Monday, August 29, 2011

Like I have a medical degree.

You know that person who every time he meets a girl working at a strip club she turns out to be psycho so you just want to turn to him and yell for the love of cheese - stop picking up girls in strip joints!

Or that mom who every time her kids get hurt she thinks it's not a big deal but it turns out to be pretty important, like the time her daughter broke her arm in two places yet she drove around with the kid to do errands (and vote) and days later the doctors were all what kind of mother are you?! And that same mother probably didn't take the whole broken nose or torn ligament thing seriously either, so you just want to scream at her for the love of cheese - just take your kids to the ER!

I'm sort of like one of those kinds of people. But less of the picking up chicks in strip clubs kind.

So, this weekend Dotter took a digger on her bike. And her whining was driving me crazy. I finally took her in after she screamed, "I could die because of loss of blood, Mom!" (To her credit, it was still bleeding, but not like, gallons worth.)

You'd think she broke her leg or something.
It was a skinned knee, people!

Okay. A little swollen, perhaps.

Or maybe even a lot swollen...

But it wasn't broken.

(Thank goodness because I do not think I could've lived down another ignored broken limb.)

However, we will be meeting a nice orthopedic surgeon this Wednesday morning.

Which happens to be the same day as wristband night at the county fair.

Which was the absolute last thing this little girl wanted to hear.
(When you're 9, it's all about the rides.)
(When you're 38, it's all about the cream puffs.)

"This is the absolute worst summer of my life!" she wailed.

"Oh, please," I said, hoping to invite some perspective to the conversation. "You said that last summer after you slammed your fingers in the car door."

Friday, August 26, 2011

When Daddy Watches Toddler

 ME: "Hey, Buddy! ... uh... what's in his hair?"

 BIG V: "Oh, he got in the soap. He wanted to wash his hair."

 ME: "He told you that?"

 BIG V: " ... but it kept him occupied 'til you got home."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I like your sweater. No, I mean it. I really like your sweater.

I know it's going to be very hard for you to believe, but I wasn't always this tall glass of sunshine you see before you today. (It's sarcasm, Mom. Don't feel compelled to point out the obvious.)

I wasn't a cute kid, or a beautiful child. I wasn't ever pageant worthy and I certainly wasn't being asked out on dates.

Like most kids, I thrived on compliments. If someone couldn't muster up the you are just about the most precious little girl I have ever seen nicety, what could they possibly say about me?

I found humor.

I figured out pretty quick how to get a group laughing so hard their ribs hurt, wiping away tears while falling off their chairs. I also learned that it's an act: disengage and go for broke. Before you know it, you'll be known as the funniest person I ever met! And to me, that was just about the best compliment anyone could ever give me.

The problem with being funny is that everyone assumes you're always happy.

Look, I was pregnant at a young age. The father was uninvolved to say the least. I felt very alone and I was very broke. Then I married someone I had only known for a handful of months and that ended disastrously at best. And then I found out I was pregnant. Again.

I had boyfriends who promised to be over with pizza but get sidetracked at the gas station meeting the love of their life. I met a wonderful guy who I thought was madly in love with me, only to tell me the formal event we were scheduled to attend two days later - he would be taking another girl. One he met at the flower shop where he stopped to get me flowers. It is important to note that both Pizza Guy and Flower Guy had the same name. And, yes, I immaturely judge all men as douchecanoes who share this name.

Needless to say, while my ill choices in men provided excellent comedic fodder for others, it left me feeling like shit the majority of my adult life.

Couple that with crappy jobs, lack of income, crappy so-called friends, and one particular holiday season which left me praying to God that I had been switched at birth and soon my rich biological family who lived in a mansion along the East Coast would save me. This was long before I learned earthquakes along the East Coast were possible. My daydream has since morphed into a wealthy long-lost great aunt who just happens leaves me a ton of money.

Needless to say, there was a time I didn't feel happy. I didn't feel like my life was fun. I didn't feel like I was enjoying anything. I didn't feel like I had anything to be proud of.

I was depressed. I was lost and sad but mostly angry. I was pissed off that my life sucked. And it sucked bad.

So, I sought out an innocent counselor and unleashed my burdens on her: I don't want to feel this way!  I screamed. I had visions of her ripping a crisp, white square of paper off her prescription pad and a cool drink of water while swallowing the pills. Help was on the way!

Except she didn't prescribe anything.

Instead she gave me a task:

Each day I want you to write down all the compliments you were given. No one ever compliments me. I work two crappy jobs then come home and take care of two kids who have no idea who I am.

And each day I want you to give three genuine compliments to people and write those down. Who  the hell am I going to compliment? The chick that walks into the liquor store when I'm working? Super cute ID pic, lush.

And then I want you to write down three things you are grateful for. Well, I can breathe on my own, does that count?

This woman was off her freaking rocker. I couldn't pay my heat bill. The only guys interested in me were jokes. I could have/should have gone to that audition at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Manhattan; instead I was employed as a Data Entry Clerk at some podunk factory and working at a discount liquor store on the side. How would telling someone I liked their sweater make a change in my life?

