Friday, October 29, 2010


I have really bad allergies. Now. I never used to. I used to just see people with really bad allergies and I'd think that is so gross; why are they always sniffling? Why do they always look glassy eyed and high? Why are they always clucking in the back of their throat? They keep saying their throat itches -- I bet they're on drugs. They've got to be on drugs! Druggie!

Believe it or not, I've never used drugs - smoked pot, hit the hippie lettuce, smoked a spliff, cued the cannibis - I just assumed that if you did that sort of thing your throat would itch. I didn't know that pollen in the air could create that kind of havoc.

See, I judged those people. I saw those allergy-ridden icky people gasping for breath in-between sneezing fits thought not-so-nice things and God saw me and said, "Now, that's not nice to judge people. I think you need to learn compassion. Therefore, after the birth of your second child, I shall deliver to you allergies." And just like that, I was allergic.

It got so bad I had one of those "tests" done to see what I was allergic to. "Test" meaning "get stabbed by a thousand little needles that will give you hives." Turns out I'm allergic to the world and everything in it. And so I had to have more shots. Lots of them. Several times a week. In the hopes that the magic shots would clear up the allergies. And sometimes they hurt. A lot. There were two nurses that administered the allergy shots: one good nurse and one evil nurse. I'll let you decide who gave the better shots of the two. Anyway, I tried not to cry too much because I felt really embarrassed wiping my tears while the 6-yr old next to me tried to comfort me, telling me it would be okay and that I'd get a sticker at the end. Determined not to be one of those sneezing, sniffling, glassy-eyed people, I manned up and took the shots like I was supposed to.

My allergies were in check for awhile, but then I had my third child and now they're all wonky again. Damn hormones. Either that or global warming is totally doing a number on my system. Since I don't have a prescription anymore (what with being cured by the shot regimen and all) I simply pick up a box of my favorite Benadryl from time to time. Except Walgreen's hates me now and no longer carries my favored box. Also, Piggly Wiggly hates me. And so does ShopKo. And I can't seem to find a compatible replacement. The one I got yesterday completely removes all traces of fluid in my body. Sure, it cleared everything up in my nasal cavity, but now I have no saliva in which to attempt to speak, my eyeballs are so brittle they're about to break and my urine comes out in dust form. If I happen to hack off my arm with the office paper cutter I'm not sure I'd bleed. Which would be good in terms of clean-up I guess but freaky nonetheless. At least I'm not sniffling.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Trick or not.

The Bean was made for Halloween. That in and of itself made it an awesome holiday. I knew I hit character paydirt when she wanted to be a monk. She was two. Another year she was spaghetti and meatballs. Then she was a super feathery chicken. With orange skinny legs. All her costumes were handmade. All her costumes were awesome. Now she's fifteen and the only costumes she looks at have the descriptive label "sexy" in front of them. Sexy nurse. Sexy firefighter. Sexy cop. There is no sexy chicken. There is no sexy spaghetti and meatballs.

You'd think I could now live vicariously through Dotter - but she wants absolutely nothing to do with Trick or Treating. She hates strangers. She hates strange strangers even more and there's nothing worse than a stranger dressed as a zombie scaring the pants off little kids and rewarding them with a tootsie roll.

She doesn't want to trick or treat and she doesn't want to hand out candy. Although she does want to dress up and do something. Maybe I could just take her to the movies and call it a day. This would work out good because to be honest I don't want to stay home and hand out candy either. Most of the costumes suck. And if I'm going to spend my hard earned money buying candy for kids I don't know, the least they could do is put some effort into it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Maura Kelly really IS a size-ist jerk.

Do you know who Maura Kelly is? You will.

Go read this article she wrote for Marie Claire: Should "Fatties" Get a Room? (Even on TV?)

Go ahead. I'll wait.

I'll wait for you to read it, and then I'll wait for you to call all your friends and exclaim you have just experienced the most ridiculous attitude towards overweight people ever.

And I'll wait while you update your twitter account with Maura Kelly really IS a size-ist jerk.

Maura Kelly writes, "So anyway, yes, I think I'd be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other ... because I'd be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything."


