Friday, December 31, 2004


"Is Mr W still working nights?" he asks.  "Yeah,"  I reply, "it's like we're ships passing in the night." "Well, it looks like you are still managing to have sex, or else you wouldn't be here to see me again.  If he ever goes back to working days, I'll be out of business,"  he joked.

After the birth of Audrey, when he was discharging me from the hospital, and giving all the usual instructions, he added "And remember, nothing inside you for 6 weeks...not even your best friend."  It hurt to laugh with my healing incision, but we laughed nonetheless.

A woman's relationship with her ob/gyn is an important albeit necessary one.  I am lucky that the person I chose to be mine is compassionate, knowledgeable, and humorous as all hell.  I saw him earlier this month, and had to admit to him that Mr W had been out of town, that I'd tried to behave myself before the visit (you know how you're supposed to abstain before your annual exam for a couple of days..) and he interrupted me with "..but that wasn't gonna happen, huh?  So you're telling me all those parts still work?  Glad to hear it," he said as he chuckled at me.   "I take it you're here for the lube-and-oil change?"

Even when I used to work with him, back in the day, I recall him making all his patients feel special, and taking extra time all the time.  You never felt rushed, he always answered all the questions, even if you stopped him in the hallway after your visit was over.  I remember the one time that he had to go, after giving me bad news and I was crying in the office, he felt so bad that he called me at home to apologize and talk some more with me about my issue.  He's just a special and unique man; and I have to say that all of us that know him adore him.  With the exception of Nolan, he delivered all my kids.  He was there for some of Nolan's labor, but he went on vacation the next day so he wasn't there for the actual event. 

I've known him for over 13 years, so it was particularly hard today that I had to say goodbye to my beloved Dr Gordon.  On Christmas Eve, Dr Gordon, his son, and his wife were in a car accident.  Dr Gordon and his 15 yr old son were killed, and his wife was injured. 

I am still not able to believe it.  Even as I sat with Mr W and some of my friends who also knew him, in a chapel filled with people who loved them, I could hardly get past it.  I just saw him, I thought.  I still have so many things I wish I could tell him, my mind persists.  I feel so for his wife, for not only losing such a wonderful partner, but for also losing a terrific kid.  I hope that she is comforted by her other children, and her grandchild that is on the way. 

My friends, Mr W. and I, all sat together, listening to the eulogies, dabbing at the tears.  We all have fond memories to help with the healing.  I think I will miss his the sound of his voice and laughter the most.  Having spent all those years giving him messages and listening to him, I can still hear it now.  Just yesterday, I was filling out a form for the kids at the dentist, and writing in my work phone number, and I heard Dr Gordon's voice asking me "so, are you still working at the same place?" that last time I saw him.

I think what is most difficult for me (and Mr W) is that although we've lost people before, it's never been quite like this, so sudden.  There was not a long illness or old age preceeding it, just boom, gone.  And I, who get so attached to the people I love, am saddened by all the things I never got to say, that I will not have the opportunity to say again. 

It's tragic that we don't always let the people we care about the most know how important they are to us in the time we have with them.  Maybe you are waiting for the right time, or can't quite find the words, or you're just too busy with life.  I've decided to try to amend that, and hopefully the people that are close to me will indulge me when I hold them a little longer, a little tighter.

And the next time it's time for my special girly visit, I know I will shed a tear or two, and try to smile as I hear Dr Gordon's voice in my head telling me to "saddle up."

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

"OOOhhh, is that for me??"

The mystery of Mr W's gift will be revealed to you at last!

It can fit in my pocket or in my hand.  It's metallic and white.  It has nifty little touch sensitive controls.  It's the perfect heft and gives me great pleasure to use.  And it's all mine, mine, mine.


Mr W totally rocks.  He got me an iPod.  So impractical!  So pricey!  So fabulous!  I'm a bit verklempt right now, I need a moment...

I don't know how he pulled it off without a human sacrifice to the budget gods, but he did.  And I am so surprised, tickled, glad...WOW.  I've never, ever owned anything this expensive (the family vehicles don't count) that is just mine and only mine.  Something that isn't me putting everyone else first, or lecturing him on the extravagance/impracticality/oh, come on, I-really-don't-need-it --ness.  I even remembered later that I'd mentioned I'd wanted one a few times, and the last time I said "I really want one of those things, but ..."  I should have known that the gleam in his eye from then on out was for a reason.

The fly in the ointment is that I'll need to upgrade our computer to Windows 2000 or XP to use it, but for now, I squatted my sister-in-law's computer so I could at least touch the greatness...and it is great, let me tell you.  Me likey!  I loaded it with a bunch of songs and a couple of CD's worth of music.  It was so easy to use, especially for me, the pseudo-techie girl.

He also, sweetie that he is, bought me my 'lippy'...he'd asked for a list of stocking stuffer kind of stuff, so I looked up some colors of lippy, wrote down about four (so he could have options in case they were out of stock at the makeup counter); wrote down some BBW stuff, etc.  So he, this is adorable, takes the list to the makeup counter, and instead of picking like one or two colors, he bought all the ones I wrote down.  I don't think a porn star could have gone through that much lippy in I did return some of them.  Besides, you know, you need to try these things out sometimes to realize that some colors are just not you (haha, raspberry jam, what was I thinking?)  But he did well, just the same.  I was feeling the love...and ahem, he felt the love too when I finally got to thank him properly. ;)  

I, on the other hand, don't think I did so well by him.  He is not dazzled by the greatness of my cologne purchase, but he hasn't smelled it yet I'm hoping he sees the light soon because I have no idea where my receipt for that is!!!  Oh well.  Guess I'll be back to sniffing random strangers, stray Dads, and coworkers again, lol.  He did like his movies though, I mean, who can not smile at the cinematic brilliance of 'Blazing Saddles'?  The suaveness of the Duke and the beauty of the lovely Maureen O'Hara in 'The Quiet Man'? No, he liked that just fine.

Now, if he'd just quit complaining about how sticky this beautiful lip gloss is....and give us a kiss...

Did I already say WOW? 