The first night with my journal I sat and stared at it with nothing to write. Here I was, the self proclaimed writer, with not one word to put to paper.

I started with the easiest:

Three compliments I gave today:
  • I told my daughter she was smart.
  • I told Joyce I was glad I worked with her.
  • I told the guy who works in the IT Department he did a good job handling all my computer problems because my crappy computer was acting up again. Like always.

It was a start (albeit a half-hearted one).

Now I needed to remember if anyone complimented me today. I was pretty sure they hadn't. I didn't do much right in my life - that was kind of obvious by the divroced with two kids from two different fathers thing. And the fact that my water was about to be shut off. Again.

This manager from another department came by to watch me type. He said I was the fastest person he's ever seen... and heard. Because I guess I hit the keys super loud or something.

Hey, that was something wasn't it? I could enter that data in my sleep. I didn't even need to think about what I had to type. My eyes saw it on the paper and my fingers just went where they needed to... completely skipping the brain processing part. I was pretty dang good at that.

Three things I'm grateful for:
  • my health
  • my children's health
  • at least I have a car even if it does look like something an old lady would drive.
 Okay, I would obviously have to work at this a bit.

The point was, I did keep track. Every day. Before I knew it I'd hear someone say something and think that's a compliment! I get to write that down! I was shocked at the number of times people were nice to me in any given day.

And I found I liked giving compliments, too. I figured you never knew who was putting on a strong, happy exterior while inside they felt their world crumbling. Maybe they also had an assignment where they needed to write down compliments they received throughout the day. I wanted to make sure they heard mine.

Soon I was looking for people to compliment: the cashier at the grocery store, my daughter's teacher, a co-worker, the lady walking out to her car - I really did like her sweater!

And with this simple exercise came the most dramatic change of all: my perception of my life.

The thing is, nothing changed. I was still the girl with two kids from two different fathers, working two dead end jobs and not making enough money to keep my heat on. Or my water. Or my electric. But I could now see all the other things in my life; the things that made my life worth living.

I found there was so much to be grateful for. The beauty that surrounded me... a flower growing up in the crack of an old crumbling foundation. Bright suns and soft moonlight. The full, rich sound of a cello. Choco-tacos. Live music played in a coffee shop. Baseball. Special Olympics. Movie theaters and their popcorn.

But mostly, I found that I'm incredibly grateful for the power of words; they way they inspire, and lift and make others laugh. Without a doubt, I am most grateful for words.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I don't want my baby to turn into the dog.

Like most mommies, I rarely get a chance to get ready in the morning without the Circus Parade of my Family joining me in the bathroom. It gets hectic and chaotic and fortheloveofcheese can't I just shove my contacts in IN PEACE?!

My bathroom routine usually includes a moody, over tired 9-year old, a climbing toddler, and confused Big V, wondering why the kids are in there in the first place. This morning was no different:

Dotter is sitting on the toilet, yelling at Cletus, who is climbing over her to get to the counter where he's busy squeezing toothpaste out of the tube and smearing it across the sink, while I'm attempting to push him out with my elbow and jab a somewhat ripped contact into my left eyeball. Big V is standing behind me. I'm not entirely sure why, but I'm hedging bets he just felt lonely waiting outside our super tiny bathroom.

Dotter, can you please go get dressed?

"I know, Mom! That's what I was going to do! Why do you always treat me like a slave?!"

Off she stomps. (I just love these pre-teen hormonal mood swings.)

V, can you please go change Cletus's diaper? He reeks.

"I was just going to do that."

Sure you were.... Big V grabbed Cletus, who of course starts screaming.

I sighed. I just love my mornings. Not.

Ten seconds later Big V is back in the bathroom and grabbing the toothpaste.

Why do you need the toothpaste?

"He wants it."

Who wants it?


He told you this?

"Well, he's crying and wants to play with it."

He's a baby. Babies don't get to play with toothpaste.

"So, how do I get him to stop crying?" And he's staring at me like I'm the idiot.

We've got a serious issue in our house and it's called Daddy is a Pushover. (Either that or Daddy is Incredibly Lazy and Doesn't Want to Deal with the Drama, which I'm thinking is a tad bit more accurate.)

Big V still gives Cletus a bottle of milk when he goes to bed. The kid will be two next month. When I put Cletus to bed (with nothing) he manages to fall asleep in the same amount of time as with the bottle.

Big V lets Cletus play with his phone because "Cletus likes how it makes sounds." Never mind the extra charges Cletus has managed to incur while pushing buttons of said phone. Cletus also knows that my phone is not a play thing, and if it is found out and about, he will bring it straight to me while saying no, no, no!

Big V lets Cletus climb out of the grocery cart and take off running through the aisles, chasing after him to replace items he has ripped off the shelves. I have a strict no getting out no matter what rule that is getting harder and harder for Cletus to adhere to since he knows there is fun on the ground.

