Friday, October 30, 2009

Come Sail Away...


So I have figured out that these early days of pregnancy are a whole lot like being on a cruise.

By this I mean that I spend nearly every waking hour either throwing up or wanting to throw up, and at the same time wondering what's for dinner (and is it too soon to have a snack?).







Then there is the accompanying feeling of perpetual hung-overness (the dizziness, the headache of all headaches, and oh lordy, the crankiness) without the benefit of actually, you know, drinking.



And oh boy, I am SO wishing I had spent a little more time at the gym working on the abs before embarking on this trip, because all of the sudden everyone and their grandma looks thinner than I do.



And even though I know the getting there is a big part of the fun, there are days when I am ready for this particular leg of the journey to just be over.



(No worries, please.  The second trimester will be here soon enough and then I am just SURE I will be back to my lovable self)

Friday, October 16, 2009

People Say the Darndest Things

I have found that once you reach a certain age (ahem), telling people that you are pregnant can elicit all kinds of responses. Such as:


"Huh? We're adopting? Because you said you were too old to give me a baby sister even though I've asked and asked and begged and begged bunches of times." - 7 year old daughter, Sabrina

"Nuh - uh. No way. Really? Is this one of your weird jokes? 'Cause I don't think I believe you." - 9 year old son, Dalton

"Wow. I'm shocked. I mean, I am sure I will be excited later, but for now I am just shocked." - the mother-in-law

"Popping out a kid at almost 40? Niiiice." - brother Matt

"WHAT!!!!!!!!!! OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG SHUT UP!!!!!" - sister Sam (via text message)

"Well. I find that just completely irresponsibly brave." - THIS fellow soccer mom

"You know, there are a lot women that would pay big bucks to be in your particular situation." - the nurse at the ob/gyn office

And my personal favorite:

"Really? That's great. Really. It is. Wow. Are you sure? Wow. Man. Really? OK. Cool. Wow. Just wow." - the darling hubby

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hardee Har Har

We all know that saying, "If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans."

When I was a junior in college, I found myself treading through a low point in my life and was feeling pretty darn sorry for myself and the choices I had made. I remember feeling stuck and stagnant and like everything and everyone was moving forward too fast and without me. Then one day this epiphany washed over me.

I would join the Peace Corps.

I fell in love with idea of being able to run far, far away from my life and my troubles and to be able to do it in the name of a good cause - something noble. I would run to someplace like Micronesia or Vanuatu and help build schools, plant gardens, or teach children how to sew. In my spare time I would write long letters home to my mother telling her about my exciting adventures and asking her to send me paperback books and construction paper. It was a two year commitment, but I planned to spend a lifetime away from everything that was familiar. I had a plan.

Then, from somewhere deep inside, I heard a giggle.

That Christmas I met the man that changed my life. He was kind and patient and good. He allowed me to just be me and even though I told him I wasn't sticking around, that I would be gone for good within two years, he stayed. I ranted and raved and painted our kitchen the deep blue of ripe blueberries, and he still stayed. When I yelled and accused him of crazy things and set his beloved Jeep on fire, he got upset, but he still stayed.

And when I finally graduated from college, he asked me to marry him. And you know what? I said yes and I stayed. And I am so glad I did.

My husband and I worked hard at building a nice little life. We moved to a small town and spent the next ten years building our family, rejoicing in new friendships, and finding our careers. My husband and I would sit in the evenings with our coffee and speculate on which of the Webber boys our daughter would marry, the neighborhood yards Dalton would mow the summer he turned 10, the rise and fall of the river that ran through town, and when construction on the main road would ever end.

It was a simple life, but it was oh so sweet in it's simplicity. I knew that this would be the place where we would grow old. We would sit on our front porch and watch the ebb and flow of our little town, knowing that we were deeply rooted. And I was happy with that - I wanted to stay.

Then, one night in July, from somewhere deep inside, I heard another giggle. Only this time it was more like a chuckle. Or maybe it was a guffaw.

When my husband was offered the promotion that would move us from Texas to Massachusetts, my immediate reaction was, we can't do that - it's not in the plan! But here we are, a little over a year after our move, and we are so happy. It's true that we miss our friends and family. And it's true that this is a whole new way of life for us. But all in all, we love it here. We have been blessed with wonderful new friends and here lately the house has been full with visits from our family. We have come to appreciate the change in the seasons and the traditions that go along with those changes (Apple picking in the Fall! Sledding in the Winter snow! Gardening in the Spring! The beach in the Summer!). I am glad we came here.

But as life goes on and the seasons change, the body gets older. Last month I went to see my doctor because I was fairly certain that the great change of life was around the corner. I had the classic symptoms of perimenopause. Although facing my age was difficult, I knew that we were done with having children (Dalton is 9 and Sabrina is 7), and this was a new stage of life I would just need to accept. After long discussions with my husband and with my doctor, we came up with a plan. We would try birth control for two years and then re-evaluate. All I needed to do was wait for that magical time of the month to visit so that I could start on the medication.

It wasn't perfect, but it was a plan.

So I waited. And waited. And waited some more. And late at night, while the rest of the house was sleeping, I started hearing that now familiar laughter.

Last week when I went back to the doctor, I wasn't too surprised when she gave me the news - I'm pregnant! At 38, I am venturing once again into the world of diapers and binkies and spit up (as well as slobbery baby kisses, total adoration, and that sweet earthy smell of a new child). We are thrilled that we have been so abundantly blessed and I am thankful that my husband can see the humor in it all.

If God had a Facebook, I am pretty sure his status would be "LOL!!!!"

But isn't that the beauty of life? The unexpected - the crazy stuff we never see coming? Isn't it the the detour from the main road that makes the trip something to write about? Isn't it the surprise that makes this adventure so worth the price?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Day I Thought Would Never Come ...