Of course, I think that this is a ploy on his part to have complete silence from me while we're on the road...but that's ok, I'm totally entertained!

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

It's his day

I look over, searching for source of the crying.  I am convinced it is the best sound I've ever heard, that I know he's ok, and finally here.   I see my friend step back and quickly dodge a perfect arc of...pee.  I smile in spite of my discomfort, in spite of all the hours it took (43), in spite of the tears of happiness I swore I'd not shed.  I look up at Mr W, and ask him what's going on now, and he says that our friend (the pediatrician) is checking out our perfect boy, and the docs are working on closing me up.  I'm so relieved that it's over, and everyone is ok.  And all I can think is when can I hold him?  I need to look at his face, and finally see him, look to count all the fingers and toes, feel him wrap his little hand around my finger...

My friend brings him over, and I get to take a peek at him, for just a second.  I quickly memorize his face before he gets whisked away.  He's so pink!  So perfect!  And he has a ton of hair, just like Nana predicted he would when I complained I had heartburn. 

It's amazing to think it was 11 years ago today that my oldest was born.  Eleven years of learning to let go.  See, everyone is full of advice--how to diaper, how to bathe, how to feed, how to soothe colic--but no one tells you that every day from here on out, you are a guide, and you will spend each day learning to let go even when you really don't want to.  Crawling, eating real food, walking--they are all the steps your child takes away from you, the little independent bits that will help prepare you for the biggies--driving, dating, leaving home.  I hope I'll be ready.

Tonight, I made him his favorite brownie sundaes (he doesn't like cake) and we had a low key night.  I just looked in on him, brushing the hair off his forehead, marveling at the still-baby smooth skin of his cheeks and listening to him breathe.  Just like I did when he was 11 days old...just like I'll do as long as I can.

Happy Birthday, Nolan.  Thank you for showing me each day what it's like to not have a heart that is two sizes too small.


Friday, December 24, 2004

Hopefully, an isolated incident

I've been waiting for this.  Last night, after we got home, Nolan tells me he has a stomach ache.  I chalk it up to whatever he's had at his friends house,  tell him to take it easy, and am totally surprised to find him asleep on the couch before 10.  I'd expected him to stay up late, what with no school and all today.

I was up late, and it seemed like I'd just gone to bed when I feel someone poking me "mom.  Mom.  MOM.."  I jolt up, and there's Nolan.  "I just hurled."  Oh boy, I think.  Here's my holiday sickie.

Poor guy has been vominating all night and this a.m. too.  (Ryan's word, 'vominating')  He thinks it was a bad hot dog.  We've all been there before....

And if that's really the case, then I won't worry too much about the rest of us sharing the joy.

But I'm gonna wash all the towels, just in case, lol.

It just wouldn't be a holiday if someone wasn't sick, right?

Thursday, December 23, 2004

"That'll be one-foot-in-your-mouth.95, ma'am"

Before I go into my big embarassing moment, let me just say I actually got the baking done (in spite of all the kids swirling around all day, demands in hand), delivered some cookies (hope no one is doubled over in pain), and managed to not beat the crap out of Mr W when he announced, at 6 am this morning "I need a huge favor."  He asked me to come up with 11, ELEVEN little presents ("a little munchie or something") to take to work today.  Um, okay, sure, no problem....(calm, blue, ocean--calm, blue, ocean--calm, blue, ocean--breathe)   I did eventually hiss at him about it, later on in the day, about "and you knew about this when" and he had the gall to get a bit defensive about it (ha, guilt, guilt, can you say guilt?) 

I pulled it off!  Whether or not it was successful, who knows, but let's just thank God for Trader Joes.  I got these little tins of some caramel cookies, and I made them look festive too.  Off to work he went, with all these little packages...that now that I think about it, resembled rolls of TP. (I had to use white tissue paper to wrap them, with little metallic ties..) Hey, that's pretty funny, considering his intended police audience, lol.

To top it off, he announced to me that his schedule at work will change, so this means my work schedule changes too (he watches the kids on his days off when I work, yeah, bless him) and lucky me, I am exiled to weekends again.  I'll get over it.  Eventually.  In the meantime, it's a sore point, and well, f**k. :( 

After I dropped off Nolan at a friend's house, I delivered cookies to a couple of other friends, and then the charmed three and I went to procure the Honeybaked ham I'd promised Mr W I'd get.  Tomorrow, it will make my life easier that I got it, but tonight, it was a pain in the butt.  Of course, I've done this before, and I knew they'd be busy, so I dug in and prepared the troops.  I didn't count on there being an Artic wind blowing in AZ tonight, and that added to the level of difficulty...along with the little princess showing her Damian stripes.  Sigh.  I teased Mr W about it when I was done, telling him how long we waited (about 25 minutes or so, start to finish) and that he better count on eating every bit of that damn thing, or else I'd be finding new non-culinary uses for it...

My Dad called me while I was on my way home, and he said something about needing a present for my Nana, and I realized he meant my other, Nana, shrimpy Nana.  (The kids call her that, so now I do too.  Yes, she's shrimpy.)  The one I realize I forgot to get something for.  Great. 

