Bedtime Battles

My girls will not go to sleep.

And I’m about battled out about it.

Regardless of what time I actually bring them to their rooms, regardless of the following of routine, my children stay up chatting, giggling, reading, playing with stuffed animals — and, occasionally, arguing, wrestling, and crying. It turns out that melatonin doesn’t really work unless the kids chill after immediately taking it. Taking some, then playing for another 30 minutes — no effect.

I’ve tried getting them to bed around 8 p.m. (always challenging anyway). The usual time I shoot for is 8:30. I’ve even tried pushing it later to 9 p.m. because I know they aren’t going to sleep anyway.

I really flipped out on them Tuesday night because I was exhausted. I got home from soccer and wanted to clock out of being a mommy. However, there was homework to supervise and baths to give and everyone was hungry for a night time treat. At 9:30, the girls had a giant fight in their room, and I went storming up the stairs and screamed like the proverbial fishwife at them.

Super relaxing environment for going to sleep in.

Last night, I went up after the Penguins game, and they were organizing their nightstand drawers.

I mean, come on. I can’t get them to do that when I ask them to on a random Saturday afternoon. Why pick 10 p.m. at night on a Wednesday?

I don’t have any practical way of separating them at bedtime. We could take books and stuffed animals out of their room, but I’m not sure where we would put them in the meantime.

I am out of ideas, and ready to let them just put themselves to bed. As long as they will stay *quietly* in their room from 9 p.m. on, they can stay up as long as they like. (And as long as they don’t wake Michael or keep me up.) That’s not a real practical solution, but the nightly battle has worn me out. Pretty soon, school will be out, the nanny will be coming every day, and they can sleep the mornings away if they want.

Aside: Michael’s been giving me some grief at bedtime, but once he sees I mean business, he settles in for his book and lullaby, and he drops off like a stone. The activity in the evenings and the bath-book-bed routine works so well on toddlers!

What do you do when you don’t want to fight the battle anymore?

Looking for a Good Time

Part of the block in many parts of my life is that at this time, I am not finding much pleasure in anything. Everything (almost everything) seems like a chore, like something I *need* to do (and probably not for me).

I’ve also got a lack of focus problem, and I wonder if that’s part and parcel of just not liking anything right now.

I am simply overwhelmed at work, so the project that I am on that seemed like a challenge at one time, now has my writing brain freeze-locked. It’s just something I’m trying to slog through. I want it to go away. I also want to care about how good it is, but due to the fact that it’s grown from a challenge to an overwhelming, Herculean task, it’s hard to care anymore.

And when I’m not at work — well, we all know the refrain: kids, dinner, homework, soccer, baths, violin, blah blah blah.

I am never signing the girls up for soccer during the same season again. It’s been a nightmare of logistics, and I think the majority of Saturday games, Flora and Kate have been scheduled to play at the exact same time at two different fields. Because of Dan’s schedule, I either plead with my FIL to drive one of the girls or hire the nanny.

Additionally, taking three children to one child’s practice is exhausting. Thank goodness for picnic tables and playgrounds, but I’m constantly running back and forth and up and down between fields and playgrounds.

I’m afraid this lack of pleasure is leading to weight loss. I don’t actually know because I don’t regularly weigh myself. When you don’t have much of an appetite anyway, and nothing tastes good, it is easy to not eat enough. I am eating regularly, just probably not enough.

And reading, while harmless in and of itself, is leading to other problems. Namely, reading has become an escape hatch for me. I’m doing it to turn off my brain, not even for enjoyment anymore! I have to start picking some better stuff, because lately it’s been more about sticking it out to see what actually happens.

Dan and I got into an argument about something recently, and he challenged me: “Are *you* happy?” he asked. And I had to stop and think about it. It’s not that I’m overwhelmingly unhappy. But truth is I don’t have anything enjoyable in my life. I’m getting by with the little things I do have — Black Keys concert, Kentucky trip, dinner with a friend, Flora’s First Holy Communion party, little things my kids do, sex with my husband — but I don’t know that I would classify myself as happy. Overwhelmed, yes. Definitely. I told someone recently that my life is perfectly mundane, just busy. (Very, Very Busy.)

And I’m not really depressed, either. Maybe I have some dysthymia going on? (Although, I have to say, low self esteem is not one of my problems.)