It is not fun taking Cletus out in public, especially if Big V is with, because Cletus will scream and Daddy gives in. Quickly. It turns into a game of Scream and Chase.

I know that Big V's number one goal in life is to be a good dad. A dad who is there for his children. A dad who is involved and around and an active part of their lives. He wants what all of us want with our children: a good relationship. He wants his children to be able to come to him for advice, to respect his opinions and to value him as a father. And I find that very sexy.

But I've been at a loss as to how to show Big V that giving in doesn't guarantee respect. In fact, it usually produces the opposite.

V has explained to me that he hates - absolutely hates - to see Cletus cry and get upset. (And you'd be able to see pretty plainly on Big V's face that it just about kills him.)

I usually step in to be the Bad Guy because, well, because I've been the disciplinarian with my two older girls so it's natural. Plus, I don't like to see Big V upset and uncomfortable in that role. In a way, I guess I'm giving him an easy out. Here,honey. I see you're upset about this - let me take care of it. The kids can get mad at me.

But then I think why do I have to be the bad guy all the time? And I worry that we won't be seen as on the same page when it comes to rules and expected behavior. How do I encourage Big V to welcome his role as a guide and teacher? To want basic expectations to be met so that everyone will be happier.

I believe children thrive under structure and boundaries. Big V feels if he imposes too much structure and boundaries he can not be the Dad he wants so very badly to be. And telling your toddler no, you cannot play with the toothpaste is a battle not worth choosing. Big V says he will pick the Big Battles to fight. I'm afraid the Big Battles will be FREAKING GINORMOUS if we have a kid that has never had to follow a rule ever.

It's like having the dog all over again. Except I won't be able to bring Cletus to the pound if he starts eating my drywall. 
I said no chewing on the furniture!

Monday, August 22, 2011

My Weekend in Four Photos

Big V and I went to Olive Garden for my birthday.
If I convince you of nothing else in your life, let it be this: 
Go right now to the Olive Garden.
Order the Chianti Braised Short Ribs with Mushroom Risotto.

I wandered around the book store.
Big V wandered half a millimeter behind me.
"Do you want this book?"
"What about this one?"
"This one looks good."
He was in a hurry.
To leave.

Children are like an optical illusion.
See, he's cute here.
But not so cute when I came across the wads of yogurt
he dumped on the living room rug.


His new favorite toy: the plastic wine glass.
He even took it to bed with him at nap time.
I'd say that's his mother's influence.

Friday, August 19, 2011

August is the only month without a national holiday; which is good because that would take away from My Birthday!

It's my birthday, y'all!

The Office Scape Goose dressed in honor of my birthday.
I like how it thinks I'm all princess-y.
Obviously we haven't spent a lot of time together.

In honor of the 11th anniversary of my 27th birthday, I shall impart wisdom that I have learned over the years:

Boys that are suddenly interested in you twenty minutes before bar time do not want to explore a relationship with you. They want to get in your pants. And, if you let them, you don't get to cry over the fact they snuck out of your apartment under the cover of night without exchanging numbers. I don't care how cute they are or how honest and sincere they seemed; wait for the ones that take you out during daytime and talk to you long enough to at least learn your last name.

Never, ever, ever let your teenage self allow your teenage sister to cut your hair. She does not possess any special skills. None whatsoever. And it will be forever memorialized in your Sophomore Student ID picture.

The key to melting chocolate is low heat. Be patient. It may seem like it's taking forever and nothing is happening but trust me, the results will be heavenly. Too hot, too fast will leave a bitter taste in your mouth and you'll find yourself throwing pots and pans across your front yard. The same holds true for relationships.

If you don't like cake and would rather have pie, speak up. Otherwise you'll find yourself forced to eat thick-as-a-brick cake. And you'll have to pretend you like it. Even as you're squirming because there are forty thousand cake granules freaking out your taste buds. It's okay that you like the pie. Get the pie. Enjoy the pie. If the cake lovers hate you, so be it. It's your taste buds.

Nike knows what they're talking about. When a thought passes your mind - just DO IT. I should send her a card. Do it. I'd love to invite the girls out for drinks. Do it. I want to learn to crochet. Do it. I've always wanted to try to roller blade. Do it.

Every single person on this planet has an extraordinary story. Most people don't think their story is anything special because they live it every day. To them it's just ordinary. Believe me when I tell you that if you stop talking, and start listening, you'll hear incredible journeys rich with examples of strength and courage and faith. Learn their stories. Learn yours.

If your friend tries to talk you into stealing her neighbor's horse, don't do it. It's just not a good idea. The horse will get spooked and take off and then you'll get hit in the head with a low lying branch and go flying off the horse, hitting your head on the ground with such force you'll be knocked unconscious. Believe this to be true.

You're never too old to start over, start new, turn the corner, take another step. You are not destined to be stuck in one spot forever.

