Monday, August 30, 2010

One, Two...Three

Who says that it is hard to get three kids in one picture?

Look closely.  They are all in there.

Are You Queen of Your Cart?

When I take my kids to the market with me, I always get them a treat, or snack, of some kind.  It makes my life easier.

Our local supermarket gives away free cookies.  I am not thrilled about giving my children sweets at ten o'clock in the morning, but the cookies are small, and the price is right.

Trader Joe sells bananas by the piece (19 cents) and not by the pound, so each child gets a banana.

Target is where they get me.  Target has goldfish crackers in individual sized boxes, prominently displayed at the entrance to the store.  They are a dollar.  This does not seem like a lot, but each trip to Target requires a two to three dollar investment in goldfish crackers.  I call this the Target Tax.  Yes, this is corporate evil at work, but it could be worse.  Until recently, if you wanted these perfect child sized treats, the only place in the entire store you could get them was an end rack in the toy department.  Now, that was evil. 

There are several schools of thought on when and if it is appropriate to give your children snacks while shopping.  Today, I will be discussing three of them.

First, there are parents who never give their children anything while in any store.  This keeps snacking within prescribed snack times and teaches children not to ask for things in the store.   (This also happens to be the method most favored by people who have not actually had children yet, because it sounds so reasonable and responsible.)

Well, I say, "Congratulations!" to those parents.  I wish them well.  I, however, do not wear my underpants that tight.  Nor, am I a bionic NO-machine.  If I tried this, my children would beg, then whine, then cry.  Then win.  I would give them a treat, just so that they would leave me alone along enough to find the right brand of toothpaste.  (And why has that become so complicated?)  Thereby rewarding bad behavior.  Besides, my kids eat like every two hours.  They are most likely, legitimately hungry.

There are other parents who give treats at the end of the shopping trip as a reward for good behavior while in the store.  This may work with older children.  But it is my experience, that children under the age of five, especially boys, have no concept  of "later."  To small children, there in NOW and NOT NOW.

Let me illustrate.  Mother says, "Johnny, if you are good in the store while I am shopping, I will give you a treat when we check out".  Johnny hears, "If you are good NOW, I will give you a treat NOT NOW."  Hardly motivational from little Johnny's perspective, when he could run up and down the isles NOW.  Besides, this method also requires a whole lot of reminding and threatening.  Who wants to be doing that the whole trip?

The third method, and the one I prefer, was suggested to me by my mother-in-law. (Thank you, Grandma Christine!)  I give my kids their treat right away.  I get to be in charge of what the treat will be.  There is never a battle of wills for me to lose.  And, they are so busy eating, they don't bug me.  It's not perfect.  And I still must shop quickly.  But, I remain Queen of the Shopping Cart.

All Hail!!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My New Office

I have wanted an office for a long time.  I want an office like this one.

This is Betsy's office.  Have you met Betsy?  She writes over at My Five Men.  One of those men is her husband.  The other four are her sons.  That's right, four sons.  All teenagers.  Wait, it gets better.  Three of them are sixteen-year-old triplets.  Did I mention that the triplets are autistic?  Crazy right?

If I were Betsy, I think I would skip the office and get a padded room.  She may have one of those, too.  I have no idea.  She has never written about it.  In fact, I have never heard her complain at all, which I find amazing.  Not so much because of her situation, but because I can complain about anything, and regularly do.  Like the fact that it takes three weeks (not the alleged twenty four hours) to defrost a whole four pound chicken in the refrigerator, the way they say you are supposed to.  They can eat my shorts.  Or, my undercooked chicken.  They can choose.

Where was I?  Oh, yeah.  Betsy's office.  Isn't it lovely.  It is at one end of her kitchen, so she can multi-task and keep an eye on her men.  She runs a business from there, too.  Catering and gift baskets, I think.  Oh, the baked goods she has written about.  And, she uses a coffee maker as an alarm clock.  Anyway, go visit her if you get the chance, but not on an empty stomach.  And, not now.  You're busy reading this.  Focus, would you!

I do a lot of stuff, too.  I parent and write and keep a home.  I want a place to go, where it will be clean, and orderly, and out of reach of children, where I can think and function, and find everything.  I want an office.

I want an office, but I don't have an office.  What I have is a corner of the kitchen.  The counter is too high for the littlest hands to reach, and, as I keep the room cordoned off most of the time, it is fairly safe from the peanut butter and jelly crowd.  Unfortunately, until last week, my corner "office" looked like this.

