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Monday, December 27, 2010

Manicures with Nancy

I like to think my title is a lot like Tuesdays with Maurie, but with a different spin. Now, I haven't read that book in years, and if the old man dies at the end, than disregard the association. I just like the title. Nancy is my mother.  She has been getting manicures since I can remember.  In fact, her manicurist was a guest at my wedding, so you get the idea.  It was something that my mom did to be sure she always looked polished (no pun intended). When her regular manicurist started getting too busy, even for my mom, and got involved in nail art ( insert questionable expression here),  my mom started going to another manicurist... well ok several.  She asked me to join her today for a mani/pedi ( she is hip with the lingo). So I left the house, which is quiet since Santa has already arrived and I have eaten  most of the chocolate, and met my mom at Meijer. Yes, the 24 hour super store that also houses her nail place. I arrived first and walked in.  They asked in broken English what I needed, and I said I was waiting for my mom. It was then that he saw her coming up from around the self check out lanes. You would have thought it was Oprah. "Oh...Nancy, you her daughter, ok, ok, we set you up. Wheres Walt?" Ok, already this guy has dropped her name and now my Dad's too? There was no language barrier between this man and my mom..and what does this guy already know about me?
As we sat down in our chairs, they picked up like they were old classmates..Which I'm pretty sure is impossible. 
My mom had just been to lunch with a friend and was filling me in on the latest news, I should know who she is talking about, but I have forgotten the names of the neighbors that lived on Chestnut St. Mainly because I didn't live on Chestnut, because I wasn't BORN yet... but those details are inconsequential really.  As another man filled my pedi chair with water, I couldn't help but think of the sharp contrast, from being in Australia, and now in Indiana. The scenery just isn't the same. I sat watching old men sit on a bench, waiting for their wives to finish shopping all while they were falling asleep, and thinking of how I was on the beach on a remote island. No judgment, how can I when that experience was a given to me, not something I'm even going to pretend I could afford to do, both with time, or money.  But I sat and listened to my mom for awhile.
A little history on Nancy.  She has a million friends.  As a child, she seemed to be on the phone forever, and it always seemed like she was talking about me or my siblings... She also always took time for herself but never but herself first, at least it appeared that way to me, but I am the youngest of my siblings by 7 years. She adored her parents. She took aerobics class, she got her hair done, and she took time to care for her friendships. She was a high school cheerleader, and the class secretary. She graduated in 1959, how do I know this? She is the President and (CEO, if they had one), of the 59'ers... the classmates still get together once a month and my mom arranges. She studied dance at Butler University.  My mom makes friends with just about everyone, she has a smile that can light up a salon:)  In fact, I specifically remember her being close with the manager at Taco Bell, my favorite "restaurant" as a kid.. She has sung in the church choir forever.. and she met my dad while modeling in Chicago. They have been married for 43 years. She doesn't drink, although I heard she used to like apricot brandy, she never swears, and she creates words and uses them like Webster had printed them years ago.   I was brought out of my own head when I heard my mom giggling, she is ticklish, although, she was finished with that portion of her pedi, I was in the midst of the scrubbing and she was experiencing sympathetic tickling.. She then told the pedicurist that I had just been with Oprah on a trip, he asked me where she gets her toes done. Seriously?  Then she proceeds to tell him about me and my achievements, "You know, she hit a bit of rebellious stage in high school, but graduated from college with honors, now she has 4 beautiful boys ( who can do no wrong)  and such a nice husband ( who if he crosses my daughter, could do wrong, but for right now he is A ok) . I felt like I was 5...but this shouldn't surprise me, she had told the guy at Verizon the same exact thing yesterday when she came with me to get my phone upgraded.
I just nodded.  Off she went to the manicure station and while over there, she had already told the man (who is expecting twins) that she will be dropping off the carseat we don't need anymore and other baby items he may need.  My mom exudes love and people can feel it.  By the time I arrived to the manicure side, she was telling him that I had been a "surprise", albeit a wonderful one, and when she first found out she cried, not because she was happy, ( which she apologized to me  for) but because she was 36 and back then that was really really old to have a baby.
After a few moments, she looked at me and said, are you tired? Something she always asks, then tells the man that I have a baby with an ear infection... the truth is though, this guy loves it.  He is enjoying every second of this conversation as she is and then she asks about his boys. She knows his life story too?
Before I had kids, I took for granted just how much my mom loved and trusted me.  Not that I questioned her love, but she would drop anything and has continued to drop everything for me.  She is selfless, and if she wasn't so pretty, with kids and a husband, I'm sure she would be mistaken for a nun..When my second son was hospitalized for RSV when he was 4 months, she flew home, instantly ( eriously, I called her from the doctor and by the time we were admitted to the hospital she had flown from AZ to IN) . For my son, but mostly for me.  Her love encompasses every cell in your body and gives every single one a little hug.
After she paid for both our services, she sat down under the dryer next to me. A part of me thought..how did I get so lucky?  I decided that I had been gone for 2 hours and it was time to go. I gave her a kiss and left. But its these little moments that mean the most. Sitting in a 24 hour super store getting our nails done...maybe that is what makes the store even more "super " :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas evolved

Today at my lunch break I sped to the mall, of all places, to madly search for a lego figure named Jango Fett.  I had to park about 2 miles away, I was temped to park in the handicap spot but I resisted temptation. I stormed into the mall passing the guys wanting to put lotion on my hands, ignoring the cell phone guy asking who my carrier was and arriving at what I hoped to be my last hope in finding the ONLY toy my seven year old wants. I did not find it.  I went in to Journeys.. I figured that they have Mario Bro. stuff, they might have Star Wars stuff. No luck, I did get a great attitude from the husky sales-teen in skinny jeans ( he should really re-think that). I then thought I would try my luck at Spencer's. When I was a pre-teen my friends and I would go into Spencer's and giggle at the farting reindeer, not so much anymore. They have a full on Adult section! No joke. I probably stood there about a minute too long with my mouth ajar.  So I left feeling defeated. How could I let this go? When I overheard Parker telling our Elf on the Shelf that he wanted this figurine I tried to say that maybe Santa had a high demand for this lego and that he might not be able to deliver it. He then reminded me that Santa was magic and could just make one.  Oh s*it, I have been telling him that Santa can see him torturing his brothers because he is "magic". I only have myself to blame.  So it got me to thinking.  Have we created a society with instant gratifying kids who want what they want and want it now? Is it really any different than when I wanted a cabbage patch kid and my mom was not willing to punch another mom in the head so unwrapped the knock off brand on Christmas? Maybe not.  Where it gets a little shady is the fact that when I googled Jango Fett, several options appeared, except they were not at stores, they were on Ebay and at least $199. So some tool-shed, albeit a smart one, figured that this may be the hot boy gift item this year, bought a hundred of them ( all from my local toy stores presumably) and now he is holding my poor little son's hopes and  Christmas dreams random.  So what do I do? I considered writing an IOU (typing it of course) to Parker saying that it will be on its way in 5-10 business days. But I really wanted that red rider bb gun moment for him Christmas morning.  I just don't know. Christmas feels different this year. Who knew it was so much work? Having specific wrapping paper from the gifts from Santa. Hiding the presents, planning to give them nyquil on Christmas Eve so we can at least wake up after 4 a.m. Just kidding.  But I have noticed a decline in Christmas cards this year.  The point of Christmas cards was to update everyone on what you look like, but with facebook being so popular, we already know what you look like AND what you  have been doing for the past year.
So leaving the mall I felt defeated. It was my last hope and as I passed the now filled handicap spot I was thankful that I didn't park there.  Its going to take a Christmas miracle to find Jango Fett, but after what I have discovered this past year, just when you least expect it, surprises happen

Monday, December 20, 2010

Flirting with Australia

I have to admit. I'm suffering from a bit of an Oprah hangover.  I just spent 3 months preparing for a trip and 10 days on a trip that all started when I was given the trip of a lifetime.  Now that I'm back to the cold and snowy midwest, I miss Australia. I especially miss being treated like a celebrity.  I experienced a fraction of what a celebrity experiences, and I have a new understanding of how they become a custom to it...fast. For example.  I didn't really need to think. Everything was thought out for me. From when to eat breakfast, to a person pointing in the direction I was to go. I didn't even need to put my napkin on my own lap.  Quite a bit different to my home napkin situation, ok  to be honest, we don't even have napkins. Just paper towels.  We had a rude awakening when my friend and I stood 10 minutes waiting for the elevator before we realized that neither of us had pressed the button.  But really celebrities must occupy their minds with something else, because the mundane tasks that we do everyday are not even done by the Brad Pitt's of the world....more time to memorize lines I guess.  So here we were, 302 Oprah fans out and about.  There was a common thread that held us together and that was our love for the same woman. But like any love affair, the honeymoon is over quickly. And I must say that although the majority of the people were lovely (and teachers I might add) some had a couple screws loose.  This became evident very early and my buddy and I stayed clear. On the final day I was able to meet the big O herself.  People asked if she is the same in person and my answer is No.... She is even better.  There is a reason that she got to where she is.  She has a magnetic energy about her and when she speaks to you, she is fully present and looks you right in the eye. That is more than I can say about half the people I work with.
They took the 302 of us and broke us up into 5 or 6 groups. I was in the adventure group.  This allowed me to shamelessly flirt with all that Australia had to offer. The barrier reef, the koalas, the food, the city, the Sydney Harbor bridge and the people. Oh the people. Australians seem to have sunshine coming out of their pores.  They are genuinely happy and healthy and seem to be fully present in their lives.  In sharp contrast to the Los Angeles airport when I mistakenly smiled at the Starbuck's person and told them to have a nice day...(gasp) how dare I?
Clearly there was beauty beyond words that a photo or my words could not do justice, but something of equal value to me was the friendships that were made.  On most reality shows relationships fizzle quickly when the cameras disappear, but I met two girls in particular that I believe will be in my life forever. The friendship was effortless and we seamlessly befriended each other.  Although we live in different states, what we shared will certainly live on.
I close on a thought, albeit, a bit morbid.  This trip has taken me, an ordinary ( from an outsiders view) working mom and wife and spiced up my identity. I don't doubt that in my eulogy, which I hope is 5 or 6 decades away, that my boys will reflect as one of the proud moments in my life. Perhaps that changed me. In what way, I will have to wait and see.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Road Trippin part II

