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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What I really want for Christmas

This time of year I feel that my senses are overwhelmed with images, smells, music telling me what I should want for Christmas.  The truth is, I don't want people spending money on me.  Its a painstaking task to go through my closets, shelves and drawers bi-annually and donate all this "stuff" we have accumulated. Our house is pretty much to maximum capacity with things and I would like to simplify.   But if you are wondering what you could give me that would last a lifetime, please check my list.

Son #1- Hold my hand when we walk into a store. Now that you are 8, I know its just a matter of time when you will feel awkward doing it. So please just hold it a couple more times before you grow out of it.
Son #2- Do your loco dance even when I tell you to stop being silly. What you don't realize is that when I turn away I'm actually laughing.
Son # 3- Draw another picture with you and me on a field. Even though I have an enormous potato head, and I already have 130 of this same drawing, I know you will move on to drawing super heros soon. Also- keep coming into our room at night and sleeping on the floor, I find comfort in hearing your little snores.
Son #4 - Keep your word du' jour as Mama.  Even at 3 a.m. It feels good to be your first choice.
Husband-  Remember what it was about me that made you propose. Especially when I have gone completely off the deep end about the cereal bowl you left in the sink.
Graham: Keep guarding the house. And don't die.  I know you are going to be 12, but I have heard of labs living to be 16 or even 20.
Starbucks Lady-  Stop calling me hon.
Biological Clock -Please stop ticking. You were a great gift, but we both know its not possible anymore, so stop sounding your alarm me every time I see a baby.
Colleagues -  Send me another funny youtube video, its a welcome distraction and makes the day go by faster.
Neighbors:  Delete the images in your mind as to what you have seen when I have forgotten to close the blinds.
Nanny: Keep shutting the door before I hear my baby cry, that  simple gesture makes it just a little bit easier to leave him every day.

Boss: One day say that you are glad your hired me. Or at least imply it.  (I would also accept a salary increase).
My Bosses Boss: Please stop calling me by the wrong name.
Cleaning lady: If you could do our laundry and put it away too, I would be your personal PR person and get you more business than you could imagine.
Best Friend: Give me examples of what to wear. Your emails with complete outfits keep me from looking like a soccer mom.
Republicans:  Stop BS-ing.
Democrats: Stop BS- ing.
Body: Stay Healthy, and forgive me for insulting you or giving you a nasty look in the mirror. (If you want to become resistant to sag that would be ok too.)
Brain: A little bit more GB would be great.
Dad: Give me another one of your paintings.  Every day that I look at one on my wall, it inspires me to be creative.
Brother:  Make me another dirty martini....and  keep knowing when to cut me off before I start dancing on tables.
Sister:  Bottle your endurance to run marathons, and then give it to me.
Hot Guy in the suit: Give me a double take, it makes my day.
Skin: Stop with the zits already! I'm 34 for Gods sake.
Mom: Keep telling me I'm a good mom. Even though I brush it off like I don't care, I do.  And its your voice I hear when I feel like I'm not.

Yes, I know my list is written to some people who don't know me, or some that can't read  or are inanimate objects. That's ok. Someday you may be able to read it and you will know just what to get me, because trust me, it won't change.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

In my next life I want to be a single lesbian.

I came to this conclusion last night after a particularly drawn out  argument with my husband that seemed to go into extra innings, respectively pausing for a seventh inning stretch. When it should have been over it just kept going and going and retreated back to arguments that happened a decade ago.
I kept coming up with fantastic metaphors and since I was on a roll I didn't want it to end.  I knew that my metaphor about life long learning and soccer was going to change Don's life and forever go down in history as the best realization he had ever heard. Apparently it wasn't, because Don had shifted into husband-auto-pilot and was just nodding his head in agreement with everything I said. Not what I wanted and it pissed me off even more so I decided to just call the game. 
We were arguing about our oldest son. I was not happy with something his teacher said. Being that Don is a teacher (at the same school) he feels that he is in the middle. After hours of arguing, he admitted that he may not have quoted her exactly and that some things may have gotten lost in translation.  This is known as the Bermuda Triangle of the Dad/Man information feed.  Information goes in, and it processes and  IF it is delivered, it is delivered with out much thought, or emotion (or accuracy for that matter.) What was said, might have been perfectly polite but what I heard was a personal attack of our son's development, and in-turn my parenting, which leads to the conclusion that I didn't breastfeed long enough, which is a sensitive subject for me anyway.  After this argument Don has put in his resignation as the middle man for anything regarding our boys and teachers.  He said I need to go to the source.
As I drifted off to sleep I said without thought, "In my next life, I'm going to be a single lesbian".  I must have been repeating it all night because when I woke up my feelings hadn't changed.   I have had it with men and boys.
I'm just so tired of poop, the reference to it, the smell of it, and the pride that goes along with creating it.
I feel that if I were a lesbian, I would not risk even the subliminal attraction to men.  I mean a 10 on the Kinsey scale lesbian.  I also want to have a defective biological clock. I want to live in the mountains and work as a reclusive lumber jack where the only wood I encounter is in the forest.  I want to chop things.  I want to wear flannel, and Uggs and grow a beard.  There is something about Uggs that just promote laziness.  (Funny, I wore mine to work today.) I will live on a diet of chocolate,  french bread and tortilla chips.
  My son Jack has always said that before he was a baby he was a happy old man. He also has said that when he dies he will go back to being a baby.  I would like to think of myself as a Christian who gave birth to a Buddhist.  I'm not a religion flip flopper, however I do like to remain as open and non judgmental and accepting of all religions, at least the ones that promote acceptance, (which, not surprisingly are few and far between)
But if my son is right, then I want the opposite of what I have now. I have been given the gift of testicles tenfold. I live eat and breath men from the moment I wake up until I go to bed.  I wouldn't trade this gift for the world, but I would like to make a small request of the universe that if I am reborn to be reborn as a lesbian lumberjack.  I don't think that is too much to ask. 

For now though, I have been placed on this Earth, at this time to breed testosterone and I will do best I can. I may not be an expert, but I can say with 100% certainty that men and women think differently, it just is. I don't intend to change that in this lifetime, but after this life concludes, I will need an entire lifelong break from penises.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bursting my safety Bubble

