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Friday, April 30, 2010

The Hills are Alive

The Hills are Alive...with the sounds of Meltdowns!
The cries I have heard...for a thousand years!
The hills feel my head...with the sound of screeching!

My legs want to run away from the sound of your voice,
As you flail on the ground,
My soul wants to get in the car and drive away,
Until I finally. get. peace.

I run to the hills, when my heart is heavy.
I know you will scream, like you screamed before!
My ears will soon bleed...with the sound of meltdowns!
And I'll drink. once. more.

***
D'oh
A kid! A red-faced kid!
Re!
A juice box in the eye!
Me!
I don't know who that is!
Fa!
I really need to run!
Sew!
Your whiny mouth closed please!
La
A way to say. L.A.!
Tea!
It needs a drop of rum!
That will take us back to D'oh!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dude. Seriously?

I'm gifted, y'all.

I can blow almost ANYTHING out of proportion.

Case in point: yesterday's post. I stand by what I said, but I want the world to know that Owen's teacher is one of the good ones. She's smart. Warm. Caring. Creative.

Owen thinks the world of her.

I think she just had a bad day yesterday. We're all entitled.

I love, though, all the support and love you passed on in your comments. Momma-bears unite!

***
This is another thing that I blow out of proportion:
 
That's totally not what I meant. Sickos.


I mean, really? Really?

I took this picture at a red light, so I couldn't zoom in any closer. Trust me when I say this: there were veins on it. Veins!!!!

This, sadly, is not the only car I've seen um, adorned in such a fashion. It's a local thing. Maryland: home of the Blue Crab, Old Bay Seasoning, and Plastic Testicles.

When my boys ask me about them someday, I will reply, "You want to know what those are? That is what we call overcompensation."

***
Here's another thing I'm blowing out of proportion. Blogger is messing with my business again. I just spent five minutes--FIVE MINUTES, PEOPLE--setting up a Picasa album so I could download that lovely shot for your viewing pleasure. I had to load the thing to Picasa, and then fetch it for you.

I know nobody cares about this, but it bothers me.

However, I can download video, apparently, so I will link one up right now, just because I can:
video
Yes, it is sideways. Yes, it is almost a year old. It's my baby slow-jamming to Maxwell. Awesome Sauce.

Some blogs end with a funny point that ties it all together. Some blogs cause you to laugh, and think. I'll just leave you with a picture, because I enjoy complicated activities almost as much as I enjoy banging my head against a wall.
I'm drinking a glass of milk, pretending to be The Dude from The Big Lebowski. 

This is from a failed blog entry that never happened because it was just stupid, not funny. Plus, the picture is less than flattering.

Now, since the picture is already downloaded, you get to see it. 

The end.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Impulsive Ramblings

Dear Owen's Preschool Teacher,

I will never send you this letter, because it indicates that I have spent far too much time dissecting your comments, churning up your pile of sand, and transforming it into a mental Mount Rushmore.

No, it is much more emotionally stable to write this letter just to process my thoughts and gain some perspective. And then publish it. On the Internet.

You mentioned after class that Owen had a really hard time settling down today. He didn't use his inside voice. He had difficulty with transitions. You said, "He was just so impulsive."

I wanted to ask you more details, but the impulsive one was halfway out the door, while the baby was attempting to dive into the fish tank.

Here's the deal: I totally get it. Owen is excitable. He screams unnecessarily. He's a fan of hopping around. He's been known to have difficulty with transitions.

But please, please, don't translate his behavior into "impulsive."

Understand that when we came home from preschool, he and I had a long, serious talk. You will get an apology on Thursday. There will be consequences if this behavior continues.

However---don't say that he "couldn't control himself." or that he was "unable to calm down."

He's four. He'll learn. Buck the trend of labeling any form of exuberance as impulsive.

If I didn't know better, I may have worried that something is "wrong" with my son. There is nothing "wrong" with Owen. There's nothing "wrong" with people who have issues with impulse control. There are just things to work on. We all have things to work on. 

Let's be careful with our labels.

Let's not fail another generation of boys.

It would be helpful for me to hear your thoughts about what I can do to support you and my little man. That just seems more constructive than telling me what my child seems "unable" to do.

Sincerely,

Owen's Mom

(Link Up With Think Tank Momma if you have a letter of your own to write this week!) 
Think Tank Momma

Monday, April 26, 2010

I'm Resorting to Lists.