Back-To-School Clothes, Socks, Shoes, and Other Things That Won't Fit in 3 Weeks =

$427.52


    Back-To-School Pencils and Markers and Other Crayola Crap =
    $78.15



    Back-To-School Groceries (Bread, Fruit, Granola Bars, and Enough High Fructose Corn Syrup to Kill an Elephant) =

    $323.12


    Back-To-School "Have a great day at school and now I am going to SO enjoy my 7 blissful hours of peace and quiet without you in the house" =

    PRICELESS


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Top 10 Signs Your Kids Have a Wii Addiction

10. Your son volunteers to do the laundry, wash the car, bathe the dog, clean his room, and wash the dishes so that he can earn enough money to buy another Wii game and that he will apparently just die if he doesn’t get it TODAY.


9. Three mornings in a row your daughter tells you that her dream involved some version of getting lost in a new world, but then getting an extra life for finding the hidden flowers.

8. Your son comments that his Toaster Strudels remind him of goombas.

you see it too, right?

7. Your daughter starts bartering for more Wii time (“If I read for 45 minutes today instead of just the 30 minutes I usually read, then do you think that I can also get an extra 15 minutes doing Wii bowling?)

6. Your kids hear that you are planning a week long vacation on the coast of Nova Scotia, they ask in unison, “Can we bring the Wii?”

5. Your son thinks that because he has won the title of The Next American Idol on the Wii, like 10 times now, he could SO win the real thing too.

4. You get up at 2:27 in the morning for a glass of water and find both of your kids out of bed playing Mario Cart with the sound muted so they don’t wake anyone up. When you calmly ask “What the…????” your son tells you he just couldn’t sleep and he thought a quick game would help. And then he tells you that because he couldn’t sleep, he went ahead and woke up his sister for some company.

3. You take the kids bowling and they are surprised at how throwing a REAL ball toward the pins requires considerably more skill than Wii Bowling, however their bowling stance is NEAR PERFECT.


2. Your 9 year old tells you that this might be a good time to buy Nintendo stock because he plans on spending all of his birthday money and allowance on every single Super Mario Brothers game ever made.

1. You have to go buy a HEATING PAD and ICY HOT because your son’s neck is so sore from playing Super Paper Mario. You think it just might be because he prefers to play this particular game like this:


Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Music Meme

Once upon a time, and long, long ago, I had this boyfriend. We broke up, went our separate ways, got married to other people, and started our families.

Now, wouldn't you know it? As fate would have it, we are both bloggers! My ex and a few of his friends have a really great indie music site called the Muse in Music. You really should check it out - I promise it will make you feel cool and hip!

Anyway, Fred over at tMiM tagged me in a little meme. Take a look at my answers then go check out the Muse.


1. When listening to music lyrics, have you ever been offended by the use of profanity alone? If yes, describe.
Well, for my own listening, no. But my kids really like Eminem (I’m guessing because it has a good beat and you can dance to it), and I had to download the “edited” version so that they could listen to it without me worrying about them saying something highly inappropriate at school. Interestingly, they have never questioned why parts of the song are blanked out. Perhaps they are filling in the blanks with their own version of profanity?


2. Have you ever been offended by sexual themes in music lyrics, even if the particular lyric contained no profanity? If yes, describe.
Only once that I can think of. A few years ago I was at the Fall Dance held at my kid’s Catholic school. I came across the school principle movin’ and groovin’ to the Black Eyed Peas’ song “My Humps” in the hallway. Seeing her with her hands touching her lovely lady lumps made me very uncomfortable. I was scarred. For life. It was only later that I questioned why the hired DJ was playing that song to begin with. Maybe it was a special request?


3. Have you ever been offended by violent themes (or direct calls for violence) in music lyrics, even if the particular lyric contained no profanity? If yes, describe.
This is a hard one. I don’t think “offended” is the word. I think I have more of a “non-preference” for violent music. In my day-to-day listening, I generally don’t feel all that angry and violent towards anything. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when the Eminem line from “Lose Yourself” (“No more games, I'ma change what you call rage. Tear this motherf**king roof off like two dogs caged…”) fits my mood perfectly (like when someone who will remain nameless but whose name rhymes with Jonnavon drinks the last full cup of coffee and only leaves me with enough to piss me off).



It can’t be all Taylor Swift and sunshine all the time.


4. Have you ever been offended by themes of drug use in music lyrics, even if the particular lyric contained no profanity? If yes, describe.
I’ll have to say “no” to this one, but with the caveat that I am pretty clueless when it comes to slang references to drugs and drug use. It was just about a year ago when I figured out the drug references in Little Feet’s song “Willin’.” I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have used this song as the night-night lullaby for a certain colicky kid I know.


5. Have you ever been offended by an artist’s stage performance, in terms of sexuality, violence or drug use? (This question pertains to actions, not to the song lyrics, profane or otherwise.) If yes, describe.
Maybe I’ve been going to the wrong concerts! Back in the olden days (i.e. before kids), my husband and I would go to Gruene Hall in New Braunfels quite a bit and sometimes the audience would get a little out of hand and there would be a fist fight or two, or some serious dry-humping over by the pool tables, but the action on stage was completely non-offensive.


6. Have you ever been offended by a music video, in terms of sexuality, violence or drug use? (This question pertains to the video itself, not to the song lyrics, profane or otherwise.) If yes, describe.
Do they still make music videos? I can recall one video that set me off on a “women are not just sexual objects” tirade. Can you guess which one? “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” by Trace Adkins. YouTube clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9VzEulip9Q


7. Are there any artists you have completely written off, strictly on the basis of indecency? If yes, describe.
Just a simple no on this one. Although, I have found that I don’t listen to Cher as much as I did before she wore that incredibly indecent outfit in her “If I Could Turn Back Time” video. But maybe that’s just jealousy.



8. Do you support to any degree private-sector efforts to censor music lyrics, once the record has already been produced? (For example, Wal-Mart refusing to catalog Green Day’s latest LP.) If yes, describe.
I think we can make the choice all on our own whether we want to buy/support any particular musician or band. But that said, I also think a retailer has the right to refuse to carry a product. If you want it, go buy it somewhere else.


9. Do you support to any degree public-sector efforts to censor music lyrics? If yes, describe.
“Censorship” is such a loaded word. I mean, as a parent, I’m in total support of music ratings on CDs. Is that censorship? In fact, I wish the music police would go into more detail and tell me exactly what is in the music that is “offensive.” I mean, I am a careful food-label reader (No dairy! No soy!), so I am used to looking for details when shopping, and I might be willing to buy a CD for my nine year old son if I knew the only explicit language was the “F” word one time in a single song. Ya know?