I have a nightly ritual that up until recently, I wasn't aware of. Every night, without much thought , I walk around to every door and make sure its locked ( twice). I then set the home alarm. Check on each of the boys, to make sure they are not upside down in their bed or under it, or in some cases in the closet. I then travel back downstairs, check the alarm again. Before I put myself in bed I ask Don to please check on the boys and make sure the alarm is set. OCD? Maybe. Like a mother bird, I am most at peace when all my birds are in our nest.
 I believe this is when I'm at my happiest too.
This exemplifies my deep mistrust of humanity.  I am thankful to say that I have never been the victim of a home invasion, I have never been mugged and I have never been physically attacked in anyway.  What I have encountered are deceitful people who are capable of doing horrific things.  How did I know this? My gut. I don't say this lightly. I have complete trust in my intuition.  When I was 15 a childhood friend came up missing.  Her mom believed that she had ran away but I knew better, I had met her boyfriend. After a year of her still not returning I had a very vivid dream that she came to me and told me that she was dead and her boyfriend had killed her. I was really disturbed and told my parents.
 Just shortly after my senior year I had moved to Tucson to attend college and I got a phone call from my mom.  She had just seen on the news that they had found Becky, she was buried at her boyfriends Uncle's house and that her boyfriend was being charged with her murder.
In the one meeting I had with this guy, even as a young girl I didn't like him.  He was a football player, honor roll all American, who broke her neck and buried her after she told him she was pregnant.
People said he just "snapped". I think that is a nice term to make a person's behavior somewhat acceptable.
As a kid I put myself in some very compromising situations.  I was asked to get in the car with a man when I was 13. Thankfully I was with my best friend, and I grabbed her arm and ran. I have walked alone at night in the Tenderloin when I was 20. If you are not familiar with the tenderloin, it is a section of San Francisco that you wouldn't want to walk through even in the day time, and it is rumored to be named after a prostitutes (loins).  Poor judgement yes, and I knew it. Miraculously (and I don't say that metaphorically) I found my way home.
My parents were probably cozy in their bed when their daughter was roaming through a the bottom of a scum pit 2000 miles away.  My mom's ritual was to pray for her kids at night, I like to think that this particular night her prayers were answered.
These are all obvious dangers that have faced kids for a long time. A stranger, a really bad neighborhood, a person who you trusted that betrayed you.
The difference now is that I am the mother of these kids.
With the recent stories of abuse I feel helpless.  I'm torn between raising confident young men who respect authority and raising confident young men who respect themselves more.  That they are allowed to say no to a coach or any authority figure, assuring them they won't get in trouble.
I want the boys to be aware of the dangers that seemingly nice people, that Mommy and Daddy may even be friendly with can be worse than a stranger passing by who says "hello".
How do I approach this topic to boys who still believe in Santa? Who I reluctantly take to the mall every year to sit on a complete strangers lap.   How do I explain that it is not ok to sit on anyone's lap and if an adult asks you to...run.
I want them to see the best of humanity, but right now, I have a hard time seeing it myself. Pedophiles  now have more access to our children then ever before.  A pedophile doesn't need to sit on a park bench waiting for kids to play at a park, they can get what they need on the internet. 
A friend of mine recently wrote an article and explained that he was abused as a child.  I don't know why this effected me so deeply.  It slapped me in the face with the reality that it can happen to anybody and it has probably happened to someone I am close to or know.  He was right.   His article opened a conversation that Don and I had never actually had. We discuss our parenting, for the most part, as it happens. For two procrastinators, I think we do a decent job.  We decide the boys boundaries based on how mature we think they are, not on age. But this is something that we need to prepare our boys for.   Even the thought of something like stirs something so primal deep inside me.  I want to believe that my intuition would warn me, but I would be naive to trust that alone. I honestly felt safe in our bubble of a community. That the boys coaches, teachers, bible school teachers, would never do that.  Unfortunately that is just not the case, and if anything where most of the people would be.  Even more unfortunate is the shadow that places on teachers who are there for the love of teaching, period. Someone like my husband who is extremely careful in even the most simple exchanges with his students. Gone are the "good job" pats on the back, and that is sad.
I'm not going to be able to come up with a easy solution to this parenting hurdle.  I'm still trying to figure it out. But what I did learn comes directly from my friend, and may be the best advice I have read regarding this subject.  

Focus on behavior—teach your kids that adults are never entitled to touch their bodies, and that no one is entitled to touch their bodies without their permission.

That is the first thing we can do in stopping this horrible crime that gets (understandably) unreported by its victims.  When you know better, you do better.

And maybe take my mom's ritual as my own and pray. 


Friday, October 28, 2011

Labels Stick.

I know, you are not suppose to label your children, but as much as parents claim that they don't, they do. In our family, Parker is our social one. Finegan is the smart one, Jack is the artist, and Oscar is a biter.  Unfortunately for Oscar, he has been labeled this and it will probably stick, we also call him a Parana.
Labels are considered a good thing in everything else. I label all my files at work, I have spices labeled.  Early on I was labeled as funny. My sister was labeled as organized and socially retarded and my brother was labeled as talented and perfect. Turns out all of those were true, at least from my parents perspective. And please don't be offended by the word retarded, I mean it in the true sense of the word..
verb |riˈtärd| [ trans. ]
delay or hold back in terms of progress, development, or accomplishment : his progress was retarded by his limp.

My mom blamed this ( and many other things) on her frequent ear infections as a baby.
Anyway, my label was given when at 2 years old I stood up at a family function and told a joke that I had made up, and everyone laughed, not a courtesy laugh, a real laugh. To this day, I still find it pretty darn funny.
Why did the cow cross the road? To mooooooon all the people!  I had come up with this after my brother went on a mooning rampage.  Mooning was much more popular in the 80's.
My sister got her label because she started collecting bugs for her bug collection when she was in 6th grade even though her bug collection wasn't due until 8th grade. Come to think of it, it is probably the same reason she got diagnosed with social retardation too. My dad built her a wooden case with blue felt and she labeled each hexapoda (with her Dymo label maker) and preserved each insect to have it perfectly displayed. Thank goodness, because nine years later I broke into her bug collection that was mounted on a shelf and I used it for my own project. Unfortunately my teacher noticed that the carcass's were a little deteriorated... and knew my sister.
My brother was good looking and talented and got away with anything and everything, even doing flash moonings. This is where a butt shows up where you least expect it, like a laundry hamper or car window and scares the crap out of you. Now as part of his profession he is half naked swinging to and fro on stages around the world. My sister is a successful business woman and I'm...well, entertaining audiences, even if they are forced to listen because they work with me, or they live with me.
So I guess labels stick. I don't want you to think that I tattoo each boy with their life long label, it just inside knowledge that my husband and I are certain of. It doesn't mean that Jack can't bite, or that Oscar can't draw. It just means that each one of them is the best (at least in our family) at one thing.
Yesterday out of the blue, Finegan asked me why we are baptized.  I explained that when you are baptized you become a child of God. (It was the best I could come up with at the time.) Within two seconds, he said, "so when we were born we weren't children of God?"
"Well yes, but..."
"Didn't you say Daddy wasn't baptized until Parker was born? So was he a devil baby?"
"No, why are we talking about this?"
His brain just works differently, analytically and he knows numbers like rain man.
Parker spends his recess playing tag with girls. He knows his third grade drama like a soap opera. These are the days of our lives.... and always wants to be in the center of it.
Jack draws on everything and I have a welt on the back of my arm where the Parana bit me.
In our little circle, the boys have also acknowledged that their brothers are talented. Soicalboy asks Smartypants for the answers to his math work, Smartypants asks socialboy about recess etiquette. It all works out in the end.  Maybe artist boy will paint another Sistine Chapel and Parana will open the cans of paint.  As long as you work your label I don't think they are half bad and although they may not know what their exact label is, they know it is a strength that their brothers can look to them to for expert advice and makes their blood fraternity all that more diverse.

Label on..

Monday, October 24, 2011

Body, why have you forsaken me?

I have a complicated relationship with my body.  There is a dial up connection between my brain and my physique. For example.  Every night around 9 pm when the house has finally become calm, my legs take me to the freezer and my arm assists in getting ice cream into a bowl. My mouth is also an accomplice in this food crime.  My left brain is saying "no you idiot!"  then my right brain, which has tempted me all these years overcomes the logical side by justifying it as a reward, and as always, wins.  The last thing I need before I go to bed is a bowl of ice cream and I don't regret it until the naked walk of shame into the shower the next day.  As I take a shower my brain is bullying my body.  "Maybe if you stopped eating ice cream you wouldn't have this chub in this place or a muffin in this place". (And that is a mild beating.) And for whatever reason, I go along with it.  Being a lifelong Oprah watcher I would be an idiot to not recognize that it is "emotional eating" and if that emotion is pure bliss, then I guess I fit the profile.  The other day Don thought he would take a playful peek over the shower curtain. Had he realized what would follow this typical manly gesture he would have thought twice. "What are you looking at? My butt?  Don't look at it! I know its chubby, why do you do this to me? Go away!" All this time he hasn't said anything but  "I just wanted you to know I'm taking the boys outside". Yeah sure, likely story.  And with that he evacuates the home in an attempt to shelter his son's from a woman's wrath.
Many people blame media, or the unrealistic examples of the female form in society for this self hatred, but I blame myself.  I think it began way before I had kids.  I would fret over a tiny bit of fat on my belly. I wasn't trying to look like a model I just wanted to be in the best shape I could be in. I find this interesting because now I can walk through the mall and see plenty of girls half my age with an exposed muffin top simultaneously eating an Aunt Annie's pretzel and downing a venti caramel machiato without a second thought, maybe they are emotional eaters too and have mall anxiety or something.

