Family update post! Family update post! Are you as excited as I am? (Actually, I'm really so very tired. Made the mistake of taking some Tylenol PM last night *before* I checked with the kids to see if they were planning to wake me up 3 times during the night. They were. Do you have any idea how hard it is to repeatedly pull yourself out of a Tylenol PM coma??)
So ok, here we go. In no particular order...
SCREAMER - is potty trained! And has been for 2 weeks now. She put it off a bit longer than I had expected (Sushi was out of diapers at 27 months, whereas Screamer is 29 months, and it makes perfect sense to me that the children would hit all of their developmental milestones on the exact same dates) (you know, because I gave them Filofaxes at birth) (ahaha Filofaxes no one uses those anymore) but she really hit the road running. Hardly any accidents, yay!
SCREAMER Part II - spent 2 days in the hospital this week for dehydration. Picked up a stomach bug and absolutely couldn't shake it. Puked for so many days that her little frame seemed to be shrinking before our eyes, and when she lay down on the floor, I couldn't help but think of E.T. in that part of the movie where they found him all white and shriveled in the woods (see? I am still scarred by that movie to this day) (and to think that Daddy *dared* suggest we name one of our daughters Elliot) ("Ellllliiiiooooot"). The whole hospital experience was pretty miserable, even aside from the obvious misery of having a kid in a hospital bed trying to pull out her IV; I learned the hard way that
(a) there are very few actual American people in the "American Hospital" (uncomfortable moment: Mommy says to familiar-looking woman behind check-in desk, "Have to say I thought there'd be more Americans here." Woman who is clearly from New York or Connecticut responds, "Nope, not too many." Mommy smiles affectionately and says, "So it's just us, huh?" Woman raises eyebrows and replies, "Um, I'm from Palestine.");
(b) it is possible to receive completely contradictory medical advice from the doctors in the ER and the doctors who admit you to the hospital, which is not great for bolstering confidence in the medical care about to be administered; and
(c) I have the potential to transform into a raging lunatic when unable to track down a doctor-- ANY DOCTOR!!-- over the course of a 4-hour period (suffice to say that, at one point, I was standing at the nurses' station, Screamer limply on one arm and the IV stand in the other, loudly demanding that SOMEONE get the PRESIDENT of this HOSPITAL on the phone for me right NOW!!!). Thankfully, apart from the occasional mood swing (which I may indefinitely continue to attribute to imbalanced salt and sugar levels, just to give her the benefit of the doubt), as of today the Screamer is fully recovered. PHEW.
SUSHI - is very proud because she has just begun writing her name in both capital and lower case letters, having been previously *ruined* by a mother who first taught her how to write her name in ALL CAPS (this is her teacher speaking here, not me). Also, she is beginning to read-- really READ!-- simple words, which pleases me to no end. I am going to hammer her like crazy over these next 8 days before her birthday, just so that I can say with authority that "my daughter was reading at 3 years old!", an accolade that surely serves no purpose on this planet whatsoever other than making me feel like my stay-at-homing-ness has yielded some tangible reward.
BABY - *finally* started crawling a couple of weeks ago, after giving me fair reason to suspect that she might be happy just sitting on the floor for her entire life (then again, maybe her slight delay suggests intelligence instead of lethargy: after all, why waste energy crawling when you have Alice to carry you around 14 hours of the day?). Is also sleeping through the night. And thinks that a person jumping rope is cause for spastic fits of laughter. In case you were wondering what her comedy weakness is.
DADDY - is in Paris! On business. Because we can't all be globetrotters like he is. But if the kids are good, he is likely to "surprise" them with the "presents" of whatever schlock he can hurriedly gather from his first class airplane seat as he deplanes (last time, Sushi was ceremoniously presented with a United Airlines eye mask and tube socks). (Can't blame him for not spending actual money on presents, though, as Sushi is still talking about that ridiculous faux-satin eye mask long after I threw it out on principle.)
POPPOP - continues to put men half his age to shame with his muscled physique. Wears his iPod as habitually as a teenager. Lives in sunglasses reminiscent of Top Gun. I actually can't remember the last time I saw him wearing a shirt that did *not* have cut-off sleeves. But more power to him; the last time I exercised was September 18, 2007. For reals.
Z-MAN - celebrated his birthday this week. The kids and I made him a cake. He told us that this is the first time in his life-- !!!-- that anyone has formally acknowledged his birthday. So we all felt pretty good about the mini party we threw him in the kitchen... the guy could not have been smiling any more broadly than when the girls presented him with the big chocolate pile of frosting that boldly bore his name across the top.
And then there are a couple items of current events...