Today I cleaned up: 
1) Preztels. They were crushed under Joel's mighty heel, naturally.
2) Wet beans with dirt and flour mixed in it
3) Greek yogurt and Spanish rice. Mixed together.
4)  Finger-paints. From the bathroom mirror. 

Today I let: 
1)....Joel spit three half-eaten tomatoes into my hand
2)....Owen wipe his nose on my sweater
3)....Joel run around naked for five minutes. There must be something satisfying about the flapping.

Yesterday I said: 
1) "Owen, where did your penis go?"
2) "Joel, stop licking your brother."
3) "We do not feed rocks to the chickens!"
4) "Owen, get the hose out of your nostril, please."

Right now I am: 
1) Feeling a wee bit uninspired.
2) Resorting to lists
3) Wondering if I will regret my snacking choice (coffee and dried apricots) in an hour or so.

What's on your list?  

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sundays In My City: Over the Bridge

The Bridge is always there.

Although it is officially the Governor Thomas Johnson Bridge, it is simply "The Bridge" to us. I'll tell the boys we're going over The Bridge, and they know that it means a trip to Daddy's work, or an opportunity to see the beloved Miss Joanne, or possibly a trip to Target.

Exciting stuff, going over The Bridge.



Last night, Paul and I traveled over The Bridge because it was date night. We decided that we wanted to see a panel discussion on "Twain's Relevance Today: Race, Religion, Politics, and the 'Damned Human Race'"

Don't roll your eyes. Every five years or so Paul and I get to do something like this. It's been at least that long since I dragged him to a David Sedaris reading.

We traveled to St. Mary's College of Maryland, which is known for its sailing program (really), and for being the Public Honors College for the state. It had been a long time since I had been on a college campus, and I learned that no matter where you go, there will always be a college student in a Bad Religion T-Shirt, and students will always, always, laugh at the mere mention of marijuana.

The panel was really cool. It included Peter Sagal from NPR, Mo Rocca, who used to be on The Daily Show, Amy Holmes, a CNN Political Analyst, and Dr. John Bird, a Twain Scholar.

Highlights included:

*During the Q&A, a college student asked Peter Sagal if he had ever read Lord of the Flies. Proving that he is a much more gracious person than myself, he did not do a spit-take or roll his eyes. Instead, he said that he indentified with Piggy. He furthermore said that all people who work for NPR identified with Piggy, and they now hold their microphones in the studios tightly, saying, "I finally have the conch!"

This made me so happy, because when I read Lord of the Flies in eighth grade (ahem, snotty college student), my brother and I thought it was hilarious to announce "I have the conch!" We also danced in a circle chanting the "Kill the pig! Cut its throat! Spill its blood!"

Ironically, of course. I have never killed a pig. Or danced around a carcass. Not once.

Yet, acting out scenes from books? This was what nerds did.

It's safe to say that I strongly identified with Piggy.

*A woman asked if Twain really believed that the entire human race was beyond repair. The panel responded that he was pretty cynical. They added, however, that he adored his wife. He once said, "I would rather be outside of Eden with my Eve then inside without her." How lovely.

I'll spare you the additional details. I'll just leave it at this: Paul and I went over The Bridge, and we did something different. In a way, we built a bridge to our earlier selves. We talked about ideas and held hands while we walked, and returned home to a silent, sleeping house.

I, too, would rather be outside of Eden, if it means I can be with him.


Thank you, Unknown Mami for hosting Sundays in My City.

Unknown Mami

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Fragments: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Owen has really been into getting a dog recently. He announced over breakfast that he wanted "a nice dog with yellow hair like Joely." He added that the dog's name should be Splash.

"No, Buddy," I corrected him, "We've discussed this. The dog will be named Atticus if it's a boy and Scout if it's a girl. It's non-negotiable."

Owen shook his head fiercely and declared, "No Atticus, just Splash."

I sighed and put down my coffee cup. "Atticus is the awesomest name ever, son. I wanted to name you Atticus but your father wouldn't let me. What kind of name is Splash? Who do you know who has a dog named Splash?"

"Nobody," he said, shifting his eyes as he does when he's not being totally honest.

"Owen," I pressed, "Are you sure?"

He mumbled, "The guy on TV. The white haired guy."

I pondered. He doesn't watch much TV. What white-haired guy was he referring to? It came to me suddenly: "Do you mean Senator Ted Kennedy, Buddy?"

