Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Almost April Foolishness

Scene: The car ride on the way home from school.

MM: Hey guys, do you know what tomorrow is?

HRH: Yes, April Fool's Day! We were practicing at lunch!

MM: Oh, what were you practicing?

HRH: I don't remember. Oh! Mommy! There's a centipede behind you!

MM: Agh! Oh no!

HRH: April Fool!

MM: Oh, you got me!

Gremlin: Hey, Mommy! There's a centerpiece behind you! April Fool!

Monday, March 30, 2009

To Whom It May Concern - Volume 3

Dear Valerie Bertinelli:
You look fabulous, you really do! Congratulations on the bikini bod. You obviously worked hard and it's paid off. But could you do me a favor and dial it back a little? You're really giving some husbands out there higher hopes than you should. And it's giving those of us who are also trying to commit to a weight loss/fitness regimen unrealistic expectations to live up to. You seem genuinely nice. So I know you'll cut a sister a break. Please. Go eat a doughnut.

Dear Honda CR-V:
I looooove you. You are adorable, drive like a dream, and have far more interior room than the Trailblazer could ever dream of. I promise to drive you ever so gently into the ground and take wonderful care of you every mile of the way.

Dear Driver in the Buick LeSabre:
Today, when you were merging into my lane as we both eeked past the roadwork on Rte 93? I was actually occupying that space. Your car bumped my beautiful bronze baby (see above). I have your license plate number, your car's description, and your personal description plugged into my cell phone. Luckily, when I stopped, I couldn't find a scratch. But it was pouring rain. Rest assured, if I do discover so much as a smudge on my right front quarter panel in the next two years, your ass is mine.

Dear Mean Dad:
Sometimes people are just trying to do a nice thing. Like yesterday at the movie theater? When I asked you if you were going to see Monsters vs. Aliens? I wasn't taking a survey, I wasn't going to ask you for anything. We had purchased tickets online and had an extra ticket after my 4 year old opted out. I asked because you had an appropriately aged little boy and I thought it would commit a random act of kindness and give you a free ticket. Instead, you dismissed me and told me you were in a hurry. I hope you felt small afterward. You should.

Dear Oral B Stages Toothpaste:
In what universe is bubble gum flavor fluorescent blue? My kids don't like regular minty toothpaste so I've got to get you. But really? My sink, floor, grout, and towels are chronically electric blue. I know if you really set your minds to it, you could make a slightly less garish (and permanent) shade.

Dear Boys:
You're both very smart, fairly coordinated children. What is it about toothpaste that makes you smear it all over the bathroom? Clean up your acts! Please.
PS - thanks for no longer making tooth brushing a full contact sport.

Dear Liquid Plumber Professional Strength:

Friday, March 27, 2009

I Don't Know Nothin' About Birthin' Babies

Ten years ago tonight, I was asleep at Andy's apartment when the phone rang. I was on stand-by to care for my older two nieces when my sister went into labor. It was time. Entering the house we find my sister, Danni, already dressed, getting her bag together, and carrying the cordless phone around but no husband.

Over a week ago, her OB/GYN had told her that she was definitely going to have this baby "any minute." And so, for over a week, Michael had been shadowing her, following her every move, solicitously asking if she was alright. In short, she was ready to kill him. So when a friend invited him to go see a band, Danni nearly threw him out the door. In a world before ubiquitous cell phones, Michael had his pager so if anything happened, he could fly right home.

Except for some reason Michael's pager had switched off vibrate. And he was at a bar. With loud music and his pager beeping away. So here is my very-much-in-labor sister breathing through contractions while my not-yet-fiance looked on in nervous horror, and I try to figure out what happens now. The phone rings and it's Michael. My sister, doubled over, grabs the foot board of her bed and shouts into the phone "WHERE ARE YOU?!" He's on his way but not soon enough. She says, "FORGET IT! CHRIS IS DRIVING ME! MEET US AT THE HOSPITAL!"

I grab Andy's keys, yell over my shoulder that he's watching the girls, and away we go in Andy's car. A dilapidated Jaguar with a few minor problems, like a gas leak and a few missing gears - Park being among them. By this point, Danni would be about ready to push if she were at the hospital. The hospital that I don't know how to get to. So she's giving me directions in between contractions and telling me she doesn't want to break her water in Andy's car.

At the hospital, I carefully place Andy's (brick) parking brake under the front tire and lead Danni into the ER. While, I was jumping out of my skin, a very nice, very elderly volunteer puts Danni into a wheelchair and ambles, strolls, walks...to...an...elevator. Only to immediately mentally dope slap herself and say "what am I doing? we're on the first floor already..."

