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On the Nightstand
  • Your One-Year-Old: The Fun-Loving, Fussy 12-To 24-Month-Old
    Your One-Year-Old: The Fun-Loving, Fussy 12-To 24-Month-Old
    by Louise Bates Ames, Frances L. Ilg
  • Your Six-Year-Old: Loving and Defiant
    Your Six-Year-Old: Loving and Defiant
    by Louise Bates Ames, Frances L. Ilg
  • Ragnarok: The End of the Gods (Myths)
    Ragnarok: The End of the Gods (Myths)
    by A.S. Byatt
  • The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Revised and Updated Edition)
    The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Revised and Updated Edition)
    by Susan Wise Bauer, Jessie Wise
  • The Bay Area Forager: Your Guide to Edible Wild Plants of the San Francisco Bay Area
    The Bay Area Forager: Your Guide to Edible Wild Plants of the San Francisco Bay Area
    by Kevin Feinstein, Mia Andler

Beginning Fall

Happy Labor Day to those who celebrate/observe/loaf in honor of the day. I got Seamus down an hour ago and have been wondering just where in the hell all of the summer snuck off to this year. I’ve been trying to pin it down, and here’s what I’ve got thus far:

Late May: Patrick celebrated twenty years of sobriety, half of his life, and all of his legal drinking life. Three goddamn cheers to high bottoms. Also, I noted that the Taurean birthday gauntlet that runs from late April to late May is now completely anxiety-free, which was my own little teachable moment about relationships.

June: Seamus had what is now know as the Worst Potty Training Accident Ever, forever confirming that despite developing a routine with him regarding well, any functions, I still need to be vigilant around him. Which is depressing because I’m not sure how to mete out independence within a framework of all eyes and ears on the boy. We had a horribly long ER visit involving a pediatric urology consult, steri-strips, and a return to diapers until he healed up. Two weeks later Seamus climbed right back up onto the potty ring where it all occurred, proving that under his two year-old wildness lurks a brave kid.

We looked at one last fixer in Alameda before caving and asking K, our realtor, if she handled rentals. Alas, no, but her mother had a place available. It’s a Craftsman cottage divided into a duplex. We have the two-bedroom front unit, our neighbor C has the studio in the back. K and her family live in the divided house in the back of the lot, and her sister will be replacing their current downstairs neighbor in a few weeks. We do the occasional swapped playdate, and the kids play together in the shared space between the buildings.

Patrick turned forty at the end of June, and instead of finding a babysitter and going out, he attended his company’s fifth anniversary party while I packed and prepared the house for an ad hoc birthday barbecue. Please note that being the wife of someone working in a start-up is not fun. It never has been, but this is a lovely shining example of the non-fun. Adult time? What the fuck is that?

July: We called in every favor we had and moved. I got most of the upstairs packed before I got run down and needed some rest days, so that got moved painlessly, but the garage….Sigh. On the plus side, someone now understands that he has too much stuff, and that he needed to choose between his stuff and his family. The progress through it all is slow, but we’re still here.

Seamus had a few potty accidents and preferred pull-ups the first couple of weeks post-move, but he appears to be completely potty trained. He’s wearing pull-ups at night and still resisting strange toilets, but he will use them, and we haven’t had very many accidents. I’ve stenciled a bunch of training pants, and we’ll keep him in those till he’s more proactive in using the toilet before we leave the house, at bedtime, etc. Given that he’s a boy, and under three, I’m pleased with how this has worked out.

Seamus starts his play-based preschool next week. He expressed some anxiety about it tonight while playing with Blue, the rubber stingray my sister gave him.

“Oh Blue, I’m so sorry you can’t find your friends. Mama, the stingray can’t find his friends at school!”

“He can’t?” I pick up the stingray and try to make eye contact. “Blue, you will find your friends at school, I promise. They may not be the friends you play with now, but you will find your friends, and you will play with them and have a good time.” I put Blue down and looked at Seamus. “Just like you, Baby. You’ll make friends at your new school too. Okay?”


