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Wednesday
Aug102011

Worth the High Price. Definitely.

Every time I mention that Alexis essentially runs the show when it comes to the music selection in the car, I get grief about it. I don't think that there's a good way to explain why I grant the kid control other than to say, well, because she cares about it more than I do.

I love music. I really, really do. In fact, I very nearly was a music major in college. I was offered a full scholarship at a college in North Dakota and a partial scholarship at another college. Perhaps you've heard of it? Oberlin? Yeah. Seriously. Obviously, I decided to go in another direction and things worked out just fine, but I really do love all things music.

Alexis loves it more.

She has spent her entire life bopping to the rhythm in her head, dancing to the beat that only she can hear, and composing lyrics that often make sense to only her. She spends hours "performing" in her playroom and even more time creating a stage wherever she goes. From the retaining wall in the garden to stairs at the playground, all the world is her stage and every passing moment is an opportunity to perform.

So if she wants to sing along to some Katy Perry while we eat dinner? OK. If she wants to jam to a little Britney Spears when we're walking through the mall? Fine. If she wants to blast Pink at top volume while we're driving home? Sure. I can usually tune the noise out.

I draw the line at Justin Bieber, though. I have to have standards, and my standards want to punch him in the face. I don't really know why his music annoys me so much, but it does. I'd rather listen to the Black-Eyed Peas live (which, ACK! they're horrible live!) 24 hours a day and 7 days a week for the rest of my life than even one second of Justin Bieber.

Alexis, of course, loooooooves Justin Bieber. Just last week she told me that she hopes he breaks up with Selena Gomez so he can be her boyfriend instead. Just as soon as I was done chaining her to a register in the basement, I told her she's not dating until she's 50-years old.

I live in a Justin Bieber-free zone. As I should.

Or at least, I used to.

See, I have this thing for the $5 albums on Amazon. I'm sort of addicted to snagging one or two each month. I usually get albums specifically for Alexis with the idea that her terrible taste in music is far less annoying when it rotates a lot. For example, I can handle Britney Spears once or twice per week. Every day, though? NOOOOOOOO.

Justin Bieber has a $5 album this month. I stared at it one afternoon for a few minutes, contemplating what sort of award I would deserve if I bought it for Alexis. Then I punched myself in the face for even considering it. But then I thought about it again later that night, and again the next night, and then again Saturday morning. I kept thinking about how I tortured my parents with New Kids on the Block and how they rolled their eyes, but went along with it.

You guys, my parents sucked as parents in many, many ways. It bothered me to realize they had me beat in that one aspect. If they could tolerate really bad music, I should be able to, too.

But I couldn't just buy the Justin Bieber album. HELL NO. Instead, I figured I would dangle it in front of Alexis' face for a bit and see what I could get out of it. I showed it to her on my laptop and then asked her what she thought she could do to earn it. Her immediate response was to say, "I'll clean my playroom!"

I could not have possibly asked for anything bigger.

Alexis NEVER cleans her playroom. She's actually not required to, as it is her space and I can close the door and pretend I don't know that she and her friends set off a few bombs in there. For as long as Alexis is good about cleaning up any and all toys in all of the other rooms of our house, I've told her that the playroom is hers to do what she wants with. It's her "Sacred Space."

But it was soooooooo trashed when she made the offer. I knew it was trashed. She knew it was trashed. She also knew that it would make me crazy happy to see it cleaned up.

Two hours later, silence reigned supreme over the house. I figured Alexis had forgotten that she was supposed to be cleaning her playroom. I walked in expecting to find her coloring or ripping the clothes off of dolls or something. Instead, I walked into a very nearly spotless room.

You guys.

YOU GUYS.

Alexis not only picked up the toys everywhere, she took the time to put them away correctly. Each bin is perfectly organized--the Happy Meal toys are all in a bin together, the play food is organized perfectly, even the play silverware is sorted and stacked neatly. It looks like a really anal retentive person cleaned it all. Namely me. But it wasn't me. It was her. ALL HER.

And all because she wanted a Justin Bieber album.

I think I may want to kiss him on the face.

Tuesday
Aug092011

Projectcascade-itis Strikes Again

I have a very severe case of Projectcascade-itis. I start out trying to do one thing and six months later find myself with about ten related projects all still in progress. It's like a domino effect that just keeps going and going and going, but I never manage to circle back to the start.

Exhibit A: Our guest bedroom. In January, I made up my mind to finally make it look like an actual room. All it needed was a little paint . . .

Hahahahahahahaha! It's not done yet.

Let's take a walk through the mind of a mad woman for a moment and explore just how derailed that project has become. I painted the room in two nights. It turned out fantastic, even. That left me to just put the room back together, but when I went to move furniture into place, I was all, "Man, we really need a dresser in here."

So I went shopping for a dresser.

And couldn't find one I thought was reasonably priced.

I couldn't hang any art on the walls or even figure out where to place the bed until I had a dresser, so I figured I'd give it a little bit and just leave everything piled in the middle of the room where I had put it while I painted. It's still all there, including the dirty paper towels from wiping up a paint drip. Seven months later.