Don't be a victim. Your boyfriend beats the crap out of you? Don't stay. (I stayed too long. They don't just stop.) Your job sucks and your boss is a ridiculous micro-managing crazy person? Don't stay. (I stayed too long. They don't just change.) Your jeans don't fit you and you sit on the couch nightly crying over the fact that you have no energy? Don't stay. (On the couch, I mean. You can bitch and feel sorry for yourself just as much when you're walking around town as you can sitting on that damn couch for four hours a night.)

There will be times when you feel like you're forever stuck, but it will pass - with or without your assistance; I'm telling you it will pass quicker with your help. This means that when you find yourself pregnant at twenty, making $6.75 an hour and you don't have any health insurance coverage, it'll suck. You'll feel like you lived a thousand years in a matter of months. But those dark and endless months will move towards an amazing light called, "I just paid all my bills and I actually have $1.17 left over which means there is hope!" And you'll make it. (Do yourself a favor, help yourself along by being as proactive as you can.)

Tie your shoes before you ride an escalator. Just step to the side and tie. your. shoes.

Don't feel forced to play with the mean kids. They're mean. They'll make you feel bad. They want to make you feel bad. You don't deserve to be made to feel bad. Just walk away from them. If you see them in the sandbox, avoid the sandbox. It's just not worth it. Some mean kids grow out of their meanness. It's okay to play with them when you're older. Some mean kids grow up to be still mean. Stay away from them, too.

It's okay to call someone to watch your kids so you can sleep. In fact, please do that. Over tired moms have trouble focusing and veer across the center line, slip on stairs and forget to put the nail polish remover away. Don't be a hero; get sleep.

Send handwritten notes through the United States Postal Service. The recipient will feel special. You did that, so you'll feel pretty good, too. It's a win-win.

Take photos. Sure you might think you look like crap....and perhaps you actually do, but really, it's not about you. It's about your friends and family who will miss you when you're gone and will want a way to remember you: your smile, your lazy eye and that ugly mole which planted itself right between your eyes without your permission. Suck it up and take the damn picture. You don't have to request a copy to hang in your front hall, just don't take away from someone who wants to remember a place and time with you.

Celebrate your birthday. You are important and you are special. The encouraging words you've said, the doors you held open and the two dollar donation to get a paper poppy would not have happened if not for you. Never underestimate your worth. Ever.

In other news:
Big V is taking me to a book store tonight and then out to dinner. I am giddy beyond words. I might not ever leave the book store. I used to dream that if I died I would like to be forever locked in a bookstore. (Think Beetlejuice, not ground up in an urn.) Maybe my heaven is a huge bookstore where I get to sit and read and read and read. Big V might end up going to dinner without me and picking me up when he's done.

I had a FANTASTIC lunch with two incredibly funny and intellegent friends today. I got a free birthday brownie. SCORE!!

My awesome co-workers brought me in a bouquet of flowers and a chocolate mousse pie (because they know I don't like cake). It totally put a smile on my face. They're awesome!

And Facebook has presented me with hundreds of birthday wishes. (Facebook is excellent for the ego!)

Life is so good.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The 20 Year Reunion: I Survived.

I didn't pee. Not even a little bit. In fact, not at all because the one time I managed to skip away the bathroom was out of order. WHAT?!

My 20-year high school reunion was this weekend and it was awesome. I laughed. A lot. Which is exactly how reunions are supposed to go.

At one point I turned to this guy and announced, "I had the BIGGEST crush on you in sixth grade!" In my memory I made an awful fool of myself tripping to get next to his side, being over complimentary and laughing way too loud at all of his jokes. The poor guy was probably made so uncomfortable by my ridiculous behavior. He looked at me, cocked his head to the side and said, "I knew you in sixth grade?"

Yep. That's exactly how reunions are supposed to go, too.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

20 Years Later

My 20-year high school reunion is this weekend which means I totally am going to have to shave my legs. Which sucks because, let's face it, the dark growth makes my legs appear tan from a distance.

I'm totally not caring that I look like I'm carrying around a 6-month old fetus. There's spanx for that.

I'm also not worrying about Big V running into any of my old knocking boots buddies because (1) I was a lady, people, and (2) I always made sure to hook up with people from other school districts in an effort to avoid the awkward 20-years later convo held over the tray of imported cheeses with our respective spouses picking up on the tension.

I am, however, incredibly nervous about two potentially embarrassing situations that would just about kill me:

(a.) Walking around the entire time with food stuck in my teeth and/or a booger coming out of my nose and not one person telling me. Once I sat around at work and laughed and chit-chatted for an entire afternoon before I went to the bathroom and saw I had a piece of food stuck in my teeth. I didn't feel cool at all.

(b) Laughing and/or sneezing so hard that I pee. And innocent bystanders realizing that I just peed. Not that I plan on wetting myself, nor has it ever happened before (at least not out in public) but there's bound to be a first time and dear Lord, please don't let that first time be at my 20-year high school reunion.

