November 30, 2007

How a little nudge changed my life

My BFF Gigi used to have this blog. It's gone now, and I am still sad about that. It was a wonderful blog. She was a teacher, and a damn fine one, and her blog was about education. She read lots of other edu-blogs, and had really interesting things to say about her experiences in the classroom, as a mother, and her unique outside perspective on the state of education today. She's the kind of mother and educator and person I hope I can be someday.

I actually met her through her blog. Her son and I met on a stoop one fateful day four years ago, and he told her about me and she wanted to ask me some questions for her blog about my school experience. So, before I ever saw her face, I got to read all of this amazing wisdom she has stored up. We shot a few emails back and forth, and then one day she wrote this post about me. I wish I could link you to it, because it's the most flattering thing anyone has ever said about me.

Me and her? The rest is history. My point is that she was the first blogger I have ever met, and hers was the first blog I ever read. I was hooked. I followed every link she put up; I read her whole blogroll, daily. My son was just entering Kindergarten and I was eating up anything I could get my hands on to brace myself for the American Public School Experience.

Her son used to hang out with the boys and me in the hallway, playing soccer or gluing stuff together. Every now & then, he'd say something like, "You know that thing you do with the boys where you [insert unorthodox parenting technique here]? You should really write that down. That's good."

No one had ever said I was a good parent before. I had just never thought of these stupid things I do with my kids as good parenting before. I didn't have any other mom friends, and no parents of my own, and really not any resources for parenting tips. I got to thinking about it, and I thought that maybe, just maybe, someone else out there in the internetowebosphere was in my same boat, and that's when I decided to try out this blog thing.

And so, on January 18th, 2005, I put up my first blog post. The first few months of it were choppy and random. I was still relatively new to the internet in general and wary of spending too much time on it. As the months rolled on, however, I got into a groove. The blog started to evolve. People started reading it. Yes, they were extensions of my inner circle of friends, but still...people were reading my blog. And they weren't emailing me threatening to turn me over to Child Services or the Grammar Police.

Now, almost 3 years later, I cannot imagine my days without it. I think in blog posts. I have tried to kill this thing a few times now, but I just keep coming back to it, and every time I come back, I'm a bit renewed. It's my old boyfriend that I just can't dump because god damn it he smells so freaking good. I would totally make out with my blog if I could.

I used to write when I was younger. I was quite prolific and, sometimes, what I wrote got noticed. I had teachers come to me, asking if I was interested in publishing my stuff. I wrote this one poem in fourth grade that got entered in a national competition and totally smoked the asses of kids way older than me and won me a trip to meet the President (Reagan, maybe?). I wasn't allowed to go (thanks, mom!) but still, it was an honor. And then, one day, after a long series of events that don't matter anymore, I just stopped. I stopped playing the guitar, I stopped playing the piano, and I stopped writing.

I have a lot of anxiety over this whole writing thing. I worry that it's not ever good enough and that I'm not clear enough and that I am too sarcastic. Keeping this blog, though, it is helping me get over that, albeit slowly. I still say totally way too much, I love starting sentences with but and I throw a lot of yo's in here, because I am Bart Simpson. I underachieve. I think that keeping this, every day, has helped me realize that no matter what I end up doing, I want it to have to do with the written word. I am in love with writing again. I want to find a way to get all the real, profound things I have floating around in my head between Dora and the science fair on paper. This blog has given me a direction to look in again.

So, thanks, Gigi, for your blog, and thanks, Chris, for pushing me all the time and thanks, January 18th, 2005, for changing my whole damn life.

And thank god in heaven that today is the last day of November.

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I wish

I'd like the doctor
more if I could take my clothes
off by candlelight.

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November 29, 2007

Christmas Ornaments (or the impending death thereof)...A Continuing Series

My Christmas tree has issues.

I mean, it just can't find it's motivation. There is no theme; no one idea that it fully subscribes to. It's all over the place.

We put it up the other day (if you give me shit about the fake tree, I'll stab you with something dull).

We got it all decorated, too.It's really lovely. And inviting. If you happen to be into music

or a foodie

yep, that's an Idaho spud on my tree. Yep, I'm a dork), or into abstract art or a fan of the animals native to Africaor interested in the sites of North Americaor feel the overwhelming need to buy your daughter-in-law ornaments ONLY in triangular shapes or just awesomely into Batman

well, this tree has got you covered. There is something for everyone. And there are lots of somethings for a two-year-old to smash into tiny bits, which is the best part of Christmas, really.

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We now interrupt your regularly scheduled broadcast

An open letter to Mr. Lady
From: Her hair follicles.
CC: Her skin
Date: 28 Nov 07

Dear Mr Lady,

What exactly is wrong with you? We've been working together for 32 3/4 years now, and so far, there have been few incidents. We have fulfilled our end of the deal with you; you have luscious, full hair, that isn't a terrible color and grows like a weed. You're welcome. We have worked very hard to take all of those Ding Dongs and Coffee Ice Cream treats and turn them into something that we can work with. You're welcome. You haven't exactly made this easy on us, but we have never complained. Yeah, we did give you a little gap in your left eyebrow, but dude, you so had that coming. Maybe if you didn't own 3 pairs of tweezers, we'd consider closing that gap for you. Bygones.

We feel it's time to remind you that nothing comes for free in this world. We sat back silently as you cut us, tweezed us, dyed us, did this shit to us:and now we're fighting back. You have officially crossed the line. The price you pay for that awesome head of hair is this; we will grow wherever we damn well choose, and you will deal with it. Can't handle a few little hairs around your belly button? Not. Our. Problem.

What is comes down to is this...yesterday, that thing you did in the bathroom with the hot wax? That means war. Do you not realize that the hair we grow on your upper lip is delicate? It's like our babies. And you murdered them. You ripped them out AT THEIR ROOTS and we can't ever get them back. We are devastated and we will get you for this. It may take us a few weeks, but we're sending new ones in. We suggest you leave them alone.

We appreciate that you don't have either a degree in biology or esthetics, in fact, we know your lazy, drunk ass never even went to college. Allow us to explain something to you; we grow on your lip for a reason. For your protection. We grow on your eyelids and in your nose for the same damned reason. Mother Nature is not one to be toyed with.

Are you aware that they used hot wax as a form of torture in the Spanish Inquisition (no one expects it, you know)? It is considered inhumane. Cruel. AND unusual. This isn't Guantanamo Bay, toots.

Your punishment for this most unspeakable offense is that we have spoken to the skin, and we're going to make you burn. And then the skin is going to get all dry. Dry, and splotchy. You're going to look like you have a really bad sunburn, maybe even chicken pox, for at least THREE days. It's going to itch. It's going to sting. And don't think we overlooked the Great Chin-hair Massacre of 2007, either. We noticed, and now you will, too. Your mother and her mother and her mother, too, all had the same 3 hairs growing out of their chins that you do. You don't see them running around ripping those hairs out, do yah? Sure, none of them have been laid since Juice Newton was in the top 40, but we're not the reproductive system, so we care not.

And we swear to god on high, if you so much as think about using that wax anywhere south of our equator, we're going medieval on your ass. Don't try us. You wouldn't like us when we're angry.

Sincerely,

Your Follicles.

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November 28, 2007

PSA

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? Seriously, guys, you've got less than thirty days left. Get cracking.

If you happen to live in Denver, you might want to know that tomorrow is the opening day of the Junior League Holiday Mart. Normally, I wouldn't give a dingo's kidney about it, but....

My BFF Nicole just so happens to design jewelry. Awesome jewelry. Cooler than you've ever seen ever jewelry. She also just so happens to have a booth in the Artisan's section of the Junior League Holiday Mart*.

If you've ever met me, you've seen her stuff. I'm dripping in it. I honestly don't think, outside of my wedding ring, that I own any jewelry NOT made by her. And oh my god she makes baby stuff now. OH MY GOD.

