Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Sermon

On Twitter, I wrote, that I was dying my hair "screaming red." I suppose my definition of "screaming" needs some refinement, because I chickened out AGAIN and ended up with brown hair with red highlights.

I caused quite a ruckus when I came in for my appointment, because they got me mixed up with the other Nancy C in our small county. This Nancy C canceled my appointment when they called to confirm. When they told me this, I was so disappointed, I thought I would cry.

I know it's just a haircut. I know that it doesn't matter. But I'll just say it---it's been a hard few weeks. There's of course all of the sadness in blogland involving Monkey and Daffy. Then, in my own backyard, there's a cancer diagnosis and  a loss of a home to fire. Add in a mystery diagnosis here, family dysfunction there, a thirty year old getting a hysterectomy, and it all results in some serious fist shaking at the sky and a glass of anxiety with a paranoia chaser.

I was really counting on that haircut. When EVEN THAT fell through, I'll admit it: I cried in my car. I cried not for my lack of style, but for my lack of answers.

Of course, it worked out and I did get my haircut.

Of course, people are pulling together to help. (Click if you want to know about Monkey and Daffy.)

Of course people have made meals and pulled together clothing and their wallets to help out my backyard friends.

Of course.

It's hard to remember how good this world can be. Grace is the act of rebirth. With new eyes, we see how people reach out to friends and strangers. In weakness, love holds us. We learn, once again, that we are not alone in this world.

I believe that we see God where needs meets love. We see God where longing meets acceptance. And yes, we see God in that thin shaft of light where fear meets hope.

Bring the meals. Make the call. Show up. Be part of the process. It's part of being human. 

This I believe. Amen, Hallelujah.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fashion Emergency

Dear Carters, Gymboree, and the rest of Y'all: 

My husband used to be a Korean translator, so he traveled to Asia fairly often in his younger days.

He's been to Japan at least twice, and has always been amazed and...stunned by the creative applications of the English language.

Don't get me wrong. If I was writing anything in Japanese, it would be a disaster. Big ups to the Japanese for even making the effort. Nevertheless, the mangled results are often funny, or just plain weird.

This is typical.

As is this.

Paul reports that it wouldn't be unusual to see a large billboard saying something like, "Elephant Fuck." No further explanation given, or apparently needed.

I thought of this today as Joel and I enjoyed a refreshing beverage together:
My mother bought him this shirt, and I find it quite dashing indeed. But also confusing. Don't alligators eat squirrels and people and fish? I imagine they would eschew kale or brussel sprouts with a swift barrel roll and a bite to the jugular.

Maybe I'm over-thinking this.

I'm not opposed to dressing children in silly outfits for my own amusement:
Owen's shirt says, "Hi, I'm new here."  Joel is dressed as a giraffe. And LOVING it.

Although I personally wouldn't do it, I can see the humor in shirts like this. Because I'm secretly a twelve-year-old boy:

Also, I'm all about newborn clothing that says, "I love Mommy." After all, when the little beastie projectile vomits unspeakable things at three AM, it's good to have a reminder.

I just ask, clothing designers, for a bit of logic.  I mean, I just don't get how "Good Boy" and a stegosaurus go together.
And while you're at it? You can stop taunting mothers who have only boys with things like this:



Monday, May 24, 2010

An Idiot Goes Wine-Tasting

I got the call, and took the challenge.

I went wine tasting.

I know. We all have to give.

We went to a winery right here in scenic Southern Maryland, proving once and for all that we're more than just a Super Wal-Mart and the Lord Calvert Bowling Alley. 

It was quite lovely.

Those are actual grapes growing but I was too tipsy distracted to remember the name of said grapes.

My friend, a former professional chef, made up a plate of awesome, and we sat in the tasting pavilion and forgot we had responsibilities.

I learned a few things:

1) It's considered tacky to bring a straw.
2) Malbec and Glenn Beck are very different. I would never bathe with Glenn Beck.
3) Perhaps it was not my greatest idea to bring up, apropos of nothing, the topic of sex toys. Several times.
4) Two very funny words include: "Niagara" and"Cuyahoga."
5) Normal people do not want to discuss my blog or theories about the season finale of "Lost."
6) The pourer was okay with spontaneous hugging. Not enough to fill 'er to the rim, though.
7) I don't understand anything about wine except this: I like it.

