Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Would YOU Get the Baby?

My office phone rang at noon:


Um, hello?

Heh-woah. Id's me - Big V. I'm sick. Leavin' work. I feel like crap. I can't breathe.


I already puked twice. My head is killing me. I keep coughing so hard I'm afraid I'm going to start coughing up blood.


I can't even breathe through my nose, but it keeps running - I've blown my nose so much today. It's ridiculous.


So, I told the boss I couldn't work anymore. Usually I just work through it - but this, this is different. I don't know what's wrong with me. I've never felt this sick before. My head is dizzy and I keep feeling like I'm going to pass out.


Do you want me to pick up the baby?



Half an hour later the my office phone rang again:


Um, hello?

Heh-woah. Id's me - Big V. I'm at WalMart.


I wanna get some medicine so I can feel better.


But I don't know what to get. There's like, a whole aisle full of different stuff and I don't know what to get.


Just tell me what to get.


Why not?

I don't know what your symptoms are.

I told you my symptoms. Earlier. See, you say you always listen to me but you really don't.

Are you feeling better?

No. Why?

Because if you have enough energy to point out my flaws you're really not that sick now, are you?

You're going to feel really guilty when you learn I died at WalMart.

You are not going to die at WalMart. You have a cold. A summer cold. A sinus infection, perhaps, but you will not die.

But I threw up. People don't throw up if they just have a cold.

Let me guess - you didn't feel good last night so you didn't eat any dinner, but you drank half a container of NyQuil in order to get some sleep.


Then you woke up feeling like crap this morning so you didn't eat anything for breakfast, but you drank half a container of DayQuil in order to try to get through the day.


You won't die. Your stomach lining is destroyed, but you won't die. Go home. Crawl in bed and sleep it off.

Do you want me to get the baby?


Why not? I feel bad if I'm home but he's being watched by someone else.

Why not? Call ten mothers and ask them if they felt like death and could sleep for the afternoon without their children, whether or not they'd give their right arm to do it. Do whatever the majority says.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Being a Caterpillar

There's my Dotter.
The caterpillar.
She wanted to audition for a play.

Uh... but people will see you.
And look at you.
And laugh at the lines.
And you'll think they're laughing at you.
And these will be people you don't know.
And you won't be able to crawl under the couch.
Or duck your head.
Or refuse to speak.
Or retreat into your other world where only you exist.

I prayed.
And took her.
And crossed my fingers.

And there she is.

Not only as the caterpillar...

But also as one of the birds:

and as one of the flowers...

But my favorite was the caterpillar.

Because she wasn't in a group.
And she had to be so brave.

And she didn't hide.
Or cower.
Or hate life because she was forced to talk.

She was the best caterpillar that I ever saw.

I almost forgot that this was the little girl who didn't talk.

I almost forgot that this was the little girl we have to remind
to look people in the eyes during a conversation.

I almost forgot that this was the little girl we have to explain
what rhetorical questions are and how not everything is always literal.

No, she's not actually going to eat a horse; it's an expression... no, she isn't lying.

Like the caterpillar who slowly transfoms into a butterfly,
so my precious Dotter is slowly transforming into a confident young lady.


And I'll let her take her time.
And I won't try to force her.

And I wouldn't trade her for the world.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


This is the dog kennel.

Also known as Dogcatraz.

It is a combination of metal,
cement board,
extension cords,
duct tape

And also a broom.
(It's expertly hidden. Like a ninja.)

Why do we keep her locked in a kennel?


The dog ate the la-z-boy recliner.

And then she ate the couch cushion.

And then she rearranged my furniture.

And ate magazines.

And some books.

And Big V's senior class yearbook.

And people would cry, "She needs something special!"

So we got her a plush doggie bed.

And she ate it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The One In Which I'm Pretty Sure My Mom Has Been Murdered

Life would be so much easier for me if my mother wasn't so, well, dependable. For instance, I can depend on her to answer her phone when I call because she almost always does. On those rare occasions when she doesn't, I can count on her to call me back somewhere between minute 1:17 and 2:36 of my rambling, way-too-long-to-bother-with voicemail message I'm leaving her.

But the other day she didn't answer my phone call.

Or the next one.

Or the next one after that.

And I got worried. Mostly because I really needed to hop on line and make a money transfer and I had no way of doing it at my house, but also because my mom always answers her phone. And she always calls back. But she wasn't doing either. And that, in itself, is worrisome.

