Saturday, April 30, 2011

You're Only as Old as You Feel

We spotted a couple of cougars at the baseball game the other night, resplendent in their rhinestones and big hair, ready to bust out their best Sally O'Malley impersonation. Sean and I snickered and rolled our eyes and I told him to never let me dress like that when I'm that old. 

Then this morning, as I'm putting a butterfly pin in my hair, I think "I am too old to wear a butterfly pin in my hair. This looks ridiculous." Maybe if they made barrettes featuring calcium chews, now that would be age appropriate. The older I get, the more I repeat to myself that age is just a number, which is sometimes bullshit.

Age is just a number when it comes to have a positive outlook, bettering yourself mentally, physically and emotionally. In your personal likes and dislikes (if Granny wants to listen to Eminem, that is cool with me), in living life to it's fullest.

Age is most definitely not just a number when it comes to jeggings. Or short shorts or halter tops or nipple piercings (and I can not imagine my poor, pendulous feedbags with a piercing). Unless you are rocking it to a crowd of thousands, some things just become inappropriate at a certain age.

And some things become vital. Spanx. Primer. Bras. Kegels. The aforementioned calcium chews.

Even the vocabulary changes as you age. Valley speak was the hipster chatter* in my teenage years, now young people feel the need to abbreviate everything. It's gone from text speak (and even I'm guilty of the occasional LOL in casual correspondence) to abbreviating words while speaking. Totes adorbs. Totes adorbs? You are so lazy you can't sound out the other four syllables? That is jank. (Thank you H- for telling me about 'jank'. It let me avoid using 'bullshit' twice in one blog post).

I wonder if my mother secretly wants to punch me when I say 'dude' 400 times a day? I wonder if my daughter looks at me and thinks "You are way too old to be calling me dude."?

Maybe age really isn't a number, but a perception - what is or isn't age appropriate, what is or isn't 'too old' or 'too young'. Maybe those cougars were looking at me thinking "She really needs to loosen up."

But I stand by the part about the jeggings.

*I know 'hipster chatter' sounds ridiculous. But it was the first thing that came to mind and it made me feel like a crotchety old lady, so I'm going with it.

(By the by, apparently I inadvertently entered myself in a contest and now that I'm in it, I want to have a decent showing. If you're so inclined, head over to Circle of Moms and vote for SFC. There was a button to put on my blog, but I couldn't figure out how to do it - techno dummy that I am. You can vote once a day until May 16. If I win, I get something fabulous, like another button I can't figure out how to add. It would be more awesome if they were giving away something useful, like a canned ham. I LOVE ham.)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Henry the Pterodactyl

Henry's not a big talker. Mama. Dog. Bye Bye. Hello. Tickle tickle. Dink du, which is Henry for 'thank you'.

He prefers to point. And scream. A high pitched, ear splitting, asshole drawing up, brain bleeding SCREAM. When I encourage him to "use your words!" he looks at me like "Look, bitch. I can't say 'I'd really like for you to wind up this car and make it go for the one gazillionth time today'. I could say 'dog', but that's not really going to get it done, is it? So I'm going to scream, and if you don't respond, I will throw the car at you. And I'll aim for your face."

A very good mommy will come along and suggest that I teach him baby sign language, to cut down on the frustration - both his and mine.But that would require a) effort and b) reading and I am 1) lazy. I did try teaching him the sign for more, because much screaming takes place in the high chair, if I'm not getting food onto his plate fast enough. So I stood there making the sign and saying "More? Do you want more food?" And he sat there screaming ACK! ACK! (translation: WTF do you think I'm screaming for? Enough with your silly gestures, give me the cheese!).

Like most children, Henry saves up his very best screaming for restaurants. When taking the children out, we tend to frequent kid-friendly establishments (those that don't spit in your food just because you use 4,000 napkins and your table and the surrounding area looks like Motley Crue's hotel room after an all you can eat fried chicken and blow buffet). Even so, between Katie needing to use the bathroom every 10 minutes, and Julia jumping up and down and potentially vomiting on the table (I am so sorry, Chili's on Stratford Road), and Henry's screaming and ripping his placemat from the table and throwing everything he can get his hands on to the floor, well - dining out is not a relaxing experience. To quote my husband on a recent outing - "This is a fucking nightmare."

I remember being delighted when both girls were early talkers. On the flip side, they never shut up. Julia barely draws breath and goes seamlessly from one inane subject to the next. Katie can (and will) give you a very detailed synopsis of every Suite Life on Deck episode, including quoting dialog. They both sing (lovely voices, really. Really.) at FULL VOLUME, all the time. Even if they only know one or two lines, they will repeat those lines - over and over and over.

On second thought, scream on, my son.

10 House Rules

1. If you are going to touch your butt, wash your hands afterward.
2. Do not walk around with a bag on your head.
3. Do not eat the dog food.
4. Maximum 3 underwear changes (for no reason) in one day.
5. Just because you thought about wearing it, and then changed your mind, doesn't make it dirty.
6. Do not sleep with scissors or toe nail clippers.
7. Do not try to "make mommy's drink better" with the addition of anything.
8. Use your own toothbrush. Only in your mouth.
9. The dog's butthole is not a "button". She does not do tricks if you push it.
10. Do not wake someone up by jumping in the middle of their chest and yelling "SURPRISE!".

Monday, April 25, 2011

Worst Case Scenario

If you were sitting on your couch in the middle of the day, nursing your baby, and a crazy Hare Krishna rapist (it could happen) burst through the front door, do you know what you'd do?