Truly unacceptable, I know.  It was just stacks of this, and piles of that.  I couldn't find anything.  Nothing was in it's place, because nothing really had a place.  So sad.  I hate clutter, and not only was I living with it, I was trying to work with it too.  I had had enough!

I declared war on that corner.  And, now.  It looks like this.

Thanks to the Staples Desk Apprentice Turbo.  Okay, I added the "turbo," but I felt that such an awesome cube of organization deserved a superlative.  Did I mention that it rotates?  I wish it weren't black.  If I find the time, I might try to girly it up a little.  Until then, I am organized!!!!!!  Which, considering the "before" picture, is no small task.  (I swear to you, everything in the first picture, is in the second picture, except the butter dish and the iPod.)

[I have not been compensated by the Staples corporation in any way for this endorsement, so I feel free to tell you that the on-line price of $39.99, is a total rip off.  I got mine at the good old brick and mortar place for only $25.99]

Friday, August 20, 2010

Our Whirlwind Visit to Seattle, Epilogue

 If you have not read Part 1 or Part 2, you will not understand any of this.  Part 3 is optional.  Go ahead.  Go now.  We'll wait.

Update on Part 1
The cell phone I chucked into the garbage can, in the bathroom at Seatac airport was an old phone I had lost before.  Samuel walked off with it once, and it spent two weeks, getting watered and everything, in the back yard.  But it still worked.  Some phones never die.  Nor, it turns out, can they be thrown away.

Several people suggested I contact Lost and Found.  Hubband and I both agreed this would be a fruitless waste of time.  The phone was old.  The phone was gone.

We were wrong.

The phone was found by housekeeping, and turned into the Port of Seattle Police, who called my home to tell me.  But, not before they called a few of my friends.  Now, I appreciate their efforts at contacting me, but since they were in Washington, and the phone was in Washington, which meant that at some point, I had been in Washington, you think they would have called one of the Washington numbers in my phone.  But no.

My friend in South Carolina was quite surprised to get a call from my cell phone number at 2 am.  She thought my house burnt down or I had left my husband.  No.  But the police were looking for me.

I did not find out any of this until I got home.  I had a few messages, I made a few calls, and Seatac Lost and Found, which is run by the Seattle, Kings and Snohomish County YWCA, FedEXed me my phone.  It was still charged up and everything.  Easy-peasy.

Update on Part 2
The Morrison Boomer CD, on which I spent five dollars of Hubband's hard earned money, turned out to be a dud.  Not the music, just the CD.  I could not get it to play on any machine or computer.  But I still really wanted their music.

I contacted them through their facebook page and they got right back to me.  Again very polite.  It turns out, they are from Minnesota, so I would not expect anything less, even if they probably do drink and swear and stuff like that.  They apologized sincerely, and then told me to just go to their website and download it.

It turns out that you can get their music through a service called, and you get to pick your price.  For as little as a penny, you can own a Morrison Boomer album.  Which is great, since I had already paid five bucks.

I decided to get their latest album, Down The Hatch, rather than the one I bought in CD form, so I spent another five bucks.  The download was easy, and came with great instructions for old ma'ams like me.  It was just a zip file that I saved on my desk top.  Unfortunately, before I got a chance to unzip it and load it on my iPod (every step takes extra time, and there must be time between steps when you have small children) my computer crashed.  It was several hours later and I was doing something unrelated at the time, so I am sure one was not the cause of the other.  Well, I am pretty sure.  At any rate, I have spent ten dollars and still have no Morrison Boomer music to show for it, but I am not daunted.

Update on Part 3
Cara and Justin are honeymooning in Hawaii.  That is all I am going to say about that.

Thank you all for coming.  I hope you enjoyed our whirlwind visit to Seattle as much as I did.

Our Whirlwind Visit to Seattle, Part 3

 Hubband and I were in Seattle for his sister's wedding, scheduled for seven on Saturday evening.  By the time I had cooled down (see Part 2), hosed off, and squeezed into my wadded up dress (see Part 1), my headache was gone.  Yeah!

The ceremony itself was brief, but nice.  The bride had a lovely smile.  The groom got a little misty eyed.  So did the bride's brother, my husband.  It was very sweet.

The ceremony was followed by drinks and hoer devours on the patio of the penthouse.  We had a view of the city as the sun set.

There were not many guests, but there were many kinds of guests.  Washington cousins, and travel-the-world cousins, and cousins who had just flown in from China.  Friends of the bride.  Friends of the groom.  Friends of the family of the bride.  The family of the groom.  There was even one fellow with a handle bar mustache.