So I drove to her house because I really needed to use her computer and also there was a part of me that thought maybe she was just avoiding my call because she was afraid I'd ask her to raise my first born. Again. And when the Bean and I pulled up to her house there in the driveway was her car, which proved to me she really had been avoiding my call, and this made me consider leaving the Bean there for a month just to teach her it's not nice to avoid your favorite daughter's phone calls.

Except she wasn't inside.

So I sent her a text saying I'm at your house using the internet to look up porn and infect your computer with viruses. Just kidding. I wouldn't mention porn to my mother; how embarrassing. The real text was I am at your house using your computer to transfer funds. Where are you and should I call 911? But she didn't text back.

Meanwhile, Bean's in her kitchen whipping up a healthy sandwich, telling me that she just loves coming to Grandma's house because she always has good food in her cupboards. I explained to her that growing up we survived on generic bread and Bisquick because that's what's in the How To Destroy Your Offspring's Culinary Childhood manual, so guess what, I'm going to have good food in my cupboards once you live on your own, too! Also, I told her that Grandma probably does cartwheels every time she opens her cupboards because the good food is still there 24 hours after buying it and just wait until you have kids and then you'll understand why we hide the good food in our nightstands and eat it quietly in the middle of the night. All that mmmmm.... mmmmm... this is sooooo good! you hear isn't because we're having sex, it's because we're finally able to enjoy the box of Chicken in a Biscuit crackers without your grubby little paws in it or hearing anxiety laced commentary that someone might end up consuming one more cracker than you.

But I digress. Grandma still had not returned my call. Or my other call. Or the one after that. Nor did she return my text.

So I called her again. No answer.

Now I was beginning to really worry. My mom is, well, my mom. I mean, all she does is work in her office or babysit my kids. Knowing that, one would assume if she isn't watching my kids she'd be in her office. But she wasn't. Logic then stated she should be somewhere in her house.

I checked the bathroom. Nothing.

Bedroom. Nope.

Garage? Nada.

Living room? Dining Room? Family Room? No, No, and No.

She wasn't in the front hall closet either.

That's when I called my sister.

Me: I'm at Mom's house and she's not here but her car is in the driveway. She hasn't returned any of my calls. I checked everywhere but I can't find her. Well, I only checked the main floor. If I leave and someone else finds her bloody, mangled body later will you all blame me for not looking hard enough?

Sister:  Yes.

Me: So I should look upstairs?

Sister: Yes.

Me: Okay. I'm going up the stairs.... I'm at the top of the stairs but don't see anything.... Nothing in the bedroom.... or the bathroom... or the craft room.... or the play room.... Ok.... her body isn't here. Should I check the basement?

Sister: Yes.

Bean: What are you doing?

Me: Looking for grandma's body.

Bean: You're morbid.

Me: I don't want my siblings blaming me for her death. Go look for your grandmother. Do you know how bad you'll feel when you find out she's breathing her last breaths while you're eating her salami?

Me: Ok... I'm going down the basement stairs now.... God, I hope I don't find her body... I watch a lot of CSI, you know....

Sister:  I can tell.

Me:  I don't see anything in the basement.... I don't think she's down here....

(I was really hoping my sister would forget about checking any of the bedroom closets, which I did not open; I totally did not want to find her body. Not that I wouldn't call 911, it's just that if she was still bleeding I'd have to try to stop it by applying pressure, and let's be honest, we're not really a touchy-feely kind of family.)

Me: Where could she be?

Sister: Are her tennis shoes missing?

Me:  Let me check.... I'm by the rug and, no, her tennis shoes are not here...

Sister: Then she's out walking.

Me: Oh! I never thought of that!

Sister:  I could tell.

So I sent my mom another text:  Checked the entire house for your body and couldn't find it. Consulted older, wiser sister & she feels you may be out walking. Hope that's it....

Hours later, after I had expended all that sweat and worry my mom sends back a text. Had phone on silent. Had a meeting.

That's it. No thank you, favorite daughter, for fearing for my safety. No I am so blessed, favorite daughter, to have you willing to search my home in search of my (possibly) bludgeoned body.

It was almost as if she expected that short, concise, very logical explanation to suffice. What was unwritten spoke the loudest: QUIT WATCHING CSI, CRIMINAL MINDS, BONES, THE GLADES AND ANY OTHER SHOW THAT DEALS WITH MURDERS!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Collecting is hard.