THE BAD NEWS - My friendship with our next-door neighbor, The German, has gone up in flames. IN FLAMES!! Here are the highlights of the story.
(1) Screamer is released from the hospital.
(2) Two hours later, the kids and I are playing quietly in our open-air garage.
(3) The German's children come tearing in, wielding chocolate bars and shoving them into my kids' hands. [NOTE: This happens with significant frequency. And it is not unheard of that they would just stroll into my house and begin rifling through my cabinets for snacks. THIS MAKES ME CRAZY. MOMMY DOES NOT LIKE UNINVITED VISITORS.]
(4) I pry the chocolate bar away from Restricted-Diet-Screamer, and then cheerfully go on to entertain The German's kids for the next 20 minutes by allowing them to draw all over my body with face paint.
(5) After the impromptu playdate ends (due to Sushi throwing an unholy fit over something or other and my having to drag her screaming up to her room), I send The German a text message to this effect, "Hi there, hey, could you or [your housemaid] just give me a heads-up before the kids come over? Sometimes it's not a good time and I feel bad sending them away." [NOTE: This is really the gist of what I wrote. I even rewrote it a few times to make sure it did not come off as overly inflammatory.]
(6) I then receive the following text message from The German (AND I QUOTE): "Don't worry they will not be coming over again ever. Sorry if you can't control your kids. I am not making calls to playdates on my street."
(7) My stomach lurches.
(8) I frantically send her a series of messages attempting to backtrack, making vague apologies, and generally trying to avoid incurring the wrath of this enormous person who is uncomfortably well-connected among the Important Moms To Know in Dubai and who lives a REALLY uncomfortable stone's throw from where I lay my head at night (and who ADMITS that she watches us through our windows!!!). She promptly replies (AGAIN, I QUOTE), "You stay in your place and there will be no need for fighting. You are way too hysterical. Do I need to change my phone number? I was always a friend and always defending you. But not any more, you crossed a line too much. Focus on your kids, that is all you are interested in." [NOTE: Is that supposed to be an insult?]
(9) Panicking (while at the same time FUMING), I make a last-ditch attempt to salvage the relationship by texting the suggestion that we stop writing for now, we're both getting carried away, let's try to work this out for the sake of our kids, who enjoy playing together. She then launches the final missle: "Backyard is big and kids are busy- they were happy before you moved here and they will be happy without your kids. Same to me."
(9) HOLY SH*T!!!
And if that wasn't bad enough, her kids' joint birthday party bonanza is TOMORROW in her BACK YARD. A few hours ago I sent a text to Mr. German, who we *thought* was a pretty level-headed and reasonable guy, asking if we are still invited. As of press time, there has been no reply....
[Postscript to The-German-Hates-Me Story: You know how I'd kinda resigned myself to sending Sushi and Screamer to the international school, even though I kinda really got a better vibe from the American school? Well maybe this is the sign I'd been waiting for; maybe we will end up sending Sushi to the American school just so I don't have to deal with seeing The German every day at dropoff and pickup; and maybe that will turn out to be the Best. Decision. Ever. and I will look back on this unpleasant incident and thank my lucky stars. Maybe.] [Or, maybe I will become a social pariah and wear dark shades and duck into my car whenever I absolutely have to leave the house. You know, like I did this morning.]
And now... THE GOOD NEWS! - It seems that we have FOUND A SECOND HOUSEMAID!! (Cue the stream of disgruntled expletives from all of my overworked and underappreciated stay-at-home-mom friends back in the USA.) We specifically chose her to interview because her classified ad declared her a good cook-- hence, I will refer to her as Julia (Child) unless a more nickname-worthy event takes place-- and she has been with us for a week now. I'm THRILLED to report that so far, Julia has been truly fantastic: she has been working overtime to earn the affection of Sushi and Screamer (not an easy thing to do); she hardly batted an eye at the unusual series of challenges presented by Spring Break + Screamer Illness; and she has just been generally lovely to be around (we even caught her and Alice sharing a giggle in the kitchen one evening, and our hearts were collectively warmed!). So this is the best best best news, because it opens up the possibility that I will be able to actually explore Dubai for a few hours a day without the kids in tow, perhaps even do some volunteer work somewhere, and not let this whole whirlwind experience pass me by in a haze of repetitive park visits and frozen dinners and bedtime rituals, all of which I will have plenty of time to do when we get back to the States. Hooray!
Alright, since Daddy is away I have no one to proofread this for me. Thus, I apologize in advance for any typos or disjointed sentences; am gonna post it anyway. And if there are any parts that don't make sense, just blame the Tylenol PM. xo.