Then again, maybe this is how it goes. Life, I mean. I don’t really have anything to bitch about.

If nothing else, at least I have something else to bring up in therapy.

Random Thoughts: The Really Random Edition

1. Three therapy sessions in, and I’m starting to forget why I’m in therapy. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. It makes me feel better; it’s just nice to have a space to spill for an hour.

2. Things making me pretty happy lately: Pittsburgh Penguins playoff hockey. My new pants.

3. One thing really making me unhappy lately: that I can’t seem to string together blog posts. It seems that my blogging is in a very unsustainable state at this point. Been here before, to be sure.

4. Mother’s Day for me was so-so. I managed to get a pedicure and do quite a bit of reading. (Current novel: NOS4ATU by Joe Hill.)

5. Joe Hill looks a lot like his father.

6. Need to get my hands on a non-fiction book next. Thinking of looking for Sugar, Salt, Fat at the library. Anyone read it yet?

7. The Ford Flex is a gas hog. This is not surprising.

8. I haven’t been crazy about much music in 2013 so far, but this is what I do like: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs new album Mosquito, and Vampire Weekend’s new single “Diane Young” (album due out today).

That’s all I got today. How about you?

Is It Cool to Hate Mother’s Day Now?

I went shopping Wednesday after work with all three of the kids. We went to Costco, ate pizza, and picked up some things to get us through the week. (I needed snacks for soccer as well.) The kids were… not that great. All I wanted was for them to walk through the store like normal people. They couldn’t do it. It was very frustrating.

As we were leaving, a woman behind me remarked how brave I must be to be shopping alone with three kids. I said, “Brave or crazy.” She laughed. “Well, have a happy Mother’s Day anyway.”

It made me feel kind of good.

I’m not getting the “Oh gawd I HATE Mother’s Day” sentiment that seems to be rampant on the Interwebz these days — even from some fellow moms. It just reads like the hipster thing of the day.

It’s similar to the angst I see (and have felt) surrounding St. Valentine’s Day. “It’s a Hallmark holiday!” (Almost literally true about Mother’s Day. Even the woman who got it made into a national holiday in the United States ended up hating how commercial it was by 1920.)

I can understand ambivalent feelings about Mother’s Day. I have my own complicated feelings about it due to my experience of being a baby loss mother. And I can even understand the scorn heaped on it by women who are not mothers (understand it, but not accept it — I mean if you hate it so much, just let it go. Is it worth it to get so very riled up about “push presents’ — which I agree are icky — or brunches?) I, myself, don’t like the huge gift expectations that the day has engendered in the past few years.

If your relationship with your own mom is complicated, well that’s a whole ‘nother story. I, fortunately, don’t have a complicated relationship with my mother. She is a good mom, and she’s a great Nonna, and although our relationship has never been an entirely smooth road, it’s been important to me and how I see myself as a woman and as a mother.

As always, I told Dan for Mother’s Day, I just don’t want to do anything. (I will end up doing something.) Church with my family, a brunch I don’t have to slave over and/or clean up; ditto dinner. Homemade cards from the kids. I did ask Dan for perfume (and told him what kind). I won’t be devastated if I don’t get it.

(I will be seeing my mom Saturday evening; if my MIL wants to join us for dinner on Sunday, I’m all for it. I’m just not doing the planning. Cards will be distributed. Possibly chocolate chip banana bread, too, but I’m not promising anything. Depends on soccer.)

No matter what kind of mom you are (and there are so many kinds of moms!), I hope someone, somewhere, wishes you a happy Mother’s Day. And I hope that you can accept it for what it is.

Do you hate Mother’s Day? Why? If not, what are the reasons you like it? I like it because I like my mom, my MIL, and my kids. I’m pretty blessed as a woman, and that’s what I try to remember every day, not just on Mother’s Day.

Derby Weekend in Pictures

It was a good time.

My husband and I looked very stylish.

I apologize if you are blinded by my lily-white legs. And even when those shoes started to hurt my feet, I was still happy to be where we were.

It’s fun to try new things.

For the record, we were not there on Derby Day. We went the day before, and saw The Kentucky Oaks, which is the filly-only race. And lots of other races.

We had great seats. That is the starting gate for the Oaks.

