Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I have bad news.

Well, I guess it's relative.

I'm home from Christmas break and we're all back to school and back on schedule here. I've learned a few things about myself over break.

1) I don't know if it's age or the fact that I've worked in child care long enough now, but I am beginning to find children not under my influence intolerable. Not all of them, not all the time, but there's definitely some growing feelings of annoyance inside me. I'm going to be one of those old ladies in restaurants who shoots dirty looks at rowdy, sticky six year olds at the next table. And in my current mood, I stand by my future actions. If your kid is six and rowdy, spank it. Or expect dirty looks.

2) There is no way I will ever be a morning person. Because my job requires it, I get up early and get through breakfast and help with the kids and all that morning jazz. And I have reached a point where on my regular days off, I wake up early out of habit, curse the morning people for taking over the world, and go back to sleep, but it doesn't stick. I will never wake up early and feel good about it. I will never stick to that cycle when a job doesn't require it. I will always sleep until noon when given the option. Always.


3) I hate super soft toilet paper. I never thought brand of toilet paper would be a deciding factor in how badly I yearn to be home after a trip, but here I am and it is and I cannot apologize for that. Scott tissue. All the way. Charmin has no place in my life.

4) I love the friends God has given me. He has provided a generous sprinkle of friends all along the way, but he has stationed some super awesome ladies a little more permanently into my life. Getting to North Carolina to visit two of my favorites was the best Christmas present (thanks me!) a girl could ask for. In very limited time, we picked up where we left off when we all moved and dove head first into two days of hardcore friendship. Brenda and Becca, I love you so much it hurts and I am already planning another trek down there. I had forgotten how much I enjoy laughing with you and learning from you, and I can't let that happen again!

5) And, lastly, there is a pretty big possibility that I am through with this blog. It was born when I moved here a year and a half ago, and I needed a way to settle in. Lately, it's felt more like journal entries, and not the interesting kind either. You all still give me unexpected praise and good feedback, but I'm still losing interest in my writing. Well, this writing.

I feel like this blog broke through some seriously crippling writer's block and I'm ready to be done with it and move on. I might not make a clean break, but I'm definitely going to slowly forget about it...

Thank you all so much for reading and following me throughout the last nineteen months! I am honored to have had your attention at all.

Please stand by as I trickle out with a few more mildly observational entries and bid this phase of my writing goodbye.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry nanny.

Even with all of my time off in November for extenuating circumstances, my family was more than gracious about letting me go for Christmas. T did offer to host my family and provide and turkey and a ham just to keep me from leaving, but when I turned her down she dealt with it very nicely.

I had a brilliant idea during the four hours it took me to pack on Saturday night.

First, I thought I could put the Christmas presents in my standard suitcase and stuff my clothes somehow into a duffel bag or something. Then, when I tried this idea out I discovered that my presents would never, ever fit into that suitcase. I would have to use my GIANT suitcase with the broken wheels and the bent handle and the questionably sturdy zipper.

It was a scary thought.

But I could fit all my stuff into the one bag. My clothes, my book, the gifts, everything.

So, I opened it up and started putting in the wrapped boxes. Then, I spent an agonizingly long hour trying to make actual outfits since I couldn't pull my usual stunt and just through a bunch of crap into a bag way bigger than I needed.

But even with my frugal packing I was wary of stuffing the suitcase. That zipper is really not dependable.

The sister suitcase to this one died in Africa, after being forced to close around way too much stuff and then molested by airport security. She never made it back from Uganda.

I stood there for a long, long minute thinking hard and coming up with nothing. Then my eyes fell on the pile of unused Space Saver bags that I had been storing inside this useless suitcase.


I packed my clothes the best way I knew how and zipped up the suitcase.

I was done.

It was 2am.

I got up at 5:30.

And I got dressed and was miserable and I called a cab and was miserable and I caught my train and was miserable and then .


Well, then, I had to walk from Penn Station to Port Authority with this cursed suitcase. Going up and down escalators, dragging the broken wheels across dips and cracks in the sidewalk. And it was windy. And morning.


I cheered up on the bus and tried to nap before I was off to church and then into the whirlwind of activity that is an American holiday.

So far, so good.

I've been with family ever since and we are headed off tomorrow to be with friends who might as well be family. I have a replacement luggage set that was a gift from my mother to replace my horrible suitcase, so things are looking up. I'm back to work Monday, so have a nice week!