10. Do you support to any degree further FCC decency guidelines for radio and TV? If yes, describe.
I think guidelines are fine. And they will probably be just as effective as the dietary guidelines put out by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Right?

And that is all I have to say about that.

I Fought the Raccoons...


And the raccoons won.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Come on, take a break...

Have ya'll checked out The Women's Colony yet? Grab a cup of coffee and sit for a while while you read through some wonderful blog posts (and get a good dose of mancake!). This site should definately be on your Favorites list.


And guess what? Now you can order your very own Women's Colony t-shirts, coffee mugs, and mouse pads! Just click here.


And guess what else? Today I have a post in the Confessional section. Click on over and relax a while - anything else on your to-do list can wait!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pesky Pests Update

Well, I am happy to report that my soccer goal contraption has been wildly successful in keeping the raccoons out of our garbage. Night before last I heard them scratching around out there and I gave a small warning bark (nothing too ferocious, just a little old tired beagle bark - my little pooch barely raised her head). In the morning I was happy to see that the trash cans were still upright and there was not a single piece of shredded tin foil or mauled paper towel anywhere.

And the ants? They are diminishing in both size and number. Now I will occasionally see a teeny tiny little ant scurrying across the kitchen window sill, but otherwise it loos as though my "pretty please go away" method is working (and maybe that stuff that my husband sprayed around the outside perimeter of the house has a little something to do with it too).

But (there's always a "but" in there, isn't there?)...

My garden is having to bear the consequences of our actions - as in the wild animals and pests are apparently quite upset about not being able to feast on our garbage and have taken to ravaging the tomato plants.

Yesterday Dalton went out to check the garden for signs of ripeness (the tomatoes have been fruiting like mad, and the cucumbers are just starting to flower, and the carrots, well, we can't seem to distinguish them from the weeds, so we don't really know how the carrots are doing), and when he came back in he said, "Bad news. All the big tomatoes are gone. Well, except for this one." Then he shows me this big beautiful green tomato that would have been just perfect in a summer salad, except that it had an ugly, big, huge imprint from some animal's teeth right on the bottom (bigger than a rabbit, but smaller than a bear - maybe a deer?).

Then he said, "Don't worry - all the small tomatoes on the Topsy-Turvy are fine." Whew. At least there was that.

This morning, there was more bad news. "Mom, the animals chewed off the bottoms of the Topsy-Turvy tomato plants. But there are still some growing on there up pretty high, so maybe it will be ok."

Somehow, I don't think so. I think by tomorrow, the tomatoes that I had such high hopes for will be just a homemade salsa pipe dream. I am sure the cucumbers and carrots and cantaloupe will also fall victim to the ravages of these wild beasts.

I think that these animals are getting revenge.

But I guess the wild beasts need to eat too. Maybe by growing and offering them my garden they will stay out of my trash. It can be my offering to Mother Nature and her servants.

And I think I might just be okay with that.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pesky Pests

I have two major pests in my life right now.




No! Not them!

These:



And these:



I can't really decide which of these pests is driving me further up the wall. But my nearly every waking moment is spent trying to figure out how to get these guys right out of my life.

I have decided that raccoons may be further up the intelligence chain than I have ever given them credit for. It seems that no matter what I do, they figure out how to get into my trash cans and shred everything inside beyond all recognition. We have talked to all the experts at Home Depot and Lowe's and Ace Hardware, and we purchased top of the line locking lid trash containers. We have consulted the Internet experts and have laced the trash bags with cayenne pepper. We have even gone so far as to make pouring ammonia around the trash area a routine part of our nighttime rituals, along with locking the doors and starting the dishwasher.

And still...


(do you see how they laugh at me?)

After I make my way upstairs in the evening, I open my bedroom window so that I can be on alert for the sounds of the trash cans being rocked back and forth and the lids being unlocked, turned, and tugged off. This is when I make my move. I creep up to the window beside the bed and with a great deal of ferociousness and umph, I bark. Loudly. Like a dog. Like a really, really big mean dog. Until my throat is scratchy and my eyes hurt. Usually this frightens our real-life little dog, asleep in her kennel, more than it deters the demon critters from uncovering the leftover scrambled eggs and peanut butter sandwich scraps in our trash. Oh, don't get me wrong, the lunatic barking usually makes the raccoons pause for a brief nanosecond (they are probably not really pausing, but more like laughing their own secret little raccoon laugh at me), but then they go right back to their midnight snack.

Last night, I tried something new:



Yep, that is the kid's soccer goal thingy, turned so that the netting covers the trash cans, with one of the recycling containers balanced on top. I am hoping that the slightly more difficult access will prompt the pests to move on down the road and rip through someone else's garbage. Kind of like putting the Snicker's bars in the very bottom of the deep freeze so that you forget about them and then if you do happen to find them, it just might seem like more trouble than it is worth to wait for them to thaw and eat.

So far, it's working. (The soccer goal contraption, that is. Not so much with the whole chocolate hiding thing.)

I'll keep you posted.

Then there are the ants.

(This is where I would put in a picture of an ant making it's way towards my sugar bowl, but um, well, the ants are being a little camera shy this morning and even though I went through the kitchen with my camera all ready saying things like "here, anty, anty, come out, come out, where ever you are" in a really high pitched voice, they didn't come out. But the dog thought I was playing some weird game that involved a treat - go figure).

They say everything is bigger in Texas, but Lordy, in all my Texas years I have never seen ants the size of these. They first showed up about a month ago, and apparently they like the place. So far they seem to be confined to the kitchen. Now I know most people would think that this is really a no-brainer - bug spray, right? But here's the deal. About a year ago I went out for Chinese food and my fortune cookie contained a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln that went along the lines of "an ant's life is a sweet to it, as ours is to us" or something like that. Anyway, it makes it hard for me to kill an ant. I mean, I really don't mind them outside, doing the things that ants do. I just don't want them inside my house - inside my kitchen. It's just a little gross, you know?