Weeks later, we arrive at Labor and Delivery where the experts thankfully take over. In no time, they've got Danni changed and on the table. She turns to me and says "I don't want to be brave. I want drugs." Right! Drugs! Got it! I rush into the hallway and request drugs from a passing nurse. She comes in, takes one look at Danni and decrees that she will not have drugs, she will have a baby. NOW.

Her water breaks and my poor sister is left with childless me, whose only known means of comfort is "squeeze my hand if it hurts." Which she does. And it hurts.

And then, because God listens to the prayers of the truly panicked, my brother-in-law arrives, cape flying behind him. Instantly, Michael is on top of the situation, finding her focal point, telling her to push, shoveling ice chips into her mouth.

I opt to stay and witness the blessed event but about two or three good pushes into it, the room starts to blacken down to one little circle, I'm sweating, nauseous, and dizzy. Holy shit! I'm going to pass out! I lean over to my sister, who clearly has other things on her mind and whisper, "you're gonna love this one, Dan, but I've gotta go throw up" and exit, stage left.

And that is how I witnessed the birth of my niece, sitting in a hospital bathroom with my head between my knees.

Happy 10th Birthday, Victoria Christine. Auntie has loved you from the very beginning.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

World's Cheapest Zoo
Filled with the World's Smallest Zoo Animals

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's a Major Award!

Do you all read Rachel at A Reservation for Six? You really should. She's funny, honest, and clearly an excellent judge of fine writing. So fine in fact that she's bestowed on me...an award:

It's actually called The Premios Dardo and is "given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing... created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web". Pretty impressive, huh? Rachel nicknamed it the Smoking Typewriter Award. So that is what I too shall call it.

Rule One of accepting this prestigious award call for me to put my name in a Google image search and share the results. Much like Rachel, the search results were unfit for publication on my blog (we're a family show). Rather, I am copying Rachel by Googling the words "Unfortunately Christine" and supplying the first ten results:

1. Unfortunately Christine's go-go boots are out of camera range. (Damn straight baby, Christine rocks the (Uggs) go-go boots!)

2. Unfortunately, Christine's case was quite severe and she had only a fraction of the normal length of small intestine. (Um, eww. Sorry, real Christine.)

3. Unfortunately, Christine was not Babe in the sequel, "Babe: Pig in the City," for "personal reasons." (Wait a minute. Am I the pig in this scenario??)

4. Unfortunately Christine’s story was no exception to the rule. (The first rule that came to mind was 'no good deed goes unpunished'. Awesome. Next!)

5. Unfortunately, Christine just so happened to have a voice that was stunning and mesmerizing. (You know how both of these words have more than one meaning? My singing would be the other meaning of stunning and mesmerizing.)

6. Unfortunately, Christine has retired from skating for a variety of reasons. (No sense of balance or skating talent being chief among them.)

7. Unfortunately, Christine doesn't mesh with the Stepford moms, and an awkward situation gets worse. (This could happen. This Christine doesn't do well with The Muffia).

8. Unfortunately Christine, I do not have room down here in Hell because I'm trying to save plenty of space for the gays. (The actual author was being facetious. Please don't send me hate mail.)

9. Unfortunately, Christine is ready for him and pulls a blaster on Power, who is without his Power Suit. (I'm working on my own super hero name. Andy suggested Neurotica.)

10. Unfortunately Christine has filled it with the same dribble she puts here. (Shouldn't it be drivel? Anything filled with dribble sounds quite disgusting. Either way, it seems like a proper ending to Part One.)

Rule Two of award acceptance calls for me to pass the award along to 10 worthy bloggers who (I pick because I like them) also exemplify the spirit of the Premios Dardo. And so I present The Smoking Typewriter award to 10 women that I don't think of merely as bloggers, I think of them as friends.

Julie at LLOL (Literally Laughing Out Loud) for sharing her wit, wisdom, and perseverance in raising boys.

Kate (k8) at The Big Piece of Cake makes me laugh out loud. One of the many reasons I'd move to DC.

Stacey at Is There Any Mommy Out There? makes me think and makes me laugh.

Sue at My Party of Six should definitely meet Rachel. I think they would be friends.

Natasha the Exile on Mom Street. I think Natasha is one of the prettiest names there is. I love sharing her road well-traveled.

Rachel at Diary of a Mad, Mad Housewife. My fellow Masshole, full of sarcastic wit and funny observations.

Sarah at In the Trenches of Mommyhood. Tales of her boyz keep me laughing and make me want to travel out to the 495 belt for a glass of wine with my bloggy friend.

Jean in Stimeyland truly shares with us the ridiculous and the sublime. I am so buying Jean a drink in Chicago.

Always, my friend Katherine at Where's My Cape who presented me with my first award and with whom I'm bunking at BlogHer (even though she says she snores).

