Monday, November 19, 2012

He Doesn't Love You Unless...

**Disclaimer**

The following post should NOT be read by any man, particularly any who are married/in a relationship with any of my friends.  I will not be held responsible for any adverse outcome of people/person(s) not heeding this warning.

***********************************************

So if you didn't notice the abrupt shift in advertising from a mucky stew of political ads to holiday deals....then you DVR everything like I do.

One particular category always gets my attention: Diamonds.

No, not in a good way, not in the shallow manner you'd expect from a vagina owner.  In a much more realistic, pseudo-pessimistic way that you should expect from THIS vagina owner.  Staring at the screen I wonder: do these guys really think that I'm going to whither away convinced my man doesn't love me if he doesn't immediately run to the nearest jewelry store to collect and have his most willing female relative/coworker wrap for me this season's hottest "tell her you love her" sparkly treasure?

But it does work.  A lot.  It always has.  De Beers and their "A Diamond Is Forever" campaign (which they came out with in 1947) is considered the BEST advertising slogan of the 20th century.  Problem was...once you got that diamond....not a lot of other diamonds followed.  What to do?

Got it.  Make up some ridiculous NEW shape/configuration to convince people that last year's jewelry purchase has lost the love luster that it once had.  Tell her your love for her "has no end"....buy her an eternity ring or pendant (or a matching set!).

It's a circle.

Reflect on the path your relationship has taken with a journey pendant...tiny diamonds representing your beginning together and slowly taper and swirl into a big diamond to represent the two of you today, sitting on the couch, wondering how many months it will take to pay this off.

Eric, you're a douche, but she'll still love it.

How about a trilogy ring?  Acknowledge your love's past, present, and future with that one.

Even especially if you're an NBA player,
she's gonna know you just cheated on her.

Even Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman got into the jewelry biz with her "keep an open heart" collection.  When the line for women was exhausted they started suggesting you buy them for little girls, too.  The REAL irony of this one is that this past February (right after Valentine's Day) Jane Seymour came clean about the actual origin of her design inspiration.

You're gonna regret this tattoo selection in a minute, trust me.

www.uwmcforum.com/2012/02/29/jane-seymour-finally-admits-true-origin-of-her-open-hearts-jewelry/:

“The design originated with one of my paintings,” Seymour had said truthfully. On Thursday she admitted that her painting had absolutely nothing to do with hearts.

“I was painting my husband, James,” Seymour said in her trademark British accent. “And when I came across his ballsack . . . the elegance of the motion of the brush on the canvas just struck me as remarkable. I became obsessed with painting just the ballsack,” she said. She began experimenting with her strokes and, over time, the ‘Open Hearts’ design, as you know and love it today, evolved.

Kinda makes you gag at the thought of draping one of THOSE around your little girl's neck now, doesn't it??

Love not enough to convince you?  For the single (or sass-mouth) ladies, you MUST buy a "right hand ring"....buy it for yourself (who needs a MAN??) and wear it as a symbol of your independence.

That's still not your right hand,
but we get the picture, lady.

This trickery is not limited to diamonds.  A few years back Italian charm bracelets were pretty popular in this same manner....today Chamilia seems to be the prevalent charm bracelet setup.

And in this mix lies my poor husband....who likely longs for something as simple as a sparkly bauble to shut me up during the holidays.  Who wishes his wife could be "normal" like the rest of them who ooh and ahhh over something shiny.

Sorry honey, you're going to have to try WAY harder than that.

This is not to say that I didn't swoon over every diamond he's given me.  It's just that they were super-charged with emotion and not given willy-nilly.  I remember the exact moment their light hit my eyes, but even more so the light in his eyes across the table from me.  It was NOT, however, any of these trendy must-have ways to say "I love you."  It was much classier, traditional, and given to me while my hair was still wet from a much needed shower and I was in a bathrobe and hospital slipper-socks.  THAT is love.

In fact, we're headed back to that same spot soon...though I would never expect a repeat of that gift, it does make me reflect on the one that was given then....which I haven't taken off since.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sleeping With Jacks

I've been reserving comments on hotel-living until I'm firmly planted in a new home and can clear out the situational delusions that I'm sure are clouding my judgement.

That said: there are FOURTEEN days to go.  Fourteen.  We can do this.

The dark circles under my eyes today are a direct result of my actions last night.  I found myself in bed with Jacks.

Not Dawson, Sparrow, Daniels, -The Ripper, -In The Box, or even that one dude from Sons of Anarchy that I think needs a haircut (and wash)...nor the French boyfriend of the New York Housewives' Countess Luann.


I have never trusted this guy's moustache.

No, in my constant state of inflated uncomfortability, I spent hours wriggling, rolling over, stretching, and still could not find a sleepable position.  It felt like there was something jabbing me all over.  The baby must be screwing with me, I thought...but then I could feel it in my legs.  I reached down in the covers to feel around and found them.  The olden-days-childhood toys.  Jacks.  Esten had picked them from the dentist's treasure box, one of the two prizes they afforded him for all his trauma at their office yesterday, and apparently felt the ideal place to play with them was in his bed.  Like IN the bed, between the sheets.

I had switched him places in one of the two queen sizes after giving Clayton some cough medicine, my initial source of sleeplessness.  I figured if I stayed close I could hear him better to re-dose him throughout the night.  A bit of hackiness followed, then the sound that ignites every mother's midnight cat-like reflexes: the sound of an impending puke triggered by a coughing gag.
  1. We are in a hotel room, did I mention that?
  2. I have no way to launder bed linens myself.
The leftover popcorn bucket from the evening's movie proved handy, with almost no overspray at all.  A trip to the bathroom *which is very close by, and a drink of water later, Clayton and I were back in bed.

He zonked right out and didn't move, cough, or puke the rest of the night.

I laid awake at the ready for him to move, cough, or puke for the rest of the night.

This morning we got up and I asked him if he felt like going to school.  He didn't have a fever, and the school's breakfast menu sealed his deal: pancakes.  No way would he miss pancakes.

So just when I think we have this figured out, life keeps throwing me curveballs like last night's shenanigans....and somehow I keep living through it.

Fourteen more days.  I may be able to shed a humorous light on it when it's all over with but right now all I can do is count the days.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Ain't Mutton But A Good Time

The addition of mutton bustin' as a competition at our local rodeo was mixed with opportunity for us as parents this year.  The opportunity to create some new childhood trauma memories for our boys.

When I told Hubs of the offering he didn't hesitate.  He wanted them to participate.  I filled out the requisite forms and held my breath awaiting confirmation that they were both accepted under the deadline and the participant number cutoff that was advertised.

They were in.  OMYGOD.  What now??

I'm the only half of our marriage who isn't a scaredy-cat when it comes to livestock (though Hubs insists his issues are limited to LARGE livestock).  Still, closest he came to cowboyism was the late summer of his youth spent bucking hay bales for local farmers.  Cowshit (or otherwise) likely never gushed upon the soles of his high tops.  Also given his work schedule, I knew it would be me who would hand-hold our minis through this process that I really knew nothing about.

Someone at work mentioned that there were RULES.  ??? I thought the only rule was hang on and don't let go.  Apparently there are a plethora of rules associated with the particular level of rodeo-association-ish entities that spilled over to all participants, workers, or volunteers stepping foot inside the arena.  Rules about clothes.

Thank God for the internet.

Not that it helped my situation, but it did clarify a few things.  Like I was gonna have to suck it up and drop some dough at the cowboy clothes store if I wanted my kids to not risk a disqualification.  Knowing it was probably going to be their only shot, I not only cringed at having to shell out the cash for clothes they wouldn't wear the rest of the year, but at the possibility that if they DID perform well, they could possibly lose out to a technicality.  I wasn't taking any chances.