MeRrY cHrIsTmAs!!!!!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Never a dull moment.

For real.

Chanukah is wrapping up, so the barrage of cheap, crappy presents from extended family has ceased. I have felt even more like myself this week than last week, which is nice. My setbacks come in the form of decreased brain function.

I have been forgetting so much. Where I put things, which kids are home, who had baths in the last four days...

Dinner, lunch, to get up on time in the morning.

To charge my phone, when the library books are due, if the dog has peed, if Monkey has peed.

The simple fact that I am working, the fact that I have to also pee see where this is going?

In the moment, I am fine. I am great even. But where did my memory go? I feel like Dori the fish. Today I couldn't remember the grocery list, and I can usually rattle that thing off like it's my job. OH WAIT IT IS.

I have the worst writer's block of my life, which is especially awful because writing is how I vent.

But the good news is, my boss is right there with me.

Her back went out while I was away and it never came back. She's had a shot and some pills and the baby no longer gets breast milk, but she's not 100%, so we both just make it through the days by the skin of our teeth and then we crash at night without another thought.

So then, today.

Today, T forgot her happiness and I forgot that the washing machine drains into the laundry room sink and nothing should be in there when I throw a load of dirty towels in.

Today was the first Sunday since I've been home that they asked me to work. T can't lift the kids or baby and I am going away for Christmas soon, so we're soaking up our time together.

We spent the morning eating bagels and trying to ignore the kids.

We spent the afternoon spread throughout the house, doing our own things, making sure the kids were occupied and semi-quiet and at least partially fed.

E spent the day on the couch.

A little while before dinner, I rounded up all three of the bigger ones and we went downstairs to play in the basement playroom.

I have been so excited because the basement is finally clean and put back together and my room looks so cute and I am home to enjoy it and everything was just lovely. So the kids ran down the stairs all happily and I went down and thought, oh let me move those towels to the dryer since I'm down here.

The washing machine isn't really draining properly after the last spin cycle, so it still had some water in the basin. I set it to drain again and then took a peek at the draining hose to see how much water was coming out.

Oh snap.

It was draining alright, right onto the blue towel that was clogging the sink.

Oh snap.

I looked along the floor under the sink and behind the other washer and dryer and didn't see any water.

That was a relief.

Then I went into my room to change out of my slippers. since it was 4:30, I thought maybe I should get dressed.

My slippers squished on the sopping wet rug.

Relief gone.

I left the mess there because, frankly, it was overwhelming, and I went to feed the kids dinner.

We were dining on leftovers and reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas, when it dawned on me that part of the reason my head is such a mess is that I am PMSing and the other part is because I have already mentally checked out for Christmas break.

All I can think about are Thursday, my next day off, and getting the heck out of here the following Sunday. For someone who was so relieved to be home a week ago, I am certainly antsy now. I cannot wait to give people the presents I got them, I cannot wait for the Christmas service at my home church, and I CANNOT WAIT TO GO TO NORTH CAROLINA AND HUG THE CRAP OUT OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL FRIEND I HAVE EVER HAD.

Someone slap me and make me focus.

It will be a miracle if we make it through this week without me or T losing a kid or forgetting a meal.

Even more surprisingly will be if I reorganize the linen closet that has been bothering me for two weeks.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Not nannying.

This has been, hands down, the longest and most emotional two weeks of my life.

I left my children behind quite suddenly to go be with my father in the hospital during his last days. My family rallied together and we all had quite an experience. We learned so much and were so blessed to have that time.

I stopped home from time to time to gather fresh clothes or change my shoes. For the better part of two weeks I was either in the hospital or at my mom's house.

Since this happened on the tail of our renovation, I missed the new fridge delivery. I also missed putting all the china and good dishes away in their new place, so I have to reorganize everything T touched. She agrees (haha) but she couldn't stand having it all out anymore.

My work family was so awesome during those two weeks. The only pressure I felt from them was to NOT come back until I was ready. She didn't want me rushing back to work on their account. And she also didn't want me coming back and then having to go again, or worse, missing time with my family that I would regret.

So. Awesome.

In the end, I was hesitant to come back to work, but after two rocky days back I felt so much better to be home and functional again. Even though every five minutes one of the kids asks me if Hannah (my sister) is coming back, they are glad to have me back and that makes me glad to be here.

