Thursday, May 30, 2013

Birthday Wishes

Okay, okay, if I’m being honest, all I really wish for in life is for my babies to lead long, happy, healthy lives and for me to be around long enough to experience that.  It’s my only prayer, every night.


But!  It’s my birthday, and again with the honesty, I “wish” for a whole lot more that doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of happening.  Here are my wishes:


1.  I wish my morning skin were my all-day skin.


Disregarding pillow creases and drool tracks, my face is unlined, even-toned, and mostly blemish-free first thing in the morning.  By the evening, wrinkles and furrows make me look ten years older, my forehead is shiny, and I have six new pimples.


2.  I wish my period boobs were my everyday boobs.


Or that my newly-pregnant boobs were my everyday boobs.  Those times are good to my cleavage.  I should probably take this desire to mean that it’s time to invest in some new bras with better support.


3.  I wish my morning body were my all-day body.


God, why don’t I just go on morning dates with my husband?  I should always go dancing in the morning, too (not that I often go dancing).  And make sure that all photos taken of me are done so in the morning.  The day is just backward for me.  The later it gets, the less I am able to suck in my spare tire.


4.  I wish waxing were forever.


Seriously, I don’t ever want to wax my upper lip again.


5.  I wish vacuuming were forever.


Or at least that the results of vacuuming lasted longer than one day.


6.  I wish that one grocery store trip would last the entire week.


I try to make a comprehensive list and meal-plan, but no matter what I plan, I will make a minimum of four trips to a grocery store each week.  It will probably be more now, since Costco and Fred Meyer are on the other side of the bridge, and I refuse to even attempt to drive Burlington Boulevard.


7.  I wish I weren’t so tired all the time.


Yeah, I’m getting old.  And it’s all downhill from here.


Happy birthday to me!


P.S. Do you know what I didn’t wish for but got anyway?  My kid’s bloody nose dripping all over the carpet first thing this morning.  So now I have carpet cleaning to look forward to this afternoon.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Back In Time

What a great country we have, that there is, essentially, a theme park for history.  Because that’s what Colonial Williamsburg is, a theme park.  The people who work there all dress in costume.  Those who are playing a part do not deviate from that role.  Street scenes, fife and drum bands, musket fire, horse-drawn carriages – you can call it “living history” or you can just call it awesome. 


We kept noting, over and over, how amazing it was that every employee appeared to be genuinely enthusiastic about history and his or her role, from the 20-something guy in the slaves’ quarters on the plantation to the female gunsmith (who apprenticed for seven years to become a master gunsmith – shit is for real ‘round there!).  People talked at length with us about the historical accuracies and inaccuracies of the park, the roles of various people in different ages, and any number of other things.  I can hardly wait till the kids are old enough to visit with us.



Colonial baseball, I guess.  See those clouds back there?  We dodged rain and thunderstorms nearly the whole trip.  The streets were like rivers, but it was never cold.



“What do you call it… when you punish criminals…in days of yore…”  You mean in the stocks or a pillory?”  “Yes, exactly!”  “It’s a freaking hammer!”



The Capitol building, one of the more boring tours at Colonial Williamsburg, but that’s likely because it doesn’t have anything happening in it.  A reenactment of the House of Burgesses or something would have been neat, but instead it was a dry lecture.  We followed it with a tour of the jail, though, which was pretty neat.



This guy, who still isn’t bored with me.


You know what we didn’t do?  Take the camera.  Oh, we took it on the trip, we just managed to leave it in the condo all but one day of the entire week.  So I have a smattering of iPhone photos that add up to a short catalogue of what was a really good trip.  We didn’t do anything crazy.  We didn’t drink to excess or ride roller coasters or hike up a mountain or get lost in DC or sail the Chesapeake, but it was such a wonderful, low-key trip.  Brandon (a great friend and Charles’s Godfather) put up with my being a sensitive girl and with Tony’s terrible sense of humor and we just had a great time.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Things That Happened While We Were Away

1.  The interstate bridge collapsed.  We were at the movies, in Williamsburg, Virginia, when it happened.  I had turned my phone to silent to better enjoy the two hours of Iron Man 3. No one ever calls me, anyway.  AND it was a “Movie Tavern” so we were eating and drinking at the movies, which was awesome.  I picked up my phone as the credits were rolling, hoping that I hadn’t missed the good-night call from my boys, when I saw the text from my mom.  “Holy shit!” I exclaimed in the busy theater.  “The I-5 bridge over the Skagit River collapsed and there are people and cars in the water!”  I’m guessing that other movie-goers (besides Tony and Brandon) didn’t much care.  Later, we got to hear television news reporters on the East Coast mispronounce “Skagit.”


