40 + drama = unhappy landismom

So I turned 40 earlier this month, and apparently that was the cue for a whole bunch of things to start going wrong in my world. In the past three weeks I have:

  • Had a car accident (minor! no one hurt! but over $2K worth of damage to my car!) (okay, this was the night before my birthday, but I think it still counts)
  • Lost my wallet. While traveling. And got stuck in an airport overnight with no credit cards.
  • and landisdad’s car broke down, requiring a major overhaul of the electrical system

Right now, we’re a one (rental) car family, with both of our cars in the shop. Is it any wonder I’m feeling pinched financially?

I’m kind of starting to take it personally. As if there’s something out there in the universe telling me, “hey, your thirties are over, babe, it’s hard knocks from here on out!”

In addition to the drama, my work life is heating up (why hello election, you really are just around the corner now, aren’t you?) and the kids are trying to kill each other on an almost-daily basis.

I’m not sure that there’s anything worse than watching your children fight, unless it’s hearing them tell each other that they wish the other one was dead. I once asked my FIL if landisdad and his brother fought a lot when they were kids, and he said, “they did, but you seem to care about it a lot more.”

At one point, I tried to get the kids to gang up on me, thinking that at least they could have solidarity about that. It worked. For about a minute.

There are days when I just wonder, “did we actually ruin the Bee’s life by having a second child? or would she be even more self-centered than she is now if she were still an only?”

It really sucks to have to entertain both those thoughts.

July 29, 2008. family life, thoughtful parenting. 8 comments.

hellooo, tv-less people, scooch over and make room

So I broke down and canceled our cable today. With our financial situation the way it’s been, and the prices of everything going up, it just seems ridiculous to spend a thousand dollars a year to watch TV. I’m hoping the children will learn to forgive me over time. They’re certainly not there yet.

We had a Spongebob marathon today, in honor of our soon-to-be-no-longer-with-us cable programming. Tonight, landisdad and I are going to watch episode 3 of Generation Kill on HBO. Our bill is paid through August 24, so we’ll get to see a few more episodes, but we’ll have to YouTube the end, I suppose.

I have a feeling that once we get used to life without cable, I’m going to wonder why the hell we’ve been paying for it all this time. I’ve sort of been planning to cut it off for over a year, and there keeps being a reason not to, but after I finished paying the bills today, I picked up the phone and called them.

It was hard to explain to the kids why we’re making this choice. We’re not in desperate financial straits–we’ve just been stretched thin by events of the past few years–and the current inflation that the US is experiencing is making it that much harder to get by. But lots of people are in worse shape than us, as I explained to the Bee tonight.

We’re not losing our house, or having to sell one of our cars, or losing the ability to take vacations, or anything like that. We’re not buying only generic in the supermarket, or going any more meatless than we usually do. We’re not canceling any kid birthday parties, or deciding that, with the cost of daycare, it would really be cheaper for landisdad to quit working and stay home (I am, however, counting the weeks {5!} until we no longer have to pay $172 per week for daycare). We are, however, not paying off our credit cards every month. We’re not able to make the mortgage payment and the car payment in the same week. We have to plan our monthly spending more tightly than ever before, and an extra $80 will help with that planning, that juggling, that balancing.

In light of what’s at stake, it doesn’t really seem that serious to lose the right to watch Law & Order at any hour of the day or night.

July 27, 2008. family life. 10 comments.

the Bee’s first canvass math

I’m guessing that you probably can’t make out the photo, but it represents a major milestone in my daughter’s life.

While we were driving to camp this morning, the Bee and I were having a conversation about technology, and how it’s changed the way I do various things over the course of my life, and how it my change over the course of her life. She asked me for an example, and we got into a conversation about the work that I’m doing now on the election, and how field work in general has changed in the 16-odd (ulp!) years that I’ve been doing electoral work.

Which led to a discussion of canvass math–which is basically the formula that I use to figure out how many voter contacts a canvass operation might be expected to make over the course of a campaign–which lets me know how many voters we have to target in our field campaign. She thought it sounded interesting (really, it’s not. well, okay it is to me, but to most people? snoresville), and she asked me if we could practice tonight–she was especially excited to do it when I told her that I used a spreadsheet, because I generally didn’t want to do that kind of math in my head–she saw it as a challenge (can I do math that Mom can’t do?).

And lo and behold, when I picked her up, she asked me about it again. So here are the problems I set for the Bee. Let’s see how you can do! Note: the problems are progressive (i.e.–the answer is in the next question)–don’t read ahead until you figure out the first one. The Bee got them all right, are you as smart as a fourth-grader?