I'm not one to blame others however, I feed myself and since I could drive I have been carting my a** to the gym at 5 a.m.  Originally it was to keep myself in shape in the off season of soccer, but soon it became an addiction, one I think saved me from getting into (too) much trouble.
I was trying to remember if there was ever a time when I was truly happy with my body and I can answer yes, but it was always in retrospect. If I look at my 20 year old body I drool.  But this is 14 years later. 
In an effort to stop this horrific cycle I need to appreciate everything that I have and stop whining about it. The Universe has an interesting way of doing things and although we have freewill I can't help but think that there is a bit of a master plan.   Little did I know that all those mornings in the gym would prepare my body to be a baby making machine.  And I mean MACHINE!  My body stepped up and brought its "A" game.  So much so, that my boys didn't want to leave it. So the pregnancy was perfect, the birth, well not so much.   My oven would have kept cooking those buns until they were 2 if it could.   I think that is when my brain took over.  "Seriously? You want to push a 9 lb. baby out of what? And my body agreed.  When the baby was surgically removed (against his will) my body mourned the loss and my brain needed time to catch up.
Having a baby and within minutes feeding them perfect temperature, perfect nutrition from my body was mind blowing. It was the first time I truly appreciated it and was in awe.
That awe is quickly passed with the pressure to look like I was never pregnant or have had a baby by the next month. I was so frustrated when my clothes didn't fit.
What I don't understand is why women are so quick to want to hide the fact they just had a baby? When women run marathons or even a 5k you will find their number pinned to a bulletin board in their office and the race photo as thier profile picture on facebook. What you won't find is a picture of a jelly belly right after birth as a badge of honor. No sir, but maybe we should.

I recently began playing soccer after a long long hiatus.  I immediately felt at home on the field. I was ready to play but I quickly realized that a 34 year old body is not meant to be playing soccer, especially one who has had babies..  I don't see Mia Hamm out there kicking the ball around after she had a baby. (Not that I am anywhere close to her level, even post baby).   It wasn't the endurance that killed me, it was my joints. I wondered how I was able to do this for half of my life? Once again, pre-body envy.
But this time what keeps me going isn't my coach, or my need to be the best. It is the four little guys on the side lines cheering me on.  How can I not appreciate my body that has created my own little cheering section? Perhaps the Universe is intervening again.  Saying, that you may not have a perfectly toned midsection, or fat free legs, but what you do have is strength.   I can't think of a better lesson for four boys than to see their mom,  playing. Playing anything, but taking time only for me to play, and fully enjoy every second of it.   They don't care if I score or not, for that little minute as I painfully tried to pick up speed I could see out of the corner of my eye a blur of smiles cheering for me.  They weren't cheering because I had a perfect body, they were just cheering because they had never seen me in that light, and for that moment our roles had reversed. And in celebration, we might even go home and have ice cream, I deserve it after all right?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An argument that will never get resolved.

It is a gloomy day without sunshine. It has been raining for the past 15 hours. And as I sit in my office, one may be able to hear me quietly arguing with my husband on the phone. Arguing about something that neither one of us will ever win, but we argue daily about it.  I will get to that in a moment.  I know it was raining 15 hours ago because I was in the car at 1:00 a.m. transporting Jack (4) to the emergency room.  We live 2 minutes away from the hospital, but I'm not staying at home...still. We (being the 4 boys and I) are still at my parents until the house is clean enough for us to move back into. The dog and Don are staying there, * allegedly getting it ready for not only us to come home, but for his parents visit in 3 days.  The sanding that was done to get our kitchen floor refinished filled our closed up home with dust, and also got in the vents and all the dust is just being repeatedly covered when the heat comes on. 
Last night after going to bed a little later than usual (10:30) I was amazed on how well the baby was sleeping..he is in my room after all. Before I drifted off to sleep I said a little prayer, maybe a selfish one, but I prayed for a full nights sleep. That's all.  Oscar is getting to be too big for his pack n play so the previous night he had been up on the hour to protest his sleeping arrangements, so I was tired.  All was well until 12:15 when I thought I was awakened by a dream of the ocean, but the seal I was hearing was actually my son. I was confused, I looked in the pack n' play, the baby was sound asleep, where is this noise coming from? I ventured out into the dark living room where Jack was crying, barking and gasping for air. All while walking in a circle. He was panicking because he couldn't breath, he was crying which made his cough worse. By this time my mom was up looking at the two of us.  He was delirious, and wouldn't let either one of us hold him. Without words, I went and got my clothes on, to the emergency room we go.  We arrived around 1. The nurse didn't make us wait in the waiting room, which I wanted to hug her for her kind gesture. There are some sketchy people in the waiting room at 1 a.m. on a Tuesday morning. In the blur of me quickly passing the waiting room, I saw tattoos, pajamas, and teethless men.  Within minutes, we were in a frigid room waiting to see the doctor. The nurses seemed to eat Jack up. He is cute, I must say, but they showered him with stickers, compliments, grape juice and special treatment.   It was obvious he had croup and a breathing treatment was needed, we were just going to need to wait for another hour to get it. By the time Janet arrived, Jack had fallen asleep. He was awakened to her sticking a breathing mask on his face talking about Scooby Doo. Jack was not pleased.  It caused him to freak out again, which caused the barking to begin all over again. After holding him like a mental patient we were able to get the majority of the medicine in him. To the point he still had not uttered a word. It wasn't until he was given additional medicine that he told the nurse it was "awful"the only word he would utter throughout the entire fiasco.  We waited another hour or so for the doctor, nurse etc. and when it was all said and done, we had been there for 4 hours. I was able to catch up on late night shows, I had not seen since I was breast feeding.  Finally we were able to leave. I had to fill his rx before going home and was advised to get some food in his tummy.  Because I'm not usually cruising the streets at 5 a.m. I was amazed that there are not a whole lot of options for sustenance. Burger King was open and I was able to get Jack french toast sticks which he took two tiny nibbles of and I ended up eating the rest.  Not nearly as good as I remembered.  As I was driving home I wondered where other people who passed me were going at that hour?  Its  a different vampire world that I'm just not used to and don't care to get used to.  I finally arrived back at my parents and just as soon as I put Jack down the baby woke up and did NOT want to go back to sleep. I stayed up with him in a dark living room with the glow of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse filling the room.  By this time my mom was ready, she angelically offered to get the others ready, take Oscar and let me get some rest.  Around 6:15 I crashed next to the kid who sounded like an 86 year old smoker.  I had sent an email from my phone at 3 a.m. to my boss explaining that I would not be in to work in the morning. Within 2 min. he responded.  WHY is my boss up at 3 a.m.?  I don't know, but if this is a normal occurrence, it could explain a lot, and his crankiness. All along I thought it was just me.
So when my husband called me this afternoon and explained that the house wasn't quite ready for us to move back in our argument began. I methodically calculated the total amount of time I had slept the night before.. 2 hours, and I even took the liberty to add up the total number of the previous week. And he explained that he hadn't slept well either. Wait...he was alone with a dog at home. It was not computing. He explained that he only got 4 hours of sleep. But knowing my body's sleep needs and his, that is like a full night for him.  Since we had children we have had this argument almost daily.  To the point where we have threatened to keep track of how many times each of us have gotten up the night before, but never following through with it. Mainly because we are too tired at the moment to do so. Today as I quietly screamed at him on the phone, explaining that I was the one who didn't sleep not him, which ended up on me abruptly hanging up on him.  It got me to thinking. Why are we arguing about who is the most sleep deprived?  Is it a badge of good parenting? Or a badge of bad spouse-ing?  In all the years we have been married, has he ever said.." you know, you were up all night, what an amazing wife and mother you are" in short...NO. He has never said that.  Have I ever said, " I noticed you got up with the baby to nurse him 6 times last night...NO because, (oh that's right), he CANT.    So why do we continue to argue about this issue that only a night vision camera could prove?
When it comes down to it, what I'm looking for is recognition...from someone other than my mother.
What he is looking for is............ for me to not seek sleep deprivation recognition.
What ends up happening when I'm deliriously tired is, bad style choices.  Several layers of concealer trying to put on the illusion to everyone ( except my husband) that I don't need at least 6 hours of sleep to function, along with extremely sensitive emotions and weird cravings.  Which lead me to the one positive discovery today..the Salted Carmel Mocha at Starbucks. It is Heaven in a cup that almost brought me to tears.
Maybe I should add slight psychosis to my list of tired symptoms.
At this point in my life there are few things I find myself coveting for, and one of those things is a full nights sleep.  Is that too much to ask? Obviously, (my prayers were unanswered with and exclamation point) so God must have thought so too.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Day 1 of our Staycation.