This whole ordeal has made me realize how at home I am here. Part of this is because my mom has moved a few times and downsized her home, and part of it is how wonderful this family is and my job is, but I actually feel like I belong here and not in my mom's house for the first time in my life.

When I left for college, I lived with my sister, so Mom's house has always been my home base. Since I jumped kind of spontaneously from one apartment to another with friends, I had fun living on my own, but none of those were home either. Those were shared spaces with friends who I may or may not have been getting along with that day. Mom's house was still home.

But two weeks with eleven people in a one-floor, two bedroom, ONE BATHROOM house will make you feel like you want to leave. I think even Mom was ready to move out by the end of it.

So, home is where your mom is, but her house has lost its magic touch.

For a while at least.

And the good news is that I am so settled here that I felt immense relief at coming home and unwinding. I took a load off. Not of laundry though. I didn't do a load of laundry until I had run out of mismatched and odd pieces of clothing that E relentlessly made fun of. And socks. Once the socks were gone, it was all over.

So, I've been home for a week.

The laundry is caught up.

The house is clean and almost organized.

The kids have stopped asking me why I went away.

They have also stopped asking me if Hannah will be back soon.

Chanukah has started and I have eaten nothing but abgusht and latkes for 24 hours.

My room is put back together and I can find things again, like Christmas presents, which I wrapped with R's help and we like to go down there and just stare at the adorable pile of little, red gifts. Also, my hair brush.

My suitcase didn't fare very well through its travels. It was on its last leg (wheel) anyway, and all that back and forth was just too much. It is a replacement suitcase I acquired in Uganda when my last suitcase was murdered by airport security en route to Africa a few years ago (Ashley, I think it's disgusting that I can say "a few years ago" and we still haven't been back there). It seemed pretty sturdy when I packed it to come home, but if you've ever seen how I pack, you understand that I need top quality zippers and extra sturdy, steel reinforced lining.

It was choking up broken pieces of the vinyl bottom when I unpacked it a couple of nights ago.

RIP Betty Blue.

While I was gone Baby Munchkin started crawling full force. He was dabbling in it when I left, unable to get a good enough grip on the hard wood to really move, but two weeks later not only can he crawl like a master, he also stands on his own and walks while holding onto things. He also has an associates' degree and is looking into grad schools for next year.

His favorite food, which he also started eating a lot of while I was gone, is soup. All soup, he's not picky. But he HATES pears.

Hates them like this:

I put a spoonful in his mouth and his whole face cringes and he spits and gags and moans like he's dying. Then, when he's gotten most of it out of his mouth or unintentionally swallowed it, he tilts his head all the way to one side and looks at you with the saddest, most pathetic look of being betrayed and heartbroken.

It's usually this position which allows me to shove another bite of pears into his mouth.


I have learned a lot during all this though, and I can tell the learning is not over. There's so much about myself and my life that I want to change as a result of everything that happened at my dad's bedside and in the days that followed.

I am going to be a better niece and cousin to my relatives. I am going to be a better volunteer in every area manageable. And most importantly, I am going to be a better child of God.

There was not a day in the last three weeks that I could have made it through without leaning entirely on Him. I have to talk about that. I have to share it. I have to.

Maybe not here, not in depth anyway, because it's more fun to talk, but I will say that I have never been more unsure of how those outside of Christ get up every morning. I can't figure out how those people carry on after trials in their lives. How do they settle the unrest that finds its way into your heart after losing someone you love? I really don't know.

I feel like the answer lies in self-focus and self-pleasing and God has been so careful to not let me go there this time. I've had my experience with that in the past and it's a quick fix that doesn't last.

I'm so grateful to God for making Himself my focus, and for hugging my entire family so close for those two weeks.

And I'm so thankful for all the children in my life, the ones I am related to and my work kids. They make bright spots in my life wherever they are most desperately needed.

T and I have been hanging out more than usually, talking a lot, and she asked me the other day, what I would envision myself doing if not nannying.

I said, well...I'd be in Africa.

"Working with children?"

Yes. Then I reminded her how I had been in college very shortly with the goal of becoming a teacher.

"Same thing." She said. "Same thing, same thing."

"Well, I worked in photography."