After dark there was a very elegant dinner of rib-eye steak and salmon, followed by gluten free carrot cake and dancing.

We left early (eleven) to go back to our room and pack.  We waited up until two o'clock for the mother and father of the bride to return before we gave up and went to sleep.

Twelve hours later, we were welcomed home by three happy children, and one, even happier, Nana.

(I would like the thank the Bride, and the Groom, and their friends for letting me [not that I asked] poach all of these pictures from their various facebook pages, as I did not have any room left in my carry-on bag [see Part 1] for my camera.)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Our Whirlwind Visit to Seattle, Part 2

My grandfather was born in Seattle in 1910.  That is a long time ago, by Seattle standards.  My father was born in Seattle in 1944.  I was born, not too far away, in Ft. Lewis in 1969 (though I moved away shortly after).  That is quite a legacy, again, by Seattle standards, a city which was not incorporated until 1869.

Sorrento Hotel, 1912
I remembered this when I saw the Sorrento Hotel.  The oldest luxury hotel in Seattle, built in 1909.  (Which, to me at least, begged the question:  What is the oldest non-luxury hotel like?)  Our accommodations were the fold out sofa in the sitting area of my in-laws suite, lest you think we are made of money.  But it is still a fun place to stay if you ever get the chance.

Sorrento Hotel, 2010
I woke up on Saturday morning with a migraine.  And, I was hot.  The high is Seattle that day was 97 blistering (by Seattle standards) degrees.  But I ventured out anyway, insisting that, at the very least, Hubband take me down to Pike Place Market.

Pike's Place is a fun, quirky carnival of humanity and tourist.  Fresh fish, produce, used books, Afgan clothing.  On a Saturday in August, it was crowded, and hot, and man did my head hurt.  I was really not enjoying myself at all, but I was trying to pretend the opposite.  Until, I came out into a stairwell, and heard music playing.  It was live music by two buskers billed as Morrison Boomer.  Though, I was to find out later that they are, neither of them, named Morrison or Boomer.

I stood on the landing of the stairs listening.  It was shady there, and a sea breeze was finally coming up.  I was cool, and strangely happy.  And, best of all, my head had stopped hurting a bit.  I thought their music was amazing.  Two guys, two guitars, tight harmony, the acoustics of a stairwell.

I waited for them to finish their set and went down to drop five dollars on one of their CD's.  I asked one of the fellows which CD contained the song I liked.  "Oh, you mean the girly song?" he asked.  Girly?  I wouldn't call it "girly."  Are you mocking my taste in music?  Your music?  It turns out the song I liked is called Lullaby  (though since then I have found songs of theirs which I like better) and it is on their second album, Deuce.  I dropped five dollars into the box and took my CD.

"Thank you, Ma'am," said the polite young man with the guitar.

Ma'am?  I had just been ma'am-ed.  I have been ma'am-ed before, of course.  I was ma'am-ed at fourteen by the clerk at a department store, who was trained to ma'am everybody.  I get ma'am-ed weekly by the young kid who bags my groceries.  But this was different.  They are two young artists, and I appreciated their art.  I even paid for it.  I thought we had something special.  But, alas, no.  I was just a middle aged housewife with five buck to spare.

I was out in the sun again, at this point.  I could really feel the heat, and my age, and  my head.  I whimpered for Hubband to take me home.

(Please click on any of the Morrison Boomer links.  And if you have six minutes, check out another of their songs, called Sunburnt Tongue.  Amazing, amazing.  Though, I must say, if you get the chance to hang out in the stairwell at Pike's Place, they sound even better there.  Tell them a middle-aged housewife sent you.  I wish I were a middle aged housewife married to a record company executive.)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Our Whirlwind Visit to Seattle, Part 1

Hubband and I flew to Seattle last weekend for his sister's wedding.  The wedding was on Saturday, but the whole family made a big production out of wanting us at the groom's dinner on Friday night.  At least, this is what I was led to believe by Hubband, who was there for the production.  It could just be his dad said, "You should come to the grooms dinner."  No one said anything to me on the matter.  But I do like dinner.  And it meant I would have all day Saturday to be a tourist.

So, we caught a late afternoon flight, landing in Seattle at six.  Dinner was at seven.  This meant that we had to fly dressed for dinner, and not check any baggage.  No checked baggage meant that I had to pack everything required for a formal wedding, including my dress, into a 24" x 17" x 10" canvas box on wheels.