And we get to my embarassing moment at last. "Hey, kids, we need to stop real quick at Kohl's.  You can handle it.  We'll get some food afterwards, got it?"  Okay, mistake number one was not taking my stroller out of the car for the princess.  She likes to ride in their stroller, so I figured we'd go for that.  Of course, there weren't any to be seen.  But I figure, I know what I'm getting, it'll be just a sec, no big deal.  Mistake number two was not going directly to the spot I wanted too, but foolishly looking for a shirt (one I should've snatched up for Mr W last week when I saw it.)  On the bright side, I found him some turtlenecks for work, on sale no less, but then I hear the dreaded words "Mommy, I need to go to the bathroom.  BAD."  And where are said bathrooms?  In the back of the freaking store, that's where.  Off we go, and as we trek back there, I am searching for the stupid store stroller, contemplating swiping a stray one that appears to not be in use...when I realize the user is like just on the other side of the display, oops, my bad.  Pointing in the right direction, I send the boys onward, almost running, while princess and I trail behind.  Once we regroup, we head to the section I needed, to get Nana a colorful throw blanket, because she's always cold, and the real fun with princess and co. begins.  Ben keeps trying to 'help' by grabbing his brother by the jacket, and princess keeps either dragging her feet, 'shopping' at each display, or trying to hide from me.  I keep grabbing her hand, to no avail.  I round them up, and we get to mistake number three...trying to get to the checkout line.  Princess makes a break for it, and runs up the aisle, and I catch her, and muster up enough grace to threaten her in her ear and not loud enough to be escorted from the building.  We get to the checkout, and are waiting patiently (!) when I notice my little ones are drifting off, away from me..."GET back here now!" brings them all over to me, and I tell them, look we're almost done, you guys are doing fine, blah, blah. Ben is nice enough to pick up Audrey, and as I place the stuff down, he has her almost on the counter, and he jokes to me "Mommy, you'll have to pay for her too," and I sarcastically reply "Honey, I pay for her every single day."  Now, I was thinking I was going to elicit a smile at least from the guy behind the counter, but instead I kinda got a 'she's a wacko' look.  I hurry up and pay, only to just about snap outside when she won't hold my hand, nearly taking off again.  I stood her next the wall, and ranted a bit about her not running off, etc. when I thought, WTF?  knock it off, girl, before a passerby decides to call CPS or something...really, I should know better...oh, the shame of the bad move.  From ubermom to lunatic in record time, my friends.

Once we get home, and all are settled, contentedly munching on fries, I jump into comfies...and remember I have to go pick up Nolan at his friend's house in like 15 minutes. 

Mr W is off for the next four days.  I may feel like I can come out of my Batcave escape (the bathroom to the rest of you) by then.  That's if I don't just keep on driving until I see the calm, blue, ocean.


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

"Mommy, what if..?"

I've been a good girl.  I've made progress on the shopping, no progress on the baking, but I've been wrapping as I go along, after all are asleep.  In doing so, I'm hopefully avoiding that Christmas Eve wrapping-for-hours hell where Mr W and I alternately wrap and hiss at each other until we are done and then make out like mad from all the tension.  Hey, maybe I've cheated myself out of something here... Guess there's always that 'some assembly required' toy that never fails to push us over the edge: "What do you mean, there's a piece left and you have no idea where it goes?  I'll tell you where it's gonna go, you *@*#!"

My mind keeps wandering back to something Nolan asked me earlier, a question he's asked periodically for a year or so now.  I always feel a little guilty when I answer it, but I answer it just the same.

I was watching a women's basketball game on tv (ASU vs UConn), one I'd wanted to attend but ultimately couldn't because Mr W had to work, we had aikido, and it's a school night.  Finding a sitter wasn't really an option, and my cousin I'd invited along couldn't make it, so it was just one of those things.  I was pleased it was televised, and that I made it home in time to watch.  I like sports, particularly college sports, but it's just one of those peripheral things for me.  If I can keep up, I will, if not, then *shrug*, what can I do?  I was in my room watching when Nolan comes in and asks what I'm doing, so I tell him "I'm watching this game I wanted to go to but couldn't because Dad's working, we had aikido, it's a school night, and I couldn't really ask anyone to watch you all under those circumstances..."

He waits a beat or two and then asks, "Mommy, what would you do if you didn't have kids?"

That's a hate-it/love-it question for me.  In an instant, all my alternative lives flash before my eyes, that second of "what if..?"

"I'd be working in the nasty, wear-a-spacesuit section of the Centers for Disease Control, isolating who knows what.  I'd be head of the pediatrics department at Phoenix Children's Hospital. I'd be living in New York City, churning out novel after novel, guesting on Oprah to talk about the movies being made from my books.  I'd be in Mexico, perfecting my accent while learning to cook regional dishes and teaching English to the schoolchildren.  I'd be scuba diving off the coast of Australia.  I'd be in Italy, at Christmastime, touring all the museums while working on my doctorate in Art History, sipping cappuccinos with the most adorable men in town, perfecting my Italian.  I'd be on the beach in Greece or Spain, going topless, baring my undisturbed-by-babies breasts and trying not to be a prude.  I'd be ...."

All of this flashes before me, in a second.

Of course, I say none of this out loud.  Instead, I say to him: "I'd be very, very bored.  I'd be wondering what it's like to have a kid, and probably trying to have one.  My life would be colorless without all of you, sweetie, and I'm exactly where I should be."  And I give him a gentle smack on the arm, just so he knows I mean it.

Besides, there'll be time for all of that after.  After they're all grown up, after we retire (hahahaHA!), after I maybe go back to school.

The time I have with them now is finite.  Even on bad days, when sipping cappuccinos while learning Italian seems like a good idea, I know I only get it once.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Time flies

"Ball," he said, pushing on my chest.  "What?" "Ball," he insists, yanking on my shirt.  I'm confused.

I've been watching him all summer, this little 2 1/2 yr old boy that is Mr W's nephew.  We're sitting in Mr W's living room, me, my future father-in-law, and the tyke's Mom.

"Ball!" he's getting frustrated now.  I look up at his Mom, perplexed, and she smiles.  "Oh, I know!  Sometimes, I hide a ball in my shirt.  He thinks you've got one."  "But I don't." "Yeah, but I think he thinks that your, um, boob is a ball." I must've looked confused, because she goes on, "You've got a little more there than I do, so he thinks you have a ball..."  Oohhh, I see.  Great.  I feel myself blush and I hand him over to her, looking up to see my future father-in-law suppress a laugh. I really start blushing when I hear her explaining what happened to all of those who missed the scene cuz they were in the kitchen.  Nothing like the embarrassment of a 15 yr old to bring the family together...

I was reminded of this yesterday when we were in Tucson.  My adorable little 2 1/2 year old charge is now 22, with a house, and a girlfriend that will probably be his fiance soon.  He's an EMT and couldn't come to dinner, so we took it to him.  I'm watching Emma pack his plate up, and I check it out:  ham, rolls, mashies & the usual stuff, and...olives.  It's the olives that get me. 