And lastly, to Jennifer on her Thursday Drive, who actually spends as much time on Facebook as I do. She makes me long to be a better writer.

Cheers, my friends!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

You're Only as Happy as Your Unhappiest Child

Kindergarten continues to be such a challenge. When we left St. Somewhere's back at the end of October, we didn't know exactly what we were going to do, moving forward. We knew that we needed to get him out of a bad situation but could not work on a trial-and-error method when it came to our son's education.

Our wonderful preschool was piloting a Kindergarten transition program, primarily for kids whose birthdays fall in the later half of the year. Some of these kids would graduate to first grade but many of them would move on to traditional kindergarten.

The pros were many. The head teacher is his pre-k teacher from last year, whom he loved and who loves him. It was in the school where he (and we) felt eminently comfortable. It was a small class - an 11:1 ration plus a full time aid. His teacher felt comfortable that she had the bandwidth to teach HRH at his level while still spending enough time with the majority of the class.

The cons, we considered to be primarily social. He wasn't going to be with a true peer group. But we figured we could overcome that through play dates and other activities with kids his own age.

We knew it wasn't optimal but we couldn't make a rushed, uninformed decision, move him to another unknown, and risk failing him again. So we did it. In the meantime, we had the luxury of making an informed decision and ultimately opting to give our public school a try in first grade. Insert irony here.

Overall, HRH has been very happy to be back there, as have we. Two of the kids were in his class last year, everyone welcomed him with open arms. HRH was already reading. He is a leader among the group. This could only help his self-esteem, right?

What we didn't fully take into account was the necessity of being challenged, not just by the work but by his peers. HRH is the oldest by quite a few months, much of the work he is doing now, he did on a slightly lesser basis last year. In short, HRH knows all the answers.

Like many a six-year-old boy, he's long on impulsivity and short on patience. When there's something to be read, an answer to be given, HRH can't help but yell it out. And while he is given special attention and consideration, he of course spends a good deal of his day functioning within the group. He's bored. How much more bored must he be when he's being asked to hold his answers, take his turn, let others take a try?

We're trying different solutions; a sticker chart, a journal, daily pep-talks by mom and dad, frequent meetings with the teacher. It's gotten to the point where I call for HRH and he says, "it's not about school again, is it?" My poor boy isn't doing anything out of the ordinary or "wrong." He does need to learn focus and patience and self-restraint.

So we talk about it. Constantly. It's affecting his self-esteem and certainly his enthusiasm for school. Andy and I have independently reached the conclusion that we need to let go of some of this stuff. The teacher has told us there's nothing more she can teach him academically to prepare him for first grade. It's disheartening and it's frustrating. For all of us. It's not going to break him, it's not permanent.

But my child isn't entirely happy, so neither am I.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pheromone Phriday

There's a hot guy in yoga class and I'm not sure how I feel about it.

I mean, on the one hand THERE'S A HOT GUY IN YOGA CLASS! He's got a sort of Taye Diggs quality about him although not quite as buff (few are). Did I mention he groans and breathes heavily when he's working a posture? He's friendly, complimentary of our work, and earnestly trying. And two weeks in a row, he's parked his mat next to mine!

On the other hand, he's changing the atmosphere of the class. The Friday class is made up of women like me, a few older women, and like one guy there with his pregnant wife. Yoga is one of the few places I go where I don't think about how I look. I'm going there to improve my body and calm my mind. Now suddenly, I'm wondering about or worse yet, checking out my ass as I move through Warrior II into Extended Side Angle.

The thing is I'm not the only one acting like a sophomore trying to be cool in front of the captain of the football team. Class regular, Liz is sidling up to a stretched-out Taye before class and providing him with a demonstration of how he might better work his downward dog. Mmm Hmm. And Lisa, our bookish, sweet instructor is suddenly spending juuuust a leettle more time with him "may I assist you?" she asks. But that's not what I see in her eyes.

So. What to do? I suppose I'll look on it as a positive. Skipping Friday yoga won't be quite as attractive as it's been at times. I really needed some cute new yoga clothes. And we'll find out if sweatproof makeup lives up to the hype.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Nearly Wordless Wednesday - What Can Brown Do for You?

This is The Bink after our neighbor's dog treed him.

These are my sons and neighbor children trying to talk The Bink down from the limb on which he was perching. This picture was taken from the same spot as the first picture, minus the zoom.
Pretty spry for a 13 year old cat.

This is the UPS truck onto whose roof we thought The Bink might jump if parked beneath the tree.

This is the incredibly accomodating and concerned UPS driver who was prepared to catch The Bink when the truck only served to scare the shit out of him and make him jump at least 10 of an estimated 15 feet.

This is The Bink uninjured and unimpressed by an exciting day.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Quotes of Note


Scene 1: Exiting The Jumpy Place following a five year old birthday party.