We were greeted by Don's brother and we walked into the house. The boys were very excited to see their cousin and their new cousin who is just a week older than Oscar. His cheeks proceeded him when we met. He looks like a cherub, kind of what a baby is suppose to look like. Our babies never look like babies, but more like old men without wrinkles.  Cute old men I might add.  It took an hour or so to take all of our stuff and baby gear into the house. It felt so good to have a home cooked meal that night.  The boys swam and all was right in the world. It wasn't until the next day that I started to wonder if it was a full moon.  In the course of a 2 hour time span, Parker discovered a lumpy substance at the bottom of the pool, Jack denied the substance to be his poop. Don put a scuba mask on to confirm it was indeed poop. The evacuation of the pool caused major disappointment and blame spread fast.  Jack was an outcast. What I didn't realize is that once this happens, the pool or in our case, the hot tub, needed to be drained.  It took a four man assembly line, but they were able to drain the hot tub, sanitize it and scrub it down with in an hour or so.... Don's brother had to go to the pool store and get chemicals that had to settle for 48 hours.  So one 3 yr. olds accident cost quite a bit of $$ in the long run.  Lesson learned. Swimmer diaper.
Jack must have been so distraught that while speaking with his other uncle he leapt from the couch into the corner of the TV case and split his head open. Just as that was calming down Oscar projectile puked.  The great thing is that we were with family. Family who understands that a little poop and puke can't ruin Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Road Tripping Part I

The Road trip is an annual event for us...is it because we enjoy the extreme closeness of each other? Not so much. In a word, money. We cannot possibly afford to purchase 5 airline tickets for a five day visit, plus a rental car to hold all of us which we would need to rent car seats to go IN the rental car, as you can see $$$. Plus, where would we put all the Christmas presents my mother-in-law gives us to bring back?  So we pack up the car with snacks galore and set our sights on a 22 hour trip in 2 days.  We always have the best intentions to leave at a certain hour, but I know by now that its always 2 hours past that time..( another reason we don't fly) plus the last time we flew was in 2005 to Arizona, back then we only had 2 kids...ah amateurs and we were "randomly" selected for a security search where I watched a guy pat down Fin's diaper... " don't touch my junk"
So we left our home at 4 a.m. Saying good-bye to our loyal lab, who will not sleep the entire time we are gone to uphold his duty to guard the house. When we return he always has puppy bags under his eyes. Without fail as soon as we get in the car I crave chees-its. I don't know why.  And coffee, lots of it.  Most of our boys do very well, and who can blame them?  Our car is stocked with two dvd's players 2 dsi's and numerous books, toys, animals, candy and cd's.  Since when did adults care about a kids boredom? I can specifically remember that concern being at the bottom or not even ON my parents travel list.  It seems like everyone is so concerned that their kid might get bored on a road trip that they spend a lot of money and effort on avoiding it.  We drove in the dark and the freeway is illuminated by the light of in-car televisions, we spotted a showing of Barbie, the Incredibles and our car which was a double feature of  Yo Gabba Gabba and Scooby Doo. I hate to sound like a grumpy old man, but I remember bringing a walkman with tapes that I recorded of television shows. I would hold the recorder up to the tv and hit record and LISTEN to it. That was my entertainment.. second hand recordings of You can't do that on Television. But in all honesty, I wasn't strapped to a car seat. I had full roam of the car, floor boards and cargo space. We got as far as two hours before we needed to take a potty brake. I have a weird issue with co-ed bathrooms, so much so that I will not use them, (possibly the people I have seen come out of them.) That happened to be the only one available at our first stop so we had to go to a different one at Mc Donalds, by this time it is 6 a.m. and what we saw at Mc Donalds before sunrise on a Saturday morning was a dozen old men have breakfast.  I guess I had always heard about this type, but never saw it with my own eyes... its true, these men do exist and seem remarkably happy to be eating foam pancakes.
So as we traveled to each state we like to celebrate it by yelling the name of the state, for our own amusement because the boys are in a techno-coma. This proved to be very difficult when we crossed from Tennessee to Georgia and back to Tennessee. Our eyes are then continually harassed by old signs advertising Ruby Falls? I swear there are at least 25 1970's looking faded signs saying it is the best family vacation spot. By the 25 one I actually want to go to Ruby Falls but Don reminds me that we must not let silly propaganda get in the way of our final destination. Fast forward to Georgia where we noticed a huge temperature increase and the locals attire decrease. I saw a girl wearing  boxer shorts with bed head  at a Dunkin Donuts where she was flirting with the dunkin donut guy and I was virtually invisible..I was going to get a latte, but seriously questioned the ponytail donut guys ability, so I just got a large black coffee instead.  The signs du jour are for "spas" and I wonder how such a beautiful thing as a spa could become a pseudonym for sex? And 50% of my boys can read and kept asking what
"we bare all" meant or "strippers, need we say more,  trucks welcome!"  As we cross into Florida, clearly their billboard bread is buttered with pro-life billboards, and photo's of fetuses. Maybe its a sort of consequence of the Georgia billboards... Tennessee and Kentucky are also states we pass, but at that point I'm in a travel trance.
We announce everything we see too. Cows! Horses! Hay! and every state line we pass.   It makes for one crazy ride in our party bus. By the time we reach Florida, we are so excited that the we get an added shot of adrenaline.. except that we run into a car accident and are stopped on the freeway. Talk about a buzz kill. We are going at a snails pace for what? An car that had caught fire at least 5 hours prior and everyone is rubber necking. And so it goes.
Once we arrive I feel like we have a van attached to our rumps.  Its all excitement and chaos and immediately our tidy quarters have been violated by our explosive suitcases. Our 22 hour journey has concluded and we are ready to kick back and relax.. or so we think.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Elf on the Shelf saved my life.

This is one of those phrases that you never can actually see yourself saying. But this morning as Henry, (our elf's name) sat on his perch in the kitchen, I felt that perhaps, this was just the parenting ticket we needed.  My girlfriend Talia came for a visit, by visit I mean for two nights, but you would have thought she was packing for a 12 day trip around the world.  Bags and Bags of food, shoes, clothes and who knows what else. She is a smart girl, she also brought a six pack of imported beer for Don, and once he saw that his "beer vision" didn't allow him to notice the six bags on our porch and the the fact that we stay up until midnight watching Oprah and pausing it to discuss, sessions.  But more importantly she came bearing a gift for the little boys too, The Elf on the Shelf.  For those unfortunate parents that are not aware of this genius product, it is a stuffed little elf that watches over your kids and gives daily behavior reports to Santa each night when he magically flies there.  If anyone touches him, the magic is gone and Christmas will be present-less and filled with despair.  I wasn't sure if they were going to buy into this one, but I hoped. They all fell for it, hook line and sinker. Parker was a little disappointed that Henry didn't jump out of his box on his own, but he obediently went to bed under Henry's watchful plastic eye.  Finegan was a little skeptical, but he is not going to test it, for the possibility that it may be real.  Jack doesn't get it, and wanted to take it upstairs with him.  Under the direct threat and Parker punching his hand with his fist, he told Jack that if he touched the elf, he was toast.
The Elf Tao is that he moves to different locations each night to get a new perspective on naughtiness. Finegan was the first to find him this morning.  It is only day one, and we will see how this plays out, but at least the threat of Henry is mine, all mine, for as long as it works. 
Although Don is buried in work, I still made it mandatory for him participate in the Family Elf ceremony. When the story was read, Don said with as much enthusiasm as a monk, "wow. its a magic elf" took a sip of his beer and walked back to his laptop.  Do you ever wonder if kids pick up on your blatant sarcasm? Don is a trained actor, and I was very disappointed in his performance, but the boys didn't seem to pick up on it. 
I wonder if we just didn't feel like spending money this year if we could just put Henry on the ground and play a Survivor  game of "who touched the elf we better be good". I won't try that this year.
I have no idea what ploy were will use when Henry travels back to the North Pole after Christmas. Maybe a Jesus doll, to report back to God on their behavior, but rather then a sad Christmas as punishment, they would have hell to pay! On second thought....