August: Much like July, Shea and I struggle for a good routine that gets him the stuff he needs - quiet time, play time with friends, a regular bedtime - and allows me to do the other stuff I am supposed to do around here (unpacking, general house and book keeping, etc.) All this has done is remind me that I am not cut out to live on a farm somewhere with four kids, unless we’re sharing property with another family and only two of said kids are mine. Being the solo caretaker of a boy who can climb anything and undo all manner of latches makes going to the bathroom (among other tasks) really really difficult. I bought Scream Free Parenting as a result of this.

September: Kind of awesome so far. Patrick took some PTO days so I could do something other than worry about Seamus, and while it was housework, the shared care and time off made for a massive improvement in how I approached some of Shea’s less savory behavior. We went apple picking on Saturday and brought home twenty pounds of apples, apple-pear juice, artisanal breads, and a ton of barbecue. Yesterday was the Rail Fair at Ardenwood Farm, where we met up with friends and rode nineteeth-century steam trains. Today was a hike in the bird sanctuary with my mom and sister. Tomorrow brings storytime at the library and the farmers market. Seamus is sleeping under homemade blankets I sewed this past week during our heatwave. We’re muddling through. Once he starts school, I can figure out the job thing and get rid of the pantry moths, start running again and find a dye kit for the couch. I didn’t mention the Sharpie incident? File it under Vigilance, Failure of.


Memoriam, at a distance and by surprise

I just realized that today’s the third anniversary of Sea Monkey 1.0’s due date.

I am absolutely fine.


Afternoon Movie

Title: holmgrrl vs The Bathroom

Alt. Title: Fuck the Former Tenants

Language: English, with cursing in English and Spanish (subtitled)

Synopsis: After finally getting a large chunk of time free from Seamus, I clean up the house and prepare to clean the tub, which has been grossing me out since I rinsed some shampoo of off a sliding door and released a tide of pink shower scum. I turned on all of the lights and threw down with some Bon Ami and SalSuds. And scrubbed and scrubbed and was vanquished by poor water pressure and no-slip stickers, caked with accumulated plaque.

But I’ll be back for the sequel. With bleach and steel wool.



Settling in

It’s been a few weeks since we packed up and moved across the bay, and while we’ve gotten Seamus’ room unpacked as well as enough of the kitchen and bathroom to function, most of our things are still in boxes. I’m loath to leave Seamus to the TV while I unpack, and in any event, he’s done being our trooper and has begun acting out, which while expected, takes up much more time and effort to deal with reasonably. I’ve gotten very crabby in the last week or so, as Patrick has been cleaning out the crap from the garage since we moved. But he’s done, so he’ll get back into our routine and give me a bit of respite soon.

When Seamus is not throwing down like an almost three year-old who has just moved from the only home he’s ever known, we’re exploring our new town as well as spending a lot of time playing out back. We live near a commercial corridor so I’ve been spending a good chunk of time sourcing stuff and figuring out costs. We’ve visited playgrounds, the beach, the dog park, the shoreline wetlands preserve and the local aviation museum. We saw a tiger swallowtail butterfly yesterday. Depite my slatherings with mineral sunblock, we’re tanning under the afternoon sun.

Other news:

  • I found a preschool for Seamus! I was a little worried about this, as the spot we relinquished was one I applied for in 2008 and I had no idea how competitive the application process was here in Alameda. The school is play-based with structure, and Shea loved the place when we visited. He’ll go three days a week, they’ll support potty-training efforts, and I feel very optimistic about the whole thing.
  • Once I’ve gotten this place under control, I begin re-skilling to work part-time from home. There’s the dream job I have in my head, and there’s the dream of sharing both the working and care-giving responsibilities with Patrick. With world enough and time they may not be mutually exclusive, but I am not sure if we have that.
  • Bandit is running about the house and behaving like a normal cat. She eats only wet food now, and we’ve made some good spaces for her food and box, and she seems to be happier. She’s obsessed with the basement.
  • Faolan misses C and her dog-walking group, so we work really hard to get her time with our neighbor’s dog, and I plan on geting her to the dog park at least twice a week.

I’m helping a friend with an essay, so that’s all for now.


From sand to Jell-O (or however that's spelled)?

The San Andreas Fault woke up this morning about four miles from our place and said hello. I’m suddenly very very glad to be getting off of this sand dune, but have a bit of trepidation about moving to an island that was once part of the East Bay wetlands.

Ah, the Bay Area. Atlantis in our times, you are.