I'M SO AWESOME.

Blah, blah, blah, some months passed and I was still looking for a dresser, but was absolutely dead set against spending a lot of money for a dresser for a guest bedroom that rarely gets used. But then I had a brilliant idea--I would buy a new dresser for Alexis and move hers into that room. It was a perfect idea because her dresser is a little too small for all of her stuff and it was a scratch and dent purchase with a slightly dangerous twist--the top isn't actually attached to the dresser. One of these days she's going to figure out that if she pulls on the fake marble top, it will move. Given that we're talking about my kid, that discovery will end with a broken foot and a phobia of furniture.

I was willing to pay a bit more for a decent dresser for the kid, so I reset my search. I went to every store that sells furniture in this galaxy AND the next, and found ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Everything was either too expensive or she didn't like it or it wasn't something that would fit in with the other furniture in her room.

So, I gave up. I just left the guest bedroom a disaster zone and started working on the dining room paint project from hell (which, surprise! is also not done). That particular project led to me needing some old windows (if you're confused as to how painting a dining room requires old windows, so am I, but it does). We ran to Construction Junction for the windows.

And found this:

Isn't it delightfully hideous! It was actually in a couple of pieces when we bought it. That photo was taken after Mr. Husband reattached a drawer front and fixed the slider thingys (technical term) and made a couple of other minor repairs.

But, it didn't matter that it was a hideous dresser in horrible condition because of this:

KABOOM! $8 for a dresser!

So. I sat there with a guest bedroom that needed a dresser and a hideous $8 dresser that doesn't at all match anything. And was hideous. Did I mention that it was hideous? It was hideous. I did the only thing that made sense and told Alexis that it was her new dresser and asked her how she wanted me to paint it.

I was hoping she'd say something like, "Can you paint it white?"

HAHAHAHAHAHA!

It was white for a while because Mr. Husband couldn't handle how long it was taking me to finish it:

A wise person would have just shoved it in the guest room at that point, but I'm not wise. Instead, I followed Alexis' instructions and made it The Dresser Of Her Dreams.

And this is where I have to be a pain in the butt and make you click over to the Review page to see what happened next. Here's a hint:

Go see the rest and enter to win some Olympic ONE paint right over here.

Monday
Aug082011

I Never Expected That It Would To Come To This

You know that panic-inducing, heart-stopping, gut-wrenching moment when you realize that your baby is about to start kindergarten?

I haven't had that yet.

It's not that it hasn't occurred to me that I blinked and five years passed me by. I noticed that part. The problem is that the whole concept of kindergarten has turned out to be such a giant pain in the ass that it has been an all-consuming task just to get the whole mess figured out. Considering I've spent most of my free moments for the past two months trying to figure it all out, it's almost shocking how little I've mentioned the debacle online.

The first sign of trouble came way back in January when I first registered Alexis for kindergarten at the elementary school nearest our home. Sirens went off and and emergency lights flashed in my head because SON OF A HORNLESS UNICORN, somehow when we moved two years ago, we managed to land in one of the few Pittsburgh-area schools that still have half-day kindergarten.

I haven't quite figured out the logic in half-day kindergarten, especially when "half-day" is fancy wording for "two and a half hours." Do people in our school district just not work? I mean, seriously, how *do* they manage to transport a kid back and forth and still go to work? I never found an answer to that question, but I did think I had a viable solution to the problem.

That solution required that Alexis end up in morning kindergarten, but still. That shouldn't have been an issue, at least the way I saw it.

But it was an issue. Despite my fervent pleas for Alexis to be placed in morning kindergarten, in June we were notified that she had been assigned to the afternoon class. No amount of "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" emails or calls seemed to make a difference (honestly, my emails and calls were flat-out ignored by the principal, which, WTF?). That left me to try to find someone to watch her from 7:30 am to 12:30,  and then again from 3:00 to 5:00. Which, really? REALLY? Not to beat a dead horse, but do people in our school district just not work?

I explored school-endorsed programs and found out that there were none. I inquired about kindergarten plus programs and was met with quizzical stares. Apparently, they don't exist in the bubble we live in. I checked with area daycare centers and the YMCA and with neighbors and then I had a huge hissy fit, threw a bunch of papers in the air, cussed a bunch, and realized that it was all too much.

Way. Too. Much.

We believe in public schools. We believe in our public school. But, we don't believe in moving mountains to accommodate a schedule that isn't just a pain in the ass, it's flat-out a disservice to our child. Alexis is accustomed to all-day preschool. She thrives on learning opportunities. She's a nerd, to be honest, and nerds need more than a couple of hours of school each day.

So, private kindergarten it is. The decision is made. We're not entirely happy about the lack of choices that were available to us, but at least the little nerd will have a chance to learn as much as she wants and I won't have to quit my job just so I can take her to school each day.

It will probably take a few weeks for the smoke to clear, and when it does, I'll be over in the corner sobbing because OMG, my baby is about to start kindergarten.