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Losing" Jack

Yesterday was an ordinary Sunday. Housework, church, yardwork etc.  The boys had been in and out of the house all day.  We have a fenced in backyard that is securely locked to keep them from getting out.  The day was winding down and I needed to get dinner ready (pizza) but it is so much easier to do without a kitchen full of boys. So I told the boys they could watch Toy Story 3 ( a new dvd) in the basement while I prepared dinner.   All was quiet and calm. Don and I had sat down on the couch to talk and wait for the pizza to be ready. It was almost time so I called down to the boys to come upstairs and wash their hands for dinner.  I heard the thumping of their feet climbing the stairs but noticed that only the 2 older boys came up.   I called down to Jack, "Jack, come upstairs!" He is our 3 year old and is usually the first one at the table.
No answer.  I called again, it was then that Parker said that Jack wasn't with them  and he had thought he had come upstairs a "long time ago".  As a parent, I was slightly worried, but went downstairs to check, sure enough, he wasn't there. I called to Don who was already starting to panic and repeat, " this is not good, this is not good" as he went upstairs to find him. He wasn't upstairs either. And with that, our hell began.  I cannot explain what it felt like other than,  my heart  felt like it had sank into my stomach. Surely he must be in the backyard?  He wasn't there either. It was then that Don and I noticed the front door was open.  We live in a sidewalk lined, relatively safe neighborhood, but unless that neighborhood is in a snow globe, anyone can roam through it. We both took off out of the house. Screaming Jack's name over and over. I ran to the neighbors to see if they had seen Jack. I just wanted someone, anyone to say they had seen him go this way or that way, but nobody could give me that answer.  I ran back home where Fin was standing there watching the baby. Tears are streaming down my face as I called 911.  Giving a description of my son has never been so difficult.  They responded quickly and sent 2 police cars over.  I must have been quite hysterical because by this time our streets were lined with people, all searching for Jack.  I sat on our front steps and heard far off voices screaming Jack? Jack?  I thought at one point that this could not be happening to me.  I couldn't bear to go inside without him. It was getting dark.  Every car that passed I ran in front of to ask if they had seen my little boy. I was not what you would call, calm and collected, but even my neighbors without children were concerned and the panic amongst us was palpable. I have never been in a situation like this before, and until yesterday I didn't know how I would react.  It is in these moments that you discover how your body and brain work.  I told myself to calm down, I spoke ( yelled) at God to not let this happen...and I started wishing. Wishing that  I had a power to stop everything and everyone. I wished that kids had some kind of gps inside of them, so I could know their location at all times. I wished it was just a dream. When the police arrived they asked permission to search my house. I told them to just find him! When they emerged, they hadn't found him. They asked me to come inside and find a picture of Jack. I grabbed every picture of him that I had on the refrigerator, and that is when reality set in, was this going to be the picture on the news? I threw up in the kitchen sink.
I felt emotionally exposed. The fears that had been hidden in the depths of my body had all risen to the surface.  I try and maintain a confident and competent demeanor and in this moment it was me..just me raw.
I didn't care who are what was there, I just wanted Jack to be home. I have four boys, not three and the table is set, and we will not be eating until Jack is in his seat.  I listened as the officers called in the report, white male, 3 years old, Navy shirt that reads Big Bro, jeans with rips in the knees, and white socks... My baby was such a trooper, thankfully he had been fed previous to the chaos and he was just kicking away in his bouncy seat, watching police men, me, everyone run back and forth. My older son was circling the block and Fin was more concerned with my tears then his brother. At one point he asked to continue watching the movie, and I snapped. What I didn't take into consideration, is that in his 6 year old mind, the worst thing that could happen was he was lost. In my 33 year old mind the worst thing that could happen is a laundry list of images and fears of the unspeakable.   The police sat Fin down and questioned him about the last time he saw Jack. My parents arrived. My dad was taking care of the search and my mom was taking care of me.
As they began to leave, one of the officers stopped. He looked at me and said,  "I just have a feeling he is in the house, can we search again?" Yes I said, but felt like I wanted them out finding the person who had taken him.  I know my son, and I know that he is not a mischievous three year old. If he did go outside, he knows his limits ( we go over them constantly) and I knew that if he had been gone for
 (by now it was 45 min.) someone had him. I allowed them back inside and I heard one of the officers yell "we found him!" I ran downstairs to see Jack, groggy and sweaty, sleeping under the cushions in the couch. The couch that 6 adults and 2 kids had already searched.
I didn't run to his side with glee.  As much relief that I felt, I also felt that he had no idea what was going on and to see me crying would have freaked him out  and even more, having 4 enormous armed men in uniform staring at him.
The word quickly spread that we had found him, at this point the only one who didn't know was Don.  A neighbor had found him. He had been sprinting, screaming and searching for the past 45 minutes. I have always viewed Don as an emotional rock, today was the first time I saw him shattered.  He returned, hoarse, sweaty and with bloodshot eyes.
A cruel evening in terms of discovering your inept ability to deal with such an emotion.
The what-ifs have not stopped. Questioning my parenting has not stopped.  What it did, was it brought me down a notch. I'm humbled, grateful and truly blessed to have neighbors who really care.
The longest hour of my life, but we had the best possible outcome and I know that we are lucky.
Last night I slept in Jack's bed, I just wanted to be sure that when I did wake up in the middle of the night I didn't need to run upstairs, I could just reach over and feel his face.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A dog tribute

We had a child out of wedlock. He is our bastard child and he was born to a real bitch. His name is Graham and he came to us from a breeder in Northern California.  Its a big step for a couple to get a dog together. I wish more people took it as seriously as we did. We did all the things that expecting parents do. We read the dog books, we researched breeds, and I even went to the bookstore and searched through baby name books to find just the perfect name. Finally on a warm day at LAX our baby arrived.
I choose the name Graham because it was a Scottish surname that meant homestead. Unlike a baby, you can choose the sex and the breed. I choose him because a. I love chocolate and b. he is cute. Little did I know he would be the foreshadowing of things to come.  
Having a puppy teaches you a lot about your relationship. I had gotten a puppy with a previous boyfriend. Ironically it was also a chocolate lab, but when we realized that not only were we completely irresponsible, poor and on shaky relationship ground, having a puppy did not fix things. In fact it will test things.  Poor Java Bean ended up living with his parents after our breakup. 
I remember the first night I had with Graham. I settled him into his cozy new crate, gave him a toy, put the lights out and was ready to go to sleep.  That is when the crying started... and it didn't stop.  Didn't he understand that I had class the next day?  By 3 a.m. I seriously considered leaving him on a leash tied to the stop sign  knowing that someone would pick him up and give him a new home. I have felt so guilty about that ever since.  Things did get better, but who knew how expensive this was going to be? Shots? Food? Removal of his balls?  Potty training was a shitty experience all in itself.  Did I mention that dogs were not allowed in my apartment?  So if  I were to leave and have him cry, I would get evicted.  I specifically remember visiting my neighbor upstairs to explain that we had a dog and if he heard crying that is what it was, and to please not tell on me.  He happened to be in a wheelchair, and an insomniac and there were times that  I think he fell out of his chair and flopped around like a fish, because the noise was as loud as a construction site.  He understood this, and said mums the word. Did I mention that he wasn't wearing pants when he opened the door? That is an entirely different post all together.
When I wanted to go out one night, I realized that this chocolate ball and chain would not let me. I called a dog sitter. To my dismay, they were not like a baby dog sitter,  they didn't come over for an hour or two and babysit so you could go out, they took care of your dog while you were AWAY.  Bummer, and I'm sure the guy I spoke with thought I was a real lunatic. 
So Graham and I became very close very fast. There were tears and laughter. I'm a habitual dog dresser upper. Graham has worn veils, shirts, hats, shoes, antlers...you name it and he has not only worn it, but it has been documented with photos. 
When my boyfriend proposed and we made plans for our honeymoon, I could not let Graham be alone. So my maid of honor and I drove 2000+ miles to Indiana. Once we were married my husband and I  drove from Indiana to California, and stayed at dog friendly hotels.  Once we got to LA we dropped him off at an approved cage free doggy care center ( $$$)  and went to Sonoma for a honeymoon without the baby :) I wonder if the people at our wedding knew there monetary gifts would be going to our dog? 
Lets fast forward 10 years.  Graham has been around for each and every son we have had. In fact I think he knew I was pregnant before I did.  He would become a little bit more protective of me while I was prego.  When I had a miscarriage and couldn't bear to get out of bed, he stayed, didn't even get up to eat. 
With each son he graciously welcomed them with a gentle, non jealous demeanor, knowing very well that he was now not even in the backseat, he was in the trunk when it came to family hierarchy. When we brought our 4th son home, I swear he looked at me with a look that said "seriously?" 
Make no mistake, Graham is a strange dog, he is not your typical lab. He isn't overly friendly to strangers, he has an uncanny judge of character. He also has a french accent when he talks.. He seems to have an iron stomach because he has eaten at times, an entire loaf of french bread, numerous diapers 
(the brown variety) an entire pizza cooling on the oven, a box of chocolate, friendship bread, cheese, and whatever the boys don't want to eat for dinner.
But lately I have noticed that Graham is slowing down a bit. He is 77 in dog years and will turn 84 in February. I'm realistic in knowing the life span of a lab. We are lucky right now to have him at 11.
He is still loyal and I cannot go into the bathroom without him following me. But I know our time is limited. 
Graham taught me how to be a mom.  He taught us how to be a couple, and he showed me what true unconditional love is. So with this post I honor my canine son Graham and hope to be able to celebrate his life now and make his silver years his very best.  He has been our silent anchor always greeting us at the door with a wag. The least we can do for him is let him do his job a little longer.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Talent Co-op anyone?