I do.*

Because if there is some crazy ass scenario that puts me or my family in danger, I have imagined it. Not only have I imagined it, I have carefully deconstructed it, and worked through all the possible approaches to arrive at the best possible outcome. The best possible outcome usually involves me kicking someone in the balls or pulling some jujitsu move (I am not even sure what jujitsu is, I just like the sound of it).

Today, as I'm leaving Costco with the two littles and my mom, and Julia asks if she can ride home with grandma, I say 'sure'. Then I spend the entire ride home thinking about what I'm going to do if they have a (not very serious) wreck that I witness in my rearview mirror.

I'll pull over to the side of the road, using incredible driving skills to weave through traffic in a speedy yet not dangerous way. I'll leap from the car and start, wait. I can't leave Henry in the car. I'll have to leap from the car and run around and get Henry, wait. I will slide over the hood of the car to get to Henry's side. I've always wanted to do that!

So, I'll slide over the hood of the car and get Henry out of his seat. For the first time ever, he will not arch his back and try to throw his body out of the car while I struggle with the buckle. I will run, carrying him - actually, I will throw him over my shoulder and he will put his arms around my neck and hold on, he can do that! - down the side of the road to the car, where I will find them slightly shaken, but no worse for wear.

Then I remember I'm wearing sandals and silently curse my inability to run in a wedge. DAMN IT!

I am also prepared should a plane crash on our street, or it starts raining toads, or we're invaded by the Russians (a la Red Dawn - Wolverines!).

And yet, I'm not sure we have any Band-Aids.

*I envisioned this exact scenario dozens of times as I sat on the couch nursing my newborn Henry. The short answer is run like hell straight out the back door. After much reflection, and one ill advised dry run, I decided it was best to use the gate to get out of the back yard, rather than jumping the fence.

I Am Sorry I Peed on the Phone

Well, I didn't pee on the phone, but I peed while I was talking on the phone. I thought I could be quick, and quiet about it (I don't know why I thought I had the superpower to make my pee silent).

I suppose I could have just said "Hold on a minute." I didn't even have to tell her I was peeing, I could have just said "Hold on." She wouldn't have asked questions, she's nice like that.

I did not anticipate the excruciating silence as she was trying to remember what she was going to say, which coincided precisely with my giant horse piss. I considered starting to sing very loudly, but thought that might be even more awkward. So I just sat there, listening to the longest, loudest pee in the history of pee.

I didn't flush, because that would have given me away for sure. Instead, I cleaned the bathroom while we continued our conversation. I hoped the water running made her at least pause and think "Oh, maybe she wasn't peeing. Maybe there is just something wrong with her pipes."


And this is the kind of freak I am: Instead of just letting it go (figuratively, because I kind of already did that literally), I have been thinking about it all day - to the point where I had to conduct an experiment to gauge just how embarrassed I should be.

Hey, honey. What are you doing?
Working. What's up? 
Am I on speakerphone?
Yes, but no one's in my office.
Take me off speakerphone.
OK. Is everything alright? 
Yeah, be quiet and tell me if you hear anything. (pee)
Uh, just some like *crickleacklecrickle* background noise. 
(Now, it is difficult to type exactly the noise he made, but it was similar to rustling leaves, or perhaps a distant waterfall.)
OMG. (I start laughing so hard I'm doing the silent, wheezy laugh.)
What did you do? Did you fall? Are you hurt? Did you fall down? 
(The natural assumption when I do anything stupid is that I have fallen.)
I just peed. It was me peeing.
SILENCE, then - You did not call me up to pee on the phone. 

Well, I didn't pee on the phone...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Our Easter weekend started with breakfast with the Bunny and an egg hunt for the littles yesterday.

Then Katie and Grandma returned from Texas late yesterday afternoon.

Travel and overindulgence led to a jerky Easter morning for Katie.

But she snapped out of it soon enough, and they ate 4 pounds of candy each before church.
Church was lovely and a beautiful celebration of this most holy day. Let us rejoice and be glad, indeed.

And I can not, NOT, get a decent picture of my family. I did the best I could to make these to where you could at least see our faces. 

And I made a bunny cake that looked like a whore.
My mom has made the bunny cake every year since I was an infant, but this year their trip to Texas necessitated that I make the cake. The piece down at the bottom is supposed to be his/her bow tie (the gender of the bunny is a little suspect), but both the girls and my mom asked "Are those her mimis?"

Mimis in our house are boobs. So of course I had to put jellybean nipples on her, but in the end I thought that was a bit much, even for me.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Pride Before the Fall

Fiction Friday is delayed, because I am uninspired and a little bit lazy. Look for it this weekend. In the meantime, I will share my humiliation with you!

I am in line at the Ham Store (because apparently, people like ham for Easter? What is it about the risen Christ that says 'let's eat pig!'? Does no one see the irony in celebrating the resurrection of the world's most famous Jew with a meal of the number one unclean animal?) - and the line is 8 miles long. Julia and Henry are being exceptionally adorable and charming throughout our excessive wait, and the two women behind us are especially taken with them. They are going on and on about how wonderful they are, how great their names are (and here I throw a plug in for Katie, too), how well behaved. I am so proud, and as we inch closer to the front of the line it appears that we're going to get out of the store without any screaming, tantruming, puking, shitting or breaking of things. Truly, an Easter miracle.

