What’s in a Name?

I don’t believe I’ve told this story yet, and since I’m sick to death of my own voice talking about remote learning (it sucks), the few days in school (she loves it), and the general quarantine fatigue, it feels like the right time.

If any of you know me and Eric, you know that we never agreed on baby names. He’d throw out a couple and I’d say they sucked, I’d throw out a couple and he’d tell me I make terrible choices. We settled on Charlotte early on in that pregnancy, which was literally the only name we both liked. When I got pregnant the second time, there was not a single name, male or female, that we both liked. I liked old fashioned names and he liked trendy. We would argue over everything. He said we should just name the baby Charlotte 2.

Before I found out I was pregnant, like a week or two before, I remember talking to Charlotte about throwing out this gross toy bottle when she told me I had to save it for the baby in my belly. Then, when I found out I was pregnant and told her, she said she knew it was a girl. If any of you have seen the video of our gender reveal, you’ll see her screaming “SORRY DAD” because she was so happy to have a little sister on the way. Once we knew it was a girl, we really ramped up the name game and we were at a stalemate. But then my best friend Lisa sent Charlotte a big sister book and a big sister doll to celebrate, and when Charlotte was playing with the doll she looked up at me and said “this baby is Mackenzie, like my baby sister is Mackenzie.” She said it so matter of fact, like she had always known and the decision was made. Mackenzie was never on our radar. We never said it out loud, we never thought it, we literally never considered it. But when Charlotte said it, that was it. She named her sister.

Eric chose her middle name, but we spelled it Mae because Mackenzie’s godmother is LisaRae (the same Lisa who bought the doll that inspired the name to begin with), so it was a nod to her. May is also the month Eric and I met, so Mackenzie’s name is special all around. I also like the way Charlotte Shea and Mackenzie Mae flows, because I’m a sucker for rhyming and alliteration.

And that’s that. The story of Mackenzie Mae, our little chubba love.

Remote Learning

Hi there! It’s been a while. Probably because we have “gone back to school” which is the funniest thing I’ve typed in a while. Back to school on a computer. We were supposed to go back on September 10, then September 21, and now Charlotte won’t see the inside of a classroom until next Thursday, and I’m still not holding out hope. In the month of October she’ll go to the classroom a whopping 6 times! All the other days will be done on a DOE issued laptop at my dining room table as I try to keep her paying attention while simultaneously taking caring of my 3 month old daughter, who never seems to nap during a single class thus far. She has an in person teacher and a remote teacher, two different google classrooms, an email address, an app to check and Zoom. But because she is FIVE YEARS OLD this is my responsibility. Did I mention my maternity leave is coming to an end and I’ll be working from home full time again? Is there a word that is more stressed than stress? Because that’s what I am! I am so stressed that I’ve had three clogged milk ducts in less than a month and am currently on a round of antibiotics for an infection. YAY REMOTE LEARNING!

OK, enough complaining. Let’s just get down to the nitty gritty of what remote learning is all about with kindergarten kids. On day 1, one kid unmuted himself to ask when it was going to be over. The kids all seem to know how to unmute themselves and do so at any given moment, so in addition to the teacher trying to keep their attention we also get to hear parents screaming, phone calls, babies crying (that’s me!) and children complaining. Charlotte unmuted herself to say she cannot wait until the coronavirus is back so everyone stays home again. I then furiously mute her and scream like a lunatic and then unmute her again when it’s time to present like nothing ever happened. Today she told her teacher “mommy is sad because Spanky is dead.” There is no order to these lessons and children are just screaming out answers to questions, mine included. This morning a little girl was crying because Charlotte wasn’t raising her hand and just yelling shit out. But Mackenzie was nursing so I couldn’t be near the computer because for some reason this DOE laptop has a very wide angle camera and I learned this the hard way last week while nursing. Bet nobody was expecting that educational experience.

There is SO much bribing going on in this household as I’m sure there is in others. I scream whisper that if she just participates she can have a brownie or an ice cream cone or 750 gold stickers to put on her wall. For the most part she is doing the best she can and when she participates I am way off to the side like some energizer bunny hype woman telling her what a good job she is doing. School is hard enough for a shy kid like Charlotte, so internet school is another ball game. If she doesn’t like something she makes sure her face is showing her displeasure. When the good morning song comes on she covers her ears and makes a face like she’s going to throw up. IT’S GREAT. WE’RE ALL DOING FINE.