What is the best bottle you've ever had?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sundays in My City: Take Me Out to the Ballgame

On Friday, the boys did not nap and we were looking at a long afternoon of choke holds, acrobatics, screeching, and full-body combat.

So, we decided to take the two boys (four, and almost two) to their first professional baseball game, so they could wrestle in public, and we could pay for the privilege.

We took the Metro into DC, which, as always, was the highlight of the trip for all involved.

Joel got to point and say "Choo-choo." Owen got to ride an escalator. Paul and I got to see two young men "crunking" in the aisle. We also saw an entrepreneurial gentlemen selling soap and essential oils.

He pitched, "I got sandalwood soap. No more Glade, no more Febreeze. Gentlemen, you can smell like Obama! Ladies, you can smell like Michelle Obama."

I had no idea that the president bought his sandalwood soap on the Green Line.  Honestly, though, the salesmen had me at, "No more Glade."

We arrived at National Ballpark, home of your Washington Nationals (nee Senators). They were playing the Baltimore Orioles. Since I have no strong feelings about either team, I decided to go for the Nationals because one of their many mascots is Teddy Roosevelt. I mean, why not? 

The stadium is beautiful and still spankin' new.

We sat down for dinner. I ordered a hot dog because that's what you do. This is what I got:


Blink. Blink.

I was...impressed.

And frightened.

But I did what needed to be done.

I wonder, though, what this says about me. When I was still living in Arizona, we went to Alice Cooper's restaurant (yes, that Alice Cooper) by the Diamondbacks ball park.

I ordered a hot dog there called "The Big Unit."  I got this:

I was young. Naive. Single.

Very, very single.

All I know is that I've yet to recover.

I guess my standards are more realistic now.

I'll figure this all out in therapy.

We left the game after the third inning. Joel didn't want to sit, and Owen was learning all sorts of colorful expressions involving the phrase, "Your mother."

As we drove home, I asked Owen about his experience. "What was the best part, Buddy?"

His response was quick: "Going in the big refrigerator."

"Oh," I replied. He was referring to a field trip to Papa John's Pizza back in February. He got to see the walk-in freezer on that mythical, revered trip. Since then, that's been the best part of all excursions.

As he snuggled against me, we listened to the humming of the train, and I smelled his sweaty little neck. Perhaps we'll wait a few years before trying this again.

Or maybe not.

Thanks to Unknown Mami for hosting Sundays in My City. 

Unknown Mami

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Apple Slicer Nirvana

A fellow blogger who goes by the name of Daffy is going through a family crisis right now. You can read about it by clicking her name. If you are the praying type, please pray for her family. Let her feel the love. 

I'm not much for cooking gadgets. I believe that a good knife can do pretty much anything, except perhaps flip pancakes. Not that I haven't tried.

However, I amend this opinion when it comes to the apple slicer-corer.
Look at that thing of beauty. 

I avoided buying one of these for awhile because they cost a whole TWELVE dollars and I was feeding a whole colony of moths in my wallet. Also, I have this thing about knives being the only tool you need in a kitchen. Did I mention that? 

I know that good mothers don't let the annoying tedium of washing apples, peeling the stickers off of apples, cutting up apples into wedges, then finally cutting out the seeds out of the wedges prevent them from offering their beloved children a healthy snack. 

Good mothers don't look at the bowl of apples bought precisely for healthy snacking needs and give their children Goldfish crackers or fruit snacks instead. 

I would never be so lazy. 

Except that I totally am. 

So, this wonderful kitchen gadget has been my redemption. Here's a bonus. It kinda looks like a hat. 

Imagine! Kids could dress fruits and vegetables to create characters. They could play with these characters! Maybe call it Mr. Applehead or something. 

Tell me this idea will make my fortune. 

With my super-duper gadget, I can slice enough apples for an army, which I did this morning. I say army, but what I meant was Owen's Preschool Class. They battle vigilantly against hunger and Swiper. 

