Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Here's #82

Just for guilt's sake, I went back to see how many posts I have written about Joel, as opposed to his older brother. 

Not surprisingly, Owen could call 104 posts his own, while Joel had 81.

I started writing this blog after Joel was born, so Owen didn't even have a head start. 

In my own defense, though, Owen can talk and he says a lot of funny things. For example, yesterday, I said, "I hope we packed enough underwear," a phrase Owen finds hilarious. 

He then upped the preschool hilarity index by adding, "I hope we packed enough penises!" 

I said to him, "You only get one, Buddy. Use it well." 

He nodded solemnly and replied, "I will, Mommy." 

As Joel gets older, he is doing more noteworthy things besides being adorable or having surgeries. He's on the cusp of two, and I'm feeling it more every day. 

By "it" I mean "verbally abused." Mealtimes are a challenge because I must prepare it stealthily, less he see it in its incomplete state and completely lose his shit. For example, he came downstairs and waddled into the kitchen says, "Jew! Jew!" 

I don't think he was referring to Yentl (although what kid doesn't love Yentl?) as much as stating his desire for juice. 

I handed him a sippy cup from the fridge and upon finding it filled with milk, he shook his head, made an inhuman sound and did a tantrum dance, wailing, "JEW! JEW!" I grabbed another sippy cup and filled it with juice. 

But not soon enough. My little tyrant threw the unacceptable milk, at my bare foot and flung himself on the floor with the agony of it all.

I limped into my room with my smart phone and shut the door. I let him wail his damn fool head off and blissfully ignored him. 

I'm too old for this shit. I already did it once. I'm not gonna fret or second guess myself. He's having a fit, and I'll deal with it when he's calm. 

But not a minute before. 

That's what's nice about parenthood the second time around. You know that they aren't made of glass, and that they can be unreasonable little buggars. 

Sometimes the best action can be summed up in one word: RETREAT. 

Besides, he's not always like this. Generally, he's funny, loving his tractors and dump trucks. 

Yesterday morning, he woke up early and I took him to my bed so he could sleep more. He rested his sweet blond head on my belly, and it rose and fell with my breaths. His heaviness, his rosebud of a mouth, the sound of his gentle inhales and exhales----it's my own private ocean. The whole world stopped as he and I drifted and bobbed together, carefree, boundless, and at peace. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Banishing the Shadows

When I was in second grade, my friend Erica abruptly declared that she didn't want to be my friend. She turned her seat away from mine during art class. She hissed, "Ewwwwwwww" when I walked by. She wouldn't answer when I said, "Hi."

Just as abruptly as it started, it ended. One day, during band practice, she turned to me and said, "Do you want to come over to my house after school?" Just like that, we were friends again.

I know this is classic mean-girl behavior, a part of growing up female. Everyone has a story like this, or has done it to someone else. Possibly both.

But still, it haunts me. Not so much the Erica thing---I'm over that---but the idea that things can shift so quickly, so irreversibly. People wield terrible power, when you let them.

Sometimes I question if I let people in enough. I have a lot of friends, but I don't allow many to know my fears. I don't ever want them to see the little girl who sat alone in the school bus, biting her lip, willing the tears not to fall. I certainly don't want them to cause those tears.

I hide behind my own fences, so the arrows can't reach me.

I communicate electronically, and avoid phone calls. I say things like, "We have to get together," but I don't follow through.  I twist my ring anxiously around strangers, and spend a lot of time examining the spinach dip at parties.

I don't think others perceive me like this. I think I come across as happy and together. But, like my shadow, my insecurity follows me. It steals my light. It prevents growth. It keeps me grounded, when I should be soaring. And, like my shadow, my insecurities often seem bigger than they really are.

It is an act of bravery for me to tear down the fences and banish the shadows. If somebody does not like me, my writing, my shoes, or my taste in music, so be it.

I need to take a breath, trust the wisdom of my thirty-five years, and move onward, and upward.

Monday, June 28, 2010

So Deprived

I don't have cable anymore. We only have the main channels and PBS now.

This has changed my life dramatically:

1) I am no longer jealous of Paul's infatuation with CNN's Robin Meade. Move along, honey. He's taken, and he can't watch you anymore to "stay informed."

2. Our marriage will no longer be under siege due to my HGTV-induced rantings. What man doesn't love comments like, "You need to put up crown molding NOW! Get off the couch and DO IT!"