I don’t blame the teachers for these lessons. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to plan something to teach on a computer to 5 year old kids that can’t sit still to save their life. It’s a miracle none of them just start screaming “PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PRESS THE MUTE BUTTON YOU DEMONS” because that’s what I want to scream every morning. They are trying their best like we are trying our best but if this is how it’s going to be for this school year I don’t think anyone is going to learn anything, except Charlotte’s class will probably learn how to properly latch a baby while trying to mute their complaining children.

Send wine.

Life Lately

I feel like there is so much happening with Mackenzie and yet I just can’t find the time to write about it. I had updates every month for Charlotte and was able to post daily if I wanted. I’ll sit down to type and then remember 500 other things I need to do for the few moments I’m not needed by one of the kids. These moments are few and far between, especially with Charlotte. Sometimes I thinks she thinks I am her own personal slave.

So lately 2020 has continued to be really 2020ish. I’m certain we’ll be able to use this analogy for years to come. Anything bad happens to you? How 2020! Anyway, we had to put my Spanky boy to sleep last week. If you’re not a dog person I don’t think you can understand how traumatic it is. I don’t even want to talk about it because I think it was the absolute worst day of my life even though I know we made the right choice. Anyone who met Spanky knew he was special, and I mean that in more ways than one. My little guy man was with me from my first heartbreak to my first baby. He was everything. I think – no, I know – I will miss him every day of my life. When I told Charlotte that Spanky was going to the rainbow bridge she said, “oh, like in Mario Run?” Leave it to kids to make you laugh in the worst of times. My kids have actually been the biggest distraction. They’re so damn needy, how could they not be?

So, let’s chat about my little Kenzie girl. Man, what a delight this child is. She’s sleeping 6-7 hours a night and then goes back for another 3 after she eats. She is so happy when she wakes up. Always smiling and cooing and just generally glad to see someone. She is so nice and chubby! At her 2 month checkup she weighed in at 12 pounds 6 ounces. I don’t know about you but there isn’t anything I love more than a chubby baby. She does have quite a temper though. If you’re doing something she doesn’t enjoy, like holding her while sitting down, she’ll scream in your face until you do what she wants. She looks like a mandrake from Harry Potter when she gets mad. She is somehow getting a tooth. I thought I was crazy and didn’t say anything, but then my mom came over and saw it too. I’m hoping it takes a while to break through the gum because I’m not ready for a 3 month old with a tooth! Mackenzie is really the only good thing to come out of this year so far. I thoroughly enjoy her and thank God she is such a good baby.

And then there is the other one. Oh Charlotte. She is really such a firecracker. She has an attitude that frightens me for when she is a teenager. She gets punished multiple times a day. But she is so. damn. funny. The other day she threw crumbs on the floor and I remarked to Eric that I was going to kill her, and without missing a beat she shouts, “YOU CAN’T KILL ME, I’M A CHILD!” She is getting her 6 year molars (which is something I was NOT aware of, and also, why do my children get teeth so early?) and she had an absolute melt down saying she didn’t like how it felt on her tongue. She then lay on the floor hysterical crying, “BUT I DON’T WANT MARBLES! I DON’T WANT MARBLES IN MY MOUTH!”

We also like to play the letter game every day – that’s where you pick a letter and then continue naming words that start with that letter – it’s great for her vocabulary and she loves it. It also is the perfect showcase for the other words she knows. We were doing the letter P as we went on a walk yesterday, and about an hour later when we were in the yard playing she looked up and said, “hey mom! We forgot something that starts with P! Pain in the ass starts with P! You know, like you always call me PAIN IN THE ASS!” WOOPS.

Anyway, as terrible as this year has been, and as awful I am feeling over my little Spanky boy, these kids bring me joy. Not all day, every day, but there are always times during every day where I feel so damn lucky that this is my life and these are my kids. Stay tuned for how quickly my tune changes when “school” starts in two weeks…

Farewell Friend

I don’t know if any of you remember Tom. Tom is Charlotte’s pink and white puppy stuffed animal. Well, he was pink and white. He’s more faded pink and grey now, because Charlotte loved him fiercely and made sure he went everywhere with her. Tom had to sleep with her (and me) every night. Tom got lost in Disney World and was found by a Good Samaritan. Tom had to stay in her backpack at school so he wouldn’t be alone at home. One time she forgot him at school and cried and cried so the next day we had “operation rescue Tom” and all was right with the world. Tom was Charlotte’s BFF.