I also failed to inform the kids of the actual prize, which included a belt buckle.  First of all, Esten refuses to wear denim.  Secondly, his motivation is CASH.  He dreamed up a dollar amount (there really was some money involved but I'm sure not the amount he was thinking of) and set his mind to winning it.  So much so that when he overheard someone talking about a belt buckle for the winner he asked me:

"Whattheheck is a bell buckle??  Like something you hold when you're ringing a bell?"

There was a maddening lack of information about the event for participants to reference.  I chalked it up to being the first year they were doing it, but continued to look and ask around.  One of my friends' kids was in the selection as well, so she and I traded info until we got the lowdown.

The kids were stoked.  I had talked about what to expect and we got into technique.  I did what any parent/coach would do leading their children into a sport they'd never seen:  I showed them YouTube videos.

Don't judge.  It's a most handy tool for instructional purposes.  I used it to diagnose and fix appliances recently.  Our brother-in-law used it, in interval trips, to walk his way through gutting a deer.

We practiced on stuffed animals.  I feared the outcome if we practiced on any live ones.  They may back out.  We couldn't have that.

We showed up on time for the number assignment.  #49 and #50, in a row...big brother first.  Their nervousness waned as they surveyed the sheep in the pen, until they spied one with horns.




Who has to ride the one with the horns?  They asked.  "Whoever's luckiest I guess", I replied.  They consulted with other mini-riders.  They were miniature versions of real-live cowboys.  I waited with fingers crossed that we could just get through this without one or both of them hating me and needing to spend time in either the ER or the school counselor's office.  I showed them different parts and places across the grounds.

"That fence, over there, when it was wooden, used to be Grandpa's favorite place to watch the rodeo.  He sat on the top rail, and sometimes he'd jump down to help a princess on her horse.  That was after he was too old to open the chutes over there..."

We quietly breathed in the cloudy combination of dust and animal crap as the tractor made its way around grooming the arena.  Esten looked especially reflective.

"I bet Grandpa's watching us right now and I bet he's super proud of us, Clayton."

"I KNOW that, Esten.  I got a new angel kiss last night.  That means he told me Good Luck."

They lined up between numbers 48 and 51 and waited patiently.  I asked them whether they would be good listeners for the men giving them instructions so that I could go into the stands and take their pictures.  They insisted they were fine. 


Really, Mom, I'm a professional. I even got this sweet bandanna to prove it.
You can go now.

In the first group of four, they climbed up by the stalls and looked nervously around and down at their fluffy white rides.  A coordinator approached Esten and asked where his mom was - when Esten pointed in my direction the guy wanted to know if they had someone there to help them, or if he needed to get someone.

I pointed at my protruding belly.  "It's not gonna be me, that's for sure."

Clayton got a misty look of unsureness across his face about that time, and then their helpers jumped into the chutes from the other side, scaring both the boys and the sheep.  Clayton's was trying to jump out.



I wonder if use of these helmets on a sheep is in violation of X-Games rules.

Our friend's son was first to go, and boy did he go.  His sheep ran half way to Mexico before he jumped off, I'm guessing out of boredom and the assumption that it may be getting past his bedtime.  An awesome ride.

Then Esten.  His sheep stayed so close to the fence line and he fell so fast I didn't even have time or the angle to get a picture.  Crap.  Then again in my head all I could think was please be able to walk all the way past your brother's field of vision before you have a meltdown or he will back out for sure.  But you know Esten, even when he's nervous his contagious smile sticks to his adorable face.



"I think I either changed my mind about this, or I need to go poop.  I'm not sure."

When Clayton came out and subsequently hit the ground he immediately began to cry.  I knew he wasn't hurt, but he was freaked out.  I ran down to scoop him up and dust him off.  Back in our seats by our family and friends of cheerleaders who came out to watch, both boys were over it.  They wanted to go home.  I insisted we stay and cheer on the rest of the competitors.  I had just settled them down a bit when, after an almost identical run to Esten's, the announcer commented "awwwww...I think that calls for a re ride, what do you think, judges?"  Esten LOST it.

"WWWHHHHHAAAAATT?  That kid's gonna get another ride.  That's not fair."

And it wasn't.  But unfortunately for Esten I'm not a Toddlers in Tiaras kind of mom.  I'm not the mom who runs down to the judges and raises hell and says "then give my kid another chance too".  No....I'm the mom who instead strokes her son's hair and says "sometimes things happen that aren't fair, and people don't treat everyone the same, and you just have to be okay with it anyway".

In the end, six kidlets who did not belong to me qualified for the Sunday competition.  As we buckled our dusty selves into the car, between the sniveling in the back seat I asked, "So what would make you feel better and quit your crying?  Ice cream?"  They answered in unison without a pause:

"Dollar store."

And so I dragged them, dirt and all, to seek out the treasures that would soothe them.  A bath and a book later, they drifted off to sleep.

In the morning, my phone was blowing up with calls and texts, something about my son and the newspaper.  I pulled up the online edition.  Holy crap.  There was Clayton, holding on for dear life on the front page.  He tiptoed sleepily out of his room.  I offered to stop for cocoa on the way to school if he got dressed and woke his brother up and said, "Because guess who got famous today?"



(Photo: Steve Hanks, Lewiston Morning Tribune)

Then I showed him the picture.  He beamed.  I checked the news station's website.  Esten was in their video prepared by the sports reporter.  One of each.  Even Steven.  I know my kids, and I know that it no longer mattered to them whether they won or lost.  They got MEDIA COVERAGE!  They were going to be talked about at school that day.  It was better than winning in both their minds.  Clayton examined the picture one last time.

"That wasn't my sheep.  Mine was psycho.  In fact, that's what I named him.  Psycho.  That sheep looks nice."

So all was well again in our little home, and we were better able to focus on cheering on those boys (and girls) who did qualify for another run.

Because really, after all...what WOULD we do with a bell buckle?

Friday, August 31, 2012

Little Red Barn

This morning, to add a special sprinkle to the end of the first (half, anyway) week of school, I shuttled my shorties out the door a few minutes early in order to surprise them with an on-the-way hot cocoa and strawberry milk from my local drive-thru beanery.  It's a rare treat that is always met by them with gratitude, so long as the barista remembers the gummy bears on top, and it's something that I reward their good listening with, yet always in a surprise fashion...I don't want to ruin it by shifting it over to my bribery category just yet.

As we pulled in on one side of the two-service window hut Clayton said to Esten:

"When this place gets all done and closed up, we should use it for a playhouse."

To which Esten, preserver of justice, replied:

"We can't do that.  It's like stealing.  There's video cameras in there and they'd know that we came in to play when they were gone.  We'd go to jail."

I understood what Clayton was getting at though, so I helped clarify for him:

"I think your brother means when they're done with the BUILDING, like if the business completely closed forever, not just for the night, is that what you meant, Clayton?"

"Yeah, when it's old and they don't want it anymore.  Maybe we could have it for a playhouse."

Esten decided that would be kind of awesome, so long as no laws were broken in the deal.

With the rodeo coming up next weekend, I couldn't help but think of and share with them about the Little Red Barn.  It's the place where the public can go purchase advance tickets to the rodeo, a small, portable shed-like building that seasonally plants itself in the parking lot of a local business and is known immediately by either its name or by sight.  It's been part of our town's rodeo (which is a stop on a semi-serious circuit) tradition for years, just like the parade.  I told the boys that over the years they've had to replace the Little Red Barn because it's deteriorated or they've outgrown it...and that when I was a little girl and they upgraded to a new structure, that Grandpa had somehow finagled and gotten the old Little Red Barn for me to use for a playhouse and put it in the back yard around where Grandma's swingset is now.


