Monday, February 28, 2011

The better part of valor

I am incredibly proud of my daughter Jazmyn. When faced with a difficult situation, she showed restraint and prudence. She did not resort to her first instinct of flight but chose to do something difficult. That things ended so badly is not her fault. Fingers have been pointed, but none at her.

I have learned a lesson: my daughter has good judgment, and when she gives an initial opinion, I should go with it. And I will.

There is much more, but the better part of valor is silence and reflection. I can only hope others discover that as well.

Now let's move on.

Deb in the City

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Being sick is overrated

I have no idea what happened. Michael and I took Sam and the boys to the library for a few hours yesterday, then went to the Pru for Indian food. A few hours later, I met up with a friend to do some work. However, she hadn't eaten dinner yet, so we got a bite. I got a very small bit, because I was sort of full. Then we went somewhere else with a working wi-fi and I got a hot chocolate.

When I came home, I felt sick. Not generically sick to my stomach, but vomiting at midnight. I haven't done that since I was in my first trimester with the boys- no, I lie, there was this one time at the beginning of my third as they were crowding out my digestive organs.

Vomiting is the worst. Every intrinsic muscle of mine was sore. I think that's what makes the flu so awful too- it's not an ache of your big muscles, it's pain that goes into your smaller, deeper muscles. So painful I ended up going back to sleep- I never go back to sleep.

I would be sleeping still if my husband didn't have to take Jaz to her music lesson and Sam didn't have her own rehearsal to go to. I suppose I could have asked Michael to take the boys, but I had no desire to send them into the cold if it wasn't necessary. So, after a week of stepping them down from computer time, they watched a LOT of movies and played a lot of games in my room while I tried to nap a little more. And they were very good- Simon at one point told Jacob to keep it down so I could sleep.

I love my little guys.

I'm lying when I say I don't know what happened. I think I do. Jazmyn was very upset about something when she came home, and Michael and Sam were pretty upset too. I had to put on my mature adult cap even though I could easily indulged my own feelings. I handle stress badly. It's not coming out in screaming and yelling as much, and it's coming out less as toxic itchiness on my skin, but it can get me still. This, despite a regular yoga practice and truly, genuinely, feeling better about things.

In other news, I got my first paycheck as a writer. As those things go, it's pretty big. It's so great... except for the part about me having to give it all to the IRS. Well, it's something.

Genuinely good news: Sam is going to be 17 this week, and she got accepted into a college already. She and Michael are going to check out a school in western MA tomorrow- everyone think good thoughts for the drive.

And maybe I'll feel better by then.

Deb in the City

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Finally something I can write about

I always have something to say about something. However, in my old age, I am trying to be respectful of people and not write about topics that impact other people. So I've been biting my online tongue about a lot of things. And while I have much to say about politics, Egypt, jobs versus abortion funding, I'm trying to be mindful of my original mission here, which was to write about trying to raise children in a big city without spending too much money. And, of course, my adventures in food shopping.

For some reason, I am of the mind that my children should accompany me when I go food shopping. I know every parent out there who has even a remote childcare option agrees with my husband and thinks I'm crazy. And since one of my earliest experiences with the boys out of their stroller in a supermarket is of them shoving each other in the aisles, in part because they were so tired, I know where you're coming from. However, I feel like it's an avenue to connect them to their food. Unfortunately, we don't have that many opportunities to write see gardens or farms, so if they can at least understand that food doesn't magically appear in our kitchen and that the big people in their lives have to make choices that result in the food they eat, that's something. Yes, I have bought too many bags of granola, cookies and ice cream to keep them quiet, but I suppose that's part of my journey.

Did I mention that I can eat legumes (including soy) and grains now? I can. It's a beautiful thing. I still can't eat wheat, but I'm okay with that. Being a wheat-free vegan is a little bit of nothing compared to what the last two years were like. Why does this matter? Because beans and grains are some of the most inexpensive things in the supermarket, and I can feel better about that cheap price than I do, say, cheap greens and fruit. (Yes, I have an idea of how little our farmworkers are paid.) And, because my husband's job is YET AGAIN in question, spending as little money on food as I can for a little while.