And now Tom is just a stuffed animal in her room. It started slowly and I tried to pretend it wasn’t happening because even I had an attachment to Tom at this point. But Tom doesn’t sleep with her anymore. Tom doesn’t go anywhere with us. We don’t constantly ask “where’s Tom?” The other day Charlotte came downstairs and told me she found Tom under her bed. She put him on her Barbie dream house and said he’d stay there from now on. She hasn’t cast him aside forever, but the relationship is donezo.

And all I keep thinking about is friggin’ Toy Story. Because I think Tom is alive and probably weeps every day because he isn’t Charlotte’s favorite anymore. When he was under her bed he was probably afraid and upset and the other toys were trying to tell him it’s OK like the toys told Woody and there was probably a mean toy that made fun of Tom for being cast aside so all I want to do is hug him and thank him for being Char’s buddy for 3 years but she’s moved on now.

And that’s how I know the pandemic has fried my brain. Because I’m upset over a stuffed dog that I kinda sorta believe is alive. Medicate me, please.

Back to School?

Today is August 7 which is the day the NYC school surveys were due back and supposedly the day Governor Cuomo will say if the schools will be opening at all. We all know that no matter what decision is reached, school as we know it is NOT happening in September. There will be no 5 days a week in person instruction where we can finally get rid of (I mean, send for educational instruction) these children. I don’t even know what the plan is at this point. Is it something like one or two days a week with rotating days and the rest remote? How will we know what days our kids go in? Will it be like The Price is Right where we all get to spin a massive wheel and scream if we get the days we want? YOU GET A TUESDAY! YOU GET A FRIDAY! No questions have been answered and every day there are just more questions. It is an actual shit show.

You want to know who isn’t bothered by any of this? If you guessed Charlotte, you are correct. Charlotte does not give one single you know what. I mean, how could she? She was only in her first year of every day school when the rona came to play. And because I was heavily pregnant for the majority of quarantine and now two months into new babyhood, let’s just say Charlotte’s life has been better at home than it was at school. The American Academy of Pediatrics would probably have a brain aneurysm and drop dead on my door step if they took a look at our screen time analytics. But my level of caring has dropped lower than I can even express. So the thought of setting her up for remote learning and one day a week in the classroom is daunting to say the least. For one, I’m going to have to get her to wear underwear again. I’m also going to have to leave her there which is going to be even more traumatic than it would have been because she has barely left my side for the better part of 6 months. And then I’ll just be at home worrying if she is keeping her mask on, touching things, crying, bored, confused, etc., etc., etc. So why not just opt for all remote learning, you ask? Because whatever was left of my patience has set sail and the thought of me having to teach her five days a week when there is the option to send her in is too good to pass up. The good thing is if she goes in I know she won’t bring any germs home on her clothes because she strips naked and puts her nightgown on the second she gets back in the house, which is good. And since the school plan looks similar to prison life I don’t see her interacting with other kids all that much. God this is depressing.

I really feel bad for everyone. For the parents having to make these insane decisions while worrying about how they’re going to be able to work like this. For teachers and administrative staff that have to figure out WTF is going on. I downloaded Hooked on Phonics for Charlotte, so maybe that will be her teacher. I’m tapping out, waving the white flag, raising the wine glass. I am done.

Convos with Char

Charlotte has been on a roll with the commentary lately. Here are just a few of her latest quips:

When I joked around and said she could stay with Mackenzie while Eric and I went swimming: “absolutely not! I have no milk in my nummies! How the heck am I supposed to deal with the crying with no milk in my nummies!”

While playing tic tac toe: “is there anyway to make this more interesting?”

When I told her my stomach was bothering me: “well maybe you need to stop with what you’re eating. You’re not supposed to eat cheese.” (I haven’t eaten cheese in a month but OK.)

When Mackenzie was fussy: “this baby is a terrible baby today and she really needs to get it together.” (This is said once a day.)

When she lost her stylus and I said I wouldn’t buy her a new one because she doesn’t take care of her things: “that’s fine. I’ll just ask nonna. She never says no.”