2.  My parents went on a cruise with their friends, but thankfully it didn’t end in norovirus or fires or engine failure.  Though I hear that my dad found a new favorite margarita variation.  I imagine this will create some amount of chaos in the future.


3.  My children ate fast food and cookies, brownies for breakfast, crackers and other junk for several days straight.  My brother reports that on Thursday they both wolfed down enormous quantities of broccoli at dinner.  I will continue making healthy meals, since it turns out my kids really do like it better than the alternative.


4.  The dog got a bath at the kennel, but it managed to loosen all of his undercoat, so there is an obvious coating of fur on every surface in our house.  It remains undefeated by daily vacuumings.


5.  My boys bonded.  No, really, they are closer than ever before.  Since we have been home, they have played together, really played together, non-stop.  Running, wrestling, chasing, bikes and trikes, toys, hiding, and giggling while burrowing in Charles’s bed.  Maybe because of shared traumatic experiences?  We talked to them every day, but maybe they thought we weren’t coming home?  Whatever the reason, it is so wonderful to see them playing together in an honest-to-goodness exchange, rather than just playing in the same room or antagonizing each other.


6.  I missed my babies.



Friday, May 17, 2013

Mom Support

It’s so great to have friends who get me and who are so generous.  There’s nothing like getting a nice pick-me-up in the mail, and I got several this Mother’s Day:






Yeah, I’m taking those books on the plane.  I’ll be the asshole who’s laughing out loud, snorting my in-flight white wine up my nose, choking on it, repeatedly assuring other passengers that I’m fine, then insisting on reading the funniest passages out loud so they know why I’m laughing so hard.


Peace out for a week, y’all!  Send supportive thoughts to my in-laws and parents.  They’re dealing with my monsters in my house for the week – Loris, there’s Mike’s Hard in the beer fridge, mom, there’s gin in the liquor cabinet.  Good luck!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mental Packing

When preparing for a trip away from your children (including the furry one), it’s important to do plenty of mental packing.  After all, if mom doesn’t worry, the world will end.


1. Make sure to pack plenty of guilt over not being there for your children. 


My youngest is almost two, and as such, his speech is unintelligible at best.  That is, unless you’re me, in which case I can usually disentangle his vocalizations to get him what he needs, be that the Bing Bang Song or a boon (fork) or bayee (bed).  I spend a lot of time with the kid, so I can understand him.  But my mother-in-law doesn’t, and my mom doesn’t, and now I feel guilty for leaving my child without an interpreter.


Charles cries when I leave the house for an hour-long meeting.  I feel guilty that I won’t be there for him and Jamie when they need me.  They won’t understand.  Is a week so long that they will think I’m never coming back?  Will they feel abandoned?


The dog is going to the kennel for almost a week.  Will he feel abandoned?  Will he get into trouble?  Will he be sad and lonely?


What kind of terrible person am I for doing this to my kids and dog?  What kind of terrible person am I for doing this to my parents and in-laws?  Is it worth the week away, the week of full nights of sleep, the meals ordered to please my palette and not my children’s?  Too late, the tickets are purchased.


2. Pack plenty of stress over your wardrobe.


We will be gone from home for eight days and nights.  I will probably run during that time away, maybe use the condo’s fitness center.  But I won’t be doing laundry.  So should I pack six changes of exercise clothing and then be annoyed at myself that I only ran twice, or two changes of clothes and then wish I had packed six because I love working out there so much?


Should I take one pair of jeans or two?  I don’t own any shorts, so should I buy some or just wear skirts and dresses?  Oh, jeez, there are supposed to be thunderstorms there next week, maybe I need my rain jacket.


And what about accessories?  Heels for eating out?  Walking shoes for a hike?  Flats and sandals?  I won’t be carrying a diaper bag, so should I pack two purses, a black and a brown, or more?  One sun hat or two?  Jewelry?  Makeup?


3. Pack up some worry over daily agendas and activities.


The boys certainly won’t schedule what we do or see, so it’s up to me.  Should I schedule which days we visit Colonial Williamsburg and which day we drive to DC?  Should I choose the restaurants ahead of time or wait until we get there?  How much lounging are my friend and husband going to want to do vs. active tourism?  Who will be the DD when we go out?  Should we stop and buy a bunch of food for making breakfast and potentially dinner and assuredly drinking before we get to the condo, or should we get checked in and then hunt down a grocery store?