And scooping them up and throwing them outside just isn't working. They keep coming back. And they seem to be multiplying. Maybe my kitchen is the new Club Med for ants. I don't know. I think we are going to have to spray some sort of chemical to get rid of them. I am hoping we can find something that repels, more than extinguishes them, because I sure don't want a bunch of dead ants messing with my karma.

And that's the thing, I guess. The ants, the raccoons, bees, mud, the laundry, my sister-in-law, and all of the other pesky things in my life - I don't want them gone off the face of the earth for all eternity and forever, but away from my own personal reality, for just a little bit, would sure be nice.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Do They Pass Out Awards For This Stuff?

At the beginning of every month, my kids look over the school lunch menu and circle the days that they want to order lunch. Today was one of those glorious days where Dalton and Sabrina chose to have the cafeteria's Bacon Cheeseburger instead of my nutritious packed lunch consisting of PB &J, carrot sticks, and a granola bar. Go figure. Actually, I love the days where they both want to order lunch because it means that morning I can hit the snooze button one extra time.

When Dalton came home from school today, he said, "Ask me how the bacon cheeseburger was at lunch."

ME: OK, how was the bacon cheeseburger?

DALTON: Gee, Mom, I don't know. We had our field trip today and you were supposed to pack a lunch for the picnic.

ME: Crap! Today was the field trip? Are you sure?

DALTON: Yes I am sure. I was there. Without a lunch.

ME: But the field trip wasn't on our kitchen calendar!

DALTON: And yet, we went and I didn't have a lunch.

ME: So what did you do? Did you get to eat lunch at all?

DALTON: Oh yeah. I got to go through the lunch line with the midgets when we got back to school and they gave me a PB&J.

ME: Midgets? Short people?

DALTON: (major eye rolling) You know - the FIRST graders. I was soooo embarrassed.

ME: Well, I'm sure you weren't the only one that didn't have a lunch on the field trip.

DALTON: Yep. I was the only one. Thanks Mom.

Anytime, son. Anytime.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Je Suis un Inadapté

I want to go home.


There I've said it.


I've made something of an idiot of myself and I want to go home.



Friday night was Sabrina's end of season soccer party and one of the other soccer moms offered up her house for the party. I was really looking forward to the get together because I hadn't really had a chance to visit with the other moms, plus after days and days of cold rainy weather, Friday afternoon turned into a beautiful day with actual SUNSHINE.


And the party went great. But here is where I screwed up.


When we were leaving the party, I looked around at this nice woman's expertly decorated house and saw that there were beer bottles, wine glasses, plastic cups, bowls, napkins, and other party paraphernalia everywhere. And all the guests were making a beeline for the door. So I told the hostess that if she would like, I would be happy to help her clean up - I just needed to run my husband and kids home and then I would be back in a jiffy to help her. Of course, she protested and said, "No, no. I don't need any help." I said, "Really - I don't mind at all." And she said, "Well, OK, if you want to come back that would be great."


So I left her house thinking, "Cool! Maybe we'll get to gossip about all the other moms while we load the dishwasher! Find out who does her hair while we wipe down counter tops! I'll get the scoop on her vegetarian chili recipe while we wrap up leftovers! Three cheers for female bonding!!!"


But when I got back to her house a mere 20 minutes later, I was greeted with, "Oh. I didn't think you would actually come back."


"Well, of course I came back! What can I help you with?"


"Nothing. I don't need you to help with the cleaning up!"


"No really, I came to help."


"No really. I don't want you to help."


Which left me just kind of standing there thinking, "Well, this is awkward." I mean it's not like I showed up at her door with a bottle of Windex and roll of paper towels, but I don't know these people well enough to just pop in for a social call. Standing there in the doorway, I could feel the blood rush to my face as I tried to figure out how I misread the signals. Was I supposed to come back over, or not? If I say, "Oh - OK" and turn around and leave, will that be rude? If I walk in and put my purse down and start picking up beer bottles, is that rude?


At this point her husband tried to come to the rescue by offering me a drink. (Warning: This is the part of the story where I REALLY make an idiot of myself.) I told the husband thanks for the offer, but I brought my own. And then I pulled a Mike's Hard Cranberry Lemonade out of my purse and twisted off the top with my shirt hem.





I know. Real. Classy.


Maybe I could blame it on a sudden onset of nervousness, but see, at the party earlier everyone was drinking wine and some weird kind of beer and I can't drink wine (migraines) and I am kind of particular about my beer (as in I only like Coors Light), so when I dropped my husband and kids off at home, I ran inside and grabbed a Mike's just in case there was still drinking going on.


So anyway, I ended up sitting in their formal living room drinking spiked lemonade out of the bottle (until the husband discreetly took it from me and poured it into a wine glass) and having polite conversation for about an hour. Of course, by this point I had worked myself into a nervous wreck and was just feeling completely inappropriate (do you know what I mean? where everything you say and do feels exaggerated and too loud and too, I don't know, too MUCH?). Like when they asked me if I had a job, I am pretty sure I said in a high pitched, self-righteous kind of way, "blogging is my passion, but I also do some human resources consulting on the side." Somehow I finally managed to say something about how the time flies and how I really needed to get home. I could practically hear them rolling their eyes and laughing at me as I got in my car.


As I made the short drive home, I realized the experience left me feeling kind of cheap, and kind of desperate. Like I had misread the signals and showed too much enthusiasm by coming back over, even though I could have sworn I had been invited.

I felt like I had let a boy go too far on a first date. Do you know what I mean?


Back at home, I found my husband waiting up for me in the dining room. "Did you make a new friend?" he asked.


"I don't think so. And, by the way, I want to go home."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Innocence Lost

So the homework was done, dinner was cooking, and I sent the kids outside to catch a few moments of non-rainy fresh air.

Do you remember that little hand-clapping game we would play as kids - Miss Mary Mack? Somehow Miss Mary Mack (mack, mack, mack) is still all dressed in black (black, black, black), and she still has silver buttons (buttons, buttons, buttons) all down her back (back, back, back).

But there is a new character on the hand-clapping, sing-song circuit. BARNEY!