Today's Little Red Barn...does it look like it's leaning a little to you?
Photo: Lewiston Roundup

They looked at each other for a moment, then to my eyes looking back at them in the rearview mirror.  Esten was speechless.  Clayton was not.

"Ahh. You. Theeeweeeeuth?"

"Yeah.  Only it was kind of shaped like a hexagon instead of a rectangle.  So people could come up to different sides of it.  I played in it for a lot of years, until it started falling apart from being out in the weather and wasn't safe to play in anymore, then Grandpa tore it down."

Clayton thought it was the coolest thing ever.  Esten got misty-eyed because it had been torn down before he got to see it....like about 30 YEARS before he got to see it.  It was a prime example of the personality differences in my two little men.

We now live overlooking the rodeo grounds, this place that is so geographically close to us, yet we're not really a 'livestock' kind of family...so my kids' exposure to the culture has been minimal.  This year we've decided, collectively, that the boys are going to try their hand at mutton busting.  I don't know that it will work out, probably once they see someone else attempting it they'll change their minds.  For now, though, that's the plan.  Clayton would like to wear his Oakland Raiders helmet.  That's been vetoed, both for safety purposes and so that the judges won't disqualify him on the basis of liking the Raiders.

My children will need therapy after this.
Photo: Lewiston Roundup

I was going to buy our tickets online since the Roundup Association has made that option available in the past few years, but instead I think I'll take the kids down to the Little Red Barn so they can experience it for themselves.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Grandpa's In The Ground Now

*Correction:

The service was a beautiful remembrance of his life, and my family is awesome.

The end.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Inside the HotDog Factory

image: http://hotdogfactory.blogspot.com/


So apparently we're just gonna go with churning out boys.  Hubs only knows how to make XY chromosomes, not XX chromosomes.  The news delivered last week first to me by the sonographer, then passed on to my children, my husband, and the rest of our family and friends was met with mixed reviews.

I loaded a cardboard box with blue balloons and let the boys open it.

Clayton was clearly ecstatic.  He was "Team Boy" all the way.  Another wrestle partner.  WooooHoooo.

Esten looked like he'd just unwrapped a Christmas present with a dog turd in it.  He scrunched up his nose and said, "NOOOO!"

Disappointment.  Obviously.  But I didn't really understand his angle.  He clarified his upset was due to the "fact" that "girl babies won't eat Legos, but boy babies do".

Duh.

He also insisted that I "try again for a do-over".

So I made them squish the balloons back in the box so we could surprise Daddy, and swore them to not only secrecy, but containing their emotion about it because we both knew the boys disagreed on their preference.

They helped him remove the ribbon, and once again the blue orbs lifted into the air.  That's when I was really surprised by Jason's reaction.

"Are you SHITTING me??  ANOTHER boy?  I thought we were gonna be done after this one, but now I'm thinking maybe we should try again for a girl."

Wait....WTF?  Can we get one out before we go talking about the NEXT one???

I suppose it's the exact opposite of the conversations that happen in the Real Housewives of New Jersey home of Joe and Teresa Giudice.

There's actually one MORE, and SHE's not a boy, either.
That's a giant estrogen ticking timebomb.
(bravotv)

The overwhelming majority (126%) of those with an opinion (everyone) had previously mentioned they were really pulling for this one to be a girl.  It made the most sense, following our family's pattern of two boys, then a girl.  I think there are many feeling a little sorry for me right now, having sealed my fate of being suffocated by the testosterone tornado tumbling around my house.

I fortunately don't see it that way.  I honestly wasn't leaning one way or the other on this, perhaps because I have a habit in general life of not setting myself up for disappointment.  We're somehow surrounded by other parents who have wanted to be surprised about their little one's gender until they're born, something I maintain is ridiculous given that I don't live in a cave in the 1400's.  There's a REASON I'm having kids now....ultrasound, epidurals, disposable diapers, breast pumps that plug into my car's cigarette lighter (do they still call them that?), and society's spin on dads helping provide more care than in the past.  I didn't care what this baby turned out to be, but I'm a planner and I wanted to know.

What will be a surprise is the name, which we'll keep under wraps until he makes his appearance, and to us, the surprise will be his personality.  Given the opposite nature of his two big brothers, anything is possible.  Until then, my hotdog factory will keep getting bigger, rounder, and heavier, and I'll get waddlier and more tired and it will all be worth it and the not-so-great things will be forgotten quickly.  After all, it did last time, and that's probably why we're in this situation today.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Pretending to Be Homeless...Just for the Fun of It

There are some things that most people are clearly on one side or the other about:

  • Chocolate or vanilla
  • Shower or bath
  • Pro-life or pro-choice
  • Underwire or soft cup
  • Bikinis or briefs
  • Paper book or Kindle
  • Angelina or Jennifer

and

Camping.


Not exactly our tent. Our bathtub was on the opposite side.
(photo: http://www.actionafrica.com/fisheagle.html)

Any guesses on which side I'm on for that last thing?  Yeah...so I maintain that I bust my hump to pay a mortgage for that roof that's over my comfy bed, and when the question of camping comes to mind all I can think is "why on EARTH do people find such joy in pretending to be homeless, just for the fun of it??"

But they do, and that's fine...and for some reason those who have seen my face when I'm invited on a camping trip almost always say, "If you don't like camping it's because you've never been camping with US...it's soooooo fun!!"

I know there are some folks reading this who I've had that conversation with, so it's legit.  After this past week/weekend I can tell you with certain authority:  It's really NOT about the s'mores....it's about being a thousand percent thankful that the washer and dryer are fully functional when you get home and have to wash the 800 articles of clothing/blankets/pillowcases that you took with you.  It's about attempting to create a bit of a memory for your kids, who at the end of an exhausted day, though they're slightly too old for it, squabble over who gets to lay in your arms in a lawn chair by the campfire, but not to let them enjoy it too much or be so comfortable that they'll ask to go again next weekend...because you know in your heart it just is NOT happening.

I've been camping exactly twice in the past 8 years.  Both times I've been pregnant.  I've concluded this MAY be the reason I'm not enjoying myself as much as everyone else.  My alcohol intake is in direct opposite proportion to those around me....making my vigilance to ensure no child steps in deer poop higher than normal.

Was it fun?  Yeah, it was.  Were there issues?  Yeah, there were.  I made some important discoveries that I'll take with me going forward.

  • I need to put more effort into finding a sunscreen that doesn't make my kids break out in a rash.
  • Always use the handicap accessible shower.  It's cleaner since it gets little use, and you can bend over without your butt touching anything.  On the off chance that someone rolls up in a wheelchair and chews you out...well, don't worry, they won't.
  • Taking a battery-powered white noise machine and Twilight Turtle really DO keep your kids feeling more like home and less likely to get up every five seconds saying they're scared.  It's worth it.
  • Conditioner.
  • Camping in a group lessens the impact of forgetting major contents of your cooler back at home in the freezer.  So does an incredibly prepared mother-in-law, who was a Campfire Girl, and thus can roast the shit out of a marshmallow.
  • Remember that most state laws do not afford for "differences of opinion when interpreting tent assembly instructions" as legitimate grounds for divorce.
  • No tent fits back in the bag it came with.  Just buy a bigger bag.