When she was watching an episode of Vampirina and one of the songs made her emotional: “the sadness is in me! I can’t take this song and the sadness is in me!”

“If I had a genie I’d wish for a pretty hot pink dress, a beautiful violet tiara and for pretty red shoes.” I asked her why she wouldn’t ask for coronavirus to be over and she said “well it isn’t like the wishes are coming true for real so I’m not wasting it on that.”

I’m currently typing this trapped under Mackenzie who refuses to be put down this morning without screaming like a banshee. I told her she has a half an hour to get herself together because as a second time mom I have less patience and also don’t care if she screams her head off while I make myself breakfast. Some may say that is selfish but if I don’t eat, she doesn’t eat, so there.

Anyway, how are things with everyone? What a silly question that is, everything is the same except also wayyyy worse in some ways? We can go out to eat outside and shop in some stores but the rona is running rampant in like 30 states or something so now we have the never ending fear that someone will start a new major outbreak here by coming in and ruining everything. Also there is no way school is opening in September so now I can figure out how to become a kindergarten teacher whilst simultaneously taking care of a baby. YAY 2020!

Mackenzie is still an absolute delight. She has her moments but for the most part she is just my butter ball of love. She is smiling now and that has started a competition with Charlotte on who can make her smile the most. Charlotte is still pretty taken with her but we have the same fight every day which is us telling her she can’t squeeze her face or her head or her stomach or her ears or any part of her body and she NEVER LISTENS. She told me she can’t help herself because Mackenzie is too cute, and while I understand that I really need her to cut it out. My biggest challenge is really not losing my patience every day with Charlotte and let’s be honest, I’ve lost my patience every day since quarantine started back in March so why stop now? It’s difficult because during the week it’s just the three of us and Charlotte still expects me to be able to play with her and feed her whenever she asks me to so when she has to wait because I’m tending to Mackenzie she acts out like a jerk. I just keep telling myself this too shall pass, and then I think about September and I get a migraine from stress.

I try to ignore all of the impending doom that seems to be heading our way and just focus on the good things, like the fact that I have an excellent freezer stash of pumped milk, so when the state shuts down again in September I can drink a handle of vodka and give the baby a bottle without a problem. Everything is fine.

Tummy Trouble

As I mentioned earlier, I stopped eating dairy because I noticed Mackenzie had similar symptoms to Charlotte when it comes to milk intolerance. She’s no where near as bad as Charlotte was, thank the Lord, but it was enough to make me stop. I do miss pizza. And grilled cheese. Oh well.

Anyway, earlier before (we’ve been up for a while) I told Charlotte the baby was fussy because her belly is bothering her a little bit still. Charlotte looked at me and said “well maybe you should think about eating healthier.” I told her I was eating healthier and reminded her of the giant salad I had for lunch yesterday. She responded with “well it isn’t working. Mackenzie doesn’t like what you eat and now we have to listen to this crying.”

I love the attitude. Not.

Hello there!

It has been quite some time since I last posted. I think we were in week 9 of quarantine and I’m not sure what week this is or if we are even technically in quarantine anymore but it has to be like week 20? Who knows. Anyway, I had another baby! Family of four up in here! Pandemic pregnancy is over!

Mackenzie Mae was born on June 9 at 12:43 AM. She’s officially 3 weeks old today and is a dream baby. I am hesitant to even write that down because I am still waiting for her to betray me, but she is the complete opposite of her sister. And by that I mean she sleeps and rests and doesn’t scream in my face 24 hours a day. PLEASE DO NOT LET HER BETRAY ME!

Giving birth was definitely a different experience this time around. I mean the general experience was the same in that it felt like my bottom was going to explode for 4 hours and pushing a kid out really isn’t any fun, but getting to the hospital and all the covid protocols were definitely weird. I feel for all the moms who gave birth at the height of this virus because it was probably 150 times more stressful. The covid test is also a damn nightmare and caused me to bleed PROFUSELY, so much so that I needed a new mask because I bled into mine. And yes, we had to wear masks. If I can wear a mask while having contractions 2 minutes apart you can wear a mask to Costco. That’s all I’m going to say about that. Anyway, she came out fine, I experienced my 11 days of baby blues and here we are. Still basically in quarantine, except with less sleep and a new baby.