Now, if you have never been to the Ham Store, it is kind of a weird deal. You stand in line forever, then are greeted by a gal who tries to upsell you ("Buy our $400 ham and we'll give you a turkey breast for only $100 more!"), then directs you to one of half a dozen or so ham-specialists who assess your ham-needs and pick the perfect piece of meat for you. You're then directed to the Pre-Pay Ham Person, who confirms that you have just the right ham, and then directs you to a register to check out.

Things were going great, up until the point that I get to the Pre-Pay Ham Person. She is a lovely woman who gives me a big smile and then confirms that I have, indeed, had a hamtastic experience. She says "Hello, pretty girl!" to Julia and "What a handsome little man!" to Henry, then looks down at my mid-section and says,

"Oh! And you're expecting another!"

Now, everyone who has ever had a baby KNOWS that, unless a woman is squatted down pushing out a kid, you never, ever, assume that she is pregnant. Never. Ever.

If I were a much quicker witted person, I would have told her that I was smuggling out a ham. Instead, I just laughed nervously and said "Uh, nooo." And this should have made the Ham Person sufficiently mortified, and she should have made some lameass comment about my fluffy shirt. Or something. But NO! She says:

"Oh, just a little leftover from this little guy!" What, WHAT? You are lucky I have a baby in one hand and a big ass ham in another, lady - because you are setting yourself up for a big, fat neck punch! And she keeps going, "But he's worth it! He's worth every bit of it!"

Yes, my child is worth every flap, fold and crease of the meat apron. It's something I console myself with in front of a mirror under the harsh fluorescents, in the privacy of my bathroom. Not something I need to be reminded of in the middle of the gee-dee HAM STORE, ASSHOLE!

I can only hope that she's out there somewhere tonight, in a blog, on a message board, or sitting at her dinner table with her family, saying "You are not going to believe what I did today!"

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Race Relations

I'll never forget the day Katie found out she was white. She was in kindergarten, learning about the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She came home railing about the injustices African Americans suffered at the hands of White People. She went on and on about the White People - she couldn't believe that anyone could be so ignorant! So cruel!

And then I sat her down and broke it to her gently: "Honey, we're white."

She was devastated. All this time, she thought we were beige. What a disappointment!

My liberal sensibilities take enormous pride in that story. Each time my children prove that people can indeed be colorblind, or that being different than us is something to be envied, I almost break my arm patting myself on the back. Just this week, Julia said "Mommy, some people are brown, and some people are just plain. We are just plain." Do I get points for that? A sticker for the car or something?

Then, just about the time I am feeling all United Colors of Benetton, they say something that makes me do the big arrrooo? Scooby Doo face.

Julia was playing with her friend A-, who has apraxia and a limited vocabulary. A- was trying to communicate something to Julia, but it just wasn't getting out. Julia says "It's okay, A-, we all talk differently," (awww, isn't that sweet?). She continued, "I talk like a Mexican!"


And just now, playing Barbies with another friend - Julia hand her an African American doll in a Sleeping Beauty dress and says "Here's Sleeping Beauty." The friends says "That's not Sleeping Beauty, she's black." To which Julia replies "She's not black. She's white!" Which leads me to believe that Julia has no idea WTF her friend is talking about.

If 10 is the age where I have the sex talk, is 4 the age where I have to tell my kids they're white? Is it a rite of passage, where they get a yoga mat, a cable knit sweater, and a copy of the How to Be a Honky Handbook (see: Stuff White People Like for more gift giving ideas for such an occasion)?

I think I'll hold off for awhile. I'll let Julia live in a world where she is just plain, and the shade of your skin is no more important than the color of your hair. Where Sleeping Beauty can be black, and Julia can be a Mexican. Why not?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I Can't Be That Mom

Sometimes I just scroll through blogs looking for interesting things (topics to steal) and occasionally I come across a mommy blog that is so full of crafts and self-righteousness that I want to vomit. I admire people who live close to the earth and are really in tune with their kids, but did you really slaughter your grass fed free range cow and tan the hide to recover your couch, and prepare a succulent tenderloin which your children happily ate? And did you make it all a teachable moment?

Maybe you did. But I can't be that mom.

For years I have dreamed of a compost bin, and the closest I seem to get is feeding leftovers to the dog. I would love to teach my girls to embroider their monograms on delicate hankies, but that would require me learning how to embroider, and that's not going to happen. I take clothes to the dry cleaners if I need a button sewn on. My crafts pretty much suck, I let them watch (kind of a lot of) TV, I use (and never considered not using) disposable diapers, I think traditional public school is just fine for most kids, we eat out of plastic bowls and use chemicals. Lots of chemicals.

I do recycle. And last year we had TWO Topsy Turvy tomato plants. Does that count for anything?

I'm giving my kids an education that not all kids get, however. Both of the girls could put you in a figure four leg lock. They can identify a Beach Boys song. They sing on key. They like to get dirty. You can take them anywhere and they will be social and make friends and have fun. Even the baby knows how to blow his nose. They eat salad.

When I really think about it, I don't care that I don't knit their diapers or grow their vegetables or teach them ornithology from flashcards I made myself. I don't care that I'm not That Mom, because I'm This Mom.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Power of Yes

If I had to guess my most frequently uttered word, I could safely say that it's "No".

No, you may not have ice cream for breakfast. 
No, you can not spend the entire day on the computer.
No, you can not lick the dog's eyeball. 

Sometimes, I say no before they even have the question out. Sometimes, I say no, then upon reflection, wonder why I said no, and then change my answer to yes.

Can I wear my blue dress? No. Why not? I don't know. Please? Okay, wear the blue dress.