4. Panic about chores/responsibilities still undone 1.5 days before departure.


The kids’ library books need to go back.  The dog has a vet appointment today.  Laundry needs to be caught up.  I need to stock the fridge for the kids and their (wonderful, seriously, thank you so much) grandparents for next week.  The housekeeper comes on Tuesday, so I need to write a check and make sure things are mostly picked up before then.  Bills should be paid ahead.  Haircut tomorrow.  Maybe I’ll stop and try on some shorts after my haircut.  I should pack snacks for the drive to the airport and also the plane.  I need to bring my water bottle, but empty, so I can fill it at the airport.  I should probably have some cash with me.  Do I need to tell the credit card company that we’re flying cross-country?  Do they even care about that anymore?  We haven’t packed yet, we must pack.




I’m pretty sure there’s a “Motherhood Guarantee” somewhere that states if we worry about all these things ahead of time, then everything will be okay.  Right?  Right.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Female Stuff and FEEEEELINGS.

Today is Headache Day, which unhappily coincides with I Finished All Four Chocolates In My Mother’s Day Chocolate Box From Church Day (that is not enough chocolate, not at all), Feel Inadequate and Unworthy Day, and Female Stuff Day.  So you could say that it is a Good (Terrible) Day.


It is fortunate for my family, and especially my husband, that I have book club tonight.  At book club, I can rage against the book that I didn’t much enjoy, eat dessert, and commiserate with girlfriends, one of whom is in the early stages of pregnancy and is probably having a worse day than I am, if her morning sickness is anything like mine was.  And if it isn’t like mine was, I sincerely hope she pretends that it is, because the last thing you want to to hear any woman say is “Oh, I feel great!  Pregnancy is the BEST!”  Because either no one believes you or they do, in which case they feel horrible about themselves and their own pregnancy, which they then think was imperfect.  This is why I like to follow up the stories of Charles’s and Jamie’s amazing (easy! ish! comparatively!) births with anecdotes about living with world’s most heinous episiotomy.  Bottom line, though, is that the book club girls will understand in a way that my husband does not, regardless of the fact that he has witnessed hormonal me for nearly a decade.


It’s also fortunate for Tony because female stuff now = no female stuff next week (calling it “female stuff” is easier than calling it “rage-y, painful, bloated menstrual week”), which means we can have vacation sex (aaaaand, this is the point my dad stops reading.  Hi, dad!  Bye, dad!), which we all know is better than normal sex.  Mostly because I anticipate being well-rested.


I wonder, sometimes, how many people feel like I do.  I wonder how many of these confident, composed, hard-working, sacrificing mothers I know stand in front of the mirror like I do at least once a month and wonder why anyone would ever want to love them.  Because the FaceBook posts never say, “I’m having a menstrual migraine right now and I feel bloated and totally worthless.”  Nor do they say, “Thank God it’s sunny because when it rains and I’m hormonal, I feel even worse about myself.”  No one at my fitness classes knows that the monologue going through my head when I sprint while pushing a double-stroller goes something like, “None of the other moms work this hard, and all of them look great.  Why do you have to work so hard and you only ever look marginal?  You will never succeed.”  Shit, I don’t even know what success looks like anymore.  Maybe I never did.  Is it being thin?  Weighing less?  (Full disclosure: I weigh 146.5 lbs, 2.5 lbs more than I did three months ago and at least 15 lbs more than I did when I got married, 7 lbs more than I did when I got pregnant with Charles and with Jamie.  I’m 5’ 5”, so if you’ve never met me, you could generously say that I’m “curvy.”)  Being a better mom?  How do you even measure that?  Making more money? 


What would make me feel better about myself, especially on these days when the hormones make it impossible to drown out the voice in my head that hates me so much?


I’m going shoe shopping.  At least my feet aren’t bloated.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

From the C & J Files

Four-Year-Old Logic:


“Mommy, I have a fever, but I’m not sick anymore.”

“Mommy?  Mom! I said, I’m still sick, I have a fever.”

“Mommy, I don’t like school and I have a cough and a fever.”

“Mommy, can I play on your phone or watch a little bit of a movie?”

“No, Charles, you’re fine, you’re going to school.”

“But Mo-ooom!  I’m still sick.  Can I have a video?”

“I already said ‘no,’ now put on your shoes.”
”But Mom, I said a video.  That’s different than a movie.”



Career Aspirations:


“Mommy, when I grow bigger, I’m going to be Good Spider-Man.  But when Uncle Leland grows bigger, he’s going to be Bad Spider-Man.”