"Um-hm. The guy on TV!" Ah, it's clear now. The late Ted Kennedy was on a PBS kid's show, Ruff Ruffington.

My son cannot yet spell his last name, but he's already bought into the Kennedy Mystique.

Make no mistake, however. I will win this battle. The dog of our future will be named Atticus or Scout. End of discussion.  

***

Paul and I don't go to the movies very often. Like, ever. The last movie we saw in the theater was Iron Man.

We will be in Colorado visiting my parents at the same time that Iron Man 2 hits the screens. The symmetry is too perfect. We will see that film, and then we will not go to the theatres again for at least two more years.

It's okay. I have a massive crush on crazy Robert Downey Jr.


***
When I married Paul, I was excited to get the upgrade to the top of the alphabet. My maiden name started with a "M," and Paul's, of course, started with a "C."

I recalled many a time that I had to wait in school--for pictures or the Presidential Fitness Test (just to give two examples), until they got to the middle of the alphabet. Such agony! I wanted to be first! I hated waiting.

Sometimes, a teacher would switch things up, so Larry Ziegler got to be first and Lisa Armstrong was last. But guess who was still in the middle?

I really should have started a support group.

Let me throw out there that my maiden name was Mohrman, pronounced "Mormon." I have no issues with my Latter-Day-Saint friends and readers (Hi, y'all), but the Joseph Smith jokes got old. Yes I know: "If you're gonna bring 'em, Brigham Young!" Har. Har.

Let me point out I grew up minutes from one of the Mormon temples. I always had to tell Larry Ziegler that no,  my family does not sing in the choir.

By the way, my name actually means "Black Man" in German. And that is awesome. 

Anyway, I married Paul and figured that I could handle a few lame jokes about soup. After all, I would be one of the first names called.

Yesterday, I got the snack list for Owen's T-Ball and found out that I was first to provide snacks. I had minimal notice, yet threw it together. All because of the C last name.

I'm learning that with great power comes great responsibility.

*** Happy Friday, everybody! Thanks to Mrs. 4444 for hosting!

Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

All This Before Ten AM

I had originally wanted to show you some pictures from my garden, but life nudged me in a different direction. Don't get me wrong---I'll still show you the pictures---but I'll attach meaning to it. I'll force out the metaphor like a washerwoman pounding worn dungarees with a rock.

I can't promise that it will be a successful metaphor, but I hope you'll stay with me.

This morning, I drove to the local middle school. I've been doing some editing work for one of the administrators, and planned to pop in and pop out to get a paycheck. I felt good on the drive down--sunny, hopeful. Paul and I had talked last night after a difficult conversation the evening prior, and I felt like we had made headway.

Marriage with young children is tough. It's easy to give everything away, and leave nothing for each other. We came up with all sorts of solutions, but we're trying this strategy: I will stop doing non-essential chores if they make me resentful. For example, if I don't feel like doing the dishes or picking up Paul's dirty clothes, then I won't. He will either do it himself, or I will do it at a time that it no longer makes me resentful.

It's not passive-aggressive, because we agreed on this strategy together. I've just started it, but I already feel a bit empowered.

But, oh, the fighting and the discussing is challenging. I spent yesterday emotionally spent, writing and deleting blog posts that were full of the drama and the darkness. It is work to figure out how you're feeling. It is work to push up from the darkness and bring issues to light. It is so much easier to stay underground. And yet, Paul and I made the decision to push, and to seek the sunshine.


This was on my mind as I drove to that middle school. I unloaded the boys and stepped into the office. While we were waiting to get the envelope, Joel bumped his head on something and started crying.

I rushed him out of the office, but not in time. There was another boy in the room, probably an eighth grader. Big kid. He was getting visibly agitated by the noise, started screaming,  and the next thing I know, he had shoved me, twice, and hit Joel in the face before an incredibly quick and compassionate secretary restrained the boy.

Joel was wailing. Owen was terrified. I was shaking. I was quickly whisked into another room, where we all settled down. The principal was apologizing, as she explained that the boy, who had severe Autism, was triggered by noise.

I understood. This was no thug. This was a terrified young man, already in the office for whatever reason, now faced with too much noise, too much overload, just too much. They were not excusing him-as they were attending to the boys and I, the young man was talking with the vice principal---nor were they dismissing the fact that my boys and I were physically attacked.


Somebody hit this face? 

I'll admit that the thought passed through my mind--Why was that kid unsupervised? Who allowed him there? 

The mama-bear inside me wanted to rip his face off. 

