Tuesday, December 27, 2011

God Bless Us, Every One

I wanted to give each of you a little something as a thank you for everything you've given me this year. Well, it didn't arrive in time for Christmas. We're all moms here, so I know you'll understand.

For my friends, the someday moms: May your eggs be viable and your uterus be hospitable. Or may you find another way.

For my friends, the gestating moms: May the first and last trimesters go by with ease. May you take the sleep when you can get it. May you savor the miracle.

For my friends, the laboring moms: May your OB be on duty when you go into labor and free with the drugs. May your baby's head be small. May your partner know his place is to shut up and shovel ice chips.

For my friends, the brand new moms: May your baby latch on like a champ and sleep in long stretches. May you shower most days. May your husband have a great paternity leave policy.

For my friends, the mothers of newborns: May your child find a schedule. May he take a bottle, when necessary. May you be there for her first smile.

For my friends, the mothers of infants: May your child sleep through the night. May she be allergy-free. May he be an "easy baby".

For my friends, the mothers of toddlers: May your child not figure out how to open the child proof locks. May she not share food with the dog, then put it back in her mouth. May he not hit the terrible twos before his first birthday.

For my friends, the mothers of preschoolers: May potty training last days, not months. May she not suffer from separation anxiety on the first day of preschool. May he always like you better than his teacher.

For my friends, the mothers of kindergarteners: May your child adjust beautifully to big kid school. May the teacher recogize the uniqueness and individual gifts of your child.

For my friends, the mothers of elementary schoolers: May your child neither bully nor be bullied. May she love learning in all its forms.

For my friends, the mothers of tweens: May your child find his own moral compass. May friends, music, and movies not steal the precious years of childhood innocence.

For my friends, the mothers of high schoolers: May your children's deeds make you proud. May you be their mother first and their friend, second.

For my friends, the mothers of college students: May your children remember your lessons as they take their first fledgling steps to independence. May they make good decisions and know their own minds.

For my friends, the mothers of adults: May your children grow to be intelligent, loving, kind, good, hardworking, humorous parents. And may they take good care of us as we grow old.

For all of us: Though the days are long, the years are short. May we treasure the good ones and run down the clock on the bad ones with humor and love and friendship.

It was either this or a fruitcake.

Friday, December 2, 2011

How the Letch Stole Christmas

She couldn’t believe that she’d actually agreed to have a drink with him – and at his house no less!I really can't stay - Baby it's cold outside
I've got to go away - Baby it's cold outside

She’d given in to the holiday spirit and now, here she was in this terrible weather, looking for a way to escape.This evening has been - Been hoping that you'd drop in
So very nice - I'll hold your hands, they're just like ice

She thought to herself, “I’ll use the old parents excuse.”My mother will start to worry - Beautiful, what's your hurry
My father will be pacing the floor - Listen to the fireplace roar
So really I'd better scurry - Beautiful, please don't hurry

He was already so far gone that she figured one more drink would send him over the edge and she could run.Well Maybe just a half a drink more - Put some music on while I pour

She was beginning to wonder if anyone would hear her screams, should it come to that. The neighbors might think - Baby, it's bad out there
She was beginning to feel the effects of something more than two glasses of “eggnog”Say, what's in this drink - No cabs to be had out there

She could feel the waves crash over her, pulling her underI wish I knew how - Your eyes are like starlight now
To break this spell - I'll take your hat, your hair looks swell
I ought to say no, no, no, sir - Mind if I move a little closer
At least I'm gonna say that I tried - What's the sense in hurting my pride
I really can't stay - Baby don't hold out
Ahh, but it's cold outside

C'mon baby

Before the euphoria fully envelops her, she puts it as plainly as possible:I simply must go - Baby, it's cold outside
The answer is no - Ooh baby, it's cold outside

But tries not to awaken the beast that lurks inside
This welcome has been - I'm lucky that you dropped in
So nice and warm -- Look out the window at that storm

She thinks; let him think that someone will be looking for herMy sister will be suspicious - Man, your lips look so delicious