Actually, beyond ouch. I think I'm just dumbfounded. I mean, she gets paid, right? Marie Claire pays her to write. She writes articles and has to update her blog and they actually hand her a paycheck to write whatever she wants. Even if it is incredibly insensitive and hurtful. And mean. She actually gets a paycheck to be mean. The only people I thought got paid to be mean to other human beings were Drill Sergeants. Which, incidentally, I thought would be a very cool gig up until the time I joined the Army and actually came face-to-face with a Drill Sergeant and then I was all these people are just so mean and I couldn't see myself making that many people feel like dirt for that many hours in a day. Also, I couldn't see myself wearing those hats.

Maybe I was just brought up differently. I was brought up that you accept people for who they are. You don't judge. You don't say things that unnecessarily hurt people's feelings. You don't speak hateful comments. You don't purposely try to make people feel less than. Ms. Kelly obviously did not have my mother.

I grew up skinny. Stick skinny. If you drew a picture of a stick person and put a potato on as a head, that'd be me. I could eat absolutely anything I ever wanted and not gain an ounce. At one point in high school I was put on special watch with the school nurse who watched me eat carefully measured out portions of the school's hot lunch and then time me for exactly one half hour to make sure I kept it all down. They were concerned I might be anorexic. I'd finish the watched over meal absolutely famished, drive down to McDonald's and get a Big Mac, french fries and mayonnaise. (Yes, fries dipped in mayo is glorious. You will not be disappointed.) The point is, I had no control over how my body responded to the food I ate.

I've now got two decades and three pregnancies behind me and my body certainly does not look like it did in high school. I don't eat the fries dipped in mayo as often as I used to, I drink too much soda and I don't eat enough vegetables. I've got cellulite, stretch marks and some bright red sspidery blood vessels that burst by my ankle - none of which is going away anytime soon. I suppose it could be said that I should watch what I eat and exercise more and get this body into tip-top shape.

But through all those years and all those pregnancies I've learned some very valuable lessons. I've learned that the kindness of a person's heart is not based on their waist size. I've learned that good friends don't just come in a size 2. I've learned that laughter and good times can be had with people who are medically defined as morbidly obese.

I've learned that everyone has a story and that story deserves to be heard by people who genuinely care. A person's story isn't less important because of their size.

I've learned that our time here on earth is fleeting. That our lives can change in the blink of an eye: a routine ultrasound suddenly reveals severe debilitating defects, a child doesn't return from the park he was playing at keeping a mother waiting until the day she dies, a sister singing along to the radio on her way to work is killed instantanly. Life is hard for all of us. It shouldn't be extra hard for anyone... especially those we think ought to be slimmer.

I've learned that some of the best people in my life have been the largest. People that I learn from, that I look up to, that I wish I could be more like them. More caring. More aware. More generous. More accepting. More vibrant. More full of life. More genuinely good at heart.

I feel bad for Ms. Kelly. She's missing out on a lot of really great people just because they don't fit her particular size requirements. Also, she's getting a lot of hate mail right now which totally sucks.

I question what Ms. Kelly's aversion truly is: the public display of affection (which the article was supposedly about) or her personal disdain for fat people. For the record, I do happen to get grossed out when I see people making out in public -- people of any size, shape, color or sexual orientation. It's just not my thing. Hand holding, I'm cool with. A kiss here or there - fine. A groping make-out session? Ew. Take it to your bedroom. Trust me, there's no size restriction to the heebie jeebies I get when I'm sitting behind the PDA Guru's at the movies and I can't hear over their moaning. I don't care how cute and in shape you are, either.

Update: Wendi Aarons weighs in with her article Should "brunettes" get a room? (Even on TV?) ... and you should, too, because it's awesome. And it'll make you laugh. And laughter always makes the world a better place.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Waiter, there's a Fly in my soup.

You know what's gross? Opening your fridge and finding this:
No, I'm not talking about the cartoony, sponge-printed green and white moose dishes (although they are listed first on my Things to Replace List). Look closer.....

THAT'S gross.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hey, YOU!

Remember when I told you we had to keep my awesome health insurance because the Bean might have something medically wrong with her that explains why she can't wipe the gobs of toothpaste out of the bathroom sink? Well, we might also need it for Cletus the Used to be Fetus because he might have short term memory loss.

