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And the homework. Tonight Dillo - in a different room, with me - kept buttinskying in Casper's spelling studying with mr. flea. Every 15 seconds, literally, as I kept trying to get him to focus on his own work. In extra obnoxious news, he can spell most of the words that she can't, and was explaining quirks of English to her (she was frustrated, like, "Why does would have an L?" and he was explaining that even walk has an L.) I can only imagine how annoying it is to have a 3 years younger brother who can spell better than you can. However, this could not excuse kicking him in the shins.

I am in a bad mood because I am working Saturday and Sunday of this week (though I have Thursday and next Tuesday off), and I owe a short academic essay to someone (now 1 week overdue), and I need to email more delegation stuff about the book fair at school (a deadline is this week), and I am going into the Uni on Thursday to meet with a co-author (assuming e write the paper) and work on some classics stuff, and next Tuesday I am supervising volunteers at school. So I have tons of stuff to do besides my actual job and making the children do homework, and almost no time to get any traction on it.

Okay, solution time: bite the bullet and email-delegate the book fair stuff tomorrow at 6am when I have energy; the Tuesday volunteering thing is a GOOD thing, because I am teaching other people to do my volunteer work so I can delegate to them in the future; the academic essay is drafted and I can work more on it tomorrow at work since I am on email monitoring all day; the classics stuff on Thursday is no-deadline except self-imposed.

I just wish it didn't take near-continuous reminding and herding to get the children to do anything at all. It takes so much out of me. It was almost easier when I just brushed their teeth, instead of asking them 47 times over the course of 20 minutes to do it and reminding them when they get distracted and forget (Casper, in particular, has a tendency to start looking at herself in the mirror and 10 minutes can pass without her brushing.) It was certainly faster.
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I've reduced my hours and my duties at my job to 4 hours a day, shifting the journals (a complex back-to-front flip in tight space, with the need to leave room for growth for some titles but not all, the need to shelve in oversize titles (resetting shelves as necessary), and the need to integrate a formerly separate modern Greek journal collection.) This allows me to put the kids on the bus at 8:45 and pick them up from the bus at 4:10 and it feels so luxurious not to be rushed and exhausted all the time.

The bad part is, I am taking the public bus to and from work now (instead of driving with mr. flea.) Day 1: I caught the AM bus and all went as scheduled. I expected a 3:32 pm bus; the bus actually came to the stop at about 3:50. This was late enough that I was in danger of missing the pickup from the school bus. I called mr. flea and it turned out he got to the school bus stop right as the kids got off. I didn't know that, though (we only have one call phone and I had it), and saw the bus turn down the next block as I ran to the stop, and saw a kid I took to be Casper looking out the window, and saw the other family walking away from the bus stop, and didn't see mr. flea or my kids. So I kept running home, now sobbing, thinking nobody had met the kids and they'd been taken back to school on the bus. That sucked, even though everyone was fine except me.

Day 2: I caught the AM bus. Less than halfway into the 4-mile journey, it broke down. The driver didn't actually make any announcement for a few minutes, so we just sat there. Then he said there wouldn't be another bus for half an hour, so I got off and walked at top speed and was only 7 minutes late to work, although somewhat sweaty. The afternoon bus (I shifted my schedule to take a bus 45 minutes earlier, so no matter how late the bus was I could make it), worked as scheduled.

Either The Gods don't want me to do this job, or the Cincinnati public transit folks suck. And people wonder why everyone drives everywhere.

Baby name: Cyril Ray, big sister Petra, parents Heather and Niclas. Nicknames already include Cy and Spy-baby.
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1. I had to leave the room while in a meeting at work, because I didn't trust my ability to keep my temper.

2. I spent most of the day working on a big spreadsheet. I've had students work in it at various times, and at some point somebody - I sure as hell hope not me - sorted one of the columns but not all of them, so that the data are now mismatched. In good news, some of it is still okay - it doesn't all have to be done from scratch - but in not so good news, you can't necessarily tell by looking whether the data in a given row is right or not. So I really ought to check everything. All 1200 items.

3. mr. flea had to call the mortgage company again. They accidentally paid $4000 from our escrow account to a random county in which our house is not located. They have been remarkably remiss in clearing up this error, and our statement for payment, due tomorrow, asks us to pay an extra $500 to start rebuilding our escrow. They said we should go ahead and pay the old amount, and they will send us a new statement eventually. My distrust of the company is such that I worry that this is some trick to declare us delinquent and make us pay huge fees.