Of course, I don't know this kid. I don't know his history, or what makes him happy. 

I don't know anything except that somebody loves him.

Somebody rocked that baby to sleep.

Somebody is going to get a phone call today saying that her son attacked a crying baby, and that mother is going to despair, and hope, and pray for answers. She will cry for her son. 

And while I am sad for my sons, and scared, and furious, I am also crying for her son. Hoping for him. Sending love his way. Praying that he gets the support he needs so he can flourish, and grow. 


Monday, April 19, 2010

A Most Appalling Metaphor

Owen woke up this morning and said that his tummy hurt. Despite this, he still had the energy to put his brother in a headlock and demand cold spaghetti for breakfast. I wasn't terribly concerned.

Sure enough, following a truly impressive moment at the public (naturally) restroom, he was fine. His tummy just needed some time to work itself out.

Naturally, I found a metaphor in all this. Appalling, but they say, "write what you know!"

It's easy for me to get caught up in worry. Joel isn't talking the way I would like him to. He has a few words, but prefers to grunt, point, whine, and, in a most annoying development, lose his shit to convey his desires.

For example, instead of saying, "Oh, Mother dear, I would greatly appreciate a glass of apple juice," my second-born prefers to open the refrigerator door and remove items, all the while screaming, "DIS! DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS!"

We are supposed to read his mind to determine which "this" he wants. It could be anything from a slice of cheese to a strawberry to a shot of Jack straight-up.

Wait, maybe that's me.

At night and in the morning, I let the worry clutter up my insides, creating my own paranoid tummyache. I wonder if he is speech delayed, if he has autism or a sensory processing disorder. I wonder if those first eight months without ear tubes kept him from hearing us. Maybe we should have pushed the baby sign. 

I know enough occupational and/or speech therapists to know that we're supposed to let him get upset, and force him to use his words. We're not supposed to let him off the hook. We're supposed to label everything and read to him.

Well, at least we read to him. There is that. I'll admit it: my sense of peace compels me to avoid tantrums and frustration-induced meltdowns. I've got two needy kids, and sometimes it is so much easier to give the kid DIIIIIIIIIS instead of making him say it for himself.

I'm walking around with all this in my stomach, and I know that he isn't even two yet, and he's a boy and that Owen wasn't really talking at this point, either. It'll come. I need to relax. All I really need to do is sit down somewhere, and let all the feelings come out.

Internet, consider yourself  my psychic public restroom. You're welcome.

And if the language doesn't come, there are good people and good programs that will guide us along. I'm sure the speech language pathologists of the world LOVE being compared to prune juice. Elle, Tracie, again, you're welcome.

Perhaps the first step in all this would involve two words: Just relax.

Or, better yet: Unclench.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Small Indignities and Owen's View on Politics.

"Owen, what happened out there?" I asked, after giving him some time to cool down.

"I got angry with you because I don't want to go inside," he replied, not looking me in the eye, fiddling with the button on my cardigan.

I paused and considered my response, "Do you get angry when your teacher tells you it's time to go inside?"

"No," he responded, as if I had asked him if he had shoes growing out of his ears, "I just go inside!"

"Ah," I said, "So why do you listen to Miss Dot but you don't listen to your mother?"

He smiled, "Oh! That's because I like Miss Dot better than you."

***
Joel's language is slowly developing. He'll say a handful of words, although his favorites include: "cracker," "dog," "chicken," and "Dada." He understands everything we say perfectly.

Yet, when I say, "Joely, say 'Mama'" he shakes his head so violently that I fear it will fall off.

He refuses to say my name. And, then, he laughs in my face. Little bugger.

These small indignities pass, and I need to recognize that my children are so comfortable with me that they can revel in my love even in the midst of their jackassery. They know that they are cherished more than the stars and the sea. They know.

***

Yesterday, Owen asked, "Is my president George Washington?"

"No, honey," I replied.

He sat for a moment and asked, "Is my president Barack Obama?"

"That's right, sweetie," I replied.

He thought for another beat, then said, "He's always with me, all the time."

I laughed. "No, honey. I think you're getting him mixed up with Jesus."

"Oh," he said. "Jesus stands in trees and goes pee-pee."

"Right," I said. "Obama goes pee-pee in the potty."

"Thanks, Mommy." He said, "Now I understand."

Perhaps this moment alone is worth the small indignities.







Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Unlocking Gifts

I just re-started my computer after it was doing a strange typing language all of its own. Letters were added or dropped or capitalized so a word would look like: mdasfpafhjtjklath when I meant to write "muffin."

I called Paul at work, a maelstrom raging in my chest, and the phone kept hanging up on me.

At this point, I felt like a character in that terrible movie Maximum Overdrive. In this film, the machines rise up against the hapless humans. It also features an all AC/DC soundtrack. My brother, naturally, loved this film almost as much as he loved Dune and Big Trouble in Little China.



Did I have a point? Ah yes. Me get frustrated quickly. Like caveman.

It made me think about the ways that we are all smart. Howard Gardner, the Multiple Intelligence Guru, talks about not if we are smart, but how we are smart. It makes so much sense to me. I am not a logical, detail-oriented person, so at the first sign of computer issues, I freaked out and called Paul, who calmly said, "Why don't you restart it?"

Oh. Right. Paul is so logical, so patient, and so detail-oriented, which makes him a perfect counterpoint to my big-idea, impulsive, dreamy perspective.

I'll tell Paul, "I would like to go camping this summer." While I am daydreaming about mountain landscapes and fresh, icy-blue lakes,  Paul is doing a cost-analysis of the best tents, referencing Consumer Reports and the comments on Amazon.com.

People would suggest that Paul's type of smart is more functional in the world---and yes, that very well may be true---but my kind of smart makes it a world worth living.

Gardner talks about spatial intelligence, which makes me think of my father-in-law, a man who hated school from the first moment and doesn't want me to see his writing. His deeply-instilled fear of evil English teachers and their Red Pens of Doom is no joke. He was taught from a very young age that he was "not smart."

This same man can fix any engine. He can unlock the systems of a motor and instantly understand the intricate dance of the gears. He fashions quick fixes out of wires and gum, and can competently do any mechanical task. I am humbled by his intelligence.

It's early, and I don't want to label my children, but I can tell that both boys learn best by doing. Owen is very logical, and he likes the cause and effect of experimentation. He is visual, and I suspect will do very well in traditional school.

Joel? Yes, he is not even two, but I already suspect that he will require some creative teachers to tap his skills. I don't think he's a verbal kid, in regards to sitting and listening. His learning will be messy, interactive, and relevant.

As a educator, I will have to allow my children to own their education. They need to learn that they are smart, and being smart means finding methods of learning that suit their needs.

Yes, there will be teachers that try to stuff them in boxes, toe the line, and check off the boxes. Part of being smart is learning how to deal with that.

But, at home, as they do their homework, study for tests, and make meaning of the world, it will be their challenge (and mine), to channel their natural intelligences, and let the world unfold like a daffodil.


What do you think? How do your children use their gifts? How do you encourage them? What are your (and their) struggles?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Indulge Me Once Again

Family shots taken by our talented friend Trudy.

I Have No Idea About The Color of My Parachute.

Joel fell out of bed last night. His bed is a mattress on the floor, so there was no damage done that a kiss and a re-tuck couldn't remedy. He was back to sleep in less than a minute. 

I wish I could say the same. I was awake in bed, listening to my mind sing its evil little song  from 2:30 to 5:30 AM. It's like getting a super-annoying song in your head, like "Who Let the Dogs Out?" or "Smooth Criminal."

By the way, I know I just did that to you. You're welcome.

When I can't sleep, I hear a nonstop, extended slow-jam of the timeless ditty, "Someday you're going to have to go back to work."Usually, this song is sung by the Chipmunks, because that adds to the madness. Just once, I wish my bedtime neurosis would be sung by John Lennon. 

The plan has always been that we will get by--somehow---until both boys are in school. Then, I'll go back to full-time employment. The most logical way to go would be to return to teaching. I would make decent money, be on the same schedules as the boys, and I'm good at it.

Yet, the thought of it, at least at the wee hours of the morning, fills me with dread. I'm tired of it. I don't want to grade stacks of essays in the evenings. I don't want to ever teach anybody about a thesis statement EVER, EVER, EVER again. I don't want to listen to a principal drone on about meeting Annual Yearly Progress in all targeted sub-groups. I just don't.

I ran through some ideas in those early hours:

1) Have another child, to prolong the inevitable. This is a terrible idea on so many levels. We have no room. I don't like babies. Paul doesn't want another baby, either.

2) Homeschool. It's fine for many. However, to steal my own comment from Tracie's blog: "Some people create learning communities with their children. If I was to homeschool, it would be something out of Apocalypse Now." The horror. The horror.