One day I decided I would try to normalize myself into society by doing things other normal people did - have a collection; much like I did when I tried to normalize myself by becoming a Regular at Satrbucks. That particular quest failed, but I vowed not to let that deter me from collection success. I figured beer steins would take up too much space and I never understood those miniature spoons people put in frames. Besides, with quarters all I'd have to do is spend money, which I was already doing. (read: required no change in the physical effort I was currently exerting.)

Anyway, I basically announced to Big V and Dotter that I was collecting quarters and it would now be their responsibility to look through change from time to time and put the quarters I needed (and they found) in the official quarter collecting map book. The process was grueling, to say the least. They took forever to find Arizona.

Now, just when I thought I was done and could pat myself on the back for a job well done, I find out there's MORE. The US Mint decided to do up a new District of Columbia, Guam, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and something referred to as the Northern Mariana Islands, which I'm going to have to Google because I am not recalling that at all from my high school geography class.

Collecting is really hard.

I don't think I have the time or energy for it anymore. Ever since Big V went all Debit Card on me he never has any change. That means I'd be the one responsible for drumming up the cash to sift through. And Dotter is suddenly all, "but, Mom, wouldn't you get more satsisfaction from finding the coins you need yourself?" (What does she know; she's eight.) No, kid, it's all about being on top delegating to the peons to do your shit work. You'll learn all about that at your first job.

Since my family is obviously not supporting me (just wait to see what you get for Christmas. I see lots of socks and underwear in your future!), and I vowed not to fail, I figured I better enlist the help of others so I can get this done and put it to bed. Figuratively speaking. Although I do keep the official quarter collecting map book under my bed so it's kind of like putting it to bed. Weird, huh? Anyway, I'll be posting these around town later today:

Feel free to help a blogger out.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bills Suck

In an effort to get Big V to *see* the grand scheme of bill paying, what we owed, what we spend, what we should save for, I passed everything over to him. "Here you go," I happily announced. "YOU deal with it!" And he did. Just not in the way I would have liked. You know, in that, gee we have this electric bill due which means maybe I should pay it and not buy a new lawn mower kind of way. That's what I get for handing over my pay check and my trust.

Fast forward a couple months and I'm in a panic because the electric is surely going to be disconnected and I'll have to light candles around the house in order to see and the baby will knock one over and it'll catch the house on fire and then we'll all die.

So, I've done what any normal mature adult woman would do in this situation and I've taken the financially responsibility of this family back and placed it squarely on my shoulders. And I've whined and complained and cried and thrown tantrums and pouted the whole time.

That's because Big V doesn't exactly work a full time job. Big V works a kinda-sorta full time job. Sometimes he works full time and sometimes he doesn't. It's just the name of the game. Construction: and thousands are in the same position as he is. Sometimes he kinda-sorta doesn't get paid all the way. That's because they have to wait for the customer to pay before the workers can get paid. And then I get frustrated because it's really hard to pay the electric bill with a promise that maybe next week he'll get all the money owed him and then we can for real pay the bill. (Big V refers to this as "making good." As in "I only got paid half of what's owed me, but they'll be making good next week sometime.") Meanwhile, mortgages are due and babysitters need to be paid and school registration fees are waiting and I'm looking at a column of actual real money versus a column of someday we might actually get this money. It's hard. (Ask anyone in this economy who is employed in the construction business.)

And then I think of my parents who worked so hard the entire time we were kids, and still do. My mom always had two or three jobs, as did my dad. They worked together as a team to get things done. My dad would work first shift and my mom second so they could save on daycare costs. (Well, let's be honest, no one in their right mind would've watched four kids spaced five years apart. Unless they were crazy. Which we did actually get a crazy person once who watched us. But that story - filled with hands immersed in boiling water, dangling small children from one leg over a balcony and stuffing a child in a bin filled with plastic bags, is for another day.)

We turned out okay. I mean, not that great, obviously, but okay, considering the lack of dietary variation. (My dad made hamburgers every night except Thursdays when he made pancakes. Ask me why I don't like hamburgers or pancakes: because I overdosed as a child.)

I guess my point is to me it's obvious. As an adult you come to the table with a certain expectation, and to me that means you work a real, full time job. One that pays. On a regular basis. And if you don't have that then you do whatever is in your power to get as close to that as possible. I don't care if you work two part time jobs, or three. As long as you're working and pulling your own weight. This explains why I've always had more than one job, because I expect me to abide by my own standards.