No, someone who could take himMy brother will be there at the door - Waves upon a tropical shore
She casts about for something that will help her.My maiden aunt's mind is vicious - Gosh your lips look delicious

She reaches into her pocket and presses the panic button of the cell phoneWell maybe just a half a drink more - Never such a blizzard before
I've got to go home - Oh, baby, you'll freeze out there

She searches for some kind of weaponSay, lend me your comb - It's up to your knees out there

She hears the sirens in the distanceYou've really been grand - Your eyes are like starlight now

Keep him talking…But don't you see - How can you do this thing to me
There's bound to be talk tomorrow - Making my life long sorrow
At least there will be plenty implied - If you caught pneumonia and died

Yes, the sirens are definitely headed this way.I really can't stay - Get over that old out
Ahh, but it's cold outside
Baby it's cold outside
Brr its cold...It's cold out there
Can’t you stay awhile longer baby

She just needs to hold on for a few more seconds
Well... I really shouldn't... alright
Make it worth your while baby
Ahh, do that again...

Police! Hands in the air!

Friday, November 18, 2011

How I Became a Mother - November 18, 2002

Sunday, November 17th, one month and one day before my due date, Andy, my BIL, and I were watching the Patriots play the Raiders on Sunday Night Football while I consumed my weight in guacamole and chips, feeling HRH doing aerobics in my abdomen. I went to bed somewhere around the 3rd quarter and the Braxton-Hicks continued.

Around 1:00 am, I went to the bathroom and upon returning to our room, commented to my unconscious husband that something was up (where "up" = mucus plug) and climbed back into bed. Maybe another half hour passed and the contractions continued and got stronger. I leaned over to Andy and, touching him lightly on the shoulder, whispered, "Honey, I think I'm in labor."

In no less than three seconds, Andy is out of the bed, lights on, and has gone from boxers and a t-shirt to jeans and a sweatshirt. And he's accusing me questioning me about what's going on while I am thumbing through the 'false labor' section of What to Expect When You're Expecting and learning nothing. I call my OB's office and get a call back from the on-call physician, who asks me in his German accent what my previous labors had been like (Dude? Previous labors? Didn't you read the first sentence? This is how I became a mother.)

When the contractions were around 3 minutes apart, we decide that we'd rather go to the hospital and have professionals laugh at us for crying wolf. But not before Andy packs a bag for me - containing six face cloths(?) and two pairs of his socks (I did end up using the socks). Thanks, babe.

On the surreal, 20-minute ride to the hospital, it occurs to us that we may indeed become parents that night and perhaps we needed to decide on a name (we knew it was a boy). Between contractions, we arrived at HRH.

We arrived at the hospital around 3:00 am and parked in the fire lane (I still have the parking ticket as a souvenir). We arrive in the ER and find a nurse to check us in. She explains we need to go to Labor and Delivery and of course, we know where that is. Uh, no. The tour part of our prenatal class was scheduled for the following Tuesday. Did I mention I was a month early? So we get directions and head down to a locked door and press the intercom. A woman answers and I (feeling like Dorothy at the door to the Emerald City) say "Um, my name is Christine Manic and I think I'm having a baby?"

Thank God, we were now in the hands of more competent and knowledgeable people. I was ushered into a very nice room, given the once over and it was determined that I was indeed in labor. Cause these things were really starting to hurt.

0.25 seconds later, I asked for drugs.

Remember the guac from earlier? Yeah, so did I. Proud, bonding moments passed between myself and my husband (who had heretofore never even seen me pee) and the toilet as I adjusted to labor. Eventually, I was in bed and given a Nubain IV, which allowed me to sleep between contractions (mmm....sleep....contraction! owwwwww!....sleep...) and then my boyfriend the anesthesiologist arrived to place a red hot poker needle into my spine with that great, "move-and-you're-paralyzed" warning. I was. not. impressed. with the Epidural.

More time (weeks, maybe months) elapsed and I opened my eyes to find my team and my husband watching The Today Show. I spun my head 360 degrees and demanded to know why Katie Couric was on TV. They switched off the television and got down to business; it was TIME TO PUSH.