Here's where you can stalk her:
  • This weekend at the Junior League Mart. I'd bet she'll give you an autograph if you ask real nice.
  • Her website
  • Her upcoming Etsy store
  • Her adoption blog, which has much better pictures than I could ever take of her stuff. And her daughter's foot. You'll want to eat it, I promise.

*Yes, there will be other vendors there, and yes they are cool, too, and yes, I actually own a few things from those vendors. But she's the best one, I swear.

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If loving you is wrong...

I don't wanna be right.

Molly got it stuck in my head again. Just when I thought I was over it. Damn you, Molly. Be warned, it's seriously like crack for moms. You're going to need it. Click with caution.

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November 27, 2007

Trade-offs, or Good Vs. Evil

We all have our things with cleaning. Even those of you us* who hatehatehate housework have something that you like. Whether it be your Roomba, or huffing Pledge, we all like something. I, personally, cannot get enough of the smell of my laundry soap and would rather have a root canal than have to part with my excessively large stash of stain-removers. I like stains. I kick stains asses.

My husband simply cannot live without Windex. He loves it. He couldn't care less if the entire house had a hurricane blow through it (not true), so long as the coffee table shines. Turns out, he's not the only one.This, of course, is the most awesome awesomeness ever. This means I just got one less chore to do. She loved it. He sprayed; she wiped. She told him where to spray and he obliged.She and I have fun cleaning games, too; she'll grab a sponge and say, "Cwean, Momma!" and then my kitchen cabinets get scrubbed, but this was dad and she sorta has a crush on him and now they have this new game to play together. It's important to have someone who shares your obsessions passions.You know what's not awesome in any way about this whole thing? The fact that all of this happened at 11:30 in the PM last night. Eleven. And Thirty. At NIGHT. You see that bottle in the very corner of the picture? That was as close as she came to it for hours. Someone needs to talk to this kid about the human body and it's need to sleep.

No, really, I love housework. It's, like, my total favorite thing ever. And if you believe that, I also have some beach-front property in Denver I'm looking to unload.

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November 26, 2007

Wiimergency!

How to repair a Wii in 10 easy steps:
  1. Watch your wife totally lose her shit over a little jingle in the Wii.
  2. Sit back calmly as wife goes at the Wii with tweezers and stuff.
  3. Giggle when you remember the fate that befell the old VCR, and the $75 bill incurred 8 years ago to remove $0.73 from car cd player.
  4. Listen as wife calls EB Games (site of purchase).
  5. Wince when wife hangs up and calls Nintendo.
  6. Shiver a bit as you hear words like, "Not covered under warranty" and "shipping to where?"
  7. Clutch wallet in one hand while wife talks on the phone; start shaking the Wii with other hand.
  8. Notice slight glimmer in wife's eye at the mention of Richmond.
  9. With no way to know that wife has been looking for an excuse to go have coffee with this chick, but fully aware that something has made her very happy indeed at the prospect of driving to Richmond to drop off the Wii, and being quite certain that's it not that "I just found a way to save $20 on shipping" glimmer that she gets when she's cheap, ATTACK THE Wii. Go out it with ruthless abandon. Try to open the casing. Get out the really little screwdriver. Get that sumbitch fixed, and quick. She's got something up her sleeve, that one.
  10. *Timing is crucial on this step* Right as wife (is she flirting with the Nintendo dude or something? Why the hell is she so happy all of a sudden?) writes down Repair Order number, right as she's doing it, close eyes, hold breath, pray a bit, and extract one small, white button that goes with nothing in this house from the belly of the Wii.

Voila! The Wii is repaired, you just saved $75, and now your wife doesn't get to go hang out with bloggers. Mission? Accomplished.

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(mushy) Sunday Secret

I am not a girly girl. I like motorcycles and grease. I have 19 piercings and am planning a cleverly placed tapestry of tattoos. I own more hoodies than shoes. My favorite smell is sawdust. I am not afraid to pick my undies out of my butt in public settings. I'm tough, I really am.

But I swear to Jebus, if Anne of Green Gables comes on the tv, I am useless for the next 15 hours.

Like, can't function useless. Like, cannot stop watching it no matter what useless. It kills me. I whimper, I shed tears. One night, we were moving and we had literally 6 hours left to be all moved out, and at 1 am we flipped on the tube and there it was. Needless to say, we were late.

This show tugs at every cold, dead heart-string I have. Now that I'm all grown-up, I like to hide this little problem I have behind a well-moderated obsession with all things Jane Austin, but Jane Austin can't suck you back into your 13-year-old soul like Anne can.

Oh, Gilbert Blythe. Oh how I swoon. Swoon, I say.

I get giddy at the thought of my daughter being oh, I don't know, 8 or 9 and old enough to get the angst behind these stories. I'm going to read her every single book. And then we're going to have a Ding-Dong & Chocolate Milk movie marathon. And I'm totally going to sob, I know it.

Because I am a great big softy, that's why.

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November 25, 2007

YummaNummy

Sarcastic Mom has this weekly photo meme where you can submit your favorite picture from the week to, well, show off your mad picture-takin' skilz or something.

I haven't played along yet, but sheesh I love this picture.I mean, come on already. The closed eyes, the greasy ecstasy, the juicy drips on the favorite green sweater. That, friends, is Thanksgiving at its best. And so, I humbly submit it for their vieweing pleasure.

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November 24, 2007

Rate the Hate the Tryptophan Coma edition

Ah, Thanksgiving. Twice. I am thankful for two excuses to cook Turkey in 6 weeks. I told you all of my menu a few weeks ago, but for this Thanksgiving, I didn't cook any of it. I made entirely new stuff (except the Stove Top). Now, if you think I am mentally unstable enough to spend 2 more hours typing the menu from Thursday, you'd probably be right you have another thing coming. I will, however, happily share with you the gist of dinner, and the surprise item of the day.

First, the turkey:

Porcini mushrooms with fresh rosemary and thyme

blended with butter and garlicrubbed under the skin of the turkey that brined all night in salt water with pepper, Worcester sauce and brown sugar. The turkey got stuffed with and baked for just over 2 hours (god bless convection ovens).

There were basic old garlic green beans, and Stove Top, and gravy made from cremini mushrooms, porcini mushrooms, turkey stock, pan drippings and cream. And then there were potatoes.

Josh LOVES onions and peppers. My hatred of both onions and peppers burns with the heat of a thousand suns. But since I had such a kick-ass Thanksgiving last year, and he had such a craptastic one, I thought I'd make him a little something special. A just for him thing. So, I julienned a medium red pepper, a medium yellow pepper, and sliced a medium red onion. I tossed them in olive oil with salt and pepper and roasted them for 15 minutes. Then I quartered what I wanted to be 1 1/2 pounds of fingerling potatoes, but I live in the motherf*ing suburbs of motherf*ing Canada and couldn't find any, so I went with small white potatoes, tossed them in olive oil, too, with salt and pepper, threw them right on top of the peppersand then roasted the whole thing on 375 for 50 minutes. I mixed in 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley and (I think) 2 tbsp fresh chopped mint and roasted the whole thing for 10 more minutes. I topped that with fresh chopped basil and voila!Seriously, I thought I was going to hatehatehate this. Turns out, it kicked serious ass. (It was shocking, even to me.) Throw that all one one not-nearly-big-enough plateand you have the very, single, most bestest Thanksgiving dinner I have ever cooked. Ever. I'm not kidding. And it was crazy easy. I even managed to bake a decent cookie for dessert.Those would be pumpkin cookies that I make....with molasses. Jumpin' Jesus on a pogo stick; I loves me some molasses.

But, did they like it? As they say, a picture says a thousand words...

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Oh Crap

Q: What's worse than finding a worm in your apple?

A: Finding that there is what you can only imagine to be a bunch of loose change in your Wii.

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November 23, 2007

On second thought

It has been two years today since I've spoken to my father. I had this whole thing I was going to write, but I'm busy eating turkey and frankly, I have nothing to say on the subject. Except this;

Dad, I'm sorry. I wish I could find forgiveness for you. It's a character flaw; I'm working on it. I miss you, though.