That damn sneaky fox. 

This is what success looks like: 

Since I'm supposed to be sharing a grilling recipe here today, here's a recipe for grilled apples. 

Note that you don't even need to slice them, in the event you have yet to achieve Apple Slicer Nirvana. 

This is a healthful dessert that is a win for kids and adults. 

Grilled Apples

4 baking apples
2 Tbsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. sugar
aluminum foil sheets
Preheat grill. Wash, dry and core apples. In small bowl, combine cinnamon and sugar. Place each apple on center of aluminum foil sheet; spoon t tablespoon cinnamon/sugar mixture into core, and wrap apple in foil. Place foil-wrapped apples in small foil pie tins on the grill, and cook until apples are tender. Unwrap, discard foil and serve.

Thanks to Think Tank Momma for hosting Share a Spoon!

Think Tank Momma

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Owen's teacher wrote, "Learning seems to come naturally to Owen. I would say just follow up on what interests him and he will do great."

This, naturally, warmed up my little raisin heart. My little guy...

I was so excited about this statement that I temporarily forgot that I am lazy, and decided to dedicate each week of the summer to learning about something of Owen's choosing. In my mind, I planned literacy activities, crafts, books, and field trips! Oh, the fun! I would be like the Pioneer Woman or that Duggar character, minus seventeen of her children.

Yes, I'm delusional. 

Here's Owen's Learning List:

1. Machines
2. Giraffes
3. Dump Trucks
4. Candy
5. Plumbing
6. Camping and Fishing
7. Movies
8. Glasses (not stemware...eyeglasses).

Well, shit. What have I got myself into?

I think I could handle movies. That week is solid.

As for the rest? I think I'll do the classic lazy-person cop out: ask the Internet.

(Save me.) 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Blatant Self-Promotion

I don't often talk about writing in this blog. More specifically, my aspiration to be a writer.

You see, there are lots of good writers. Tons of 'em. When you think about the talent out there, it is easier to drink some gin from the cat dish and watch another episode of  The Real Housewives of New Jersey than to take that step into the unknown.

I mean, putting yourself out there? That takes ovaries.

Recently, I was out with a friend and she said, "What would you tell your teenage self?"

"Oh," I replied, "That's easy. I would tell her that she's smart and she's funny. I would tell her to stop caring about what other people think and to trust herself. I would also tell her that she should wear sunscreen and more sleeveless tops."

My wise friend then asked, "What do you think you'll tell yourself ten years from now?"

The answer, once again, was obvious. "I would tell her that she's a good mom. I would tell her not to worry about what other people think and to trust herself. I would tell her to be fearless."

My friend said, "Why do we keep telling ourselves the same things?"

Why, indeed?

About a month ago, my friend Coby sent me a link for a call to submissions. I've been burnt by the submission game in the past year.  Every rejection slip felt like a paper-cut. After awhile, I was too tattered and raw to try again.

Then, I remembered my friend's words. I stopped asking myself the same questions.  I submitted a piece. 

I wrote about this guy:

Some of you know that Joel was airlifted to the NICU when he was two days old. He was on oxygen briefly, and spent his first ten days of life in an isolette, surrounded by pic lines and beeping sensors.

He was a eight pound baby in the NICU. He looked like Godzilla. 

I wrote about the experience, and how it brought me closer to my mother.

I'm very proud of the piece.

Well, folks, the piece is going to be published. 

Here's the information:

From the Heart: A Collection of Stories and Poems from the Front Lines of Parenting will be available for presale on May 22nd.  The ISBN for this title is 978-0-578-05737-8 and will be available through various distribution channels. 

Inside the pages of this book, dozens of authors have given of themselves to share their unique perspective on the journey of parenthood and to make a difference in the lives of children along the way.  The result is a collection of stories and poems that track the fun, the challenging and the truly phenomenal aspects of parenting.

From pregnancy worries and the miracle of birth to tough times and growing up, each unique triumph and challenge through a lifetime of parenthood palpitates on the page.

From the Heart: A Collection of Stories and Poems from the Front Lines of Parenting was created to raise money for children’s charities.  With this collaborative effort, we will help every child get the medical care that they need and find cures for some of life’s most devastating diseases.