4. Casper has been having homework fits all week. Tears and procrastination and the whole thing. Tonight is no different. Tomorrow a book report is due.

5. The uptight downstairs neighbor pounded on the ceiling, at 7pm on a Wednesday, because Dillo was dancing around in the dining room (which is uncarpeted because, hey dining room, with messy kids at the table). Dillo wasn't even wearing shoes. This is not the first incident of ceiling-pounding, and the other weekend said neighbor had a freakout at mr. flea because the children were running to and fro. At noon on a Sunday. Being, you know, kids. It makes me feel like we don;t have a right to have actual lives.

I miss our own house and my old job and our lives.
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I last had shingles starting Feb. 4, 2009.  Don't you think it's unfair that I can't go 2 years and 3 months without getting shingles again? It's exactly the same as last time, in the pre-rash phase.  Give me a break, world?

(mr. flea noted, in front of the children, that shingles is caused by stress.  Casper told me I should work on being less stressed out.  I refrained from saying, "Pot-kettle" to her, because she is only 7. Also, I think I have every right to be stressed; as, indeed, I did last time I had shingles.)

(Also also, I am definitely not leading this Girl Scout troop next year.)
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I'm better enough to go back to work tomorrow, but tired and tottery enough to be overwhelmed by the things I have to deal with there, notably the 35 high school students showing up Wednesday morning (until this afternoon, I was expecting 20, which is much more manageable). Then it's Girl Scout cookie delivery week, and planning for next week's meeting, and houseguests next weekend, and the 25th I fly to Texas for a wedding.

I ate protein today, though!
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I had to leave work because I was so stressed out about the girl scout meeting yesterday, and walked home sobbing.  Then I successfully managed to nap while roofers were working on the back porch.  (Since I'd been up since 4:30 am worrying about girl scouts.)

Of course, the meeting was fine.

So, on the list of things that can reduce me to gibbering idiocy?
1.  Dentists
2.  Girl Scouts

Xposting from Facebook, where many of y ou probably already saw it, for the immortality factor:
Dillo: "Mom, I forgot about the toilet and I went in the sink!"

What To Do

Nov. 22nd, 2010 01:09 pm
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So, yesterday I spent much of the day in a terrible mood. Part of the reason was Dillo's behavior (he went to bed Saturday at 10pm, as we were celebrating his father's birthday, but woke up at 6am Sunday and so was tired all day, plus he was hungry but wouldn't eat anything but treats, and he was just FOUR). But a big chunk was the fact that we have a Girl Scout meeting on Tuesday.

I am so stressed out by the Girl Scout thing that I dread the meetings and it takes over my life. I see two options: find out a way to stop dreading the meetings and organization work this much (the meetings are fine when it actually happens, and the organization work is just herding cats, like anything) or get out of Girl Scouts. Seriously, one of the potential pluses in my twisted mind about the possibility of a job for mr. flea in Dublin is the fact that I wouldn't have to do Girl Scouts any more. (They emailed two weeks ago and said they wanted to interview him, but have not actually set up an interview yet.)

Girl Scouts pings my responsibility issues, and my public performance issues. I'm hating the whole thing and feeling so stupid for pushing to have a troop exist this year. And now I have to go call the mother who doesn't have email and remind her that we are meeting tomorrow.
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I've got enough going on right now that I'm a little overwhelmed and paralyzed with it. I'm also really tired; I worked last night and had trouble falling asleep (was the sweet tea at lunch super-potent?)

We did get the license plates and registration transferred to the new car yesterday, so we are officially completely done with car stuff. We are still deep in the bathroom plumbing project (plumbing is done, but closing up the wall in the bedroom is next, and then we need to deal with taking down and replacing the ceiling in the downstairs bathroom), and we still need to decide what to do about the roof and porch projects we got estimates for. I have been doing more research on the house and that is interesting but also distracting me at work.

At work I am giving a presentation to a staff organization the week of May 17, and then giving a talk at a state conference May 28, and neither of those things are fully developed yet, and I'm having trouble getting them developed, due to inability to focus. Part of the problem is that I could totally wing the first, if I chose, and sections of the second (demonstrating a software which I have already trained groups on 3 times and written up a training manual). I need something to give me the urgency to nail it all down.