So how much did I spend? $150, which came out to about five bags of food (I need to pick something up that was out of stock, so let's call it $160 and 6 bags.) That's not bad, even with three kids. But you know what was bad? Going to three stores for that. Without a car. On slushy streets. And Boston's increasingly unreliable public transportation. You know what made that even worse? That Jazmyn and I can't carry five bags between the two of us, so Michael helped us out on the last leg and took an hour out of his work day. So you know, that doesn't mean he doesn't work, it means he works later. And that's just what I want after having the boys scream at me all day (it's not that they hate me, it's just their natural volume... I think.).

When I first met with Michael, I begged him to call a cab. No way, he said. Too expensive. He'd rather carry all of the bags with the boys pulling on him than do that. (You have to know how icy and slushy our streets have been to understand how stubborn that was.) Obviously, I can call a cab myself, but I just don't want to argue while Jacob is screaming for granola. I could have rented a ZipCar, but that's not any cheaper. I could have just left the boys with Michael in the first place, but then we're back to Michael taking even more time off of work.

You know what else I could do? I could go to Whole Foods, spend the $150 or $160, and get free delivery. I mean, you should always tip, but they don't charge for the service. Is that so wrong? Yeah, it kind of is, but I'm still very tempted. I know what my husband's vote is.

In other news, yesterday I did something I've wanted to do for a long time: I bought a membership to the Children's Museum. We only got to spend 2 hours there yesterday, but Jaz and the boys had a great time. (It didn't hurt that we went when not too many people were there.) It was more money than I like to spend- $250 for six people- but they will stay occupied.

(The funny thing is that I wasn't inspired to buy it until I had a conversation with someone who worked there about how awful her job was and the nannies who come every day to the place and then ignore their young charges for hours at a time. Yeah... I remember those people from when I first took the boys there when they were babies. *sigh* good times.)

In other news, did I mention that Sam officially has her Associates Degree? She does :-) Give it up for my girl! Now we're looking at colleges for her to finish up, she's filling out FAFSAs, and I'm trying to get her to agree to my evil plan of a less expensive college to make possible a better, more expensive graduate program.

The above necessitated filling out our taxes two months earlier than I had planned. Congratulate us- we made enough money that we owe taxes this year. Don't get me wrong- I believe in taxes, because what else is going to provide us with quality infrastructure and schools. I'd just like to see those things now- is that too much to ask?

Two more pieces of good news before I go: the boys were grounded for running away from me at the Prudential Center, and their punishment was not using the computer. Now they know that they can live without it, so they're accepting limits on usage. This is a very, very good thing. That, combined with the Children's Museum yesterday, found them passed out in the living room at 9 last night. Life is good.

Second item? That wretched Nir Rosen rolled his eyes right out of a job. Sometimes, there's some justice.

Deb in the City

Friday, February 11, 2011

Kids, kids, kids

What was yesterday like? I found paying bills this morning soothing by comparison.

Thursday is *my* day in our homeschooling co-op, and I had my boys, one of my girls and her friends. The girls are eleven and my boys are six. I am going to leave out the details because other people's children are involved, but I will say that yesterday was the worst Thursday ever, and it ended with me promising my sons, especially Simon, that he would never have to see the other girls again. That may have some ramifications, but so be it.

That was by 1:30. That was enough of a day for me at that point, but then the girls had doctor's appointments. I needed to take the boys with me, and because of their day they were bouncing off the walls of the waiting room within thirty minutes. We were there for another 90 minutes and then we had a ride back on a crowded bus. We got back home by 5. That, definitely, would have been enough of a day for me at that point.

But no. Sam needed to go to Dudley to register for the GEDs. I gritted my teeth because she claimed she needed both a letter from her old high school and a parent to accompany her. I growled when she insisted on getting there via a route that involved a five minute walk on ice covered sidewalks. And then we got there... the phrase "the left hand doesn't know what the right is doing" felt applicable after we tried twice to get in.