The next day, we got off to a late, lazy start. We only made it to one distillery. But it was a good one!

Left to right: Maker’s Mark original, Maker’s Mark 46, Maker’s Mark Mint Julep (only available in Kentucky).

And Dan got to hand dip his very own bottle.

Good friends, good drinks, good times. I may have to write a bucket list someday if only to put this past weekend’s activities on it to cross them out.

When’s the last time you did something for the first time?

A Completely Unsolicited Review of The Black Keys (and Flaming Lips) Concert

Dan often makes fun of me for my taste in music. I am a rock’n’roll chick, down to my soles. I always have been. Dan was raised on earlier forms of rock: doo-wop and the blues.

And I mean The Blues, Delta *and* Chicago: Little Walter, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Sonhouse, Sonny Boy Williamson. More than I can name, that’s for sure. He texted me this at the Black Keys concert last night:

“Tomorrow (that is today, May 1) is Little Walter Jacobs‘ birthday. I’m standing at the Black Keys concert with 4-5 drinks in me wondering what Little Walter or Muddy would think of this music.”

I think the bluesmen that Dan idealizes (and rightfully so) would be pleased with their legacy. Isn’t that a saying somewhere: “The blues had a baby and they named it rock and roll”? Dan rides my ass a little bit about the “bluesy rock” I like these days — think 21st century acts like White Stripes and Raconteurs (so, Jack White), The Black Keys, and Americana bands like Lumineers and Mumford & Sons.

But he’s a good sport, and loves live music (and me!), so he was more than happy to take in the Black Keys’ show. I think the Keys’ Auerbach and Carney do their forebears proud.

(The Flaming Lips… Oh, Wayne Coyne, you are wonderfully weird, and I would’ve loved for you to play a little bit longer in your opening set. The eyeball/vagina video was a little freaky, even for someone like me who was expecting freakiness. My brother summed you up so well in this text: “If this guy worked at a gas station, dressed like that, and holding a baby doll, he’d be institutionalized. He’d be awesome, but institutionalized.” Thank God for art school, rock and roll, and America, baby.)

The Black Keys hit it hard from start to finish, even when the beginning of “Little Black Submarines” slowed the pace briefly. They charged right into “Howlin’ for You” and pretty much didn’t let up until the end of their two-song encore. I saw Patrick Carney lose his glasses at least twice.

As Scott Mervis observes in the Post-Gazette (and as I said to my husband last night): Carney is no Neil Peart. I like Carney’s style of drumming: passionate, flailing limbs, pounding the fuck out of his kit. He’s probably one of the least flashy drummers I’ve ever seen.

Dan Auerbach seems to be just as raw sometimes on guitar. After the first few songs, Dan turned to me and said, “That guy would hate this, but he’s a rock and roll star.” By the end of the encore, Dan revised himself: “Nope, I think he totally knows he’s a rock star, and loves it.” Even in jeans and a tee shirt, Auerbach adds a sly showmanship to his bludgeoning guitar licks and strutting.

Highlights of the show for me: When Auerbach shooed Gus Seyffert and John Wood off the stage to launch into a handful of two-man rockers, starting with the power of “Thickfreakness”. “Your Touch” was a pounding, relentless number that recalled the Keys’ roots as a club band. I liked that even in a sold-out arena, Auerbach and Carney were able to capture that early intimacy when it was just the two of them in a bar somewhere in Ohio.

They brought Seyffert and Wood back for “Little Black Submarines”, a tight rendition of the ballad-into-explosive rocker. And while “Ten Cent Pistol” isn’t one of my favorites, the live version blew it out of the water.

The Black Keys faithfully delivered on their big hits, too: “Gold on the Ceiling”, “Tighten Up”, and show closer (before the encore) “Lonely Boy.” While I would’ve loved a four-song encore, this is a minor quibble with a show that satisfied me — well, right down to my soles. Auerbach’s falsetto on “Everlasting Light” was *flawless*, and they poured everything they had into the grand finale “I Got Mine” — one of my personal favs.

Both bands could’ve played longer as far as I was concerned. As I said in my three-word Twitter review: MORE BLACK KEYS. And as I said to Dan as I reluctantly left the Consol Center: “We’ll be seeing them again.”