I am going to SF next Thursday and need to plan my packing & hem my dress, do some further planning for while I'm there, and worry about how everyone will manage without me (fine, of course, but I still need to worry!) SF-istas, my current plan is to visit the Asian Art Museum the afternoon of Thursday May 13, and would welcome a companion, and I have most of the day Friday May 14 unplanned, though I may want to sleep late. I've never been to Golden Gate Park, but wonder if that is too big a project given transport issues and my potential tiredness.
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The good:
I baked chocolate chip scones, oatmeal bread, and butter cookies; cooked bistro bowtie salad with homegrown spinach, pork roast, and kale and heirloom beans. I did laundry, got the multiplying boxes (and a bird's nest with eggs in it, idiot bird) out of the laundry room, swept the pollen off both porches (again), dug over a new garden bed (yes I admitted I need more space), made a list and grocery shopped, bought frames for 3 items I've been wanting to frame, and spent $15 on beginning acrylic painting supplies for Casper.

The bad:
mr. flea worked on the plumbing all day Saturday (while it poured rain) and until 2pm on Sunday, and my job was to sit and wait for him to be done, while not killing my children. This was rather harder than you'd think, especially since Dillo is SO THREE. We need to find a better way to get house renovations done, since I actually LIKE doing things and HATE sitting around minding the children. But he has the plumbing skills and the patience and temperament to do it right (even is he is SO SLOW.)

We're not done yet; the upstairs sink is not yet plumbed, because to do it means opening up the wall, and by 2pm mr. flea was tired and sweaty and knew he wouldn't be able to get the wall closed today. So nothing's turned on, even through 2/3 of it is all hooked up. Which means we have to do it all again next weekend. Ugh.
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Last night in bed Casper asked me, "Eliza says that when a man and a woman make a baby the man puts his penis in her crotch. Is that true?" I said yes, and said the penis actually went in the vagina. She asked if that was how mr. flea and I made her. I said yes. It transpired that she thought the penis had to remain in the vagina for the entire pregnancy, which would be somewhat inconvenient, and I disabused her of this notion by explaining the sperm the the egg (although I described the egg as a special kind of cell, I think she is still placing it in the general category of eggs-from-which-birds-and-dinosaurs-hatch, stupid English language.) We also cleared up that the vagina is not the same as the anus, and I am surprised that she should mix this up, since we've talked about genitals pretty consistently since she was 1 year old.

She was much more interested in the baby being born, which we discussed at length (she asked if it hurt, and I used my marathon analogy), and segued into a discussion of how cute she was when she was born. We also talked about what colors babies are when they are born, so I introduced the concepts of vernix and amniotic fluid. We'll see what she retains!

ION mr. flea is making arrangements for ANOTHER new pediatric dentist (who actually takes our insurance). Their web site makes me shudder, with the twee, but I suppose most patients want that in a pediatric dentist. My brain is actually in panic hand-flapping mode even though HE'S doing everything. ARGH. I hate that this is so hard for me. There's the practical hard PLUS the me personal insane-o hard.
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I'm working every Wednesday night this semester, which is a serious pain in the ass at 9pm, when I'm starting to feel ready for bed but have another hour of work, a half-hour walk home, and a half-hour cool down before I can sleep ahead of me. But it's wonderful on the Wednesday morning, when everyone else leaves the house at 7:38 and I have five whole hours ahead of me before I need to leave to walk in.

This blog post (http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/19/where-does-a-mothers-time-go/) and the WaPo article by Schulte it draws heavily on (which I recommend if you're interested in this issue, which honestly doesn't just apply to parents, IMO) made me extra-appreciate my five hours this morning. I was busy the whole time: did a load of laundry, spent more than an hour priming trim in my bedroom, dusted the stairs (yuck!), cleaned the top of the tub surround in the downstairs bathroom (yuck!), made a lasagna, cleared off the coffee table, cleaned the dcat litter, but Dillo's comforter back in its case after washing it last weekend when the cat barfed on it, and 20 other minor tidying and cleaning things, most of which my dear husband would never think of doing. But for all that, I would mark this time as "leisure" (in addition to "housework") because oh, the freedom of my MIND as I was doing all this! I was full of productive and planny thoughts of a happy and non-stressful nature, a state which continued on my walk in to work. It helps that today is one of the gorgeous Southern winter days (65 and sunny), but it's a wonderful thing, to know that I and only I am in control of my time 5 hours a week, and if I choose to spend it painting and cleaning, that is MY choice.

