Friday, December 30, 2011

# 15

Dear Johnny,

We just celebrated your third Christmas.  But it really may as well have been your first, because this is the first time you had any inkling as to what was going on.  You latched onto the idea of Santa right away, and commenced screaming "SANTA SANTA SANTA" to all men with gray beards in stores around town.

You also quickly associated Santa with presents, and you understood that you were to be nice in order to receive said presents.  However, I think you believed you only had to be nice to Santa himself, which was a little tricky.  You see, we have a small, troll-like Santa doll that sits in the basement on the hearth, and he's very realistic-looking, albeit quite small.  He scares you.  But in an effort to do the right thing by the Man With The Presents, you would occasionally pop over and tell him a really over-enthusiastic "HI!" and then turn and run back to the play room as fast as your footie-pajama'd feet would carry you.  

But the treatment the little Santa Troll Doll in the basement was akin to that of a crowned prince in comparison to the treatment the Real Live Santa at Weaver's got.  We took you there for your yearly screaming-on-his-lap photo, but you refused to go near him.  You clung to your father and then me like a spider monkey and hid your face.  So when you are 25 and you want to know why there's no 2011 Santa picture, believe me when I tell you it wasn't because we were too lazy to schlep you out there to see him.  This is totally on you.  Thanks a lot - you've ruined my progressive Santa photo craft idea.  And my abdomen.  And my gall bladder.  That is 3 things you've ruined, and you haven't been here even 3 years yet. Thank goodness you are so stinking cute, and thank goodness you readily, enthusiastically, and often spit out the phrase "I LOL LOU" which I take to mean "I love you," and if it doesn't, never tell me different.

I really, really wish you had gotten the whole message about being good so Santa will bring you presents, instead of choosing to believe it only applied to Santa himself, because, Son, beloved fruit of my loins, you have become a hitter.  That's right, for Christmas, you gave me a good pummeling.  It started with frustration.  If you didn't get your way, you'd slam your hand down on the closest surface to express your discontent.  You might shout or say "No!" but mostly it was just a little physical abuse of the sofa or the kitchen table.  But soon, the behavior, as all bad ones do, escalated.  And you were hitting me.  Or kicking.  But mostly hitting.  

So guess what else Christmas brought for you? A NAUGHTY CHAIR.  Yep, along with dump trucks and front loaders and candy and books came an unwelcome education in time out.  You seem to understand the concept of the naughty chair, and you seem to know that hitting? Not okay.  But you haven't quite managed to put the two together and completely cease the behavior.  I blame daycare, not you, Son.  It can't be that my perfect boy has developed a nasty habit for physical abuse.  Again, thank goodness for your cuteness and for the way you say "Daawnit!" whenever you drop a toy or the computer screen freezes up on your Sesame Street YouTube.

Ninety-five percent of the time you are a delight.  You are a little rainbow running around the house, chirping in your little voice, singing "HinleBews" (Jingle Bells) to yourself or asking to watch Elmo and Feist on the laptop. You play with toys like a champ and you drew what we believe to be your first face on your dry erase board the other day.  You're clearly advanced.

You transferred to a toddler bed last month and I have to say, all in all, save for a few nights where both of us wept on opposite sides of your bedroom door, it went very smoothly.  You stay in bed and don't fall out, and occasionally you get up at 4:30 in the morning, open the door to your room and the door to ours, and come to my side of the bed.  You lean right up by my face and in your best stage whisper say, "Mama.  Mama."  And I haul you up into the bed where you usually proceed to sleep soundly between your dad and me, and those are some of the best hours of my life.  Until The 5:30 am Flinging of Limbs show begins, and I get out of bed to take a shower and let you finish off The Thrashing Hour on your own.

The five percent where you are defiant or resistant is okay, due to the fact that an angry toddler is mostly hilarious and the look of ire in your eyes when you don't get your way is so earnest, it takes everything I have not to laugh and just give you a cookie for being funny.  And speaking of funny, to you, everything is "funny."  If it is neat or cool or interesting, "Isss funny, Mama!  Isss funny!"  Yes, son, it's all very funny.

Now just learn to poop in the potty.  Poop, as you will soon learn from your father and me, is also very funny.

I love you more than sparkles and kittens and cherry lipgloss. Bless your dear sweet heart.  Stop growing.

Love forever,

Monday, December 19, 2011

Hopped up on goofballs

Recently, my friend Michelle's husband wrote a very honest post about how hilarious he and Michelle were before their baby was born.  He expressed how many of us were before the baby comes.  Oh, were we earnest.  Oh, did we plan it all out.  We were going to be the BEST, MOST INFORMED PARENTS EVER. He wrote, "We approached every little decision with such gravitas and intellectualism. Then, all of a sudden, we were left alone in our house with a brand-spanking newborn! My first thought: 'Oh Shit! That’s a BABY!'"

Yeah, that's pretty much it.

His first rule for new and soon-to-be parents:  YOU WILL SCREW UP YOUR KID.  "Accept it, embrace it, move on."  

Truer words were never spoken.

I have this little habit of reading random blogs and if they are blogs about having babies I am like a moth to a poorly-written flame.  I can't tear myself away from these trainwrecks, where the poor moms-to-be go on ad nauseum about their birth plans and their attachment parenting and the angst over the best sling - not best in terms of "does it work and is it comfortable" - but best in terms of "is this sling going to help my baby be a well-adjusted MD in the future?"

And my eyes, they roll.  They roll so hard I fear they'll retreat inside my head and just stay there out of defiance of the rolling.

But it's not fair for my eyes to do such rolling.  I was the same way.  I think you have to be.  There is no way to prepare ones self for having a baby.  There is no way to know what birth and labor will be like.  There is no way to know what kind of personality your baby will have or what your tolerance for screaming will be or how you'll act when you don't sleep for a month.  There is just no way to plan for this alien to enter your home.  But dammit, you have to try.

You have to read every nutter with an internet connection's theories on child rearing, birth, nutrition, and spirituality.  BECAUSE IT MAKES YOU FEEL BETTER.  Maybe you DO have some control.  Maybe this IS less a giant petrie dish and more a skillfully executed improvement of humanity you are embarking on.

My friend Lindsey maintains that there is something about pregnancy and post partum hormones that make people nuts.  "They're all hopped up on goofballs," she says.  She's right.  These people who are normally regular, fun, beer drinking, reality tv watching women turn into compulsive ninnies who are afraid to put their babies in the bassinet so they can take a shower for fear of ruining the parent-child attachment that is SO VITAL in the first seven years of life.

So let me just say this.  If you are going to get all freaky about your parenting (and you are, OH YOU ARE) just bear this in mind.  Your kid?  Chances are he's going to be fourteen one day, barring any major tragedies and I promise none of them will have a thing to do with a baby sling, and he's going to hate your soul, no matter if you held him on your chest for nine years solid and fed him nothing but breastmilk until he started tying his shoes.  

I say this not to be hateful or to spoil any joy you take in your new babies, but because the pressure? IT IS OFF.  Like Michelle's husband said, YOU ARE GOING TO SCREW IT UP.  

And really, isn't that a relief?  Kick off your shoes, pour a cocktail, and turn on the tv.  It's going to be okay, even when it's not.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Merry Christ-choooooooo!

This body of mine, it is costing me money.

Or maybe it's the kid who is costing me money.  I mean, more than the usual amount he costs me, which is a lot.

Regardless, he got me sick and now it's costing me money.  Like, first it was  $15 copay at the Walgreens Take Care Clinic.  Which, by the way, is awesome and if you don't go there for the minor stuff instead of to your GP you hate kittens.  Because it is super-duper.  Like, no waiting, no fuss, no hateful nurses who keep you in the exam room for half an hour after you spent half an hour in the waiting room, just for spite.  No doctors rushing in and pretending to remember you even though it's clear they think you are that Donna girl who everyone says looks something like you but has herpes, because they keep asking you, 'But, is everything else okay?  I mean, is there anything else you need to talk about today?"  No, the Walgreens joint is slick.  In, out, twenty minutes, a strep test, a thorough discussion of symptoms with a CNA and a Nurse Practitioner, and you are out the door, prescription in hand.

Except they didn't give me a prescription, because they said what I have is probably viral and I just have to tough it out.  BUT I WANT MY Z PAC!  GIVE ME A Z PAC!  I just like to say Z PAC!

I have been on a steady and careful regimine of Dayquil, Advil, and Nyquil, in timed succession.  I've probably spent $30 on over the counter drugs, and I'm still hacking up a lung.  So now the bill for this cold is up to $45.

And then I had to cancel a Flying Fork appearance this weekend, because, you know, no one really wants me sneezing on their samples.  "Merry Christ-choooooooooooooooooo!  Here's a piece of chicken! BARK BARK BARK HACK."  Very appetizing.  Very Fork-tastic.  There's a pricetag on that cancellation that I don't even want to talk about it.  Suffice to say, it's triple digits.  I know.  I'm really in demand.