I blame my parents. When I was a kid if I showed the slightest interest in anything, they were on it. I was taking lessons, or on a team in a matter of weeks. It was great. It allowed me to excel in what I was good at (acting/soccer) and fail at what I wasn't (gymnastics).It was really not a good fit for me. First of all I get terrible motion sickness and secondly I wasn't limber. In fact,  I was recently told by a physician that I have the flexibility of an 80 year old woman, and it was the worst he had ever seen in anyone in their 30's even 40's. But I at least got to try to do the splits and participate with other gumby little girls. I didn't feel poorly about that  because I knew I was good at other things.
I want the same for my boys. But I had no idea how expense exploring my youngsters interests could be! So far, I have taken our two older ones to tennis lessons, soccer, t-ball, pottery and now tap dance lessons.  Yes I know, tap dance lessons?  Both Don and I have always admired a good tap dancer, it combines just the right amount of athleticism and grace. It also is a fantastic thing, in my opinion, to have in your talent repertoire. I'm the type a girl that finds a guy who can dance, and (doesn't do the sidestep in the edge of a dance floor) very attractive. Even if a guy gets out there and just has a good time is already 3x more attractive than a guy who is better looking and standing there with his hands in his pockets.
So today we embarked on this tap endeavor.  We arrived and I had quickly forgotten how the smell of lycra can just make my muscles ache.  The woman was all business too.  Having me sign my boys tapping feet away for the next 7 months!  She called it a "semester". Wait a second...I don't remember this when I was a kid.  She then whisked the boys off to the "shop" and had them fitted for tap shoes.  All the time the boys are doing what they think are tap moves, which looks a bit more like a riverdance combo with the Russian guy dance.
Slowly I felt my purse being tugged and tugged again.
$ shoes
$$ registration fee
$$$ tuition up front
Before I knew it, I had spent a mortgage payment on something that I don't even know if the boys will like. They just said they thought it would be fun...well, wait, maybe I asked them if they wanted to learn, I'm so baffled and I just don't know anymore. And I just realized that this will certainly cut in to their baseball season and I can be pretty sure that their dad isn't going to have them miss a couple games for a tap recital...just a hunch.
The rest of the students arrive and it takes all of 2 seconds for them to both realize that there is not a boy in sight..except for a little girls brother, and I sensed a bit of hesitation.  But I explained that this was really a cool thing for them to know, and that I was proud of them. Then they are herded away to a secret room that I cannot observe except on observation days.
Do I think that in the next 20 years they will be starring on Broadway as Billy Elliott?  No.
But maybe? Would my brother be a Grammy award winning opera singer if my mom hadn't put him in church choir when he was 9? Maybe but doubtful.
Would I be an Oscar award winning actress if my mom hadn't enrolled me in the local Shakespeare camp? Wait a second... but I'm still a more well rounded person who can do a killer Lady MacBeth impersonation because of that experience. And if I were to be frank, there were a cupple of little pork chops taking the same class, who clearly don't have the bone structure for dance. Softball?  Maybe.
But why should it cost an arm and a leg to let the kids experience something just to see if they like it?
I think it would be great if parents got together and figured out what each of us is great at. Not good, not expert level, but great enough to show newbie kids the gist.
For example, I'm a pretty good ice skater... I would be more than happy to take a few kids on Saturday mornings to the ice rink and teach them the basics.  I know someone must know how to play the piano, cello, violin, etc. well enough to introduce it to a group of kids without me purchasing the instrument and the lessons only to discover that my son is not the next Yo Yo Ma.
Is it really any wonder why the arts are dying a slow death amongst our youth?  If I had to choose between feeding my kids belly or talent, I would, of course, choose belly.
So finally after a long 30 min. which if I calculate the cost per minute I would probably fall off my chair, the boys emerged from the dance studio.
Were they filled with inspiration and glee? Hardly. Parker said, that was hard. Finegan said, that was too fast and the girls were better than us.
This road to SYTYCD may be a long one, but someday, when they are giving their bows on stage they will look at me and mouth "thank you mom". and it will be all worth it.

Friday, October 29, 2010

You Grew in a Nut Mommy.

I wish that I had a camera following me just for one morning.  I would then put it in a parallel frame with my boss and  in accurate time follow our morning events all the way up to the point when I walked into work and heard him say..."your late".

Of course this is all hypothetical because I have no clue what he does in the morning, but let me give you my idea of what might be happening.

5 a.m. While he is sleeping, my alarm is going off and Tony
Horton is waiting for me in the basement to workout so that I
can wear my professional work clothes and not "look like a slob"
5:30 a.m. my workout is derailed when Jack needs grape juice
and is naked because he went potty.
5:45 Boss is still sleeping...
5:45 a.m.  I have lost all motivation and have started to make coffee.
6:00 He is probably taking a beautifully hot shower with dual shower heads while his wife makes him Italian espresso.
6:00 a.m. I have decided that I will not be taking a shower this morning. We are already running behind and my husband will be in the shower for 20 min. which will not give me enough alone time.
6:15 a.m. I have already turned on the light in the boys room to tell them that if they were not up in 10 minutes that they will miss the hoe down. Yes, there is a hoe down at school, and missing it would mean that I would have to keep them home from school, but they didn't notice my empty threat.
6:30 a.m. I pour myself some granola and pour a table spoon of milk in it, to my dismay there is no more milk in the house. As I eat dry granola I try and figure out what I'm going  to feed the boys that does not involve milk.
6:30 a.m. Mr. Boss is probably having stimulating conversation over a feta cheese omelet and reading the New York Times.
6:45 Pop Tarts have been served.
6:50 a.m. Husband changes Oscar and puts him in a ridiculously ugly outfit with stripped pants, turtle socks and a Halloween shirt.
6:51 Our dog ate Jack's Pop Tart
6:52 Parker realizes he didn't do his math homework
6:53 Finegan has dropped his toothbrush on the bathroom floor and immediately put it in his mouth.
7:00 Phone call, the nanny may be sick and may need to go to the doctor....
7:03 The (older) boys are out the door, I pray the school boss arrives this time.
7:05 My boss is throwing his scarf around his neck and leisurely getting in his (clean) car to drive to work.
7:05 I realize that I'm not dressed.
7:10 Baby Einstein is our feature presentation and I have a chance to put clothes on.
7:15 A loud crash. Jack has dumped all of his dvd on the floor. All 400 of them.
7:17 I find that my jeans are not fitting and I hate myself for not working out.
7: something I poor myself a hot cup of coffee.
7:30 Oscar is hungry and I need to give him a bottle.
7:30 My boss is waving to the guard and parking in his designated spot and taking a brisk 2 minute walk into the door.
7:45 I finished feeding Oscar and put him in his car seat to get ready to leave.
7:50 I reprimand Jack for rocking Oscar too violently in his car seat.
7:55 I dump the coffee I poured because it is cold and I pour myself another one. I put a chair in front of the cupboard because our 11 year old lab has regressed into a 1 year old puppy and eats our food.  I grab the keys, throw a coat on Jack and pick up the car seat.
8:00 Oscar explodes. Earlier in the week, he was diagnosed with an ear infection and is on antibiotics, apparently his digestive system just realized this and he has pooped... and I mean POOPED.
8:05 I have removed every article of mismatched clothing from the baby and threw them in the tub to be cleaned later. I put him back in jammies, and hope nobody notices.
8:07 I'm out the door and Jack is carrying a microwave popcorn bag and I don't care.
8:15 Jack is dumbfounded that he can't have popcorn in the car because last time I checked we don't have a microwave in the front seat. He is so mad at me. He tells me I grew in a nut.
This is equivalent to an adult abomination of character. Just the other day his brothers told him that he didn't grow in my tummy and that he grew in a nut and it hurt his feelings, so his main intention with this nut comment were to hurt mine.
8:17 I reach for my coffee and realize its still on the counter.
8:17 My boss is wondering where I am.
8:22 I drop the 2 little ones off with the nanny, hoping she feels better, and peel Jack from my leg. Apparently he has changed his mind about his displeasure with me.
8:30 I'm at a stop light and take a glance at myself in the mirror...I only lined one eye.
8:35 I'm stuck behind a girl dropping her boyfriend off in front of a building and they are giving an extra long kiss good by. I want to scream "get a room" but decide my mini-van screams that all on its own.
8:40 I keep swiping my card to get into the lot at work and it won't beep. I then realize that the gate is already open...( remember I have not had any coffee yet) and what is really bad, I did the same thing yesterday.
8:45 I cough up a big phlegm ball and think that nobody can see me spit it in the grass, and a person I know is standing there witnessing me do this. I hope he doesn't recognize me but he waves.
8:55 I'm still walking to my office. Unlike my boss, I have to park 10-15 min. away.
8:57 I take a tiny detour to Starbucks.
9:05 While waiting for my coffee I start to feel guilty about my testiness with Jack when leaving, and wonder if there was anyway I could have popped the popcorn for him in the car.
9:07 I arrive and my boss says "your late"

I don't even attempt to explain myself. There really isn't a set time I'm even suppose to be in, but I just smile and turn on my working-girl charm.  Kids? What kids?  I had such a crazy night last night, I must  have just slept threw my alarm.  Under my breath I said to him........
"you grew in a nut"

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Halloween..a word please.