I should also walk to work more - I miss the exercise, and I really do my best thinking while walking. I came in full of ideas for meeting friends and professional career plans.

flu

Oct. 23rd, 2009 06:31 am
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Several (mostly online) friends are down hard with flu - nobody's had it typed that I know of, but I'ma bet it's H1N1. It's worrying. Take it easy, friends, and when recovering don't try to do too much too soon.

We got the kids FluMisted (seasonal) yesterday at the new ped, whose flexibility I am loving right now. We told them it would be a shot, and pre-bribed them with chocolate Pop-Tarts. Dillo sat, all chocolate-faced, in the office, repeating, "I don't want to get a flu shot." When we decided to do the mist, he changed to, "I don't want to get a flu shot in my nose." But he dealt with it okay. I'm a little worried about the mist (since it is a live, weakened virus) but the kids are healthy and since a weekend is coming that can get plenty of rest. I haven't called the county again about the H1N1 vaccine. I am home with them next Friday, so I was hoping we could all go in at 8am then and get it done that day. If they have shots by then I'd choose that for H1N1; if they only have mist it will have been a week since the seasonal and so safe to get. And then I'll have to figure out some way to do it again in a month, since the H1N1 is recommended in two doses a month apart for kids under 10. If they still have H1N1 vaccine at the county in a month I'll be amazed.

I am feeling like I am carrying a huge load in the family right now, doing all the planning and organizing and getting stuff done. I'm at the point where I want to go away for a week so everyone sees how it all falls apart when I am not there to do it. What would happen is that they would eat out a lot and eat spaghetti-os, and watch a lot of TV, and get to bed too late, and be late for school, and forget things, and the house would be dirty(ier)). They would be fine, not, like, harmed, but that's not the way I want us to live. Unfortunately I seem to be the only one who cares about the way I want us to live, which is depressing.
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I have found myself worrying lately about what we'll do with the Dillo the summer after pre-K, when he won't turn 5 (and be eligible for any summer camps) until July 11.

Note that this possible problem is scheduled for TWO YEARS FROM NOW. I mean, things could go so we'd not be living here at that point.

ION, my brother who got married in May refers to his wife as "the wife" on Twitter. It kind of makes me want to dope-slap him, although I am sure he means it well.

tough week

Jul. 10th, 2009 11:46 am
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This week has been kicking my ass - between re-entry after vacation, my summer class starting, Casper having a swimming lesson after camp each day, which has meant dinner at 7:30 and late bedtime, and then the fleas, so most waking moments at home involve washing or vacuuming something - well, I'm ready for the weekend.

And tomorrow is Dillo's birthday and party and I'm not really ready (what the hell am I going to do about a cake?), and then Sunday mr. flea needs to work to make up the time he took flea-bombing the house on Wednesday. And the fleas are not all the way gone, which means we need to keep working at it.

But Casper LOVES the swimming lessons and is really making progress and is so proud of herself. She's an excellent elementary backstroker now, and can tread water and dog paddle (they don't really practice the "rocket" she learned at the beach at the Y). Two weeks ago she couldn't float on her back and wouldn't put her face in the water. I hope we can go to the pool on Sunday so she can get some more practice and show off for me.

I am very excited to meet Dillo's friend Colin at the party. Dillo LOVES Colin. Talks about him every day. Aside from the slow potty progress, he's doing great. I love our morning snuggle times - he wakes up all soft and sleepy and wanting to snuggle. Needs a haircut, and I need to do something about a 3 year checkup for him (although he's not due any shots, it makes sense to take him in - he hasn't been to the doctor since his initial appointment last summer, since he's been healthy.)
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I went to the very nice oral surgeon for a consult and came away with plans to have my wisdom teeth (all 4) out next Tuesday. Um. (So, Hec, perhaps lunch downtown is not so much an option.) They have prescribed me valium for night before and morning of; I am not sure whether or not this is customary, or they could tell from my wild-eyed look that I was sure as hell going to need it.