This kid is like 50 First Dates except we can't get through sixteen seconds. I absolutely love Cletus - and I mean love in the sense I want to pick him up and hug him and squeeze him and eat his cheeks and never let him go because I can't get enough of this kid. I absolutely love him because he is the happiest baby on the planet. I thought my sister's youngest was, and he was, but now he scowls (which is frickin adorable, too, but you can't really call a scowly baby happy, you know? Even if he only scowls once in a while. It's a technicality.). Anyway, I prayed and hoped for a super happy baby and that is exactly what I got. He laughs these great belly laughs if you raise an eyebrow. He guffaws if you sneeze. He'll run up, hit his head against the wall, laugh, then run away giggling. Who doesn't want to be around a kid like that?

He'll look at you with this great excitement and a touch of awe like oh my goodness! there you are! I can't believe it! And he happily announces, "Hi!" like no one else in the worls matters except for you and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside because he's so excited to see his Mama. (And really, there aren't too many people running up to me that excited to see me.)

He'll look up at me and get all excited, "Hi!" (which makes me smile) then he'll look down and continue playing with his car. Something will grab his attention and he'll look back up, spy me, and look at me like he hasn't seen me in years and what an awesome thing to be running into me like this: "Hi!"

Forty eight thousand, six hundred and eighty-two times a day. "Hi!"

Look of surprise: "Hi!"

Look of surprise: "Hi!"

Look of surprise: "Hi!"

He wakes up: "Hi!"

I change his diaper: "Hi!"

I feed him breakfast: "Hi!"

I have yet to leave his line of sight: "Hi!"

Always with the same look of excited surprise. Always with the same what are the odds we're in this same subway car when I haven't seen you in fifteen years and I live in New York and you live in California? voice.

I love him. He makes me feel like the most special woman on the planet. Even if he didn't remember me from sixteen seconds earlier.


Friday, October 22, 2010

That Explains It.

I hope I can keep my job forever because I think we're really going to need the health insurance coverage because the Bean may have some severe neurological problems. I think she's suffering from some sort of awful hand-eye coordination issues because she can't seem to get the right amount of toothpaste to squeeze out of the tube. See, every morning, before she heads off to school she brushes her teeth, because as a high schooler you know there's nothing more important than fresh breath. Well, at least to a teen age girl. I've been told that if you have a teen age boy fresh breath is not necessarily their top priority. Usually it's girls and football, with football taking the lead.

Anyway, I know there must be a serious problem because nobody can be so disgusting as to leave globs of toothpaste in the sink every. blasted. morning. Like this:

Gross, right? That's because it is. And yes, it's there every. blasted. morning. Not in the same spot, and sometimes more, sometimes less.  No matter how many times I send her a picture text with the caption seriously?! are you kidding me?! she still does it. (Trust me when I say texting is her primary form of communication. I have proof.) No matter how many times I force her to scrub the sink and the counter and the wall and the mirrors (hey, I had to make it count, right?) she still does it. For the life of me I can't figure out why she would do this every. blasted. morning.

And then I realized maybe she doesn't want to leave a grody gob of paste at the bottom of the sink every morning. Maybe she just can't help it. Maybe she's standing there struggling to squeeze the tube while attempting to line up the toothbrush underneath and she's so busy concentrating that she squeezes too hard and that's why a half-cup of paste gets globbed onto the bristles and there's just no way a person of her dainty mouth size can lather up with that much minty cleanser. Maybe she's got some sort of neurological issue where she can't line things up right and pushes too hard and ends up with way more paste than she plans. And a hand/eye problem would also explain the nearly 5,000 texts she sends a month because it's got to be hard trying to punch those little keys when you're fingers aren't lining up just right leaving her with a screen of garbled nonsense and so she has to send six or seven texts just to get one that makes sense.
By the way, the fact finder in me computed that in the 30 days of this particular billing cycle, the Bean sent 157.6 texts a day. Taking into account she's in school until 3pm and doesn't go to sleep until 11pm (on average) that only leaves her 8 hours for texting purposes, which equates to 19.7 texts an hour, which means every 3 minutes from 3pm until 11pm she's sending a text. No wonder she doesn't have time to wipe up the glob of toothpaste she left in the sink.

Also, she obtained her temporary driver's license today. There's no way I'm driving in a car with someone who is suffering from such health issues. Someone else will have to teach her to drive.