Halloween has evolved. Especially since I was a kid.  I started planning my costume on November 1 and didn't give it a second thought until a week or two prior to Halloween, which sent my mom into a costume frenzy because she would make them for us.  She gave up this tradition when I insisted on being my dog, who was a mutt, one year and I ended up looking like an ewok. Now costumes are determined by the popular movie that year, or if you are a college girl.
Everyone knows that any girl between the age of 18-27 will use Halloween as an excuse to look as slutty as possible. Hey, I'm just as guilty. From, 1996-1998 I was a catholic school girl. What is ironic, is that I actually was a catholic school girl.  Prior to the age of 18 there is a Halloween dry spell. A too cool for school attitude. In 6th grade its still kind of cool to dress up. In 7th and 8th grade every girl in my class, including me, was a "punk". Or at least our definition of a punk. Pink spiked hair, mismatched neon clothes. Not the punks you would see walking the streets of London but more the kind you would see in a Midwest food court.
Then the high school age when you really want the candy, and want to dress up, but are afraid you will look stupid so you don't. But the boys usually will wear street clothes and a mask and go out anyway.
Once you have kids, all Halloween efforts are dedicated to them. Unless you are in our family where Halloween is a big deal for all of us, well ok, most of us, well except me. I'm just along for the ride.
 Just tonight I took my two older sons to something called Zoo boo. It sounded like a good idea at the time. Kids dress up, go to the zoo and different vendors hand out candy. I thought it would be fun to spook the boys a bit and told them we were going to someplace special to celebrate the Holiday.  I love to mess with them and as their mom I reserve all rights to do so. Of course I had to stop at Starbucks first. I knew I was going to need some liquid pick me up, if I was going to be wondering a round a zoo at dusk.  When we pulled up to the drive thru, I said "Surprise! Isn't this great?" By now they know when I'm kidding, and they still think its kind of funny, but not funny enough to laugh... not even a courtesy laugh. We didn't have any Halloween Cd's in the car and the only one I could find was Grateful Dead, the name is scary, and once I told them the name of the band they agreed it was suitable for Halloween. So as we listened to Sugar Magnolia and were in route to the Zoo Boo.
Once there, we made our way to the back of a line of at least 300 people. As we were walking I discovered an alarming trend. Parents costumes. Its scared me...really. Here is why.
The first one was a father and his son in Orange Jail jumpers ( that looked a little too authentic), the mom was in some kind of blue shirt, I can only imagine she was suppose to be a correction officer.  The next was a mom as Alice and her daughter was the card. That would have been cute, if she would have chosen a less slutty version of Alice. Which begs the question, when did Halloween become about sex? The last thing I want to think of referring to sex are zombies..or vice versa.
I found it interesting that some moms had gone out of their way to dress their daughters up.  I know, I don't have girls, but the way these girls were dressed were almost as if they were auditioning for the next kid beauty pageant show on TLC. Make up that only a salesgirl at the Mac counter should be wearing. I think it is a sad attempt to do just that. The same as if a man continually dresses as a woman for Halloween. He has the desire to dress in drag. Nothing wrong with that at all, but don't use Halloween as your cover.
If you are an adult and choose to dress up, I  think costume choice does say something about your inner-most desires.  This year I'm going as Rachel from Glee, complete with a slushy stained shirt. Don is a vampire from True Blood. I'm not sure I can validate my point with that, and I'm not going to try.
The zoo boo was not something I would do again. I found my self more irritated than anything. The biggest disappointment was that the majority of the zoo residents were not there. No tigers, lions or monkeys, but we did get to see a wild turkey, a buffalo and a llama. Although, the boys did have fun. They are my little actors in full character. Fin, as a skeleton ( a baggy one, but he insisted) would sneak up behind kids and tap them on the shoulder to scare them by just standing there, no boo, just a stare. Parker, (a star wars character, Jengo something,) and in a costume to small, ( but he insisted) lurked around as if he was on a mission. A mission for candy, all I had to do is go up to the vendors and listen long enough to get candy for them... I took one for the team, as a mom I have accepted that is one thing I must just do . But if anyone would like a free tanning package at the local tanning salon, let me know...now that IS scary.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What is the truth anyway?

I ran into a girl who went to my grade school when I was in Starbucks today. I was alone and decided to forgo the drive-thru and actually make personal contact with the baristas whose voices I know so well.
As I walked up to the counter I realized I had cut a girl who was on her blackberry.  As I turned to apologize, I realized that I knew her. The last time we had seen each other was at a party. Both of us knew we were pregnant, but neither one of us had told anyone yet, I should have known when she passed on the wine being poured around also.  She ended up having a girl and I had a boy. I asked how her daughter was doing. She said that she is doing great and sleeping through the night, in their bed.. I mentioned that Oscar still gets up at night at least once, hence the need for espresso, and that is when the mommy truth gets a little awkward. I said, well, we don't allow our boys to sleep with us.  I know there are some firm co-sleeping believing people out there, but I'm not one of them. First of all, I cannot sleep when there is a baby next to me... I wish I could, but I can't, I'm afraid that I will roll over on them, that somehow they will scoot to the end of the bed with out me knowing and fall off and land on their head. Or they will wrap themselves in a sheet noose and strangle hang themselves and if that doesn't happen, maybe they will be elbowed in the temple by my husband which would cause instant death. I'm sure there are at least a dozen arguments supporting each side.  I didn't explain all of that (obviously) but she then asked if I get up and nurse him when he wakes up... Now I wasn't on the debate club in high school, but I'm guessing that was her way of throwing a little opposition attack my way.  I'm not nursing anymore. I stopped when he was 4 months old.  Call me selfish, but I wanted my body back.  It was then that there was the mommy- superior look in her eye. Getting into her car, I can only imagine that she had sympathy for my baby who was being deprived of my boob.  I know she was thinking this because I had sympathy for her baby who might get rolled over in the middle of the night in her parents bed.
So who is right?  I consider myself a relatively smart woman if not smart I'm certainly... healthy, and I wasn't breast-fed. In fact I was just the opposite. Formula 33 years ago didn't have DHA, I bet it was just dried milk with a formula label. And after that, my mom gave me Tang. Yes, Tang. the orange-juice like beverage that astronauts drank in space.  And I turned out fine. I know for a fact that my mom didn't "wear me", and last time I checked I don't have separation issues...except when Don leaves me, just kidding.
So who or what resource can I believe? I have come to have a love/hate relationship with marketing companies.
I'm the first to want to try a new product that comes out, if it promises to give me

a. perfect skin
b. a perfect body
c. a perfect life.

So that kind of narrows it down to about every single thing that my target demographic sees. It was recently pointed out to me that October, being breast cancer awareness month, was created by a marketing genius! Now everything that has a pink ribbon on it, can be viewed as helping to find a cure, but how is a can of soda or candy or chips with a pink ribbon helping anyone? Sure a portion of the proceeds goes to research, but what portion? And the rest of the item you just bought could go to the cause of obesity, or other health complications.
Maybe I'm a little bitter about the cancer thing. I have been in meetings when cancer survivors stand up and boast that they are cancer free. That is boast-worthy don't get me wrong...early detection is to thank for that, not necessarily will to live.   My grandmother had a will to live stronger than most, and she is NOT here to talk about how she "beat" cancer, because cancer beat her.
So who can we trust when it comes to doing the right thing.  I nursed all four of my boys for the first 3 months of their lives...my boys are not sick often, they are bright and they are developing normally.  But even 6 months ago when I had Oscar I felt the pressure to nurse him exclusively or he was going to be dumb and sick.  Perhaps its just a white lie on the industries part.  We all lie right? I bet nobody knows my real height. Yesterday I was 5'9 and today I'm 5'5 1/2. A week ago I was blond, today I'm brunette.

Even the smartest people can be subject to marketing fraud.  Just look at the billion dollar diet industry.  It still baffles me that people still believe that  they can lose weight permanently by drinking a shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch and a sensible dinner, you would think after the 3rd time trying they would get it. But can you blame them? You don't need to, they already blame themselves because that is what the diet industry wants, repeat customers.
Enough of my ranting... I think I need another Starbucks, afterall, it is the best coffee out there, and that is why I need it, even if it is $4 a cup and the March 2007 Consumer report found that McDonald's coffee has the best and even cheaper coffee.....

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tailgating, the Irish way.

Since moving close to Notre Dame it has been an annual Fall event to walk to campus and tailgate. It is quite a big deal around here, people get their coolers and tents set up at least 8 hours before the game even starts and continue to tailgate well into the evening even after the football team has played and is gone and probably at home in their pj's.
We moved here in 2001, that makes one year of tailgating baby- free...and I get pretty nostalgic about it.  If I remember correctly it was a smorgasbord of alcohol, bad food that you LOVE and friendship. The following year I was pregnant and while the food really hit the spot,  my husbands drinking did not settle well, at least not with me. The following year we had our first son, I carried him in a bjorn and dodged drunk peoples attempts to touch him. It almost sent me into a new mommy panic attack, but I made it. The very next football season we had doubled. Now we had a bjorn and a stroller.
I noticed the fun of wondering around the festival of beer, burgers, cookies and hummus became a bit less enjoyable and I found myself saying things (referring to college students) like " these kids need to be careful, there are children here" or " I wonder what her mother would think if she saw her doing that keg stand"  The following year we did not have an additional child and we even got a babysitter so we could relive the good ol' tailgating days.  This resulted in my husband enjoying himself a little too much and me pouring a cup of ice cold water on his head...long story which you can imagine, did not have a happy ending.
The next year I was pregnant (again) and I was so overwhelmed with the debauchery of people having fun,  that I cried and waddled home. So when I told my husband I would like to go tailgating again this year, he looked at me with a bit of (understandable) concern.  To our credit, we are a bit more realistic and know we cannot spend 2 hours in a parking lot no matter how much we (he) would like to.   We had a specific place to go with people I trust and are friends with or as I like to think, a child support staff.
I had Oscar in the bjorn and the mile walk felt a bit like a 10k with a 21 lb. baby attached to me.  The middle 2 were in the wagon and the oldest was happily trotting along side. What I noticed is that people seemed to stare at us.  Maybe it was the fact that we had so many boys, or maybe it was that they all look like slightly modified variations of each other and Don.
*A note about tailgating, or football in general. Something primal inside me happens and I crave anything with salt and fat. Nachos, cheese, potato chips, etc.
Also, with children you can't have a long conversation with anyone because your eyes and mind are watching to see which one of your kids might try and escape your eye shot.
We finally arrive and the boys were impressed with the spread. They each got a plate and filled it with thier choice of food, Jacks plate had less of a variety as it was just filled with candy corn. Finegan decided to diversify, but sticking to one color palet of brown, brownies, cookies and coke. Parker went out on a limb and added a carrot to his plate, but I believe it was just for show because he never ate it.
It felt like we had finally gotten a handle on it. The boys were playing football with their daddy, the weather was perfect and for a moment it felt like the Gipper himself was guiding us from the heavens to have a perfect family tailgate. That lasted , in its entirety about 10 min. It was then that Fin started dodging bees, Jack started sneaking around like the pink panther and Parker threw a football that hit me right in the head.
I gave Don the nod and we both knew that our time in the perfect zone had come to an end.  As we were packing up to leave, ( the boys needed food to go in case they got hungry on the 10 min. walk home) a college girl approached me.  I will assume she was slightly intoxicated, but she asked me if all these boys were mine..Yes I said, wondering which one asked her for something, they have a habit of asking strangers for candy, they figured if they beat a stranger to the candy question, than they can accept the candy if provided.  She then said, Wow, how? Did she want the technical answer or the non- technical,. What? I said, " well you are so young, how did you have them so fast? It was now indeed crystal clear she was intoxicated, but I told her I was, in fact, 33 years old.  I think I even said it with that much cheese. 
She then told me that she though I was only 25. I would have kissed her right there, but given the fact that
1. she was drunk and
2. I had a hat and sunglasses on that made 3/4 of my face un- visable
I can understand why she thought that.  Because my husband was actually attending the football game, I drew the lucky straw to take all of them home.  There is not a workout in the world that could prepare one for pulling 70 pounds in a wagon while 20 + pounds are attached to the front of you.  Parker assumed the patriarchal role and made sure to clear out any beer cans/bottles that got in our way on our sidewalk lined way home, except when we were encountered by any dog, but especially one in clothing, in which all things stop and he has to pet them.
Overall it gave us the boost we needed to attempt this again next year...but for now we will bask in our parental glory