Enough with that. Thanksgiving Haiku is in order.

What smells great in the
stove at 6 PM does not, left out,
the next morn'.

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November 22, 2007

Thanks; Giving of

This morning, all of my children were up at 7:30. This NEVER happens. I have to drag the last two out of bed, crying and screaming for the nearest Child Services group, at the latest possible minute. But today, they were all up. The boys got the baby out of her bed while I brewed coffee, and then, later, while I stood out on the deck with my morning coffee and cigarette (yeah, I smoke. I'm ok with it, so back off) and I listened to my children have a Smackdown Showdown in the living room. It was total WrestleMania 3000. I listened to the slightly-deeper-than-they-used-to-be ughs and the barely-audible-except-to-dogs eeks and the pre-pubescent-shrilly oh-my-balls! and it hit me just how much I have to be grateful for.

I am thankful for:

My children. If you need the whys of it, I have 800 or so blog posts I can direct you to. But I am so happy that there are 3, and that they have a huge age gap. I am thankful for what they teach each other when no one's looking.

I am thankful for the 8,429 stretch marks I have. Even after my kids are gone to college and grown up life, I have the roadmaps they left behind. I can re-trace their lives through them. They take their futures and do whatever they choose with them, but I will always be the keeper of their beginnings. I wouldn't trade those stretch marks for the world. I would, however, consider trading them for better boobs.

My husband, who allows me this privilege to dedicate the past 9 and the next 16 years of my life to raising our children. Lots of men give good lip-service to the importance of staying home with your kids; he gets it. He values what I do, and I will never not be grateful for that. He lets me spend way too much money at the grocery store, and is currently eating the babies toes so I can bake cookies even though there is a pile of laundry the size of a small elephant I should be washing right now. He is also starving himself today to keep room for my dinner. That's just flattering.

My brother, who taught me many things, including how to defend myself against duct tape while I slept, who taught me how to cook, and who showed me that anyone can be great, even those of us from the humblest beginnings. I am thankful for his wife, who gave him the reason to be who he is.

The 6 empty seats at my table today. Somewhere in Denver, 5 people will sit down to dinner, and we will not be there. Somewhere in Vietnam, a baby will spend the day being loved by her momma and daddy, her grandparents, uncle, and auntie who are too far away. I will wish they were all here, and I will wish it so much that it hurts, and I am thankful that I have them to love so much that there is a gaping hole in my world while I'm away.

I am thankful that my mother-in-law is in South Africa right now. Who in their right mind WOULDN'T be happy about that? Seriously, though, she is one year into two years in the Peace Corps, and thought I question her decision to go, holy smokes is she setting a good example of giving back and doing good for my sons.

My internet connection. Without it, I may have waited on Andy and David in a bar, and they may have hit on me, and that would have been that. I never, ever would have met The Retropolitan, or Kelly, or Diane, or Ron, or Beth and Chris, or any of you who share your lives with us all. I never would have found my brothers who are sweet and lovely and, I am sad to say, quite hot (thank you MySpace). You guys make it lovely. Thank you.

I am thankful that no matter how hard I try, my house is always a cluttery mess. That just means that we have more than we need, and I am thankful every day for that.

Oh, hell, I could do this all day long. I am thankful for every day that I have, for all the ups, all the downs, all the laughter and lessons. I am thankful that I can learn, and read, and that I can grow, and that I can love. I am thankful that I can accept where I came from, and choose where I'm going, and know that those two things don't have to be the same. And dear god in heaven, am I ever thankful for chocolate.

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Sharing, and other traditions

Here at Chez Mr Lady, we have few holiday traditions. Excepting waging full-out warfare the day after Thanksgiving on tiny little Christmas lights (who in the hell came up with those things away?) it's kind of a free-for-all around here. We do have a few traditions, though, that are never over-looked. I thought I'd share them with you. Enjoy.

Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you have to go shopping.

(Um, the videos are pointless, just turn up the volume)






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November 21, 2007

Stuff that scares me, take 3

I am afraid of being an Atheist.

(Save it, Andy; I already know what you're going to say :) )

I am an atheist. There, I said it. I don't say it a lot. It's not that I am ashamed of it, and it certainly isn't that I don't have the knowledge behind me to argue my case. If you and I were out for drinks, this wouldn't even be an issue, the whole you-knowing thing. I'd probably bring it up at some point, because, well, I like the discussion. I just, in the world of moms who blog, find it difficult to discuss this. There are few of us in comparison to the teaming masses of moms with I love Jesus blinkies. When I find blogs written by overtly Christian parents, I tend to pass over them. I don't do that because I don't like reading about it; in fact, I DO like reading some of those blogs. It's just that I know that with a click here and a sitemeter there, that parent can find their way back here and then it's with the disapproval and the grumpies. I don't like disapproval.

So, my atheism is a semi-secret. The thing is, though, that when I was a Christian, I shouted it from the rafters. It was everything to me. This Atheism? Yeah, I don't really care. It does not, on any level, define who I am, and I couldn't care less if you never knew that about me. There-in lies the difference.

I could leave it at that; that being 'I don't want to rock anyone's boat', but it's more than that. It's something deep at the core of who I am, and it's fighting this thing. See, when I was little, and life wasn't always so grand*, I always leaned on God. Yes, I was a Christian. Sorta. I was more religious than you, I promise. I ate, slept, breathed God and Jesus and the Christian way. I took every scripture at face value (there is no way I could ever count the amount of times I have read the bible cover to cover. It's at least 16, quite possibly double or triple that) and lived it to the utmost. So, when things got tough, I put my faith in the lord almighty and the fact that he would never give me more than I could bear. I believed that and it brought me a tremendous amount of comfort.
The lord watches over you, the lord is your shade at your right
hand; The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The lord will keep you from all harm, he will watch over your
life; the lord will watch over your coming and going both now and
forevermore.
I remember sitting in my bedroom, looking out my window, and talking to god. I remember telling him that I must be the strongest child in the world, because sheesh he sure sending a whole bunch of tests my way. I remembered Job. I remembered Lot. I remembered all the people in the bible who showed such tremendous strength during adversity and I tried to be like them. But I knew I could do it because god wouldn't let it happen if I couldn't, and there must be a bigger plan for me and a reason I was where I was.

And then one day I woke up. I realized that yes, perhaps I was the strongest child the world had ever known, but that this wasn't something happening because god let it happen. This was happening because of a chemical imbalance in my mothers' brain brought on by systemic childhood abuse, bad genes, mosquito trucks in the 1950's and my grandfather's super great idea to shut up his kids by cracking open thermometers and letting them play with the mercury. I realized this all a bit after I had hit the more-than-I-could-bear point, and I had a complete, total breakdown, right then and there. I had a crisis of faith. I topped that with an honest realization of the absolute horrors my brother and I endured. The cherry on the top was, of course, the complete abandonment by the very church I had been raised in, the admission by its leaders that, "Yeah, we knew what was going on, but who were we to stop it?"

Um, you were adults. In a position of authority. Over me and my mother. And you were all I had.

At least I wasn't an alter boy.

Anyway, that faith in the support of god, the assurance that I could handle anything thrown my way, that was the first thing to go. The rest followed shortly thereafter. I am not bitter about it, the way some atheists can be; in fact, my sons both have a strong faith in them that has evolved all on its own and is backed with an expansive knowledge of various religions (mom dabbles in theology, when she's not busy blogging), and I encourage and promote that. They know dad and I don't share their beliefs, and they couldn't care less. And I applaud that even more.

But as an adult, and an adult who has chosen the path less traveled in her life, I hit a lot of bumps along the way. Sometimes, these bumps are big. Sometimes they make me grind my teeth all the way down and cry more than I'd like to admit. And I find, in these times of hardship, that I miss that feeling that somehow, it's all going to be ok. I miss the comfort of that, because I know that sometimes it just doesn't all work out ok and sometimes really shitty things happen and really, super hard choices have to be made. And though I am luckier than many people in the world, with a great support structure and not a terrible head on my shoulders, none of us are omnipotent, are we? None of us can snap our fingers and make it all stop. I guess I'm really just afraid of admitting that I let the hope of that go.