“Well, I’ll tell him to watch out for that, I guess.”



Musical Selection:


“Ah!  Beeen-Bayne!” (Points to stereo)

“Ah!  Beeen-Bayne!” (Points more emphatically)

“Ah!  Beeen-Bayne!” (Begins to wail)

“Ah!  Beeen-Baaaaayne!” (Is now dramatically whining and flailing)

(Tony proceeds to take screaming toddler upstairs)

“Wait!  Jamie, do you want ‘Bing Bang’ song?”

“Aaaahhh.  Beeen-Bayne!”  (All smiles)



Whom to Love


“Mommy!  Don’t call me ‘sweetheart!’”

“But you are my sweetheart!  And so is Jamie, and so is Daddy!”

“Daddy can’t be your sweetheart.”

“Why ever not?”

“Because he plays basketball in the morning.”





“Mommy, what’s for dinner?”

“Chicken with rice and broccoli.”

“Oh!  I love that dinner!”




“Enchilada casserole.”

“Mommy, I don’t like that dinner.”

“Charles, you love that dinner.  There’s nothing in there you don’t like.  We had it last month and you ate all of it.”

“Oh.  Jamie, I love this dinner!  When I was little I ate all of this dinner so you should eat all of it, too.”

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother’s Day

Yesterday, my sweet four-year-old ran into my room while I was getting dressed and presented me with this:


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There’s nothing quite like receiving gifts while you’re naked.


I love it, and I’m so glad that Tony has finally come around to understanding that what I want on Mother’s Day (and my birthday, and Christmas), more than anything, is a gift.  Pretty gifts are excellent.  Thoughtful gifts are great.  Funny gifts are wonderful.  The actual expense is not important.


In addition to the bracelet, I only had to prepare two meals (instead of the usual Sunday three), we got to have a nice little jaunt to Bellingham to visit with friends and eat burgers (and possibly pretend to eat their beautiful girl-children’s chubby cheeks) and shop for books, my dad and brother came to dinner (homemade pizza, which Jamie adorably calls “pee-paa!”), and Tony suffered through watching Pitch Perfect with me.


It was just about the best Mother’s Day ever, but there was one sad note.  This guy got a fever and is home from school today:


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He sure is miserable.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wait Five Minutes

You know that stupid joke, “Don’t like the weather in (city of choice)?  Just wait five minutes!”  Har-har.  Well, how about this: Don’t like your kids’ attitudes/behavior/eating habits/(insert frustrating conduct here)?  Wait five minutes!


A month or so ago, this was my lifeAnd this.  And although EVERY terrible thing about mothering my two children has proven to be temporary (waking at all hours of the night!  Teething!  Potty accidents!), when I’m in the shit, I feel like I’m never going to get out.  I fail to learn the “this, too, shall pass” lesson that my mother repeats to me All. The. Time.  Seriously, stop it mom, I know it’s temporary, but it still sucks right now.


But it did pass.  For the past month-ish, Charles has had a complete attitude adjustment.  Like a switch was flipped, his behavior is now much more reasonable and calm.  He still gets upset, he still cries, but he isn’t kicking and screaming without end.  I haven’t had to walk out the door in anger and frustration in a long time.  I don’t dread the nights that Tony has late softball games and I have to go through the bedtime routine alone. 


Did I do something to affect this change?  No.  This has, I believe, nothing to do with me.  It’s just time.  It’s just the neurons in Charles’s brain developing, his faculties changing.  He’s growing, and it’s hard, and I have to do my best to nurture growth and not strangle him in the process.  Some days, I just have to do my best to survive.


But then, five minutes later, everything has changed.  Jamie is still stubbornly working on two teeth that have been fighting their way through his top gums for a month and he’s on a bit of a hunger strike (I’m reminded that at this age, Charles ate primarily canned ravioli and PBJs), while Charles declared at last night’s meal, “Mommy, I LOVE this dinner!  It’s my favorite dinner!”  You see?  Everything changes.


I had thought that maybe I was gaining weight during the terrible, trying months of the Fucking Fours from stress eating and drinking.  But I continue to gain weight, so maybe now it’s just happy eating and drinking, or relaxed and relieved eating and drinking.  Either way, I have got to stop this madness, or people will wonder if I’m pregnant (I’m not).