"Did you ever picture yourself doing that for a career?"


Her point was that OF COURSE I would find comfort and joy and peace from being around children; they are obviously what makes my life full. And so, after one week back to work, despite my hesitations, I am feeling better and better because I have an awesome God and awesome kids.

On with the nannying.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


We got it back in our house, but it's missing other places. A small percentage of New Yorkers are still without it in their homes.

And I seem to have none with my new "coworker."

I was just sitting down today to try to figure out a way to post my blogs to Facebook without the new nanny seeing them. You see, we spent last weekend cooped up in T's mom's house together and the Lord tested my patience with people I dislike.

I was able to be courteous and sweet-ish. I was able to make small talk and smile. Then our house was cleared for us to come back and I was the first one to run out the door to the car yelling, "I'll clean it! I'll clean the whole thing! Please! Let's just go!"

New Nanny friended me on Facebook over the weekend. It was one night when all the parents of our kiddos were out and we were sitting in the only sitting room in that house and I had my little baby snuggled on my arm and she was talking, which makes my ears bleed.


I'm being too mean.

Quick, say three nice things.

She's developed a good relationship with her kids, even if I don't understand how.

She has clean hair.

She is a pretty decent dresser.

Ok, so, talking, waiting the night out, poor girl has been without power for nearly half the time that she has lived here... Me, trying to find a way out of the conversation so I could go to bed.

She sent me a friend request from the other side of the room, while I was holding my phone and clearly using Facebook. I had to accept.

I have a policy about not being friends with people on Facebook while I am working with/for them. I have made exceptions in the past, but I find that it is all around healthier to keep cyber-friendships limited to when I am not actually working with/for the people I tend to mention most.

I don't often say bad things about people on Facebook.

I'm not one of those girls (teenagers) who gripes about people who have "wronged" me or irritated me that day. Aside from the kids, I try not to mention any people (except my siblings) in a negative way online, at all. But I am not friends with my boss on FB, and I love her. I try to wait until after I am not working with people anymore, and then we can be online friends. It's just a matter of privacy, which, like I said, I have made exceptions for in the past.

That all being poorly said, trying to explain that to someone I genuinely don't like seemed like too big a cop out, so I accepted. I spent the next ten minutes taking down links to my blog, which, no matter how anonymous, would clearly explain to New Nanny how I feel about her.

I took down the links, stalked her a little and went to bed.

In the morning T asked me how the night went. Knowing and sharing my aversion to New Nanny, she specifically asked about that part of the weekend.


I explained.

Only slightly better than I just did for you.

So, Sunday we were clear to go back into our house and clean it. Monday T's sister got power back and they all went home. Monday afternoon, T's mom let everyone know how tired she was from hosting them and went off the grid for a while. That lady is such a beautiful person. I love her.

Monday afternoon, T's sister had a conversation with her new nanny about something that could have only come from me; something I had seen on her FB page that was inappropriate and T had then seen for herself in our following conversation. I don't know how it went, only that New Nanny's response was to unfriend me.


So, I no longer need to hem and haw about how to hide this blog from her.

But I did get a little perspective.

I did not do a good enough job being the light and the salt this weekend.

And I may have been too harsh here, taking anonymity a bit too far by using a public forum as my personal ventilation system. There's always a slim chance that someone I don't expect to read this blog might read it. I need to bite my tongue, or fingers or whatever.

And maybe I should have said something to New Nanny about the scores and scores of photos of the kids and their house, and the insides of their house, and the in-depth descriptions of the layout of the house and the kids real names all being on FB. I could have saved her an awkward conversation with her boss, but I still don't know if that would have been my place. I wasn't even going to say anything to anyone, but T's mind seems to be in sync with mine so she right away asked about photos on FB.

But it blows my mind a little that this needs to be addressed. This girl has no discretion at all. Remember when she met someone online in her first two weeks and invited them over to the house? Did I tell you about that?

It happened.

You just don't use the Internet so freely and casually. It's not smart. It's not safe.

I don't know how I should have handled my part, I just know I didn't do it right.

Another, less worrisome sigh.

 I have my privacy back.

And I think I will stick to my guns about that rule from now on.

Another thing I am going to be more stubborn about: listening to T's mom.

I do love her and she's so nice and so helpful and so giving, but sometimes her way of doing things really screws up my day.