*Yes, that would be a gross understatement.

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Just try to crack this code....

Today, I asked the baby what she wanted for breakfast. Yes, this was my first mistake. The day is young; I assure you, there will be more. Her answer, though...oh, her answer.

"Momma, I wan crack!"

(5 points to the first person who correctly guesses what crack is)

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Nip Tuck

Chris, today, was talking about circumcisions. He was in no way asking for any advice, and so naturally, like a good e-friend and loyal reader, I am totally going to give him some.

*ahem*

I don't agree with circumcision. I don't agree with it because both of my sons are circumcised.

There comes a point in your pregnancy, when you know it's a boy, when you and your spouse have the talk about this. Our talk went like this:

Him: What do you think about this circumcision thing?

Me: I don't know...what do you think?

Him: Well, I'd kind of like to not explain why mine looks different than his.

Me: Well, last time I checked, I didn't have one of those, so I'll leave this up to you. But, if you do it, I want NO PART of it.

Him: Cool.

And that was it. 1of3 was born, and dad went with matching accessories. I really had no part of it; I wasn't in the room when they did it and I skipped the next few diaper changes. Because, yuck. And ouch. Youch.

And then, when 2of3 was born, it wasn't really a choice at all, was it?

Here's what they don't tell you about circumcisions, or at least what they do tell you but you absolutely cannot grasp until you're dealing with it. Sometimes, sometimes the skin grows back a little. Sometimes, even if you Vaseline the crap out of it and do the alcohol swabs religiously like they tell you to, sometimes nature fights you and fights you hard and you are left, all alone, at 3 in the morning, to have to roll back that skin that has totally ignored your good intentions and healed itself right back to the tip of that thingy you were trying to trim it from. You have to roll it back, which honestly just means ripping it away from where it wants to be. You have no choice at this point...it HAS to be done. And as much as it sucks for you, what with the bleeding and the oozing and stuff, it sucks that much more for your child who has just gone through a rather strenuous move and really just wants to sleep.

There are other things they don't tell you. They don't tell you that if you ask for a circumcision, they will do it, and they will do it even if your little man is indeed a little man. They will do it even though that thingy isn't sticking out far enough for them to get a decent hold of, and you will have to suffer through the cleaning and the crying and all the headaches, and when it's all over and you man has grown a little, you will not be able to tell they did it at all. They will do this because they will do anything you're willing to pay them to do. It will not bother you right away, but when the kid's 3 or so, you're going to be mighty annoyed at the whole uncircumcised-though-totally-circumcised deal.

There is another thing they don't tell you. They don't tell you that sometimes they won't finish it. They don't tell you that they do the bottom skin first, and then check for things, and then do the top. They don't tell you that if they get half way in and the check doesn't go well, that you are left with a half-circumcised boy.

On the off-chance that your son has a crooked urethra, they will do surgery to fix it, about when the child is one. They will need skin to graft after the surgery, and that foreskin is prime graft fodder. So, when they circumcise a boy, they cut off the top of the skin, do a quick check of the urethra, and then get the bottom half. Unless the urethra is not straight, at which point they stop. A year later, you go to the doctor to schedule the surgery to fix the urethra, and thereby remove the remaining flap of skin, only to find out that in the past year that urethra has totally straightened itself right out.

You now have three options:
  1. Schedule a cosmetic, elective surgery that no insurance in the galaxy will pay for, because after your hospital stay for the birth, circumcision is considered major surgery involving general anesthesia and stuff while he's still young enough to totally forget it.
  2. Deal with it until he's a little older, when maybe he'll just have fuzzy memories of the whole thing in his adult life, until you can explain what the deal is and trust that he can get a local anesthetic and not mess with it after.
  3. Ignore it and pray like crazy that he never has to change in a locker room, and perhaps start a savings account for the therapy bills you'll have to pay when he realizes what you've done to him*.

We went with option 3. We really meant to go with 2, but by the time it came to deal with it, well, he was kind of fond of his little weiner and we didn't have the heart to tell him it was different. And besides, there are advantages to having only your bottom foreskin. It makes a lovely hiding spot for small rocks and marbles; you can fill it with water and then toddle over to that new baby your parents just brought home and dump the water all over his weird, bald head. I don't really ever want to know if there are any other perks.

What this is going to come down to is that one day, he's going to figure this out. One day, he's going to have to make a choice about this. I imagine that your feelings about that part of your body, as a man, are kind of pivotal to your image of yourself, and that is going to get called into question someday for my son. And all of this will happen because of an unnecessary, silly, traditional nip tuck. I know it's unnecessary because, as you read up there, my other son had it done but it really wasn't done, you know? I had to care for a circumcision, but then I had to care for it, and teach him to care for it, as though it had never happened. And I had to teach my oldest son that same care, just for one half.

So, yes, both of my sons were circumcised. And I regret those two decisions more than almost any other I've made with them. But hell, it makes for good, embarrassing stories later. And Chris, I hope this helps and I also hope you don't mind that I left your comment on my blog. That would've been a mighty long comment.

*Or when he realizes that you've told the entire world about it, via the internet. Sorry, 1of3.

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November 19, 2007

Social Studies. Maybe Geography, too.

I love school projects. Really, I heart them. I get all gooey inside when my kids come home with the science fair flier. But this one, this one tops them ALL.

My nephew lives in Albuquerque. and his is a great big kindergartener. He has a project to do this year where he has this journal. It's blank. He has to send it all over the country (and beyond; hooray Canadian cousins) and have entries written in it. The people who write entries need to write about the weather, the food, the clothes you wear, the homes and industries in your area, and whatever your area is known for, or what makes it unique. Then, you forward it off to someone else, somewhere else.

We're the first entry. Then it's going to Gramma in South Africa. After that, who knows?

And I got to thinking about where we could send this to, and then I remembered that I have this little group of e-friends who are all very pretty and cool and swanky and interesting, and I thought that maybe, just maybe, a few of you would like to play along.

So, if you think you could spare ten minutes of a day, and maybe a picture or two in the name of enhancing the world view of 25 5 year olds in New Mexico (and if you want to help me give my nephew the very best journal in his class), please leave a comment to let me know.

(This one is going to involve exchanging personal information, by the way. Please keep that in mind.)

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November 18, 2007

Sunday Secret

I love pimples. In-so-much as the popping of them. When I was a kid, my mom.....er, um....when I was a teenager, I used to get.....oh, er......well, it seems there is no way to have this conversation without crossing that imaginary line I have drawn of decency and decorum. I will just say this:

I have this recurring dream. I have several, most of them dark, actually, but there is this one. It is about a zit. Just a zit, floating in space. And it pops. And, well, have you ever seen a snake poop? It pops a lot like that. It is gross on seven different levels and it is a very long, drawn out dream. Analyze that.

Anyway, I worry about my weird self having those weird dreams, but secretly, when no one's looking and I have spent the better part of the evening with a bottle of whiskey, sometimes I look forward to that dream.

Because I am a sick, twisted person. That's why.

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November 17, 2007

Rate the Hate the One Day a Year We Say Grace edition

Thanksgiving is my very most favorite holiday. Why? Because it doesn't have the pagan roots that Christmas and Easter do, because it's not about anything but love and gratitude, and I am a Pisces. I love love.

The very bestest thing about living in Canada is that we get two Thanksgivings. One is in October, which really makes sense to me. Have Thanksgiving early, giving Halloween the mad props it deserves, and then nothing for, oh, what is it, 7 weeks or so? And then, Christmas. But we are Americans, Americans who loves us some turkey, and so we are having Thanksgiving with all our fellow Americans this Thursday. I am thankful for Thanksgiving.