And also, sometimes, when I see people with their cute little girls dressed in pink with their hair all done in curls and cutesy bows, I secretly laugh with one of those bwah! ha! ha! ha! laughs because I know they'll be walking in my footsteps soon enough. And then I feel guilty and do a quick prayer that they don't ever have to deal with the gross toothpaste thing. And then I remind myself that if she's this sloppy with toothpaste I will totally catch her if she starts a meth lab.

And , yes, my mother does spend a lot of time laughing because she knows the way she survived parenting through my teen years was repeating the mantra just wait til you have your own kids and now she knows without a doubt God has her back, because I definitly deserve what I've got, even though I never actually started a meth lab.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Censury Calm

When the Census push was going on earlier this year the government hired some guy to come sit in the lobby of our building to help people who had questions on their census forms. I thought it was a ridiculous waste of money because (1) most the people around here are not full time residents, therefore were sent the form to their permanent address located somewhere far away from here where I'm sure they obediently filled it out and, (2) there were only ten questions. A couple people were sent the "long form" but that was because their life sucked and the government obviously hated them and screw the government, they don't need to know anything about the people who live here. Ever. (Not necessarily my thoughts, but heard nonetheless.) (Isn't that a great word: nonetheless? I love it and vow to use it much more frequently. "I realize you don't want to take a bath, nonetheless, I am your mother and I told you so." I can so make that work.)

Anyway, Government Guy would come into our lobby and set up shop. This included laying a couple official census questionnaires on the table and sitting on a chair. And he sat. And sat. Doing nothing. Day after blasted day. He would sit straight up in his chair, looking pleasantly in the direction of the lobby doors. And he would sit that way all day long. Always with a smile on his face. Always.

He never spoke. (No one ever came in to ask him for help.) He never looked bored. He'd never read a book, or draw fake prison tattoos on his knuckles, or make crane oragami with the census survey. He just sat there happily enjoying our lobby as if sitting in that uncomfortable chair for eight hours a day was the best thing he had ever done in his life.

A couple times I'd run past him on the way to the bathroom and see him sitting there so obviously content. Looking at the doors. Smile on his face. Not saying a word. And I'd think to myself see how pleasant the world could be with an unending supply of valium...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Overcoming Monday Blues

When I was growing up, my mother made a point of doing nothing on Sundays. It was the Lord's Day, meant for reflection and thanks and peace. We went to church. We stopped by Grandma & Grandpa's for lunch. Then we went home. And did nothing.

And I mean N-O-T-H-I-N-G.

My mom would watch television (usually a British comedy on PBS) and knit, or crochet, or maybe take up some embroidery. My dad would doze off in his chair. And we kids would be bored to tears.

There's nothing to do.... we'd whine. It's so boring!

I never understood then why my mom did nothing on Sundays.

Now I know.

She'd bore herself to tears so that she'd want to go to work on Monday. She'd ensure absolute boredom in order to trigger an excitement to look forward to work the next day. My mom did nothing fun on weekends except clean on Saturdays (and I doubt you would define cleaning as fun). Then she'd do nothing on Sunday except be forced to listen to four kids complain their life wasn't any fun. Anybody would want to go back to work after that mess of a weekend.

See, I've been doing it wrong. I've been enjoying my weekends. I've been filling my two days of freedom up with activities I want to do more of, and therefore, dreading Mondays with every fiber of my being. From now on I'm kicking it like my mom did! My kids will be beyond thrilled....

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fearing Nutella: The Truth Behind The Panic

I may have mentioned that I have never tried Nutella. After which 417 of my closest facebook friends posted I was missing out on the best food invention the world has ever created. Essentially, they said, Nutella can be used anywhere on anything at anytime. In fact, it was so delicious that I could just grab a heaping spoonful and eat it as is.

But I'm not buying it. And here's why....

Nutella, meet Vegemite.

They are eerily similar in color and consistency.

They both get spread on toast.

I've tasted Vegemite before... and I refuse to be suckered into letting anything that remotely resembles that yeasty spread touch my tastebuds ever again.

Going Mad!

"I want to complain about my neighbor. He's building a fence out of trees."