She likes to give the kids little treats all the time, which is her rite as Grandma, BUT when we were there for the entire weekend the sugar high started to get to me. If the kids are bouncing around a room full of crystal, the solution is not Oreos. It's tranquilizing darts.

And when I am freshly showered and clean and dry, the best way to bathe J is in the tub, not in the shower with the door hanging open while I lean in and he screams about not wanting to take a shower. He wanted a bath, I wanted to give him a bath; I should have listened to myself that time.

But it was after the whole New Nanny fiasco and I was second-guessing myself about everything.

Anyway, we're home again.

Monday, the most wonderful cleaning lady in the world came over and helped start really cleaning the basement. I had the kids, so I didn't do anything except try to keep my sanity.

Tuesday, I was able to do laundry. I washed all the sheets and towels and cleaned the kids' rooms of the final layer of dust and soot. I opened all the windows and aired out the whole house, which is good, because a couple hours later the baby was diagnosed with croup and his prescription is fresh air.

Later Tuesday night, after a full day of following the contractor and his man around to make sure they painted the entire wall this time, E fired the contractor. This team was truly awful.

They painted only the worst parts of the walls and tried to blend it in. They installed two new outlets that don't work. They didn't sand the walls but put up the baseboard and there are very visible gaps in it. They damaged the new floor. All this in addition to already having damaged the counter tops, installing a new door that doesn't close properly, and doing severe damage to one wall and never fixing it.

Enough was enough. The bulk of the work was done, clearly details are not their forte, so E let them go.

We spent the night cleaning up the dust in the kitchen and carrying things back into the room to make it usable again. The foyer feels enormous without that table in it. And I have never been happier to see this stove, which I loathe. The new one has not been settled on and ordered yet.

The dishwasher has seventeen jets, T wanted me to say that.

The fridge comes a week from today.

My room is clean and functional and I began putting my things back into it last night.

I sprayed a silverfish to death with bleach on the far side of the basement before going to bed.

I made a shopping list for today and planned the last of my Christmas shopping.

It was an all-around productive night that didn't end until nearly one AM.

I heard the kids discover the kitchen this morning. They were wild with excitement. I laughed because they were happy, and also because I didn't have to deal with them, and then I went back to sleep.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I don't mean to brag...

But yes I do.

I had the best weekend with the best family ever.

Before that, we made it through the hurricane. Construction on our kitchen had halted for the weekend anyway and then the rain started on Monday or something. I don't know; it's all fuzzy now.

Anyway, we didn't lose power until later in the day, but we had already been using coolers in place of a refrigerator so all we really lose was light and heat.

We watched the wind and the rain for a while and then E filled the generator with gas and we cranked on the TV to pass the night. I would never deny that we are incredibly spoiled and blessed.

We had our trial in the form of hosting the extended family for the next few days.

On Tuesday, the mothers starting bringing over their food before it could spoil. By Tuesday afternoon, T's mom had cooked a feast and her sister had shown up with her kids and horrible nanny.

It is rare that I don't like someone, like, really, really don't like someone, but I don't like this girl and I need your prayers for staying on track as a Christian and being nice. Or at least polite. Some of you think I am nice naturally, but that's just not true.

No, really.

Anyway, on Wednesday the kids were getting tired of playing inside so T's sister took them off to a magic show. I was working, because I had the entire weekend off, so I spent the morning cleaning our floors, which had turned black once again from the soot lingering in the entire house from the work in the kitchen. By late morning, I was free for the day, to hang out with little baby D.

Unfortunately for me, T's sister had dropped off New Nanny with me.

Lazy Nanny had twisted her ankle on the stairs and was laid up for the afternoon. LAME. She spent the day sitting on our couch and being useless. At one point she asked me for food and after smothering all the completely rude and curse-word laden responses that popped into my head, I just told her food was in the dining room and ran away.

She also kept asking to hold the baby, who hates her and screamed horribly every time she did. I had to take him several times and calm him.

FINALLY, the rest of the family started to come in and I was relieved of my duty of entertaining Big Whiny Crybaby Nanny. E and T were just as fed up with New Nanny was I was and they couldn't believe Sister Dearest had dumped her on my all afternoon, electricity or not. Sister's reason was that their house was cold.

Boo hoo.