Having a husband who makes a huge attempt at making things as easy as possible does help.  A lot.  So does being surrounded by family and/or friends who are easy to laugh with, share your sandwich bread with, and who always remember to pack the hammer that you forgot.

Hopefully I will save this list to reference next time we go camping, which will likely be no less than one year from now...when I'll have long forgotten about the not-so-great parts and only remember how....FUN it was.

I still can't fully say I don't feel at least slightly like I'm slapping actual homeless people in the face when I walk away from my perfectly good house to "try on" their life a few days at a whack....and that my failing at it is borne out of the choice to go home.

So.  If you see me at a campground anytime soon please know this:  I have probably been kidnapped and am being held against my will.  My captor is likely armed and dangerous.  Proceed accordingly.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Born In the USA [At the Right Time]

So, I'm a little lippy.  Sometimes.  Usually not at the inappropriate times, but still.  I have been pretty reflective lately about how thankful I am for being where and WHEN I'm at.  This great country of ours affords me the opportunity to be a little mouthy, yet have my message heard and not muffled through my burka.  Not that anyone's listening.  But still.

I feel fortunate to have been born into a generation that gives me what I sure couldn't do without: epidurals, air conditioning, automatic appliances, and disposable diapers.

One of those things is being a real stinker lately and it's not the diapers.  For now.

Last week, when Hubs was doing his laundry (oh, there's another reason I'm happy to live now and not the 50's), he noted, "The washer is leaking."

Interestingly, this did not deter him from completing subsequent loads of his laundry.

I'm used to him making random, generalized statements like this.  The most common is simple: "The toilet's broken."

Nothing more specific than that.  I envision, when someone indicates "toilet's broken" that there are, in fact, two perfect halves of a porcelain throne lying sideways on a bathroom floor.  This is almost never, and certainly in our house has never been the case.  Most often the chain between the flush handle and the flap has become disconnected.  On occasion it will be something other than this, and to be honest I know far too much about it from my far too many encounters repairing toilets.  More than a normal woman my age should, if a psychotherapist were to weigh in on the issue.  On one of my more recent trips to Home Depot for more parts, I was approached in the "toilet repair" aisle by one of their helpful clerks in their smart-looking orange aprons.

"Can I help you find something, ma'am?"

Clayton immediately interjected before I could get a response out.

"Nope.  My mom's fixin' Grandpa's towit.  She's a expert."

Awkward silence, clerk waiting for my response.

"Yeah, he's right.  I kinda already know what you guys have.  This is my 3rd toilet this week.  I'm good.  Thanks anyway."

And off I went to crouch in front of and beside of and around that chilly bowl again, all the while thinking how normal people only hang out around their toilets this way while their best friend is holding their hair back and consoling them about the boyfriend fight they shouldn't have had.

Accurate depiction of me doing plumbing repairs.
Kidding.  I look ridiculous with brown hair.
And I show more crack.
(credit: artisticfootprints/zazzle.com)

So now, the washer - the clearly out-of-commission essential laundry appliance gets the screwdriver put to it.  It took me a little while to find the problem, which I initially assumed to be a hose.  It was not.  It was a leaky gasket seal between the inside and outside baskets.  A quick Google search directed me to what I needed (oh, I guess there's ANOTHER reason why the 50's woulda sucked...no Google!!) and I had how-to repair videos at my fingertips.  One thing was curiously missing from all these instructional mini-movies: WOMEN.  I just find that...interesting.

Anyhoo.  I ordered the part.  It's not here yet.  Our bunghole town isn't home to an appliance parts store, so I'm at the mercy of the FedEx guy, who is scheduled to be at my house tomorrow, according to the tracking status.  Fingers crossed.

Almost out of the woods with the washer and the dishwasher suddenly won't latch tonight.  Nice.  Typical.  It's been an ass for a week, the handle sticking and not powering up when it should.  Tonight, the handle totally broke.  I know this because the dishwasher got the same screwdriver put to it that the washer did.  I removed the faulty handle, then remembered to turn the power off only after I got shocked (I tend to get into an impatient hurry).  Another quick internet search for the replacement and there it was, along with a statistical 97% of other customers reporting this same problem with this same manufacturer as me.

Now this new part is on its way, and I'm trying to stay positive about the fact I'm gonna have to go hand wash that pile of dishes like it IS 1950.  I'm thankful, however, that I am able to handle these repairs myself, and that I don't have to rely on a service guy to do it for me.  I don't tend to have great experience when I DO end up at the mercy of an expert, because they usually give me the "girl" treatment, overcharging and acting like I couldn't possibly understand how my thingamajig is broken, but that they're my knight in shining armor who's gonna save me.

Right.

If any of my lady friends out there need encouragement to dive into a project fearlessly, I'm your biggest cheerleader.  I might even be able to give you a tip or two, since I unfortunately know more about fixing things than I should.  I shouldn't just keep that to myself.

*DISCLAIMER* Hubs may not be mechanically inclined, but he makes up for it with other talents.  The best and most successful couples are those that complement each other, not that are identical to one another.  He can clean a mean toilet....right after I'm done fixing it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Home Is Where The Heart Is

There is just about nothing I hate more than moving.  When unpleasant tasks present themselves I often say, "I'd rather get a pap smear and a root canal at the same time than do this".

Some people think that's a lie, but it's true.  I'd prefer my dentist keep his hands to my mouth area (or at least do that part FIRST), but other than that I'm up for the slippery salad spoons over lots of other bothersome things in my life.

Actual convo with my OB/GYN:

"You're not due for a pap until November, but we could get it out of the way now.  Or you can wait.  It's up to you."

"Why would I wait?  Just do it.  I already took my pants off."

"Wow, most people will do ANYTHING to get out of or postpone a pap."

"I'm not most people."

Don't get me wrong, it's not like I'm chomping at the bit to get in those stirrups.  It's just that it seems I get handed the biggest piles of manure to deal with on a daily basis that laying back with my feet up seems a nice alternative.

Like moving.  Did I mention I hate moving?  It's not the change part that I have a problem with.  It's just the actual handling/sorting/finding a home for all the SHIT that you pack around and around and around with you.  It's wrestling with decisions about holding onto something out of sentiment or guilt and deciding the ratio of possible future use to storage cost (which is both financial AND emotional).  Extra stuff means extra room, and the direction we're moving there's NO space to spare.

We're cramming our family back into our too-tiny house, and it's going to get smaller by the end of the year as our family gets bigger.  It's a home that we have loved, put actual blood, sweat, and tears into, that we brought our babies home to, that we first fell in love and got to know one another in.  The house that grew us.

My kids LOVE this house.  They love that their room is so close to mine.  They love that I bought them bean bags to watch TV in their room.  They love the shop.  They have been enthusiastic about this move since we announced it to them.  They haven't yet had the pleasure of weeding out their CRAP (luckily we do that behind their backs) in order to address the absence of a playroom.  They inject just the right amount of sunshine attitude into the situation that all it takes is observing them in all their joy to make me push through sifting through another bag of clothes that our closets won't hold and deciding which of the small appliances deserve a spot inside the kitchen and which will make their homes on a shelf in the garage.

We're not staying here forever, though.  Soon we will begin our quest to seek out our (hopefully) forever home.  The one the kids will all grow up at and leave (sniff) one day.  The one our grandkids will visit.  The one that has room for all of us AND all of our stuff.  But even as the prospect of that day shimmers in the distance, so too does the prospect loom for the ACTUAL MOVE...which I do NOT look forward to.  With any luck, we will have sufficiently pared down and weeded out during this go-round that we won't have difficulty with the next transition, and we won't lose any friends or family members over having to help us.  I appreciate all the ones who did help, and those who offered their help too.  It makes a move one step further away from "I'd rather get a pap smear" when you're surrounded by supportive people, and that's huge for me.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Giving Up Grandpa

I will soon have to change the "about me" section of my blog.  The thing that half defined my existence is changing, morphing, moving on.