She successfully applied, and the people were very nice. I was rolling my eyes until a very cute young woman, herself just seventeen, was told that her application couldn't be processed that night because she didn't have a parent or a letter from her school. Oh. And ugh. It was just a pain in my neck to add this last little task to my day- for many people it might have been straight up impossible. It shouldn't be so hard to get your GED.

I had asked Michael to order some vegan gluten-free pizza. Because I'm human, and I was tired and cold. Well, they don't deliver to us, so we ended up with the most mediocre Chinese food ever. EVER. I had made some rice noodles and tofu for breakfast that morning, and Sam nibbled on the leftovers. "Mom, your stuff is better than what we ordered." I was so spent, that didn't feel like a compliment.

I got to do yoga this morning- the sweat is good. But I still haven't showered yet. Two young women got in front of me, and I needed to prevent Jacob from running away from home. Jacob is sick of taking his chewable vitamins and he's sick of reading with me.

Kids.

Deb in the City

Monday, February 07, 2011

Stuff you need to know

That is, if my narcissistic fantasies are correct and I really am the center of the universe and the world is a better place for knowing all about me.

1) I despised Groupon before the Tibet ad last night. I don't complain about them too much in public because all of my friends love them- and while I don't mind getting into fights with people all the time, even I have my limits- but now it's kind of cool to hate them. I was going to say that I have no witnesses, but I do in fact. One. And maybe his wife. But otherwise you'll just have to trust me. (Or I'll have to expound on why I hate them in the first place- you decide what's better for you.)

2) My God, that ad was so offensive. (That's the "no kidding" statement of the day.) Here's the thing, Groupon: you think you were making fun of people like me, but you were still diminishing Tibet. Take your would-be nobility and boycott any deals that in any way benefit Chinese companies until they leave Tibet to make up for it.

3) My daughter, who will be 17 in 15 days, now has her Associates Degree. Hooray! But she has to take the GEDs if she wants to transfer into a Bachelor's Program. What...? Even better, she can't register for the GEDs until she produces a letter from her old school stating that she left school. Her old school has never heard of such a thing ever. Oh bureaucracy- you almost slay me sometimes. Almost.

4) My 11 year old has an account on something called Daily Booth. It's where people post pictures of themselves or other things they like. Yep, that's about it. She might look older than her age, but she's clearly under 14. This did not stop a guy whom I'm pretty sure is about 19 from telling her she's cute and asking her to chat, or from three young men in the same age range from following her. And one of them was totally priceless. Yes, I can see you work out a lot at the gym. Can you put some pants on now? (You're following my daughter why again?) My daughters didn't want to tell me because they knew I'd overreact, and they could not believe I told my husband. Yes, I did have to stop him from deleting the account altogether, but that was my first thought. The sad young man who solicited my little girl was reported to the site, and I am left wondering why teenagers need little kids when they have each other.

5) I've been doing a lot of yoga lately. I've also been able to eat beans and grains again (wheat is still off the menu). I think these two things are related, but I've got nothing to prove it. That's okay. I can eat oatmeal and lentils again, so I don't care.

6) Jacob is now vegan and wheat-free (you know, as long as I remember) and his skin and asthma are better. It was a recommendation from an acupuncturist, and I'll take it. He's also taking supplements aka vitamins and iron, and damned if he isn't just a little less sallow and lethargic. Oh yeah, he's also been telling me for the last week and a half that he can read, and today he read a whole book (mostly) by himself. Might those things be connected? Again, I've got nothing and I don't know.

7) I finished something for someone that has been sitting on my shoulders for the last three months. On the one hand, I was happy to have it there; on the other hand, I didn't know what to do with it. I hope to get more projects like this, but even if I don't, it was good to have something that demanded a schedule of me. I like schedules. I'm strange.

8) I finally read "1491" and I am still wrapping my head around the paradigm shift, possibly because the 18 year old still in me wants to rub the book in my history professor's face for having assured me that the Native Americans didn't have civilizations.

9) I really love parsing literature with people and I'm excited that I'm taking an adult education class at my temple where I get to do just that. I'm sniffling already because it will be over at the end of the year. Relating to people in person is kind of nice.

10) It's 11:20. Why am I still up?

Deb in the City