I promised T that if I ever "twist" my ankle on the job, during a week of crisis and a blackout, I will not need to go anywhere and I will probably keep working. Twisted ankles are not crippling injuries.

Anyway, we got through another massive family dinner and then shortly after it was over, the generator crapped out and the kids went nuts. I lit some tea light way up high on the mantel and T's sister started following me around telling me how dangerous candles are. I pretended to be deaf, because frankly in that moment I was losing my marbles and I really like my marbles.

Most of them are sparkly and primarily purple and I use them almost every day.

Anyway again, at the end of the night, E insisted that we did not need them to come back on Thursday. No one needed to come cook, no one was allowed to come use our house for leisure to "heal" from an "injury" and he politely asked T's sister to keep her three unruly children to herself.

Some lucky people in King's Point got their power back, so we didn't feel too guilty on Thursday because they had power or other places to go. We had a nice day.

Thursday night and Friday morning I tried really hard to pack for the weekend. I really did. I took a flashlight down to the basement and looked at my clothes and shoes and tried to put outfits together, but all I managed to do was grab an armful of clothes that I hoped could go together and run back upstairs.

Somehow, I got it together and did some work around the house to set T up for a peaceful weekend.

My sister, my youngest sister, turned 21 on Tuesday. On Friday she was coming into the city from Boston where she had been trapped for the storm and the days following while the buses were shut down. She didn't mind.

She got into town right on time and then agreed to take the train out to Great Neck because my kids were dying to see her. She got into the train station in a timely manner and then I called her a cab. She stood there forEVER and no cab came, so I finally asked E, who was making a run to his mother's house, to pick Hannah up on the way back.

They had a really hard time finding each other, probably because they both possess the communication skills of rocks and the common sense of, well, men.

She made it to the house at long last and the kids were all over her. J is a little bit in love with her and it's so fun to watch because he didn't even know what to do with himself.

When it was time for us to go catch our train, for some reason only me and T got up and tried to get going. E was driving us to the station since the taxis were MIA, but he had disappeared upstairs and Hannah was having trouble standing up and breaking free of the kids. We got out the door with five minutes until our train.

Miraculously, we made it.

Friday night, Hannah and my sister Brianne and I celebrated Hannah's birthday until we couldn't celebrate anymore. We went home giggling and cackling  (the cackling is mostly me but it is a family trait) and then spent Saturday morning sleeping in recovery.

My mom PROMISED us French toast and then didn't even make it because she is a mean, mean lady, but she did make us grilled cheese and soup, so I guess I take back one of those 'mean's.

My brother and his family arrived for the weekend and another of my brothers and his family came for the day and after the kids went trick-or-treating (which as we all know is really just treating in this day and age because the trick part is pretty illegal and frowned upon) the ladies went to the spa.

It. Was. Lovely.

Manicures and pedicures and a general good time were had by all and then Mom made everyone dinner and we played games until bed time.

On Sunday, I was Baptist for several reasons, not least of which because there is no gas anywhere right now and we couldn't justify using Mom's to drive into Hackettstown even though I miss my church family there sooooooo much.

So, stayed local and heard a PCA pastor preach at a Baptist church and it all made my heart happy.

Less happy, was riding the slowest bus in the universe home to New York and then waiting an hour in Penn Station because I juuuuuuust missed the 6 o'clock hour train and had to wait for the seven something.

I got home at eight something, to ride in a cab, whose company seems to have recovered, through a dark and creepy town which still has no power.

As per usual, our generator was running, no lights were on and the TV was on.

I chatted with E and T for a long time before I dared open my suitcase and try to get settled in the playroom once more.

I guess you could call what I am now settled because my clothes are all over the room again and I no longer know which ones are clean and which ones are not technically clean but I will surely wear again.

Tomorrow, the floor people for the kitchen floor and hopefully they won't blow our generator.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Naysayers gonna naysay.

Today, T's sister threw a Halloween party.

She has been on the fence about it for a couple of weeks because some of the religious families around here are offended by it. But in the end, fun won out and she had the party. Last night, I forced the kids into making decisions about their costumes.

Monkey still wanted to be a kitty, which is good, because it's simple. R decided to be a witch, because she knows of my fondness for them. J opted to be a robot.

But he almost didn't get a costume at all.

This week, the contractors have made some progress. And then yesterday they weren't here at all. We had a day of peace and quiet.