Not only is that nonsensical and slightly horrible parenting, it kind of makes me look like a dumbass.

Look, I recognize that "Because I said so." is a perfectly good answer for a lot of questions. I don't need to tell them why they can't go to so and so's house to play. I don't have to explain why they have to wait until they're 13 to wear eyeshadow (16 for Henry). Because I'm the boss, and because I said so.

But sometimes I wonder if being the Queen of No is diminishing the Power of No. So today I decided to do something I rarely do: Think before I speak. When asked "can I...", I was going to stop, really think about it, and then answer. And you know what I learned? Many times, the answer is really Yes.

Can I play on the computer before we go to the store? (I still need to clean up the kitchen and get Henry dressed, so - )Yes.
I don't want to go to Old Salem, can we just go home and color Easter eggs? (OK, Old Salem is bo-ring when you're 4. It's me that wants to go. Do I really want to drag them around so I can take a couple of pictures? So - )Yes.
Can I do it myself? (FUCK. You are going to make a huge mess and I am going to have to clean it up and I am a big fat control freak, ack ack ack, but!-)Yes.

It's been a great day. It hasn't been an indulgent day. Everyone ate real food and brushed teeth and put on underwear and all the important stuff. I've said No quite a few times. But they were real Nos, meaningful Nos, and Nos that even a kid could understand.

It will take some getting used to, if I manage to keep this up. It will take some slowing down and mindful consideration. It will take a lot of thinking before I speak, a practice I could stand to apply to conversations with everyone in my life.

Maybe if I master this I can tackle "Not right now, I'm busy."?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What Are We Doing in the Next Morning?

Julia wakes up READY. Ready for - whatever. When she was very small, her first words in the morning were "UP! I EAT!". Now they are "Where are we going today? What are we doing today?"

That was fine. Today I can handle. And when she started saying "What are we doing in the next morning?" - tomorrow? Sure, I can usually answer that, too. But when she started asking 4 and 5 days out, it was...excessive. Like, make me want to punch someone excessive.

So in a rare stroke of genius, I made her a calendar. The rest of April and all of May so far, each little square with a picture and a word, telling her what's on the agenda. I'm not an artist, so my apple (for school) looks a little like a pumpkin, but she gets the idea. We'll mark the days off so she can keep up. She loves it, I love it, I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner.


In other mundane news, Henry has decided his primary means of communication is going to be screaming, I have a golf ball sized blocked milk duct in my right boob (caused no doubt by those stupid new bras!), and we bought Shutup Roxy a Thundershirt. You may have even seen the ad for the Thundershirt on this very blog (oh, have you not noticed that I have ads? For high quality, topical products? That you want to click?). We tried it yesterday, and it appears that it might actually work. Even on a Jackass of a dog like Roxy. I will keep you posted.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fiction Friday!

(How do I write a story that contains at least half a dozen words that I had to look up, without it reading like a word a day calendar? I hope I met the challenge. Remember to comment on this post with a word for next week's edition.)

"Call me Chuck." he said, extending a dirty hand. I hesitated just long enough for him to withdraw, and wipe it self-consciously on his even dirtier pants. "Welcome to the Taradiddle Circus." With a grand sweep of his arm, he ushered me into the barn. "Now this here's where you'll be starting. It's our animal holding area. You've got your tigers and your armadillos on this side, then over there, you have the big fellas - the elephants."

There were two of them, male and female, standing side by side in the pen. They were slowly masticating great mouthfuls of feed from a ginormous tub.Their trunks, heavy and pendulous, flopped about their mouths as they chewed.

"This is Fruity Pebbles," said Chuck, "And big guy here is Charlie Sheen. He's a bit of a contumacious pachyderm. But still winning!" He chuckled, a low, wet sound deep in his chest.

I started to move into their pen, making my way through a morass of spongy detritus. "What is this? Elephant poop?"

"Naw," he replied. "That's vespertilian guano." I raised an eyebrow. "Bat shit." he clarified.

They must be enormous bats, I thought, as I made my way into the elephant pen. It was like the city sewage tank the day after Thanksgiving. Getting closer, I saw that Fruity Pebbles had what appeared to be an extraneous nipple, it's areola as leathery as the old man's shoe. "It appears she has an extra nipple."

"Oh, a perspicacious fellow! I suppose elephant nipples are your life's praxis! Maybe you're some sort of elephant whisperer! Well, why don't you take a look at old Charlie Sheen, there. It appears he has a chancroid."

"A what?"

"A chancroid!" he repeated. "Ain't you ever had a chancer on your wanker? A pimple on your wimple? A crusty on your Rusty?"
I shook my head.

"No matter. Look, Charlie and Fruity Pebbles like to get it on. Pebbles has done gone through The Change, and due to her lack of fecundity, we let them go at it like a couple of feral cats. She's not breeding, so it obviates any need for birth control. And let me tell you - it's a good thing. Getting a condom on an elephant is no easy task. Charlie Sheen needs a trough of goulash and some Barry White to get in the mood, and then you damned near have to got to have three people to...."

"I get the picture!" I interrupted. Chuck was a wealth of information, but somewhat prolix. "They have quite the apolaustic life, what with the constant goulash and sex."

"I could only hope to get the kind of action old Charlie Sheen does. Kumquat?" I wasn't sure if he was makes a sexual reference, and then I saw the fruit in his hand. 

"No, thanks. I guess I'll get to work - what should I do first?" 