I thought that this week I'd share with you all my standard, go-to, Thanksgiving menu. Gigi and I were lamenting the other day through email that we are all out of new recipes, and it occurred to me that if we just shared our standards with each other, then we'd each have a whole bunch of new ideas. So I'm sharing mine with you, and this is going to be a long post. I'm going to try to hide it behind a jump, so you can choose to ignore it. If not, sorry. But I hope you find something that sound yummy.

Turkey: Brine your turkey, for the love of God and all that's holy. Go to Home Depot, get a 5 gallon bucket. Fill it with water and salt and ice. Add enough salt that you really can't stand the taste of it. Whatever you do to flavor your turkey, add that to your brine. I do sage and bay leaves and rosemary, and if you do that, wrap them in cheesecloth and throw the bundle into the water. I also do brown sugar, whole cloves and whole allspice. Add the whole spices to the cheesecloth so you're not left fishing little clove pellets out of your turkey later. I do half water, 1/4 cranberry juice, 1/4 apple juice. You can throw some citrus slices in there, too. Whatever you do, the flavor is going to seep into your turkey. Let that soak all night long. You need to add ice to keep it cold, especially if it won't fit into your fridge. If it's under 40 degrees out overnight, cover it and put the bucket out on the porch. That's nature's refrigerator. We're coming back to the turkey later, so hold tight...

Potatoes: This is my die-hard potato recipe. They're not fancy, they're what your grandmommy made. They're to freaking DIE for. You will need:

  • 6 pound bag of Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered (good luck finding a 6 pound bag; I just get the 5 pounder)
  • salt
  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic (NOT the stuff in the jar. Chop it yourself)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 c sour cream
  • fresh ground pepper

Cover the potatoes in cold water in a large pot and bring to an even boil. Add salt and boil until tender (about 30 minutes). Drain the potatoes, return them to the pot and shake them over the heat for about one minute to remove the surface moisture.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and cook it on moderate heat until it's fragrant but not brown (maybe 4 minutes). Add the cream to the pan and bring it to a simmer. Keep that warm while you mash the potatoes in a large bowl. Blend in your garlic cream, the Parmesan and the sour cream. Season it with salt and pepper to your tastes.

The thing with potatoes is they need a bit of time and mess to make, and you need them to stay hot, so most people do them last. I do them first. I do them at 6 in the morning, clean up after, throw them in the crock pot on low and forget about them all day until it's dinner-time. I highly recommend it.

Veggies: Josh and I love love love green beans. I make these every stinking year and they never get old. You will need:

  • 1 pound of thinly sliced shallots (...or leeks. I use leeks. I like leeks. They're biblical and shit)
  • 1/3 cup plus 3 tbsp plain old flour
  • oil for frying
  • salt
  • 2 1/2 pounds green beans. This is great for child-participation. Let your kids trim the beans. They'll love it.
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (I never seem to have paprika on hand, and I've never missed it in this)
  • pinch of cayanne pepper
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thinly sliced (one time I used the whole mushroom, not just the caps, and no one had a trip or went to the hospital, so I'm guessing this part is optional. Oh, and you should be able to get these mushrooms anywhere. Just ask the produce dude.)
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche (it's in the fancy pants cheese aisle. Secret? If you can't find it, use Cool Whip. It totally works.)
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice. I promise, I promise, you want to squeeze out a lemon for this one. Don't go with the pre-bottled stuff. I promise.

Toss the sliced shallots/leeks with 1/3 of the flour, shake off the extra flour, and fry them in batches in a deep pan with 1 inch of hot oil over moderate heat. Salt them after and set them aside. You can do this the night before and stick them in a tupperware. Just recrisp them for a few minutes in a 350 degree stove right before you use them.

Boil the beans in a large pot of salted water for about 5 minutes, until they're bright green and just tender. Drain them and then run them under cold water to refresh them and stop them from cooking any further. Pat them dry and set them aside, too.

Melt the butter in a large skillet, cast-iron if you've got one, which I don't, and add the medium onion. Cook on low for about 5 minutes until it's softened. Add the paprika, cayanne and a large pinch of pepper and cook while stirring for about a minute. Then add the mushrooms, cover them and let that cook, still on low, for about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook for about 5 minutes more, until they've browned a bit. Stir in the 3 remaining tbsp flour and slowly stir in the stock until smooth. If you're doing this ahead, stop here. The rest has to be all done together, at the very end of cooking.

Let that simmer (or bring it back up to a simmer if you're coming back to it) for about 5 more minutes, and then add the creme fraiche, lemon juice and beans. The thing with dairy and lemon is that if it doesn't boil, it won't curdle, but if it DOES boil, you're screwed. Don't let it get hotter than a gentle simmer. Cover everything, watch the heat, and let it all cook together for 5 minutes. Season it with salt and pepper to taste and then transfer it to a baking dish.

Cover the dish with foil and bake it at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with the shallots/leeks, and serve.

Stuffing: Will someone tell me, please, why they call it dressing? I can't figure it out. Anyway, I use Stove Top. I make the stove top, press it into a baking pan, brush it with butter and bake it for 20 minutes. What do you think I am, Super Woman?

Rolls/bread: This is one of those things I do because I don't do it at all. My kids like to help cook, and there is little margin for error in my Thanksgiving, so I give them the bread department. You can make your own dough, or you can buy frozen bread dough at the store. Guess which one I do? You let the kiddies roll the (defrosted) dough into little balls, little balls, half-dollar (or Looney, if you're Canadian) sized balls. Then you let the kiddies melt 8 tbsp of butter into a pan and in a small bowl let them mix

  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp finely chopped thyme
  • 1 tsp finely chopped rosemary

Let the kids dip the dough balls into the butter, then into the herbs, and then put the dough into a muffin pan. Each muffin cup should get three dough balls in it. (You're making little bread clovers.) You can cover that and let it sit overnight in the fridge, or you can cover it loosely the day of and let it sit in a warm spot until the dough has risen to about the tops of the cups. Bake the dough for about 15 minutes on 425 until the whole thing smells perfect. And then tell your children what good chefs they are.

Cranberries: My very favorite part about this holiday. I loves them. I do this recipe, and I serve it with corn chips. This makes a perfect appetizer.

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup fresh oj
  • 1/4 cup julienned fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 1 medium minced shallot
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 12 oz bags cranberries
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp mustard seeds

Combine sugar, vinegar, oj, ginger, zest, shallots, cinnamon, and salt. Boil on high until sugar dissolves and thickens slightly (@7 min). Add cranberries and boil until they burst (@10 min). Remove from heat.

Heat oil in small skillet. Add mustard seeds and cook on moderate heat until toasted (@ 1 1/2 min). Stir seeds and oil into chutney and let cool. Remove cinnamon stick. Serve at room temperature or cooled.

Now, back to the Turkey. It's time to cook it. Take it out of the brine, rinse it with cool water, pat it dry and remove whatever stray chunks have found their way into it overnight. You've just made a whole mess of side-dishes, and you have some leftovers. Take those leftover herbs, spices, oranges, lemons, limes, mushrooms, leeks, garlic cloves and onions and shove them in the cavity of that turkey. This is going to tie your whole meal together. Tie up that turkey up and cook it however you think a turkey should be cooked. Cooking turkey isn't so different from worshipping or voting; everyone does it differently and no one wants to be told the right way. Because, just maybe, there is no right way. Except that I will tell you this: if you have brined your turkey, there is absolutely no need at all to baste it. Every time you open that door, you are changing the temperature in the oven. You don't want to change the temperature of your oven. Get a digital thermometer and don't open the stove. I cover mine in foil and take the foil off for the last 30 minutes, crank up the heat and brown it. I have tried doing that first, because they say it sears the turkey a bit and helps keep the juices in, but I think they are liars.

Also: I usually do a salad of field greens, chopped cucumbers, sugared almonds, dried cranberries and crumbled Chevre cheese topped with this vinaigrette.

And that's about it for dinner. Happy holidays to you all!