My mother, who unfortunately seems to be exhibiting more and more of those genetic symptoms of dementia that claimed my grandmother's soul has dropped a proverbial bomb on us.  I knew that having her and my dad under one roof gave us the best chance at fending off their spending any of their last days, however many that may be, in a nursing facility.  Life got to the point where Dad could no longer take care of their yard and Mom could no longer get on her knees to scrub the floors.  When we were at a crossroads where our little family was outgrowing our tiny home we decided, my husband and I, to make the plunge into an even bigger home in order to move these two in with us.

It was an unbelievably moving and unselfish decision for my husband, who is very particular about the order (and cleanliness) of things, to take on this responsibility that was entirely mine and not his.  He could have at any point said, "you can move in with them, by yourself...but count me out."  There were times when I knew his patience was running as thin as mine but we both came together as a team to make it work...in our minds it was the right thing to do.  We struggled sometimes to focus enough to not take our frustrations out on one another....my sleepless nights of getting up with my dad when he buzzed the intercom, the challenge of never really having a private conversation without an eavesdropper who may twist your words before repeating them...our communication with each other suffered.

So when my mother announced very recently that they wanted to move back to their old place, their house which had not yet sold, I was immediately and overwhelmingly concerned for their safety.  All the things I had done and put in place to watch over them were now out of my control.  My dad's prescriptions being bubble-packed after I found out she had dumped out all of one prescription and replaced it with aspirin (he's already ON blood thinners, he really dodged a bullet there), my husband volunteering for the crappiest shift at work so that he could be home during the day while I was working in order to take them on errands if they asked (she didn't want to ask), the fact that neither of them should be driving (though on occasion I would find out that my mom had sneaked behind the wheel)...all these things that I had some semblance of control over are way beyond my control now, and I'm very concerned for them both.

One of the last months they were at their old house my dad called me at 5 in the morning to come scoop my mom up off the kitchen floor where she had blacked out from a (still) yet-to-be-actually-diagnosed seizure disorder, and his frail arms couldn't get a grip on her.  At least if they were in my home, nobody was really more than a holler away from being able to help.  Our new neighborhood is also home to 3 nurses on different sides of us, all of whom I quickly got up to speed on our unique living situation and warned them that my kids were going to be far more likely to come ringing their doorbell for help than calling 911.

Every time he's in the hospital, staff there plans to discharge him to a nursing facility where he's adamant about not going.  I have fought for and advocated and dragged him out when my mom failed to let them know that they don't live alone, that they have younger able-bodied family at home to assist them.

Now, my mom says, she thinks she's the only one who does anything for my dad.  It was the ultimate kick in the balls.  We have walked a fine line between giving them their freedom and independence by letting them do what they can, and helping when they ask (or we find that they need it).  She got to the point where she couldn't recall me telling her I was leaving town for work, so would promptly get on the phone to let other family members know that I "never tell her" where I'm going.

She and I have had a very rocky past - my teenage years were something I'd never go back and repeat.  Our age difference along with a very different genetic makeup put up all kinds of walls between us.  Even still, caring for them in my home, ensuring that some home health visitor wouldn't find that they were in over their heads to take care of their own place and recommend one or both of them should be put in a home....it just was never a question for me.  When I was young and needed parents, they didn't think about it twice.  Now it was my turn to step up.

Old age does funny things to a person's mind.  Unfortunately, she's still maintaining that she's in charge of her own decisions....which to some degree she is, but she's really made some questionable decisions in the past year.  I'm anticipating, however, that it will only take until my dad's next trip to the hospital that he'll be in a nursing home, and I won't have the resources to bail him out again.  I won't have an extra bedroom for him.  We will have to move back into our too-tiny house and sell this roomy home to another family.

She is very private about 'airing our dirty laundry', and for the most part I've kept silent about the trials we've faced.  Knowing this blog entry even exists would put her over the edge.  There was a time, about a year ago, when she initially started "thinking" about moving back, that a series of comments I made on my Facebook page were printed out for her by a family member, and she quickly, albeit erroneously, took the comments to be about her and not the actual unnamed person I was venting frustrations about.  Instead of asking me about it to clarify, she lodged in her head like many many inaccuracies before, that I was talking about her, and she based forthcoming decisions and behaviors on that belief.  It's beyond any feeble attempt at explanation how difficult it can be for the sandwich generation, those caring for children and aging parents.  It's extra difficult because due to our vast age difference my 'peers' for this situation are in their 50's....also not folks who speak my language.

So how are we going to move forward from here?  I don't know.  I know that I must take this time to focus on my husband, who has been on my back burner now for too long, and on my children, with whom my temper runs shorter than it should because I worry about everyone in the house.  My parents will move back to their old house, which they still intend to sell (though I've asked and not gotten an answer as to what their plan is/where they'll GO after that happens), we will move, and hopefully someone will come forward to fill this newly empty home with love.  Though I fully expect those who have never been in my dad's room with me at two in the morning in their undies sleepily loading a nebulizer to be quick to criticize me for "giving up on Grandpa", it's the ones who know me best who know I did the best I could in this situation, and know how it scares the Bajeezus out of me to let these two go back to being on their own.  Only they know how I will struggle to come to terms with this new development.

I will say that I never could imagine a better partner to be stuck in the middle of these two generations with than my husband, who has been amazingly patient and kind and understanding and supportive about my wish to keep my parents healthy, happy, and uninstitutionalized.  It's a passage that most couples our age don't have to go through, and it has the potential to really ruin a marriage.  I believe that in our short time together we've gone through so much that any issues for us in the future will be much easier to handle...and I'm grateful that my children have gotten to witness parents who work together through problems and know that it's not at all unusual to care for an elder in your home...I'm sort of banking on it actually, since I REALLY want to just live with them for the rest of my life.

If anyone is looking for advice in dealing with their own aging parents or grandparents, don't ask me...I'm no expert.  I'm not even a decent amateur.  Nobody is, and if they tell you they are, they're full of shit.  I don't know what "the best way" is.  I just know that I wish things had turned out differently here, because I fear for what actuality lies before us.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Globe Trotting Lee Style

We're back from our Spring Break vacation, and I am exhausted.  Like some years before, we've been fortunate enough to spend that time with friends that we love like (sometimes more than?) family, and as usual the time went by far too quickly.  We, like many families, spent a good portion of our time at the beach.  However, normal families spend Spring Break at beaches that require a swim suit.  We've never claimed to be normal, so obviously chose to go to a Godforsakenly frigid area where we had to bundle up.  There's nothing quite like no sand between your toes, especially when you can't feel your toes from the cold.

Kidding.  The typical unpredictable weather for the Oregon Coast proved in our favor, only raining sideways when we were conveniently inside the warmth of our rental condo having breakfast and planning our next outing.  The sun seemed to know that our combined brood of nine couldn't stay cooped up too long and gave us just enough reprieve to enjoy ourselves.


God, it feels good to be a gangster.

Our busy and curious children explored and climbed and touched and prodded, and I proudly left my hand sanitizer behind.  They were very careful and gentle with some of the specimens they found...




....and others, not so much.  Esten kicked this poor fella all up and down the beach mistaking it for a rock until he asked me what it was:


Gwoth, Mom....thoooooo gwooooth.