"Ah! We've procrastinated long enough, to work!" He clapped his hands together. "First, stack these hay bales on the flatcar in the corner, lay them perpendicular..."

"CHUCK!" a voice boomed, "A WORD!"

In the doorway stood a large man, his oiled mustache extending far beyond the limits of his face, defying the laws of gravity and honky hair. 

"Shhh! The old pettifogger!" Chuck whispered and hurried over to the man. I couldn't make out their conversation, but it was clear from the tone and gesticulations that it was an argument of apoplectic proportions. I glanced over at Fruity Pebbles and Charlie Sheen, who were now huddled together. I couldn't be sure, but it seemed as if Charlie Sheen were glaring at the man. 

A few moments later, Chuck was back at my side. "The Ringmaster, name's Boyle. My daddy always said never trust a man with a diphthong in his name. He was a big record exec who got caught up in a payola scam. He managed a boy band, he left them in a wake of broken promises and bad haircuts. A shame."

"What did he want?"

"Oh, we have thirteen Longhorns in the "Salute to Texas" number, he wants one of them put down. He's a triskaidekaphobic."

"My God! That's horrible."
Chuck shrugged, "That's steak."

He started to walk away and turned back. "Oh, one other thing. He has a lady friend, a soubrette in the operetta number. Charlie Sheen over there has taken a shine to her, and can't stand Boyle. Keep an eye on him, I don't want him breaking bad."

"Ha! Like in Water For Elephants." I said. 
"Kind of, except Sara Gruen's dialog is wooden, the characters lacked chemistry, and the villain was too likable!" 
"It sold millions of copies. They made a movie out of it."
"With Robert Pattinson, that pasty Limey! TEAM JACOB!" he pumped his fist in the air, turned abruptly, and walked away. He was an odd man. 

I worked steadily for the next several hours, the elephants keeping quiet watch while I moved and stacked the seemingly endless bales of hay. I'd sacrificed my summer to work in the circus, saving my money to start clown college in the fall. I could only hope I'd have enough. Clowning was serious business, something you couldn't learn by osmosis. For anyone wanting to get on with a good circus, college was a must. And maybe by working the summer with Taradiddle, I'd be ahead of my clownmates. 

"Hey, YOU!" Boyle's thunderous call echoed through the barn. Fruity Pebbles and Charlie Sheen began to shuffle in their pen. 

"Yes, SIR! Yes, SIR! Is that word in your lexicon, fella?" He was in my face now, eyes bulging, one lone, frighteningly large vein pulsing in his forehead. 
"Yes, sir? Can I help you?"
"My WOMAN! Where is she?"
"I don't know who you're talking about. I just started here."

Behind Boyle, I could see Charlie Sheen come closer to the door of the pen. There was no mistaking the look in his eye, it was murderous. 

"Easy, Big Boy!" I yelled at the animal. Boyle assumed I was directing the hypocorism at him, and flew at me. His hands were around my neck one minute, and the next he was somehow, impossibly, floating above me. 

Charlie Sheen had grabbed the man around the waist with his trunk and was shaking him like a rag doll. 

"Charlie Sheen! NO!" I screamed, but it was too late. The enraged elephant performed an acrobatic defenestration of Boyle, through the open window of the barn. I rushed outside and found him lying still on the ground. 

"BOYLE!" I yelled, "Boyle! Answer me! Where does it hurt?"

"Prostate." he groaned.
"Yes, yes, I know you're prostrate. Just lie there and I'll get help."
"ProsTATE." he repeated, clearer this time. 
"Oh, God. Okay, I'll call a urologist. This is amazing. It really is just like Water for Elephants. Except you're alive! Sure, maybe you'll never again pee standing up, but you'll be okay!"

He beckoned me close. I knew he must have a message, something to pass on, just in case. I put my ear close to his mouth, so close that I could feel his stale breath on my neck. And just before he lost consciousness, he whispered something that made me believe that maybe he and Chuck weren't so different after all, that maybe they could change, mend their fences, and find common ground. "I..." he stammered, "I...hated that book."

The Safety of the Nest

"You don't have to go, you know. I won't be mad if you want to stay home."

Katie's flying to Texas with my mom tomorrow, and when I said this to her last night, she looked at me like I had two heads. The thing is, I meant it. I don't want her to go. I want her to stay home with me, safe and snug under my wing and watchful eye. Forever.

Katie is the kid that pushed us out the door the first day of kindergarten, who happily skipped off to sleep away camp like it was not the enormous deal that it was. Meanwhile, I am a weepy, anxious mess until she is home again. I don't think it's okay for people to live in bunkers and never let their kids out of their sight, but I get it. 

It's not that I don't trust the people my kids are with. My mom and Sean are highly trustworthy, very careful, competent, responsible, blah blah blah. I have faith that their schools will keep them well while they're there, and that a friend's house is as safe as my own. But they're not me. I have special Mom powers that will always keep my children well and healthy and happy and ensure that nothing bad will ever, ever happen to them.

Except I don't. I've heard too many tragic stories this week, of sick children and worse, from families better than mine, with stronger faith, more goodness, more diligence. I realize that life and circumstance and sheer bad luck are stronger than the cloak of protection I try to weave around them. I can only hope that my best will be good enough to deliver them to adulthood, and then I can spend the rest of my life worrying about their choices, and cursing the lack of control I have over their lives.

So I'll pack Katie's bag and send her off and know that she'll have a wonderful time. I will try to not drive the rest of the family and myself crazy for the next week. I will try to remember that this is part of growing up, and letting go, and trusting in life.