Of course being a month early, my doctor was away so the on-call OB, Dr. Mengele arrived. I suck at pushing. I told him the epidural wasn't working. He did not care. And told me more meds would slow progress. I think he studied medicine straight out of the bad parts of the Bible where women must endure the pain of childbirth to atone for Eve's sins. To this day, I hate him.

After about two hours of "he's just around the bend" (Bend? What freakin' bend? What do you mean my body is shaped like a J?), my nurse finally turned on the tough love and demanded that I get at least two to three good pushes out of each contraction. Andy hears this and decides to try this approach with me as well - once.

He then wisely returned to holding my hand and shoveling ice chips into my waiting mouth. Finally, the baby was crowning. Using that same drill sergeant voice that had worked so well on me, the nurse instructed Andy to take a look. He left my side and peered down, returning seconds later, white as a sheet. He later told me his only thought was "that's one big vagina." He stayed up by my head throughout the rest.

At 10:26 am, after nearly four hours of pushing, I finally PUSHED just the right way and was rewarded with my beautiful 5 pound (head) and 9 ounce (body) baby boy.

It wasn't until they went to push the pitocin through my IV that they realized that the IV had come out and I wasn't getting the drugs. Andy fessed up that he'd been inadvertently stepping on the IV tubing throughout the night. My own OB also later told me that I'd reacted poorly to the epidural and he'd watch for that next time.

What I remember most of the next hours and days was the first time I was alone with HRH. I looked at him and knew him; he looked familiar - not in a 'he looks like his dad' kind of way but more of an 'I know you.'

And I was a mom.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

To Always Remember

My first "I remember where I was" moment occurred when the Challenger exploded. It was January 1986. A nor'easter was blowing into Massachusetts and my school closed early.

A bunch of us rented some movies and headed to my friend, Joe's house.  My friend, Michele called her father to tell him where she was. I can remember her saying, 'What?!" and to us, "the shuttle exploded! Turn on the TV!"

Ten years ago,

I was sitting in my office in Andover and Andy called me when he got into his office in Cambridge. He commented he'd just heard on the radio that someone had just flown into the World Trade Center. We both thought it was some poor idiot in a Cesna. We both thought it was an accident. We hung up and I ambled into my boss, Lee's office and told her. She tried to get onto CNN.com and couldn't. Then another co-worker ran in to say a second plane had just hit the other tower.

Not an accident. An attack.

We were in a new building and didn't have a TV so all over, small groups of people gathered around small images on computer monitors. Every time someone managed to get some news, it spread as horrible rumors through the office. As we learned about Flight 93, my friend, June got a panicked, crying call from her college-aged son. His dad was flying back from PA today. Had she heard from him? She had not but later learned, thank God, he was not aboard that flight.

Finally, Lee and I left the building to run to a local big box store to get a TV. Going home would take too long. It was in Lee's Jeep that we heard that the first tower had fallen. We saw the second tower fall standing among strangers in front of a big-screen TV in Best Buy.

We spent a longer while at work, eventually leaving to watch the horror unfold from the comfort of our own homes. There, I pleaded with Andy to leave the job he had just started a few weeks before. He worked in Kendall Square, where MIT is located. I was sure if there were more attacks "they" would target the academic centers soon.

He didn't leave until 5:00 and was home in record time. He found me in front of the TV exactly where I had landed when I arrived home hours before. We watched more. We headed to his mom's to wish her a "happy" birthday. More TV, bed, God-Bless-America-sex, sleep.

In the morning, we woke up back to the bad dream that was our new reality.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Counting Our Blessings

"The Eagle Has Landed."

"Our Long, National Nightmare is Over."


And it's good one!  Great company, great package, great opportunity, seven and a half miles from our house...basically...GREAT!

My cousin, who went through something similar, said she felt like God had picked them up by the scruff of their necks, and was shaking them saying "Learn. Learn."

Since November 30th, that image has played through my mind hundreds of times and I'll ask "What am I learning?".  The answer is plenty.

I learned that we have friends and family who have our backs. 

In particular, I think of Andy's best friend, John.  Like all adults with kids, and spouses, and jobs, and responsibilities, for years, Andy and John haven't seen each other as much as they'd like.  Starting Andy's last day of work, John has faithfully called several times a week, they text often, and have met almost every week since for lunch. 