(Shall I note, in passing, that former bad dentist proposed to take my wisdom teeth out under local anaesthetic in his office? Apparently by brute force. One shudders to think. I mean, my wisdom teeth are erupted and look decent, but the oral surgeon says you never know for sure until you're in there, and often even erupted teeth have root complications and so forth that require actual incisions.)

My ongoing complete mental breakdown about my teeth is, well, ongoing. I'm still keeping it together, mostly (although I did agree to an appointment without remembering the lunch date and afternoon meetings I had penciled in), but after the appointment I couldn't face going back to work (also it was 90 degrees and a half-hour walk) and so purchased root beer, potato chips, and Cherry Garcia and devoured them, then napped heavily. I'm having a hard time with the fact that I'm having such a hard time with all this; I am now happy with my new dentist, and the oral surgeon seemed very good too, and I'm using fucking Listerine daily to counteract the beginning signs of gingivitis - I should be starting to feel better about it all, damn it. And yet this afternoon I was seriously worried that the teeth were only the first step, and in a few years I was going to end up unable to leave the house and subsisting on organic free-range bananas or some other elaborate form of Not Coping With Life. (Let us conveniently ignore my pre-existing major non-copage, the lack of driving thing.)

My self-image is all about the competence and matter-of-factness and coping. When I have to work this freaking hard to barely cope, I start freaking out.

juggling

Jun. 1st, 2009 06:57 pm
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Casper is attending Camp Invention this week, which is on campus. Camp goes from 9-3:30; registration started at 8:30 today. Today Casper and I got dropped off at my work at 7:45, left my work at about 8:10 to make our way down the camp, which is in a building at the other end of campus (I intended to walk but forgot how slow children are; we took the bus after walking 1/3 of the way). I registered her, chatted with an acquaintance, and booked it back up to the Main library. Then I worked, then left work at 3:15, got a bus after waiting 8 minutes (it was 90 degrees by then, no fun walking at my pace for 20 minutes), back down, picked her up, bus back, we got to my office by about 3:50. I set her up on the computer of my coworker who was out today, and she did a little playing with Teletubbies. I had to go over and help her figure out what to click approximately every 3 minutes. I got my one email drafted and mailed. We left at 4:55 and went to get picked up.

Tomorrow and Thursday a friend is taking Casper home after camp, because I have 3-4 and 3:30-5pm meetings. Because the friend has a swim lesson at 6, we have to be prompt at picking Casper up right at 5. No, I have no idea how I'm going to go to a meeting that lasts until 5 and then be across town also at 5.

I was mentally exhausted and stressed out all day about this (and also, again, still, about the stupid vacation we are having to take in 4 weeks, and money). This is why I like the YMCA, because they run from 8-6.

Also, my bedroom will never be painted at this rate. Also also, my son will be 3 in six weeks and still have NEVER peed in the potty. Am I going to fail at potty training TWICE?
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Stress levels through the roof this afternoon. Tonight we must:
Pay Visa bills
Bathe kids
Go fetch Target gift cards for teachers
Ask a neighbor to look in on Fishie
Make a plan to pay the YMCA

Then I decided to take tomorrow morning off so I can get the house in reasonable shape and pack. Except Casper has a school event from 8:10-10:45. Then I go to the dentist at two, which is actually contributing HUGELY to my overall stress levels. I hate being wimpy and un-dealy about shit, and I am HUGELY so about the dentist right now. I am super organized and articulate and competent and everything dentistry makes me completely shut down and not be able to advocate for myself and make good choices.

We made a park-stay-fly reservation at an airport hotel; I think we'll end up paying $60 over what it would cost to just park. mr. flea thinks the ease of not getting up at 4am and dealing with my unreasonable stress about missing the flight will be worth it; I am worried the kids will be bonkers in the hotel and we'll lose a whole night's sleep.

And on top of this another aide spoke to me at afterschool about Casper's placement next year. She has apparently been placed in a class already, and everyone (Mrs. E, Mrs. C, Mrs. C's aide) thinks it is a bad idea. So I need to speak to the assistant principal and make the case for Mrs. C, who I agree would be a good fit, admittedly not knowing all of the teachers or what the placement rationale is. Except I am feeling ridiculously conflicted about speaking to the assistant principal, because I feel like I am asking them to privilege my child by placing her in the best teacher's classroom and what about the other kid who will be displaced, who probably has a less advantaged parent and could just as much use the placement if not more so. But then, Casper had this year with a fist-year teacher who had a steep learning curve and has certainly not blossomed as much as I would have liked her to. So she could use a year of really good solid teaching. And you're supposed to advocate for your kid.