3. No more Backyardigans. Not to worry, though. Most of the kiddie songs are on the iPod. (Tell me this one isn't catchy--I will listen to it when driving alone. It's the James Brown horns that suck me in.)

4. I will be even more out-of-touch with pop culture, now that I no longer have The Soup, RuPaul's Drag Race, My Life on the D-List, Project Runway, or The Real Housewives to teach me about style, fashion, and class.

5. There is a silver lining to all this, however...

....the decreased exposure to Spencer Pratt has improved my life immensely. I can breathe easier, knowing this ass-hat has one less person talking about his miserable, fame-whoring ways.

Oh, snap.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Fragments: Patches, Nipple Rings, and Toenails, Oh My!

Last week, Joel's eye doctor said that we may need to do some patching to strengthen his weak eye. This will all be determined after his next visit in a few months.

After making the mandatory pirate joke, which I'm sure, as a pediatric ophthalmologist, he's never heard before, he sent us on our merry way.

My friend sd, who has a daughter with similar issues, shared this website with me. These eye patches are so cute that I almost hope the doctor recommends the patching therapy.(Not really. Joel, after all, is almost two.)

The county built a new indoor pool, which is the best thing ever. At last, at last, I will be able to see the nipple rings and tribal tattoos of my fellow Southern Marylanders all year long.

I don't have a problem with any of it---to each his own and all that---but I saw a baby tugging on his father's nipple ring, and I turned away before it became a coming-of-age manhood initiation ritual.

Here's my awesome apron from June! Isn't it gorgeous? I love it. I would cook in it if wasn't Eleventy Billion Degrees outside. Instead, I made Peppermint Iced Tea, which is what Jesus would drink if they had iced tea back then. I also think Jesus was partial to Sangria, but that's just me.

Trust me, I am wearing clothes under this.

I know I've shown enough pictures of my feet to alert the fetishists, but I must do this as a public service:


Thanks to Mrs. 4444 for hosting Friday Fragments!

Mommy's Idea

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Redemption Via Naptime

On the way home from Owen's day camp, I stopped the car on a side street, turned around, and told him, "You need to stop kicking my chair."

Owen retorted, "You need to stop kicking my chair!"

I shot back, "I'm not kicking your chair! You need to stop talking back, young man."

Owen, eyes flashing, replied, "You need to stop talking back!"

"Owen," I said, "You're not the parent!"

"You're not the parent, either. Stop talking to me, Mommy. Please."

Joel chose this moment to fill his diaper with something inhuman and foul. Gasping, I rolled down the window and  said, "We'll talk about this when we get home, Owen."

As I started up the car, he muttered, "I don't want Mommy time. I want Daddy time. Mommy time is boring."

So, when did my four year old morph into a surly eighth grader? I am decidedly not liking this development.

It's so hot that I can barely function. I would take pictures of my living room, strewn with laundry, toys, and discarded sippy cups, but I am too lazy to move. I am  certainly too lazy to cook, which is why my boys had Popsicles, crackers, and cheese for lunch.

After Owen's time-out, talking-to, and the healthful meal listed above, I called Paul and whimpered into the phone, "Please come home early today."

"I can't," he said, not unkindly. I sat on the bed, phone in hand, willing him to call back and change his mind. Instead, I had boys to put to bed for naps, an action that drives me to drink on the best of days.

I have spunky, willful boys that do not like to go to bed. On good days, I tease them into their rooms. We read stories and hug night-nights. On bad days, I say things like, "Get in your room or I'm going to start throwing toys in the trash can!"

I lacked the patience for a good day, and the heat had drained me of any will to yell.

So, I put down the baby, and then I got into Owen's full size bed with him.

"I'm going to take a nap with you," I said.

He smiled at the novelty and said, "You nap, and I'll play."

"No," I said, "Playing is too noisy. You need to help me sleep."

I rested in bed, my eyes closed, my breaths deep and rhythmic. I felt him rustle against me, and it reminded me of the summer days of 2005, when he was growing inside me, too small yet to flutter or kick, but there, nevertheless.

As I drifted into that hazy valley between awake and asleep, I felt him kiss my cheek and heard him say, "Sleep tight, Mommy."

I awoke after a dream, and he was sleeping. His eyes were closed, his hair tossed and sweaty.

It was my own Redemption Song.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Freakin' Fabulous

 I recently acquired this bitchy little book from the public library:

It taught me quite a bit. Mainly, that I am not fabulous. Not even a little bit. 