We also got lesson after lesson in history and despite our best efforts, we just can't seem to avoid extremes in our lives.  We live in the shadow of North America's deepest river gorge (suck it, Grand Canyon), and already got to ride the world's longest gondola during our mini-winter-weekend getaway recently.  Our list just gets longer with this trip with the addition of crossing over the D River, the shortest river in the world (at 440 feet one must ask why Lincoln City's engineers couldn't figure out a way to NOT have to cross it).

We visited this lighthouse, which doesn't hold any records until you're half way up the steps, then you'll swear it's the tallest freaking building in the world:


Correction: Tallest lighthouse in Oregon.
Son.Of.A.Bitch.
Also....probably haunted.



The only two in our family that are excited about all the steps.

Once safely back outside, Esten insisted that the whale-watching telescope was much more effective for staring into the deepest parts of the universe.  So deep into the universe, in fact, that he felt that was the explanation for total blackness when he put his eye to the lens:


I'm serious, Mom....I can see
the way far away part
of the universe.


We visited the associated "Discovery Center" and were greeted outside the front doors by our guide, who promptly and with an indescribable enthusiasm drew our attention to a peregrine falcon who had made an appearance that day.  The guide, who conjured up recollections of Will Ferrell channelling Janet Reno almost lost her wig, either from the wind or from her head bobbing around and her arms flailing about as she tripped over her own tongue.  She could not emphasize to us enough how rare a peregrine falcon sighting was, and she didn't think we were really absorbing the magnitude of how significantly our lives would be changed from this moment forward.  She returned to the front of the building several times while we were at the center to check on the status of the bird.  She said "Peregrine Falcon" so many times that it became a running joke of sorts after we got back in the car.  Lucky for you, we recently purchased a zoom lens and Hubs was able to snap this pic, though that testy bitchy bird would NOT look at the camera.

Soak it in, people - you'll probably die and never see
one of these in your life.


Yet another record breaker for our roster.  This peach is sometimes referred to as the fastest animal on the planet (you thought it was a cheetah didn't you, stupid?) during its hunting dive where it will hit its prey at speeds up to 200 (TWO FREAKING HUNDRED) miles per hour.  What a bad ass.

The real joke here came after we got home and I realized, and now can't wait to share with our friends, that though it's not our State's bird (the Mountain Bluebird is), this is what the new 2007 Idaho Quarter looked like:

Yep Scot, that's a you-know-what.

We stopped at a waterpark on the way home, and wouldn't you know, they just happen to have the Spruce Goose there....the largest flying boat ever built, having the largest wingspan of any aircraft in history.  Double whammy.  Howard Hughes, thank you for being so bat-shit crazy.  Ironic fun fact...it was actually made out of birch, not spruce.


(photosfan.com)

When we got back my fellow mommy and I got a pedi day and a last minute lunch with ElliePie's Mom, MommaPie.  Ellie's a blogger that I've never met but through whose blog I've gotten to know, and MommaPie is a lovely lady, one of the few I've been lucky enough to have come into my life through that necessary evil sideline called work, but we kindled a special understanding and respect, and her friendship has been timeless and unconditional.  I hope every girl has a MommaPie or two in her life.

Through all the animals we saw, we only got up close and personal with one species....the seagulls.  Hands full of mini bagels, we tromped across the street to lure them in with our treats.  Guided by the advice and courage of a 9 year old boy and his 10 year old sister, I decided to show my children just how big their mommy's balls really were:


Mommy's balls are at least as big as a 10 year old girl's.

Esten decided he wanted to just eat the remainder of his bagel himself.  Once breadless, we wandered down the street and into a candy store for some saltwater taffy and caramel corn and while we were waiting in line, and the sunlight beamed in the tiny shop's window just right, Hubs and I caught one another's eyes and just stood there, time frozen.  I realized how even sometimes crazy flurries of hurriedness in vacation-land can recharge your soul when your children are there, and that here we, in tandem with another couple, were managing to pull off some pretty awesome memories with them.  He's an amazing father and I also realized how much I love him for making this critical time in our family's young life so special.  I knew he was thinking the same thing just by the look in his eye.  He didn't have to say anything to make the moment any more perfect for me but he did.

"Hey, Babe?  You have bird shit all down the side of your face.  You might wanna wipe that off."


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Birthday Brain Teaser

Whether you like it or not, you have to share your birthday with other people.  Facebook informs us which of our friends share birthdays.  I often get a chuckle at my opposite-ends-of-the-spectrum friends whose escape from the womb celebration lands on the same day.  Media will remind you which celebrity you share a birthday with if you, like me, have not previously been scarred by the revelation during previous years.  Here are two of the celebs I have to share MY special day with:


(listas.20minutos.es)
(blogue.us)


Now, sorry to get all nerdy on you here, but it's my birthday and we're going to do a little math brain-teaser:  One of these gents is six million times more talented than the other two of us.  Two of us have children, though only one of us has birthed them out of a vagina.  Of all three, only one of us tries to avoid blowing dudes.

Please answer in the form of a question, but please do not make the question:

"Why are you being a hater?"

I'm totally not.  I LOVE GAYS.  Ask anyone.  Read some of my previous posts.

Moving on.

So this year really is the year that I'm feeling a little justice from the Universe for all the "You're too young" statements made in my youth by my parents.  All my classmates who hit this milestone birthday last year have moved on to the downhill slide to 40 and I finally felt a bit of neener-neener-ness when my dial slowly rolled over the midnight mark to 35.

HOWEVER.

It didn't last very long.  While I imagined in my younger and more tormented years that it would feel more worthwhile, I long ago had shed my hard-shell exterior that protected my inner squishy feelings, my sad and vulnerable and quick to be quite embarrassed fleshy soul.  I've already hashed out those thoughts with the people that mattered, so it didn't really matter any more.

So this coming year I'd like to focus on something different.  Did you know that on March 25, 1995, WikiWikiWeb, the World's very first Wiki[pedia] went public?  What a better way to find a new focus, or at least some random March 25th factoids:

  • 1924 – On the anniversary of Greek Independence, Alexandros Papanastasiou proclaims the Second Hellenic Republic. (This would be in reference to the Greek Helen...you know, of Troy? My middle name is Helene and I find this very interesting).
  • 1965 – Civil rights activists led by Martin Luther King, Jr. successfully complete their 4-day 50-mile march from Selma to the capitol in Montgomery, Alabama.
  • 1996 – An 81-day-long standoff between the anti-government group Montana Freemen and law enforcement near Jordan, Montana, begins. (This was a huge deal and I remember like it was yesterday)
  • 1996 – The European Union's Veterinarian Committee bans the export of British beef and its by-products as a result of mad cow disease (I don't really remember the mad cow disease issue being that same year, weird.)
Now, some NEW notable births, you know, besides my own:
  • 1347 – Catherine of Siena, Italian saint
  • 1539 – Christopher Clavius, German mathematician
  • 1643 – Louis MorĂ©ri, French encyclopedist
These three alone must be the reason I am soooo nice and sooo smart.
  • 1911 – Jack Ruby, killer of Lee Harvey Oswald
  • 1918 – Howard Cosell, American sports reporter
  • 1928 – Jim Lovell, American astronaut
  • 1932 – Gene Shalit, American film critic
  • 1942 – Aretha Franklin, American singer
  • 1965 – Sarah Jessica Parker, American actress
  • 1966 – Tom Glavine, American baseball player
  • 1982 – Danica Patrick, American race car driver
  • 1984 – Katharine McPhee, American singer and actress
And deaths that occurred on my day:
  • 1999 – Cal Ripken, Sr., American baseball manager
  • 2006 – Buck Owens, American singer and television personality (if you grew up on Hee Haw like me this is pretty devastating.)