They say to feed a cold and starve a fever, and to that end my bill for my lunches this week is about to be so high they're going to cut me off of my auto-deduct in the lunchroom.  Bitches.  This is a hospital, for crying out loud.  FEED A COLD.  IT IS MEDICAL.

Merry Christ-choo to you and yours.  Hopefully I'm better by tomorrow or I'll have to take another financial hit in that I'll have to miss the annual Xmas Xaos party, wherein I always come home with my year's supply of good-smelling lotion.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Proof positive that all toddlers are little schizophrenics

Sick baby yesterday.  For the first time in his life, he completely refused his afternoon nap.  Well baby NEEDS that afternoon nap - usually sleeps for almost three hours.  He is big on naps and sleep.  So sick baby? Nap is even more imperative.  Alas, he wasn't having it.  Nothing I could do.

Here is a conversation with sick, no-nap toddler.

Me: "Johnny, are you hungry?"


Me:  "Okay."

Johnny: "EAT? EAT EAT EAT EAT EAT!!!!!!!!!"  Climbs into his chair at the table.

Me: "Do you want a hot dog?"


Me: "How about fruit snacks?" (His usual forbidden favorite.)


Me: "Okay.  How about a taco?" (For Johnny, a taco is melted cheese in a tortilla rolled up.)


Me: "Okay."  I open some fruit snacks and start pour them onto his plate.


Me: "Okay.  Here you go."


Me: "Okay.  I'll make you a taco.  Do you want some juice?"


Me: "How about chocolate milk?"

Johnny: "NO MILK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Juice?"

Me: "Okay, here's some juice."

Johnny: (struggling with the fruit snack package, banging it on the table with the force of 1000 strong men) "HELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Me: "Okay, here you go." (pouring the snacks onto his plate.)


Me: "Whatever."

Johnny: "Taco! TACO TACO TACO TACO!"

Me: "Taco is almost ready.  Be patient."


Me: "Here you go."

Johnny: "Thank you! Thank you! I love you! Kisses?"

And, scene.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

She's crafty

I've often said I'm not crafty.  And it's true.  I don't knit, crochet, or sew, nor do I want to.  I tried to learn to embroider and abandoned it after nine minutes.  I can't paint or draw, and I frankly don't have time to think up these kinds of projects let alone execute them.

But you know what? I found a craft I can do.  I can do it with my brain tied behind my back.  It requires no skill or prior knowledge, and it can be done for almost zero dollars.  This is my kind of thing.

Start with a long string or piece of twine.  How long, you ask? However long you want.  We're making a garland.  I made one for our little tree in the basement and one to drape on the china cabinet, so neither were too long - about 5 feet each.

So anyway, you get your ____ ft long piece of string.  And you pull out all your fabric remnants, or you go to Hobby Lobby and buy a bunch of remnants or bits of sale fabric, and you're ready to go.  I had some remnants and I happened to be at Hobby Lobby so I picked up some sale Christmas fabric to add to the mix.  Total cost: $6.

Rip your fabric (or cut) into strips about an inch or two wide, and then cut them into pieces about 5 or 6 inches long.  I didn't get mine all the same size on purpose because it adds to the fullness of the garland.

Then just start tying it around the string, piece by piece, and shove them close together.  No need to knot - just one tie is good - like the first step to tying your shoes.

It takes awhile - so sit down with a couple of good movies and get busy.  I probably used three whole yards of fabric, total combined for 10 ft of garland.

That's it.  Tie fabric around a string.  Go.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

KISS Stuffing

A few people asked me about my World's Best Thanksgiving Stuffing recipe.  Of course, that title is totally subjective.  Except, it is.  Because if you like stuffing that is thick and dense and heavy and blobish, you are wrong.  Stuffing should be sort of fluffy.  I should not land with a *thud* on your plate. It should be savory, but not overly dolled up.  Usually I am the first to want to put a twist on a traditional dish, but over time I've realized that this is one area where I like to just Keep It Simple, Stupid.  Hence, KISS Stuffing.  Less is more, I have decided, when it comes to stuffing.  Don't muck it up with oysters or sausage or cheese or random ingredients.

I start with some bread.  Usually some dried up french bread or whatever you got, and I usually add to it a bag of Pepperidge Farm Seasoned cubes.

This year I had half a loaf of dried up French bread which I chopped into large hunks (this is important - I like the element of surprise when it's not all uniform).  I also chopped up some dried up artisan wheat bread, about four large slices, and then I had the bag of Pepperidge Farm cubes.

So dump all that into a large mixing bowl.  BTW, it makes a lot, but that's important.

Next, chop up a medium sized onion and most of a whole bundle of celery, and a couple of large cloves of fresh garlic (more if they are smaller).

In a large skillet, melt a whole stick of butter, and add the vegetables to it.  Saute over medium heat.

At the end, add in a bunch of herbs to the vegetable mix.  If you are using fresh herbs, use less.  I used a mix of both - it just depends on what you have around.  These are grossly loose measurements.  Basically I just dump it all in. I dump in a lot.

2 T basil
1 T parsley
1 T rosemary
2 T sage
2 T thyme
1 T marjoram
1 T tarragon
2 tsp garlic powder
1 T salt
2 tsp black pepper (I just crack a bunch of black pepper into the bowl)

Next, add in a box of chicken stock, low sodium if you got it.

Simmer until it's all warm, and then slowly pour it over the bread mixture, a little at a time.  Gently fluff and turn everything, then pour a little more.  Do not mash.  Do not let it get soggy.  Add more herbs, salt, pepper as needed, or more chicken stock as needed.  Everything should be delicately (oh, I hate this word) moist but not soggy.

Then just plop it into a large casserole dish.  If you want to use some to stuff your bird (I do not like this and do not do it), that's fine, just reserve a little. You'll have plenty for both.

Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes until it's toasted on top and warm through.

Remember, this is going to get all soaky with gravy, so if it doesn't seem wet enough, that's why. I like it sort of dry and piece-y and ready to absorb gravy.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sleep Training

A few weeks ago we transitioned Johnny to a toddler bed.  This was against my wishes, as I had hoped to keep him confined to the crib at night for possibly the first five, er, seven, er, nine-odd years of his life.  It seemed like a safe and happy place for him to be.  Until it stopped being happy for him.  A couple of months ago, he stopped liking the crib.  And when I say "stopped liking," I mean "began to view the crib as his mortal enemy."  Short of punting him into it from across the room, we really couldn't get the spider monkey into the thing.  And if we did, the screaming ensued.  And not that kind of "Oh, just let him cry for five minutes and he'll stop," kind of screaming.  We'd had that before.  This took screaming to a whole new level.  Like, if he were a rock band, he'd be KISS and Manowar in the same small room.

So we tried a few things, mostly including the following: 1) fretting about it, 2) blaming each other, and 3) letting him sleep in our bed.

Finally, I suggested we take the rail off his bed and convert it to the toddler bed, even though I WAS NOT READY.  We didn't know what else to do, save someday letting a teenager sleep in our bed.  I saw no end to our situation.  Action was necessary.

And, miraculously, it worked.  He loved the "big boy bed" and immediately set to putting Elmo and Monkey to "night night" several times a day.  I determined that for a few nights one of us should stay in the room with him until he fell asleep, just to make sure he didn't get out of bed.  That worked just great, and after five minutes or so, we'd tiptoe out, and he'd be snoring.

We patted ourselves on the back, as we are wont to do.

Then I decided it was time for him to go to bed on his own, mostly because he went to my mom's for a weekend and she did it.  If she could do it, so could I.  And it worked for me several times.  More back patting.  It did not work for my husband, and I chalked it up to my superior parenting and crafty manipulation of his routine.

Last night, he did not want to go to bed for Daddy.  No amount of sitting in the chair and waiting for him to fall asleep would do the trick.  This is what I heard, at least.  I was sick as a dog on the couch in the basement, and was physically unable to go up there and intervene on my poor husband's behalf.  So, my husband caved, and put him in our bed, and I grunted a "Whatever," from my sick bed.  I was too exhausted from a day of meticulously expelling all fluids from my body to care.

Tonight, Daddy went out.  I took it as my cue to get things righted in the bed department.  I would show the both of them.  I'd show Daddy that it just takes a firm word and a kiss goodnight.  I'd show Johnny that Mama Means Business, but be loving and comforting all the while.  I AM GOOD AT THIS SHIT.

I started at 7:15 with three books.  Then I said "night night," and I patted him and kissed him and told him I loved him, and I headed out the door.  And he screamed.  I peeked my head in and said "night night" again - and he screamed and got out of bed.  So I tried the old chair routine.  For almost an hour.  More screaming.

I remembered the SuperNanny, and how she taught parents to wordlessly put their kids back in bed.  Hell, it was worth a shot.

I put him in bed, said goodnight with a kiss, and walked out the door.  He screamed and got out of bed.  Without a word, I went in, took his hand, and walked him back to bed.  Rinse and repeat at least seven times.