Monday, October 11, 2010

A list of waiting room Mommies

Today I had the pleasure of taking 3 hours off of work and taking Oscar and his sidekick Jack to his six month checkup.  In the 7 years that I have been a mother I can estimate, based on the first year having at least 6 appointments plus yearly check ups and various illnesses, or things being shoved up noses, that I have been to this office at least 40 times and that does not include nurses visits.  That is more than I have been to my doctor in my life! I will never understand mothers with Munchhausen syndrome, I can think of quite a few other places I would rather be and with different company.
Because of this I have become quite familiar with the staff and the clientele. 
So I came prepared with a stash of candy and some books at home to avoid any tantrums and tiny ugly waiting room book germs.
Inevitably Jack walks to the side of the room that has, who I will call, the horse mommy sitting on it.
I call her this because her 3 yr old daughter is riding a wooden horse and this mom is speaking loudly   (to her daughter) but we all know she is speaking to be heard. She is sharing her vast knowledge of horses.  "Well your small now, but someday you can ride OUR horse, she is 8 feet tall) her daughter is not listening, but I can't help but have to. " You can ride bareback just like mommy someday"...of course you can ride bareback...
Anyway I tried to avoid all eye contact until her daughter came over and started playing with Oscar's toy. It was  hanging from his car carrier and she was swinging it to where it was going to hit his face.  That is when I find it awkward. I looked at her and said, "please don't do that, he's a baby and this is a baby toy, your not a baby right?"  This is when horse mommy galloped up.  Her hair was actually in a pony tail with several ponytail holders on it. I don't know what the proper term for this is other than, horse-like and a blast from 1984.
She didn't correct her daughter but decided to tell me about some vizio toy things.  It was then that I saw with my peripheral vision that Jack was asking a toddler girl a question and because she couldn't speak, his voice was getting louder and louder.  I needed to happily intervene to get away from horse-lady, but she KEPT talking.
Thankfully by the time I rescued the toddler girl from Jack's interrogation, " IS that your MOMMY? Is that your MOMMY?"
she and her daughter had been escorted to the back.
I then had a moment to observe the types of mommies there.
To my left, I had the  
border-line abusive mommy- She was telling her son that she was going to "smack his butt" if he didn't "git" over here.
I had the paranoid mommy- who had brought a gallon of hand sanitizer with her. She also happened to be the same mommy who Jack was speaking to her daughter, which I'm sure made her very uncomfortable.  She had a blanket and a bag of toys and pre-packaged snacks, which (Jack asked to have) just for her kid.
The image-mommy, who has her daughter decked out in the latest and greatest even a tutu, and she is also wearing a very expensive looking pair of jeans with stilettos and I want to ask her if her nanny is in that huge purse of hers. Because there is no way she had time to look like that, let alone walk in those with a 2 year old.
The image-mommy NOT this woman has a t-shirt on and her child is wearing half pajamas and half clothes, no shoes and sporting serious bed head, along with her mom.
Techno- mommy- I guess I could kind of fall into this category because I do text, check facebook and my work email while in the waiting room, but NOT to the point where my kids runs off into the street and I have no idea he even left.
The NON-MOMMY mommy- this is the women who is in denial of being a mom and is clearly dressed like she doesn't have kids ( tight sweatpants that read PINK on the butt) and her kids are glued to ninteno dsi's and she is on her phone.
The Grand Standing mommy- this is what category I would consider horse mom, because she is openly and loudly talking to her daughter like she is deaf only so others can hear her.
The Lone wolf- this is the poor dad who doesn't know how or why he got there, but just wants to leave.

I stand in waiting rooms. It may sound strange but I have to guard the exit or my son my try an escape.  I let him play with the toys. He doesn't put them in his mouth or anything.  Most of the kids that are there are not sick, they are there for shots or check ups.  Or because of the recent Similac scare they are getting their child x-rayed for insect parts. The truth is, my sons probably get their fare share of insect parts ingestion when they are outside, one bug leg never killed anyone.  I don't agree that formula should be tainted with bug parts, but the people that are freaking out are the same ones that will drive their kids through Chick-fil-A or any other fast food place with teenagers doing who-knows-what to their kids french fries.

After an hour and a half, 4 shots, 1 nasal mist and one oral dose of vaccines we are out the door, I'm back to work.  I work in the small tiny percentage of the population that does not, will not or care to have kids. They can't imagine the horror I just witnessed, and besides the band-aids and safety-pop souvenirs it is selectively forgotten it as well.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Having a ball

Today started off like any other day. I woke up successfully and worked out. Everyone got out of the house on time, the boys shirts were unstained.  Work was going pretty well and as I was working away I had the realization that my husband was going to be gone this weekend. I have known this for at least 2 months. He went to a Scottish Highland Game event. I cannot even think about mentioning that I don't want him to go because I'm going to be going to a different continent for the first half of December.
So this morning he made me coffee, told me I was so beautiful and he couldn't imagine being away from me and the boys for even 24 hours....
Not so much.
He clearly did not catch my drift. If he did, he choose not to set sail on it.
After 3 of my 4 son's were born I had diagnosed postpartum anxiety/depression,  after the first one I didn't even tell my doctor how I was feeling, so it went undiagnosed.....Mind you, I'm only 6 months out of having a baby. I was on medication for this for about 3 months but I felt like I could handle it on my own, so far so good, I think..  But when I realized that I was  going to be alone...with four children my inadequacies start knocking at the door and I had no choice but to let them in.
Because of this my entire day was thrown off. My daily interactions with everyone are just.. off.
One thought, correction, one FEAR has set me on a fear roller coaster.

Usually I'm excited when the work day is over and for me to be greeted by my mini-fan club at home,but today was different.  When I finally did get home. I had already suited up in my issue armor as I walked in the door.
My husband left before dinner and as hard as I tried not to, I gave him a look that could kill and once again and being married for 9 years, I know he noticed it, but just made a choice to pretend he didn't.
The last thing I felt like doing was making dinner, besides, we didn't have anything to make.
My 3 year old sensed my discomfort, as only a kid can do. I was sitting on the floor having a stimulating conversation with the baby and he brought me a rubber ball. Jack sat on the other side of our living room floor and we started rolling it back and forth to each other. Back and forth, back and forth, after about 3 minutes of this I was about to suggest that he check to see if his toys were "ok"  in his room, when I felt an overwhelming sense of calmness.  I just started focusing on the methodical simplicity of interacting with my son with a...ball of all things.  My nerves began to dissipate.
Even when I write the word nerves, I find myself slightly embarrassed.
How can I be nervous being around my own kids?
I fed the baby. As I sat there spooning carrots in his mouth, on the verge of tears I thought, I need to get out of here. I called down to the 2 older ones and said, lets go to dinner!
If it involves food, or going somewhere, they are on it. They emerged from their play cave in less than a minute.
As contradictory as the statistics prove, I actually feel safer in the car than not. All my boys are accounted for, strapped in, and quiet.  I pull into Taco Bell. This causes a minor happiness riot.
This is a bi-annual event.  Taco bell is just not something that happens everyday. As I gathered the food, which, on a side note, is NOT as cheap as I remember, I pulled into a parking space and we had a car picnic.  My oldest asked me to turn the music off so we could talk.  As we sat, eating our burritos, watching cars pass, Jack explained where every one of them was going, "he's going to work" "he's going home" he's going to work" he's going home" repeat. repeat. repeat.
My oldest son asked, Mommy, can I work at your work after college? Sure I said.
Fin then interrupted,
"what time is lunch break for college kids? Do they get snack?  Parker got angry, " Fin, stop interrupting!"
If we work together can we have lunch together everyday? We could walk to Chipotle!
I told him that I would really like that as I fought back tears and here is why.
1.that he noticed that I wasn't feeling so happy.

2. that I know he doesn't like Chipotle and that he knows  I do.
After that, I realized that maybe I have done a decent job raising my boys.  I had the crazy idea to take them to Target.  I wish I could say that they all behaved perfectly
but then I would be lying.
But it was in that small moment, which I'm confident they won't remember, that gave me the little boost I needed to know that I can do this, even if it is for only 36 hours.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

My Australian Interview

I received a phone call from a very nice bloke in Australia named Bruno who is a producer for this radio station. He asked me if I would talk to the morning show...live. So at 4:20 pm he called me yesterday and we had a nice chat. Just ignore the population question... I was caught off guard :)
My first impression of Australia is great, such nice people!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Well, your Uncle Arthur was gay...