Update: Grrr. I forgot stuff. And I'm totally sick of typing, but they're important.

If you really are obsessing about not basting your turkey (like I do), here's what you can do. Take, oh, 2 sticks or so room-temperature butter and throw them in a food processor. Add a bunch of chopped, fresh sage and some honey. Cream that all together. Right before you stuff the turkey (if you stuff it), gently lift the skin from the turkey with your hands and rub your sweet sage butter on the body of the turkey, under the skin. Get it all over everything. Press the skin back down. Voila! Self-basting turkey.

Gravy: Duh. Most. Important. Part. I am no gravy master, but mine is always yummy. Here's what I do:

  • After I make the potatoes, first thing in the morning, I fill a medium stock pot with cold water and add all the stuff that came in the gross neck/gizzards/heart bag. I get that boiling and I let it reduce on a slow boil all day long.
  • While the turkey is resting, after it's cooked, I put a stick of butter in a small pan and melt it. I slowly add flour until I have a roux (thick little yellow balls of doughish stuff).
  • When the liquid in the gross neck pot is thick and more than half-way gone, right before we eat, I take out all the gross stuff and chop it all up. Even the meat on the neck. I chop it all up really small and set it aside.
  • In a pan, I add all the drippings from the turkey, which will need to be strained if you stuffed it with anything, and then since I don't own a gravy separator, I wasted countless minutes trying to skim all the fat off. At some point I give up and resign myself to fatty gravy.
  • To the drippings, I add all the chopped up gross bits. And then I add enough of the broth from boiling the gross bits to make the right quantity of gravy. If you need more liquid, add plain old chicken broth.
  • To that, I start adding the roux. Add it slowly, whisk it in well, making sure that you don't add too much. You can add more, but you can't take it out.
  • I keep sticking my finger in it, tasting it, adding a little salt or a little pepper or a little more roux. At some point, I have gravy. Good gravy. Biscuit gravy. Gravy gravy gravy.
And that, friends, is really it. I hope. My fingers are stuttering.

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November 16, 2007

Flash cards are the Devil

Part one:

I don't believe in flash cards*. Hell, I don't believe in forcing any sort of quote education unquote down my kids' throats before they are old enough to pee on their own. This sounds like a lazy parent excuse, but rest assured; my kids are smarter than I am. They are smarter than most people I know are. It's true.

I don't believe in flash cards because flash cards are good for one thing only:Maybe someday I'll have the stones to show you the other half-ton of crap that sits on my floor all day long.

I have found, in my decade of fumbling through this parenting gig, that flash cards waste your time and annoy the pig kid. I think that kids learn better if what you're teaching them is a tangible thing, something real. You know, something they care about.

Take colors, for example. Yes, you could hold up cards with pink and red and blue boxes on them, and say pink and red and blue 5,000 times every day if you really must. However, if you want that child to care about what red and pink and blue are, if you want them motivated to learn those things, maybe you should skip the $20 flash card purchase and instead drop $5 on a box of these:They come in pink, red, blue, white and purple. If your kid wants one, your kid will ask for it. And then you can turn it into a teaching moment without them ever knowing it.

I take those popsicles and I dump them all into an ice cube tray. When 3of3 wants one, she'll ask for a "showme*". I'll then grab the tray, put in on the floor, and let her rifle through it. Every time she picks one up, I ask, "Red? Do you want a red?" And, of course, she'll say, "No red", because two-year-olds are pains in the booty who can't ever make up their mind, and then she'll grab another one. "White? Do you want a white?" Eventually, she will choose one. By then, we've gone through every color. After a few days of this, she'll start asking for a pink showme instead of just a showme. After a few more days, she'll start asking for her pink shoes. Because suddenly she knows what pink is. And I didn't have to pick one single flash card up off the floor.

*I DO, however, strongly believe in flash cars for tweens. There is no better way in the history of mankind to learn your times tables. Period. We're talking babies here.

**The bambino calls popsicles showmes. It is a long story that I am saving for another post. Bear with me.

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November 15, 2007

Just an observation...

Can you imagine
the bad fake plastic porn you
could make with this thing?

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November 14, 2007

Too Much Information

Today we're talking about sex again, and thank god it won't be as awkward as last time. I should mention that I had more visits that day, by far, than I have ever had ever in almost four years of blogging. Which means you are all dirty whores. Which means I love you all that much more.

The other day I had to go to the store to get, well, err, girl stuff. That time of the month stuff. This is not a small trip for me. This is a basket full of stuff. My uterus runs on overdrive. That night, I was telling daddio about how nervous I was while I was buying all that stuff, and how thrilled I was that the boys didn't ask me (again) what it was all for. I have already had that conversation with them, several times. 1of3 watched his sister be born, so he gets the whole 'bloody mess' part of every girls world. And, heck, I got pregnant again when my boys were 5 and 7; I had some 'splainin to do.

My boys are well-versed in the ways of the woman.

Anyway, I was telling dad about the relief that came with the conversation-dodge, and he looked at me and said, "You know, Mr Lady, you know you don't have to tell them everything." I argued that if they ask, I have a responsibility to answer them honestly. He countered with, "But, you DON'T HAVE TO TELL THEM EVERYTHING."

When 1of3 was four, we were driving from Denver to Colorado Springs, and in our hour in the car, he asked me where babies came from. I gave him the 'when a momma and a daddy loves each other very much' schpeal, and he listened, and when I was done he said, "Um, that doesn't sound right." I took a deep breath, and then I told him everything. I didn't tell him the fun bits, but I did lay it all out, biologically at least. You know, 'mommas have these parts, and daddys have these parts, and these things happen to those parts' and you know the rest. When I was all done, he gazed out the car window for a minute and then, quite matter-of-factly, said, "Ok."

And that was that.

When I was pregnant with 3of3, I told them every stage of her development. They looked at baby websites with me. They wanted to know how it all worked, and I told them.

When they were smaller, they both at some point came across what I like to call the Red Tent stash. (Brilliant book, by the way. Read it if you haven't.) They both asked what those little tubes that look like candy were (why on earth someone thought it was a good idea to package tampons in small, brightly-colored wrappers that no child ever can resist, I'll never know). So, I told them. I told them all of it.

Apparently, my husband doesn't think I should tell them all this stuff. No one told him, he said, and he figured it all out in time. He had a mom and three older sisters, though; he was bound to figure it all out eventually.

Here's my thought on the subject: No one every told me anything. Ever. All I knew was that when my period started, that meant I was having sex and that if I could use a tampon, that meant that I had already stuck something else up there. Those were the facts of life I was given. Embarrassing confession: I was 16 before I knew that there was an opening down there other than a urethra. Six. Teen. Of course I got information from the hormonal, sexually abused, drug addict 13 year old at my middle school; she was the only person I knew who was willing to talk to me about it.

Pretty soon, these kids are going to realize that I am A) fallible and B) not cool on any level and C) not who they want to talk to about personal things, like puberty or sex or body odor. I feel like it's my job to get the right information in there now, while they're still willing to listen to me. I feel like it is my responsibility to set an example by answering their questions honestly and as thoroughly as possible and necessary, so that when I ask them for honest, thorough answers, they will remember that I was not embarrassed, or awkward, or nervous about those questions. I want this to be an open conversation in this house. I feel like it's super crazy important that I set myself up as the go-to person, the repository of knowledge about all things teen-aged. Because, honestly, I don't want to be a grandma for a while. I don't want my kids to have kids young, like I did. I want them to have college and travel and experiences.

I want them to own their bodies, and to never feel embarrassment or confusion about what's happening to them. And believe you me, it's starting to happen. And so, I tell them everything. I tell them as they ask and I use the glorious power of the internet for all those things I know they aren't ever going to ask about. 1of3 got an email in his inbox a few weeks ago from his gross old mother with a link to this website that just said, "Please read this and ask me any questions you have after." I got an email in my inbox a day later that just said, "Thanks, mom. That was good information (yes, he says things like good information)." We talked about it a little over dinner, and I reminded him to let me know as those things happened. He said that he would, or maybe he'd ask his dad or his godfather, too.