When Daniel was little, he used to do that kid thing of placing an olive on each finger (and his thumb) and eating them one by one.  He loved doing that, and we all loved watching him because he made such a show of it for us.  I could see his little chubby face, all lit up, excited to be playing with his food in front of the grownups.  

"He still loves the olives, huh?" I ask Emma, who nods yes.  We grab his stuff, and drive over to the firestation he's working at.  As I drive up, I see this guy sitting outside, and I can't believe it's him.  When did my little guy turn into such  He walks over to me, and I just have to give him a great big hug.  I wish that we could have spent more time together, but we only get to chat for a minute before his Mom reminds him to go eat before they get a call.  

"When did that happen?" I ask her.  "Weren't we just trying to keep him from looking for the ball down my shirt?"  She starts laughing. "I'd forgotten about that," she says. 

"I'm gonna have to tell his girlfriend that story the next time I see her," I joke back, "maybe he'll blush as much as I did."

And as we drive away, I'm struck by how much  my oldest son looks like him.  I've gotten a preview, and it reminds me to slow down, stop being in such a hurry to get on with the next chore, and hug my big boy while he's still a...boy.


Saturday, December 18, 2004

Road trip

Big day tomorrow...

I'll be trapped in the van with the kids and a sleepy husband.  We're going to Tucson, to have dinner with my brother-in-law and his family.  Ordinarily, I enjoy going to see them once I get over my 'oh, great, do I really have to pack up all this s***?' dread.  My sister-in-law takes great care of me, she never makes me cook (unless I volunteer to help), because she plans the whole deal and just basically asks us to show up.  BLESS HER!!  It's hard enough getting everyone situated to go without worrying that I forgot the main course.  And in spite of his affection for the wrong university, I really like my brother-in-law.  I'm sure he'll stop giving me crap about ASU losing this year about 10 minutes after we head back home.   He likes to read even more than I do and always has a couple of books to throw my way, so maybe I can use that as a diversionary tactic.  Hopefully, Audrey will be over her fear of him by now.  He has a deep voice, and is a pretty big guy, and she wants nothing to do with him for a couple of hours after we arrive.  She clings to me like a monkey-baby, and won't socialize with him at all. 

As for the boys, once we get there, I probably won't see them again until dinnertime.  They love playing with their cousin (he's 13, so he's the coolest to them) and I'm sure they will be in his room playing video games.  My older nephew will probably be there with his girlfriend.  Hopefully I will be over my bad first impression of her and play nice.  I think I just caught her on a bad day last time.

Mr. W will, I'm praying, be asleep all the way down there.  He's been working a lot of extra hours this week, tomorrow is his only day off until Friday, and well, it's just much easier for me to drive if he's not watching my every move.  I really try to be a good sport about that, but man, I hate driving because he's a horrible passenger (cop thing, I think). 

All in all, it should be an interesting day.  Especially if I make all the kids wear their ASU shirts, LOL.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

He's my hero

Mood: distraught, but recovering

"La-la-la-la-la lady-bug...bu-bu-bu-bu-bu butter-fly-y...doo-doo-doo-doo-doo doodlebug..."  I sing, repeatedly, looking in at Audrey, who's crying in her carseat.  She's upset, I'm frantic, and yes, the keys are locked in the van.  I can see them, on the driver's seat, mocking me as I pull on a door I know will not open.  I'm trying not to cry too, I need to get the kids from school, Mr W. has left for work, and of course, there is no extra set of keys in the house. 

What the hell do I do, I wonder, trying NOT to panic, and fighting the tears.  If she sees me freak out, she'll freak out.  I sing the song again, for her, for me, and try to come up with a plan.  Page him.  Call him.  No answer. Crap, I think, he's probably halfway to Tempe by now.  Call the school.  Tell them to have all the kids (my own and the ones I give rides too) assemble in the office until I can come up with something, explaining my situation. 

Who's home?  Call my Mom, in hopes of staying calm, but she can't help me, so I hang up.  Call Mr. W again.  Nothing.  Double crap.  Hey, try our other friend that lives close by that is a police officer too.  Not that he can magically open the door, but I know he might calm me down and at least give me ideas about who else to call...ok, got the machine. Crap, crap, crap!

She's crying again.  Sing the verse real quick.  Tell her Mommy won't leave her, and that she's trying to get help.  Thank goodness we're in our own garage, and it's a beautiful day outside and not 114 degrees in July or something.  HEY!  I call dispatch and explain real quick what's going on and remember Mr. W went in early because he had a class to teach.  Yes!  He's still at the station!   So they say they will try to reach him, and I begin to breathe again.

Oh, her little face is killing me.  "Bu-bu-bu-bu-butter-fly-y", I sing and my voice cracks.  No lloras, no lloras, no lloras (don't cry)...

Dispatch comes back on.  "He's in a training room. We're sending someone down there to get him." "Oh, great," I reply. "He doesn't have to come, even if someone could just bring me his keys, that would be perfect," I say, worried about bugging him.  I have to say, they were pretty nice about the whole thing, they offered to send Fire out to me, but I mean, I wasn't THAT frantic yet, and Audrey was ok, just crying, so I was willing to hang on a sec before calling them out.  And suddenly, while I'm on hold again, my cell rings.  It's Mr. W. 

I hold it together, tell him what's going on, ask him to send me the keys, and he says "I'll be right there."  Phew.  I'm still concerned about his class, but there's nothing I can do about that now.  When dispatch comes back on the line, I thank them for their help, and let them know I did get to speak to him.  Call the school and tell them I'll be there as soon as I can, that helps on its way, and were they able to corral everyone?  The office lady says yes, and that all are fine.  I let Audrey know Daddy's coming.  And I start to sing to her again, because she asks me too. 