"Yes. He's just going around his yard randomly chopping down trees - and parts of trees - and he's creating a fence barrier between his property and mine. He's pulling up tree roots and all sorts of things and just creating this big pile - this, this - well, it's ugly. And he's putting up horrible, nasty signs - signs that say things like private property and keep out and I know they're meant for me because you can't see them from the road, only I can see them from my back yard. He also has a camera trained on me. I think that's an invasion of privacy. Can he have a camera directed at my back yard? You know, he lost a lawsuit to me a couple years ago and now he's just gone mad."

Yet another reason why I insist on buying 100 acres of land and putting my house smack dab in the middle.

Those That Came Back

My mom ran over our cat with her truck. This happened a long time ago when we were little. She was backing up and ran over our big, fat cat, Carmel. I ran over a squirrel once and can only imagine the feeling beneath the floor of the vehicle. Gross. To be fair my mom didn't do it on purpose - it was an accident. It just happened. We lived with lots of animals always under foot. Or under vehicle tires. So it was possible, and also probable, that running over a cat would potentially, someday, more than likely, actually happen.

I suppose the miners in Chile weren't exactly stunned at the collapse. They knew it might, probably, someday happen. Maybe not to them, but still.

Our cat limped off, crooked, bleeding, screaming into the pasture, out to the field and into the unknown. Days passed. We tried to convince ourselves maybe it wasn't that bad. We went out to look for her but found nothing. We told ourselves if we just kept looking we would find her and then we could help her, but more days passed. And then weeks. And then months.

We resigned ourselves to the fact that our cat was lost. Our beautiful white and tan lazy cat was gone. It was just the way it was. With one foot in front of the other we went on.

And then, just like that, one afternoon the cat came back. A little gimpy, but there she was! Looking as good as ever. We hugged her and squeezed her and told everyone we knew the miracle of Carmel. She was alive! We would never know exactly where she went or how she was able to heal herself, but it didn't matter - she was home!
I cannot begin to fathom  the overwhelming emotional roller coaster of those miners and their families. Missing for weeks, underground for months... I mean, I was a basket case over a cat.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Bean Visits the Doctor.

I took the Bean to the doctor today because she found a bump and wanted me to touch it but there was no way I was doing that because (1) I had no idea if that thing was contagious and (2) that's just gross. She's at that awkward age where she's kind of too old for me to go in the exam room with her, but also too young to be trusted to sit in there by herself, because snooping through all the drawers and cabinets and taking cell phone photos of herself with tongue depressors in her nose is just far too tempting. So we waited together in the same exam room trying to be all hey, this is just like hanging out at Starbucks together. Except not all of us is fully dressed.

I figured it was as good as time as any to ask what the disgusting pile of gunk was she left in the bathroom sink this morning before school. She has a habit of squeezing far too much toothpaste on her toothbrush and leaves a giant wad of paste in the sink every. blasted. day. But today, in addition to the paste, there was a brownish pile of gunk. It kind of resembled cat vomit, I told her. "Oh," she answered flippantly. "That was chewed up pizza. I was in too much of a hurry to swallow it."

The nurse came in to document her weight (101 pounds) and height (5'-3") and get the low-down on why we were there, so Bean explained that she found a lump about the size of a peanut M&M and her friend told her about this one lady who used to be really, really fat but had gastric bypass surgery and got really skinny and then had some lumps taken out of her which were actually clumps of hardened fat, and so maybe it was just a ball of chicken fat that got stuck since she eats a lot of McNuggets. The nurse looked at me and I just shrugged my shoulders because it was as good an explanation as any, I suppose.

The doctor decided blood work was necessary. This meant driving a couple miles to the main clinic. And also meant plenty of time for the Bean to grow her fears and anxiety to gigantic irrational proportions. By the time we pulled in the parking lot she was nearly hyperventilating. She hates needles. Just ask the nurses who spent 45 minutes wrestling with her the last go around.

When the lab tech called her name she looked up and said:  "I don't want to go."

And the tech lady laughs, because isn't she cute? Except then she realizes that Bean really isn't doing very well at all and is actually getting quite pale. Tears spring up in Bean's eyes and the lady hands her a box of kleenex, "oh, honey! Don't cry -- you don't want to go all Joan Jett on me..." (I liked her immediately.) Bean has no idea who Joan Jett is, of course, and is somewhat distracted learning about the thick eyeliner the rocker was known for. Bean barely notices the rubber band being fastened around her arm.

But then the needle comes out.

"Hold my hand, mom! Hold my hand!" She squeezes so hard I swear three of my fingers break. "Tell me about your tampon!"