Staycation...there are few words that annoy me more.  However, this is what I labeled our visit to my parents house for the next four days.  I have a severe allergy to dust, which I think most people do, so while the final touches are being done on our renovation (the last being the kitchen floor refinishing) it seemed like a good idea to stay at my parents. Especially since we wouldn't have access to our refrigerator, or more importantly the coffee maker.
I packed up outfits for the boys for four days. In case you are wondering, that is 16 shirts, 16 pairs of pants, 16 undies, a package of diapers, 32 socks, 8 pairs of jammies. 4 lovies and 4 pillow pets. This does not include my clothing or Don's but he is a big boy and I figured he could fend for himself. If you noticed a little hostility towards my husband of 10 years in the last sentence, well, congratulate yourself because you are very perceptive to written emotions. Don decided that it would be better for him to stay at home so that he could get some "work done". If I would have known that, I wouldn't have dropped off our dog at the doggy hotel. As much as my parents love Graham (sarcasm font) they do not allow dogs in their home.
My parents live in the same house I grew up in. I have the same room with my name on the door that boasts that I am the 1983 #1 shoe tier.  Growing up it felt like our house was large, but when you add 4 of my boys to it, it swells and feels as large as a motor home.  I arranged the boys in my sisters old room and the baby was to stay with me.  Getting them bathed was a challenge because rather than shower curtains, my parents have shower doors.  Plus I couldn't figure out how to work the faucet.
If senior citizens are notorious for not knowing how to work modern technology, then I apparently can be noted for not knowing how to work ancient technology.  After spending hours trying to figure out which remote turned on the tv, my dad walked in and pushed the button on the television.  INGENIOUS!
The boys view my parents house as a local theme park. Filled with soda, chips and entertainment (a tv) in every room. They travel to various corners and gorge themselves on junk food.  Amazingly, I was able to get them in bed by 9:30 after they had jumped off the beds for the 200th time.  It was around this time that Parker said his stomach hurt. I explained to him that when you stuff yourself with chips and soda, the combination forms a combustible gas that could possibly make him implode.  I gave him a Tum and tried to sit down on one of the 3, very comfortable lazy boy recliners my parents had recently purchased.  With in two minutes I'm rubbing my son's back as he vomited what seemed to be an enormous amount of food for a boy whose stomach is suppose to be the size of his fist.
I know that my husband is not to blame for this but somehow I would like to.
I can hear the pitter patter of little footsteps running up and down the hallway. I can hear the inner screams of my parents pleading, Why? Why?! And all I want to do is go to bed.  After Parker was finished, he returned to the bathroom for the grand finale which released anything remaining to come out of his body, only this time the other end.  As bad as he felt, he still was able to point out that I was wrong, he didn't implode, he exploded.  Touché.
Once I felt that my Vesuvius son had calmed down, I retreated to my accommodations that I had spent the first 20 years of my life sleeping in.  It felt smaller...well, there is a pack n' play in the middle of the floor.  I layed down on the same bed as I slept in in high school, under the same glow in the dark stars that I incorrectly arranged on my ceiling, beside my once beloved stuffed animals.  And as I rested my head to fall asleep.....I didn't.
After an hour or so of staring at the adhesive solor system I must have drifted off.  If my bedroom has one great quality it is that it is warm, very warm.
Having older parents means that they wake up at 4 in the morning, so pleasantly coffee was already made, along with a few extra hands to help make breakfast. Not to mention my parents staying home with a my sick son and happily doing so.  The fact that my mom palmed me 40 bucks as I left the door was reminiscent of the good ol' days when she gave me too much lunch money.
I actually made it in to work early today, I'm not sure how that happened, maybe I'm on PTZ the parental time zone which  causes one to arrive at everything 20 minutes early.
1 day down, 3 to go.  Who knows by the time Thursday comes maybe my parents will have decided to have a  staycation with Graham.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Way back on Thanksgiving 2010, while I was slothfully sitting on the couch with my sister and brother at my parents house, swollen with turkey and stuffing and wine and pumpkin pie etc. etc. we watched as our
(collectively) 14 children ran crazy, looting around our parents house, occupying every computer, television and square inch imaginable in their once quiet home. My dad was on his knees ferociously scrubbing the carpet trying to remove a  chocolate milk stain and my mom was in the kitchen cleaning dishes.  You have to know my parents, before judging me to think that I was just being lazy, they are OCD cleaners.  They like doing it..at least that is how I have justified it for the past 34 years.  Amongst the chaos, my sister turned to us and said,  "mom is going to be 70 this coming year, and we should really do something for her."   By this year, she meant 11 months away.  Nathan and I agreed and we planned to send an email thread to find out a date when he would be home next.  A few months past and I initiated the first email.  The date we agreed on was in August and it was 2 months prior to her actual birthday. It would be perfect. My mom insists on our family coming together and taking a big coordinated family picture every single year. She justified it  being annual because we kept having babies and adding another kid which my mom had to display in her Christmas card.  This year we actually went from 22 to 21 people... we lost one, not to death but to divorce, which is pretty much equal in my parents eyes, (we have a very strong family alliance, no matter what the circumstance) I have threatened Don with that several times in a Godfather Gangter kind of voice..."You betray me, you betray my family and you will be NOTHING in this town"...  Obviously this kind of threat doesn't frighten him enough to stop leaving a pile of his socks by the bed.
Regardless, we had an excuse to get together and it was a perfect time for us to plan a party. I quickly discovered that "us" really translated into "me". That was ok though, I still had 7 months to plan a get together. We were going to have a small dinner with my mom's closest friends and family, but even that would be a minimum of 50 guests, so, per my dad's suggestion, we needed to invite all of her friends.
Except for college and a few years in Chicago, my mom has lived in this area her entire life. She has several social circles. For example, her church choir friends, her salon friends, her tennis friends, her high school friends, her line dancing friends and not to mention every other person in this town that she has ever had any brief exchange with.  Being that it is 2011 I decided to make an evite (my first mistake) but I will address that in a moment.  I told my mom that a terrible virus was sweeping through the internet and I needed her password to be sure her email wouldn't be hacked.  She believed me and I was able to access all of her contacts. I sent out 150 evites.  A day or two passed and my family had all responded... a week passes, still a disappointing response.  I know it was 6 months away, but old people like to plan.  It was then that I received one of two letters.. in the mail.  SNAIL mail.  It was a note from a woman saying that she saw that I sent her a message on the computer but Burt couldn't open it and would I please send her a real invitation. UGH. That was the whole point of the evite to NOT try and find the addresses of a million people!  After I got the second similar letter I decided to bite the bullet and send a "real" invitation, opposed to the "fake" one I had sent on their "computer".  I had my dad photo copy my mom's Rolodex..yes, she really has one. And I was able to send out an additional 150 invites.  It was then that I had hit the senior citizen jackpot. RSVP calls flooded our voice mail.   It became a source of entertainment for Don and I. The rsvp messages were a minimum of 2 minutes and a maximum of 6 1/2.  Once they got my name right, they went on to give a brief monologue on how they knew my mom and if they were going to attend. But the exchange wasn't over just yet. They needed me to call them back to make sure that I received their message.  (You never know these days with answering machines, sometimes the tape gets raveled)  In the time it took me to plan this event, with the invites, menus and decorations, I would say at least 10 hours was made up in phone conversations.  And to make it more awkward, they all knew who I was and I had no clue who they were. Sure, I had heard their names before, but how can I know which Karen or Janet they were. What I was struck by was the stories people were sharing about my mom that I had never heard. Most conversations ended with laughter on both ends.  And what I soon realized was that everyone we invited was going to attend.  The room I reserved held 80.  Cross that bridge when we get to it.  When my parents took their snowbird hiatus to Arizona,  I snuck into their house and took all the family albums I could find.  Don took old home movies and converted them into dvd's. He made a 20 min. movie with over 200 photos of the 70 years my mom has graced the Earth.   The hard part was putting them all back.   On one of the trips to their house I had taken Jack and he discovered my Dad's chocolate stash (no wonder he was so quiet), then later that night told my mom over skype that he had been to her house and eaten Grandpa's candy... I told her that Jack was making it up and pushed him out of view.  Sorry Jack, you had to take one for the team.
The date came up on us pretty quickly.  We talked about how to get her to the place after the family picture. I creatively stalled with additional photos like, Can we please do a photo of us walking hand in hand across the grassy knoll. (no joke) It was actually her suggestion to go to dinner. We just had to reject all of her suggestions until she came up with the right place.  When we arrived she was was just as surprised as I had wanted her to be. She was embraced by old friends and said that I had invited an "eclectic" bunch from all parts of her life.  Turns out even some randoms, that DID open the evite who my mom had purchased some " holistic arthritic cream" from in a neighboring Amish town even decided to show up.
When it was time to watch the video we gathered (tightly) as it was shown on 2 screens.  I was over come with emotion as I watched a beautiful life unfold of someone who I had just selfishly seen as only a mother. She was a daughter, a friend, a comedian, a glowing wife and a proud mother.   She had an adventurous, fulfilled life before we came into it, and even with all her accomplishments, the one thing she wanted more than anything else was be a mom.  How am I so lucky to have been born to such a great woman? You don't get a chance to reflect on someones life until it is at their funeral.  This gave my siblings and me an opportunity to look in our mom's eyes, hug her and tell her how much we really do love her, a moment that is so often overlooked until it is too late. She was worried about all the work that we had put into it, but wholeheartedly, it was the least we could do.   It reminded me of a speech that Don gave at our wedding that had just been lip service prior to this moment.  Before we cut the cake he took the microphone to give a speech, and looked at our four parents sitting together and said " I would like to thank our parents, it is because of you and your love that we are the well rounded people we are today, and if we can emulate you, even a little bit, we are ahead of the game in my opinion" ten years later the words are even more relevant.
It was a pleasure, albeit stressful, to take this monumental task of planning a surprise party for 150+ people all while working 40 hours a week, juggling 4 boys, an insane dog and a sock leaving husband, but I think I may be on my way to emulating one of the most selfless women I know.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Paranormal 30's