So, do I think I'm telling my kids too much? Maybe. Time will tell, really. But I think a nine year old who already knows what's coming, and who already knows three people he can go to for advice, and who already knows those three people will treat him like the man he is becoming, well, that's a good thing. That, I think, is what makes a confident child.

And that is my whole job.

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November 13, 2007

Dear Philadelphia,

I was born into you on the day winter gave way to spring in 1975. I was pulled from my mother, screaming and closer to death than one should be on their day of birth, and spent my first few days with you, in the NICU of one of the top heart hospitals around, which was lucky for me, having a few more holes in my heart than anyone was comfortable with.

I have never had an address with your name on it, or a phone number that started in 215, but you have always felt like home to me. I lived in a small town, in a small state, in a small house that was so close to you I could almost touch you. In five short minutes, I could stand in a foreign land, your land, one with something I'd never heard of....sales tax.

When people fly into your airport from the mid-west, they fly over the hospital I was born at, just across from the Port of Philadelphia. They fly over Trainer, where my grandmother lives to this day. They fly over Chi, and Chi is were my brother lives. My cousins live there, too. At least I think they do.

Every time I make that flight from Denver to Philly, I lose my breath as I come over your port. Amidst the filth and the poverty that has enveloped that little part of the world, trapped in the middle of it, is beauty the likes of which I've never seen.

There's something about you. Maybe it's the way your air is so thick you can feel it, maybe it's the way the sun bounces off the green water into the green trees. Maybe it's the way that something so broken, so ruined and abandoned by man, by time, by industry, can fight so hard to live and thrive. Whatever it is, I never forgot it.

My love for you comes not from the people I knew there, or the times I spent there. It comes from the trees. It comes from the flowers. It comes from the earth. You are beautiful when you're not busy trying to show off for Sylvester Stallone. I never forgot that.

When I was a girl, and my mother couldn't stand me anymore, she'd send me to stay with my friend and her mother, and they lived near the heart of you, in Bucks County. Sometimes I'd stay for a day, sometimes for a month or more. I spent a lot of my time walking in your creeks, sitting in the shade of your trees, and I was always safe. This is where I was safe, with you. I never forgot that.

When I got to be a bit older, I got to spend more time in the darker parts of you, the parts where white girls really shouldn't be, but I always could go. I got to see your seedier side, your underbelly, the part of you that people didn't talk about or care about. That was my favorite part. That was were I learned to love real, good rap, where I learned to braid. And I was never afraid. I never forgot that.

When summer comes to you, the air is full and heavy and wet, the way we northerners imagine it to be down south, the way you don't think it could ever be up north, but it is anyway. I remember being a little girl, laying in front of every fan I could get ahold of late at night, trying not to sweat to absolute death, and I remember being thankful that at least, there with you, far away from those things I was hiding from, swaddled in humidity and dust, I could feel something at all. I will never forget that.

You smell like something I will never be able to describe, and so I won't even try, but sometimes when the seasons are changing and there is a storm coming, sometimes in Denver I can catch the scent of you on the breeze; the scent of leaves and pollen and just a hint of industry and sweat. I hope I don't ever forget that.

I left you for good too many years ago, and I honestly don't think I will ever see you again. I would like for my children to see my home someday, but you never really were my home, were you? You were an illusion, a temporary asylum for me, and I don't have a claim to you. But that doesn't change the fact that I miss you indescribably sometimes. I miss your gardens and your orchards and your forests. I miss your bridges and your culture and Zipperhead and South Street and the Vet and all of you. You were where I came when it all had to stop, and it all did. You gave me flowers and water ice and lightening bugs and shelter from the storm; but most importantly, I got to be a child with you. And I won't ever forget it.

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Tattoo Removal

We have this monkey. It's one of those stuffed animals with extra long arms and velcro hands so a child could wrap it around themselves and wear it/hug it/show it off. We really like to play, 'Who's Got a Monkey on their Back'. (I know that this is a totally inappropriate thing to say to your children, especially given the amount of *aholic* in their gene pool, but when one spends all day, every day, in the company of 3 people who haven't even gone through middle school yet, one must get one's kicks where one can.)

3of3 loves this monkey. Me? It gives the THE SHIVERS. It's bright red and quite probably comes alive at night and kills prostitutes. Anyway, she was up all late again the other night, because my girl wants to rock and roll all night, and she was playing with the monkey. I told her it was time for monkey to go ni-night so she could go ni-night, and she, well, she did this thing. She wrapped the monkey up in the blanket and started rocking it. I asked her if we should get a ba-ba for monkey, too, so they both could have one. She thought we should.

So, baby and monkey sat on the comfy chair (please read that with the proper Spanish Inquisition inflection; it doesn't work without it) and they had ba-bas. She held monkey, gave it mo-mo-wa-wa (water) and rubbed its head. She talked to it in whispers that I couldn't hear. She brushed its weird ass hair off its weird ass forehead and kissed it. She cradled it. She gave it lovin'. She was copying me.

Flashback to 1975-1992: My momma didn't love me. Cliche prison tattoo; summation of my childhood. She really didn't. She kinda hated my guts, actually. I was always terrified of having a daughter and totally fucking her up. I was afraid that I would do the only thing I knew to do with a little girl, and I had no interest in either beating the shit out of a child OR crushing all of her hopes and dreams. So, I vowed to never have a girl. The first time I got pregnant, I was sure it was girl (you'd call the looney bin if I told you why, so I won't) and I didn't keep the baby. I couldn't have a girl, not me. I'd ruin it, just like every woman in my family ruins it with their daughters.

Fast Forward to 2004: I find out I'm playing host to one baby girl. Total. Freakout. Nothing, ever, has scared me that much. I was afraid to be alone with her after she was born. I was afraid to talk to her, to tell her anything, to touch her. (Um, nobody knows that part, by the way. Let's just keep that between us.) I have been sitting here, waiting for 2+ years, waiting to snap, waiting to turn on this kid, waiting for a sign that no matter how much I want it to be different, that I am no different than those women I share a genetic code with and that I can't raise a girl.

Fast Forward to 2007: Guess what? I haven't ruined her. I haven't hurt her, ever. I have done right by this kid, clearly. SHE knows how to be a momma (to a monkey, but it's something). To her, ni-night means kisses and hugs and stories. I never knew those things. That night, with the monkey and the ba-ba, that little girl laser-removed that cheesy tattoo that has sat over my heart for 32 years. Because, you know what? Who gives a shit who my momma loved? I love this kid, and I am better than all those women, and my daughter is lovely and fine and perfect. And she's going to be ok, and so am I.

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November 12, 2007

Sunday Secret

Josh and I were really young when we started having kids. Neither of us had the best in the whole 'parental role model' thing to go on, and so we have winged it. We have guessed, we have messed up, we have just closed our eyes real tight and hoped we don't screw these kids up too badly.

We don't have a lot of friends with kids, and until school started for the boys, we didn't really ever have a basis of comparison for how our kids are turning out. And then, one fine day, a beautiful thing happened.

Someone created SuperNanny.

SuperNanny is one of our dirty little secret things we do late at night when we're sure no one's looking. We watch this show, and every week it teaching us something. It teaches us that we are damned fine parents.

SuperNanny is the one time when we can get really smug and holier-than-thou. We watch, and we talk about what idiots these people are, and how they are making rookie mistakes, and how oh my god we'd never do that or holy crap could you imagine if one of our kids pulled that shit?

Our secret little hour of SuperNanny, when we can get it in, gives us a chance to compliment each other. To discuss our strengths and weaknesses. To hold a mirror up to our parent-selves and admire the reflection. It brings us together in a way that we thought only the Wii could.