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Worth the Traffic to Get There

We are a family that loves a parade.  And our hometown puts on a monstrous one.  120+ entrants, including military, high school and middle school bands (must have been 15 of them), drill teams, horses, clowns, tractors, fire trucks, hot rods, princesses… it’s really just the best.  And it’s all part of a tradition called Loyalty Days, an invention by the US Government in response, according to Wikipedia, to the first Red Scare in 1921.  So it’s a giant middle finger to the former Soviet regime.  Which is worth celebrating, I guess.


Also worth celebrating?  A kiddie parade, blessing of the fleet, and 85+ degree weather all weekend long.



Grandma has toys.  Better toys than can be found anywhere else in the universe.


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Like a funnel!  That’s a great toy.



You’re damn right Lightning McQueen rode a bike in the parade!  Happy as a clam, even though he was wearing a long-sleeved costume.



Blessing the fleet.  The boys went with Tony, who drove the boat, and Grandma Loris and great-Grandpa Gene and maybe also Grandpa Joe, but I don’t really know because unless the fleet wants to be blessed with vomit, I don’t do boats. 


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That’s Murf.  He’s a bit scary.


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Fire Truck rides are the BEST.  At least Charles thought so – he was so excited and moving so quickly, we hardly got a photo of him.


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This is how Jamie felt about all the sirens.


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This is how I felt about all the Jamie snuggles.


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I tell you, Jamie could not have been cuter during the parade. 


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Charles, on the other hand, only seemed to come alive when he was pointing out tractors for Jamie.


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Apparently, making sure that your little brother is well aware of oncoming tractors is the only thing important enough to make my little sloth move in this kind of scorching heat.  (Awww!)


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And then Charles got to drive (well, steer) the tractor all the way around the house.  Jamie cried, because tractors are only cool from a distance, don’t you know.


If you’ve never been to the Long Beach Peninsula, I highly recommend it.  What a great place to vacation with your family!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

How Long Does the Brain Damage Last?

Bill Cosby was right: children are brain-damaged.


I was doing my hair the other morning and I heard mysterious splashing sounds coming from the boys’ bathroom.  And giggling.  You just know there’s going to be trouble when giggling is involved.  I slyly, silently made my way along the hall to peek in the bathroom and immediately shrieked in horror, “Put that DOWN!  No touch!  NO TOUCH!”  Jamie was dipping his toothbrush and a cup in the toilet, then splashing the water from the cup back in the toilet and sucking the toilet-water from the toothbrush.  The toilet at which we had both yelled, “Bye-bye poop!” not ten minutes before when I dumped the contents of a particularly foul diaper into the bowl and flushed.


Oh, gag me with a spoon, this kid has no sense of self-preservation.  I was terrified that within the next few days he would spike a fever and come down with some sort of horrible infection and then I’d take him to the ER where they would culture his throat and find some disgusting poop bacteria and then arrest me for feeding my child feces.


Another amazing thing about children?  Their resiliency.  My kids could eat anything and not get sick.  And they frequently do.  Charles cannot resist candy or gum, no matter what sidewalk he finds some on, and Jamie will drink out of any body of water, no matter how stagnant or scummy.  Frankly, it’s exhausting trying to keep them from ingesting foul substances.  In our family’s case, genetics has provided for a strong constitution to counter the very clear BRAIN DAMAGE.


I think the brain damage must extend to their auditory processing system because I swear that these children do not understand me when I am speaking.  I am like the adults on Charlie Brown, a cacophony of “whomp-whomps” that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.  The only thing either of my children understood last night of all the things I said to them was “ice cream.”  They had ice cream, but they did not get numerous bedtime stories because they behaved like Tasmanian Devils in the bath and did not respond AT ALL when I shouted at them to “Stop splashing!  Now, you’ve lost one bedtime story!  Now another!  Only one story left!  Stop splashing!”  When they were finally ready for bed after swirling and twirling all the water out of the bathtub and onto the walls and floor, neither of them could understand why they didn’t get to have more than one bedtime story (which, for Jamie, was a story that doesn’t have words, just different kinds of dog barks [“Woof!  Yap!  Yap!  Ruff-ruff-ruff-ruff!”] – BRAIN DAMAGE).  It’s like I wasn’t even there during bath time.  They didn’t hear me and thought that they were being punished for no reason.


It is no mystery why I choose to send my children to preschool and go to work every day: adults.  Who have stories that don’t involve the themes of “Garbage truck!” or “Batman was flying but then he got stuck and had to call Superman and the dragon shot fire out of his MOUTH but then Wonder Woman talked to him and he was a good dragon again and I’m going to wear my Lighting McQueen costume today but I’m not going to take a nap because I love gum.”