Charlotte has been wonderful. She has basically kept to her own routine and occasionally asks to hold or play with Mackenzie. She hasn’t really thrown any jealous fits and is generally helpful when I ask her for things. I do allow her a lot more iPad time than before but that’s because there is only one of me and I’m usually nursing every two hours so WHAT ELSE CAN I DO. She’s watching Elena of Avalor so she’s learning Spanish. Education.

I’m a lot more calm this time around and I don’t know if that’s because macaroni girl is more chill or I’m more experienced. Either way I’m enjoying her and not stressing about every little thing. I’ve given up dairy again like I did with Charlotte because I think it bothers her stomach but I’m not even that upset this time around. Also, not being able to go anywhere or really see anyone kind of let’s us just hang all day every day without any expectations which has been good. I do want to go out now though and I do want to see people. Enough with the Rona. ENOUGH.

Also I’m almost done with It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – I forgot how much I love maternity binge watching. I’m going to watch all of the Marvel movies in order after this. Screen time for the entire household!!!

La Cucaracha

Are you all sick of reading about COVID and corona and whatever else we’ve named it?  Are you tired of the lockdowns and the never ending misery of self isolation?  Well do I have a new nightmare for you!!!!  No, I’m not talking about the newly discovered murder hornets, but I bring you the tale of the tree and the roaches.  BUCKLE UP MY FRIENDS.

If you are someone who is afraid of bugs, then this story may not be for you.  But I promise it will take your mind off the pandemic we’re currently facing.  Saturday was the first time I didn’t think about corona since this mess began in March.  Silver lining!

So, my neighbor right next door to me, who is basically family at this point, was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad tree taken down from her yard this past Saturday.  I cheered this decision, because I really hate nature and trees, and this particular tree was a problem because it had ivy growing on it.  Ivy usually isn’t bad, but we shared a fence that had ivy growing on it when we moved in, and we mutually agreed to rip that shit out because bugs like ivy, and bugs got in our homes.  This is why I hate nature.  Anyway, the tree guys came on Saturday morning and Eric made the decision to stay awake after work because nobody sleeps when a tree is being taken down outside your bedroom.  No biggie – he’s been up for long periods of time before.  THANK GOD HE DIDN’T GO TO SLEEP.

A few hours into the tree demolition, we hear screaming.  And then my phone starts blowing up with text messages from my neighbor.  The ivy that was on our fence a year ago wasn’t the problem my friends.  Oh no, the tree was the problem.  She explained to me that the roach motel was discovered inside the tree.  I thought, OK, thank goodness it has been found, it’ll be over forever now.  I tell Eric they found a nest of roaches and Eric goes to the window to look outside and then he begins screaming.  Friends, we were under attack.

UNDER. ATTACK.

There are truly no words for what the next 4 hours of our lives were like.  I want you to picture a horror movie of roaches and then multiply it by 12.  This was the reality my neighbor and I faced.  I want you to now envision what was happening outside our homes.  Eric was outside with a huge spray wand of poison, spraying and dancing like a tap dancer to murder the enemy infiltrating our home.  I was running up and down the driveway in my sleep shorts and a tank top with no bra, HEAVILY pregnant, holding two cans of Raid like they were guns in my holster, screaming at every bug.  Charlotte was screaming from the closed screen door, “GET THE COCKAROACHES!!’ and my poor neighbor was running up and down with various cans of poison hysterical crying and apologizing profusely.  The tree guys helped by getting a leaf blower and proceeding to BLOW ROACHES EVERYWHERE.  And in the midst of all this?  Our other neighbor two doors down was having a first birthday parade for her dog.  So there was a dog AND car parade as we ran around in our roach war.

When I tell you Eric was outside for 4 hours killing roaches, I am not exaggerating.  Our homes looked like roach graveyards.  He must have killed 500 just by his tap dancing.  He swatted them off the sides of our house as they tried to climb the walls.  The exterminator came to take care of the rest, Eric went to bed at 7 PM and my neighbor and I cried together multiple times.  But we didn’t think about corona!!!

So far since that day, the only roaches I’ve seen are dead in my pool.  Now that the tree is gone, hopefully our bug problems are too.  Or the roaches that escaped will never forget they lost this war and come back to fight us again.  I’ve got my raid bitches.  I’m ready.