Back to Square One

So, we’re back to where we started: We really need to solve this nanny situation.

(Here’s the backstory).

After at least four failed attempts, the agency finally sent us a reasonable nanny.

Or so we thought.

The cracks appeared about six weeks after she started. She was taking the kids out for fast food almost every day after school. A few times we came home and she was busily texting on her phone. MGM wasn’t doing his homework. Her car broke down and she canceled at the last minute. Little things. Tiny little things.

One night we asked her to stay late. I arrived home at nearly 8 PM. The kids were wild. And hungry. It hadn’t occurred to her to feed them dinner.

Our DVR queue is also completely full of episodes of “The Bachelor,” and by no stretch of the imagination can I even accuse Ever Patient Spouse of secretly being a fan. It’s her.

I blamed myself for trying to appear too laissez-faire during the interview process. (“Oh, yeah. We’re not like those uptight helicopter parents. The kids can do, you know, whatever. Just make sure they’re not dead.”)

Then this: Last week, frantic calls from the school indicated that she simply hadn’t shown up to collect the children. Spouse and I had no idea where they were. I finally reached Nanny and she simply said that she had been taking a nap in the middle of the day and just didn’t wake up. 

If the situation had been reversed, I would have been profusely apologetic and appropriately mortified. She wasn’t at all. There wasn’t even an “I’m sorry.”

The school principal informed us that this isn’t new. She’s frequently late. The principal has taken to watching MGM and Trixie by the front door to make sure she shows up.

Tonight: Spouse came home and the house was quiet. Investigation determined that the kids were upstairs watching Netflix shows on an iPad.

But where was Nanny?

Further investigation revealed that she was soundly asleep on our sofa, stretched out from end-to-end, snuggling in a cashmere blanket with numerous decorative pillows.

It took Spouse shouting her name four times before she roused. Again, no apology. No “Mea culpa.” Zilch.

Spouse told her to go.

A terse email to the agency confirmed that she will not be welcome on Monday.

So now we’re back at square one. Sigh.

Time Travel

Isn’t it great when you hear a song you love and it immediately transforms you back to the time and place when it was relevant to you?

That’s what happened to me today when I heard this excellent tune:

Ok, for reference, I am still happily married to Ever Patient Spouse, but Liz Phair’s “Divorce Song” totally kicks ass.

Last year “Exile in Guyville” celebrated its 20th anniversary, and a whole bunch of other people expounded on the meaning of the album, its relevance as a feminist manifesto (or not), and its place in history.

All I know is that in 1993, I couldn’t get enough of it. The tug between Boys are Stupid and I Really, Really Wish I Had a Boyfriend was very real to me back then. Looking back now, the fact that this was one of my primary sources of angst is hilarious, sad and quaint.

And then there is also this righteous ditty:

So, yeah, basically I want to be friends with Liz Phair. I think we’d get along famously.

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Near Perfection

One of my (younger) coworkers is my go-to source for everything that is seriously cool. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s street food in Singapore, late night DJ sets in London, or the top diving spots in the Pacific Rim, he knows what he’s talking about. The best part is that all of this information is spot-on and comes with zero attitude, so when he makes a suggestion, I listen up.

Like his recommendation to watch this movie:

movieposter

Lena Dunham’s opus from 2010 is near perfection.

The awkwardness just about killed me.

I loved it so much that I watched it twice in a row.

P.S. It’s available for streaming on Netflix or rental through YouTube. Watch it now.

Crossbody Bags

Two weeks ago when I went to California to run in a half-marathon, I spent a day at Disneyland*** and found myself wishing I had a crossbody bag to hold my stuff and keep me hands-free when I tooled about the park.

Had I been better prepared, I may have selected one of these:

Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs

Clare Vivier

Clare Vivier

Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs

Fossil

Fossil

Kate Spade

Kate Spade

Kate Spade

Kate Spade

This one’s too glam for a day at the amusement park, but it’s still pretty awesome:

Gucci

Gucci

Finally, here are my two favorites. The leather one is more laid-back whereas the nylon one basically will inspire envy in the other moms checking each other out while waiting in line for two hours to ride on “It’s a Small World.”

Frye

Frye

Prada

Prada

*** Yes. I went to Disneyland alone. My kids were at home with Spouse. Awful. I know. One of my good friends found this situation to be incredibly weird. I didn’t! I was killing time before the race. And FYI, you can get on just about any ride with barely a wait when you’re a single rider, not to mention being able to freely people watch and walk about the park without stopping every ten paces to buy a souvenir or take one of a zillion potty breaks. I recommend it. But note: It’s much easier to go to Disneyland solo as a Midwestern-y adult single female, than, say, a mustachioed middle-aged man with a windowless van.

Today

Today I am 41.

How do I feel about that?

Honest answer: Worse than I felt about 33, but better than I felt about 40.

Last year was tough. The bad parts of last year slammed into me like a wrecking ball. By mid-year, I found myself feeling like I was in a “Talking Heads” song, and by that, of course I mean this one:

Yes, this was not my beautiful house and this was not my beautiful wife.

But why the ennui? Why the dissatisfaction?

Critical analysis points to this: When I was 38.75, I celebrated my dear, dear friend MA’s 40th birthday with her in Aspen, Colorado. Several months prior to that date, MA took stock and changed things about herself. Lost weight. Got into amazing shape. Prioritized her priorities. Found The One.

I so admired her (Still do!). I wanted to emulate her with my own personalized Life Makeover.

But I didn’t. 39.5 rolled around. And I didn’t get it in gear. 39.9999 rolled around. And I didn’t get it in gear. 

Then there was 40. 

I started strong, running a marathon and then a half-marathon in the same week, one on the East coast and one on the West. It was fun.