What I have heard about ghosts is that they are dead people that just don't know they are dead and they wonder around their old stomping grounds and think everything is fine...except its not because they are dead.  Recently I discovered that my 30's are a lot like that.  Let me explain...
We have been looking for a babysitter to allow us some freedom on the weekends to go out with friends and come home slightly intoxicated whenever we want.  I found a great girl that is a nursing student at an all girls university and our boys loved her. She was born the same year I was a freshman high school.  That didn't stop me from believing that I was the same age as she.  I can remember when I was 20 like it was yesterday. I talk like her, know all the "hip" things, really we aren't that far apart in age.  Hey, we could be bff's! Except the fact that she wouldn't want to be my bff because she views me as a mini-van driving mom who is socially lame (even though I have a facebook account and I even text).  I must say, that my 20 year old self wouldn't have noticed that she sent me an email at 3:44 a.m. and maybe if I was as cool as I think, I wouldn't have noticed either. She probably thinks I'm pushing 40, hell, When I was 20 every person over the age of 25 was old and whether they were 24 or 44 I put them in the same category as my parents. But being that I am 7 months shy of my mid thirties, I am in complete denial and I don't realize I'm in my 30's.  I notice that some of my closest friends are starting to show their age and look more like their mothers did when we were in high school more than what they looked like in high school.  But I must be the exception.
My niece recently asked me to take her to a party that my sister wouldn't take her to. Being the "cool" aunt that I am, I agreed. I put the baby in his car seat, turned on the young hip radio station (rather than the adult alternative one that is always on) and we were on our way.  I tried to give her "wise" advice from when I was 14, "you don't need to worry about boys, you have your entire life." She half listened and was texting the majority of the ride. She is a beautiful cross between Brooke Shields and Jennifer Connely. She really doesn't need to worry about getting boys attention, they notice her already. But my advice is dated (apparently). But that doesn't stop me, heck it wasn't that long ago I was a freshman in high school and playing soccer and chasing boys. (30's denial once again.) We arrived at the party and I noticed that there was a group of 15 or so boys standing in the drive way.  I asked her if any girls were planning on being at this party.( Trying to ignore the fact that I sounded just like my mom with that statement.)  She looked at me, pointed and said "duh" and all they way across the enourmous yard was a group of 15 or so girls.  I guess my memory had failed to recall the fact that boys and girls don't actually communicate at pre-freshman age parties. Before I knew it she was out of the van. (Admitting that a mini van IS a little embarrassing).  My ghost of a 30 year old may need to come to a realization that things have changed.  When I was in high school there wasn't facebook or even laptops for that matter.  There were car phones, but not cell phones. Caller ID didn't exist yet and my cable only had about 34 channels.   I felt that if she listened to me she may learn some valuable information, such as,  never go to Taco Bell at 3:30 a.m. because if a cop happens to show up you are stuck in a drunk driver party line with no where to go and chances are you may get arrested... maybe its not my advice that she needs. If I would have listened to all the old people that gave me advice I wouldn't have had nearly as much fun as I did.
Although I may look 30 something I certainly don't feel it.  There are a few times where I look in the review mirror and see 4 little guys safely strapped in their seats and I wonder how in the world I got to this point.  I swear that just yesterday I was flirting with Don in a bar on 4th Street in Santa Monica. Now I'm driving through Starbucks because I couldn't bear to listen to the baby cry and slept sitting up, not because I was out partying. And I can't just go home at 2 and take a 4 hour nap.
There are times though when I wish that I could have a sleep over and paint my nails and read magazines and care only about what is happening tomorrow rather than what the next month or even next year looks like.  Perhaps embracing this decade will exorcise the ghost.
But for now, I will float along lost in a pleasant purgatory of a decade that seems to have a relevant purpose to gently give me the realization that I am, indeed a grown up.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