(hit play on the video below)


video


For those of you who may not want to play the video for whatever reason (maybe you are at work, or maybe the baby just finally got to sleep, or maybe the kids are already home for summer vacation and SpongeBob is turned up so loud that you wouldn't be able to hear the darn thing anyway), I've written down the words to the latest in elementary school top 40:



Mama, Mama, can’t you see
Clap, clap
Clap, clap, clap

What this baby’s done to me
Clap, clap
Clap, clap, clap
Took away my mp3
Clap, clap
Clap, clap, clap

Now I’m stuck with dumb Barney
Clap, clap
Clap, clap, clap

Mommy called the doctor and the doctor said
Clap, clap
Clap, clap, clap

Oops – Barney’s dead
Clap, clap
Clap, clap, clap

Shot in the head
Clap, clap
Clap, clap, clap

Barney was shot by G.I. Joe
Clap, clap
Clap, clap, clap

Up and down, high and low
Clap, clap
Clap, clap, clap

Barney was shot by G.I. Joe
Clap, clap
Clap, clap, clap

Tic, tac, toe - three in a row
Clap, clap
Clap, clap, clap
Barney was shot by G.I. Joe
Clap, clap
Clap, clap, clap




Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Do We Really Need to Party?

Ugh.


Tomorrow is Sabrina's birthday. She will be 7 years old. Since February she has been talking about her birthday as if turning seven is the absolute highlight of her entire existence. And I suppose to a six year old, it is.


But here's the deal.


Both of my kids have June birthdays. Back in Texas, this was totally cool because we had a giant swimming pool at our disposal, and we combined Dalton and Sabrina's party into one giant fun fest and everyone was happy.





There were tons of kids, ton of friends, tons of cake. You could not ask for a better party.










But guys. Here, well, here, we do not have a pool. We have lots of grass and a fairly big house, but I am not really one of those parents that can corral a bunch of kids into playing lots of good wholesome party games. I have friends that are complete naturals at this, and actually seem to get a kick out of this particular type of chaos. I am not one of those people. And now these kids are at the "Drop-off" age for birthday parties, and ya know, I just don't think there are enough margaritas in the world to get me through two hours of screaming seven year old girls. As much as I love my daughter, I just can't do it.


And good luck finding a pinata up here anyway.


So.


In April I started casually tossing birthday party ideas to Sabrina. How about the Art Museum? Yawn. Bowling Alley party? Nah. American Girl store? Nope. Build-a-Bear? Uh-uh.


Then she tells me that she has the perfect idea:



This to me is a whole new level of torture. Bad pizza. Disgusting germs covering all of those games. Just the thought of the noise level alone is enough to make me want to hide in my car and chain smoke.


Two weeks ago she changed her mind and decided that she didn't want the Rat from Hell to sing her "Happy Birthday" after all. (Whew!)


And now we are back to square one.


How badly will do you think she be traumatized if we just skip the whole party thing this year? Should I double-up my future therapy fund contributions?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mothering

In case you have been wondering where I've been, well I haven't been anywhere really, but my mother came to visit on Mother's Day weekend and stayed for SEVEN days.

Now, those of you who know me, might be wondering if everyone survived the visit. And the answer is, surprisingly and miraculously, yes we did.

For those of you out there that don't me that well, let me explain a little why a successful visit with my mother is nothing short of miraculous.

I moved out of the house at a very young age (16-ish), and was eager to put as much emotional distance between myself and my mother as possible. I've written before how I was not out there winning the "Daughter of the Year" award, but really -it takes two, ya know? So many years have passed since then, and I really hate thinking about all the insults and names I threw in my mother's face and the guilt trips and names she called me back in my those tortuous teen years.
Kids and parents fight, right?

But I've always known that a big reason for our animosity for each other is that my mother always wanted me to turn into something spectacular and amazing and I was always disappointing her. As I danced and drank my way through the party world of the Dallas underground scene, she thought I should be writing a poetry collection. Instead of going to college, I should be out there somehow saving the world from something or another. She saw so much potential in me.

When I met the man who is now my husband, he had a hard time understanding that under no circumstances did I want the big wedding in a church with all of my friends and family there. To me, I thought my mother would see it as a public display of how I failed to be something MORE. So, we went to the courthouse on a sunny day in March and tied the knot. My soon-to-be-husband couldn't in good conscience marry me without my father's permission, so I allowed my dad to be there under strict orders to not tell anyone else. On our wedding day, only my father, his girlfriend, and a couple that owned a boat repair shop that we casually knew, were there to witness the birth of a wonderful marriage.

I waited until June to tell my mother what I had done. Her first response: "I was afraid you would do something like this. (big sigh)"

When I found out that following October that I was pregnant, I waited until almost Christmas to tell her. My husband and I were living in New Braunfels, a safe 274 miles away from my mother. I sat cross-legged on top of the kitchen counter with the phone cord stretched tight from the dining room. I had a pie in the oven, and the kitchen was full of the smell of warm cherries and buttery crust. We talked about Christmas plans, how maybe next year we would be able to spend it together, and the weather. Then I said, "Mom. I'm pregnant. I'm due in June." The phone was silent. Finally, she said, "Oh Candi. Are you sure this is what you want to do? Trust me, kids have a way of sucking the life right out of you."

She was not there when Dalton was born, but we called her to tell her the news later in the day. She drove down six weeks later to see her first grandchild. I don't remember much of the visit, except that it was short - not more than a long weekend.

Two years later, pregnant with my daughter, I decided to bite the bullet and tell her right away. I was in Dallas for some reason and I was driving my mother to a doctor's appointment. I turned down the car radio and keeping my eyes on the road and trying not to put too much emotion into it, I said, "Mom, I'm pregnant again. Another June baby." I braced myself for some biting, hurtful remark. My mother turned her head away from me and towards the car window and muttered, "You're just a regular baby making machine aren't you?" Somehow I waited until she was inside the her doctor's appointment to cry.

She wasn't there when Sabrina was born either. There was another short visit from her a few weeks later. Again, I can only remember that she was there and then she wasn't.