My parents have lived in the same house for 37 years and decided to clean out the closets, I guess their hopes of me moving back home have ceased.  This means bins and BINS of 1970 and 80's baby paraphernalia delivered to my siblings and my front door. Items, which I don't remember at all, which lead me to the conclusion that I will NOT be saving the boys first onsie/tooth/pajamas for them.  As my 74 year old Dad lugged this heavy box in, under the strict direction from my mom, I thought "Sure, my house is half your size, and has 3x as many people living in it, but I would be happy to take this bin from you."
But because my siblings children are older than mine, I received Nathan's baby stuff too, Jack may be sporting a polyester leisure suit in the very near future.
As I sifted through the stuff I found a red sequenced vest that my brother had worn in his portrayal of Bobby Riggs..who was/is a famous tennis player?. My mom had enrolled him in dance lessons as a kid with my sister.  He had worn this in his recital debut.  It was Jack's size, so I found myself recreating Nathan's glory and dressing Jack in the vest, with a tennis racket and sending it to my brother.. I quickly received a text. It read, "well, your Uncle Arthur was gay."
LOL. Really, I don't use that acronym, but I really did laugh out loud.
An explanation is necessary.  A few posts back I said that Nathan gets paid to take his shirt off, in all honesty that is only a fraction of what he does.  Nathan is a talented world known baritone singer, who has not only worked hard for the beautiful voice he has, but also for the body it comes from. Enough work to earn himself a Grammy, but whenever he is in an Opera, chances are the director will have him sing without his shirt...and sometimes without his pants (eek)
Nathan started singing, in public, at the age of 13 and I was 6.  I can't recall a time when he was NOT singing.
It was when he decided to pursue voice in college that my mom decided to tell her father.  So on a foggy morning at a Big Boy over waffles, my mom told her father that his grandson was going to major in voice in college. It was then that he uttered his infamous reply,
"Well, your uncle Arthur was gay....(beat) and I loved him....( beat) so I guess I can love him too."
I applaud my grandfathers openness, because "accepting" isn't a word I would have used to describe him. Perhaps it was the fact that my mom was a dancer and the majority of men she worked with were gay. Who knows, but to my grandpa anything artsy = gay.
Let me avoid any misconception here. Nathan Gunn is not gay. I'm his sister and I couldn't care less about his sexuality, but because I love my nieces and nephews and sister-in-law I'm compelled to say it, but I'm also compelled to say that if he was I wouldn't love him any less.
This statement however adds another layer of depth to the onion which was my grandpa. He loved his brother, who was gay. 
This is the same man who........
Didn't wear a seat belt.
Ran over my dog. ( she lived)
Put me in the middle front seat of his Cadillac and would drive fast over railroad tracks so I would hit my head on the ceiling.
Threw a baseball at Nathan when he was 3 which hit his square in the eye and sent him to the ER and his response was "He should have caught it"
Would drive to Las Vegas with my Grandma, only stopping for gas.. and I mean this, they had a porta-potty in their car.
Threw a Family size bible at my dad on Thanksgiving.
Put money in his shoe.
While cleaning out a shotgun in the bathroom, accidentally fired it, a bullet went through the wall, into the kitchen, through the microwave and missed my grandmother by a hair.
Ate pie by the, well, pie.
In his older years, claimed to be Jewish.
Worked off his bootlegging father's debt.
 Didn't drink (see above)
 He Loved scratch off tickets
His Mother burned to death by accidentally catching her dress on fire in a gas stove.
Stopped his watch when my grandmother died, and never re-set it.
Had a heart to heart with Nathan and told him to practice safe sex and wear "condo's".
He mowed his huge lawn with two push lawn mowers...at the same time.
Loved his family more than life.
When he was buried, we put two things in his pocket, a lottery ticket, and the picture of Nathan that he  carried around and showed anyone who would look at it.
He died in 2000, my husband didn't even get to meet him.   As he got older he was starting to be a little less, for lack of better words, less of a racist, sexist and maybe a bit more open minded,  or maybe it was his dementia.  I'm glad he didn't have to witness 9/11 and I shutter to think of how he would have reacted to a black president.
So maybe the bin of things wasn't just old junk after all.  Maybe its the conversation ( or at least a LOL) that goes along with the stuff all that more important.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Confessions of a former bully.

I have a bit of a secret... I tried to make a go as a bully.  Preschool- Second grade I was an angel and then something happened.  In 2nd grade my good friend Kristen turned on me.  She was hot, then cold. Without warning she would decide not to eat her lunch with me one day, and be my best friend the next.  On the bad days I would go into the bathroom and cry. My mom let me wear a tiger eye ring she had buried in her jewelry box, she said, when I was sad, to look at it and know that she was with me, and surprisingly it worked.  By the time I was in 3rd grade I was callused by the harsh reality of elementary school. I decided to be a mean girl. There was a little boy named Adam. Unfortunately for him, his lunch had a tuna fish sandwich in it,  and because of that  I would declare that he smelled. I rallied and got everyone else to say that Adam stunk. For a moment on the playground I was queen bee.  Adam stood alone.  It wasn't until my mom packed me (gasp) tuna fish sandwich one day that the tables quickly turned.  My bullying days were over..for now.
For 4th -8th grades I wasn't the bully but there was a girl in our class that held that title very well.  All the little girls followed her around, except me. I got labeled as "weird" except on the soccer field when everyone wanted to be on my team. I was ok with that until one particular bad 12 year old day when I was getting into my locker. I overheard the group of girls openly talking about me and making fun of my dad, because he was not a doctor. Not only did it hurt, but it was nothing that I could change.  I went home and locked myself in my room.  I was low. I thought that my entire life was over.  I could NOT see past that moment. I wanted to die. Yes it sounds asinine. If my 33 year old self could go back to myself and say the next 21 years are going to be amazing,  don't define yourself by this one moment that in retrospect will mean nothing.  But I couldn't. In walked my dad. I told him I was in a very dark place. He knelt down next to my bed.  He was probably the last person I wanted to see, it was his career choice, after all, that the girls were making fun of me for.   He told me that I was smart and funny, and the world would be a much sadder place if I wasn't in it.  My dad didn't care what those girls said, he was very successful business man who not only provided for the family, but enjoyed what he did.
I like to think of a bully as a fire in a fireplace.  It might burn for awhile, but it needs to be fed paper, oxygen or logs to keep it going, with out an audience a bully can't burn anyone, at least that is the way it was.  Lets jump to the present day, specifically the recent suicides of teenage boys who were bullied so bad that they could not see past it.  The present day bully fire, doesn't need to be fed by people in person. It can be fed by cowards who also feel horrible about themselves and the only way they can make themselves feel better is by witnessing others misfortune...anonymously.

The truth is, I liked tuna fish, but I didn't want anyone to think I smelled.  Perhapes the bullies in this case also were uncomfortable with feelings they had, and needed to expose someone else, before they came out themselves.
Last year, my oldest son was the victim of a bully.  Parker was at a book fair and mentioned that he liked Goosebumps books.  Another little boy, told him that not only was that Goosbump book stupid, but that Parker was too and ANYTHING he liked was stupid. His sidekick laughed at my son.
I immediately went into mama-bear-mode. I wanted to punish that little sh*t,
1. for insulting my son and
2. for discouraging Parker from reading because we worked all summer telling him that books were cool.
I had to simmer down.  I realized that my feelings were more hurt than my sons. I tried not to expose my pain, hurt or fear that he would not be liked by his peers.  I explained to Parker that sometimes people say things as a way to express the pain that they feel inside.
A couple weeks passed and the first grade was studying Martin Luther King Jr. and the importance of equality, they also used this opportunity to speak about bullying.  Parker raised his hand. His teacher called on him, even though she didn't ask a question, and he he stood up and explained that (blank) had been picking on him, but he forgives him, because it just means that ( blank)  is sad in his heart.  Nothing like a little humble pie to stuff (blank)'s mouth shut.
Guess what? It worked. He stopped. My son had confidence that his ideas are not worthless and he moved on.
That is the best case scenario, but I'm talking about 6 year olds, but in 12 years could this little boy have been the one cowardly putting a web cam up in his dorm room and violating his privacy?

I wish that one of those young guys would have felt comfortable to just look at someone, anyone and say, I'm in a really dark place right now, maybe it would have given just enough time to shed some light on their darkness.

Teach tolerance. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Manufactured Emotions