Once we landed, we dashed off the plane, but our gate was not in the main terminal.  A short, crowded, and nausea inducing train ride later, we were spit out, one floor above baggage claim.  Where we did not need to be, as we had no baggage to claim.

"My parents always wait at the Starbucks," Hubband said.

The Starbucks?  There are seven Starbucks at Seatac Airport.  But, he knew which one.  Great!

It occurred to me to ask, "If we are in such a big hurry, why don't they just pick us up on the curb out front?"  It occurred to me, but I did not ask.  They are not my family of origin.  Their ways are not my ways.  Their ways sometimes make no sense to me, but that does not mean they make no sense to Hubband.  I had to trust him.

We found the right Starbucks.  The traditional familial gathering place.  His parents were not there.  We called them.  They did not answer.  We waited.

I took the opportunity to use the bathroom.  While in there, I got a call from my mother-in-law, who was calling on behalf of my father-in-law, who was waiting at baggage claim (not Starbucks), even though he knew we had no baggage to claim.  I hustled about, as fast as I could, drying my hands so hastily that I was still carrying a damp paper towel when I returned to the Starbucks to tell Hubband we needed to go down a floor.  And we had to hurry.

Down stairs we went.  Hubband told his father that he should be waiting upstairs at the Starbucks.  His father told him that he should have stayed on the train until the last stop.  If he had, we all would have met face to face as soon as the doors opened.  I said nothing, but I was thinking, Who cares.  Let's get moving!

We got to the parking garage.  Paid at the kiosk.  Walked to the car.  All precious time.  Why didn't they pick us up at the curb, again?

It was only once we were in the car that I realized, my mother-in-law and Grandmother (the family matriarch) were not with us.  "Are they already at the restaurant?" I ask.

No.  They were at the hotel.  Waiting for us to pick them up.  Whaaa?  I thought we were in a hurry!  I have a dress wadded up in a ball for this?  (Well, this and the twenty bucks Alaska Airlines wanted to charge me to check a bag.)

Whatever.  Crazy not-my-family-of-origin.  I had done all I could to get where they wanted me, when they wanted me, appropriately dressed for dinner.  I wasn't going to worry about it anymore.  I decided to call my mother.  She had all three kids.  It had been four hours.  Definitely time to check in.

Uh.  Where's my phone?  Can some one call my phone?  Nothing.  My phone was not in my purse nor on my person nor in my un-checked baggage.  Think, think, think, Tracey.  Where was the last place you had it?  In the bathroom at Seatac.  My mother-in-law's call rang through while I was, well, indisposed.  So, she left a message.  I checked my voice mail while I washed my hands.  It was not easy.  I was worried I would drop the phone in the sink.  I dried my hands so hastily that I was still carrying a damp paper towel when I returned to the Starbucks to...

Nooooooo!!!!!  I kept the damp paper towel and threw away the phone!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Little of This, a Little of That

It has been a crazy, busy summer.  I thought I would just post a quick update.

I wrote a few months ago about being at the dark end of a tunnel.  Well, those days are behind us.  I won't be having a baby in January, but Hubband won't be losing his job either.  At least not for the next six months.  That also means that we won't be moving.  For now.  Hubband's big test is behind him.  He is back at work, and home at night.  He gets his results in October.

 My tunnel is looking more like this one.

In fact, we are all fairly healthy and happy.  I went to the coast two weekends ago, with my mother.  I have pictures.  (They are the ones included here.)  Hubband and I went to Seattle last weekend for his sister's wedding.  I don't have pictures.  And Hubband and Samuel have a daddy/son weekend planned amongst the giant redwoods.  There probably won't be proper pictures of that either.  Jonah's 'off track' at his year round school.  Cate is a girl who can't say 'yes,' but has mastered 'no.'  We scrapped a family trip to "the Mouse Castle" (our grown-up code word for Disneyland) because we have decided to keep Samuel in a private pre-school, and we are going to need all of our money for that.

Hopefully, I will be back here in a few days with something clever to say.  Seattle was pretty interesting.  I was a black hole for cell phones, I met a guy with a handle bar mustache, and I heard an awesome band playing in a stairwell.  I might have enough there to work with.  Until then, enjoy the pictures of the Mendocino (California) Coast.

The Methodist (?) church in Elk, California

The sky along California Hwy 1

The Lighthouse at Pt. Arena

Lunch. At this place.

And flowers in the garden.

Hydrangeas grow so well in that climate.

