Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Furlough Freedom (Emphasis on Free)


So a while back, the teachers union asked us to vote on some furlough days to save the jobs of teachers and nurses. I voted against them, if you must know. I figure if these bozos can afford a $150 million payroll system that doesn't pay people correctly, they should be able to afford a few nurses. Also, I have a $4000 scanner sitting in a closet at work that I can't use because of operating system issues. But they can't pay me for a week?

But I digress. Anyway, the furloughs were voted in, and then my employers said, "Fantastic. Thank you for voting that you don't get paid for one week each year. Now here are four other unpaid weeks."

So why did we vote?

Anyway, y'all, money's tight. The positive side of this is that Jeff and I have gotten much, much better at budgeting. We really know how much is coming in and going out now. And we're actually saving more than we used to, which is just a little embarrassing. What were we doing with all our cash back when Jeff was making bank and the school district wasn't bankrupt? Anyway we're better now.

So I have Zack for the week since we're getting a daycare discount and I'm not working. So we have been doing free stuff!

Our first adventure, the California Science Center! Free every single day of the year. Eight dollars for parking. Gotta love LA.

Zack was the most excited to see the fish. He saw fish on the big banner outside the museum and started asking about them right away. Loves aquariums. And the science center delivered. They have a great new exhibit called "Ecosystems." Definitely our favorite was the Kelp Forest.

Here's what he's seeing through that window.
Those divers are tending the kelp!

One of those cool tunnels you walk through.

Above me in the tunnel. So cool!
They also had the hugest lobster I have ever seen in this thing.


We had a bout of illness Friday and Saturday. Lots of puking. Here is Zack resting on the one non-pukey surface left in our place. Note the absence of slipcovers. If there's one good decision I made in this life, it was slipcovers. So in keeping with the theme of this post, yes, we're spending more on rent, but we do have a washer and dryer, and on a day like Saturday, we're happy to be shelling out that cash. Our old place had a coin washer and no dryer, which was just not easy on the puke days. (And as you know, we've had our fair share.)

However, with toys, I've become thriftier. Water table? $90. Come on folks, it's a plastic thingie that you put water in.

Kind of like this?
Mommy's home made water table.
A Target container. Free when cannibalized from Jeff's collection.
Later, $5 when we splurged and got one.
Zack played with this for hours and hours.

Next stop, La Brea Tar Pits for the free first Tuesday of the month. Parking: $7. Bus? Impossible. Whatever. I guess you have to spend some money to live.

Zack watches an animatronic lion devour a giant sloth, over and over.
Remember kids: "Nature is horrifying!"

I hadn't been to this place since I was a kid, and now I remember that it actually scared me. You are fed the constant reminder that life is a brutal endeavor which ends when you are attacked and eaten and/or fall into a pit of tar.

There's a movie in the opening part in which a young horse gets trapped in tar and is attacked by a lion and then some wolves, who also get trapped. Then a vulture comes to eat the dead, and he gets sucked down, too. And you know, this is what happens in LA. We all come here to do great things, and then we're sucked into the tar. Or in our case, the Valley.

Zack eats his "chickidoyos" (chicken taquitos) for lunch.

The hill is the most entertaining part of the museum for two-year-olds.
The frightening message of the place goes right over their heads.

Oh, nothing. It's just another nascent pit of tar. We fenced it off. It's cool.
(Actually these leak out all over the place.)

I love you but I am hungry.

Daddy is stuck in the tar! I remember being pretty affected by this
horrible outdoor tableau as a child. Zack didn't get it, lucky for us.

After nap time on Tar Pit day, we spent time with Geneva, Kate, and Tekla. Zack is steadfast in his love for Geneva. I was asking Tek about indoor toys that would entertain for as long as the water table, and she got out some wooden trains. I could not pull Zack away, even for pasta. We went out to Four and Twenty for dinner. (It's in the budget.)

So I decided to get trains, and Bruce called me to tell me that while the Thomas trains and tracks cost a fortune, the Ikea brand are just as good and super cheap. Done! We went there today. I was also planning to look at a big boy bed for Zack. However, my plans were foiled when I made the mistake of showing Zack the trains, which led to him howling, "I want traaaaaains!" all the way to the exit of Ikea. You know how they guide you through every single piece of their inventory on the way out? Screw that. We were shortcutting it, baby.

The response I was dreaming of. About two hours too late.

Then, Zack wanted to play with the trains in the car, and he was only somewhat pacified when I just put the packages around him as we drove home and put a couple train cars and one track in his hands.

THEN--yeah, this day made me want to drink vodka so badly--we got home and I couldn't pick him up, which led to a screaming tantrum in the parking garage. Zack threw himself on the ground and demanded, "Mah picka UP!" (I think the literal translation is "My pick up!" which you know, means, "Pick me up.") But I couldn't pick him up. I was carrying his #@$% trains! Finally I had one of those moments where I realized he would have to tough it out. Come on, if the sloths could do it all those years ago....

Lots of blubbering later, we made it into the house, where I had to hold Zack for a long, long time and explain that I cannot always pick him up. Man did that suck. It's amazing how a walk from the garage to the apartment can drain the very life force from you. I am not a patient person. Really I have a short fuse with all other people on earth besides Zack. I find them mostly trying and stupid. But as a mom, I've been surprisingly (to myself) pretty chill. I have a loooong fuse. I don't get upset. I see things from his perspective. His emotions don't get to me. But man, today was tough. The utter defiance of logic is just an amazing phenomenon when you are in that tantrum moment. Not to mention it's just freakin' LOUD.

Then--THEN! Yes, there is more. He had a fit every time the trains didn't work, came apart, jumped the tracks. I really had to show him what that toy was about. Meanwhile, I became utterly fascinated myself with reconfiguring the tracks in different ways. Trains are fun, man.


Luckily, nap time hit the reset button on this day. And also luckily, Jeff came home. He's been working and in class, so I've been like a single mom since...well, yesterday, but it seems longer!

But when Zack is in a great mood, his favorite thing to say is, "I'm so happy to see you, too!" This while he is hugging on you. He really is a sweet, sweet little dude. I wish I coulda' picked him up. I hate to see him so upset.

But he also dumped the cat's water on the floor and said, "Oh my gosh." Three times. Or maybe it was only twice. It's all a blur. And lately he's taken to hitting me in the face, just to see if I really don't like it, I guess.

I love daycare.

1 comment:

DCD said...

And vodka, too. I love vodka.

Wow, that sounds bad.

I'm definitely envious of your cool free stuff. We have no such cool free stuff. Unless you are talking about the playground. At least there aren't any tar pits there.