Then I lost my mojo.

That was distinctly *not* fun.

The thing is – and I truly believe this – we’re all a work in progress. Just because boxes are ticked on some imagined Life Checklist doesn’t mean all the checkmarks add up to unequivocal bliss.

I re-examined what made me happy. The list was pretty simple.

  1. Sunshine
  2. Laughter
  3. Exercise
  4. Being with people I love (and who love me)
  5. Intellectual stimulation
  6. Dreaming 
  7. Coffee

Ok, that last one was a bonus.

And today, at 41, I also recognize this to be true:

1011232_3860392803874_1071344029_n

(Photo snagged from my friend JB’s Facebook page)

Priorities have been re-examined. Stock has been taken. Resolutions have been made. Family and friends remain cherished. Battles are picked, but only when necessary. Laughter is easy. Stuff is just stuff. Progress is being made.

I have a good feeling about the year(s) to come. Time to celebrate.

Naturally, That Happened

Tomorrow is my birthday.

I’ll save a philosophical post on that subject until then, but today I’ll share a story about another birthday. This story will be filed into the “Of Course That Happened To Me” category, which occupies a disproportionate amount of my anecdotes.

Scene: Turks and Caicos, January 2010. This resort.

I was so excited for this trip! We’d decamped to the frigid Midwest a year and a half earlier, and that time had been filled with starting my new Fancy Lady Doctor job, studying for my specialty boards, acclimating to the subzero temps (Ok, that is not possible), finding a daycare for toddler MGM, settling into a new house and new routines, making new friends, and, oh! Yes. Having another baby, Miss Trixie.

Beatrix as bunny

We hadn’t totally come up for air yet when the trip arrived, but we were ready to have some fun. The fact that my 37th birthday was rolled into that week was a bonus, but it didn’t get planned that way. Ever Patient Spouse’s parents accepted our invitation to come along as unpaid babysitters. We were set.

[Now, some of you may already be mocking our sanitized Caribbean vacation at a resort that features Sesame Street characters. Too bad. Did you see the part about it being all-inclusive with free premium booze? Yes, this is a parents-with-toddlers dream come true].

The trip down was fairly successful. I only give it a “fair” rating since we had to get up at 2 AM and drive through a blizzard – stuck behind a snow plow traveling 30 MPH – for 3 1/2 hours to reach the airport. Once airborne we barely made our tight connection in Atlanta, where MGM also almost got us arrested for a hate crime by pointing to a man who appeared to be a Muslim cleric and loudly declaring him to be Santa Claus. (MGM: “Santa! I see Santa! Santa, come here, Santa!” And this is coming from a kid who spoke so infrequently at that point that we had him tested for a speech problem. Spouse and I were mortified). Also, have you ever had two kids under the age of three on a lengthy international flight? It’s not pretty. There are ill-timed diaper events, spills, stains and other unpleasantries. I digress.

But we made it. The resort was gorgeous. The air was warm. The white sand beaches led into the blue, blue water. Our suite was stocked with a full bar and had separate kid quarters. Bliss.

Then this happened: Night one, we’re eating dinner at one of the resort’s restaurants and Spouse said, “I’m not joking. I think I just saw Pat Sajak walk by.” And he was right; “Wheel of Fortune” was filming at the resort that week. Vanna sightings became routine. My father-in-law was in heaven.

But then this happened: We were exhausted, and I may or may not have had a bit of wine. After all of the driving, the flying, the lack of sleep the night before, the airport stress, and the general tension that family vacations bring, we all collapsed into sleep the first night.

Except Trixie. She was fussing. Inconsolable. Shrieking. Febrile. Miserable. We didn’t know it yet, but 3 months later, she’d be hospitalized and ultimately diagnosed with celiac disease, but in retrospect this was probably the beginning.

I crept into the kids’ room and brought her into our big bed. She sat up, got mad, and forcefully threw her head backwards.

What happened next was described by Spouse as “the sound when two melons collide.”

Her hard little head made perfect contact with my eye socket. She started to cry. I started to cry. It really hurt.

Me (speaking to Spouse): “Does my eye look bad? Please tell me it’s not bad. Is it bad? Can you see anything?”

I knew it must have been really, really bad when he told me to just go and look in the mirror.

Within seconds, something that looked like a ripe plum had grown under my right eye. It was the shiner to end all shiners.

For the rest of the week, Spouse got a lot of unwarranted dirty looks from fellow resort goers, while I wore sunglasses even at night and explained over and over that the real perp in this case was, in fact, a 1 year old girl.

Funnily enough, I also did not get selected to compete on “Wheel of Fortune.”

P.S. This mimosa really helped my eye. Also, Vanna White is in the background inside that cabana!

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P.P.S. MGM and Trixie way back then:

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Energy Bites

Even my feeble kitchen skills can handle this recipe from Women’s Running magazine. They’re gluten-free and honestly taste great. They remind me of raw oatmeal cookie dough, which is two huge thumbs up in this girl’s opinion.

Peanut-Butter-Protein-Bites

The original recipe is here, but I’ll re-post.

Ingredients:
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup light agave syrup
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/8 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup pitted dates
1/4 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:
Add 1 cup oats, agave, peanut butter, and coconut to a large mixing bowl and set aside. Next, place dates, 1 cup rolled oats, and chia seeds in food processor. Pulse ingredients until dates and oats are finely chopped. Add processed mixture to ingredients in the large mixing bowl and blend until combined. Add chocolate chips and stir until well mixed.

Refrigerate mixture for at least 30 minutes before scooping heaping teaspoonfuls into your hands to roll into small bites. Recipe yields approximately 18 bites. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 weeks.

Yum.