He gets here in about 10 minutes, and I am somewhat composed by now.  I don't want to leave the side of the van, but I do anyway, so I can grab the keys from him.  But he gets out of his car before I can reach him.  I was worried he was gonna be annoyed, but instead, he's so, so, calm.  And not irritated.  Just his usual, laidback self.  He walks up to the door where Audrey is, and opens it.  He talks to her and asks her if she's ok.  And she cries a bit, but smiles at him anyway. "I was stuck," she says, with a quiver in her voice. "But you're ok now," he says. He smiles at me and as he shuts her door, points at the tears that are stuck on the outside of the van, teasing me. "Shut up," I say, "Thanks, honey.  Sorry."  He gives me a kiss and leaves again.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I love him so much. 

He's calm.  I'm not saying he doesn't get mad, or overreact, because he does, but he doesn't do it often, and he never does it for something like this.  He's laidback, and that has rubbed off on me.  I come from some pretty volatile folks, so this is a good thing.  He swoops in, gets it done, and doesn't make me feel stupid about it. (Of course, I'm sure he's gonna tease me later, but he's not gonna make me feel bad.)  I really appreciate that calmness when I'm all worked up about something.  And at times, I really hate that calmness when I'm all worked up about something.  It just depends ;) and like anything else, is just part of being married.  But what a guy, right?

I was feeling overwhelmed today, all these things to do, and now I have to add something to my list.

I wonder if they make keys at Target?



Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Opposing moments in my day

He looks at her sternly, using that Dad face that makes her behave.  She's got ants in her pants, and keeps popping up and down, surveying the restaurant as she shares his fries.  Up, down, sway back and forth, sit for a second, up, down...

Daddy is losing patience, and gives the look again.  She sits.  For a second.  Then stealthily slides off the chair, and goes around the edge of the table to where he sits.  She reaches into his lap, stealing his napkin, just as he's about to scold her.  The little face looks up at him, with the 'aren't I cute' grin, and he sees she wants the napkin to wipe her face, because she's got ranch dressing all around her mouth.  The storm passes, and I see him melt, gently wiping her mouth and chin.  Where's my camera? 

And on to the other moment, with another installment of "Mommy, what's _____?"

Today's show brings me to afterschool, when Nolan comes up to me and asks, "I need to ask you something.  It's about a word."  "Shoot," I say.  And he hesitates, "Well, I think it's a bad word."  "Dude, spit it out." "Okay, Mommy, what does 'mofo' mean?"

Deep breath.  Breathe, breathe, think, think.  "Son, I'll tell you, I just need a minute, okay?" "Okay."  "Tell me where you heard it."  "Some kids at school."  Of course.  I needed a minute to get Mr W's opinion about how detailed I should get on this one. 

Fast forward to aikido.  I'm waiting with the big kids for Ryan to finish his class, and Nolan says, "Mom, you forgot to answer my question."  "Oh, yeah.  I need to ask your Dad something, hang on."  I'd forgotten to talk to him b/c he went in to work, so I call him real quick, give him the skinny, and we decide to go for it.  "Hey, Nolan, come here."  We move out of earshot of our younger viewers.  "Okay, here's the deal..."  I first told him about the 'fo', about how it refers to sex, and then the 'mo', how it refers to your mother, and then how the two words work together.  That it's an insult, and he shouldn't repeat it in either the long or abbreviated version unless he wants to spend the afternoon explaining himself to the principal and then to us.  So then I go on, and say, "well do you really know about the sex part, what do you understand about that?"  "Not much." "Okay, do you have any questions about that?"  "No, not really." "Are you sure?"  "Um, yeah, I'll come ask you about it when I think I'm ready to hear it." 

YAY me, I can't believe he said that.  I'm glad he feels comfortable talking to me, and relieved I don't have to continue this conversation in the 5 minutes I have left before his class starts.  Whew. 

I really have to smile, sometimes, that my day is so full of diverse experiences.  One minute, it's all about Pull-ups and poop; the next, it's sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll.  It's no wonder why I feel a bit left of center sometimes!  

They sure do keep me on my toes.  Hopefully all this extra mental work will keep me sharp.

Something has to restore the IQ points I lost to pregnancy, sleep deprivation, and conversing with toddlers for the last 10 years. 

Sneaky, sneaky

He's up to something, that man of mine.

He snuck out on Sunday, to get me my Christmas present.  I'm curious.  Usually, he asks me for a list.  I have been mentally composing one off and on all year so I'd be ready.  And usually, he gets stuff off the list, which is both sweet and sad at the same time.  There's just no surprise that way, no "I knew you'd love it" quality about it.  Hey, at least he makes the attempt.

So Sunday, when he left, and said he didn't need the list, I was curious.  Upon his return, he said "You better like it.  And you better not b***ch about how much it cost."  ???? (actually, I always b***ch about how much it cost--I tell him not to go nuts, so we can spend more on the kids, imagine that)

I'm really wondering what it is, and I'm excited to see it.  He's got that little 'I've got a secret' air about him now too. 



Okay, when how did it suddenly become Dec 14 and I not notice it?

I should be:  decorating the house, putting up our tree, baking, shopping, wrapping, planning for Nolan's birthday...

AACK!  I feel the panicky fingers of Dec 24th reaching in to grab me.  I will not admit defeat yet. Hey, I managed to make some tamales by myself (well Mr W helped a little bit) on Sunday, I think I can handle baking some cookies.  Wrapping presents.  Shopping.  Hustle and bustle added on to the regular day to day activities. 

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...and if I can't well, there's always the after-Christmas sales, right ;-) ?


Sunday, December 12, 2004

Follow your nose

My Dad and I were attacking the Christmas list for all the grandkids yesterday, and surprise, surprise, I managed to get Mr W something too.

I had to make a run to get some girly stuff in Dillard's and randomly parked so I could just run in and out.  We walked in and boom!  I was right in the middle of the men's fragrance island, taking a big deep breath and fighting the urge to run my nose along the edge of the counter until I found my favorite.  It was a tiny bit embarassing to get so excited about the wonderful smells there in front of my Dad, but I got over it.

For me, there are few things on this earth that are as nice to be around as a guy that smells good.  My girlfriends and I have dubbed this "the Scalzi effect." 