The last time, he stayed in bed.  And he cried.  But not just sobs.  He cried "Mama! MAMA!" for twenty five minutes.  I sat in the hall and wept.  But he went to sleep.

If this does not get easier tomorrow, I am resigning myself to the awkward scenario of having my teenage son in my bed, because I can't do it again.  He'll just get to sleep with me as long as he wants, and I will give up all semblance of rest, authority, and dignity.  IT WILL BE WORTH IT.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

UNITS. Remember?

I don't post about style here very often because, well, I don't really have any.  I like to think that I once did, but the world has conspired against my style.  When you lose your waist and you're quite broke, clothes and fashion stop being fun and starts being a major pain in the patoot.  I don't have time to shop.  It's not like I can just pop into any old store and find racks and racks of stuff that I can afford AND that will look good on me.  No, it's painful.  If I find something I like, which is like finding the hope diamond in a haystack, then I pick it up and realize I can't afford it.

It's sort of nightmarish.  Thank the Baby Jesus for Old Navy.

It finally reached max density a couple of weeks ago.  I realized that I had nothing to wear for fall and winter.  When we moved I got rid of the winter clothes that were really old, faded, stretched, and gross.  Which was all of them.  I haven't bought myself anything in years, and it shows.

So I went nuts. Or, for me, nuts. I spent some money on clothes. All from Old Navy, all purchased online, almost all on sale.  It was better than Christmas the day that big bag full of wardrobe arrived.  "Maybe, I thought, just MAYBE, I won't get in trouble for looking like a homeless person at work this winter after all!!"  I bought a green wrap dress, a pair of gray pants (worn twice this week already), a white t shirt, a black t shirt, two pairs of workout pants, a long burgandy skirt, a white blouse, a grey sweater, and a black thing.  I don't know what to call the black thing.  It's a top cardigan loungewear jacket Idunno.  It's this.

And I want to have it's babies.  I need it in every color.  It is soft, excellent for warming myself in our cold basement.  It is black and not bad looking, great to throw over a top and wear to work.  I can belt it.  I can wear it to shop, wear it over a pair of jeans and a t shirt and go play poker at the neighbors', I can wear it in a house, I can wear it with a mouse.

This is the kind of thing i'm talking about, friends.  It's not thick and bulky like most sweaters, which generally bug me.  It's not boxy, also like most sweaters and cardigans.  It's not itchy, it goes with everything.  I've been wearing the hell out of it.  But then, this morning, as I threw it on my with my new grey pants and a belt over the top, I had to ask myself, "Is this just the UNITS of 2011?"  Say it ain't so.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I'm starting to feel it.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are nipping at my heels.  I get very mixed feelings around this time.

Like, one minute I'm perusing craft ideas on Pinterest and planning gift baskets of my homemade foods, and the next I'm agonizing over money and time constraints, and then I just go to bed with my Kindle and cry.

It's an exciting and terrifying time of year.

This year, I've decided to do as much hand-made as possible, which is great for the creative juices and for thoughtful, well-planned gifts.  But man, is it time consuming.  And, you know, I work extra in the Christmas season.  Anyway, the point is, "WHEE! HERE WE GO!"

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the holidays?


ARGUMENTS ABOUT JESUS BEING THE REASON FOR THE SEASON  (People, Christmas is not a time for fighting.)



Thursday, November 10, 2011

On Meds

So it's no secret that I have raging ADD.  Honestly, I don't know how I've made it thus far.  I'm kind of a raging mess.

In grade school, my second grade teacher told my mother she truly believed I'd never learn to write.  Along with ADD also often comes Dysgraphia, and I have a touch of that as well.  My mom always said I just hurried too much, and that may be true, but I call that a symptom of my larger ADD problem.

I could never sit still at a dinner table, I always lost my papers.  My desk at school (and later, my locker) was always a terrifying mess of papers, lost assignments, gum wrappers, month-old lunches, that missing shoelace, a q-tip (I had quite an ear-cleaning fetish), a jumble of change, paperclips, and bits of tinfoil (much like you'd find in a rat's nest) and an empty red notebook with MATH printed on the outside that had been purchased in a vain effort to get me to organize my shit.  Among many, many other things.  None of which were filed nor organized, nor ever should have been there in the first place.

I managed to get through college by the skin of my teeth, which I often forgot to brush.  My work area in my apartment was akin to a recycling center's "we can't do anything with that" bin.  I attribute my success in college to sheer will on the part of my classmates, ("MEGAN, ARE YOU AWAKE? WE HAVE AN EXAM TODAY.  REMEMBER? THIS CLASS?  IT'S CALLED RHETORIC") and my charming nature which won me lots of extended deadlines.

I'm not proud of it.  I'm just sayin'.  This is full disclosure.

I struggled professionally because the time for extended deadlines and "Please, Professor So-And-So, you don't understand.  My cat died," was over.  I had to shape up.

And I did.  Sort of.  I got a little better, and I think part of it was just maturity.  My ability to focus was helped by the fact that I only had to focus basically on one thing: my job, instead of the bajillion things students have to focus on.  Students take six, seven, eight classes at a time, work, and have a social life (a very good one, in my experience).  They have money problems, time problems, are expected to volunteer, do extra curriculars, be in plays or on sports teams, and run for Stuco all at the same time.  No wonder they're not all insane.

So working helped a little but I still struggled to keep my attention where it needed to be.  I had to resort to all sorts of tricks to keep my eye on the ball.

I still struggle, and today I'm back to that "student" life, wherein I have a lot of balls in the air at once, and I worry constantly about dropping one.  Further brain maturity has helped, and I can only thank the Baby Jesus that I didn't have a kid earlier, or I'd have left him on top of the car with my coffee cup one day and driven to work.

It's a constant inner battle.  "Check the weather!" "No, file these papers." "Call your mom!" "No, work on this Power Point Presentation."  "Look for fall clothes on the internet!" "No, make a database for the work orders."  And I know, most people struggle with these urges, and I urge you, you Normals, to back off, because my urges and your urges?  NOT THE SAME THING.

"Why can't you just mind-over-matter?" people ask.  "Why not just tell yourself to stop obsessing over that eyebrow hair and go do the laundry?"  And to that I say, "Why don't you just tell yourself to stop needing to go pee."  It's the same kind of urgency.

Why am I going on like this, you ask? Oh, I'm happy to tell you.  Because, well, I feel stupid.  There is a cure for this.  "There is a pill for that," as my sister likes to say.  And the funny thing is, I am the first person in the world to encourage everyone to take advantage of the pharmaceuticals they need to be well.  Take your anti-anxiety med/depression med/anti psychotic/sleep aid/whathaveyou.  THEY HELP!  And they make you a happier, better, more YOU kind of you.  And I applaud that.

But me?  No.  No, thanks. I won't be taking any Ritalin.  And not because I think Ritalin is bad.  Not because I judge anyone in my shoes who takes it.  Why won't I take it?  Because I DON'T WANT TO TELL MY DOCTOR I HAVE ADD.

Have you ever heard anything stupider?

I figure this is like a 12 step program for me.  Instead of quitting something, I need to start it.  But it's the same process.  Today, I admit I have a problem.  Maybe tomorrow, I'll admit it to my doctor.  Is there anyone, besides possibly my former bosses and teachers, to whom I need to apologize?  Because I'm sure that's one of the steps, but I'm too ADD to go find out the order.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Bad Table

I started a new workout class on Monday.  Thankfully, I'm joined in this exercise in pain by my good friend Lydia and my neighbor Nikki.  It makes it bearable, just knowing I get to go see them, instead of just going to be judged by a bunch of more fit, more agile, better people than me in a gym above the Senior Center twice a week.

So we had our first class on Monday, like I said.  I didn't check the location because Lydia did.  We had a good laugh over it being at the Senior Center.  I checked the address to be sure I knew where it was, and we happily agreed that we hoped it was us and a bunch of old ladies.  We'd look SO GOOD next to them.

On my way there, I passed a big wreck.  It was raining, and I saw raincoat-clad fire and ambulance types pulling people from cars onto stretchers.  It was not a good omen.  I called Lydia to tell her I might be late because the wreck held me up, and she said she was at the place and couldn't find her way in.  All the doors were locked.  Rut-roh.

So I popped into problem solving mode and popped over to the closest community center and asked them WHAT THE HELL.  Lydia and I agreed that IT IS HARD ENOUGH to drag our asses out to work out, let alone in the rain, and a wreck, and now we can't even get the F in the door?

They sent me back to the senior center with instructions to look for a stairway.  Lydia and I rounded the building three times in the rain.  Me dressed like a lesbian at gym class and her drenched and both of us on the verge of giving up.  This is why we're hot.

But finally I spied the secret stairway and we schlepped up the slick stairs in the rain, sure that one or both of us was going to break a hip on the way in, and this is the freaking Senior Center?

We were 20 minutes late.  Not that it mattered - we still got our butts kicked.

It was all women in the group, although nowhere in the materials did it say "Women Only."  The teacher, a middle-aged African woman with a thick accent, was shouting instructions to the women in the room, who were RUNNING.  Seriously, they were doing line drills a la basketball camp.