I've always worked jobs where there was a paycheck on a certain day, and there were sick days, vacation days,  really great insurance and a 401K. Everything was always steady. Everything was always dependable. For the entire year. The idea of working in a business where there is no security, there is no guarantee of pay, is foreign to me. I have friends who work on commission alone and I just don't understand how that's done. How do you budget? Plan? Guarantee an income? It's so scary to be working in a business that slows and speeds up and then comes to a halt. It's simply unchartered territory to me.

I suppose there really is no humor in this post. But financial struggles are rarely cloaked in humor. Now a post about my Bisquick loving mother - that just might have humor in it. Bisquick biscuits, Bisquick shepard's pie, Bisquick impossible pie, Bisquick coffee cake, Bisquick dumplings....

Monday, August 16, 2010

Just one more minute....

I promise to tell you all about our time up north.
But for now, I want just one more minute to savor it...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

To the North!

The last time I was on a vacation with my children was never. Unless you count that one time when Big V somehow convinced me that we were going to have a swell time at a resort hotel with his family. And by family I mean his mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, their two kids, his other sister, his other brother-in-law, and their four kids. With an adjoining door between our room and one of theirs. And the resort hotel was geared for kids under the age of 5, which I didn't have. I don't need to tell you that was anything but a vacation. It was more like a flesh eating bacteria. That you could see. But couldn't stop. Kids everywhere. Upset kids everywhere. And upset adults because no one wanted to watch the upset kids. And it took three hours to decide where to eat dinner. And I only wanted to relax, because being a single mom for the majority of my adult life I've never gone on a vacation so all I wanted to do was sit, and yet somehow it was mandated that I go shopping which I don't find relaxing at all, so I said no and they said yes and I said no and Big V was all don't upset the apple cart and I was all but I hate shopping and so I dug my heels in and didn't go because this was supposed to be fun for me, right? Except that didn't go over very well. So you see how the whole thing could hardly be described as a vacation.

Then I had Cletus. I admit the four days in the hospital was like a vacation. But instead of fruity drinks with umbrellas I was hooked up to an IV. The resulting fuzziness was the same, I guess.

I've wanted to go on a family vacation but we simply can't afford it. Especially when we keep having to buy drywall to replace what Satan the Dog eats.

Enter my friend, Robyn, who is like nobody you have ever met before in your life ever. Trust me. But after you meet her you'll be all Why don't I have a friend like her? and feel like something is missing from your life. She's smart, witty, and gorgeous. She laughs all. the. time. And she's snarky. She's snarkier than me. I like that. And she makes me laugh all. the. time. Which is why she's one of the coolest people ever.

One day she tosses out, "Go take your family up to our cabin! Enjoy! Relax!" And I'm polite, "sounds great." And weeks pass and she's like, "Seriously, go use our cabin. Before you stress out and kill your entire family." And I'm all, "well, maybe." And then I almost did kill my entire family so I asked, "Hey, is your place up north still available? Because I'm going to need a place to hide these bodies."

And now I'm going on a family vacation.

With Big V.
And two teens (because we needed someone to entertain the Bean so we wouldn't kill her).
And an 8-year old.
And a 10-month old.

For an entire weekend.

And I'm scared.

Because we have to drive. In a singular confined space. All of us. For over four hours.

And what on earth are we going to do without computers and phones and televisions... and my mom?

And also there's a bear. Called a sow. With cubs. And I feel over my head already. Because isn't a sow some kind of pig? So is this a pig masquerading as a bear? Or a bear masquerading as a pig? Is it like a transvestite bear? Or pig? Do we scare it off with a gun? Or shake a pack of bacon at it?

Robyn, sensing my anxiety, provided me with four detailed pages of directions and instructions. These pages included all pertinent information to ensure a safe and relaxing weekend such as:
Our canoe leaks - don't venture to use it unless you want to get wet.
Feel free to raid the food - just stay the f--k away from my booze! Priorities.

And where she provided directions to two beautiful nearby lakes, drew a road along with don't know the name of the road; if you can't find it you're dumb.  

I cannot wait to see what's in store for us.... and who survives...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Food on a Stick

Many years ago, before scores of mosquitoes had taken over our land, and humans were able to walk the earth without the threat of West Nile virus, I took my (then) little girl for a walk. We went through the back yard, into the woods DEET free, and followed the trail that led to this beautiful little pond in a clearing in the middle of the woods.