With inspired stories and poems from a group of extraordinary writers, this volume will leave an impression on the heart of any parent.

Proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to children’s charities.

If you are interested in buying this book, email me here or here. You can also learn more about the book here. 

Thank you for your support. I will mention this again, but will try not to annoy or be too blatantly self-promoting.

Off to find the cat dish, the remote and the gin...

Monday, May 17, 2010

I'm Trying to Get It.

Happy Monday, world!

I have  a post up at Laugh Out Loud about my experiences living just minutes away from a Nuclear Power Plant. 

Nothing says funny like nuclear energy. If we can split the atom, we can split your sides laughing.


I think it's best if I move on.

Over the weekend, Owen had another tee-ball game. Owen views the game as a wonderful opportunity to fill his cap with infield dirt and occasionally watch a ball roll by. He's four, after all.

However, at this particular game, Owen was the catcher. He spent most of the time holding hands with the base coach (in tee ball, there is usually one adult per base) and, of course, kicking the fabulous dirt.

Sadly, the duty of putting the ball back on the tee prevented him from making his customary dirt Taj Mahal.

Additionally, Owen had the job of tagging the last runner out. In tee ball, they don't keep score and the last hitter always runs the bases. This provides ample opportunity for the kids to get the ball, pick their noses, throw the ball in the wrong direction, sit down and cry in the outfield, and eventually roll the ball to home plate.

When Owen had the ball in his hand, he jogged towards the runner, prepared to tag him out. He had the eye of the tiger, the fire in his belly. He was ready to do his job.

He tagged this child with the ball.  Right in the gut. And, he, um....knocked the wind out of the kid and made him cry.

I was concerned about the kid. Owen was oblivious. Owen's coaching staff, however, was quite impressed.

His coach came up to me, his eyes bright, and said, "Owen tagged the SNOT outta that kid!"

Another coach said, "Wow, Owen, way to go! Way to be aggressive."

This, once again, demonstrates that I don't get boys or sports at all.

If I was the coach, I would have cautioned the boys to be more careful and would have made Owen apologize to the other kid (who recovered quickly, by the way). I would have suggested a high five, or perhaps a hug.

I told this to my husband, and he rolled his eyes. "Really, Nance?"

Like I said, I don't get it at all.

I recognize that this is just the tip of the iceberg as a mother of sons. Although I do think farts are hilarious and I've been known to throw worms out the window on the way to preschool, there are things about my sons and husband that I will never, ever, get.

The awesomeness of boobs.
The allure of peeing through PVC pipe in the backyard.
The Deadliest Catch. 
Tee-ball thuggery. 

Ladies: What will you never, ever get about your husbands/partners/sons?

Male Readers: (Both of you.) Help me get it.

Friday, May 14, 2010

I Promise I Will Not Quote John Denver

Okay. Take some beautiful mountains. Add a university. Mix in some dogs. Make that a freakin' boatload of dogs. Throw in some organic local produce and just a splash of legally-sanctioned-medical bong water. What have you got?

My parent's adopted hometown* of Boulder, Colorado. This, my friends, is where I spent this last week.

Thus, Friday Fragments, aka Sundays Fridays in My My Parents' City 

*In the spirit of total disclosure, my parents don't actually live in Boulder, because they also enjoy eating and basic medical care. It was either a Boulder mortgage or that, but not both.

I really feel like I could live in Colorado because I've always been a fan of dressing like I'm hiking all the time. In the airport alone, I saw hiking boots, several ponchos, and enough hemp necklaces to dock a large sailboat.

It doesn't take long to get sucked into this state's grungy web. This is what I looked like on my second day there:

I am in the bathroom of a REI, because that is what you do when you visit my parents. We visit REI and the Boulder Running Company.

No visit is complete without buying totally unnecessary athletic footwear:

These Keene shoes are waterproof, designed for trail walking, water-hiking, and for being a bad-ass. I wore mine to the grocery store this morning.

In Colorado there are running paths everywhere. As I ran, I saw adorable prairie dogs scampering on land specifically protected for their scampering needs. I also saw the state-of-the-art recreation center with a swimming pool and a free indoor playground and a climbing wall.