I discovered something new about myself the other day. If you were to ask my friends, even family members how many times they have seen me cry in the my adult life, they may tell you one of two possible answers,
a.) never
b.) once.
Its not that I'm trying to be strong and keep my emotions ( especially tears) bottled up inside of me. Its not that at all. But I will tell you that if someone were to come me and say "watch this movie, it will make you cry" or "watch this clip on youtube, but grab some Kleenex because it will make you cry"  I can guarantee that I won't. Why? Because whatever you are referring to, was probably designed to get me to cry, and that canned tear induction drives me crazy. 
I can't tell you a movie that makes me cry.  The first time I watched The Notebook (a notorious tear jerker) was in 2005 with my husband and it was shortly after my second son was born.  I thought it was a nice story, but towards the end I heard sniffling.. as I turned to my husband who was trying his best to hide the fact that tears were flowing faster than a woman on Oprah, I began to wonder if I was a cold hearted snake? I chalked that up to the antidepressants I was taking for my post partum anxiety/depression my emotional range was as flavorful as vanilla pudding. But I have since seen the movie and not shed a single tear. But just last night I went to a piano concert. Its my job to publicize these events, and once in awhile, I like to go to them to see if I did my job well.
I was sitting in my usual box seat looking at my toes and thinking I needed a new pedicure but my attention was quickly directed to the stage.  The virtuoso pianist, John Blacklow was playing Chaconne von J.S Bach and arranged by Brahms.   This is an arrangement for the left hand only. His right hand was placed on his lap.   I don't know what Brahms was thinking about when he composed this, but whatever it was spoke to me on such a deep emotional level. The expressivety he was able to portray through the music was iconic. I found myself sitting in my seat crying.  I don't know if they were happy tears, sad, who knows and who cares it was just happening and I allowed it.
 I'm an emotional enigma.   This proved to be a bit of an "issue" when I was obtaining my theater degree in college.  Other acting students would get to a death scene or a break up scene in the modern script and in quotations it would give a direction (crying) Well that wasn't me.. usually.
I was however doing a dress rehearsal for a black box performance of Romeo and Juliet.  Everything was going well and we were in the last suicide scene. Juliet (me) wakes up to discover her Romeo was actually dead.   When I noticed this I burst out laughing...hysterically.  I was completely in the moment and something struck me as funny. I was certain that the director was going to cut and start over, but it was a dress rehearsal and he didn't. I'm sure my Romeo was about to raise himself from the dead and kill his Juliet but he didn't thank goodness. So the laughing continued for what felt like two minutes and as I inhaled to catch my breath, what happened then surprised everyone... I began to sob.
Too bad it wasn't the actual performance, because it was the most raw display of emotions I had every experienced on stage and not easily duplicated.
Perhaps the emotion to the arts is from my childhood. I was taken (dragged) to many MANY choir practices, and Opera rehearsals.  My mom would give me paper and crayons and would let me sit on the floor somewhere in the auditorium and quietly color.  What I believe is that it taught me to express my emotions on paper based to what my ear was hearing.  I attached music to emotions with colors and feelings. My dad is an artist and are home was filled with all different types of art. Some of which scares me to this day, Its one of Jesus' shroud and its freaky and dead looking, my sister can inherit that one... it fits her personality much better. ;)
I didn't cry initially at my grandmothers funeral, when I did first cry was when I spoke to my grandfather who arrived alone (I had never seen him without his sidekick) and when he looked at me with a blank stare and told me he didn't know how he took his coffee because she would make it for him every morning.
I didn't cry at 3 out of the four births of my sons (possibly due to the obscene amount of drugs I was on) but hey, I'm not complaining. When I recently did cry is when I watched Oscar slowly drift to sleep one evening.
I cried when I watched the youtube of the two guys in bell bottoms reunited with the lion they trained and the lion ran up and hugged them..
I cry when I'm angry, hurt or really frustrated.  I guess sad isn't in my tear repertoire.
Some people thrive on tears and it is those people that cry for any reason at the drop of a hat.
Given the choice between being happy or sad, I will always choose happy.  Between chaos or peace, I choose peace and between drama (Jersey Shore) and non-drama (Bob Ross) I would gladly choose the Joy of Painting.

It may be genetic too. Although my sons shed more tears than Niagara falls on any given week, they also cry at odd moments.  At Oscar's baptism last week a woman at church played some sonata on the piano and my 3 yr old's bottom lip started to quiver. He said it scared him. Good I thought... and I let him feel that way. I didn't start singing Elmo in his ear or take him out of the church.  The music was speaking to him, and he choose to listen.
Once in awhile I think its good to just be. Allow whatever comes up to come up and just cry or not.
With that said, maybe I'll dust off the old DVD player and try to watch  The Notebook one more time just to see if I cry.. or maybe just to save my husbands pride. Because he acknowledges that Hollywood, a few hundred takes and some good actors can get him every time.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Ghosts of workout past

I have started a new workout regime.  This isn't something that I do often....find a new routine, but every half decade or so, I go on a kick.
A brief overview.. I was a very active kid. Played soccer, track, and tennis. I rode my bike around the neighborhood and sometimes I would just run up and down the hill in our front yard (just for fun).
It wasn't until my sophomore year of high school when my grades slipped. Damn boys, and my parents made me take a season off. They even threatened girls school, but that is an entirely different, and torrid tale.. It wasn't until my year book picture was taken that I noticed that I had put on quite a few lbs.  I reflect fondly of those times when sizes were just a number to me. 4,6,8, 10..it didn't matter as long as it fit.  But one Friday afternoon when I received my school picture my world changed forever. One..why did I choose to wear a beige vest? And two,  when did I get that extra chin?  That didn't stop me from my Friday night ritual of eating pizza.  Then on a lazy Sunday morning I got out of bed ( at noon) to have Cap n' Crunch and my mom was watching an infomercial. I was half awake when I heard the words that would be heard for the next 10 years of my life. " FAT, IS WHAT MAKES YOU FAT" Susan Powters screamed. "STOP the INSANITY, STOP the INSANITY"  Yes, hindsight ( and my father)  will tell you that Fat is not the only thing that makes you fat, but it was on TV, it had to be accurate right? It was at that very moment that I stopped eating anything with a fat gram.  My mom and I went to the grocery store and looked at every label. Fat Free?...well then, lets get it! Coffee Cakes, Milk, Frozen Yogurt, White Bread!  Ahh to be that naive again. I had no idea about calories, or servings, just looked at the huge letters on the front of the package that read FAT FREE. This was also before mandatory nutrition labels became a law, so sometimes it was tricky.   I also joined my first gym. Fitness USA where a pushy saleslady circled areas on a picture of a woman ( which even then looked dated) and told ME where I needed to lose weight. Mind you... I was 15 years old and was not by any means, obese, especially by today's standards.  She also said that if I did just 20 minutes on a stairmaster 3 days a week ( funny, the gym was girls only on those days and I couldn't have worked out more even if I had wanted too) I could look like Jennifer Aniston, and not only that, they had a smoothie bar with FAT FREE smoothies to "reward" myself after I worked out.  Trust me, you don't need to remind me on how ridiculous this all sounds.
Its not surprising how, I caught the excersize bug.  Its genetic. My mom was always playing tennis,  doing jazzerzize and on a diet ( at 70 she still is) and my Dad is thin by nature, but jogged or walked. If there is any good in this trait, I at least hold myself 100 % accountable and not blame anyone (media, parents, my cat) for my weight gain. My siblings workout also and my brother gets paid to take his shirt off, well sort of, but that is a long story, that takes a bit to wrap your brain around so we'll hold that  for another post altogether.
Miraculously I lost weight.  I continued the Fat Free craze to my junior year of college, but I varied my workouts. I stopped going to the all girls gym and started at the best health club in town. I did classes, got a trainer and lifted weights properly.  I was on a pretty good path if you consider, constantly worrying about my fat intake and the size of my clothes, a good path.  I was like a diet info bank, if I heard any diet tidbit, I would deposit it into my "nutritional knowledge" bank and only withdraw that knowledge when needed.  One thing that probably saved my life and in a twist of fate allowed me to graduate from college was that I overheard a guy in the gym say that alcohol suppresses your body's ability to burn fat. DING DING DING!  I think I should find this guy and hug him. Without overhearing that, I surely would have been a lush in college.
Once in college I worked out 7 days a week, and a boyfriend of mine introduced me to protien. Get your mind out of the gutter, I mean the benefit of good protein, and as long as I was 100 % sure it was fat free I would eat it. However one time while he was making me dinner I did see him put a tablespoon of olive oil in the water and I didn't speak to him for days..
This however was a slippery slope into Adkin's-ville. This was very popular at the time. But because I still had a fat gram phobia I didn't eat red meat... So basically the next year I only ate egg whites and chicken breast, skim milk and cottage cheese. Gone was any carb. In my mind, carbs were fat grams evil cousin.  I also wouldn't eat past 7 PM and put a heating pad on my stomach because it hurt so bad at night.   There is no middle ground with me, its all or nothing. I did drop weight very quickly, but my skin was horrible, I was an emotional mess and guess what...the number on the scale became my nemesis.
I then moved to Los Angeles. A great place for a young girl pursing acting with a borderline eating disorder to go, don't you think?
Believe it or not, this is where I found nutritional sanity. I started eating...gasp...vegetables and even fruit!  My workouts ranged from machine pilates, yoga and boxing.   When I hit yet another plateau in my mind I hired a trainer..Albert.
*Obvious Observation: I clearly had nothing else to think about, no kids, no career and my day revolved around food and exercise... not a full life if you ask me... and a bit of a miserable one.

 Back to Albert..I have only fond memories of Albert. He was (is) the best trainer I have ever had. How did I afford this you may ask? Waitressing and the bank of Dad.
Albert and I trained 4 days a week. He discovered my ridiculous strength and taught me to be proud of it.   We lifted weights, did plyometrics and became good friends.  I have since had 4 or 5 trainers and each of them knew, they would never live up to Albert, who btw is a forensic psychologist living in the Bay area.  He is responsible for me looking so buff in my wedding photos..and after close examination, a little TOO buff.
Ut oh.  Now on the the next phase. Cardio- city.  I moved to Indiana and 2 years after that the spinning craze finally made it here.  Two classes a day. 30 min on the elliptical and then the inevitable happened. I, got. pregnant.  If you  heard a world coming to a screaching halt, that was mine.
But it was divine intervention. For me to be thinking of someone other than myself (and husband on occasion) was the best thing to ever happen to me. I cared more about the health of this developing little pumpkin than my..well,  ass. I didn't want a child made of only one thing, like..,crap, so I ate a variety of food, I only exercised for sadly to say....health.
The lifetime of exercise took care of me after my 9 pound baby was born.   Once you have a baby you don't have 4 hours to devote to working out. You don't. No matter what Tracy Anderson says.
Fast forward.  I'm 5 months out of having my 4th son. And have been bitten by yet another fitness bug.  This time its name is P90x. ( so much for easing into it right?)
I'm on day 2. I even took before pictures yesterday, which I strongly DO NOT recommend.  I have already lost all the pregnancy weight, about 2 months ago. Now I'm going for the impossible...abs.
Maybe I am standing at the intersection of Jillian Michaels and Tony Little, but I plan on taking the mommy road less traveled, I will not return to high school me or college me because its impossible. I now drink.