The pond was clear and full of fish. There was a small boat holding hands with an old wooden dock, rocking gently with the summer breeze. I pointed out the tiny, one bedroom cabin, with its miniature porch and tiny windows.

I took the hand of my 4-year old daughter and led her across the clearing, closer to the edge of the water. I showed her a dragon fly dancing in front of us and asked her to listen to the chorus of frogs. And we stood, hand-in-hand, Mother and Daughter, amongst the natural beauty of God's world.

And then she screamed.

She screamed and screamed and pointed and screamed and I tried to ask this hysterical child what the Hector Ridorsky was wrong with her and she screamed, "Who would do such a thing?!" as she pointed to a group of cattails. "Who would put hamsters on sticks?!"

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Up's and Down's: How to Fix a Garage Door in Less Than One Year

For over a year our garage door has not worked. You know, the big overhead door that opens allowing one to pull the car into the garage and park. I guess technically it worked. I mean, it opened. But only manually. Man-u-ally. Meaning "Man, you really have to put forth some physical effort to make this thing work." And you all know how I feel about physical effort.

Throughout my entire pregnancy, throughout the entire winter, throughout all kinds of terrible weather, I had to pull in the driveway, put the car in park, get out of the car, walk to the garage, lean down, heft the sucker up (sucker being the big overhead garage door), walk back to the car, get back into the car, put the car in drive, drive forward, and park. You see how utterly exhausting that can be. Especially being forced to do it day in and day out, several times a day.

I come from the old school where the Man should naturally possess knowledge as to (1) why the door isn't opening when I click the little button on the remote and (2) how to fix it. Note: it is assumed that the Man  also possesses the self discipline and determination to "make it happen" and fix the darn thing. Note #2: Big V did not come from the old school.

Me: Why doesn't the door work?

Big V: I don't know.

Me: Can you fix it?

Big V: I don't know.

Me: Can you try?

Big V: I don't know.

Me: Is there someone else who can fix it?

Big V: I don't know.

And so it was that more than 365 days passed where the overhead garage door could only be opened or closed manually. Arguments ensued.

Me: What are you doing?!

Big V: We're going to the store - you said we're going to the store!

Me: We can't just leave - pull back in the driveway!

Big V: Why? What's wrong?

Me: The garage door is still open.

Big V: We're running to the store. We'll be gone less than an hour.

Me: Less than an hour? Do you know what can happen in less than an hour? Criminals could steal the lawn mower and the grill and the quick-set pool we only used one summer because it's really not very quick to put up at all! And they could hide in the garage and jump out and stab us with knives and then we'll bleed out and die. And I don't want to die on the garage floor - no matter how many times you sweep it, it's still filthy!

Big V: You're overreacting.

Me: No I'm not. I don't want criminals in our garage. Pull back into the driveway... I'll shut the door - since you're too lazy.

Big V: I'm not lazy. It's just easier to leave it open so we can see the killers from the car before we get out. If you have to get out and open the garage door you're at a disadvantage because you're bent over and they could club you over the head before you even realized they were there.

Fast forward to this weekend when Joe Schmoe stopped by to chit-chat (read: have a few beers with Big V in our garage because he felt compelled to escape his own home life) and the two of them started planning Ultimate Garage Improvements, which included air conditioning and state of the art lighting. "You could start with getting the door to go up and down on command," I tossed out sarcastically.

Joe: The door doesn't open?

Me: No, we don't know what's wrong with it.

Big V: Yeah, I looked at it, and we're gonna have to get a professional in here. The guy we bought the house from put it in himself and had no clue what he was doing. It's all messed up.
Joe: Got the manual?

And that's how seven minutes later I had a door that opened and closed whenever I pushed the little button on the remote.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Click This

There is nothing as important to this world we live in, than the shared creative talents of those who reside here. I believe that everyone has a talent and you owe it to yourself, as well as to the world, to explore that talent and share it. Erma Bombeck explained it best when she said, "When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me.' " 

That's why I get so giddy and spasticly excited when I see someone stepping up and taking charge of their talents. I want to jump around and shout out to everyone that will listen, "You have got to check this out!"

Today's shout out goes to my good friend, Melissa, of Melissa Reed Photography.

Doesn't she look like she belongs in Africa shooting
wildlife? I want her to go so I can be her assistant.