3) Try to get a job as a technical writer for the federal government. Could I? Could I seriously sit in an office all day writing memos for the Department of Agriculture?

4) Write the Great American Novel. Ah, yes, but that would involve not being lazy. 

5) Sell Mary Kay/Tupperware/Pampered Chef/Creative Memories/Sex Toys/Jewelery.... I can't. I don't have that saleswoman instinct. Bless your heart if you can, because those woman are  business moguls. Seriously.

As you can see, I found no magical answers despite my fretting. Yet, things look less dire in the morning light. After all, it is four years away. Things will be different. The boys will be different. These things always work themselves out.

Besides, in a world where beautiful things like this grow from simple brown seeds....


 ...I simply choose to believe that there is a plan for my life, and it will bloom in a surprising, delightful way.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sundays in My City: Foundational Undergarments

When I first moved to my rural county, one of the first questions out of my mouth was, "Where is the mall?"

It's not so much that I was a slave to fashion, it's just that I had grown up in suburbia, where there are malls, and there are movie theaters with stadium seating, and there are chain restaurants. That's just the way I've always known things to be. The sun will rise, the winds will blow, babies will be born, people will pass away, and there will be large shopping malls.

So, you can imagine my surprise when people said, "The closest mall is in Annapolis, which is about an hour and a half drive away."

I felt like I had moved to a lunar outpost.

Seven years later, I can say that I've managed to do just fine. I can find most of what I need online or in  regular stores. If I do go to the mall, it's maybe once a year. And, since living in the country has made me less patient with crowds, trafffic, and general tomfoolery, once a year is plenty.

Nevertheless, I went to the mall yesterday with a good friend, because we both needed some time away. I bought a few items, and we had lunch. It was all quite fantastic.

However, I must share my thoughts about bras. I went to Victoria's Secret specifically because they have the magic bra with the straps that move around. I wanted to wear tank tops and halter tops and other such things. Sadly, though, my days of letting the girls fly free are behind me. So, I was off to purchase the magic seven-way bra. Onward!

I went in and got measured. I must say that Oprah failed me. She had a show a few years back talking about how most women wear ill-fitting bras that add pounds or discomfort or other terrible things. My hero Tim Gunn has also opined about the necessity of foundational undergarments. I was sold, and prepared to let a stranger measure my chest.

Alas, on Oprah and Tim Gunn's shows, the women profiled were told that their cup sizes were too small. They were told that they had been constricting their bosoms. Let the girls loose! Give 'em breathing room!

No such luck for me.

They measured me and gave me tiny bras that could probably support a Cabbage Patch Doll. I asked, tentatively, hopefully, "Do you think I need a larger bra?"

The salesgirl shook her head quickly, "Oh, no. Definitely not. Not even close."

I didn't ask anymore questions because I was afraid the ladies would re-direct me to Gymboree for My First Foundational Undergarment.

***
I didn't take any pictures for Sundays in My City in the mall, because I think you've all seen a mall. Also, I would guess that brandishing my camera phone in Victoria's Secret could very well be misconstrued.

Therefore, here are some completely unrelated shots of the kids at the beach:


Thanks to Unknown Mami for hosting Sundays in My City! Come visit her to see how you can share your city each Sunday.

Unknown Mami

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Fragments: Belly Shirt Edition!

I am having a friend and his family over for dinner tonight. I thought I hadn't seen him since 1993, so I told the Facebook universe (since these things must be shared) that I would wear my burgundy Doc Martens and Pearl Jam T-shirt so he would recognize me. 

He corrected me, reminding me that we last talked at a wedding in 1999. Undaunted, I googled "Fashion in 1999" and corrected my status, stating that I would wear my low-cut jeans and a belly shirt.

Yes, ten years and two babies later, a belly shirt would be a grand idea. I didn't even like them the first time around. After all, I'm not a boy, nor am I fourteen.

***
I am testing myself today. I believe that one of the reasons that people don't have others over is a preoccupation with appearances. One cannot entertain without sparkling floors, fresh-cut-flowers, and a gourmet dinner with artistic garnishes.

It's a totally unrealistic standard, unless you have a staff.

So, to test myself, I am leaving things imperfect on purpose. I am sweeping the floor, but not mopping it. I am leaving the backyard in its normal, toy-strewn disarray. And, I'm moving the laundry baskets into a bedroom, and closing the door.