Finally, some miscellaneous celebrations, which I would encourage you to double check if you think that you're being punked here:

It's Mother's Day in Slovenia, Struggle For Human Rights Day in Slovakia (which sound like the same thing to me), Maryland Day in Maryland, Waffle Day in Sweden, and what I may just believe is the Holy Mother of all holidays, the proof that I truly WAS born on the right square of the calendar: A holiday in the Roman Empire known as "Hilaria".  I don't know what the Hell it is.  I'm almost afraid to look it up for fear of ruining the laughter that's now stuck in my head.

Never mind....I looked it up....still laughing - they were celebrating the resurrection of a God who had gone mad and cut off his own.....well, not his ear.

So I guess the best gift I have this year is that the list of notable folks may not include me, but certainly I'm sure that between GoDaddy commercials and races, Danica's dying to see what bloggy-loser housewife was born before her, and Katharine McPhee, probably feeling down this year about her slow life around the set of SMASH is like, "I wish someone OLD would inspire me"....and they'll never know what they're missing out on.

Luckily, if my friends...my TRUE friends ever met them they'd tell them straight to their faces:  "Not much."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Keep Your Politics Out Of My Kitty

Let's face it, nobody really likes having to travel for anything other than vacation.  Being away from home sucks to begin with.  The preparation for what should have been relatively straight-forward arrangements seemed to morph into a gargantuan task that involved the help of no less than 6 people in 4 states and Obama's signature for air travel and hotel reservations for a two-night stay.

To make a really long, boring story short....when I checked in to the hotel they had NO record of my reservation, which I was able to email them a confirmation of from my laptop.  This should have been my first indication to leave and check myself into a hotel that had rooms possibly furnished in the last two centuries.  But I did not.  Instead I found myself muttering an actual prayer, hoping that God could hear it over the rumble of the antiquated wall heater:

My traveling Praying Mantis:
Helps me talk to Jesus and eats bedbugs.
More compact to pack than angel wings.
(Photo: Captain Suresh, Flickriver)

"Please God, do not let whomever is in the adjoining room get "curious" as to the integrity of the deadbolt on the door separating us, but if that stranger does, and if that stranger kills me in this shit hole of a hotel, please guide the police to find me quickly, and give them the wisdom to differentiate between me and the dead hooker who probably already exists in this room, either whole or in pieces, probably stuffed in that GOD FORSAKEN HEATER WHY IS IT MAKING THAT NOISE?!?!?!  And please let my alarm go off on time because I'm in a different time zone and I don't understand the alarm clock in this room.  Amen."

And God answered my prayer.  He reminded me that I have an alarm on my cell phone, so I set that instead.  Which was a good thing because the clock alarm never did go off.

My husband gave me a rash of crap for packing a swimsuit for this trip, which I proudly declared to him was "for the hot tub"....and is clearly not necessary at this point.  I really need to do better research on these things in the future.  I don't, however, think it's worth mentioning to them on the "comment card" that said dead hooker's blood spatter is on the tiled ceiling of the shower, I think....I'm pretty sure someone probably already knows that.

Also Screech from Saved By the Bell is working the front desk tonight and it's giving me the creeps....because the last thing I saw him on was Celebrity Fit Club and I'm pretty sure I heard he was doing porn before that.  I'm SO ready to go home.

To even BE in a hotel for me is a stretch in this town.  I typically stay with a friend, but she already had a guest, so this was next best thing.  She was nice enough, though, to pick me up at the airport and have dinner with me when I flew in.  We just had to make one stop in between to take a cat to the humane society to be neutered.  She had a feral cat near her house who had kittens last year, and this was one of said kittens.  She'd caught him in a trap earlier in the day, and while tromping across the parking lot and I was balancing the trap in my stronger arm...she whispered "When we get in there, remember: he's feral."

"No SHIT he's feral.  When you have to CATCH it in a TRAP, that's what it's called.  Just because you have a cute name for it does not make it domesticated."

She MAY be a crazy cat lady in a bit of denial.  No, she is, and I say that to her face, and I love her.  She has a heart that overflows for all things, including my children, and I can't fault her for that.  But holy bananas she gets into some interesting situations trying to do the right thing.  As infrequently as I come to this town, this makes the second cat-wrangling episode I've been involved in.  She got him checked in and all set for neutering, his trap lined up with a plethora of other cats (some people brought in 4 and 5 of those things), paid for his surgery and whatever other fees they had, and we set out the door for dinner.  If we were still hanging out at 8:30, she said, I could come with her to pick him up.

Uhhhh....Meme dude? That's a racoon. It's not even a POLE cat.
(quickmeme.com)

No thanks.  I wanted to be in bed by then.  Had I known I'd be staying in the hotel from The Shining, maybe I'd have felt differently.

So after catching up over some Olive Garden and hashing out my differences with the hotel staff, I'd settled in and resigned myself to my scary residence for the next 48 hours when my phone rang.  It was my dinner date, whose name my phone speaks aloud because her number is programmed in, but mispronounces because somehow I managed to use some German accent characters by accident.  It was weird that she'd be calling at all.

"Hello?"

"You're never gonna believe this.  I picked Smoky up.  First, he was a she.  Second, she was in a family way.  Can you beLIEVE it??!?!?!"

[silence, then uncontrollable laughing.]  "Of COURSE I believe it!  That is the awesomest thing ever.  So....is she....fixed?"

"Oh yeah."

"WHAT?????  OMIGOSH.  Well.  I certainly hope they did a transvaginal ultrasound and made her LOOK at the screen before they went through with her little kitty abortion.  Jesus.  You're SUCH a DEMOCRAT."

[More laughing, together.]

Then she told me she just HAD to tell me that before I went to bed.

And that's why I love her so much, and miss her in between the times that we don't get to see each other.  For the very outwardly differences in us we are kindred spirits in a way, and I've often said I'm so glad whatever planets lined up to bring us together did so, because I'm truly a better person for having her in my life.  As for how she's going to feel about all this?  All I can say is she knows me.  She had to know making that phone call last night and delivering that icing-on-the-cake news was making it into my blog.  That's how I roll.

Incidentally, political protesters were right in my path to get coffee (I was in a big rush to get back to my conference) shouting get-out-of-my-vagina-ish phrases when I also shared the gender-confused feline story with another colleague, who burst into laughter at a very inappropriate point in the crowd.

She was very embarrassed with herself....but continued laughing anyway.

And when I'm done with my business in this town, my dear friend and I will share another meal, and she will deposit me and my bag back at the airport, where it will again be painful to tell her goodbye, and I am thankful for that.  For truly, how many people come into your life that you care about so much that you really do look so forward to seeing, and the time goes too quickly and you long for your next visit?  They're few and precious and I hope mine know how much I love them.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Polar Bear Sex and Other Awkward Conversations

Last night I reached deep into my bag of tricks that I regularly rely on to lure boys into my bed.

Drugs and porn turned out to be just the ticket.

Not necessarily in a conventional sense, I suppose.  Not even boys in a conventional sense, I suppose, although my better half was at work and with more organization and time management I could have been making some cash on the side...but those who know me best know how utterly exhausted I am and how far I'd have to discount my rates because I just wouldn't have it in me to put forth the effort to lipstick-up enough to attract any decent paying customers.

No, the "drugs" were merely melatonin, the natural supplement I toss the riled-up childrens' way on those nights when it's imperative that they get their little fannies to sleep, nights like last night when a school morning would come far too early and struggling with them to go-to-bed-before-I-spank-you is a fight I've come to know far too well.