Our feet were wet, and we feared for our lives on the gym floor.  So we spent ten minutes drying the bottom of our shoes, and then we were instructed to get in there and RUN WITH THEM.  Oookay!  So much for warming up!

By this time I was laughing so hard at our many foibles and how INEPT we are, I got myself a nice side-ache to go along with everything.  The women in the class ranged, I'm guessing, from upper twenties to mid-sixties, and every one of them, EVERY. LAST. ONE. was in far better shape than me.

Lydia and Nikki and I tried our best to keep up, but mostly we stayed in the back and complained about our boobs hurting.  Apparently, I need a better bra if I'm going to keep this up.

We were the group that went left when everyone else went right.  We are the ones who tried to pretend we didn't know how to jump rope so we could get out of that portion of the show.  We laid on the floor like beached whales while the rest of the women planked their little hearts out.

And this is the story of my life.  Remember my birth team, and how it went in my birthing classes?  And if you know Lindsey, ask her about the cookie decorating class last week.  We were the table that hit the wine the second we walked in the door.  Everyone else eased into it about halfway through, but not us.  And my cookies looked like a nervous ferret decorated them.

I am always at The Bad Table.  I am always the one in the back making fart jokes, being irreverant, and generally screwing things up.  I am not sure why I am this way. I can't blame my mother.  She's reverent about most everything.  And I can't blame my husband because this all seems to happen when he's not around.

It's just me.  And I attract birds of a feather.

Tonight is our second circuit training class.  I still don't have a better bra.  But this time at least I know how to get in the door.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fancy meeting you here

Oh ma gawd! This blog! It is a place where for years I painstakingly recounted the events of my life so as not to forget them.  Also, it's a baby book.  And a wedding album.  And my newsletter to my family.  And my Christmas card.  It's been faithful and true, better than a dog in many ways.  I mean, it doesn't track mud on my freshly cleaned floors, or leave its turds just any old place.

And look! I have abandoned it!

I sowwy, blog.

I did sort of space out on Nablopomo which makes me a little bit sad, but here's the thing.  (I have many excuses.  Thankfully, I don't have many assholes.  Just the one.)  Every month is pretty much Nablopomo for me.  Between blogging for and for Wellcommons and the occasional post here, I'm blogging *almost* every day anyway.

But still, I did really enjoy the exercise of forcing myself to blog EVERY. DAY.  I daresay, it is the only thing in my entire life for which I have been able to muster such discipline for a period of more than three days.

So, while I'm not nanning or blowing (gitcher mind outta the gutter) or po'ing or mo'ing my way through November, I am going to make an effort to visit this space more often.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What I'm Watching: American Horror Story

I'm starting with this one for no particular reason except it's new and I haven't heard much chatter about it yet.  But that is probably because I'm never anywhere to hear chatter, except in my basement, where my husband and I wear sweatpants and talk about who has to get up and go to the garage to refill the ice bucket this time.

When we first saw the previews we were both all "Oh HELL yeah," and I was excited because it looked spooky but smart, and beautifully shot which is always a plus for TV since my sitcoms and reality shows suck in that department.

But I'll be honest.  The first couple of episodes were a little scarier than I wanted them to be.  I mean, folks, this stuff is creepy.  It has moments of sheer terror and the funhouse cinematography makes it all the more difficult to swallow.  To be honest, this is a good thing.  I mean, the show sets out to do something, and it does it.  I mean, it really freaks me out.

I love a good thriller but I'm not so much about gore.  I love suspense but I'm not really into ghouls or ghosts.  This show does both.  And as long as I can handle my fear, I love it, which comes as a bit of a surprise to me, seeing as there is a very "ghosty" and "devilinthebasement" quality to it.

We suspect it's a little "LOSTish" in that we figure the writers are putting this thing together as they go and aren't completely certain where it's headed - at least not specifically.  But that's okay.  We love that it also has that LOST quality of "maybe it's this" or "did you catch that" or "do you think maybe..." about it.  There's lots to think about and theorize about and it's all pretty freaking fun and masterful.

As for the characters, Jessica Lange's is by far my favorite.  I'm also intrigued by the maid and I think the daughter is a pretty interesting teen.  Usually teens on TV irritate/gag/bore me, but this one is just aloof enough, but not too aloof, to keep my eye on her.  She's a smart one. Or, maybe she's very, very stupid.  Jury's out.

We watched two episodes on Sunday because it was daylight and I prefer to watch it when the sun's out.  We were behind by two because I am too weenie to watch it in the dark, right before bed.  Todd begged me to watch the most recent one last night, but uh-uh.  No can do.

It aired at just the right time.  Fall, Halloween, and oh yeah, we just moved into a new house full of sounds and spiders that are new to me.  We killed a mouse the other day.  Granted, it's not the same as jars of human remains or ghosts of dead families lurking in the basement, but still, it's just enough scary that I don't need that business before bedtime.

Which is, in my never-to-be-humble-opinion, the mark of a damn fine horror program.

The question we keep asking ourselves as we watch this amazing show in awe is, "Why hasn't anyone thought of this sooner?"  I mean, duh.  The serial horror tv show?  Freaking brilliant.

Forks: 4 out of 4 (but just watch it in the daylight.)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Oh, TV. Let's dance and then have a baby or two.

Sometimes I just need to talk about television.

Once upon a time I had some TV junkie friends with whom I could rehash every week's offerings, but alas, there are many obstacles to my tv chatter these days.  Some friends have gotten rid of cable and choose to do better things with their time.  What better things, I do not know, but these people are clearly superior to me.  Some friends never did watch tv, instead choosing to communicate with their husbands and/or read books.  Also, I used to go to a bar at least once a week wherein I would meet up with fellow tv-watching friends and rehash LOSTProjectRunwayMadMenHowIMetYourMotherTrueBloodTheOfficeTheSopranosTopChef or whatever happened to be airing in that particular season.  But now I'm lucky if I hit happy hour once a month.  I just don't see the people often enough to talk about tv.  So I'm going to start doing it here.  This is probably as boring for most people as it is when I tell about my dreams (Vincent D'Onofrio! Before he got fat! We wore paper hats!) or what I ate for lunch.

I don't care.

So right now I'm totally into the following:

Modern Family
American Horror Story
Boardwalk Empire
The Office
Project Runway
And yes, The Real Housewives of New Jersey.  And yes, I know the season is over but I have yet to watch the reunion show.

I know this seems like a lot.  It sort of is.  But if you add it up and remove the commercials, which we do, it amounts to about five and a half hours a week.  That is about right - about an hour a night during the week, after Johnny goes to bed.  Sue me.  It's my brain candy.

I might just do a post on each one and why I love it.  Feel free to stop reading this for the next week or two.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Coming in second

I came to grips some time ago with the fact that my career is not what I once imagined it would be.  I also admitted to myself that I am not particularly ambitious, at least in the traditional sense.  So it came as a great surprise to me that tears sprang spontaneously from my eye region the other day when I heard I did not get a certain job I had applied for.

You see, I love working where I do.  I love this organization.  I love the benefits, the people, the mission, the proximity to my home, and the comfort of the culture.  So when I saw a job open up within the organization that seemed literally tailored to my education and skills, I was delighted.  I applied, and interviewed.  And interviewed again.  I dared to dream, for it seemed like they liked me, they really liked me.  Plus, I couldn't think of another person in house who could be nearly as qualified for this thing as I.  They simply *had* to hire me.

The money was significantly better, the hours were still good, the hiring manager is delightful, and everything seemed to fit.

Until they picked someone else.

I don't know who they picked.  I think it will help me when I do find out.  The director said it was a "toss up", but they thought this person was a better fit for them.  I don't know what that means. I can't imagine who is as qualified as I am, and would want that particular job.

I hope it's someone amazing, with obvious experience or education that clearly sets him or her apart from me.  If it isn't, I'm going struggle.  Because then it's *me*.  Then it's something *I* did wrong in the interview.

This is the third job in the last year that I've been the second choice for.  I am not accustomed to being second.  I'm Megan, and I like to go first.

Interviewing for jobs is like an exercise in self-flogging.  It beats you up from the outside in.  Eventually, it is tempting to give up.  To see yourself as number 2.  To accept that you'll just have to settle.

I'm trying not to go there quite yet.  I'm trying to tell myself that maybe this wasn't *the* job for me anyway. Maybe I need to be holding out for a permanent writing gig.  Possibly none of these jobs have fit because, after all, it truly wasn't a good fit.  Maybe these hiring managers know what they're doing.  And it's best for all of us.  Maybe.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Awesome Love Story Part II

So after 28 or so odd years and a short engagement, it was finally Dan and Karen's wedding day.  They had an afternoon wedding planned; ceremony at the Catholic church in the small town where they both grew up, reception and toasting in the old, beautiful junior high - now converted to a sunlight-filled community center.