The nurse stops wiping her arm with the little alcohol pad and stares. Um... ok.... I stumble. It's uh, Kotex. Regular absorbency. Why on earth do you ask me to tell you about my tampon?

"No! I said tell me about your DAY AT WORK."

Now that makes more sense. The nurse starts to busy herself again. Uh... not much to tell.

"Well tell me something!" she pleaded.

Hey! Remember when you were little - like six or seven, and we came to the doctor because you had that huge plantar wart on your heel and it hurt really bad? And you were looking at the literature in the exam room? And you said to me, 'I wish I could have a gentle wart' --- and I died laughing because you were reading about STD's?!

What am I ever going to blog about when the Bean goes to college?

Does V know?

From time to time someone will run up to me all wide-eyed after reading a blog post and blurt out something along the lines of aren't you afraid Big V will kill you if he ever finds out you write all about him in your blog? To which I usually respond by looking at them with my eyes all squinty and my forehead all wrinkly wondering what the hell kind of relationship they have with their spouse that they think it's normal to hide something of this magnitude from their spouse. I admit I hid the occasional bag of M&Ms (which he always seems to find) but, um, yeah, I'm making a permanent record. That's public. On the world wide web. Of course he knows I have this, write on, and pimp out parts of our relationship for the sake of a laugh, or the sake of my sanity. One of my favorite things to do in the whole world is run up, grab him by the arm and lead him to the closest chair, you have got to hear what I wrote today! Nine times out of ten he laughs, shakes his head, and asks if anyone commented. (He likes the funny comments the best.) He's got a great sense of humor and a great sense of self. He also can jab me just as easily as I jab him. He doesn't write, but when friends come over he'll re-tell a story of something I did (which I think is mundane) in such a way I'm left rolling on the floor holding my ribs and trying like mad not to pee my pants (which is no easy task after birthing three kids).

My children also know I write about them from time to time. Especially the Bean, who knows that there is no way I'm not going to write about her because she's such a huge part of my life. For as hair-pulling as she can get me, we also share the same sense of humor. This morning she told me she feels bad for people who have no sense of humor because that's what makes life happy and exciting, otherwise you'd just be ornery and hating life all the time. She's a smart kid.

There are times when something crazy and ridiculous will be going on and I'll announce I am so writing that in my blog! And they know I will.

Being blogworthy is something held in high regard in our family. Sort of like being on Elaine's list of who's spongeworthy.

Monday, October 11, 2010

All In The Family

Last night Dotter went to play with her cousin, A, which is my brother's daughter. She lives about an hour away so we're at the mercy of her visitation schedule. When she's here it's a pretty big deal. She's a spunky little ten-year old who is smart, quick witted and very imaginative. She studies hard and loves school. And she likes to write. That makes her super cool in my book. The irony that she may be the smartest grandchild born to the least intelligent of us siblings is not lost on me. But what my brother lacks in  intelligence he makes up for in psychological mischievousness.

I'm picking up Dotter after their play date and giving my brother a hard time because he hurt his foot wrestling one of his friends on a trampoline and now he's all hopped up on vicodin and trying to maneuver on crutches.

"You need to tell your Dad he's too old to wrestle around like that," I tease A.

"Old?" He says, "You're older than me!"

"How old are you, Aunt B?" I tell her I'm 37. "Which means your dad is 36. We all go in a row: Shannon is 38, I'm 37 and your dad is 36.... and Uncle Pat is 33."

"So how old would George be?" my niece asks, tilting her head up at me.

I look at her. "George? Who the hell is George?"

"Your brother," she explains. "You know, the one grandma gave away."

I shoot a look over at my brother, half passed out in his recliner. Mumbling in a muscle relaxant-y voice he dishes out, "Shannon, Bridget, Shawn, George and Pat." As if hearing this list of names will explain everything.

"Why did grandma give your brother George away, Aunt B? What did he do?"

I looked over at this innocent child. This poor soul obviously was buying into some ridiculous story my brother had teased her with - a missing sibling given away because they didn't behave or something. One could only guess. I looked straight into her eyes and said as lovingly and patiently as I could muster, "Honey, we don't like to talk about George. It's just too hard."