My most embarrassing moment during high school happened at a gas station. That was back in the day before pay-at-the-pump action. Super hunky kid was fueling up his car next to me and I was so uber-excited because he glanced over in my general direction and nodded at me - which totally meant he was going to ask me out and the next morning we'd be walking hand in hand down the main hall at school, I could just tell.

And then we walked into the gas station to pay and he let me go in front of him! He was totally checking out my ass while we waited. And then it was my turn to pay so I nervously unzipped my purse and pulled out my trifold wallet with the velcro and next thing I know hot guy was all uh, I think you dropped something... and I followed his gaze to my tampon which had been inadvertently flung out of my purse.

Obviously the relationship was over between us. Who'd want to date such a butterfinger's?

But with the wisdom, knowledge and confidence I have gained from 20 years of growth and experience, I know I'd totally take a flying wad of balled up cotton in a cardboard tube flying out of my purse over pissing my pants any day.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

May I kindly suggest on-line registration?

Yesterday was school registration day. Every kid registering in the entire school district goes to the high school and registers. There were areas set up for each of the three elementary schools, one for the middle school and also the high school.

Registration was all day long. But ended at six. Which was so incredibly thoughtful for those of us who work until 5pm.

Here's how I managed:

5:00pm - leave work. Car doesn't start right away. Curse the living daylights out of it. "Flood" the sucker and try again. It works. Only old farm trucks and cars built before 1980 start this way. My vehicle is neither of those. Curse the car once more for good measure.

5:07pm - pick up Cletus from the sitters. It's raining.

5:10pm - Cletus smells like shit. Yell to back seat, "did you poop?" His response: "Pee yuck."

5:12pm - receive frantic text from the Bean: "I look like a hobo. Are you almost here?"

5:18pm - pull into drive, forget the garage door is on manual. It's downpouring. Get soaked running into the house. Attempt to change flailing baby.

5:25pm - pull out of driveway. Call the Bean. "Oh, we're actually at the arboretum. We didn't feel like waiting at my Dad's." Turn right instead of going straight. Wonder who "we" consists of.

5:27pm - pull into arboretum. "Why are you standing out in the rain like homeless people?" Find out "we" is a friend. Realize the Bean can't do anything without a buddy. She's 16. Life is like that.

5:28pm - pull out of arboretum and drive towards school. Remember I have another daughter who will be dropped off at home at 5:30pm. Yell out, "OH, SHIT!"

5:29pm - speed towards home; get caught at a stupid intersection where it's impossible to cross. Start muttering under my breath.

5:32pm - pull back into drive. Realize Dotter is not back yet, thank God. She should be there any second. We shall wait.

5:38pm - Call. Inquire where Dotter is. They're just leaving. Ask to meet at high school instead. Speed out of driveway and drive as fast as humanly possible to high school.

5:42pm - pull into school parking lot. Seemingly one spot left. Looks about three miles away at the farthest end of the parking lot. Grab Cletus and attempt to carry him through flooding parking lot as he's squirming and flailing about while yelling, "STUCK! STUCK!" which is his way of telling me he wants to get down.

5:44pm - while walking into the school remember that I still have to get Dotter. Why do I keep forgetting about her? Wait under dripping canopy with crazy Cletus.

5:46pm - Dotter arrives. Cletus decides he's going to walk (s.l.o.w.l.y.) all the way to the cafeteria. Lost track of the Bean and Friend. Dotter whines because her bag is too heavy. Cletus runs in opposite direction.

5:48pm - Enter cafeteria. Wait in line. Cletus screams for no reason and falls to ground with dramatical flair. Dotter gets red and hisses mom, DO SOMETHING! Lady at first registration table takes my papers (already completely filled out, thankyouverymuch) and rolls her eyes. "This table is for sophomores. Your child is a junior."

5:49pm - Cletus is still on the floor screaming, "NO! NO! NO!" Run over to junior table and toss papers towards it. Dotter hisses louder MOM! DO SOMETHING!

5:50pm - drag Cletus by the arm across newly buffed cafeteria floor. He's laughing because he's sliding across and it's fun. Dotter whines, "I can't carry my bag; it's too heavy." Double back and grab bag. Holy shit, it's heavy.

5:51pm - stand in tremendously long line to await payment of registration fees. Thank the good Lord above that Bean has no interest in sports because that would mean another freaking line.

5:53pm - still in line. Bean has finally blessed us with her presence. Bean and Friend stand next to each not talking, but rather texting. Every so often one looks up to the other and exclains things like I know, right? That's so awkward! I have no idea why they don't just talk to each other.

5:56pm - incredible explosion-like noise goes off. Entire cafeteria falls instantly silent. I look over and see Cletus laying on the ground next to a large metal theatre stanchion that he's tipped over. Go over to help pick them up. Shit, they're heavy.

5:57pm - Cletus starts going to every chair in the cafeteria to climb up, sit, climb down. At least he's occupied.