Years ago, I used to work (with a couple of my close friends) in an Urgent Care.  We always had a few residents moonlighting in our clinic.  Some of them had that smarmy, "I'm a doctor, worship me" air about them, that slimy, overconfident-with-the-ladies way of impressing no one yet thinking they could bed anyone attitude that still draws shudders when we hear their names.  And some of them were so genuinely nice that we were sad when they finished their schooling and moved on from us.  And then there was Dr. Scalzi, who was not only friendly, and easy on the eyes, but nice.  He flirted with all of us, he regaled us with interesting stories from the ER to pass our slow times, dressed well, and smelled good.  Really, really good.  We always knew when he was around because usually, you could smell where he was (and it wasn't like he overdid the fragrance, it was just a lingering kind of thing, not offensive or overpowering at all.)  It's just one of those things we collectively remember about him when the conversation turns to our old job. 

Unfortunately for me, Mr. W is not a cologne wearing kind of guy.  He has some short circuit in his olfactory process that doesn't allow him to distinguish one cologne or perfume from the next, he just can tell if someone's wearing it.  So I stopped asking him to wear it, and when I wear it, it's for me (and the enjoyment or horror of those around me, haha.)  And that's ok, you know, whatever.  But sometimes, I can't help but be a little irritated that he can smell just fine at work:"I smelled the odor of an alcoholic substance" or "I smelled the odor of burnt marijuana" is what he writes in his reports, yet perfume is a problem?  OOO-Kay.

I know I've mentioned it before, but scent is one of those primal things, that pheremone curtsy that makes your stomach flip-flop when it hits you just right.  The thing that makes you want to burrow gently into the neck right where it meets the shoulder and graze over the collarbone lightly with your lips as you breathe it in...(excuse me for a minute, I need to collect myself.)

Who really, doesn't like it when someone smells good?  Good gracious, there wouldn't be half the toiletries in our bathrooms if we didn't all dig it, right?  

I should say, however, that this is limited to the tasteful displays of scent.  No over-the-top, in-your-face clouds, please.  It's not sexy to breathe it in and sneeze for the next two hours because someone overdid it.

When someone does it right, it should be acknowledged.  Tell them they smell good, it might make their day.  I love doing that, I just have to make sure I'm a safe distance away, LOL.  Wouldn't want to be, um, inappropriate, and grab at what I shouldn't! (OY!  Maybe Mr. W was right! *blush* I prefer to think of it not as 'oversexed' but 'healthy libido'.  The healthy libido of a 16-yr old boy, but healthy nonetheless.  My friends say it's my advancing age, that womanly-hitting-her-stride thing. Whatever.  I'll take it.) 

So I did make some stops and smell all the lovely samples along the counter.  And two sister fragrances really knocked my socks off.  They smelled nice, and had a little unexpected spicy kind of kick. (Spark and Spark-Seduction haha who comes up with these names?)  I decided that perhaps Mr. W might indulge me if I said 'please' so I got him some as a Christmas present, heehee, for both of us.  A gift that keeps on giving, should it work out (hopefully he'll like it too) and he plays his cards right.

Which isn't bad, considering the last time he gave me a gift that kept on giving, we named him Ryan.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

A gift from Jay-Z??

I've received an early Christmas present, from an unlikely source. Actually, it probably will brighten up more faces than my own. Believe it or not, rapper Jay-Z had a comment today in the paper, on whether he prefers skinny model types or a woman with curves (it was from an article in this month's InStyle).  He is quoted as saying:

"I've dated both.  I've got to say, I like a woman with a body.  Don't starve yourself.  That's not cute."

Anyone smiling yet?  Or are there only knit brows out there?

Hey, keep in mind that this is the man that dates the bootylicious, lovely Beyonce.  And while ahem, I don't claim to have curves that even approach that level of bootyliciousness, it is so nice to see, in print, in a mainstream magazine, a comment like that.  A small victory for all the women out there that are closer to the fuller end of the spectrum as opposed to the skinny end of the stick.  Perhaps some girl out there struggling with her self image would see something like that and think, hey, maybe having (what's the phrase?) a little extra 'junk in the trunk' is not so bad. 

Of course, who knows who might be on the cover of this month's InStyle (I haven't seen it).  It could be the pretty Renee Zellweger, who's gained and lost for the Bridget Jones movies (she's said "I have no problem shedding weight.  My problem is gaining it.").  Or whatever skeletal It girl is the current favorite.  At any rate, I'll take that comment, Jay-Z, and keep it in a safe place. 

I'll resist printing up posters and planting them all over women's restrooms across the city.

My other early gift came from another celeb.  Hey, it's Friday, I admit the guilty pleasure of reading the YES section of the Az Republic, which is sometimes, my girly girl fix for the week on the cheap...  Salma Hayek, bless her beautiful little Mexican self, had this quote:

"I think the smartest women are the most intimidating to men."

I let loose a whoop that had the kids looking at me funny when I read that one.  I only got a minor eyeroll from Mr W when I read that out loud to him and began to rant.  I told him that I really think that that statement is true, to a certain extent.  I think that had it not been for Mr W, I probably would never have had a date in high school, because I wasn't exactly someone any of the boys my age wanted to take on.  They'd heard my big mouth for years, and I am sure that they were not about to deal with that.  Honestly, only one person, not my guy, ever really told me that he thought my bookishness was a sexy bonus, and well, I had my guy, so I wasn't interested.  ONE.  Only one!  The others satisfied themselves making comments to piss me off and get me to rave on, or asking me to set them up with my friends.  I had a giggly exchange with Mr W about this, too, b/c I said to him, after I told him I wouldn't have had a date, that my nerdiness didn't matter to him, b/c it just didn't; as he wasn't interested in my mind at the time.  He denied this at first, but when pressed said he'd give none of his secrets up to me.  (And since he's older than I am, he did not have the benefit of listening to my opinionated preteen self like the boys my age...)  The conversation took a turn for the worse when somehow, it came to him saying that although he may not have had my mind foremost on his list at the time, that I have since surpassed him on this front, and basically, he was telling me that I am the one who doesn't have his mind foremost on my list.  Yup, he stood there, looking awfully cute in that uniform, and told me that I was, um, oversexed.  Really.  I swear. And the problem would be ?????