I will try to have faith that when she leaves my nest, she'll fly.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Gak. I have the Momsick and my brain is struggling with putting together a coherent sentence, let alone an entire post. So while I convalesce, please go and enjoy this fabulousness (and submit your own):

Good/Bad Journal

AND, don't forget to comment on the Fiction Friday post from last week with your word for this week. I only have a few words so far, so you are getting a haiku if you don't get on the stick!

*coughcough* *snifflesniffle*

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Rules of Engagement

After 21 years together, Sean and I have argued over much of the major stuff. As our children age, we're sure to have the occasional disagreement, and an annual barn burner over something. But mostly, we're relegated to fighting over stupid shit out of sheer boredom.

There is a general standard operating procedure for such fights:
A. I say something mildly irritating, generally a complaint about something he is or is not doing.
B. He says something completely over the top and usually wrong.
C. I overreact, storm off, slam some things and do a lot of heavy sighing.
D. He apologizes and tries to hug me.
E. I start crying and get a few verbal digs in.
F. He apologizes again and offers to take me out to dinner.
G. I accept, because I am forgiving like that.

THIS IS THE WAY IT WORKS. Those are the rules. So when he breaks the rules, it really throws me off my game.

Last night, I began the engagement according to the rules:
"Hey, can I ask you to do me a favor?"
But before I could even make the complaint, he goes right to item B: "OMG, what? How am I disappointing you? What disgusting thing am I doing? Whatever! You've been an asshole all day!"

At this point I should mention that I had the girls out most of the day, and he and I had barely interacted. This is not to say that I wasn't about to be an asshole, but I really hadn't up until that point.

OK, so he's not playing exactly right, but I know where I'm supposed to go: C. Overreact and storm off. I go upstairs and get Katie to bed and then sit there waiting for him to come up and apologize. Half an hour later, I'm still waiting. Apparently, I'm going to have to make it easy for him. I walk into our bedroom, where he's reading. He gets up and leaves the room.

What the hell? This is totally not how it works! If he wants to play hardball, I'll show him! I pull out the secret weapon - the air mattress.

I make a big show of dragging it through the house, past him, and into the baby's room. Then I huff and puff and slam my way back to the bedroom for a blanket and my pillow. I settle down on the mattress, open my laptop and start typing away furiously on my favorite message board. I'll show him! If he's not going to apologize, then I'm going to abandon my big, king sized bed and sleep on this twin air mattress on the floor! Ha!

It was a poorly conceived plan, but I didn't really think it would come to this. Surely he'll walk through the door any minute to apologize and I can go get back in my bed, self righteous and vindicated . The baby wakes up (because he can smell me if I get within 50 feet of him), so the two of us cozy up on the air mattress. A nursing baby, a laptop and an angry typist on a twin mattress is not an ideal situation. I know I'm being ridiculous. All I have to do is get up and go back to my room.

But to do so would be to admit defeat, and I don't even know what we're fighting about. All I know is that it's imperative that I don't lose.

It was a long night. The baby fell off the mattress twice, and I went overboard once. I woke up stiff and sullen, and spent the first hour of the day ignoring my husband while we got ready for church. Finally, I said to him "Do you want to take separate cars?" and the ridiculous of that statement ended any ill will.

As we sat in the pew before Mass began, he asked "Do you want to bury the hatchet?" and I said "NO! I am going to stay mad all day!" But it's impossible to do so, because he is charming and sweet and it's simply too much work to stay mad. I love him, even when he's wrong. Even when he doesn't play by the rules.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

In Defense of Non-Parenthood

I've read several articles recently discussing the backlash against parenting by...parents. Huh?

Apparently, parenthood sucks. Recent studies show that parents have higher rates of depression and are emotionally and economically drained. It's too much sacrifice, not enough reward. Some parents think it's supposed to be all cuddles and warm fuzzies and then feel like they've been lied to when it's more like crying and warm snot bubbles.

Some of us are okay with that. Some of us still believe that, despite the studies, the rewards of parenting are worth the struggles. Before I had kids, I didn't 'know' how hard it would be, any more than I knew how awesome it would be. I weighed the assumed risks with the perceived reward and said "OK, I'd like to do that." If I had decided it wasn't something I'd like to do, that would have been okay, too.


Or maybe not. There is a societal ideal that people get married and then have kids. If you don't have kids, there must be something wrong. A biological reason to not conceive, and economic reason to not adopt, but a reason. No one ever assumes that maybe you just don't want to have kids.

Maybe you made the list of pros and cons and decided it wasn't a good trade. Maybe kids don't fit into your lifestyle. Maybe you look at the problem of overpopulation and figure the Duggar family has your 1.89 kids (and then some) covered. Maybe you decided you wouldn't be a very good parent. Maybe life just didn't present the right opportunity at the right time, and it just didn't work out.

Good for you, and good for your non-kids. There are plenty of people who don't take into consideration whether or not they'd be good parents (going beyond the ability to physically and fiscally care for a child). Can I love and support my child? Can I be emotionally and physically available to them on a regular basis? Am I pretty sure that when they go through stages when they're complete a-holes, I will suck it up and keep smiling and tell them I love them, even when on the inside I want to punch them?

Can I say "Who's there?" four hundred times in response to the dumbest knock knock jokes EVER, told when I'm trying to write a very important blog post? 

Just as people should keep their opinions on how I'm raising my kids to themselves, we should stop asking our childless friends "Soooo, when are you guys going to have kids?" It's rude, and presumptuous, and none of our business.

