and realized son was still out in the front yard. We live on a tiny cul-de-sac but even in this city they can't hang out alone. So I left daughter with a book on the potty and went to retrieve son. I couldn't have been more than 2 minutes -- I might have stopped to prop scooters and tricycles up against the side of the house instead of blocking the walkway -- when I heard daughter laughing and saying, "I did it, I did it!" I was excited for about 5 seconds and then I saw her. She walked out onto the front door with no pants on and poop all over her leg. I quickly picked her up and headed into the bathroom to survey the damage. It wasn't pretty, folks. I called for son and then cleaned up daughter and dropped her in the bath. I cleaned up the mess while she happily played in the bubbles, all the while singing that she was going to Chuck E. Cheese because she pooped on the potty.
That is how I ended up at that god forsaken place on a Monday night.

It wasn't my dream end to a nightmarish afternoon. The morning went all right with the little ones around, but by afternoon all four of them where a whining, fighting mess. They were in and out of the house because it was so hot today. They would go from happily splashing in the water to crying that someone splashed them. They were tracking dirt and grime everywhere they went. After snack I was cleaning one child while two others were happily smearing yogurt and grahamn cracker mush all over my walls and sofa. UGH! The house has now been cleaned up a bit, but not entirely. And it all starts again tomorrow. Hopefully not as early as today (5:30).
Oh, I hope Tuesday has more to offer me than Monday did.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Carnival fun and ditched by husband

Only a few more years til she gets her own pink car

Luc was a natural at bumping into his cousin and sister.

We headed over to Conejo Valley Days today -- it is a local carnival that comes to town every May. I've been going since I was 12 or so. It is so fun to now take my own kids! It is a little tough on the pocketbook, these days, though. $3.00 for one dart to pop a balloon?
We met grandma and cousin Julia over there and Julia had fun going on some rides with Lucas. It was a gorgeous day our and there were lots of families with young kids... a much different crowd comes out at night. That is when I used to go as a punky teen and now I avoid the night carnival like the plague.

Fun Apple ride with Luc, Julia, Amanda and me!

After returning home husband packed up and left. OK, so he didn't leave for good, but he headed down to O.C. to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with some friends. I opted out because I don't care to watch "the fight" or drink too many Dos Equis and then have to care for the kiddos tomorrow.
Since we just have the one car now, he had to rent a car. He chose a convertible, damn him. On this gorgeous day my husband is now cruising down south and getting a tan:)
I hope he has a good time, and I really hope son and daughter wake up from their naps in a good mood. We're going to have dinner at my mom's and then we'll have movie and ice-cream sundae night back here! Yipee!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Waste of time and money

They knew it was a waste of time from the beginning. And while people are hungry and homeless in our own country they continued to waste our tax dollars by passing a bill they knew would be vetoed. Why did they do this? Campaigning for the next election of course! Now they can go on the record to their constituents and say, "look what we tried to do, but the other side fought us. Vote for us!"
I am so fed up with both sides of the political aisle at this point. Disgusted that while the democratic majority congress is stuck with a stubborn "bleep" for the next 18 months they refuse to do the best they can with what they've got. Instead they are wasting our time and money by passing a bill that won't be signed. Our soldiers are dying, many more Iraqis are dying and no one is doing a damn thing about it. Sure, they act like "oh, we wanted to pass this spending bill, but the president is an idiot and won't sign it." Well, crackheads, you knew he wouldn't sign it so why not stop playing games and get to work on something he will sign. You aren't going to change him. I don't like him any more than you do, but I want to see you do something!
Oh, I'm enraged. I don't know who the hell I'll vote for in the next election because I'm so disgusted with everyone in Washington. The sad thing is, even if someone trustworthy and "real" came along, I probably wouldn't notice him or her because I'm so cynical. You jerks in government have taken all that was good about our country and shat on it and now it's not so good anymore.