(Just gotta love that uniform thing, the best part of my day is when he's getting ready for work, and I admit, I do have a weakness for it.  I smile to myself everytime I see even a random officer, it's been well documented, he knows, my friends know, I know I am not alone on this one, so there.  I'll tell you all about it some other time...) 

But back to the thought, I think that it's true, some men are intimidated by smart women.  However, now that I'm older, I realize that the guys that are intimidated by smart women are(were) not necessarily the best choices anyway.  They should like you because they like you, the whole package, not just the frills.  So it's probably ok that the dreamy guy in the locker next to yours that didn't want to talk to you because you could spell 'cajones' didn't. 

Besides, I hear he married the captain of the cheerleading squad and they are living happily in a trailer park in Laveen with the child they conceived on Prom night.  (see?  big mouth, I couldn't resist..)

Now, smart MEN on the other hand...hmmm.  I will take this time to smile politely, keep my mouth shut, and stay out of trouble. 

 But they may bring it on, anytime.  Rrrrrrrrrr.

Thursday, December 9, 2004

Road rage

Mood: annoyed and irritated

I love the smell of asphalt in the afternoon...NOT.

Afterschool today, I had to run out to the store for a quick errand.  It was one of my quickest trips ever, considering little miss was on the verge of a tantrum even the wee car cart couldn't appease. 

I was feeling pretty smug about getting in and out so quickly when I was brought crashing back down to earth by road work.  My route home was blocked.  Ordinarily, I take these things in stride, as long as no one's crying and the CD player still works.  But my patience is worn thin by all the road work on the streets surrounding our neighborhood. 

Everywhere you look, there are signs and detours, and more signs telling you where you can't go, usually exactly in the spot you want to get to.  Today, it seemed to take me longer to get home than I took inside the store.  UGH.  It is particularly annoying because I'm usually running a few minutes late as it is. 

Don't get me wrong, I realize you have to make allowances for time.  But you try getting four kids, all on the same page, all out the door on time.  All the time.  Forever.  "Get your shoes on...brush your you have your backpack?...oops forgot the keys....get in the car...didn't I just tell you to put on your shoes?..."  It's endless, and inevitably even my best plans are laid to waste because someone forgets something.  Something vital, or not, but something gets left behind.  Lunches.  Clarinets.  Gi belts.  Jackets.  Library books (now overdue).  

Getting everything in the car and everyone situated, particularly if we are going for a while, probably takes more time and planning than the attack on Normandy (and I mean no disrespect in saying that). 

So a little glitch, like extra road work, really makes my day.  I try not to swear at the winter visitors, who drive like crap as it is, and now are faced with the challenge of a new route (you know how the oldies like to change their routine).  I try not to break too many traffic laws, because my oldest takes a particular delight in sharing my traffic transgressions with his policeman Daddy.  "Today, Mommy ran a red light.  And she said not to say anything."  "Didn't you say you're not supposed to drive through the parking lot to get around that roadblock on the corner?  See, Mom I told you that's what Dad said."  Or he'll just make siren sounds when he knows I've done something wrong.  Little sh**.  Doesn't he realize that I'M the person he'll need to get through if he'd like to drive before he graduates high school?  That MY vehicle is probably the one he'll want to borrow some day?  We'll see about that.

It doesn't matter, in the grand scheme of things, I guess, to even get so worked up about this at all.  Because once we're all buckled in, and the garage door is closed, the next thing I'm certain to hear is:

"Mommy, I need to use the bathroom."


Monday, December 6, 2004

My competition

Today is a cold, rainy, overcast day.  Perfect weather for snuggling up next to that special someone and well, losing track of time. 

I'm out running a quick errand, and the little one knocks out.  So I hurry home, thinking if I time it right, I can snuggle up to Mr W and have some quality time.  Or so I thought.

He greeted me at the door--good sign, I'm thinking, until I notice that look in his eye.  Was it desire?  Oh, hell no, it was 'I'm sleepy'.  That's okay, I think, I certainly can handle that little hitch.  Carefully, carefully, I place the little one down so she doesn't wake up...and follow Mr W down the hall, intent on my mission.

So I snuggle up next to him.  What's better than the feeling of a warm body next to you on a day like this?  Well, apparently, sleepSleeeep! Nevermind that everyone's at school, and the little one is down for the count.  Or that I have made my intentions clear.  No, no, he needs to sleep. I stuck around for a while, thinking he'd see things my way, but no.  Pretty soon, he's breathing like he's on his way...out.  And there I am, all dressed up and no where to go.  I'm about to take a more aggressive stance guessed it, I hear a voice calling for me from the living room.  Game, nap, match over.

She's a sneaky mistress, Sleep.  I realize that she's important to him, so I let her come around as much as possible.  But today, she was truly more tempting than I was.  And while I am a patient girl, I am not pleased about that at all.  Usually we work hand in hand, I get my time, and she takes over right away.  That is the way it should be.  I can only hope that I am sneaking into whatever dream he may be having.  Ha, ha I'll move in on her turf.

He better not think about coming around later because I'll ....cave.  I always cave...fold like a bad hand...give up the good fight....surrender the goods.


Yawn.  I'm getting a little...sleepy.  ;)


I saw Mommy kissing....

On Saturday morning, I'm buckling little miss into her carseat, and telling everyone to get settled, and the boys are chattering amongst themselves about going to the airport when I hear Ryan say "let's just hope Mommy doesn't kiss Daddy again.." He says this with the cutest smile on his face, and practically winks at me too.

You see, a couple of weeks ago, Mr W and I were actually sitting by each other on the couch.  Yes, I thought we were alone (? I should know better) so I kissed Ryan walked into the room.  It was no big deal, I mean, really, it's not like it was some soap opera tonsil hockey, it was just a kiss.  But I swear, the little guy blushed, and was so tickled that he 'caught' us.  Then he giggled and went outside to play.

So I know he was referring to that, and I of course, had to give them something to tell their therapists later, so I said "Oh, I plan on kissing your Daddy again.  A LOT."  And they all rolled their eyes and proceeded to make the 'eww, gross' comments, like only little boys can.  Wait a few years, I'll remind them that kissing is so 'eww, gross' front of their girlfriends.