If a canvasser makes 15 contacts in an hour and canvasses for 4 hours, how many contacts will she make during her 4-hour shift?

If every canvasser makes 60 contacts in a shift, & there are 4 canvassers on a team, how many contacts will the team make in a shift?

If one canvass team makes 240 contacts in one shift, how many contacts will they make over one week (5 shifts)?

If one canvass team makes 1,200 contacts in a week, how many contacts will they make over a 20 week campaign?

If one canvass team makes 24,000 contacts over the course of a campaign, how many contacts will 17 canvass teams make?

So, who out there has a future in running a field campaign? I will confess that I made the problems a little easier than the ones that occur in real-life field planning–for example, the likelihood that all of the canvass teams start the same day (or even the same week) is pretty unlikely–but I was still mighty impressed that she could figure out the formulas that she needed to answer the questions. Maybe by 2012, she’ll be ready to be a coordinate a staging location…that sounds like more fun than eighth grade, doesn’t it?

July 15, 2008. politically motivated. 4 comments.

growing up

When I turned 25 years old, I had a huge party out on Ocean Beach, in San Francisco. I had two other friends with birthdays near mine, and we shared joint festivities. There was a bonfire, and a couple of kegs. I have a hazy memory of the rest of it–most likely, illicit substances were consumed*.

Yesterday, I turned 40 and, though it’s trite to say, I don’t feel that much different than I did when I was 25. I’m having a party tomorrow night, and again, I’m celebrating with a friend (landisdad being the one to turn 40 today). Somehow, it won’t seem like the right party, since the friends I had when I was 25 won’t be there. The friends I had when I was first really succeeding at being an adult have always felt like my ‘real’ friends, even though I haven’t spoken to some of them in 12 years or more.

I’ve had a couple of people tell me, in the past week, how they didn’t really feel like a grown up until they turned 40. I confess, I don’t really feel that way, but maybe it just hasn’t hit me yet. I mean, when I was 32 I had a kid, a husband, a mortgage, a real job–what’s not adult about that?

At the same time, I don’t feel bad about turning 40–it does feel like a significant (but not significantly awful) milepost along the highway of life. I think it’s safe to say I’ve achieved a certain modicum of wisdom, without really having given up the ability to make an ass out of myself.

I guess there’s not too much more than I could ask than that. I don’t ever want to be the kind of person who takes my knowledge and experience too seriously. I mean, after all, my life could just as easily gone in a different direction, and I could have ended up in a different place, with a different guy, living a much-less satisfying existence. It would be beyond foolish to ascribe the modest success I’ve had–as a parent, as an adult, as a worker–to anything other than good luck and good timing.  I can’t say I’m hoping for 40 more years of that like–it seems too hubristic–but I can say I hope it will go on as long as I have to enjoy it.

*note to my children, if you’re reading this in the future–of course, they were not consumed by me!

July 11, 2008. growing up. 14 comments.

the beach, the breeze…I call it paradise…

For me, there is no vacation like a beach vacation. I grew up summering on the Jersey shore–my parents usually rented in the same general area, but not the same house–and a vacation really doesn’t feel like a vacation unless a considerable part of it is spent near sand and salt water.

As I’ve gotten older, the addition of rum drinks or gin and tonics, also help to promote a summery feeling.

We’ve spent a great 6 days here, and we’ve still got a day and a half to go–including the Fourth of July holiday, with its attendant festivals (both pancake and strawberry!). I’ll be sad to leave on Saturday, even sadder to return to my overflowing work email inbox, which I’ve been triaging daily while the kids are in bed.

The Bee continues to brown like a nut. I’m not sure which gene pool she slipped out of of–both landisdad and I are burners–but that girl is an easy tanner. The Potato has conquered (mostly) his fear of waves, and spends most of his days dancing in the surf, shaking his butt at the ocean, laughing his fool head off. And me? I’ve managed to read my way through all but one of the books I brought with me (The Alienist is still to come), plus picked up a copy of Netherland from my MIL.

After inspiring the Potato and the Bee to build the ‘great wall of grandma’ out of beach stones on the first day, the kids and I have been building a variety of rock structures, including ‘the biggest mound on earth’ and an underwater sea wall. It never fails to amaze me when we go back the next day (or sometimes even later the same day) that the sea has unrelentingly claimed our structures. But it invariably does.

July 3, 2008. thoughtful parenting. 6 comments.