I must admit, I have a compulsion to stop writing this and over-clean, but I am choosing to relax for awhile. Perhaps my calm demeanor will spill over, and my children will not put his children into headlocks.

***
It's official, friends. I am doing a mini-triathlon. It's eight laps in the pool, four miles on a bike, and a 1.4 mile run. I've got a posse of girls doing it with me, and I am seriously excited. Do you want to know what I'm most excited about? Getting a number on my arm written in black Sharpie. Because, that, dear friends, is officially bad-ass.

***
It's spring, and that means that Paul is power-washing. There is no drug more addictive, and no high as powerful as the sight of gleaming white siding and a grime-free deck.

***
Owen's T-ball practice kept getting in the way of the massive, ten-foot dirt volcano he was constructing in the infield. Every time the ball would be in play, he would sigh, run to the next base, and construct another Mt. Distraction.

I can relate. There's that moment when bowling totally gets in the way of one's drinking. Talk about harshing my mellow.

***
Thanks, Mrs. 4444 for hosting Friday Fragments!


Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Another First

Owen had his first school field trip yesterday. We went to the farm. It was perfect.


We planted a marigold in the greenhouse, we rode a tractor, and we patted llamas, goats and sheep.


We watched a sheep getting sheared, which was surprisingly not traumatizing.


I wish I had taken a picture of the utterly disgusted expression on a little girl's face when Owen scooped up a worm and let it slither through his fingers. There may have been trauma on her part (and, perhaps, the worm's as well).


Owen has a best friend at preschool. When it's time to go home, he says, "Bye-bye, Best Buddy!"

My little man. You are growing to be more beautiful than any marigold, any redwood, any green thing on this earth.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Wal-Mart--Selling your Soul at Discount Prices!

Dear Super Wal-Mart,

I know that you are too easy of a target.

I take that back. I could never say "Target" in the same sentence as I say "Super Wal Mart." That would be like comparing a Renoir to a velvet portrait of two gladiators fighting Fat Elvis.

Just to be clear, Super Wal-Mart, you are the Velvet Elvis, not the Renoir.

I love everything about Target---the dollar aisle, the trendy discount clothing, the Archer Farms trail mix, even the Target-brand facial soap. I don't love, however, the fact that I am incapable of leaving the store without dropping over one hundred dollars.

Conversely, I hate everything about you,  Wal-Mart. I know that there are industries dedicated to mocking Wal-Mart, so I am not exactly plowing new ground here. Nevertheless, I hate the noise, the rows upon rows of processed food-like-substances and those Godforsaken demonic happy faces.

Every single time I go to Wal-Mart there is a surly teenager wearing a cape and a baby drinking Mountain Dew. I don't judge, because I watched Owen devour an entire chocolate bunny in one sitting yesterday, and I thought I was incredibly bad-ass in my Doc Martens back in high school.

But, still. Wal-Mart: you crush my soul, just a bit,  every. single. time.

Yet, dammit, I save so much money that my Scrooge-like tendencies win again and again. Frozen peas, yogurt, cheese, cream of tartar---they cost so much less, and it's the same stuff. We save at least forty dollars a week buying our groceries from you.

I wish I knew how to quit you.

Remember, Super Wal-Mart, that while I patronize your store and increase your bottom line, deep down, I am not one of you. I will be with you, but I will never join you. Never.

With much disgust,

Nancy

Hook up with adrienzgirl to write your own "love letter."

Think Tank Momma

Monday, April 5, 2010

Brushes with Greatness

When I was in high school, I was in Spanish class with a girl that made the U.S. Olympic Trials for Gymnastics. Her arms were like tree trunks.

My senior year, a local weatherman from the CBS affiliate joined our church. His closer connection with God did not lower the AZ temperatures.

During college, I saw Adam Sandler in a bar. I daresay he had partaken of the ganja.

Also during college, my windshield was broken by a member of the Brazilian National Soccer Team. They swear that a soccer ball, kicked at high velocity by a world-class player (training at NAU's high altitude training camp) could not break a windshield. Filthy Brazilian Liars.

My friend, Sunshine, partied with The Misfits, a punk band.

At the HORDE festival, I told Ben Folds that he put on a good show.

While teaching, one of my students showed me pictures of him posing with his family's friends: the members of REO Speedwagon.