The porn was incidental...Daddy had recorded a special new movie for us....the Discovery Channel's Frozen Planet.  Right out of the gate, across the frozen polar ice caps tromped a polar bear who was, according to the narrator, on the hunt...but not for food.  He was looking for a mate.

Great.  I did not realize when Discovery was hyping up this series with its grandiose cinematographic artistry and awesome close-up coverage of whale blow-hole steam, they were going to go straight for the juiciness first thing.  Seriously people, WTF?

Clayton was squirming.  He wouldn't sit still.  He was trying to wedge himself between me and Esten, who had positioned himself comfortably in the middle of the bed while I was attempting to finish a book about evil twins....one that I've been working on a long time, but can't seem to get through because of my Offspringus Interruptus.  When he wasn't doing that he was jumping on the floor to take a bite of a cracker that I had forbidden him from bringing onto the bed due to crumb residue.  The child constantly claims to be "STAHVING TO DEAF".

The great white beast lumbered through the snow and found his lady-friend's foot prints...she was close.  He began to walk directly in her prints until he found her...Esten was wide-eyed.  My stomach twisted, then when they showed the two bears together, first walking side by side, then biting at each other, then....um......well....doing what polar bears do polar-bear-style, Esten blurts out:

"I know which one is the boy bear and which one is the girl bear!"

And in my head I go:

"FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDGE.  Where the Hell is your FATHER!?!?!?!  I have taken on like a thousand difficult situations with you little so-and-sos lately and it is HIS turn to deal with this!"

But when I open my mouth I say:

"Really?  Because the guy said the boy is twice as big as the girl?"

"No.  Because the boy is all dirty...because boys are always screwing around in the dirt and mud and getting all messy and girls stay nice and clean, see?  She is still all white, because girls are just good and have tea parties and stuff."

"Hmmm...I suppose that's one way to tell, yeah."

So I was so blindsided I didn't even have the energy to point out the fact that he's got girl cousins and friends who totally like to do "boy" things and get just as dirty as he does, and I was just trying to concentrate on getting the oxygen back into my lungs at that juncture.

The boy polar bear went on to fight several battles with other male suitors, and I did have to explain that "those guys" were "other dudes who also liked his girlfriend".  That poor polar bear got the crap knocked out of him for a couple weeks while he stayed with her before they finally said "Well, guess this is it....see you around", and parted ways.  He dragged his pummelled, bloody, skinny body off to find a meal and left her hopefully pregnant and on her own.


I felt sorry for him too...until I realized he just left her alone and never
paid a DIME in child support.  He was just showing off to get into her pants.
(Discovery.com)


THIS WAS THE PART MY CHILDREN WANTED AN EXPLANATION ABOUT.

"Why did he leave her?  Is he coming back?  Is he going to bring her some food?  Will he see the babies?"

Holy Hell.  Really?

Makes sense, though....in our zoos, they've created these fake little polar bear "families" that don't replicate nature at all.  My poor kiddos were so confused by the whole thing but they had completely NOT NOTICED THE HUMPING PART.

Then, a reprieve for me....a different animal flashed across the screen that captured their attention and saved me from having to explain.  I don't even know what it was, I just breathed again at the realization that I wasn't going to have to launch into a big sex-Ed lesson with my kiddos over this show and I went back to my book about murderous twins and whatnot until Clayton tapped me on the leg and drowsily demanded to know where the remote was.

"Turn it off, Mommy....I'm tired....Esten's already asleep."

And so it worked, once again....within thirty minutes Momma bear got her cubs to go to bed...I don't know how that polar bear does it, because we didn't get that far in the movie if they covered it at all...but I'm pretty sure she does it without drugs and porn.  In the frozen arctic tundra.  While being an "endangered species", and a single mother.  Once again...other mothers getting all show-offy with their skills.  She probably has more Facebook friends than me, awesome fish recipes on her Pinterest board and a kick-ass secret way to get stains out of white fur.

As per usual for my life....rub it in, polar bear....rub it in.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Breaking Spousal Commandments and Body Parts

The weather this winter was decidedly schizophrenic, to put it mildly.  The Hubs waited ever-so-patiently to put to good use the snowboard that he purchased the year he insisted I simply must learn to ski because it was the best thing ever.

In actuality, it may or may not be the same snowboard he bought that year.  He has a habit of buying good quality and taking good care of it long term (he still had his high-school water ski when I met him), but he also has a secondary habit of making purchases behind my back....so it's a toss up.

He even managed to make good on a promise to Esten this year to get him on the mountain once:


I am tearing this bunny hill a new one.

One thing that this wildy-mild, or just late and off-schedule season has seemed to do to my mate's otherwise very matrimonially-minded brain is the blatant disregard for a rule put in place at the beginning of every snowboard (previously skiing, you'll remember, was awesome, now for losers) season.  He was to call or text when he was on his way home so I knew, no matter if he was alone or with a buddy that he was not in a Sonny Bono or Natasha Richardson-type situation....or a lesser injurious state of brokenness.

Am I overreacting?  I don't really think so.  For the most part I consider myself fairly lax with regard to his sports participation.  Here, for example, is a very handsome photo of him, and a helicopter.  In Canada.  Where he may have exaggerated regarding his actual skills in order that they would take him to a more challenging area to board (so he would get his money's worth from the trip).  On Valentine's Day.  Which, if I were NOT fairly lax would have already been another blog post.

Buying a new suit totally convinced them - he looks legit.

That said, this season has been a stinker for our communication.  I fret all day until I hear from him, which usually doesn't happen until I'm texting him long after he's home and I'm still at work.  All that does is fuel my fury at him for making me worry for no reason.  He maintains that I should just quit fussing about him, but this week I was in a particularly big huff when I texted him at 4:09:

Are you home yet?

And again at 5:34 when I'd gotten no response:
Hello? Are you still alive? Broken?

Immediately he responded then:
I'm home.

I was livid.  As I pulled into the driveway the empty garbage can waved at me with its lid in the wind.  Annoyed, I parked the car, flung my purse over my shoulder and schlepped back out to the curb to wheel it back to its place next to the garage.  As I grabbed the handle and turned toward the house, I almost instantly found myself on the ground and in excruciating pain, rocks from the asphalt tearing into the skin on the top of my foot.  I had managed to twist my ankle on flat ground in flat shoes doing basically nothing and now I was bruising up and bleeding.  Shoving the garbage can in place, I limped into the house, gingerly stepping on my wounded limb.  I felt like I was about to black out.

Jason took one sideways look at me.  "What the Hell happened to you?"

"I fell."

"WHERE?  Doing WHAT?"

"In the driveway.  Bringing in the garbage can."

"Jesus Christ.  And you're worried about ME?  You need to worry about yourself and focus on getting from point A to point B just walking."

"Shut up.  I know."

And he's right.  There was the time, in Jamaica, that our group had finished the zip line course without a single safety incident and while walking back to the base camp I, for no apparent reason, just fell.  I didn't trip over anything.  I just fell.  And the guides made a really big deal about it, and scooped me up off the ground while Jason and our friends laughed at me.  And there was the time, on Mother's Day, that I was stepping over the baby gate, and my toe caught and I tried to catch myself from falling and ended up with 3 screws in my elbow.  If anyone in this two-hearts-beating-as-one-relationship is a klutz, it's definitely me.

But to be fair, if he ever asked me to text him while I'm on my way home from somewhere, I totally would.  Come to think of it, next time I hit the ground, I'm going to stay right where I land at least until he sends me a text or calls me, even if it's just to say:
What's for dinner?