Todd and I arrived at the reception, having missed the ceremony because of a napping baby, and when the best man stood up to speak, he wasn't wearing any shoes.  Nor was he wearing the requisite orange tie.  Something was amiss.  He apologized for not being around earlier, made some mention of a hospital, and continued with his toast.  Todd and I had no idea what was going on - seeing as we hadn't been at the ceremony, we were in the dark.  As, apparently, were most of the other people in the room.  We got the story much later that evening from the bride and groom who stopped downtown to show off their regalia before heading out to begin the honeymoon.

Flash back several hours:  the bride, petite in white, and the groom in a tailored suit and fall-inspired orange tie, were getting dressed for the ceremony, asking all the while, "Where is the best man?"  The best man who had flown in from Pennsylvania to stand up at their wedding.  The best man who had been entrusted with the rings because he was the most trustworthy among the wedding party members.  The best man who was, at the moment, MIA.

As the moments ticked on toward go-time for the ceremony, people started to fret.  Seriously, where could he be?  He didn't get too drunk last night.  He's here from out of town.  He has the rings.  He's TRUSTWORTHY.  It didn't add up.

As the time drew nigh to take some pre-ceremony pictures, panic set in.  And then came the call.  The best man had been in an accident.  Only really, accident is an understatement.

Apparently this guy is diabetic.  VERY diabetic.  And he ate breakfast that morning and took his insulin, but between jetlag and pre-wedding distraction, he gave himself the wrong dose.  As he drove down the highway that morning toward the church, he started weaving.  And then he swiped the side of a semi. Several times.  He was having a diabetic seizure.

The driver of the semi pulled of and called the police, reporting an erratic driver.  Apparently the best man (I never caught his name) realized something wasn't right, and tried to pull off the road, only to pass out at that moment.  The car - a rental no less - went over a fence and - you got it - into a pond.  And it was sinking.  Quickly.

The paramedics and police arrived as the water level was breaching the windows.  They struggled to pull him out.  They couldn't get the doors open, and he to break windows and cut him out of the seatbelt.  They did, however, manage, and as the car sank they gave him a sugar bolus.  He came too, and immediately said, "I'M SUPPOSED TO BE IN A WEDDING RIGHT NOW!"  And then he said "THE RINGS ARE IN THE CAR.  THE CAR THAT'S AT THE BOTTOM OF THE LAKE."

As they sped him off to the hospital, a tow truck was called, and through a relay of public workers, the rings were found.  The car was pulled from the pond, and at first the responders said the rings weren't there.  But the tenacious best man sent them back.  YES.  THEY ARE IN THE CONSOLE.  Remember that Dan's mom had passed away just over a year ago?  The ring he was to wear?  His father's.  They kinda wanted *that* ring.

So they went back, dug through the soaked rental car again, and through a relay of helpers from tow drivers to firemen to paramedics to police, they got those rings to the church. ON TIME.

While the best man didn't make the ceremony, he did MAKE IT.  Five more minutes, people, and there would have been no best man.  Probably no ceremony.  Just a lot of grief and misplaced guilt on the day that was supposed to be Dan and Karen's happiest.  But! But!  That didn't happen! They saved him!  With minutes to spare, the friend was saved and the wedding went on, and he arrived, shoeless, to the reception to roast his friend Dan.

People, this wedding was meant to be.  Dan's life just a few years ago was in jeopardy, but he lived.  Karen had been single, never married, waiting for the right guy.  At age 37, she found him - at his own mother's funeral.  Not even a sinking car and a diabetic best man could stop them from finally exchanging those rings.

Here's to you, Karen and Dan.  Here's to what is meant to be, and to a beautiful future for you - with no more near misses.  You made it.

Photo by Trina Baker of Gallery32

Monday, October 17, 2011

Awesome Love Story

This is a story worth telling.

On Saturday, a person my husband and I have each known longer than we've known each other got married.  Dan and Todd worked together behind the bar at many a tavern and restaurant over the years.  Dan served me beers and told me jokes and tolerated my friends and all their misbehaviors.  Todd and I have a long history with Dan.

Dano is one of those people that everyone loves.  EVERYONE.  There is not a person on the planet who doesn't like Dano.  And if there is one, I'd like to personally kick his ass.  Which made it all the more heartbreaking when Dano fell ill a number of years ago.  Life had kicked him in the teeth and between the pain he was in from a bad breakup, and managing a friendly bar where the liquor flowed, Dano found himself in a bad spot.  Well, actually, our friend Sara found him in a bad spot, on the floor of his condo.

Dano spent several weeks in the hospital, and even more weeks recouperating at his parents' home.  We thought he wouldn't make it.  We all visited him in the hospital, and talked in hushed tones about his condition. But he's a trooper, and he recovered to become more healthy and happy than he'd ever been before.  He quit the bar business, got a job at the library, took up running, and settled into his new normal.

A confirmed bachelor, Dano oft professed his scorn for the institution of marriage.  Twice burned, he had chosen a single life, free of the complications and entanglements women brought to it.  We all got it.  No one questioned that Dan was not the marrying kind.  Which made it all the more surprising when he appeared at a function last year with a beautiful girl on his arm, and announced they were getting married.

It turns out, Dan had known this girl since middle school.  He'd always liked her, always been too afraid to ask her out, and finally lost touch with her after high school.  And then, last year, Dan's mother died.  And Karen, his now bride, read in the paper about the visitation.  Being the sort of person she is, she thought she'd go pay her respects to the mother of one of her classmates from twenty years before.  Dan, delighted to see her, felt awkward about picking up chicks at his mother's funeral.  But the family encouraged him to bring her to the house for drinks and food after the visitation, and she agreed to come along.

The rest, as they say, is history.  The symmetry of their meeting - on his mother's death, another woman steps in to love and care for him - is, of course, beautiful and a little uncanny.  But it gets better.  Stay tuned for Part II of this Awesome Love Story.

Friday, September 30, 2011

On the simple life

I have always been a person who had a good understanding of the finite nature of life.  This deep knowledge that it's going by really fast and soon I'll be dead informs far more of my decisions than it might seem to the naked eye.

I know, that was probably the most depressing sentence I've ever written.  The most depressing sentence you've ever read.  Sorry.

When I made bad decisions as a teenager and young adult, it wasn't because I thought I was ten feet tall and bullet proof.  It wasn't because I thought I was untouchable or was going to live forever.  No, it was quite the opposite.  I did stupid things because, well, I wanted to LIVE.  I didn't want to regret not trying this or feeling that.  I didn't want to have a vacuum where my memories were supposed to be.

Now that I am old and (mostly) responsible, I don't feel the need to play out every scenario in order to be sure I am milking the most out of my minutes on earth.  But I do feel the need to measure everything very carefully.  To that end, I select my friends.  To that end, I select my job.  To that end, I balance my time between work and play.  I do a squaredance wherein I do-si-do with responsiblity, planning for the future, and doing the right thing, and then I bow to my let's have a lark partner, and then we promenade with love and rest and a good, homecooked meal.

Because I am so painfully (sometimes it takes my breath away) aware of the whisper of time I get to spend here, with the people I love and the places I adore, prioritizing is very very easy.  Do I want to work 65 hours a week?  Am I willing to work someplace hostile, if it's a really good paycheck?  No.  That is easy for me.  As long as we can adequately provide for the needs of the family, I don't much worry about my career.  Some  might say I'm lazy or I lack ambition, and maybe both of those things are true, but I don't really think so.  I think, if I do say so myself, that I have my priorities straight.

It has been a long and arduous process, coming to terms with the fact that I might not be on the career track I always imagined for myself as a young person.  It has also been a difficult task to awaken to the fact that I will likely never move from Lawrence, KS.  Would I like to have more diverse experiences, or maybe live in a better climate?  Yes.  But at the cost of living far away from the family and friends that make my life rich and delightful?  Not a chance.  Would like to say I have a high powered career, or a better wardrobe?  Absolutely, but not if it takes me away from said family and friends for too many hours a day, or makes me too stressed or cranky to enjoy them.  Too tired or busy to sit down and watch Sesame Street with my son, or read a book of my very own choosing.

It turns out, that because I feel the shortness of life with every breath I take, I've chosen a rather unglamorous one.  Which seems the opposite of what you'd think.  I read about people who learn they are ill or dying and go out on a wild "bucket list" ride - and maybe I'd do the same if I knew exactly how many days I had left...but I doubt it.  For me, the best life, the happiest and most satisfying one, at the end of the day, is the one that grew from deep roots.  It's the simple life, the one full of laughter, bonds, trust, and peace.

And with that knowlege, I kiss good-bye my thoughts of high rise apartments in New York City and my considerations of law school and power suits.  And I come back to work at my community hospital, and I cook for my family and friends, and I watch Sesame Street.  And that, my friends, doesn't seem like much, until you look back at twentythirtyfortyfifty years of it, and the richness of experience all of that simplicty has created, and no mountain climb or fancy vacationboatcarjewelryhousehighriseapartment can come close in comparison.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How to get what you want and never even ask for it.