Of Andy's cousin, Mike, who has put Andy in touch with people that Andy should network with, generally kept the lines of communication open, and always checked in to see what was up.  We spent New Years Eve at their place on the Cape.

Andy's oldest brother, Greg who lives several states away but simply acted as a sounding board when Andy needed another ear or another voice.

There were others, friends at school, our neighbors, Facebook friends that I haven't 'seen' in years, and of course, my Blog Buddies.  So many people in our corner, sending leads, lending support, saying prayers.  And meaning it.

I learned that there are plenty worse things than going into Year 8 in our Five Year House.  I hope I learned what's really important because right now, I feel blessed.

Thank you all so much.  I'm so happy to be able to share this news with you.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Another One For The Gremlin Files

While many things have occurred over the months that made me want to put pen to paper (fingers to keys?), this was the first that truly begged to be shared...

About a week ago, Andy followed Gremlin into the bathroom first thing in the morning and found a small puddle.  Upon discussion, Grem verified that he'd waited too long and hadn't had enough time to get everything working in the right order.  We remembered allowing him to drink about a half gallon of apple juice at bedtime and pretty much blamed ourselves.  A day or so later, I noticed there was still a faint pee smell in the bathroom so I pulled up the bath mat, changed out all the towels, wiped things down (see? motherhood = glamour!), the usual. 

Mothers of boys, you know this is certainly not the first time one of the men in my life had missed the bowl, however, this odor wouldn't go away.  I remembered an old boyfriend's mom telling me a funny, exasperated story about having to twice replace the baseboard heat next to the toilet in her downstairs bathroom after her four sons had rusted them through.

I started to worry that the liquid had seeped into the bead board on the wall behind the toilet or the wood of the vanity located next to it.  Wonderful.  I was going to have to replace my six year old bathroom because my six year old child urinated all over it.  Coincidence?  I think not.

As it turns out, I don't have to replace my bathroom.  I may replace my younger child.  Again, lucky Andy went into the bathroom after Gremlin and again discovered a small puddle.  Being (sick of hearing me complain) a model husband, he took it upon himself to clean up the puddle and cover half the bathroom in scrubbing bubbles.  As he moved the toilet brush and holder from the corner behind the toilet, he noted that there was a liquid level in the little cup/toilet brush holder thingy. 

Quite the opposite of missing, Gremlin has apparently been perfecting his aim by peeing into the toilet brush holder! Is there no freaking end to this boy's disgustingness??

After things were explained to me and Andy had gently chided Gremlin, I stepped in, a little less calm.  My son, the king of plausible deniability didn't say one word as I shrieked at him "Why would you do such a thing??  What were you thinking???"  On and on I went, ending with "and if you EVER pee anywhere but in a toilet again, I'll make sure you wear diapers until you're 40!"

The bathroom has been sterilized, the offending receptacle has been recycled (what would you have done with it??) and a new brush has been purchased.  As I pulled it from the Target bag, I showed it to Gremlin, with this parting shot: "Could you do me a favor and not pee in this one?".

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Okay, Maybe It's a Little True...

The other day, I opened my laptop to find Andy's email open, with this goofy forward from his brother, Greg:
When everybody on earth was dead and waiting to enter Paradise, God appeared and said, "I want the men to make two lines. One line for the men who were true heads of their household, and the other line for the men who were dominated by their women. I want all the women to report to St. Peter."
Soon, the women were gone, and there were two lines of men. The line of the men who were dominated by their wives was 100 miles long, and in the line of men who truly were heads of their household, there was only one man.
God said to the long line, "You men should be ashamed of yourselves, I created you to be the head of your household! You have been disobedient and have not fulfilled your purpose! Of all of you, only one obeyed. Learn from him."
God turned to the one man, "How did you manage to be the only one in this line?"
The man replied, "My wife told me to stand here!"
I read it, thinking how stupid it was, surprised that Greg would find it humorous, let alone bother to forward it.  Then I forgot its existence.