5:58pm - Ready to pay my bill and get the heck out of dodge. Bean pipes up, "would you like me to go get my ID picture taken so you don't have to wait for me?" Yes. Yes, I believe that to be a grand idea.

5:59pm - Breathe out.

Still 5:59pm - remember that I have to pay for school lunch. Race out to lobby area.

6:01pm - reach lunch table right as they're closing up, start writing check and hope at least some of the children locate me.

6:02pm - all children have reached my side. Dotter whines about that damn bag again. Cletus is full out spastic. Bean and Friend find themselves a boy to talk to. Lunch lady having trouble locating student in system. Firmly tell Dotter to go watch her brother. She whines about a stupid water bottle. Throw water bottle in the bag. "Mom, you can't ---" I cut her off. "Just go watch your brother." I mean business.

6:04pm - lunch is paid. Find Dotter in front of entry doors tackling Cletus attempting to put his shoe on. With purse and heavy as shit bag over my shoulder, lean down to put Cletus's shoe on. Ignore people squeezing around me and all my stuff trying to exit the building. Stand up.

6:05pm - Cletus pulls other shoe off. And throws it. I turn to go pick up shoe. Dotter yells, MOM! THERE'S SOMETHING DRIPPING FROM THE BAG!

6:06pm - back of left leg entirely soaked from contents of entire water bottle that has seeped through the heavy as shit bag. "I tried to tell you that you can't put it in the bag because the top was broken, but you didn't listen." Resist urge to cry as I squat down to put second shoe on toddler.

6:07pm - Walk proudly out the doors pretending not to care that it looks like I'm continually peeing my pants with water splatting on the ground behind me.

Friday, August 5, 2011

It truly is the thought that counts...

Since it was my Dad's birthday I needed to get him a gift. He's kind of this meticulous gardener guy; the kind where you're not allowed to step on the grass or pick any one of the three billion-trillion flowers blooming around his property, but he can leave an empty can of beer tossed casually towards the shrubbery. This tells me that he doesn't mind aluminum, which is a metal, which means he would totally love a giant metal chicken.

But ever since The Bloggess opened the world to metal animal yard art chickens have been popping up everywhere. And it's almost like Swatch Watches, where they were cool because no one had any and then suddenly everyone did and before you knew it you were showing off your new Swatch and the cool kids were turning up their noses saying those were so last week. So, I needed something better than a giant chicken. And since my dad is from Australia..... you see where this is going, right? .... It only made sense to get him a 6' metal kangaroo for his yard!

Except there are no metal kangaroos anywhere.

It's like they've been banned from the world of yard art. And I don't understand why. Because everyone knows that the only reason Skippy peanut butter has made it big in commerce is because they've been riding on the coat tails of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. People love Skippy peanut butter, therefore, people surely love kangaroos.

You don't see Lassie selling any sandwich spread, do you?

Anyway. With the birthday deadline looming and no mammoth scrap metal roo to put in my dad's yard I went with option number 2.


Not just any balls. Golf balls. Because he likes to golf. A lot. But not just any golf balls. We wanted him to remember these...

And so my sister, my daughter who likes hair in her face, and my sister's very serious daughter set to work....

 Even Cletus the Used to be Fetus was put to work. Except he had no idea what we were doing and just opted to eat the Sharpie.

My sister's youngest boy was there, too, but he basically just jumped off living room furniture. Because that boy never stops moving ever.

My Dad has a lot of balls.
But we wanted these to be balls that when he used them he would see the love from his offspring and remember the fond memories that come from his various nicknames. (Bunker, Aussie, Wild Bill, etc.)

We took our task very seriously because we wanted to make sure we got things right.

Sometimes I'm amazed we actually have children of our own. It's like, who was the idiot who decided to give kids to US?!

Then I remembered that I needed a birthday card except I didn't have any birthday cards just laying around the house. However, as luck would have it, I did happen to have this holiday card and somehow, it just seemed to work, you know?

Feel free to click on this photo to make it bigger and read the card yourself.
It oozes love.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Nothing says I Love You more than a Goose with an identity crisis and a rabid Joey.

The dingo ain't eatin' THIS baby...

Today is my dad's birthday.

He is 67 years old.

Well, 67 according to what my mom told me this morning when I asked because, honestly, I had no idea how old he was. When someone mentions my dad I picture him walking around the back yard in flip flops and a pair of shorts, bending over to pick up a stick and then using that same stick to point up into the apple trees and bitch about the tent worms.

Yes, tent worms.

A huge nest of worms stuck together in a silk-like web that resembles a hornet's nest that my dad would systematically burn down with homemade torches. Nest after nest. Tree after tree.

And if you ever saw thousands of worms dropping from the sky after being burned to death by some angry Australian then you probably have the same aversion to apple trees that I do. Hey, let's go pick apples in a huge orchard where we could potentially getting buried alive by falling worms! I think I'll pass.

In my mind, my dad is still the dad I had when I was six, watching those worms drop from the sky.

In my mind, my dad still looks like he did when he was 36.