In the almost seven years that has passed since Sabrina was born, my mother and I have tried to understand each other in small amounts. With my own children I sometimes find myself thinking about the potential they have and all the things they could be. But then I step back and tell myself that I will love them and support them in whatever direction they choose. I will celebrate their victories, both great and small. My mother sends thoughtful and appropriate cards and gifts for her grandchildren. Stickers at Easter. Books at birthdays. Coloring books and candy at Halloween. Toys at Christmas.

When Sabrina was two years old and Dalton was four, against all of my protests, my mother moved to New Braunfels. She said she wanted to be closer to me and my brother, who had also married and started a family in New Braunfels. I looked at it as certain doom. But she came anyway. And once my children were out of diapers, she really starting showing affection for them that I slowly came to believe as genuine. She would spend hours drawing with my son or reading to my daughter. My mother began to insert herself into my domestic life and nearly always joined us for holiday events and sometimes Sunday supper. She started telling me I was doing a good job. She praised the accomplishments of my children. She complimented my cooking. As much as wanted to take her words as some sort of apology, I found myself searching for sarcasm and insincerity. But tentatively, I began to believe her.

When we moved to New England last fall, I knew it upset my mother. She came by the house as we were packing the last of our belongings and I could tell that the move suddenly became real to her. And seeing the loss of "us" register in her eyes, made it my loss too. I didn't know if I would miss her when we left, but knowing that she would miss me, my husband, the kids, the dog, gave me an empty feeling right in the pit of my stomach. I wanted to tell her, "But this is it - my big adventure you always wanted me to take! I'm going into the unknown! Yes, I have a husband and kids and animals in tow, but still! An adventure!" Instead, I gave her a hug and promised to fly her out to visit soon.

And so, my mother came to visit. And it was good. She was up early each morning to see the kids off to school. She helped them with their homework. She offered to help with cooking supper. She went on a field trip with Dalton's class. She gave the dog treats.

She did not complain - not even once. She did not criticize my parenting. She did not make a single hurtful remark or roll her eyes at something my husband said. She did not tell me I made another mistake.

On Mother's Day, she handed me a card. It was a typical card for the occasion - purple envelope, blue and white flowers on the front, a sweet little saying on the inside. And then, at the bottom, a hand written note, "Candi - I'm so proud of you! You're the best mother I know. My love always! Your Mom."

So yeah, we survived my mom's visit. I think she is finally proud of me.





(me and my mom - 1977)



Monday, April 27, 2009

File This One Under "Too Cute!"

My sweet Sabrina (age 6, but 7 next month!) has been boy crazy since birth. Her first love was Parker, a cutie-patootie on her big brother's soccer team:


Sadly, Sabrina soon realized that the age difference was just too much to overcome (that 2 years is huge!) and that Parker was her brother's friend, not hers.

All through kindergarten Sabrina was smitten with a boy named Davis (I don't have a picture, but trust me - he was cuter than bug's ears!). Every day she wanted to wear an orange shirt because she heard Davis say once that orange was his favorite color. She was just beside herself whenever the teacher lined them up alphabetically since they both have last names that start with C. And when she found out we were moving, she wrote him a long good-bye letter in a way that only a five year old can (i.e. lots of hearts and flowers) and included our forwarding address. For weeks after we got to Massachusetts she would ask me, "Did Davis send me anything?" Oh sweetie, I'm sorry. Nothing today.

After a while she forced herself into finding a new object of affection.

And his name is Mark.

But first, I guess she had to "cleanse" herself of her old flame (I found this in the art supplies closet).

It says: "People I Love (signified by a heart) Davis I liked but now I moved on"

Notice all the skulls and crossbones, along with the heart? I think that sums up her feelings perfectly.

Since Christmas, Sabrina's social life at school has revolved around Mark. I get to hear all about what Mark had for lunch (he really likes goldfish crackers), who he played with on the playground (mostly other boys, because, according to Sabrina, Mark still thinks girls are kind of icky), and how often he gets in trouble (alot).

The few times I have been to Sabrina's class to volunteer for this or that, I've kept my eye on this Mark boy to see if he is indeed worthy of my little girl's heart. Sadly, he seems pretty oblivious to her existence.

It seems Sabrina is determined to get her heart broken at least a dozen times before she turns 16. But I can't help admiring how she keeps picking herself up, deciding on what she wants, and then going for it with all her heart.

It says, "I think we are going to be best friends."

You GO, girl.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Blooming Whether I Want To or Not

The last few weeks have forced me to come to terms that I am not on an extended vacation here in New England - I actually live here now. I have had to put down some tentative roots. And, incredibly, it has been only slightly painful. Although some of my Texan friends and family might see this as an act of treason, I am actually kind of, just a little bit, excited about the whole thing.


It all started when I took the kids to the dentist. This forced me to call our old dentist in New Braunfels to get the records transferred. Then when the patient information forms came in the mail for me to fill out, I actually did it. (I guess it would help to know that about five months ago I called a pediatrician's office here it town to get the kids established somewhere, but when the paperwork came in the mail, I didn't even open the envelope. It went straight to the trash. Just thinking of committing to a new pediatrician when we have used the same one since the birth of our oldest just seemed so, I don't know, scary. It made this move seem so REAL. And I just wasn't ready for that little dose of reality so close to Christmas and all.) So, I filled out the dentist's paperwork (baby steps, guys). Then I actually kept the dentist appointment AND showed up on time (bigger baby steps!).



I have got to say - the dentist was AWESOME and he made me feel very welcome. He actually lived in the Dallas area for a few short years, so I felt we had a little connection going on. But then he gave me a stern talk about not having a pediatrician lined up - something about how a strong dose of Motrin won't fix everything - and he gave me a short list of some good docs. I tucked that list in my purse thinking "Please, I just can't handle another medical history form right now - my kids NEVER get sick anyway!"



Yeah. Well. Two days later I was frantically digging through my purse saying "Please, don't tell me I threw that list of doctors away! Both kids have 104.1 fevers AFTER having Motrin!"



So, yes. We now also have a pediatrician.



Then I got the same crud as the kids.



Whoo-hoo! A new doctor for Mom too!






THEN. Soccer season started. Last night both kids had soccer practice (of course almost at the same time and on fields a mile apart from each other). But that is okay because I think I made a friend.