Until yesterday. 
I was cooking dinner when an incredibly annoying honking horn entered my consciousness.  Andy investigated and stated it was my neighbor's old car that was still in their driveway.  The neighborhood kids had been in the backyard next door and one of the kids 'checked to see if it was locked' setting off the alarm.  Our neighbor had been notified and was heading out with the keys.

After several more minutes of constant honking.  I looked at Andy and said "You know, it's been going on for a while. If Jackie's not able to get it to shut off with just the key, someone needs to go out there and disconnect the battery." 

So out Andy and his crescent wrench go.

After I got dinner in the oven, I walked over to see how it was going.  The first words out of Jackie's mouth upon my arrival?  If my husband had just gotten rid of this thing last week like I told him to...

"No, stand in that line."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Threshold

And as we celebrate the four month anniversary of Andy's last day of work, we reach another milestone: the exploration of job opportunities outside of Massachusetts.  Yes, folks; things really are that bad out there.  With this in mind, I'd ask you all to fill out the following survey:


The nearest metropolitan area within reasonable commuting distance that offers a variety of Patent/Intellectual Property Attorney positions for people with 10 years of experience in the field is: _____________________

I would best describe my climate as:
__ Comparable to Boston
__ Arid (Desert southwest)
__ So humid you have to wring your clothes out after stepping from the house to the car (southeast)
__  My kids can play outside 350+ days a year (San Diego)

The cost of living in my region can best be described as:
a. Living like kings
b. Average
c. Comparable to Boston
d. We read by candlelight to save money

My nearest Starbucks is located ___ miles from my home.

My nearest Target is located ___ miles from my home.

The average cost for a 4br/2.5ba home in a good school district is: __________________.  (Anyone whose answer is over $650K need not apply; I'm from Boston.)

If I have to make an unscheduled trip to the store at 10:00 pm, I feel:
a.  Entirely safe, I love my neighborhood.
b. Safe Enough
c. I don't go if I don't have to
d. I make sure the Taser is fully charged

The thing I like best about my neighborhood is: _________________.

The thing I like best about my kids' school is: ___________________.

Bonus Question: If the Manic Family moved to our area, we promise to introduce you to many people, show you around town, have playdates with the boys, and drink wine with the Mommy.  (okay, so that really wasn't a question.)

Note to our families: This is just an exploratory.  We're not doing anything yet.  Don't panic.
Note to our readers:  No really, let me know what it's like where you are.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Wrap It in Bacon

Remember that email that went around a few years ago about how to give a cat a pill?  It went on and on with steps including massage cat's throat, remove cat from drapery rod, then apply direct pressure to lacerations.  Then there was "how to give a pill to a dog."  Answer: wrap it in bacon. 

Gremlin has been experiencing some significant constipation issues for about the past month.  Basically, he refuses to poop.  This is different from his usual "I don't have to go - I'm too busy playing" refusal and has now migrated to his school day.  We've instituted mandatory "trying" periods throughout the day and returned to the sitting-on-the-edge-of-the-tub, potty training model.

Friday, while in Target (why do I always get this call when I've got a full cart?), the school nurse calls stating she's got Gremlin in her office doubled over with stomach pains.  I'm on my way but it's going to be a few minutes.  She calls back seconds later asking me to please bring a change of clothes as well.  Awesome.

As I arrive at school and the nurse waves me toward the bathroom where she has left my 5-year-old to clean himself up following his accident.  I find him naked and covered, wiping ineffectually at his body with dry, brown, industrial paper towels.  Thankfully, it didn't seem to be bothering him. 

The pediatrician starts writing before I've finished my first sentence.  Gremlin has encopresis and needs a laxative.  Here's where we get to the bacon part.

We opted to wait until Saturday morning vs. Friday evening to begin the regimen for obvious reasons. Andy and I sat at the kitchen table for in excess of 45 minutes trying to teach, convince, discuss, cajole, explain, threaten, and ultimately bribe Grem to swallow an Exlax pill resembling a blue M&M.