And then I think, really? My dad was once only 36 years old? That is just so weird!

I then I catch a glimpse of his 67 year old self. When he walks too slow. Or can't read the words in the small print. Or how confused he is by computers and cell phones.

And I think, how did my dad get this old? When did this happen? I want him to slow down. I haven't given him enough grief yet.

I was told today that I got my sense of humor from my dad. And for that I'm incredibly grateful because he certainly didn't give me his quick to tan skin or his ability to draw and paint and I kind of feel like he owes me a good trait, you know?

Anyway, to show my love to my daddy today (and to prove I've gotten over the fact that he bought my sister her own dog, but not me; and that when he sold the horse he promised to buy her a stereo, but not me; and that he consistently mows her lawn, but not mine) I asked the office scape-goose to honor my father's Australian heritage and dress up like a kangaroo. Which she did. So, please don't think those are bunny ears because Roos get insulted when you mistake them for big, furry rats. Also, I'm not sure why the baby Joey looks like a crazed mental patient, but maybe rabid kangaroo babies are more common than not.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Also known as: Bill, Billy, Bunker, Wild Bill, Bunker Bill, Roo, Aussie, Oz, and whatever other moniker is floating out there. (He's a very social guy.) 

PS: I've had nicknames, too... Birdshit, Bird Turd and BJ Jo Go Slow. I'm totally thinking I got screwed in the nickname category.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

'Til Death Do Us Part: 1,000 Ways To Make It Happen.

I have a new rule called No More Criminal Minds at Bedtime. I used to like that show but then it got incredibly freaky and now I know 68 more ways a person could be tortured than I did before (and I knew a lot from before because I used to watch CSI and Law & Order) and that just doesn't make for sweet dreams, you know?

Big V knows I have nightmares but he doesn't care because now he suddenly has a new favorite show called I Am Slowly Driving My Partner Insane By Scaring Her To Death. Actually, it's not called that. But it should be.

I'm talking about the Spike TV show called 1000 Ways to Die.

Big V knows how, uh, high strung and anxious I tend to be when it comes to safety. I am only all too aware of those things that are incredibly unsafe and shouldn't be attempted. Like risking your life by eating at an IKEA buffet. No one knows how long those meatballs have been sitting there. Can you say Salmonella? Botulism? E.Coli? I think I made my point.

Anyway, last night some lady had a cat scratch her.

And a hookworm that had been hanging out on the cat's paw then entered her body.

And fed off her organs.

And she could feel it.

And then it killed her.

" still want a cat?" (It's amazing how many times I want to smack him in the face.)

I'm actually only assuming the hookworm killed her off because I didn't get to see the end of the show. It was a choice: either he changed the channel, or I would smash the television set and from now on I could read to him before we fell asleep.

Tonight we'll be reading from the GE 30-Inch Smooth Surface Freestanding Electric Range Manual.

Shark Week. You know, Again.

It's Shark Week. Again.
(Is it just me, or are there an awful lot of shark weeks?)

This means our office scapegoose better watch his back.

Monday, August 1, 2011

So, WILL an M&M melt in your nose?

This weekend was one of the busiest social dates of the summer. The options seemed endless: a lobster boil, a fireman's dance, and a little something called Moos & Blues which you just have to experience to believe. (Small town farmers hosting one of the biggest events of the season: pig roast, live music and an unbelievable fireworks display that ranks up there with the best of 'em.) However, I was home with Dotter (9) and Cletus (1.5) and two extra kids (aged 3 and 1).

Big V, being the stellar support system that he is, bailed on me to attend an obligatory graduation party.

So it was me (clearly outnumbered) who stayed with the children for the day.

And it was a very long day.

Eight hours later I had managed to put two of the kids to bed and the other was quietly watching a movie. (Dotter had locked herself in my bedroom hours earlier to get away from everyone. Meaning me. Because I kept asking her to help bring me a diaper. Help fill up that sippy cup. Help take that wad of hair out of the other kid's fist.) With all kids quietly accounted for, I patted myself on the back for a job well done and ran down to the basement to put a load of laundry in the washer.

And then:

Screams. Sobs. Hysteria.

I ran up the steps three at a time and arriving breathless at the top of the stairs to a 3-year old sobbing in the middle of my kitchen floor. What? What happened?!

"I want my MOMMMM!!!!"

Okay. Okay.... what the hell? Did something happen? Initially I'm thinking the television turned scary. I remember once this kid told me he was putting the movie Hansel & Gretel in and the opening scene turned out to be Freddy Krueger fashioning his spiky hands. Scared the hell out of me.


Okay. But I need you to calm down and talk to me... and that's when I noticed he was covered with stuff. Splotches of stuff. Dark red and brown stuff oozing from his nose... wiped across his arm... all over his hands. Oh, GOD! I thought. He's bleeding! He found scissors and stabbed himself in his heart and now he's going to bleed out and die and I'm going to have to explain why only left him for a second, and he was laying there so nicely and I swear I was only downstairs for two minutes tops - and somehow he managed to find scissors and I suck as a human being!