This sucks

I have returned to the work force. Well, sort of. Yesterday as I was walking into work I went right past my building and into the Starbucks next door. I needed a little liquid enthusiasm. I was greeted by my boss whose first words to me were in the form of a question. "Do you like my shoes?"  "Yes." Which was followed by a story about Funky town.. I don't know.  Once I opened my office door I was hit by a waft of stale energy that needed reviving.  I started my computer's engine and swear I saw that little yodeling guy from the Price is Right  Cliffhanger game climbing up my mountain of email and falling off the cliff around 500.  I began to sort through the messages and somehow ended up changing my screen savor. Naturally I couldn't have a spring photo, I needed a summer one. So I found a perfect one of the boys jumping off a pier, which lead me to go through all our vacation photos and before I knew it an hour had gone by.  Just in time for my first meeting which was regarding aspestos removal from the crawl space in our 100 + year old building, a building that I have been working in for four years and had been pregnant carrying our youngest child in.  After that I went back to my office and googled aspestos danger to pregnant women along with symptoms of mesothelioma. Before I knew it, it was time for lunch.  I went home to find that 2 of the boys didn't even know I had left, one was in their pajamas and one was too busy reenacting the Backyardigans to notice I just walked in front of him.  Don was indifferent, except in regards to a phone message he had taken which said that I had been entered into a drawing which my name was called and I needed to claim my prize. I was going to let it go, but he was persistent.  I called and I was told that I won my choice of either, a 3 day 2 night trip to a resort, a digital frame, or kitchen knives.  This should have been the first warning sign.  Of course I chose the trip and they said they would personally bring me the prize but I also had to watch a short pure air demonstration.  Wait what? I reluctantly agreed and we set a time for 7 pm.  By this time Don realized why I thought it was crap in the first place. "but why did you agree?" he asked. Rather than entertain this argument I returned to work to discover I have forgotten everything about my position.  I had what I like to call vacation induced dimentia.  I resorted to cleaning my desk until I was interrupted by my boss who recently invited Don and I over for dinner on Thursday and knowing that I don't eat meat, has decided to serve steak, he even offered to make mine tar tar. (insert fake laugh here) After minutes of fretting (not) he reassured me that he had made me a pasta dish. Before I knew it, it was time to go home. Our salesman arrived at 6:59 in an old cadillac, at which point he lugged two enormous bags out of his trunk.  He was overweight and was a combination of Chris Farley and Zach Galifiankis. At which point Don and I made a pact to make his visit the most unaccommodating possible. Don turned on the tv for the boys, let the other two play video games and let the dog out.  Immediatly he asked what the boys names were.  That creeps me out. Why is that necessary information for a air purification sales person? Well, he wasn't born yesterday, he dropped their names like they were hot. " Oscar needs clean air to be healthy and grow" "What do you think of that Jack?" Even throwing in the dogs name for extra credit.  We were not humoring his questions  like,
"What do you think of when you think of pollution? " or " Do you like the fact that your wasting hours of your time grinding more dirt into your carpet and ruining your home? " At that point Don said yes.  Strategically, neither one of us were sitting at the same time.  Kids were skipping through the house, milk was spilled, Graham was barking, Oscar was crying, snacks were being dispersed, a fight club had developed down stairs, and we just let it carry on. If our house didn't break him, nothing would.  We discovered that our air was in the "DANGER ZONE" based on his electronic meter and that only he had the solution to our pollution. At this point, we could not contain our laughter, that is just too cheesy.  The next laughable moment is when he asked Don if he knew how long his hose was.  But as much as the boys climbed around him, Graham sniffed him, his persistence was growing on me.  Except when he asked for a drink of water. How rude of me, he is our guest after all!  Yes, he was sweating like a pig, but I thought that only added to the discomfort. I gave him one of the boys miniature plastic cups.  Then he decided to demonstrate how we wasted good money on our new vacuum by sweeping our carpet 100 times. Trust me, he counted.  Then immediately following he used his super duper vacuum and guess what? He picked up a big hair ball of dirt, dust and probably e coli.  And if that didn't make us feel good enough he dumped it on the floor to show us.  By this time an hour had passed and my evening glass of merlot was calling my name. In other words, I had checked out.  Finally as we begin to anticipate a closer approaching us, he shows us yet another statistic based on clinical "research". We could barely hear him over Oscar's cries but we got the jist. We are filthy parents and our kids are going to die of lung contamination, but considering I already have asbestos related lung cancer I can except that fate.  By this time this man was infringing on Don's date with ESPN and he was done.  Before he could even ask if we could put a price on our young children's health, Don stopped him. He explained that although his presentation was flawless, albeit long, we were not going to buy anything...now or ever and we would like our vacation prize.  He seemed to understand but not enough to stop talking. At this point I started cleaning the kitchen and he asked to use our phone. He called his "manager" to explain that we were not going to buy anything and , "yes, he explained that, and even though we were at a dangerous level we still said no".  He assured us that gets paid just for coming over (because we were so worried) .  Don was standing at the door as if to say  kindly, get the f*ck out, and he gave us a wrinkly brochure with our choice of "premier destinations" such as Iowa, Florida and even Mishawaka!. 
I wonder if a similar experience happened to Arthur Miller when he wrote Death of Salesman. Willy Loman  was a vacuum salesman right?  Just as we think his foot is out the door he hands us a piece of paper and with puppy dog eyes asks us for 3 referrals. WHO does this?? I kindly agreed and gave him the names and the near numbers of my friends. I may or may not have changed a number or made an 8 look like a 9 or 0.  All I know is that if my friends knew I referred them to this tool, they wouldn't be my friend for much longer.  
So that was my day back, after two months.  But as much as it killed me to leave my family of bugs all snug in their beds,  I was able to go into work and be entertained by a co-worker who showed me a video clip of a white party where Stephanie, a fantastic drag queen (who recently came out of retirement for one show only, and made me feel just a little insecure that a man can me more feminine and graceful than me), and call it work. The Universe was reminding me to be thankful that  I'm not a air/vacuum salesman. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A trip to simplicity.