The whole garden was amazing.

Unfortunately, Blogger keeps turning this photo on its side.  You'll just have to trust me.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The World is Run By Stupid People

Why can't I get a decent thermometer?  Why, when my five year old wakes up just after midnight, making a whine like an air raid siren, and stands in my kitchen, shivering, naked, and hot to the touch, can I not find a thermometer? 

Wait.  Let me correct that.  I can find about five thermometers.  About $527 worth of thermometers.  All worthless thermometers.

The top-of-the-line, laser, ear thermometer (which cost me more than my first car) reads 86 degrees.  Apparently my son, whose skin is on fire, actually passed away about twenty minutes ago and is rapidly cooling off.  No, that can't be it.  He is wiggling and shrieking in my kitchen.  I try again.  This time, 107.  What!  I try it on myself.  104.  Oh, for the love of Farenheit!  Piece of garbage.

I have several others.  All digital.  All with dead batteries.  No problem.  I am the mother of toddlers with obnoxious toys, all requiring batteries.  I have batteries.  Double A, Triple A, C, D, nine volt.  You name it.  But first I must find my isty bitsy teeny weeny screw driver, the kind you use to repair glasses.  (Which I have always found ironic, because if your glasses are broken how are you ever going to find the screwdriver, let alone use it, but I digress.)  Find screw driver, un-drive screws, find dead battery.  Flat, round, watch battery.  Are you freaking kidding me?

Meanwhile, I gave Jonah a cup of water.  It couldn't hurt.  It would probably help.  And he couldn't let out the house-wakening whine while drinking.  Unfortunately, he was shaking so badly that he slopped some of the cold water on his hot chest.  (I swear I heard sizzling and saw steam rise.)  He dropped the cup with a loud clatter and a splash, jumped backward, pointed a long bony five-year-old index finger at me and yelled, "That's your fault."

I had one thermometer left.  It is our go to thermometer.  Batteries worked.  It is known to give an accurate reading.  It was designed to be (and has been) used rectally.  Jonah was already hysterical.  And shaking uncontrollably.  There was no way.

So, I had to assume that my son's fever was only high.  Not dangerously high.  Plenty of room temperature fluids, rest, watch closely, pray he makes it until morning, etc.  I know the drill.

But why, oh why, oh why can I not get a decent thermometer?

Remember when you could get a mercury thermometer for 59 cents and you could use it anytime, year after year?  I know, mercury is bad.  You don't want it in your ground water or your oceans or your children.  But do you know how much mercury is in a thermometer?  No, of course you don't, because you have never broken one.  And if you have, it was only once, in your whole life.  And you were careful cleaning it up.

I had the same mercury thermometer my WHOLE life, until someone, somehow convinced me it was evil (when I was about thirty) so I chucked it.  Right into the trash can, on it's way to the land fill.

Don't get me wrong, I am not "up with mercury."  I just think it is exceedingly stupid that we refuse to use it responsibly for thermometers, and have replaced mercury thermometers with battery operated ones which don't actually work, so they get chucked and more hunks of battery operated plastic ones are manufactured to replace them.

Meanwhile, a bloated former Vice-President is heralded as some kind of patron saint of the planet, and wins a Nobel Prize, for telling people that the way to save the world from certain doom is to switch to compact florescent light bulbs.  You know about compact florescent light bulbs don't you?  They are glass tubes full of mercury.  That sounds sort of like a mercury thermometer, except more often replaced and more likely broken.  Oh, and you can't take your temperature with it even it you are willing to stick it up your bum.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Okay, so I am a little ahead of myself.  But it has been unseasonably cool around here lately (80 degrees is cool), making me think of Fall.  Football, pumpkins, costumes...  Oh, how I love Fall.  And, as with Christmas, I think I enjoy the anticipation as much, if not more, than the event itself.  It is never too soon to anticipate.  So...I bring you these.

 Oh, do I know a little boy who would look good in this, even as he was knocking things off the counter, and younger children in the head, with those wings.

Even though the little boy himself would probably prefer this.

Yes, give a boy a sword and then pump him full of sugar.  Let the Crusades begin.

I know a little girl who might like to wear this.

 But not my little girl.  She has to choose between...

The Tulip Faerie, or...

The Lilly Faerie. 

I am going to dress her like this now, while I can, because I am afraid, that as she gets older, she might prefer Supreme Court Justice Faerie or Secre-faerie of State.  It is going to be tough, but Hubband and I are going to stand firm.  No princesses or liberals.