Some selected quotes:

"From the ankles up, you could be dressed like Coco Chanel, but with any of these [unsuitable pictured shoes] on your feet, your style quotient will never be higher than that of the guy who runs the Tilt-A-Whirl...comfort doesn't matter." 
My non-fabulous response:

"Plopping a bunch of disparately designed products on your countertops is like wearing those free T-shirts companies give away when launching new motor oil." 


"I believe refrigerators are for keeping Sauvignon Blanc chilled to 38 degrees, not for displaying children's art. Put a corkboard up in Johnny's room and pin his works where he can enjoy them." homemade, indoor windsock then?

"And toys. How many parents have their fabulousness quotient disastrously diminished due to their entire dwelling being under Barbie siege?" 

 Oh, dear. We certainly aren't very fabulous. 

I don't even want to know what he thinks of our paper blinds:

Before I drink away my sorrows with a decidedly non-fabulous Subtle Melon Electrolyte Drink, let me point out this one detail:

Because I checked this book out of the library, Clinton Kelly didn't get a single red cent from me, 

That, my friends, is fabulous indeed.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sundays in My City: Triathlon Report

So, this morning was the long-awaited triathlon. Really, I can't think of a better way to honor Paul's diligent work as a father than to allow him to do what he (and I) do our children while I chase my various flights of fancy.

I had whipped myself into a bit of a frenzy prior to the race. At the informational meeting, there was much talk of the various egregious errors that could result in the dreaded DQ (disqualification). Triathlon, apparently, is the Soup Nazi of endurance sports. One mistake and..."No Race For You!!"

Additionally, the organizer said more than once that Triathlon is a "thinking person's sport." Shit. Nobody told me this was freakin' chess. 

I managed to arrive by 6:30 AM. It was already about eighty-eight degrees. I dutifully set up my items in the "staging area." Note the socks-in-shoes awesomeness. Thinking person's sport.

 (Never mind that I had to take the socks out of the shoes to put them on...)

It takes a village for me to run a triathlon. I borrowed my friend Darlene's tri-suit, my friend Joanne's bike, and my friend Sellina's helmet. I also had an amazing team of ladies who trained and raced together:

I'm sure they will be thrilled I put this picture on the Interwebz. I'm the one rocking the camel-toe.

Something odd about triathlon racing is that they put your age on your back leg in Sharpie. Everybody wears signs, "I'm sixty-three!" "I'm forty!" "I'm twenty-seven!"

I made me realize that when it comes to telling age, I don't know a damn thing. While I was running, I was ready to kick this girl's ass...until I read that she was twelve. I was happy to see how good forty looks on so many people. Yet, if you asked me to guess, I would have been wrong almost every time. As a narcissist, I believe everybody is my age.

Except doctors. I'm too young to be a doctor. Is it possible that doctors were born in the Ford Administration?

I could go on, but I'll cut to the chase. I tried my best. I worked hard. I was happy with the results.

I also won a door prize, for something called "Heed" electrolyte drink in "Subtle Melon flavor." This made me laugh for two reasons:

1) I kept thinking of Mike Myers in So I Married An Axe Murderer, yelling at his son in a Scottish brogue, "Heed! Move! Now!"

2) If you're gonna drink Melon, why be subtle? I prefer EXTREME HARD-CORE MELON personally.

(I guess humor is subjective, because I just cracked myself up, again.)

Just 'cause, here's a picture of Joel eating a sandwich.

Happy Father's Day!

Unknown Mami

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Share A Spoon: Hey, Big Tuna!

I asked adrienzgirl to make fish the theme of her weekly recipe party, Share a Spoon. 

Think Tank Momma

For my own good.

I hate fish. The skin, the itty-bitty bones, the smell, the fishy's a one-way ticket to Shudder Central.

And, Oh My God, if you serve it with the head and eyes still attached, I will dry-heave right  in front of you.

I knew you really needed a visual. It's just like this, except I'm not a dog.

I can be a bitch, but I'm not a dog.

I digress.

I don't like fish... unless it is tuna-melt form. That is awesomeness. Of course, it's totally unhealthy, but I'm doing my best here, people.

This recipe comes from Paul's late Grandma Selby.  Here she is with Baby Owen on a trip to Wisconsin the summer of 2006. I miss her. That's Paul's Grandpa with her. He still drives himself to dialysis every day in the Wisconsin winter. That's a man.

She was a marvelous cook, if not a detailed recipe-writer. For example, here's a typical (bonus!) recipe from her files, written verbatium:

Jelly Roll
Beat two eggs, add 3/4 cup sugar, pinch salt, 1 cup flour, 2 tsp baking powder, and 1/3 cup hot milk. Bake 10 minutes in a hot oven. 