We were recently invited to visit my dearest friend at a lake home that she shares with her aunt and mom in Northern Wisconsin.   We have been invited before, but this summer seemed perfect, especially since
1. I wasn't pregnant or nursing and
2. The boys were at an age where I could be sure they would have fun.
The trip is 7 and a half hours which took us over 9.  Blame it on google maps, Don, or the numerous potty stops..*hint,  if you picked Don as your answer you are correct! Regardless, we arrived unscathed.   I find that road trips are a lot like gambling.  You think you can make it to the next exit which you fantasize will have a clean McDonald's but your realize that you are gambling with your bladder, and the city engineer who decided to have a cluster of McDonald's together, than nothing but truck stop buffets for the next 40 miles.  And before you know it you are holding a cup while a 4-year-old pees in it, all while going 80 miles per hour down the free way praying you don't hit a bump.  I do all the driving on road trips.  I do this for few reasons.  The first one is that I get terribly carsick and cannot think about reading directions in the car.  Secondly, Don can jump in the back without getting nauseous to put out fires, change the dvd or open a juice box and lastly, Don can sleep. I cannot sleep while he is driving ever since the rainy incident in the mountains of Kentucky on our way to Florida last year. Just as I was dozing I was awaked by my heart flying out of my chest because a semi slammed on its breaks 3 feet away from us.  So we agree as long as I can drive, I do.  We arrived to a beautiful house and learned that we would have the entire lower level to ourselves. Three bedrooms, a bathroom, living room, kitchen, workout room and a walkout to the lake.  Pretty rockstar accommodations if you ask me. My only complaint was that the gates we brought along (mandatory when you have a 16 month old) were not wide enough to block the stairs. We figured it out with creative barricades or piano benches or upside down chairs.  What also was unexpected was the lake toys that were left in each of the boys room so they could catch bugs or read a nice book before settling in.  Did I also mention that one of our friends is a gourmet chef? She made us fresh dinner, lunch daily and one brunch.  Best of all, other than travel expenses it was free.  I had to go grocery shopping twice in the 4 days we were there, but that is because the boys were more than active while there which led to extreme appetites.  Because my friend does not have kids, they eat dinner (like normal people) when they are hungry, not because its 5 o'clock on the dot. So that meant the boys had two dinners, the first one of macaroni and cheese and the second of something delicious that they have never had and never will have again because it requires cooking skills, which I do not possess.   They went tubing and skiing for the first time. Explored the lake with snorkels and even had smore's. Don morphed into a 12 year old within 24 hours and was water skiing around the lake. I must say, its pretty amazing when you discover that someone you have been with, even had 4 children with in the past 11 years, can do something that you had no idea they could do.  Obviously, he hadn't skied in at least 12 years and he got up after 4 tries.   It made me feel a little inadequate because I don't have any of those things up my sleeve. What you see is what you get, I spent all my A game in the first year... now I'm on to my B or even C game trying to do new things to impress and falling extremely short, like the time I tried knitting. Trust me, nothing is more sexy or impressive than to find out that your wife is a knitter. Well, at least a knitter wannabe.   Don did learn some facts about me that he didn't know, albeit maybe not as impressive. Like, the story of when I went to my first kegger and blew my underage cover when I ordered milk (much to my friends horror.)  Or the fact that spiders and mosquitos LOVE me.   I was able to spend an entire 15 minutes by the campfire or as I call it, the mosquito thanksgiving, while they feasting on the other white meat, which was me.  And I have also handed that trait down to Jack who was bit by a spider which resulted in him having three bumps, two of which looked like Lucifer horns, this resulted in a reaction that made it look like he had 50  massive bug bites. After a while we decided there was no way he could have been bit that many times, especially since I had sprayed him. ( Did I mention there was a fully stocked bar?)  So the only option was Benedryl. I have been extra cautious about this drug ever since a co-worker gave me a Benedryl before a work reception( with wine) and it resulted in me telling my boss he looked like the bartender, who was an 80 year old toothless woman. So I cut the benedryl in half, and then in half again and gave it to him. The warnings were extreme excitability or noted drowsiness.  Once again, a gamble.  We noticed him stumbling so I decided it was time to take him to bed. As we were walking down the hallway I got a glimpse of his future fraternity persona. He kept repeating. "My name is JAAACCCKKK, J. A. C. K. Jack".  Yep, he is his mother's son. He slept like a rock.
Not only was this a vacation for us, but it was also a vacation from my makeup. I didn't wear an ounce, and I wore a sundress and my hair in a knot at the top of my head the entire time, and they still recognized me.  You know you have life long friends, when you can do that.  I can't even do that around family. It would only be a matter of time before my mom would ask if I was going to clean myself up, or before my mother-in-law would offer to watch the kids so I could take a shower.  I did shower by the way.
Before we knew it, it was time to go. Re- packing always seems to take twice as long.  We were sad to go, but knew that 4 boys and 2 adults are a lot for a previously peaceful house. No matter how much they say they love your company, you always kind of wonder if they are wishing they could sleep past 7 a.m. and go a day without hearing screaming.    We said our goodbyes and took off honking and waving goodbye, blowing kisses. Only to return 3 min. later because we forgot the bottle.  I swore they would be doing the jig in their lawn when we returned but they weren't. They actually had tears in their eyes.  And to solidify that they had just as much fun as we did, I received a text that they hadn't cleaned the little hand prints off the glass just yet. A little reminder to them of how laughing kids can make an already loving house even more of a home and a reminder to me that surrounding yourselves with good friends, laughing so hard you cry and taking a break from all that is stressful is what vacation is all about.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Love and Waffles

We need to get a lock on our bathroom door.  Our house is old and apparently back then people either left their doors open, or the kids were just born knowing what privacy meant.  My boys are deficient in the privacy awareness gene. For example, Jack was punished yesterday for streaking...outside.  They just think that being naked is funny. It makes me laugh too, but for obvious reasons he had to be reprimanded.  I was in the bathroom, dealing with my monthly female issue.  On a side note, after ever child I have been rewarded with a heavier period. As if my body was trying to put an exclamation point of relief each time there wasn't a baby in it.  Now after the fourth baby my middle name might as well be Flo.  So I was trying to deal with this and my second son walked in to discover some evidence in the toilet.  You would have thought that he walked into a CSI crime massacre. His alarm is justified, considering we determine the severity of an injury by the amount of blood it produces. To my knowledge he hadn't seen that amount in one place....ever.  He screamed what is that!?  As I slammed the door shut, he spoke to me through the door. Do you need a band aid??  This isn't the first time he had seen some feminine hygiene products before but I have gotten away with explaining that it was makeup or nail polish. That is my answer for everything I don't want them to touch. (Make up is for girls and nail polish stinks.)  I told him to go away and that I needed privacy.  When I came out he was sitting on my bed. Along with this monthly gift I get an added bonus in the form of killer cramps. And I mean these cramps have fangs. So I have been using a heating pad when I find a brief moment to sit down.  He looked like he had figured it all out, the blood, the heating pad, my irritable mood, yep. I was going to die.  I knew that this issue was not going to be consoled with the make up excuse and I was not about to tell him about a woman's cycle. I just explained that it was normal and not to worry about it because it was not fatal.  Although I would guess Don would beg to differ. He prides himself in predicting the exact date my period will start based on my increased ability to "bitch" at him.  But if there wasn't anything to "bitch" about to begin with... his "argument" has holes in it. Its the classic chicken and egg story.  That night, before I put the boys down, Finegan came to me and asked what my favorite breakfast was, I told him oatmeal. He told me he wanted to make me breakfast in bed the next day and to remind him.  I said ok and figured it was a fleeting thought.   While doing my usual nighttime rounds to be sure all the doors are locked and the boys have not strangled themselves with their bed sheets, I notice a Sticky note next to his bed. " make mommy breakfast". Next to the stairs another note read " breakfast for mommy" I felt the lump in my throat as I fought back a Niagara of tears as to not appear too emotional but I felt  my heart had melt a bit .  It wasn't mothers day or my birthday and to my knowledge he hadn't done anything wrong.  I figured that he was just showing his love for me.  I went to bed with a towel under my body...when I say heavy.. I mean heavy.  At 4 :45 a.m. I hear Finegan attempting to wake Don up.  After the 3rd and failed attempt I asked Fin what he needed. He came over to my side of the bed and said he wanted to make me breakfast. I said that I really appreciated it, but given that it was before the sunrise, I wasn't hungry.  He seemed to accept that and went back to bed.  At 7 :00 I was re- awakened with two frozen eggo waffles topped with frozen blueberries.  Before I start to wonder if has lost his mind and any recollection of anyone eating frozen waffles, ( and enjoying it) I remember rule number three in our house.  Don't touch the toaster or put anything into the toaster, for any reason.  Fin isn't strong enough to pour a full gallon of milk without spilling it. So he made due with the best he could.  He watched me take every single bite as if he had made them from scratch. By this time he had gotten his brothers involved and I had a little audience.  Frozen waffles never tasted so good, especially without syrup.   But my expression was magnified 100x in their eyes.  When I was finished they even took the plate.   I noticed that he was my shadow most of the morning and being extra helpful. Finally when he told me he wanted me to have his beloved dolphin that was given to him, I asked him what was up.   With complete sincerity he told me he didn't want me to die.    His first glimpse into the realm of estrogen had deeply freaked him out. It all became clear to me.  I hugged him and said that I was ok. I also explained that I had seen on the news that people are living to be 100 more and more and that the person or people that are going to live to be 150 have already been born.  He loves numbers so I continued. I also explained that I was 27 when I had him and if I lived to be 125 he would be.....I had to think for a second and he exclaimed "98!"  Yes.. I knew that.  So I told him by the time he was 98 and I was 125 we would be so old that we wouldn't even know who was the mommy and who was the son anymore and he would probably be changing my diapers..  He laughed and seemed pacified. I was touched that his way of showing his love for me was a unique glimpse into how he knows he is loved.  Although laying out their clothes every day and making them breakfast gets mundane and even overwhelming at times, there is a much more significant purpose to these chores that, up until now, I had overlooked.  Every single day that they get dressed and eat their breakfast, they are reassured that I love them.   A simple necessary gesture speaks to them in ways that make sense to them. I spend endless hours telling them I love them and all this time it was just a waffle that made them feel it.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Amish Universe