Since we moved here, my best friend has been the school bus driver, Christine. I see her every school day and she always greets me with a smile and a sincere "Have a great day!". In the afternoons she is still smiling and I believe her when she says "See ya tomorrow!" Christine has seen me with no makeup and clothes that don't match and still, I have never seen any judgement in her eyes (well, except for that morning when the kids were all bundled up in the scarf, hat, and heavy coat ensemble and it was 41 degrees - way too warm for all that!). I can't tell you how many days Christine's happy face has made my day.



And now, there is a boy on Dalton's soccer team that he knows from school and his mom seems totally neat and funny and nice. And her husband is all nice and just chatted away with my hubby. These people have great friend potential. I just feel it. AND - get this - Christine the bus driver is really good friends with this family too! How cool is that? I almost feel like I have a friend network starting up. I actually now know somebody that knows somebody else that I know.


And to top it all off, there are these things growing all around my house and in the garden and I just know they are all going to bloom into something very pretty.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"V" is for...



So last night the kids were watching a few minutes of TV before bed. Apparently Nick at Night was airing that old episode of Home Improvement where Tim the Tool Man contemplates getting a snip-snip down there. As I turned off the TV Dalton (age 8) asked me, ever so innocently, "Mom, what's a vasectomy?"


"Well.


You see.


Um.


It's an operation a man gets."


This, of course, led to the dreaded, "But why?"


"Well.


You see.


Um.


So that he can't have babies.


Nowlet'sgettobed'causeitisreallylateandyouhavetogetupearlyforschool."


"Mooooommmm! Quit joking around! Men can't have babies! Why do they get the vasectomy operation thingy?"


"You know, I'm probably not explaining it very well. Go ask your Dad."


So Dalton trotted off to the dining room to ask his poor unsuspecting father about the meaning of vasectomy. I hung back just outside the dining room so that I could eavesdrop on the man-to-man discussion.


"Dad, what's a vasectomy?"


"It's an operation a man gets so that he can't have any more babies with his wife."


"Oh - really? That's what Mom said too. But I still don't get it."


"Go to bed."


"OK."


So I guess we are at the precipice of that next stage of parenting - explaining the birds and the bees. How fun.


I remember when my mother sat me down at age 10 with a book, full of illustrations, that explained where babies come from. I didn't get it. In fact, I think I was almost 20 before all the pieces came together, so to speak.


So, readers, I am openly asking (begging) for some advise here. When did you learn about babies? When did you tell your kids? And what did you tell them?



Monday, March 16, 2009

Sunshine On My Shoulders...

Apparently my children have trust issues.

When Sabrina (6) was diagnosed with allergies and we decided to go the allergy shot route, I told her not to worry, that the shots would not hurt. Much. After all, her brother had been getting the same shots for a year and he never even flinched. But I guess Sabrina has a much lower pain tolerance.

And when we were talking about all the cool things that we could do in the snow, I said that I could not wait to build a snow fort with them. And I even bought myself a pair of good gloves (they're pink and fluffy!). But guys, that snow is awfully cold. And somehow I never lasted outside long enough to build anything more than a wimpy snowball.

And on our recent excursion to New York City, I assured them that the city would be fun. No doubt they had a Willy Wonka type of fun in mind, but instead got a whole bunch of "My God, we are in a Prada store - DON"T TOUCH ANYTHING!!"

So yesterday when I told the kids that it was warm enough to go outside and play, they both kinda rolled their eyes and then went back to playing on Club Penguin. An hour later I insisted they get changed out of pjs -right this minute- and I promised a trip to the park.

"But it's cold outside (insert best six year old whine here)."
No it's not - it's warm! Trust me!

Again with the eye rolling.

"Just for a little bit, then we will go to Target and get a pretzel."

THAT finally got them moving.


And guess what? After about five minutes, both kids were actually sweating and had to take off the little jackets they insisted on wearing.

Sunshine is delicious!

Friday, March 13, 2009

We Are Family...

Wow.

You know, I was feeling a little anxiety about my sister visiting (couldn't tell, could ya?). Because somehow I didn't manage to turn into a super cool, super rich fashion model in time for her visit, and I thought that maybe I would come off as such a raging dork that I would never see my sister again. You know how fickle those college girls can be.

But of course, everything went great. Even better than great. But do you remember that movie Twins from the late 80's? It has Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as twins separated at birth. Well, when I saw her at the baggage claim area at the airport, this is the movie that immediately came to mind.






Do you see what I mean? The girl is TALL and THIN and full of youthful beauty. And, well, let's just say that I am not. But over the course of her visit, we found that we have more in common than differences. We both do a weird little hand dance thing when we listen to music. We both love to read. We both eat our pizza with ranch dressing (lots of it!). We have an eerily similar smart-ass sense of humor. We both face the daily struggle of taming the curl in our hair (those straight locks you see in the picture above is the result of a really good relationship with my straightening iron). But most importantly, we love each other!


The week was full of long talks and lots of laughs. The first night Sam was here we went to a restaurant that I had been dying to try because of it's name (say it out loud and you will see what I mean).


We took a spur of the moment trip to New York City (because I am all about impressing her like that) and shopped and ate and just had a blast.

Don't we look like we are having fun?
Even though the trip ended with Sam missing her flight back home (our damn GPS took us to a fishing pier in Boston instead of the airport), it was a really great visit. I can't imagine my life without my baby sis being a huge part of it.
Yay us!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sister Sister

Okey-dokey. I am totally freaking. out.

My 19 year old sister that I have not seen in ELEVEN years is coming to visit one day from today. Yep. Tomorrow I will pick her up from the airport and she will be here until Thursday. (Right about now you are probably asking "why haven't you seen your sister in eleven years?"...but you should know by now that I didn't exactly have a fairy tale life. I mean most fairy tales have the heroine facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles, wacky and sometimes malicious stepmothers, talking animals, and then finally, a prince charming that comes and saves the day and everyone lives happily ever after. Wait a minute. Aside from the talking animals, this IS my life in a nutshell. Crap on a cracker. Could I be living a Grimm's fairy tale and not even know it? Is Disney about to digitally remaster the my life? Something else to obsess about - that's just what I need!)


Anyway...