If I attempted to cook this, it would be catastrophic.

Luckily, the fish recipe is more detailed, and it is awesome.

Grandma Selby's Tuna Burgers

1 can tuna
3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 tablespoon onion, chopped
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup mayonnaise

Mix all ingredients. Fill ten hamburger buns. Wrap in foil. Bake at 400 degrees 15 minutes.

I swear to you, these are the White Castles of fishy burgers.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How to Run Like A Girl

My husband is a runner, meaning that he:

1) Runs a minimum of six to ten miles a day. On weekends, it's usually somewhere in the teens. He runs in any weather. My neighbor once said, as kindly as one can say this, "I saw your damn fool husband running uphill in the hail!"

 2) Dresses like this. And yes, like this individual, Paul has been known to rub Vaseline on his legs and nipples to prevent chapping and/or bleeding nipples. (I think he should have bleeding nipples once in his life. Fair's fair. Just sayin'.)

3) He blows snot rockets while he runs.

I am also a runner, but I'm a lot more low-key. If you're new to running, or want to try it, I suggest the following:

1) Join a gym that has a decent daycare. A hour break from your children should be ample motivation to hit the gym.

2) Play mind games on the treadmill. Run at a certain speed for a certain time or distance. Move up and down. It breaks up the time and is good cross-training.

3) Or--better yet--do ipod playlists and run at certain speeds for certain songs.

The stupider the better.

My present playlist has "Bad Romance," by Lady Gaga, "Ray of Light," by Madonna, and "I'm Gonna Knock You Out," by LL Cool Jay. I've also got, "Stronger" by Britney Spears and "Don't Stop Believing" (Glee version), because they are inspiring.

(I want the world to know that I listen to hipster cool stuff when I'm not running.) 

Finally, don't drink coffee before your run. That is, unless you like turtle races. 

What are your fitness tips? How do you get motivated? And what the hell is Zumba, anyway?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Three Irrefutable Facts

1. Mussels in wine and butter sauce with garlic is the world's most perfect food.

2. Men who volunteer to coach tee-ball to four years old kids are great. Those special few that provide specific feedback, foster a sense of sportsmanship, and demonstrate that hard work pays off are priceless.

3.  If they could bottle the level of rage I feel when Owen wakes up Joel during nap time, thus ensuring that my writing/alone time becomes a half-ass list, we would no longer be dependent on foreign oil. Cars would run on rage. White-hot rage.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Mad Science

We have completed week one of Operation: Summer Learning, meaning we went to the library and checked out some books on simple machines. All week long, we've been reading about levers and pulleys and wedges.

Although this appears to be the overzealous efforts of a mother that really needs to get over herself and her precious snowflake of a child, I swear to you, he loves it.

One of his books talked about the siphoning of the water in a toilet tank, and, I shit you not, we spent a good forty minutes watching the water do its thing with each flush.

While we drive, he asks the best questions---about day and night, about the different colors of the sky, about the mechanism of my stick shift.

I have to start reading up, because I'm presently making up about fifty percent of my answers.

He reminds me of my brother, who was a bit of a mad scientist himself. He used to run around the house in a costume lab coat, mumbling about "gigawats." (Thank you, Back to the Future).

Owen, well....look for yourself.

Yes, that's my child wearing lab safety goggles at his school beach trip.

As an English major, I hope he continues this scientific (and profitable) line of thinking.

After all, he may be selecting my nursing home someday.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

It Happens Every Day

Well. There's no nice way to say this. A friend of mine, a member of the mother's group I'm a part of, lost her husband last night.

She's a mother of four beautiful children. Her husband was 42 years old.

It is simply devastating.


I am sad because I am human, and I am sad because it could happen to me. It could happen to anybody.

It does. Every day.

Last night, I asked Paul, the finance guy in our house, to go over every account, every password. Attempting to control the uncontrollable, I pretended that my primary concern was dollars and cents, not the warmth on my cheek as he kisses me goodbye each morning.

I asked him where he would want me to spread his ashes, and I kept it together until he said that some of the ashes should go in the trickle of a creek at his Mom and Dad's house.

I pictured him as a little boy, playing in that trickle, splashing and hopeful, with the whole world ahead of him.

And just like that, the hypothetical conversation became all too real. I felt like I had lost him, although he was right next to me, breathing the same air.  Present. Alive. Whole.