Stress. Stress. Stress.
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I had a crap weekend, due to the double-whammy of Dillo daycare worries (there was an open house at the new space, and I got a lot of new information, and I wasn't best pleased at either the way I got the information or the content of it) and my body's revolt, which combined either allergies or a new head cold with menstrual woes. Plus rain and humid, humid, humid, and mosquitoes.

But, Casper's last day of school is Wednesday, and I have the long-awaited dentist appointment Wednesday afternoon, and then Thursday morning at 8 our plane takes off for Boston, which I think means we need to leave the house by 5am, possibly 4:30, and have I mentioned how much it sucks living more than an hour and a half from the airport?

Things that need to be taken care of before we go:
%Mow lawn (we bought a lawn mower on Sunday. Some people get Netbooks; we get to spend $300 on a lawn mower. Don't be a grown-up, people.)
%Pick peas and spinach and eat them; plant out some seedlings that are getting leggy.
%pay the YMCA for the first week of summer camp and prep for Caper's first day.
%end-of-year teacher gifts. The aide suggested last week I call the assistant principal and tell her I wanted Casper to be in Mrs. C's class next year. I have not done this. I suck as mom.
%do we need a cat-sitter? A fish-sitter? Trip is 5 days. Maybe leave the cat and ask neighbors to keep fish at their house?
%make sure Visa bills get paid & financial ducks are in a row (i.e. we have enough $$ in checking account to pay them.)
%clean the freaking toilets.
%paint my toenails.
%PACK.

Have I mentioned I have a headache? Which is why I am torturing myself looking at plane tickets for our NEXT trip, which as of today could involve us saving $210 if we leave at 7:40am (which means leaving home by 4!)
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The big issue remains the children's sleep. We got Dillo to sleep yesterday afternoon by driving around in the car "exploring", and he made the transfer inside and slept for 4 hours. But then didn't get to bed until 9 and was up too many times in the night as usual, and up in the morning at 7. Casper didn't get to bed last night until 10 (was lying awake in her bed for at least the final hour) and slept in until 10am. She still looks awful (bags under the eyes and cough), and how we're going to be ready for a 7:45 start of school a week from today I have no idea. Dillo slept a little in the car late this afternoon (more "exploring") but woke up grumpy after 45 minutes and took a long time to regain his humanity. I've asked mr. flea to put him down tonight and there has been a lot of crying. I really need to get him nightweaned (first) and sleeping through (second) and he really doesn't want either. But my sanity is seriously going from the chronic exhaustion.

Dillo went on a visit to his new daycare this morning and it was a success. mr. flea was able to leave him for 45 minutes while he filled out paperwork and talked to the director. He hugged me tightly when he got home but was able to tell me about the visit (Jenny and Terry are the teachers; he played on the playground; he ate raisins for snack). He might be better cared for by them, at this point; at least they could probably get him to nap. I'm honestly considering sending him even before we need to. We're paying for all of August anyway and the structure would be better for him than the mess we have going on here. They even have home-cooked vegetarian meals, whereas here we eat hot dogs and tater tots.

We don't need to send Dillo to day care soon any more because mr. flea was unable to get his "I finished my dissertation" letter in time to be processed to start work on Monday, so now he can't start work until the 18th. I'm not happy about this; the whole reason we had the clusterfuck of dissertation defense + move two days apart was to make the August 4 start date. We could have had a much easier time of things if we'd known. It's like the fucking dissertation has to come around and bite me in the ass one last time. (The letter was delayed because mr. flea's revisions needed revisions, due to formatting issues, and the office that checks in dissertations was moving this week.) So, we had recriminations and defensiveness while we drove around "exploring" this afternoon. That was fun.

In good news, our social whirl continues; we've been invited to a party tomorrow night. It's at 7:30 pm and no kids, so if we make it it will probably be as a tag-team, since even if we could find a babysitter at this date I would hesitate to inflict our overtired and ill-behaved children on some innocent teenager, at bedtime. The family has a daughter Casper's age with the same name. The other good news is we found mr. flea's bicycle helmet (which was missing in NC) and the power cord to my computer, which somehow got packed in a box marked "Christmas lights."

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