Thursday, October 20, 2011

Where My Sheep At?!

Today has been a Count to Ten kind of day.

Or perhaps more appropriately, a Count to 1000 Day. Because counting to ten has happened at least a hundred times prior to lunch even hitting the table.

Counting to three is for the kids; counting to ten is for me. It's the only way to take a crack at regaining self control, composure, and the will to continue on with the day.

The older two boys and I have been deeply engaged in a battle of CLEAN UP YO' SHIT, DUDE for almost a month now. Constant dumping out of buckets and bins, cutting and tearing of paper, the leaving of garbage all around the house. If the mess came from fun, sure, I'd be happy to pick up after them. If the day had them enjoying PotatoHeads and Play Doh so much together that they couldn't be troubled to clean up before moving on to the next activity, that would be one thing. But I am talking outright MAKING A MESS TO MAKE A MESS and refusing to clean it up to the point that we have missed out on other things.

They're making a mess because they are bored; I know, I can hear you all rolling your eyes and thinking it. Even you over there in Colorado! That may be true to some extent, but it is also 1, the result of an ADHD oldest child; 2, a three year old that only wants to do what his ADHD older brother does; and 3, it is their attempt to take attention away from the babies and cast the spotlight back onto themselves.

But whats a girl to do?! I have made every effort to NOT use that babies as a reason or excuse; meaning, I never tell the older boys that I have to stop playing superheroes or we have to leave the park or etc etc because of anything pertaining to the babies. Even if I have one whaling at the top of his lungs, I try not to say, "boys, WE ARE OUTTA HERE because the baby is hungry/poopy/otherwise up in arms about life."

I have tried to clean up with them. I have tried to make it a game. We have tried timers, timeouts, the removal of privileges and the threat of looming consequences. Last week, we missed the library, the park, and a bike ride all because it took the boys more than an hour to cleanup their crap. There are moments in which I simply want to sob and beg them to just fricken listen to my words and stop making life so difficult!

This entire day has been one of those moments.

As I sit here, the babies are upstairs in their cribs fussing. Not crying out of need or sadness, just fussing. They have a case of The Croup for a second time this month; Baby C is cutting two more upper teeth, Baby H has not taken more than half of his bottle since yesterday morning. Between the bodily fluids, the crying, the whining, the fighting and the ten billion tiny toys spread out in every corner of every room of the house, I am on the verge of a meltdown.

Much has been going on at home-- that tends to happen in grownup lives and grownup relationships, huh? The move and the Still For Sale status of the previous house adds a weight to our daily lives. Even when we try our hardest, I am certain that the Housing Beast is heavy on both mine and Chris' shoulders each day. The problem is compounded by late nights painting, restless sleep haunted by six figure real estate deficiencies, and early mornings chirping at one another over all of it.

Oh, and as the size of my backside reached new heights, at the urging of my trainer I gave up flour, sugar, processed foods and starches. In other words, I have been existing on nothing more than Diet Coke, coffee, string cheese, eggs, and chicken with nothing but salt and pepper for almost a month. Yep, my jeans are too big, my cholesterol is probably rising, but more than anything? I WANT TO CLAW SOMEONE'S EYES OUT.

Do you ever feel like this? I know we all do, but maybe it'll have to be me to volunteer my own life as an example of flawed, distressed, and almost buckling under pressure.

There isn't a down time- when I am at work, it is about taking care of someone else's life. When I am at home, it is about trying to make sure my partner is happy and my friends don't hate me for never being around. I don't get to workout anymore-- shit, I didn't do so much as a single race in 2011. I don't get to blog when or about what I want to anymore. I feel like there was such a giant part of my life spent WISHING for all of this-- the big job, the relationship, the house-- and now it's here and I'm drowning in it all.

It has been one of those days: A Count to Ten, I'm Not Sure I'm Going to Make It, kind of day.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Serenity of Serenbe

A road winds through the pastures of Serenbe, a sustainable living community in Georgia. 