Me:  "Did you read my empanada column?"

Him: "Uhm. YEAH! Looks yummy! MMMMMMMMM."

Me:  "Why do you hate me?"

Him:  "What do you mean?"

Me: "Let's not play this game.  You never read my columns.  I work hard on that, it's our bread and butter, and you can't be bothered to read it.  Even though you spend approximately four hours a day on the internet."

Him: "I do.  I skim."

Me: "If I were Picasso, would you SKIM my work?  If I were Feist, would you 'half listen' to my new single?"

Him: *rolls eyes*

Me: See? You hate me.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Change, sometimes, is good.

Next weekend, we plan to close the pool.

It's bittersweet.  It's been the Summer Made of Awesome.  Parties, quiet outdoor dinners, practicing dives, sunning arms, and paddling with Johnny.  It's all been magical.

But the weather is getting crisp and my internal clock says it's time to shut 'er down.   Time to move on.  Time for something different.  We've been getting cozy with our basement, and the new tv therein.  We've watched more movies in the last two weeks than we have in the last six months.  I'm fantasizing about making the perfect man cave.  I guess that means it's fall.  And I am ready.

Often, usually in the winter as he scrapes a foot of snow off of his car, my husband rhetorically asks WHY WE STILL LIVE IN KANSAS.

This is why.  The crackle of the first cool night, the first sun of May on your shoulders, the beauty of the first silent snowfall of the year.

Yes, eventually it all gets old.  It's too hot for too long.  It's too snowy and wet.  The cars are dirty and the leaves have to be raked - again.  So sometimes Kansas is hard.  But it is worth it for the first weeks of each season when you start thinking of a new kind of cooking, planning a different kind of party, putting on clothes that have been in storage for half the year.  Before you're tired of sweaters and coats, before you're out of firewood and too tired to cut more, before your skin is chapped from bracing wind, the season change is so lovely, I could cry.

Changing seasons bring different smells, they evoke childhood memories, and bring with them plans and inspiration.  This year, for us, fall means walking into our back yard sans sunscreen to play in the yard with toys instead of in the pool.  It means, hearing the KU marching band practicing in a nearby field.  It means soups and pastas and hot dinners and a friend or two and a bottle of Chianti.

Lovely Lawrence, Kansas.  As my neighbor said today, "Even an ordinary weekend in Lawrence is extraordinary."  Here's to an extraordinary Lawrence fall.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

# 14

Dear Baby,

Admittedly, you're not really a baby anymore.  Even your friend Grace has taken to calling you "Toddler Johnny" instead of "Baby Johnny", but I am not really a fan.  In my heart, you are the baby.  You are my baby, my only baby.  I'd like you to stay a baby as long as humanly possible, and then a little longer please.

Today is your second birthday.  You are two.  This time, two years ago, I was complaining that my doctor was never coming back and would someone please give me some drugs, thankyouverymuch.

Last weekend we had your second celebration of the second birthday, this one with just the grandparents, and I don't think I've quite ever seen you so happy.  Your first party, earlier this month, the blowout with all your friends, was ridiculously cool, but you were getting sick, as your 103 temperature proved the next day, and you weren't really yourself.  As in, you were awake for all of two hours and mostly occupied yourself by playing with the ice in the cooler instead of your friends.

But this second party, it really knocked your socks off.  Once, as you looked around the room over a plateful of green Brobee cake, it occured to you that it really was a marvel, all of these grandparents in one room.  You looked at Grandpa Earl, and then at Grandpa Al, and "TWO GRANDPA'S!" you exclaimed, blissed completely out.

Yes, you have learned to count.  At least to two.  And then five, and nine.  Sometimes you make it to three, but four, six, seven, and eight can eat a bag of rocks for all you care.  One, two, three, five, and nine.   Those guys are your boyz.

Also, you know your colors.  We like to amaze and impress strangers and grandparents by holding up a crayon and letting you exclaim that it is "BOO!" and "LELLOW" and "GREE!"  Also, we sometimes amaze them with your mad somersaulting skillz, and then I go ahead and tell them you're five, and all of it seems less impressive except your small stature for your age.  And then you and I just laugh and laugh.

Your world revolves around Dada, Mama, "Yabba" and the gang, and hot dogs.  If you were in the movie "The Jerk" you'd leave the house with your pants around your ankles, saying "all I need is this Yabba DVD, this hot dog, and maybe this Elmo Doll.  That's it.  That's all I need."  And truly, it is.  And now maybe the toy flashlight that Grammy gave you for your birthday.  You do enjoy the heck out of flipping a switch.

I could go on for days about how much we love you and how delighted we are with your every word, move and smile.  We dissolve into a puddle of goo with every hug, and get all goofy when we watch you toddle down the hall for bedtime as we follow behind you.  You love to go "night night" most of the time, and you hug both Elmo and The Green Monkey tight, roll over, and that is the last we hear from you.   Like your father, you really enjoy being in bed.

Every day you learn a new thing, show off a new skill, and, somehow, get a little cuter.  It seems impossible, but you just keep doing it.

Son, I can't thank you enough.  Happy birthday, you've made our lives something we never even allowed ourselves to dream of before.  We'll never be able to show you enough gratitude for the last two years, let alone the years to come.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Women. ADD. Me. Argh.

Some days, I just want to take forty Xanax and say "night night."

It's my own fault. I'm a classic overscheduler.


But, in the midst of my overscheduled ass's project du jour, I sometimes get a tad overwhelmed. You know, just a little, the way an ant might feel overwhelmed by my foot.

Sometimes, when I stop for a breather, like when I'm going pee for the second time that day at 8:30 pm, I like to contemplate the life of women. You know, for just a little self-flaggelation.

And this isn't to be exclusionary of the jobs of men, it's just, I'm not a man, so it's hard to contemplate that.

Here are the things I feel I *should* be doing on a regular basis. Not that I *am* doing these things, but I feel constantly that I *should* and I really really want to. Or at least, sometimes I want to be the girl that does all this stuff. And sometimes I want to give those girls the finger and go take 40 Xanax.

I should:

  • Work my regular job, and be an A PLUS employee, never late, never sick, never distracted or behind on my work.
  • Work my second job, wherein I write food columns, and be the best at that too.  You know, take better pictures, cook inventive things, be witty and on time and all around fabulous.
  • Be a good wife.  Be thoughtful of my husband and anticipate his needs, and remember to pick up deodorant for him before he runs out.
  • Cook dinner for my family. And nothing frozen or reheated.
  • Budget.  Make sure the family's finances are always in check.  Do not overspend.
  • Use coupons.  Search the ads, find the deals.
  • Buy local foods.  This means going to the farmer's market as well as the grocery store more than once a week. (Heck, more than once a month which is my current standard.)
  • Plan menus. Make sure every week's menus are well-rounded and complete, as well as full of ingredients purchased with coupons and/or locally.
  • Organize.   Buy baskets for things so they'll be organized and put labels on them made on my computer in a cute font with scalloped edges.  A place for everything, and make sure everyone else knows those places so the can put the scissors back where they go.
  • Clean.  Mop floors, wipe countertops, clean the spot where the baby eats every time.  Care for your home, make sure things smell good, empty the trash before it starts to overflow.
  • Windex the glass doors.  Don't forget this.
  • Plant flowers, water them and don't let them die.
  • Decorate.  And don't just go to JC Penney and buy the whole set and the display art.  Choose interesting things.  Shop with a critical eye for special art.  Make things by hand.  Coordinate but don't match.  Sew curtains.  Learn to sew.  Paint walls but don't overdo it.
  • Get regular haircuts.
  • Do your hair in the morning instead of wearing a ponytail.
  • Get facials, and wear just the right makeup, applied in good light, before you get to work.
  • Have a skincare regimen morning and night.  No wrinkles!
  • Shave legs every day.
  • Eat breakfast.  Something healthy.  Not a Diet Coke and a piece of bacon.
  • Pack your lunch - it's cheaper and more healthy than going out.  Add lunch stuff to above grocery shopping.
  • Have your nails and toes done every two weeks so you don't look homeless.
  • Get waxed.
  • Work out, at least three times a week.  Kick your own ass.  Look good doing it.
  • Make your bed.  
  • Wash sheets once a week.
  • Take care of extended family.  Remember to call often and tell them you love them.  Don't forget their birthdays. Make it all special.
  • Be there for your friends.  Don't get wrapped up in your own business and forget their business.  Remember to ask them how their recent vacation went and seem interested in the pictures.
  • Plan events.  Birthday parties, father's day, summer solstice, plan it all.
  • Don't miss events.  Your friends will think it's rude if you don't go to their parties.
  • Bring a good dish with you.  When you go to said parties.  Local, inventive, budget, beautiful.
  • OH WAIT.  AND PARENT.  DON'T FORGET YOUR KID.  Pick the right daycare, make him look  adorable every day.  Don't let him watch too much tv.  Get the right educational books and toys.  Play with him.  Feed him fruits and veggies, no pesticides, no plastic (it leeches).  Feel guilty when you go to the gym and miss an evening with him, but go to the gym anyway, because it's on the list of Important Things.
  • Have a garden.  It's sustainable.
  • Look sharp, never like a shlumpadinka.  Go shopping for some better clothes.  Don't wear the pants with the bleach stain on them anymore.
  • Get regular checkups for you and the kid.
  • Don't forget to refill the prescriptions.  On time.
  • Do cultural things.  Art, theater, demolition derbies.
  • Don't be cranky.  Pick up toys with a smile on your face.
  • Volunteer.  Give back to the community.
  • Be involved in your kid's school or daycare.  Work in the classroom, go to the fundraiser.
  • Take treats on Valentine's Day, and don't forget little cardboard Valetines for all the kids, even if they're only 1.
  • Always be looking for a better, more powerful job.  You  need to grow in your career.
  • Invest.  Learn about investing.  Think about investing, be scared of investing but do it anyway.  Have a financial advisor, whatever that is.
  • Be political.  Know what's going on both locally and federally.  It's your life, anyway.
  • Recycle.  Take care of the environment.  Don't waste.  Sort.
"It only takes a couple of minutes a day."  I love that line. I hear it all the time.  But how many "couple minute" jobs can I A) remember to do and B) Have time for in the four hours between getting off work and going to bed?  I work 50 hours a week.  I have a toddler.  If my doors don't sparkle, so be it.  