I love him. He loves me. That is real. That is alive.

My friend loves her husband, and he left this world knowing she loved him. That is real. It is alive in the stories she shares, and in her children's faces, gaits, gestures, and expressions.

But it is no longer whole.

Paul and I are celebrating our eleventh anniversary on Saturday. Although I don't know how many anniversaries we have left, we have this one. For that, I give thanks.

And to my friend, I send my utmost sympathy and love.
“Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our
lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are
happy.” ---Eskimo Proverb

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Some BP Bashing and A Linktastic Announcements

 If you haven't seen this yet, it's funny in a weep-into-your-glass, shake-your-fist-at-the-sky kinda way.

Irony as seen at a BP Station

In other news, thanks to the generosity of so many, Duckfest raised $1186 for the JD Scholarship Fund.

Using Random Number Generator, the winner of From the Heart: A Collection of Stories and Poems from the Front Lines of Parenting (featuring an essay from yours truly) is.....

adrienzgirl, aka Think Tank Momma! Whoo-hoo! Enjoy it!

Also, I have to brag that I won this incredible homemade apron from June at 3! A Charm.

I will be making something amazing in this for sure. Maybe Sonya's Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake.  Just typing the words leaves me woozy with cake lust. 

Lacking a proper conclusion, I will simply end with this: I love Jane Lynch. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I Should Have Added This to the Wedding Vows

I want to show you all the best sexual aid in the history of the universe.

If you want a happy, ready-for-action wife, this is the tool you need.

Most of you already have it in your house.

You may have to work it a bit, but believe me, it's worth it. Go on, really get in there.

Are you ready to see it?

A clean oven. No greater aphrodisiac.

Me love you and your Easy-Off long time. 

(Thanks, honey!)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sundays in My City: Farmville

My son may have had the best weekend of his life. Honestly, I hope it peaks with this.

In a few years, "awesome weekends" may involve keg stands and ill-fated to trips to Vegas a la The Hangover. 

I am not mentally or emotionally prepared for such weekends.

Weekends like this, however, I can celebrate.

Owen got to do a series of activities that were fun, one-on-one, and most importantly, brother free.

He went fishing on Friday with his Dad, and had a tee-ball game on Saturday morning.

So far so good.

Then, Saturday night, he and his dad went to the demolition derby.

Look---I can't even begin to understand this. Paying actual money to watch people crash their souped-up heaps into each other? I would sooner lick Dick Chaney's bald spot.

I had that gleam in my eye, which caused Paul to say, "If you write a snotty post making fun of good people, you're the worst kind of snob."

God. What a buzz kill. It would be so easy. 

Of course, he has a point. Since I wasn't actually there, I would have to rely on him for material. And he's not sharing.

I guess I'll save it for when we go to the Monster Truck Rally. Which is, sadly, inevitable. 

Today, to complete the weekend of awesome, Owen and I went to Children's Day at the Farm. It was 91 degrees and humid. Joel didn't go because he's a baby and he doesn't like the heat. Paul also wilts like a flower once it's higher than 75 degrees.

So, off we went.

 We planted pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

We made authentic farmland...jellyfish? (It's Maryland--I think there's a law regarding necessary inclusion of jellyfish and/or blue crabs at all public functions.)

We viewed the livestock. (Owen took the picture of the sheep. He already has a far better eye.)

I had one of those moments where you catch your breath and blink back the spontaneous tears.  Owen shed his toddler skin so slowly, I didn't even mourn its passing.


Last Year

I am so privileged to watch him grow.

Keep climbing, Buddy. I love you.

Thanks to Unknown Mami for hosting Sundays in My City

Unknown Mami

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Stream of Plantedness

It rained a lot here in Maryland when I was away. When I returned home, I saw this little bit of organic poetry:

My hydrangeas have returned.
The previous owners planted these beauties, and they return each summer, a melodious, joyful refrain.

I needed this beauty. My son decided to throw a towel at my face last night. My FACE!

Little shit.

It's hard to be a grown-up when objects are hurled your way.

Then, this morning, he had his first last day of school. He got a certificate. I cried.

It's all happening so fast.

Some of my hydrangea bushes are weighed down with blossoms. I cut a few and placed them in a mason glass jar.

They are a bit droopy. Overwhelmed by the sun. They're still beautiful. I'll still take care of them. They're mine.

Owen's green beans are also coming in.

He says, "I'll keep them safe. And then I'll eat 'em."

I'll keep my garden safe, too. I'll try to refrain from the eating.