I determined that I desperately wanted to move to Colorado immediately.

Then, God sent me this little reminder:
This is my parents' backyard on Wednesday. Colorado people tell me that the snow doesn't last, and that it melts quickly and blah blah blah.

I'm sorry. Snow in May? Eff that.

The reason for this trip, besides visiting my family, was for Paul to run the Colorado Marathon in Ft. Collins.
Here he is, crossing the finish line:

He did well and enjoyed himself, despite the altitude. He already has plans to do a race next summer in Leadville, Colorado. This race is at 13,000 feet. This is insanity, in my book.

One may conclude that my husband is a masochist, but as long as it stays out of the bedroom, it's not my problem.

Here's the obligatory post-race family shot:
Do you notice that Owen has commandeered Paul's medal? He was telling anybody who would listen that he earned it by running really, really fast.

Just as I had determined that everybody in Colorado was disgustingly fit, we went to the movies to see Iron Man 2.

We went to an uber-shitty mall which seemed to sell mostly air and dust mites, because there were no actual stores. We saw lots of people looking like normal people, not like fitness models.

I must admit, it felt good to see that people in Colorado eat nachos too.

The movie was all that I had hoped it would be. Uninterrupted time to look at this work of art:
 Yes, I know that I already posted this picture.

The main gift of this trip was time for my boys to see their grandparents. Time for Paul and I to unplug and reconnect. Time to be a family.

In Colorado, plants grow where they can, despite the obstacles, despite the challenges.

Likewise, this time together helped us to grow as a family, despite the distance, or the obligations, or the distractions.

Our roots are still strong.

Thanks to Mrs. 4444 for hosting Friday Fragments and Unknown Mami for hosting Sundays in My City
Mommy's Idea

Unknown Mami

Thursday, May 6, 2010

"Our love is God, let's go get a Slushie."

This morning, as Owen was screwing around instead of hopping in his car seat, I found myself saying, "Hurry up, Owen. We've got to motor if we're gonna make that funeral."

That is the power of a movie I watched in eighth grade. It was 1988. Winona Ryder was still incredibly cool and bad-ass. The movie was Heathers.

It's surprising how often I find myself thinking about or directly quoting this film. Whenever the color red is mentioned, I think to myself, "I'm always red," just like the uber-bitchy Heather Chandler. 

I can't play croquet without dropping references to the film. This results in blank stares and raised eyebrows. Luckily, I rarely play croquet. 

This film was so subversive for its time. Lines like, "Grow up, Heather. Bulima is so '87" or prayers such as,  "I prayed for the death of Heather Chandler many times and I felt bad everytime I did it but I kept doing it anyway. Now I know you understood everything. Praise Jesus, Hallelujah." were so over-the-top and shocking to my eighth grade mind.

Yet, I understood the feelings. The cynicism. The feeling that adults didn't get it, and that there was so much meanness in the world. The feeling of being misunderstood, of being far cooler inside than I appeared on the outside. I got it. I licked it up, baby. Licked. It. Up. 

I doubt the movie would be made today. It's a post-Columbine world, and movies involving plots to blow up high schools and the blatant murders of peers by misunderstood, unpopular just isn't done. 

And while I've outgrown the teenage angst, I can still appreciate the film for being smart, wicked satire. 

After all, if I am thirty-five years old and still underlining the word "Eskimo" in my copy of Moby Dick, you know that this film has staying power. 

What movie has stayed with you far beyond its natural shelf life?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Owen's Wordless Wednesday

For his birthday, Owen received this Fisher Price digital camera from his grandparents. Rest assured, however, that his is a very manly red and blue.

Owen's birthday was at the end of February, but I have just now downloaded pictures from the camera onto the computer.

The results were enlightening. Clearly, Owen is surrounded by giants and monsters.

I have a better understanding of his constant need to stand on tables, chairs, counter-tops, and sofas.

You quickly see what is important in his life:

And, more importantly, who is important in his life:

Although the quality of the camera may be lacking, there is joy to be found when you look through Owen's eyes. I know this for a fact.