Fast forward to this afternoon when I called my mother (who just happened to be driving in the car with A) in order to tattle-tale on my brother. (Some things never change.) "Shawn told A we had a brother named George that you gave away!" I blurted out.

"Oh...," my mother said quietly. "Yes, George ...we don't like to talk about him much."

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Really Long Journey Starts With a Single Step

I'm out of shape and incredibly lazy. Bassett hounds get me. All this talk about people needing to take 10,000 steps a day to be considered "active" exhausts me. Ten thousand steps. That's a lot of steps, people. My extensive research shows I don't even come close to 10,000 steps. Unfortunately, I barely break one thousand. (Thank you, sedentary desk job.)

That being said, I've also discovered it takes me 67 steps to get to the bathroom from my desk, with an additional 7 steps to reach the toilet. (This includes one pivot turn required to turn on the light and shut the door.) It takes roughly 74 steps to get back to my desk. That's a grand total of 148 steps just to pee!

I will now up my daily bathroom visits to 68 per day to reach (and exceed by 64) my total goal of 10,000 steps per day.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Way to stick it to me, kid.

My daughter drove a nail through her nostril.

On purpose.

I arrived home late after a meeting and, like the loving mother I am, checked in on my precious fifteen year old daughter. I opened her bedroom door and the light from the hall fell across her angelic, sleeping face.

Oh, look, I giggled to myself. She's using one of those  BiorĂ©® pore strips. Except, well, it didn't look anything like the pore strips of my youth, so I flipped on the light switch. That's when 65 watts of lighting exposed the medical gauze taped across her nose.

Was she kicked in the face by a cow again?  That's how she broke her nose the last time. I bent down, straining to see if there was any indication of black and blue bruising under her eyes, silently cursing out Big V in my head because what kind of man doesn't call the mother when her baby gets beamed in the head by a hoof? But there was no bruising that I could see. So I moved closer. A mere inch separated my caffeine ladenned breath from her carefully covered nose. Around and around  her face I searched for something, anything, a clue of some sort that would tell me why my daughter's nose was bandaged.

And that's when I saw it. You see, they always leave evidence at a crime scene. CSI taught me that. And there it was -- someone had shoved the back of an earring into the right nostril of my daughter.

Oh no she didn't! I yanked that bandage off so quick and with such force she immediately sat up in bed. "Wha -? Huh?"

"Don't you dare say a word! What the hell is in your nose? You pierced your nose? What the hell is wrong with you? Are you some sort of idiot? Do you know how stupid that looks? Did you get a tattoo, too? Maybe a nice grim reaper to go along with the body mutilation? Were your bored? You couldn't find a toilet to clean or a floor to scrub to keep you busy? You had to pierce your nose?!"

(Don't worry; I'm not running for Mother of the Year. Ever since that one time when I kind of didn't believe that her arm really hurt that bad, and way later when I finally got around to taking her to the doctor and the x-rays showed it was actually broken in two places, they told me I wasn't even allowed to apply.)

Gingerly touching the side of her nose - the mutilated side with the piercing sticking out of it - she quietly asked, "Aren't you proud of me?"

"Proud of you?" I spat. "What, exactly, would I be proud of? Please explain to me where the sense of pride would come in to play."

In a quiet whisper she spoke: "I did it all by myself."

And just like that she was standing at the bathroom sink, three years old, way up high on her tip toes, trying to get a peek at her beautified face - smothered and slathered with bright red lipstick she had found in my drawer. "I did it all by myself!" she had explained so proudly.

And just like that she was bursting through the door, five years old, pigtails flying, shouting at the top of her lungs "I rode my bike! I rode my bike!" and throwing her arms around my legs. "I did it all by myself!"

And just like that she was seven years old, sitting on the floor surrounded by eight of her Barbie doll friends all sporting the same pixie hair-cut, scissors still in her hand, smiling up at me, "I did it all by myself!"

And just like that she was nine years old, covered in blood, fleeing from her dad, miles from where she had been - where she was supposed to be, tears streaming down her face as she ran into the driveway, frantically screaming about running and falling and the police and me not understanding asking her over and over how did you get here? Her answer, "I did it all by myself."

And just like that she was ten years old, opening my bedroom door with a tray full of breakfast: soggy cheerios that had sat too long, a tall glass of milk I dreaded to taste, and a plate of scrambled eggs hot off the stove. Eggs? You made eggs? "I did it all by myself."