And, if I had a wee one this year, I might choose one of these.

All of these costumes, and dozens more, equally adorable can be found at One Step Ahead.  And they are not even paying me.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

How to be a Perfect Parent in One Easy Step

 Step One:  Don't have any children.

Just kidding.

Step One:  Be completely selfless.

I'm not kidding.  Well, maybe a little bit about the one step being easy.

This does not mean that you should indulge your child's every whim, or wait on them like a man-servant.  What it means is that you must put what your child needs before what you want.  Just make sure you have a clear definition of need vs. want.

I've been trying to do this, and I admit, it is not easy.  It is, in fact, impossible, because I am not (and neither are you) completely selfless.  But it has given me a new way of looking at things, that has really made my life easier.

As I have written before, I am not raising children.  I am raising adults.  They just happen to be children right now.  So, I try to picture the adults I want my children to be.

I want my children, now and in the future,  to be responsible, and respectful.  (I also want them to love Jesus, but that is a different post.)  So, every time they are disrespectful or irresponsible I should correct them or direct them in the way they should go, even if it means I must get off the phone/the computer/my ever widening butt to do it.

Oh, and sometimes, they just want to spend time with me.  I am, after all, one of the people they love most in the world.  Kinda sweet, huh?  While this is something that they want, I think, that at their age, it also qualifies as a need.  Kinda convicting, too.

Some scenarios for you:

You sit down to dinner, finally, and you want to eat while the food is still hot.  Your five year old, who is already half way through his meal, says, "I need some water."  Unless he is so dehydrated his tongue is beginning to swell, he can wait twenty minutes for a glass of water.  What he really needs is not water, but patience and manners.  You get to eat.

Your baby is poopy.  You need to pee.  Your need trumps hers.  You have to take care of yourself or you will be worthless, right?  In fact, I am going to go out on a limb and say that your needs, true needs, especially the pressing ones like lunch and potty breaks, trump hers every time, unless hers are life-threatening.  Oh, except sleep.  You don't get to sleep.  Sorry.

You are sitting on the couch playing video games.  (This would be a Dad scenario.)  Your five year old is watching intently.  Even helping with commentary.  "Kill him, Daddy.  Kill him!  Stab him with your Sword of Mordechai!  Oh, look at the blood squirt out!  Take that you zombie son of bitch!"  Is this really acceptable behavior from your five year old?  Because he now thinks so.  He needs to not be exposed to this stuff.  You need to turn it off.
You are on the computer, checking your facebook, then your blog, then you e-mail, then going back to facebook to see if anything new has happened.  (This would be a Mom scenario.)  Your three year old is pulling all of the tissue out of the box.  You ignore him, because he is not really hurting anything.  Then he helps himself to a box of dry cereal.  He is eating it with his very dirty hands, right out of the box, and getting most of  it on the floor.  You ignore him, because, again, he is not really hurting anything.  You don't eat that kind of cereal and you're going to have to sweep the floor anyway.  Is this really acceptable behavior from your three year old?  Because he now thinks so.  He needs to be corrected.  You  need to get up.

Now, I know moms need some alone time or some girl time.  I get that.  And, dads apparently need to play video games or use tools.  I don't get that, but I shall respect it, and move on.  May I suggest that we schedule these things?  It won't be huge swaths of time to spend on yourself like it used to be, like you want it to be, but it should be enough to meet your needs.  Mom can take the kids to the park on Saturday morning so Dad can eviscerate vampires, or whatever he does, and Dad can keep them on Saturday afternoon so Mom can have lunch with her sister.  And hey, Dads.  If you think the solution to this is a separate room where you can play Blood Carnival XII, without having to worry about the impact on the kids, you are missing the point.

Having said all that, I would like to let my regular readers know that I will be leaving town tomorrow and I will be gone all weekend, without children, in a house by the sea, where I plan to do nothing.  Nothing.  No.  Thing.  All thanks to my wonderful husband.  For other disclaimers, see below. 

DISCLAIMER:  The "How to be a Perfect Parent in One Easy Step" program comes with no warranties, express or implied.  The author admits she only has three children, all ill-mannered, the oldest only five.  The author further admits that, while she firmly believes in her program, and is following it herself, to the best of her ability, she may be full of carp (that troublesome fish).  The author further admits that, in the event she has no idea what she is talking about, she has established three funds to care for her children in the future: One for therapy, one for rehab, and one for bail.  She suggest that all parents taking her advice, do the same.