Parenthood is a constant source of joy and pain. It's a lifetime commitment, one to which it's perfectly okay to say "no, thanks".

Friday, April 8, 2011

Party Girl

For a very brief period in the mid-1990s, I was really living it up. I traveled constantly, and eating out on the bosses' dime and enjoying libations in the name of client relations were par for the course. Still, if we were to use Lindsey Lohan as our party girl barometer, I was more Lindsey Schultz - the third grade teacher down the street. Occasionally, I would let it fly and do something regrettable and insanely embarrassing (had you been in the press room at the Daytona Speedway in January of 1998, you may have seen a pair of my panties on display), but I mostly kept my partying to one too many in the company of others. I saved puking and cold sweats to the sanctity of my hotel room. Dear Hampton Inn, Anniston, Alabama, Room 224: I'm sorry. I don't think that stain will ever come out.

Nowadays, I have to lie down after 2 beers. About once a decade I think I can relive my 20s, then spend the next several years trying to live it down. Shouts of "JAGERBOMB!", a rolled down window, a bridge and a new Prius - a deadly combination. But still, I yearn for festivity. We have a big Christmas party, and invite friends over frequently, but I need something that requires a fancy dress and a babysitter. Maybe even a hotel room.

Sean suggested a "Mom Prom". He did not make this up! They exist! A bunch of saggy assed women shoehorn themselves into old bridesmaids or wedding dresses, get shitfaced, and raise money for charity.

This kind of sounds like a blast.

And now I'm wondering if this is something I could plan?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The First Fiction Friday

(A Note: Yes, I know it's Thursday. I'm a day early because I am just that awesome. Thank you to everyone who submitted a word to be used in this, the first installment of Fiction Friday. I used them all, even the ones I had to look up. Funicular? Seriously? Your words are in bold, so you can get an idea of the bullshit I had to work with. If you'd like to submit a word for the next FF, just comment on this post. I hope you enjoy it, you freaks!)

Pierre was a quiet man, a proctologist by trade. His days were spent examining patients, a humdrum existence that led credence to the old saying. Opinions are indeed like assholes, he thought sullenly, we all have them.

The day began like any other- a colonoscopy at 9, hemorrhoid surgery at 11, lunch of grilled gizzards at the club at noon. Later, a mildly interesting case of untimely flatulence caused by a steady diet of boiled cabbage. It was a long day and it was well after dark when he began driving home.

The road wound narrowly around the mountain, a dangerous ascent in the best conditions. Pierre cracked the window and turned on the radio to chase away the sleep that was creeping into his eyes. The soothing voice of Ms. Britney Spears crooned to him through the speakers-

"My loneliness is killing me..."

My God, it was like she was speaking from his very soul. Despite her unseemly shenanigans and penchant for flashing the vagine, Pierre couldn't help but admire the spunky Ms. Spears. It was then, as he was lost in thoughts of her luxurious hair and muscular thighs, that a creature appeared out of nowhere in front of his car.

Pierre slammed on his breaks and turned the wheel hard to the right, but it was too late. The side of his late model sedan (license plate "HOLE-N-1") careened into the beast.

When he came to, there was a bright light shining in his face. Was he dead? Had he crossed over? "Is that you, God?" he muttered.

"Highway Patrol, you jackleg!" a voice boomed. "Get out of the car!"

Pierre gingerly stepped from the wrecked vehicle and into the road. There, horizontal and still, it's lifeless limbs akimbo like a Wild Kingdom contortionist, lie the cause of his misery. "Is that an ostrich?"

The policeman guffawed. "Ostrich? Boy, you ain't from around here, are you? That there's a LLAMA." He shined his flashlight directly on the animal and Pierre saw that it was, indeed, a llama. It was a glorious creature, from the top of it's furry head to the tips of it's succulent breasts. In the darkness, it was hard to tell if it was bleeding from it's teats, or...

"Good Lord!" Pierre gasped. "Is it lactating?"

"That's right, sonny," the policeman said gravely. "You've murdered a lactating llama. That's a state felony."

" was an accident!" Pierre stammered. "I'm a doctor, maybe I can help."

"A vet?"
"No, a proctologist."
"Unless you can perform CPR through the butthole, fella, I'm afraid I'm going to have to take you up to the station. Come on, we'll take the ski lift, it's faster."

"A funicular." Pierre said, without thinking. The cop gave him a sideways glance. "A funicular railway, that's the system of cars and pulleys you refer to as a ski lift."

"Whatever, Assman. You're coming with me."

The car of the funicular was covered in pink polka dots. It had once been used to ferry customers up the mountain to a small shop  specializing in monogrammed ladies' apparel and gifts. It was converted into a police station when women realized they looked like idiots driving around with their minivans monogrammed. They kept the polka dotted car, to further unsettled the criminals they transported there. It was working on Pierre.

When they arrived at the station, the officer began his interrogation.

"Have you been drinking alcoholic beverages? You know...booze? Don't bother lying to me, boy. We'll do the test."
"No, I don't drink."
"What do you have against llamas?"
"Nothing! I've never even seen a llama before. Why was there a llama in the street anyway?"
"I'LL ASK THE QUESTIONS HERE, MISTER!" the officer yelled, coming out of his chair with spittle flying from his lips. He stood for a time, glaring at Pierre and then settled back into his seat. His mood changed, softened.