As you know, I am a big fan of taking pictures. I like documenting everything around me - probably because I live in fast forward and things happen so quickly they're replaced by the next great and funny thing almost instantaneously. It's like Christmas flipping through my photos, oh! I forgot Becky did the running man in the middle of the mall! I love her! Anyway, my skills truly are of the Point & Click variety. Meaning every photo is taken at eye level just as seen through my very own eyes. They serve their purpose. I can create witty commentary to liven them up. But they aren't art.

Now, Melissa. She's an artist. If I wasn't so afraid of copyright infringement law I'd post a bunch of her pictures on my page, but I'm scared of prison - even federal prison. Is copyright infringement a federal crime? Would I be able to knit a shawl in federal prison? I don't know but I'm not willing to find out. I like my down comforter and I'm not running the risk of giving it up while I serve time in jail. Plus I love movie theater popcorn. I bet they don't serve that in jail either. So, you're just going to have to follow THIS SUPER COOL LINK to Melissa's page and see for yourself just how truly talented she is.

I was lucky enough to secure a photo shoot with Ms. Reed for my oldest daughter's birthday. While Ms. Reed was shooting the Bean, I was shooting Ms. Reed. (I can be oh-so-sneaky like that. That's why they call me Stealthy McGee. Yeah, I know. Not really.)

I couldn't even hold that camera. It is huge. And heavy. And expensive. And I'm somewhat of a walking liability so I stayed far, far away.

I love this picture because it's daring. Let's be honest. I wouldn't be sitting so casually on railroad tracks. Ever. I've watched Stand By Me one too many times and it's left a lasting impression on me about trains. And train tracks. And people named Ace or Eyeball.

Melissa is talented and fun and it truly was a pleasure spending the afternoon with her. Bean loves her. I love her. (She drinks wine. And you know me - I love me my wine drinkin' friends!) I recommend taking a break from whatever it is you're doing (obviously you have time... you're reading my blog, y'all!) and flipping through her pictures on her website because you will fall in love with her art. Recently she participated in Scott Kelby's Annual Photowalk in Madison, Wisconsin, where basically these fantastic, uber-talented photographers walk around the city capturing everyday sights. As I looked through Melissa's pictures I found myself not just seeing a building, or person walking - but I became mesmorized by the sounds and smells coming from the picture. I could feel the glass in a building just by seeing it - it was as if her pictures were coming to life right before my eyes. Now, to me, that is a true and amazing artist.

I'm just trying to find a way to keep her all to myself so she'll become my personal photographer. Shoot everything around me and show me what I'm missing. Because when I see what she's captured I realize I'm missing so much of the world around me. And that is the exact reason why there is nothing as important to the world we live in, than the shared creative talents of those who reside here... to allow us to see, to allow us to appreciate. And Melissa Reed is truly someone I appreciate for her talent, for her creativity, and for her courage to explore her talent and share it with the world. And also because she'll drink wine with me for hours and make me laugh so hard I'll have to pee. (Darn that third baby bladder weakness.)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Weed is Bad.

I only like to take the baby outside for five minutes between 5:00pm and 5:05pm because that way I don't have to mess around with applying sunscreen or insect repellant, because we all know that stuff will soak into the blood stream and make a baby nuts. Plus, you really ought to wash that stuff off eventually so they don't lick it and, well, let's face it, I'm quite lazy. The kid has a lot of toys in the living room so he's completely entertained and doesn't even mind never go outside in the elements. Friends of ours even lent us this baby cage (decorated in bright primary colors so you don't feel so guilty about keeping your small child locked in a 4'x4' area) that he hasn't quite figured out how to climb out of, and he really enjoys his time in there so I wouldn't be surprised if he's still sitting in it when he's 8.

Anyway, I decided to take the baby outside the other day - due to the fact I took one of those grown-up multi-vitamin tablets for women, and Dotter was so surprised she followed us out. "Mama! What are you doing? You're taking the baby outside? He'll melt!" but I was bound and determined to show this 10-month old what the world looked like.

"See," I pointed out lovingly. "Those are garbage cans. Your Daddy doesn't like to bring them back into the garage so they stay there at the end of the driveway until Mommy reminds him that we're not a bunch of hillbillies."

Then I showed him the dent in the side of my car which was parked in the driveway. "That's where Daddy's motorcycle fell in the passenger door. Can you say kickstand malfunction?"