My sister Sam is coming to visit. She just turned 19. Did I mention that already? But guys, I am 3freakin7 years old! Practically old enough to be her mother for cryin' out loud!!! But I am SO EXCITED that I could pee on myself. No lie. I have missed my youngest sibling so so so so MUCH!!! And I hope we get to do all those sisterly things I've read about in books like paint each others nails and braid our hair and talk about boys and eat too much ice cream. I hope hope hope she likes me. I can't wait to see what types of things we do the same and which things we do completely different from each other. See, we've only really been in contact with each other for the last two years or so, and it has taken this long for me to get up the courage to turn my back on the family drama and put her on a plane to where I am. Crazy, huh?


But.

I don't know. I took a real long honest look in the mirror yesterday (an actual mirror, no symbolism or anything) and realized that I have aged. I am a real true grown up. With kids. And a husband. And toilets to scrub. And I started wondering, what if Sam finds that she doesn't really like me? She is a young college girl with her whole entire life spread out before her. What if she finds that even though my Myspace page is all tricked out and cool and hip, in reality, I am just a typical, cranky, middle-aged mom? What if she finds me boring, or ordinary, or just plain irrelevant?


Then what?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Girl, Put Your Records On

This is what I love about life. Each day brings the possibility of something amazing happening. And meeting amazing people. And getting amazing deals on stuff that really brings you joy. Are you wondering what in the world I’m talking about? Well, let me tell you….

Several weeks ago, our really nice neighbor called and asked us if we had any use for an old stereo system. He had just gone and bought a new one and thought our kids might enjoy the old one. Absolutely! When he brought the “stereo” over to us, I was shocked and awed to see this:

THAT is an actual real live record player on the top! I immediately told my husband that there was no way in Hades that the kids were getting their grubby little hands on that! All through my life, music has fed my soul in a way that even chocolate fudge cake could not compete with. Although I can not play any type of instrument and my singing voice is, shall we say, something only a husband can love, the sounds of music have been both a tonic and an amplifier for the deep, morose, lonely, love-filled, and happy feelings of my life.

My father likes to tell the story of how one morning when he was driving me to school (I think I was six), he was playing The Eagles “Wasted Time” on the good ol’ eight track and when the song was over he looked over to see me sobbing silently, my whole body shaking. In alarm he asked me what was wrong, because believe it or not, I was not a child prone to hysterics (that came later), he says I choked out the words, “I never knew a man could sing so pretty.” And even now, well maybe I should say especially now, that one song will always – every time – stop me in my tracks and reduce me to a deep – you know, pit of my stomach – kind of sorrow. The songs of The Eagles so defined my relationship with my father that when I found out that my first child was going to be a boy, I decided to name him Dalton, after the “Doolin-Dalton” songs and as a way to honor my father.

Growing up, once the dinner dishes were done and the house shifted and settled down for the night, my mother would put on a pot of coffee and play record after record on the turntable in the living room. Usually it was Linda Ronstadt, Janis Joplin, or Billie Holiday. Sometimes it was Led Zeppelin or Jimmie Hendrix. But she would wearily fall into that worn yellow couch and drink her coffee and chain smoke her long cigarettes and the music would soothe her, much like a hot bubble bath and a glass of wine would soothe others. Over time, it became the same for me.

There is just something about a vinyl record spinning on a turntable. The crackles and pops and static and soft hum of electricity bring the music to life in a way that those digitally remastered CDs just can’t accomplish. The soundtrack to my life embraces the imperfections and scratches that an mp3 file often doesn’t hold. Don’t get me wrong – I love my ipod and I am sure my treadmill would be covered in dust and laundry if it weren’t for the convenience of magical, portable music on demand.

But here’s the sad part of this story…my husband and I lost every single one of our 300+ records to a terrible flood that swept through New Braunfels in October of 1998. We also lost all of our clothing, furniture, and other useless knick-knacks. It was all gone. Just gone. Even though I know that stuff is just stuff, I remember trying so hard to find even one record that survived. I cried for the ruined mildewy photo albums. I cried for the warped and splintered Russian china cabinet. But mostly I cried for my lost music.

In the ten years that have passed since that flood, my husband and I have rebuilt a nice life. We bought new antiques and dishes and rugs to fill our home. New clothes and shoes and raincoats to fill our closets. We have been blessed with two children that require more stuff than we could have ever imagined. The ipod and music downloading sites have made it possible to have most of our cherished music back.

And now our neighbor has given us a record player.

This past weekend we went to a used record store in the neighboring town of Natick. The place is called Déjà Vu Reords. I am not sure what I was expecting, maybe some ratty little shack that smelled like mice or something, but we were very warmly greeted by the shop’s owner, a tiny little Greek woman who acted as though she had been waiting there all morning just for us to show up. It was like she knew us or something. She immediately led the kids over to some boxes that held children’s records and told them to start a stack of their favorites (some Beethoven for children, ET narrated by Michael Jackson, many Disney collections) and then led my husband and me over to the “Classic Rock” section. Dudes – there were thousands of records! It seemed like every stack I went through held a familiar record from my youth. It was like going through old photo album and seeing pictures of friends you had almost forgotten.

An hour later we brought our huge stack of records over to the counter and waited to hear how much our indulgence was going to cost us. The shop owner asked each one of us our favorites. We talked with this sweet woman about music and about moving to this strange land they call Massachusetts and how we miss our family and how cute the kids are. And then she gave us her price for our records. Ten dollars. Get out, you say. Seriously. 10 singles for all this:


AND. And she asked us to come back this weekend and we will all go to dinner at a little restaurant down the street that she wants to show us. Because she likes us. And I think she might be lonely. But mostly, I think she is just really nice. How cool is that? The kids are so excited and keep reminding us that we have a dinner date with a stranger this weekend. Life is so full of adventures!

So all week, after the dinner dishes are done and the kids are settling down for the night, my husband puts on a record (usually Linda Ronstadt or The Eagles – last night it was an amazing Big Band collection) and we sit on the couch with our evening coffee and feed our souls. Life is so good.

For those of you that are super observant, you might notice that I picked up two copies of “Hotel California.” One is for us to play, and the other is my back-up copy.
Just in case.