"Can you I get you a cigarette? Krispy Kreme? Coffee?"
"Only if it's Tim Horton's." Pierre said wistfully.
"Who's this Timmy Horton? Is he your lover? Is that why you killed the llama? Couldn't get your fingers in enough butts at work, you had to kill an innocent animal to impress your freak o' nature boyfriend? Are you gay?"
"NO!" Pierre was clearly flustered now. "No! Not that there's anything wrong with that. I'm...I'm Canadian!" he spat the word out with contempt, then laid his head on the table and began to weep.

"My work visa is expired. I didn't want you to find out. I can't go back there. I can't make a living under socialized medicine! Please don't send me back." The lucrative life of insurance fraud and pharmaceutical kickbacks he had carefully woven unraveled in his mind. 

The silence was deafening. Finally, the policeman spoke.
"Killing a mama llama is a grave offense. But, I think there may be a way out of this."
"I'll do anything!" Pierre said hastily, "Waterboarding! Cut my eyelids off! Splinters under my fingernails!" He could smell his own fear; it was the scent of proctology itself, of loose bowels and Preparation-H.

"The elementary school PTO," the policeman said, an evil glint in his eye, "Needs a President."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Four Days

I Would Like to Relive

1. The day Katie was born. All their births were wonderful, but Katie was the first. It was the only pregnancy blissfully free of doubt and worry, and every emotion was new and unexpected. I spent 9 months preparing for her arrival by reading every book I could get my hands on. On the day she was born, I forgot everything I read and I've spent the past 10 years trying to figure it out. On that day, I stopped being just Kelly and became Katie's Mom. What a gift - it was the best day of my life.

2. The day before my Dad was diagnosed with cancer. Until the doctor looked at my father and told him he had cancer, I lived in the world where young women think their young parents will never die. Until that day, Daddy was invincible, and that's my favorite way to remember him.

3. My wedding day. I married a handsome young man on a hot summer day. The day was just pregnant with possibilities - the things we could do, the places we could go, the family we could have. The day we met, I walked past him and he turned to his boss and said "One day, I'm going to marry that girl." Who knew?

4. Every ordinary day. Like today, when nothing special happened except the sun is shining and I am blessed a thousandfold with friends and family whom I love and who make me feel loved. When I get to have coffee with my friends and my kids yell and cry and kiss me for no reason and my husband asks me to take his clothes to the dry cleaners and I face down a mountain of laundry and, once again, lose.

It is the best day. It is the best life. Thank God.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Making New Friends. Maybe.

Day after tomorrow, I'm loading up the littlest ones and driving across town so they can ride ponies and I can stand around and make small talk with a bunch of people I don't know. This is, for me, the social equivalent of a hot poker in my eye.

Despite having some pretty rad (if I do say so myself) social skillz, I am not overly fond of going to a function without knowing someone there. 'Not overly fond' is being kind. Terrified is more like it. A queasy stomached, hot faced, worst case scenario imagining freak. Sean and Katie both have the gift of social ease - they can slide into any group and make easy conversation, and leave with a dozen phone numbers. I over think everything, then analyze it to death afterward.

I have to dress cute, but not too cute. Not so cute that it looks like I tried really hard to be cute. Horseback riding for the kids, so would jodphurs be too much? Probably. Shorts? No, I'd have to shave. Crops then. A tank, with a cardigan. One of my new bras. WAIT JUST A DAMNED MINUTE. I am going to a playgroup, not getting lucky. I'll wear a nursing bra.

Then there's the kids. The kids are always cute. Luckily, Julia is no longer walking around calling me a vagina, so I don't have to worry about that. If we can avoid meltdowns and potty accidents, I think we're good.

I know where I'm going, so I can pretty accurately judge how long it will take us to get there. I will still be early, because that's what I do. So then I'll have to drive around until there is a significant enough number of cars in the parking lot so I'm not too early. But not late, either. It is a fine line.

I'll have to repack the diaper bag. I'll take out the suckers, and sucker wrappers and half eaten suckers, and replace them with the first aid kit and the organic snacks and the monogrammed sippy cups.

There are some things I can't control. I always talk too much, so I don't even try to control that anymore. I just hope I manage not to drop an f-bomb or blurt out something terribly embarrassing. But sometimes, when I get nervous, or even sometimes when I'm not nervous (because my body likes to fuck with me), I will get very red faced. But just on one side of my face. And because I do not possess the "play it cool" gene, I will walk around proclaiming loudly and frequently "What's going on with my face? That is so weird! Isn't that weird? It's hot! Is it red? It's red, isn't it?"
It's amazing that I ever manage to leave the house, isn't it?

Wish me luck. If things go horribly wrong - at least it will make a good story.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

New Feature! - Fiction Friday

Since my story about the Mail Lady was so well received, I thought I'd do something new - Fiction Friday. Every Friday (until I get tired of it, anyway) I'll write a fictional story. But here is the awesome part - you are going to help me.

All you have to do is comment on this post, with a noun or verb, and I will incorporate it into my story. Please keep it to one or two words, and I'll take up to 50 comments. Any more and I'm afraid it will get long and boring. Some examples of good words: excavate, velveeta, Steven Seagal. Examples of bad words: shit, asshole, bitchface. I'm KIDDING! Those are good words. Bad words would be like: the, beige, hair.

Sounds fun, right?

So share SFC with your friends, call your mom, tell the ladies in your La Leche group, even the freaks on your Facebook page. The more people we get involved, the better the story will be. And also I'm trying to up my readership and I'm not above foolish stunts and silly bullshittery to achieve it.

Get to commenting, friends!