This parenting thing is hard, and isolating, and terrifying a lot of the time, and it makes you crazy with worry. No one tells you when you're doing it wrong, because, like religion or politics, wrong parenting is a very subjective sort of thing. At least we have SuperNanny every single week telling us just how right we are.

November 10, 2007

Rate the Hate the Violation of Child Labor Laws edition

We have this show here called 'Surprise! It's Edible! Incredible!' It's like Iron Chef for kids. The kids are paired off in teams and have to cook a meal that is healthy and (probably) yummy. My kids love this show.

The other week, the kids had to cook a salmon dinner with a tropical salsa, and after we watched the show, 1of3 asked if he could make that for dinner sometime. Of course I said yes. Are you kidding me? Someone ELSE cook for a change? That's no kind of question at all.

Off to the store we went, and he picked out all of his own ingredients, and I tried to talk him into paying, too. He wasn't having that at all. And back home we went to cook a feast.

So, kids, you grill or bake or whatever you do to your salmon, until it's just done. Meanwhile, you chop one red onion...and some cilantro. Make sure you have the proper equipment on hand for chopping onions.That's thinking on your feet, kid. Then you cut a papaya and a mango (or an apple if your mango, though lovely on the outside, looked quite questionable on the inside) into bite-sized chucks.Mix the onion and cilantro with the fruit, add a dash each of chipotle pepper, hot sauce, black pepper and coarse salt. Squeeze the juice of one lime into the salsa and mix well. Steam a little rice and toss some greens in a balsamic vinaigrette. Place the salmon on top of a small bed of greens, top it with the salsa and throw a little rice on the side. Make sure it looks gorgeous for your dear old mom. Drop your first plate all over the floor, because seriously, if your mom's going to take the night off from cooking, she at least could sweep or something.Get all the food out to your family and see what they think....One "Eh". Three "yum!" The yums have it!

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A question. To the Universe.

Last time I checked, I
was still a girl. So why do
I have this moustache?

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November 09, 2007

How a comment on a blog changed my life

On April 24th, 2006, I put up a little post that simply said, "I'm moving to Canada". On April 28th, a young man from New York City left a comment. It wasn't actually directed at me; it was a response to a comment left by David. The thing is, he'd never left a comment before and I didn't even know he was reading this thing to begin with.

And so began the love affair between me and The Retropolitan.

Has it only been 1 1/2 years? It feels like forever.

I have met a lot of amazing people through this blog; David, Andy, Chris, Diane & Darla, to name a few. I have had the pleasure of actually real-life meeting a few of you, but I know that the odds are I'm never going to sit in a room with The Retropolitan. I doubt I'll ever know how he holds a fork or where he puts his napkin, but it really doesn't matter. Because I think I already know those things.

Dear Retro, thank you for leaving that comment that day. Thank you for the daily emails, the e-hugs, the random bits of insanity. Thank you for Wilco, and Sarah, and Genna, and Batman. Thank you for sharing bits of your life with me, things that there are no good reason to have shared. I've never actually looked you in the eye, or seen your eye at all for that matter, but when I talk to you, it's like you're right there in the room. I can't explain it, but I really feel like I know you somehow. You aren't just a person on the other end of and internet connection, you are someone that I know and that I love and that matters to me.

I know a lot of people, and I have a lot of relationships, but I can count on my hands how many of those people really, really get to me, how many I would jump in front of a train for. I have this thick wall I keep around me, and I use that to very carefully keep most of the people in my life at a distance, because I, well, I have some attachment issues that I'm not getting into right now. But with you, I never worried. I knew from day one that you were in, and you were in for life. I can't explain it, and I don't want to.

You were supposed to leave that comment all those years ago; I was supposed to meet you. You have enriched my life in some small way every day since I've known you. You made that whole debacle last year a lot easier, just by being around. And you let me write on your blog for a few months. I thought only Andy was crazy enough to do that.

I could ramble on and on, but I'm sure you have some birthday drinks to attend to, so I'll wrap it up. I love you and I am so very thankful for having you in my life. And as REO Speedwagon said so elegantly, I'm going to keep on loving you. Because it's the only thing I want to do.

Happy birthday my friend. Thanks for being born.

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And I don't much want to anyway



Happy birthday, darling. More to come later.

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November 08, 2007

There's a first time for everything

Today I did something I ain't nevah done before. I skipped one of my kids school things.

1of3 joined the choir at school when he found out they didn't offer band until 7th grade (which is totally obnoxious; I mean, the kid was 1st chair in 2nd grade. Come off it, people. He can play.) He's digging it so far, and today they had a Remembrance day celebration at school. The choir performed.

This was a school performance, and no flyers came home about it or anything, and I only knew about it because he told me about it, and the secretary at the school didn't even know what time the choir was performing when I called today to find out about it.

I'm sure I would have been the only parent there if I did go. The thing is, though, that he asked to me come and was excited for me to be there, and the fact that I was really super tired this morning and am working on one of my infamous migraines today and that I couldn't even make it to the shower before 9:30 this morning are all just excuses; I just didn't feel like going. And so I didn't.

I shuffle them around every day to swimming or to hockey or to the grocery store or the book store or wherever it is they have to be, and today, well, I just said Screw It. I said I wanted to watch Lost. In my sweatpants. Without any makeup on. Without brushing my hair. You'd think this would be totally liberating.

It is not totally liberating. I feel absolutely horrible about it.

Today, I decided to take an hour all to myself to do absolutely nothing, and I have absolutely nothing to show for it. The house is still a mess and my hair is still not brushed and I don't have even one poorly lit, slightly out of focus picture of my kid at his very first choir concert.

And even though he says he doesn't care, and that it's no big deal at all that I missed it, I can't help but think that somewhere, deep down, he learned today that mom doesn't always come through like she says she will, and that today I disappointed him.

But that first season of Lost....how have I gone this long without it?

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November 07, 2007

Miracle Grow is not a dietary suppliment

The kids all started swimming lessons last week. It's great, they love it, and that is totally not the point of this post.

We were waiting for lessons to begin, and I was taking some pictures of the baby. And an awful, terrible thing happened. Maybe it had to do with the 'taking of a class', maybe I'm just feeding her too much, but that kid went and grew up while I was taking pictures of her. I didn't even notice until I went back and looked at them, later.

See for yourself.What the hell? We had a DEAL. She was supposed to stay the BABY. That is so not a baby.

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Hey, you asked for it

I can't believe I'm actually doing this. I have been putting off this post for years. But I had to go and add the stupid category into the stupid poll and now I have to write this stupid post.

Sex. We're going to talk about sex. I'm totally fine talking about sex normally; I've had THE TALK with both boys, my doctor and I have no secrets, and if I'm in a room with a little too much football talk, I have no problem in the world saying "Vagina", not too but almost too loud for comfort. That word hushes a crowd, let me tell you.

See? There? Totally dodging the subject.

Have your kids ever walked in on you? If they haven't, they're gonna. Soon, probably. I walked in on my dad once, when I was 18. So. Not. Cool.

Grrr, I'm off topic again.

Ok, I'm just going to come out and say it. One day, 1of3 walked in on mommy and daddy at a rather inconvenient time for walking in on mommy and daddy. He wasn't older than 1 year; he was still 1of1 at the time. So, he walked in, and god knows how long he stood there before he said, "Momma? Daddy? Momma! DADDY!!!" And then he ran over, and then he started punching his daddy.

Good for him, taking care of his mom like that.

While dad was trying to stop the beating, 1of3 kept saying, "Daddy, what doing MOMMA?" Daddy's reply, and this is where it pays to think on your feet, was, "Daddy's bouncing on momma! Do YOU want to bounce on momma, too?"

Hell yes he did. Bouncin's what 1of3's do best. And so began the happiest fun time ever, Operation Permission to Jump on Momma. Momma almost ended up with a collapsed lung and a broken nose, but momma has one un-scarred-for-life baby boy.

So when they walk in on you, and they will, I certainly hope you remember this little parenting tip. And otherwise, I seriously hope that you forget that I discussed my sex life in any small way with you.

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