It's a wonder we don't all go insane.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Priorities, people.

It has come to our attention, rather suddenly, that our new house is settling. Drastically. Like, the old owner had it propped up with sticks and magic and for him, all the doors opened and closed properly. But then second he moved out, the house let out its breath, and now none of the doors work. And there are some spots. Just a few, tiny spots. Where I can see sagging.

I have visions of that movie, The Money Pit, the one where Tom Hanks gets stuck in a hole on the second story and we all learned the "Rick Rick Bo Bick, Bananafana Fo Fick" song. Because I am just sure - SURE - that the house is going to crumple in on itself like a rotten peach at any given moment.

Other than that, though, it's fabulous!

I finally dropped the dime and ordered living room furniture, so people won't think they've walked into the house that Craigslist built anymore. I finally just grew tired of having furniture worse than what I had when I was 19, and decided to buy something - ANYTHING - and make it work.

I think it's gonna be beautiful. And if it's not? NEVER TELL ME. I am something of a decision cripple, so once I decide on a purchase - especially if it's over $32.00 - I don't want to hear any words except ones about how it's so perfect and beautiful you want to make out with it. Anything else, and I will stick my fingers in my ears and run crying from the room.

Mr. Meat and Potatoes hung up his new giant TV in the basement, and you'd think we'd had another baby. You see, I was getting things ready to take Johnny on his first plane trip, which is no small feat. Also, I had some important meetings to attend. And, my first meeting with a personal trainer. I had all this going on Wednesday night, and the clock was ticking on my packing deadline. I was busy. And beat. And just like labor, which comes whether you have time for it or not, my husband was having a TV. He decided that particular Wednesday was THE DAY to install the TV, regardless of what else was happening in life. Regardless of the fact that he was about to have 3 days sans wife or baby in which to jack with said TV. But no, like birth, it had to happen NOW - no waiting.

And I was the dutiful father to the laboring mother. I went about my business calmly while he grunted and sweated and cursed, and finally a TV was born.

And I have to admit, it really is a thing of beauty. He loves it like another son. I love it like a massive distraction, which is as good almost.

I'm off to Dallas this weekend with Johnny, so Mr. Meat and Potatoes is going to sit in his basement, in the dark, drinking beers that come from his little fridge right next to his chair, watching bad movies that I refuse to sit through, for three days. It is his own personal heaven.

So, there we will sit, me on my beautiful new furniture, him in front of the TV of his dreams, while our house shrugs forward and dies around us. But we won't care. The pool will survive.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Peace, Love, and Happiness

It's my birthday.

We tend, on anniversaries, special occasions, and the like, to take stock. And stock has been taken.

I am the luckiest girl alive. And I love all of you so very much, it's ridiculous.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Heat Wave

I feel like we might well look back on this summer as the best summer of our lives. Which is saying a lot.

But it's sort of how I always dreamed life could be, only without the money I might have imagined. Not that I ever imagined I'd be rich, but you know, when you're 18 you figure that by the time you're 38 you won't be budgeting for the eight dollars you'd like to spend on lipgloss. We're still broke, maybe broker than ever, but we're making the best of it.

My husband figures if we're spending the money to keep the pool in chemicals, we better be using it almost every day in order to get our money's worth. But after awhile the three of us get bored with each other, so we've been inviting people over to swim, sometimes to have dinner, sometimes to have an all-out-we-think-we're-21 style bash. At least three or four nights a week, there's someone visiting, some action in the pool, possibly someone falling down after attempting a lively Sally O'Malley impersonation.

Also, this has been the hottest summer on record since like 1984, which is just how I like it. That's right, I said I like it. The temp is over 110? BRING IT. My husband may well beat me later tonight for saying so, since I work in an air conditioned and windowless basement room, and he schleps beer in the heat and drives an un-airconditioned truck around 12 hours a day. But yes, for the most part, I like it. A heat wave gives everything a sort of hazy appearance. It's like I'm looking through Jell-O at my summer. It's like we're shooting a party film in the 1970's. Every time I see someone attempt a flip off the diving board and land flat on his back, I get a twinge of immeasurable joy. Yep, I think to myself, this is what I'm talking about.

Most of the time, I'm exhausted. I'm working over 50 hours a week, trying in vain to work on our house, keep up with laundry, cooking, groceries, and bills, and I'm chasing a toddler. BUT THAT DOES NOT STOP ME. I invite 20 people over on a random Friday night, and I watch them chat and play through tired eyes, always happy to have them.

I may not have new furniture yet (ever?) and maybe the house isn't really ready for a spread in Apartment Therapy, but I'm trying to be okay with that. I'm trying to remember that I'm having the Best Summer Ever, and that beautiful new throw pillows won't make it any happier than it already is.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Toddler schizophrenia

Johnny has found his voice.

I don't know if it is turning two, cutting two year molars, growing an inch a week, a demonic possession, or a combination of all of the above, but the kid has learned to pitch a fit.

"Johnny, do you want a blueberry muffin?" (The kind you loved yesterday and ate six of?) "WAHHHHANONONONONONONNYNONNYWAAHHHHHHHHHH" (*hiding eyes, throwing body on ground*) "How about a hot dog? Cheese? Apple? ICE CREAM? CUPCAKE?" "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

"Johnny, would you like to watch Gabba?" "YA! YEP!"

"Johnny, would you like to get dressed?" "NONONO WAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

"Johnny, do you want to watch Jack?" "YES! YEP!"

"Johnny, want to color at your new table?" "NO!!! NO NO NO NO NO!" (*sits down and proceeds to give Buzz Lightyear coloring page a fabulous new colorful look only after throwin the body on the floor once for good measure.)

"Johnny, want to go swimming?" "YEP."

"Johnny, want to get off the step and into the actual pool?" "!NO!NO!NO!NO!" (*swims out to the deep end on his own and gives us the finger.*)

And then, it's night time. Need I say more? Thankfully, the pool makes him so tired he doesn't have any "No's" left in him by 7:30. And then there's morning.

This morning, at 6:15 after my shower I thought I'd sneak in and gank his baby lotion since I misplaced my body lotion again and I didn't figure anyone wanted to see my naked business running down to the pool to check if I left it on the table.

So I cracked the door open ever-so-slowly, and there was my golden haired son, standing in the crib, grinning from ear to ear. "HI!" And he reaches up and says "EAT?"

That'll get me through the day.

Friday, July 29, 2011

In about ten years, you might see some of this at our house.

You wouldn't know it by looking at my house, but I've put a lot of thought into the interior design of it.

The key word there is THOUGHT. I have put a lot of time in on Personal Internet Research and THOUGHT. I have not purchased or created or painted a DAMN THING.

Partially because I'm a money miser and partially because I don't quite trust myself. I have designed no fewer than four living rooms on Polyvore, and at least that many playrooms, and let's not even talk about what I'm threatening to do to my kitchen cabinets.

I'm terrified to buy furniture that I might later hate. I am not the kind of person who loves painting walls and wants to re-do hers every year. What I do, I am stuck with. It's kind of a big deal, seeing as we'll spend more than $32 on it and we'll have to look at it every day for the rest of my lucid life. Probably. Yes, $32 is my threshold amount for "can I buy it without totally budgeting and dithering about it?" If I need something and it's under $32, I only dither for about a week. Over $32 and we've got IBS on our hands. There is nothing magic about the number 32. I don't usually like to spend $32. But that seems to be the tipping point between rational thinking, like "Of course I have to have diapers - duh" and "Hmm. This bulk deal of diapers is a great deal, but IT COSTS 35 DOLLARS. DO I WANT TO PART WITH 35 DOLLARS RIGHT THIS MINUTE?" Because, what if I need that 35 dollars later? What if that 35 dollars is the difference between repairing our air conditioning and not? How many times this month did I already spend 33 dollars?