He eventually allows the pill to completely dissolve in his mouth complaining the whole time that it tastes like sand, yet refusing to swallow or take a sip of any of the 6 different beverage selections we have offered him.  Also, he is now the proud owner of SpongeBob Atlantis Squarepantis DS game. 

And all for nothing.  Based on his chosen method of absorption and the complete lack of results, I'm guessing that none of the medicine actually made it to the boy's lower G.I.

This morning, I returned to CVS and going against the advice of the pharmacist Andy spoke with yesterday, got Exlax in chocolate form.  I came home, said "hey Grem, here's some chocolate medicine!"  He ate two pieces and we're done.

Wrap it in bacon.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

To Whom It May Concern - The "Where Have You Been 'Young' Lady?" - Edition

January -
Dear Funky Mammogram, what a great way to start off the year!  But thanks for being there for me.

March -
Dear Needle Biopsy, you are not nearly as painful as your name would suggest.  I am so glad you turned out to be a negative guy.  Positive can be such a downer sometimes, y'know?

April -
Dear Gremlin, we made it!  You're five years old.  I know it was touch and go for a while there - especially during those terrible twos (and threes) but here we are!  Thank you, I love you.

May -
Welcome acquiring company!  Thank you for asking! I'd love a large Blue Cross Blue Shield with a PPO and a side of dental.  What's that?  You've just got New Coke, circa 1985.  Oh, I guess that'll be almost as good.  Thanks.

June -
Dear company that strung us along for the past six months with promises of the ideal job only to go with nepotism in the end.  This is me, pointing two fingers up to my eyes then pointing them toward you, then pointing two fingers up to my eyes then pointing them toward you. Understood?

July -
Dear Andy, have fun at the trial in Texas.  Sorry you had to miss our Cape vacation.  With your family. And our anniversary.  I mean our 10th anniversary.

September -
Dear Birthday,  beginning in 2011, you will take place sometime in May. I hope this change isn't too inconvenient to you but I think you'll agree that a time not coinciding with the first week of school will allow us some more time to enjoy one another's company.

November -
Dear Former Company, Pfffft!
Dear Lymphoma, just like a coward, you bring a knife to a gun fight.  Back the eff away from my friend.  Good boy. Now stay...staaay...

Dear 2010,
Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

Dear 2011,
Welcome, my year of health, prosperity, happiness, new job, and new house!  Treat me right and I'll recommend you to all my friends.  Treat me wrong and I'll make you wish you were 2001.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Be Excellent To Each Other

Example 1: A week or so ago, I was in line to get gas at one of the only local places that pumps for you and is relatively cheap.  Based on these criteria, it's generally pretty crowded there.  I noticed a two-pumper where the car in front was pulling away.  I threaded my car between the car at the rear pump and one in the next aisle, pulled the lever to open my little gas door, and waited for the attendant.  He appeared a moment later and I lowered my window to ask for him to fill it, regular.

Instead, he told me I'd actually cut the line. I apologized and asked him to close my gas door as I placed the car back in Drive.  As I did so, the woman I'd inadvertently cut hung out the driver's side of her Buick and yelled "Hey, Asshole!  Move your car!".  The attendant kindly informed her that I didn't know and was moving - and that there was no need to swear.  She responded with "Oh.  Never mind." while I circled around to take my place behind her, remaining silent.

Example 2: I was at Stop and Shop just past Frozen Corn, guiding my shopping car into the hairpin turn toward Orange Juice and English Muffins.  As happens all the time at the grocery store, I nearly collided with another shopper coming the opposite way.  I smiled the polite apology smile and he mutters "Jesus-Fucking-Christ" under his breath. 

The economy is improving at a snail's pace, we're at war, and people are shooting congress members and ordinary citizens with automatic weapons at supermarkets. It's damn cold. Around here, we've got at least three feet of solid ice piled up along every roadside and driveway.  New storms have been coming in with a frequency of about once a week.  I get it. 

But is this what it's come down to?  I mean, I'm from Boston.  In a recent survey, we were voted the sixth rudest city in America. I can take it. But is this how we want to treat one another?  Is this what we want our kids to see and think is normal?

I just need to put it out there and hope that if enough of us do, more will come around:

Be excellent to each other.

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