Also while teaching, a student, whose mother worked for Canyon Ranch, (a fancy-pants resort) shared that Leonardo DiCaprio and Sharon Stone were "really nice" while they were in town filming, The Quick and the Dead. Apparently, though, Mike Myers's (now former) mother-in-law, Linda Richman, was a real bitch. Not at all like but-tah.

I worked at a summer camp with a man whose brother taught Kirsten Dunst. She was a cheerleader.

My sister-in-law, an occupational therapist, had a patient whose mother trained animals for movies. Thus, I held the kangaroo from an Avis commercial.

My friend's dad worked at a body shop and repaired James Brown's car. He also saw Smokey Robinson in a motel elevator. This man, apparently, has a direct line to Motown.

Another friend drank kamikazes with John Kennedy, Jr.

A student's father piloted Air Force One, and flew George Bush to Iraq for his surprise Thanksgiving Day Feast with the troops.

My aunt has a friend whose daughter works for Oprah.

Barack Obama spoke at my cousin's graduation ceremony.

A friend of mine saw the actor that plays John Locke at a Whole Foods on the Eastern Shore. She said, "I kept babbling to him about chutney."

About a year ago,  I found out that a friend of mine used to work with Sterling, the boy who played Young Benjamin Linus on  Lost.

One of the losers from Hell's Kitchen owns a restaurant a few miles from us.

And today, I saw President Clinton's former secretary, Betty Currie, buying bananas at Wal-Mart. 

Brushes with greatness, indeed. 

Your turn!

(PS--Yes, if you've been reading from way back, you're right. This is a slightly updated re-run!) 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sundays in My City: Cherry Blossoms

In the eight or so years we've lived in the greater DC area, we have made it up to the Tidal Basin to see the Cherry Blossoms once.

Yes, once.

I could give you all sorts of reasons why (work, young & nursing children, pregnancy...) but it would be an elaborate avoidance of the truth: I hate crowds.

And yes, while the blossoms are quite lovely, there are lots and lots and lots of people and their dogs and their strollers and their leaflets and their cameras and their political T-shirts in the mix.

I mean, look at these crowds! You'll have to look past my squint-tastic, pre-children self.


I'm happy to say that I have found my own Cherry Blossom oasis just minutes from my house. 

St. Leonard is one of the "towns" in my rural county. This means it includes all of the important things in life---a gas station, two liquor stores, a tattoo parlor, and a watering hole called simply, "The Tavern."

Paul and I call it "The Tav," because we are wicked awesome. 

St. Leonard also has a polling house/memorial garden. It stopped being the polling house back in 1974, but the building remains, and serves as a meeting area for community caroling, egg hunts, and other seasonal gatherings. 

 
I'm always moved by the memorials---the stones and the benches that represent lives, laughter, and now, eternal longing. 
 

Although I am touched by the memorials, I am restored by the incandescent, spontaneous ecstasy of the Cherry Blossoms. 



Yes, the DC Cherry Blossoms are very nice, and everybody should see them at least once. However, I prefer my own private Eden just minutes from my house.


Unknown Mami

Friday, April 2, 2010

Such a Good Friday.

It is so glorious outside right now that I have to contain myself from singing, as if I'm one of the Van Trapp Family singers, or perhaps Neil Patrick Harris.

This is the first Easter since I've moved to Maryland that I've been able to feel warmth on my arms, and it is a resurrection of sorts. A return to warmth, a return to boundless energy and mud pies in the backyard. New life! The grass is risen! It is risen indeed!

I don't care that for the third day in a row, I am posting a picture of my children playing in the sun. If that isn't a holy thing to show during this Holy Week, I don't know what is:



I am going to finish writing this, and then I am going to make the glaze for my Easter Ham, using a can of Dr. Pepper and some brown sugar. I'm pretty sure that Giada or The Barefoot Contessa would not approve. Paula Deen surely would, so I am comfortable with this decision.

My glaze will cool in the pan and my husband will be home from a meeting in DC. I cannot yet share what the meeting is about, but I know that the results were good, and Paul is happy.

I will be glad to see him, and I'm especially happy that I will see him smiling, his shoulders no longer stiff with tension. I don't give him enough credit for all he carries to keep our family aloft. We float effortlessly on his iron wings.

When the boys wake up, we will walk to The Bay, and I will soak up the remaining sun. I will look to the heavens, and on this Good Friday, I will mean it all the more: "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The View from My Backyard

Neighbor Jimmy's Chickens.

Experimenting.


Little Boys:


Off to do more, my dears. Catch you soon.