The weather this summer hasn't been what I would call, ideal for the pool.   We have been spending too much time inside (myself included.)  Who ever thinks teachers get the summer off is wrong. Don has had to do a workshop here, a room cleaning there etc. So that leaves me alone at home with the boys and not what I expected when I elected to take the summer off. Regardless, I'm determined to make it fun. The boys had been wanting to go to this place called Splash Universe for months. It is an indoor water park and I decided (without telling them) that we were going on Monday. I was kind of excited too.  Because of my debilitating motion sickness curse, I have been known to spoil any plans of going to amusement parks, Fairs, or kiddy lands at Disney World, but water parks are my secret ace card of not being as lame as people think.  When I was a kid my dad would take 6 or 8 weeks off ( I'm not sure because I was a kid and had no concept of time) and we would do all of our family traveling in the summer. They had an RV and had been known to travel from Canada to California to Florida. No need for a hotel because we bring our own! And we may even park it in front of your house.  One particular excursion landed us in Las Vegas in 1987. Nothing says Vegas like a family of Hoosiers with tube socks and matching Coca-a-Cola t-shirts.  Besides hitting the casino's where 3 of us are underage and the 2 that are of age (my parents) don't drink or gamble, (not for religious reasons but for the feeling of light headedness it gives them) we were able to have fun.  The final day of our trip my dad told us we were going to Wet N' Wild!  The biggest waterslide park in the country.  My siblings and I were so excited we even recorded a rap song about it on our jambox, our only electronic entertainment in our traveling home.  We arrived bright and early. My dad snorting to himself at the price per person, making some comment about how he could have bought 3  tanks of gas for an RV at this rate.  My heart was set on the giant slide in the center of the park. I traveled up 6 flights of stairs and reached the top, only to be told I needed to go back down because lightning had been spotted. I assured the lifeguard that I hand't seen any but that didn't seem to convince him to let me go down. I fought back tears long enough to find my dad who was standing in our meeting location at the center of the park.  He calmed us
(ok me) down and promised to let us come back the next day. We walked back to the front gate only to discover that there were no rain checks or refunds. My dad is a pretty laid back calm guy with two exceptions: traffic and money.  I seriously thought he was going to squeeze through that hole in the glass and ring the blasé attendants neck.  We left Vegas with a sour taste in our mouths...all of us except my brother, who thought it was pretty to cool to be propositioned by a prostitute.
This water park is inside so no need to worry about rain checks.  The placement of this establishment  is quite interesting. They put it right in the middle of Amish country.   I wonder what the logic is behind that. I can't even get a Whole Foods or Trader Joes to come to my town, but a city of people whose women can't even expose their ankles can get a water park.    We passed several horses and buggies. Women churning butter, men with beards plowing fields with horses and plow things.  Homemade dresses hanging to dry next to the chicken coop.  Finally we arrived. I felt reminiscent as I paid $27 per person to gain access, but we had come so far (45 min.)   It wasn't too busy. What I discovered as I sat in the toddler pool with Jack, water brings out the weird in people.  I tried to not get frustrated as I thought that we could have put up a baby pool in our back yard and Jack would have been doing the same thing but we would have saved $27.  Women in bikinis who shouldn't be. I don't say this to be mean, but if you are over a certain size or girth, it may be smart to opt for the one piece or a nice big cover up.  Most of the people there were moms trying not to get wet.  Within 10 minutes Parker came to me looking green. He said the slide made him feel sick. Sick? I couldn't understand what he was talking about. I instructed him to stay with Jack and Finegan and I went up the 4 flights of stairs to get to the top of the " vortex".  A properly named water slide for the midwest.  Finally after 24 years I was going to finally be able to go down the water slide that was robbed from me in Las Vegas.  I got on my tube and traveled down to the bottom. It may have been the longest 4.5 seconds of my life. I was being tossed from side to side in a dark airless tunnel to be shot out with a wedgie at the bottom. I felt as sick as I did in a boat in the middle of the ocean in Australia. I knew exactly why Parker felt like ass.  I decided to spend the rest of my time in the toddler pool or the lazy "river".  As the queasiness dissipated something made me feel equally as nauseous.  It was a couple in their mid 20's floating around intertwined like they were dry humping, but in the water.  I had to wonder, 1. why they were there when it is clearly a kids establishment where alcohol is not served and 2. Why pools make it acceptable for people to float around doing who knows what under the water.   After eating  a $30 lunch where I must have opened 15 little packets of ketchup with my teeth for their hotdogs, I decided it was time for us to go.  As we were walking to the parking lot I explained to Parker that unfortunately he has inherited my inability to have fun on rides that have any motion..which boils down to of all of them.   He said he knew exactly why he was the only one to have motion sickness out of his 3 other brothers. I knew what was coming before he announced it. He claimed it was because he came out of my vagina and the others didn't.  This seems to be the only thing that he sees remarkably unique from his brothers and he uses it as an excuse for many things. Maybe he wears glasses because he came out of my vagina. Maybe he doesn't like soccer because he came out of my vagina. Maybe he doesn't like math or school because he came out of my vagina. Who knows, maybe he is right, but I often regret sharing that fact so early in his life.
After 4 hours I was just happy to get in the car. I even planned on stopping at one of the amish businesses that offered homemade ice cream.  By the time I arrived at this place (after a brief wrong turn) the entire car had fallen asleep.  It was probably a good thing. As a kid my grandfather made a big deal about making ice cream and after what seemed like forever waiting for it as he churned a crank on a wooden barrel, it tasted like icy/salty/sour milk.  It was a hard sell for a girl raised on DQ.  I'll never forget my mom's face when I spit it out the 1/2 cup of ice crap we each got. Rather than wake the boys I decided to carry on our long journey home.   A good day which (hopefully) will leave a great memory of water parks for them and a new one for me.