I got one strange phone call for T at the house, and they didn't say who they were or anything, but they said they would call her cell. I wondered about it, but only briefly before I went back to being happy about my quiet, restful day.

We would be eating Shabbat dinner at T's mom's, who had just returned home from a week in Israel. She and T's father went without me even though I told them I wanted to come. So mean.

Anyway, since we would be eating there for a late dinner, I made some pasta for a snack and the kids and I sat around the kitchen table in the foyer and talked about our days. When I asked who had the best one, as usual, they all yelled to have the first turn speaking, and I let Monkey because unless he goes first, he just repeats what everyone else says or yells, "To the river!"

So, he rambled incoherently about a song or something and then it was J's turn.

"I got to go to the office today!" He exclaimed this with a big smile on his face.


"I went to the office today. Coach B took me."

"J, going to the office is bad. That means you were doing something naughty. What did you do?"

"I don't know."

"Well, going to the office is not a good thing. It's very bad."

"It was cool."

Oh boy.

T got home a couple hours later and explained the phone call and J's confusion.

He had been spitting and saying bad words and standing and not listening on the bus on the way to school that morning and Coach B had been the one waiting at the school to take him to the office. He is not being allowed back on the bus.

So, basically he ruined our lives forever.

On the way to Shabbat dinner, the parents pried and got a few more details out of him. He still thought he was sooooo funny. He always does, and I should add in here, that when he got home from school he had been so bad I had put him to bed. He thought that was funny right up until I left the room and he had to go to sleep.

So, today rolled around and T told him he would get no costume for the party as punishment.

He cried and cried and cried and cried and cried and then she said, if she changed his punishment it would be something longer. He agreed.

He has been banned from the iPad and iPhones for a week, and I know for a fact that he is going to ask for it and then cry and freak out, but today when making that deal he was ok with it. He got his robot costume and we headed off to the party.

I looked fantastic.

So did T's mom, who was Queen Elizabeth, and a few other people. There was a family of Wizard of Oz characters. T's dad showed up as a monster but he changed when one of the babies started to cry.

Everybody was having a good time and the kids were all hyped up on candy and occupied, so I sat in on some conversations with T and the other moms. They were hiding in a corner talking about how some people were offended by Halloween.

When I said I had seen that in my church to, two Jewish heads looked at me in surprise.

"Isn't it a Christian holiday?"

"No," T said and I beamed because I have taught her so well. "It's a pagan holiday."

"But we don't worship the devil or anything." Another mom said. "So, why can't the kids dress up and be silly?"


Why can't they?

I know a lot of people who struggle with this holiday because of its roots, but allow me to just point out that all of our Christian holidays were pagan holidays first. Christmas was the winter solstice. The Christians changed it to show the pagans what was up. The same for Easter, which was the spring solstice. Technically, Thanksgiving was a pilgrim holiday, so that has the closest thing to Christian roots out of any of them, but it was still not started by the church or in a church or anything. It's more patriotic than anything.

So, what is wrong with taking Halloween, too?

Valentine's day was a massacre, for crying out loud. And we've turned that into romance. Don't ask me how. Americans are crafty.

So, to show all the naysayers what was what, T's sister threw her party and the kids danced and I looked fantastic and everybody had a grand old time.

So, here's to neutralizing Halloween.

Then, after the fun was over, we had to come back here to the money pit.

Today, the floor people tore out the kitchen tile and deposited five million tons of black dust and debris in my room, which was ready this time. The whole house was covered in dust, so we split the work three ways.

First, we left the two big kids at T's sister's.

Then, each female took one of the remaining two children and put them to bed while E stood around whining about being hungry.

Next, T asked E to watch the baby, who hadn't stayed asleep, while she wiped surfaces and I wiped floors. He obliged by putting the baby down and going into the bathroom for ten minutes. Baby D started to cry and T had to go tend to him.

E then stood around thinking while I mopped. T returned and we finished up. She gave him a little attitude for his method of help and he sighed. When she went upstairs to get dressed to go out, he shook his head.

"This is why people get divorced after they redo their houses."

I laughed.

"You need to work through it. Your homework tonight is to rewatch The Money Pit. Clearly, it's not fresh enough in your mind."

And then for my homework, I set up shop on my couch and watched a scary movie and did this.

Today was long.