OH YES, that is Utopia you see. As photographed by Amy Neunsinger for House Beautiful. Oftentimes, I love/loathe the pages of such magazines. What with their out of reach grandeur and implications that we all want to live in China Cabinet living rooms that are children and dogs are NOT to TOUCH.

After many years in 12,000 square foot homes as a nanny, I am here to tell you that, unaquivically, no one needs 12,000 square feet of house. Or even 8,000. It's the real estate equivalent of making sure your engagement ring is big enough to adequately represent your Hubby To Be's salary. Or big enough to make us all think he makes more than the rest of us anyway. The homes are beautiful on the glossy pages of magazines, sure, but they are often impersonal and non-conducive to family life.

These days, I walk into a home and think where will my children open Christmas presents? Where will they throw a football with their father or play House with their siblings?

And since we are now the proud owners of an asbestos-laden basement, I also think what am I bringing into my home that may possibly harm my family's health? 

For years, I have told people that my dream is to live a life in which I can visit the market several times a week to cook organic, made with love meals for my family. I saw this image and nearly cried. 

Serenbe is a community founded on the most fundamental principles of sustainability. Mad props to Steve Nygren for making green look so fracking FANTASTIC. Seriously, if you love design and eco-friendly living peaks your interest at all, read the article. It's da bomb.

Design by Marie Nygren & Smith Hanes

View the entire article here. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Crash Cleanup

For those that have asked.

Ugh. I begrudgingly disclose the dirty deets of the trainwrecked blog shutdown.

Yes, it was a million times more fun to write and yes, I do know that it was a zillion times more fun to read. This is America, god damnit, and we love sensationalistic journalism! And scandal! GIVE US SCANDAL!

Many moons ago, I signed on with a new employment agency. Families pay agencies for placement of a nanny because of an agency's screening process: aka, I turn over everything from my medical records to the name, address, and phone number of anyone whose children I have ever made Mac N Cheese for. And if you were with me (bless your heart) nearly seven years ago when I first launched Blonde & Belligerent as a spinoff of my newspaper column (yep, turns out I have actually been a legit published writer before), then you're familiar with The Original Mrs.


The Original Mrs was a character who, incidentally, was also an atrocious real-live human being. I worked under her thumb for more than a few years and lived with her during the last year of my employment with her family. The Original Mrs took shape as a nod to The Nanny Diaries, of course. Which was one of the single most painfully ironic factoids of my entire life. You see, The Original Mrs and I were so close, in fact, that during my once monthly day off (seriously. every other Sunday and not a moment more), she invited herself to tag along with me to the movie theater. Where I was, of course, purchasing a ticket to see The Nanny Diaries.

We sat side by side, sipping Diet Coke and she chuckled over the ridiculousness of Mrs X in the film. OH, Original Mrs, I wanted to tell her, Mrs. X is a game of patty cake beneath a double rainbow in comparison to your bullshit. 

Needless to say, I voluntarily ended my position with her and her children shortly after. We left on good terms-- everyone crying, The Mr. telling me privately that there was a raise in it for me if I stayed. God only knows how badly he needed me to stay and be the buffer that mellowed his wife for him. But the saltiness of the employment popcorn subsided and The Original Mrs became a friend of sorts. Not only a friend, but a reader of trainwrecked.

Which is exactly the thing about life and about being a nanny, you guys. You cannot ever assume that oh, THIS family is normal. THIS family is so nice. Because they are all naked bongo drums playing nuts!

When my agency called The Original Mrs for employment verification, she whipped up tales of me taking her children for hours at a time, disappearing into the downtown Portland riff-raft. She swore that I was a nice gal, but one unfit to be left with children. Read her blog she told them. See how dreadful she is!

Without naming who had sold me up the river, my agency informed me that someone gave a bad reference and was a liability and loose cannon. They told me that she had scared the daylights out of a few potential employers by identifying me as a lost soul and wretched backstabber. My agent proceeded to say that this previous employer-- who remained unnamed to me still-- sounded intoxicated and disoriented.