HRH: Mom, I want to let this balloon go.

MM: I don't know buddy, it's not really good for the birds.

HRH: But I already wrote my name in germs so God will know it's from me.


Scene 2: Manic Mommy walking into the living room following an unidentified noise.

MM: What was that?

Gremlin: It was just Gremlin being Gremlin.


Monday, March 9, 2009

The Ways of the Force

HRH is six. It's been about a year since his Star Wars gene activated. If you've got a young boy in your life, you know of what I speak: All Star Wars, All the Time. I find it fascinating that a movie that filled my husband's and my young heads with dreams of rebel spies, evil Empires and good guys and wookies flying at the light speed would continue to feed my sons' imaginations more than 30 years later.

HRH would catch bits and pieces of the cartoons, the video game (Lego version) supplied by his aunt, and of course, the merchandise. He begged to watch the movie. Andy and I discussed it and concluded that The Wizard of Oz was far more frightening than the original Star Wars. We set about making a fun family movie experience; shades drawn, popcorn, and all. HRH loved it. Let me say it again: HRH LOVED IT!

And a Star (Wars fan) was born.

When we visited Disney last month, we found the Star Tours ride in Disney's Hollywood Studios. Of course, HRH drank it in. But it wasn't until we exited the requisite gift shop that we saw the JEDI TRAINING ACADEMY. It's basically a stage show where young padawans are selected from the audience by a Jedi master and taught the ways of the force. It is at this point that Darth Vader and a few storm troopers arrive on the scene. Naturally, these recently graduated Jedi Knights are called upon to do battle against the dark side.

I don't think HRH blinked during the entire performance. Following it, we were treated to feats of strength, bravery, and Force use never before seen in this galaxy. It was nearing the end of the day and we had unfortunately caught the last show.

We agreed to alter plans and bring the boys back the following day, hoping to get HRH (thankfully, Gremlin was content to simply watch) a place in The Academy. We even bought the Jedi Training Academy sweatshirts hoping to increase our chances during the truly random selection process.

The next morning we arrived on site knowing full well that we were there for the duration. Our entire vacation had come down to this one event. If HRH was selected, it was a success. If not, doom. We made friends with the photographer, we asked her questions, we held our place in the front of the crowd, we had HRH stand a little apart so as to stand out, we made sure he jumped up and down raising his hands when the Jedi Master requested volunteers.

Each time, the show began and HRH was not selected, we sang the same song about how it didn't matter, it was still such fun to watch. All the while, knots are forming in our stomachs and we prayed silently, Please, God. Let him be chosen! After each failed attempt, HRH was stoic and watched in rapt fascination as other children were allowed to learn the ways of the Force.

Finally, at the fourth show of the day, HRH was chosen! Thank you, God! He handled is light saber like a pro and he defeated Lord Vader soundly! His proud and grinning parents were there to witness (and video tape) it as he was handed his Academy Diploma. The sweatshirt a continuing reminder of his courage, bravery, and stature.

The Force was in balance an all was right with this galaxy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Mommy Club

Ever since the boys could understand, we've had the same conversation every time we enter the mall: Stay where you can see me. If you get lost, find a policeman. If you can't find a policeman, find another mommy....

After gym class today, The Gremlin and I headed over to the mall to exchange my empty Clinique blush, buy a baby present, and generally kill some time.

After we'd gone about our shopping we headed to the food court. Gremlin got a Chick Fil A kid's meal and I got a crepe from Appleseeds. We sit down, I set out our food, and immediately, Gremlin realizes he has to go to the bathroom. Of course you do.

I look at the stroller, covered with jackets and Macy's bags and back at our two lunches. My options are to pack everything up and bring it into the bathroom with us (eww), scarf it down quickly, hoping Grem doesn't have an accident in the meantime, or leave it on the table. I go with option c and immediately look around for a mommy.

I approach two mommies sitting at a table with their kids and tell them that we've got to go to the bathroom now. They give me an empathetic look, ask where my stuff is, and ensure me they'll keep an eye out.

Such a small thing, really. But such a help. Mommies take care of people.

Where ever I am, I'm always aware of the children around me. Are they with an adult? Are they about to trip? Will they bump their heads on that corner? I'm the person that makes a point to tell that mom that her daughter in the stroller is only wearing one shoe. In some small way, I'm helping another mommy and making sure their kids are safe and well. And I'm hardly the only one doing it.

Motherhood is the earliest sorority. I think about The Mommy Wars, the PTO Moms and the Stepford Wives we hear about. But when it comes down to it, the vast majority of us are trying to do the right thing for ourselves and our children. We help each other and we make the world a safer place.

Find a policeman or find a mommy, indeed.

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