So, furniture et al costs more than 32 dollars. Considerably more. And that means I will alternately be constipated and have violent diarrhea until we finally just make a decision already and spend the stupid dollars.

But give me a minute, please, because my bowels just recovered from the purchase of the house.

But, I will share with you a few items I've been toying with, just so you can tell me later that you knew all along I'd hate that yellow fabric, but you didn't have the heart to break it to me at the time. DON'T LET ME SPEND $35 on fabric I will later hate!

I have picked these for pillows and curtains in the play room, and don't ask me what will be what because I don't know. I'v drawn 90 sketches and hate it all.

There will be a futon in that room, and it has a black cover. And there is a half bath off that room with a canary yellow countertop, and that I just cannot fight. So we work with what we have. Also, I have a turquoise locker and a yellow "A/V" cart for moving the old tv/dvd player in and out of there, so we're trying to make all that work together, and then some. Get it?

IF YOU HATE IT, DON'T TELL ME. Wait, do tell me. NO DON'T. I can't start over! I just can't!

Not only does it take me ten times longer to purchase things just because I hate to spend money in general, but I also am ALWAYS. SURE. I can get a better deal. So I find something I like or even love, and then I spend the time normal people would spend watering plants and vacuuming carpets and talking to loved ones scouring the internet for a cheaper facsimile of that thing I love. And then I buy the knock off and I hate it.

For example, I love these drawer pulls for our kitchen, from Restoration Hardware,

but I probably will end up with these, from Home Depot,

which don't really accomplish what I want at all, but whatever, I'll save like $50. And I'll look at them for the next ten years and shake my head, because IT IS NOT REALLY WHAT I WANTED, DAMN THE FIFTY BUCKS.

Anyway, in good news, we got a new dishwasher yesterday. My first stainless steel appliance. Baby steps.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Next Chapter

We moved in on June 10 and 11. It too like seven minutes, because a team of amazing army ants arrived at our house and had all our worldly possessions in the van in under eight seconds. And then they unloaded it into the new house and then we polished off a keg.

Our friends, they are a marvel. We do not deserve them.

A couple of girls and I unpacked the kitchen and we plopped some furniture in the living room for a temporary sitting situation, and still it all sits. We still have a lot of boxes, and I haven't painted anything or ordered new furnishings or recovered chairs or done diddly squat, because we spend every waking moment cooking near and bathing in the pool. Come winter, we'll unpack and decorate.

It's been a wild transition. I know people move all the time. They buy and sell houses all the time. What's the big deal, then?

This is our home for the next big chunk of our life. It is where we will raise our son. It is where all the memories for a life-well-spent will be created. We managed to get it without breaking the bank, and even if, for some unimaginable reason, we come into more money someday, we don't really see ourselves moving. So, for us, it was a big deal.

We hope this home will hold the warmest of places in our son's heart as he goes out into the world. We hope one day when we are old and wheeling around the nursing home that we'll have glowing memories of pool parties and card games and delicious meals eaten in our kitchen. Of Superbowl watching and sleepovers and Sunday morning breakfasts.

We are so grateful to every single person who helped us along the way. We're grateful to our friends and our lovely neighbors who have been so warm and welcoming. We hope we can repay your kindness with hospitality for years to come.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

And so it is settled.

The road to making an offer had been rocky for a lot of reasons, like I thought the house was in a flood plain and jumped through a million hoops, calling engineers, insurance guys, bankers, and finally demanding that the seller get a flood elevation certificate. Which he was supposed to do, and we waited, on pins and needles. Deep inside I knew we'd probably buy the house regardless of the outcome, because it would still be a better house for less money than anything else we'd seen, but I wasn't really hip to paying an extra two grand a year in insurance premiums. Flood mapping, I learned, is voodoo, according to my map-knowing friends, and I knew the house was barely on the edge, if it was in at all. And the whole thing was stupid aggravating. I'm barely on the edge of sanity, here, people. Maybe you should take out extra insurance on ME.

Finally, I called my mortgage banker (HI DEBI!) and said GODDAMMIT, FIND OUT IF YOU'RE GOING TO REQUIRE THIS FLOOD INSURANCE, and she said "Hey! Looks like we don't!" and then I cried some more. And *that's* when we made the offer, shook the hands, and drank the margaritas.

From there it was a series of formalities. You know, like signing our lives away. But a lot of good things happened. Like we were able to use some profits from our old house and pay off a vehicle. And our insurance actually went DOWN, as did our security bill and our internet bill, don't ask me why. It's ALL VOODOO. But that's amazing, because of course our mortgage payment went up (but not a whole heckuvalot)and that pool? It costs a little money. But with the savings from the car and the other breaks, we're about breaking even.

How do you like that? We doubled our square footage, got ourselves a pool and a basement, and our monthly output? DARN NEAR THE SAME.

Butter my butt and call me a biscuit, I think this just might work.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hand shakes and high hopes

After I was revived, he wanted to look around. With no notice. Tell me. How many of you would be okay with showing your house RIGHT NOW.

But I had to be. I didn't want to do anything that might mean he'd lose interest. So, apologizing every step of the way for the toys and dog hair the blind old man was stumbling over, we looked around our house.

And then he left, and we waited.

We waited for almost a week, before he brought his son back over to look, and then a few more days before he appeared on our doorstep to negotiate. I lowballed him, made my husband mad, and had a signed contract that evening, finally. Possibly, that was the longest week of my life, waiting for him to decide. Longer, maybe than the week before Johnny was born. For real, people. I had to stay fairly liquified in order to not think obsessive thoughts every waking moment.

But we arrived at a price and I wrote the check for the earnest money and Joe The Buyer signed it because he's blind, and I called the title company and my realtor aunty and got some advice on how to proceed and on our way we were. Turns out, buying and selling houses for sale by owner? Not that hard. If you have a buyer, that is. A buyer that came to you unsolicited. And if you buy a house for sale by owner from a guy who happens to flip houses as a side gig, because he kinda knows a few folks and some house buying ropes. And if one of your BFF's is your mortgage banker and you know, you're half nuts. Like we are.

But seriously, doing both deals sans realtor? People we saved about fifteen large. Fifteen THOUSAND dollars. So what it cost in footwork on my part and a little bit of extra stress, uhm yeah. Made up for it in COLD HARD CASH.

So the minute - and I do mean MINUTE - I had a signed contract and earnest money from Joe, our buyer, I emailed and called and texted and vibed our seller to tell him we were ready to make and offer and TELL ME YOU DID NOT SELL THAT HOUSE YET.

And, the heavens opened, and he still had the house, and we signed a contract with him a couple of days later. Or, we agreed on a price, shook his hand, and wrote a check for a meager amount of earnest money. Because that's how these deals apparently work.

And then we drove around the new neighborhood, planning Johnny's entire future and ours, and then we had margaritas. I might have cried a little.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ode to cold air

There are many things in life that are over-rated.

There are many creature comforts we can *so* live without.

Air conditioning is not one of them.


Friday, July 22, 2011

I'm the luckiest bitch in the world.

So all of that went down in early April. April 3, to be exact, was the first time I saw the house. And loved it, and knew we'd never get it.

Resigned, I went home and made a list of the final things that needed to happen to our house. I had the wheels in motion to get our loan worked out, and I went back to the real estate listings in hopes of finding something else that didn't make me want to cut myself in the next month or so.

It's nerve-wracking, the notion that you can find "the house" and not have your sold. Or, possibly worse, sell your house and not have "the house" picked out to move into. I was trying not to think about it. I regularly called Lindsey and Adam over to console me with wine and help me stay motivated to pack boxes for storage. But it felt hollow and futile.

I obsessively checked Craigslist every day to see if the house was still available. I emailed the seller love notes and sweet nothings several times a week, in hopes of softening him to the idea of a contingent contract.

The house remained for sale, and all hope was not lost, but the seller wasn't budging. He needed a real offer from someone who wasn't backing out.

And then, one day, there was a knock at my front door. Thinking it was Mr. Meat and Potatoes who was supposed to be outside mowing the lawn and who I figured probably had his hands full of god-knows-what and wanted me to help him with something I didn't want to help with, seeing as I had a toddler underfoot and hot dinner on the stove, I threw open the door and before I even looked up I said "WHAT?"

And there stood a nice old man, looking rather sorry he'd ever chosen this door upon which to knock.

I recognized this man as the one who walked his old black dog up and down our street every night with his son. We'd been waving cordially for the better part of five years, but we had never spoken, beyond "It's a hot one!" or "Cold enough for ya?"

And so, embarrassed at my outburst and the state of my living room, I invited him in.

He told me he had heard through the neighborhood grapevine we wanted to sell the house, and he thought he might like to buy it.

And then an 85 year old man picked me up off the floor of my own living room, and offered to call 911.