Then I pointed over to the weeds growing up along the entire front of the garage. "These are weeds," I explained, plucking one off it's stem and tickling the baby's cheek. "Weeds are icky. Weeds are bad."

And that's when I glanced over and saw Dotter pluck a long stemmed weed and stick it in her mouth. "Mom," she asked, puffing at the end of the plant like it was a cigarette. "Is this what they mean when people smoke weed?"

Now. I've been a mother for many years now and I know not to get upset and panicky when things like this come up. I reminded myself that I should hold off jumping to conclusions and ask questions.

"Um, where have you heard that phrase before? - 'Smoke weed'?"

"From Jelly Bean."

"Oh. Where was she when she said that?"

"In her room. She was talking to her friend about a mean girl from their school and said she was really bad because she smokes weed."

Now, I know an educational moment when I see one so I wasn't about to let it go to waste:  "Well,  it is bad. Weed is very bad. And that's why I don't want it at my house. And I think the right thing to do is to remove all this weed along the garage. And when you see it growing you should pull it out right away."

She said she would.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Traveling With the Bean

Jelly Bean was away at camp last week. Co-ed camp. Oh, get your mind out of the gutter - the boys were in one cabin and the girls in another, they just did everything else together. For a week she was giggling and laughing and swimming and horseback riding and eating food that other people prepared for her. Then her time was up. Which was good because after seven days Dotter was a complete mess since she doesn't like routine to be disrupted; even if by "routine" we mean the Bean rolling eyeballs and sighing heavily about Gawd! how ridiculous and dorky and uncool we all are. Dotter spent the week sleeping in the Bean's room. And applying Bean's make-up. And dressing up in Bean's clothes. Essentially becoming that creepy roommate who moves in then takes over the identity of the person they're living with.

So, Dotter, Cletus the Used to be Fetus, and I drove off, in the rain, to pick Bean up from camp. Big V had to work so I was flying solo on this mission. Now, Big V is the type of guy who inherently knows where to go. It's like his brain is one big GPS mapping system - which explains why there's no room for things like "must pick up dirty socks off living room floor" and "white Hanes undershirts are just that; under shirts, and shall not be worn as an external shirt for the entire world to see." I do not possess any sort of mapping or general directional skill at all; therefore I rely heavily on Automated GPS Girl to help direct the way. I trust her wholeheartedly and for some reason feel obligated to listen to her even when I know where I am. And Automated Girl did not let me down! Even when I missed that one turn because I was excitedly calling my mother to tell her about this field full of  hundreds of wild turkeys, or cranes, or otherwise unidentifiable birds - Automated Girl took my mistake in stride, recalculated, and get me straight again. I love you Automated Girl!

Too bad Auto Girl couldn't pinpoint the exact location of my kid at camp. We waited and watched as parents reunited with children over and over again. In the rain. Dotter starting to get anxious. The baby fussing louder. The crowd dwindling. And still no 15-year old sharing our DNA. "Let's just check the Lost and Found," Dotter suggested. This actually seemed like a good idea. Maybe she was sitting on the front lawn amongst the dozens of forgotten beach towels and sweatshirts spread out for parents to collect on their way out.

Eventually we found her wandering the camp streets, saying goodbye to friends, and all was right with the world.


The Bean had a vacation to get to. She was travelling out of state that very evening and we needed to get her home stat! She needed to shower, unpack, repack and get her butt to the airport. I pictured us rushing about, effectively crossing items of our list of things to-do. Double and triple checking to make sure she had her ticket and ID and deodorant and enough underwear to last the next ten days.

It went more like this: Praise the Heavens! I have my phone! I have a week's worth of texting to catch up on! I'll just lay here on my bed for a few minutes....





V! Thank God you're home! I can't get Bean to pack and we HAVE leave in FIFTEEN MINUTES!!

And so it was that while we did, in fact, get to the airport in time to get Bean's boarding passes and bags checked, Bean would suddenly realize she did not have adequate time to remember to properly identify her plain, black bag, and how she ran back behind security to try to "get her bag back" so she could put some sort of hair tie on it so she would be able to recognize it. And how the security guys didn't think that was a really cool thing to do.

Security telling Bean to get AWAY FROM THE ALREADY CHECKED BAG!

Darn my not-so-speedy camera...
but this was the best picture I had of Bean's "oops" face.
I think she was slightly fearing being arrested at this point.

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