Can you stand up? Okay... we're going to go in the bathroom and I'm going to clean you up. What happened? Can you tell me what happened?


As I'm standing there ever so gently trying to wash off the dried blood and figure out where it's coming from I ask him if anything thing happened that he doesn't want to tell me about.


Sh-sh-shh... it's okay. You just need to tell me what happened so I can help you.


Really? I look down at him. You really stuck an M&M up your nose?


Well. That explained what was dripping out of his nose.

Just curious, but why, exactly, did you put the M&M up inside your nose?


Do you think it's funny now?


The first thing I did was make sure the kid could breathe. Which he could. And then I called my mother. She raised 4 kids that were born within 5 years of each other. Surely there were times she was incapable of watching all of us at one time and someone shoved a foreign object up their nose.

"Nope. None of you ever did that. We lost a couple fingernails... and Shawn did fall out of the truck when I was driving down the road... and there was that time Patrick's finger ripped off... and also when the merry-go-round tore off his knee cap; that was kind of freaky. A lot of head wounds requiring stitches, but never anything stuck in a nose."

Then I called my sister. Because she lives on a farm and people who live on farms are always dealing with gory situations. Plus she has three kids aged 2, 4 and 6 and once the oldest one brought dirt in from outside and dumped it in the house because he wanted a picnic. Surely she would know what to do.

But she didn't. Because her kids aren't allowed to put anything in their nose, including fingers, and they obviously follow this rule (as opposed to the whole "we do not dump buckets of dirt on the kitchen table" rule) so she offered to google it instead.

And that's when she told me that foreign objects stuck in the nasal passage can cause breathing difficulties and infections and that WebMD says that you need to have a trained medical professional remove the object or else horrible things can happen like death. (That's not really what she said; I just happen to know that all things lead to death and also have this horrible aversion to having death happen on my watch so I like to stick with the medical professionals at all times.)

And about this time the kid is yelling things like it hurts! and get it out! and it's stuck! So I try a different approach and ask if she can google do M&M's melt in your nasal passage? but she told me to just contact his parents instead. And then she made me promise not to have the kid stick anything else up his nose, including his fingers, because that could cause it to get shoved even higher and that would cause even more problems, like brain damage and certain death. (Okay, so I added that last part.)

And his parents were way more nonchalant then me and explained that the kid's aunt had a jelly bean stuck in her nose for like a year and she survived so it was no big deal as long as he can breathe. And I was all but he's got a candy coated hunk of chocolate up his nostril! And it's a red one on top of that! (Everyone knows red is the best. And now I can never, ever eat another red M&M without thinking of slimy nose holes.)

Eventually Big V came home from his relaxing adventures and was all "high-five, you got the kids to bed" and I was all yeah, and one of them is slowly suffocating to death and he was all "why do you drink so much?" and then I had to explain the M&M insertion drama. To which, he laughed.

It's not funny. I can't go to sleep now. What if that thing comes loose and chokes him in his sleep? I have to hold a constant vigil over his body to ensure he doesn't die on my watch.

He'll be fine.

You don't know that.

Kids shove things up their noses all the time.

My kids haven't.

Other kids.

My sister's kids haven't.

Fine. Kids you don't know. It'll be fine. Relax.

What if he dies?

He's not going to die.

We'll never be able to use that room again. I can't expect people to sleep in a bedroom that someone died in.

Why not? People die in houses all the time.

No they don't.

Yes they do. Where do you think people die?

In the hospital. Do you think people died in our house?


What do you mean maybe? Do you know something I don't know?

No, I'm just saying that perhaps somewhere along the history of this house someone might have died in it. What does it matter? It doesn't change the house any.

I can't stay here! We have ghosts!

You don't even believe in ghosts.

Don't say that out loud; you'll upset them!

The kids?

The ghosts. If they hear that I don't believe they'll make it their point to prove to me that they really do exist. I've watched Poltergeist and I do not want that to happen in this house. Can you imagine if our tv's were static all the time? We'd go nuts!

You're a very strange person, you know that?

So I've been told.

By several people right?

Don't push it.

Editor's Note:
For the record, no child died in our house this weekend. I have no idea what happened to the M&M. First it hurt. Then it settled into it tickles me when I breathe and by mid-afternoon the next day the status was I think it just disappeared in my nose.

Another Editor's Note:
I also never plan on eating M&M's again. Twenty minutes of having a kid gently blow out chocolatey snot in the hopes of extricating the official candy of the new millennium* from the human body will do that to a person.

* I got that whole "official candy of the new millennium" thing from the M&M's website. Please note, while they continually tout how great the candy is, nowhere on their so-called informational site are there any directions or advice regarding how to remove the morsel from one's nose, nor whether or not the candies which "melt in your mouth, not in your hands" are eventually capable of absorbing into the body via the sinus cavity. I believe someone is seriously slacking on their end (ahem, M&Ms). 

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