A thousand examples I have of her doing things all by herself. Things she was too afraid to do, but faced her fear and did them anyway. Things I didn't agree with. Things I thought she was too young for. Things I thought she'd never be able to do. Things that pained my heart when I learned she did them. A whole lifetime of "I did it all by myself" already lived, and yet a whole lifetime of "I did it all by myself" awaits.

Just when I think I'm seconds away from strangling the life out of this kid who makes me want to scream and pull my hair out, I'm left with this overwhelming feeling to wrap her in my arms and never, ever let her go. To hold her, and protect her, and love her forever.

But don't let that fool you - the first runny nose that girl has I'm not feeling sorry for her in the least. Good luck blowing that two thousand times a day, kid!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Opposites Attract

Big V was in the hospital for three days. Two nights. Three days. His leg almost fell off. And he didn't call anyone. In fact, he announced (quite sternly, I might add) that "I'm going to call one person and one person only - and that's my boss to tell him I won't be in tomorrow; I won't have any visitors." Then he warned me that he would not under any circumstances tolerate any facebooking, twittering or blogging about his adventures. Wha-?! But I live for this stuff! Especially when the nurse blew out his vein he went, "woah... hold on... now I'm dizzy..." I started snapping pictures - but then he threatened to call security if I continued. He was serious, too.

That's one major difference between Big V and me. I would be mass texting while the nurse was playing with my veins. When I was in labor with Cletus the Used to be Fetus I instructed the nurse to feel free to jot down anything blogworthy. As they were rushing me to the operating room for the emergency c-section I yelled out, "Grab my phone! I need to change my facebook status!" Those nurses grabbed everything but my phone. It's so hard to get good help.

But back to V. Here he sits in a hospital for three days. Days filled with spirited nurses telling him about how they favor Pantene Shampoo products over anything else (but only when there's a coupon, because that stuff is expensive), and the doctor who checked on his leg and gushed about how good it looked (only to be told that it was, uh, the other leg that was the bad one), and the patient next door who kept yelling get out of my house, whydoncha! and I wasn't allowed to blog about any of it. I had to sit there. And conversate. And not take notes because everytime I did he'd give me the stink eye and say, "you are not putting that on the internet."

Now that he's been home (leg still attached) I asked if I could please, pretty please, please mention some of the fun that was had and he said I could. But I'm not allowed to tell you anything about the sponge bath.

Monday, October 4, 2010

In Sickness & In Health

It's been a while since I've posted. That's because I've been nursing a patient and his bum leg. Big V took a turn for the worse and landed himself in the hospital for 3 days. They sure do take bright red, swollen legs seriously.

I think I'd make a great nurse if I only had to deal with the male patients. See, to me he was complaining and whimpering about how this hurt and how that hurt and how his foot was all tingly and losing feeling - but to the nurses he was all chipper and fun loving, exercising stereotypical machismo: "I feel happy! I feel fine! I wanna take a walk!" He was the easiest patient on the floor because nothing was ever wrong with him. The nurses would smile, pat him lovingly on the arm and walk out the door. Then he'd turn to me moaning about how it would be easier if they would just amputate the damn leg already. You can clearly see how easy the nurse's job was as compared to mine. I bet if he had lied to me about the state of his leg I wouldn't have given him the stink eye so much. Just sayin'.

Anyway, the second those antibiotics kicked in and he was released from the hospital, I propped him up on the couch and retreated to the basement where I told him I had tons of laundry to catch up on. He couldn't take the stairs so he had no clue I was actually just lounging on the couch watching Sister Wives and reruns of Real Housewives of DC, surrounded by the laundry I had folded earlier in the week but was too lazy to haul upstairs. Every half hour or so I'd take an arm load up, taking care to wipe my brow at just the right moment when I knew he'd be looking. At one point I asked how he was doing and if he felt well enough to help fold, but he thought he might be getting a tad dizzy, what with all those antibiotics he was on, so I told him he should probably just take it easy and don't worry, I'd take care of all the laundry. Sure, he managed to watch every single football game being played, but he also had the baby. That means I win.

The One in which I take my Father for his Covid Vaccine

I got a voicemail the other day from the hospital saying ‘since you’re the contact on record we just want you to know your Dad can get a Cov...