OH I told them. THE ORIGINAL MRS strikes again, I see!!

I chose to not slam her for being the bottomfeeder that she is. I did not even tell them of my days off and how when the children bothered her, she would lock them out of the house. And how on one occasion, a neighbor called and said hey, do you know your 4 year old is wandering around downtown? I did not speak of her drinking entire bottles of wine at a time while breastfeeding and I did not even mention how she would stay at a hotel down the block just so she wouldn't be bothered by her newborn's crying at night.

The agency told me they had read the blog and they knew exactly the type of people of which I wrote. They told me that the issue wasn't me having a blog (a personal one not accessible to anyone other than those who were given the link directly by me) and the issue wasn't even anything I said. The issue was that The Original Mrs had darkened my agency's credibility by telling other potential employers that NO, the agency is wrong, this nanny person is horrendous!

So I stopped writing (and changed the URL) as a show of good measure to my agency. An agency, mind you, who could've sided with the Batshit Crazy lady and told me to take a hike. But they stood by me, supporting me in acknowledgement that yes, every word spoken on trainwrecked is the sad reality that we professional nannies often witness.

As sad as I was to no longer share my tales of Nanny Grandeur, it was a natural halting of sorts. Because, you see, this family is so nice. They are so normal, in fact, that I do not imagine I could find a tale to tell about them if I tried.

I say the above with wholehearted believe and that, my friends, is exactly the thing I most love about me. Even though I know this family is no different than the last, who was just the same as the previous, I choose to believe that everyone gets a do-over, everyone gets a clean slate, and everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt. Now, let the good times roll!


A big shout out to the lovely folks who joined us over the course of the past ten days. It has been a helluva ride, huh?! 

We kicked off the move by throwing our brand new gray sofa over a bannister at the old house. And when that didn't give us enough titillation before noon time, we threw an 8' tall armoire over the back deck rails. Neighbors stood on their own decks and watched in both shock and awe: will they drop it? Will it break? Will it drop and break them in half? 

Hysteria followed by raucous applause and congratulations. Just the way I like to kick off a Friday morning! 

We pulled into the new driveway with our entourage of family members and a moving truck too tall to fit up the driveway. Meaning, our wooded lot with fantastically mature trees was about to take a beating. After a couple of hours of unloading from the END of the driveway, my mom and I were both paralyzed by the sound of a chainsaw. I looked outside only to find my father standing atop the moving truck, slicing limb after branch after tree. Thank Jeebus our neighbors are not arborists. Or people who scoff at new neighbors moving in, cutting down trees, and swarming the neighborhood with rowdy, Coors Light fueled hooligans. 

But nothing can be as fantastic as moving into a new home with brand spanking new wood floors. Because that, my Intraweb friends and followers, is a real bitch of a job. The floors made it through the move relatively unscathed. Although, the front entryway did take a few dings and there are trace amounts of furniture varnish mysteriously smudged across the white walls and ceiling. In more than several places. 

We did it though. We moved in. We drank beer. We ate pizza for so many consecutive nights that I will claw the eyes out of anyone who dares mention words like "mozzarella" or "marinara" anytime soon. The boxes were not even unpacked before we took a hammer and a paintbrush to our first Reno project. I figured the 1950s vintage (read: horrid) kitchen would be the first project, but what a fool am I! Such thinking would be entirely to rational for Chris and myself. 

So without further ado, I give you Plumage House's first DIY. 


You expected more, didn't you?

Fine, fine. Stay tuned for the pictures of the actual project. Because Comcast is the only bitch bigger than wood floors on moving day and my Internet at home is yet to be connected. BUT REST ASSURED, Kilz is the word around our house and Kilz'ing the bananas out of our wood paneled, 1975 VFW basement is the name of the game. 
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