Mr W was really surprised to see us waiting for him outside his gate.  He totally wasn't expecting us.  I thought I'd have to pry the kids off him with a spatula just so I could say hello too.  As it is the boys followed the man into the bathroom; I had to hold Audrey back or she would have gone in as well.  It was very nice to surprise him, because he usually reads me pretty well, and I rarely get one up on him.  I'm not good at keeping things from him, even if it's a surprise; I have no poker face at all.  It drives me crazy.

Happily, I did get to kiss Mr W.  A lot. ;)


Saturday, December 4, 2004

She's too cute

I guess I am not the only one eagerly awaiting Daddy's return.

My few hours of sleep were up, and it was time to make the rounds of the house.  I'm using the bathroom, and hear her crying, for just a sec.  She didn't sleep well last night either, lots of tossing and turning and little whimpers...she kept reaching for me.  So I carefully open the bathroom door, squinting in the darkness, when I feel her standing there.  Sure enough, there's a little hand on my thigh so I figure we'll go rock in the recliner for a while.  It's 5 am, maybe we can snooze a bit watching bad tv.

I'm walking down the hallway with her, and as she snuggles into my shoulder, she says "Daddy's coming."

She is one smart little cookie.    :)

Our family date

We had too much fun tonight, at our little aikido Christmas party.  My friend and her daughter picked us up, and everyone looked very festive.  All the people at the party looked good too, all dressed up and not in their gis. 

The kids got all excited to go up and receive their certificate for participating in class all year.  They were dancing, and socializing, and had a great time.  I had to keep chasing after Audrey b/c she kept trying to go up onstage and do her 'dancing'; she just didn't understand that it wasn't a good idea.  They all got their faces painted, and I laughed at Audrey because she had to have both cheeks and the backs of both her hands done.  Let's hope she loses her affinity for body art before she starts noticing tattoos. 

We had a visit from Santa, and I was sad to see that Nolan didn't get in line for his goody bag.  I'm not sure why, I know he is the doubter this year, but I haven't talked to him about it yet.  I think he felt too much like a big kid and didn't want to blow his big kid cover in front of the little brothers. 

I'm glad we went, sometimes I shy away from events like that (it was a potluck, too) when I'm alone because it can be difficult to manage the four of them alone, particularly in a big party setting like that.  But you know, I am alone with the four of them doing day to day stuff all the time, and they behave, for the most part, so I usually wind up throwing my hat into the ring and making a go of it.  I can't deprive them of a good time just because I am the one outnumbered, and they are getting bigger.  The older kids understand they have to cooperate and help out so we can all have a good time.  My youngest son still has his moments, but with him its a combination of maturity and competition with his sister for supreme babyness.  But when they are all in sync, it's a beautiful thing, and we all have fun.  Besides, my friend was with us too, and I'll never turn down an extra set of eyes/hands when they're offered! :)   I know Mr W would have been proud of them tonight too. 

So now I'm on the countdown to running to the airport.  I can only hope the stars are aligned and Mr W's flight is not delayed.  We all can't wait to see him, so I decided that we will surprise him and wait for him inside.  Hee hee, I can't wait to see the look on his face!!!

Friday, December 3, 2004

Bear with me

Bear with me, I have too many thoughts swirling in my head...

Let me start with I love December.  It's cold enough, but not too cold, and the days are gorgeous like only Arizona in winter can be.  This is a special month for me because it's when I got the best Christmas present I ever got--Nolan.  He's my Christmas boy, born on the 28th.  I tend to get caught up with the holidays and his birthday sneaks up on me, but I always manage to do something special for him to separate him from Christmas.  I have memories all month about the weeks leading up to his birth, of lumbering all over ASU finishing my last semester (hoping my water wouldn't break in the middle of a lab); riding in my good friend Janna's brother's Porsche (praying my water would break because climbing in and out of that thing in my big state was murder); breathing a sigh of relief after my last final because I almost didn't fit behind the desk; and looking for signs every day as I got closer to my due date because I was so eager for him to get here.  I always tell him he's the best Christmas present I ever got, too, just to see him smile and blush.  I can't believe he'll be 11 this year.  :)

I dropped the big boys off this morning at school, and I always sit and watch them walk off until their inside the school grounds.  Occasionally, I get a lump in my throat watching them walk away, so tall all of a sudden, so sure of where they need to be.  It's one of the favorite parts of my day.  I also like the moment right before I wake them all up.  I stand there and look at them and see in an instant the babies they were and the little men they're becoming.  It's sweet. Then they wake up and try to out fart each other, or see who's breath is the worst, so the moment is burst.  But that's ok.

Last night, I LOL because I said something then realized how ridiculous it would sound to someone else.  We were in the middle of getting baths all done, and I was getting something in my bathroom when I heard Audrey and Ryan snickering from their post on my bed; and without even leaving the bathroom, I hollered "Ben, if you're naked you belong in the bathroom!" only to hear him scurry back into his bathroom.  I knew he was being silly, and I laugh because sometimes the things that come out of my mouth...well make no sense to anyone but us but are hilarious nonetheless. "Would you hurry up and get dressed?  We are not interested in seeing your butt.."  The most common thing I am growling out now is "Get off of him/her/the cat!" because at any given moment, there is a dog pile.  And the princess is usually right there on very top of it, doling out punishment to those below.  "Keep your hands to yourself!" "I am not the maid, clear your plates right now!"  "Stop that if you want to live..."  and the famous "Don't make me stop this car..."  All in a day's work.  Sometimes Mr W and I just look at each other in amazement, grinning and shaking our heads because we can't believe what we just said. It's worse when we stumble over the kid's names. "Ben, Ryan, oh whichever kid is doing that, just STOP before I go mad..."  I caught one of their friends saying "oh whichever kid" to them yesterday, which made me crack up.  I try really hard not to swear, but I will let out strings of curses in Spanish, thinking it won't matter, I'll get away with it...but now they know, and will repeat it back to me "Mommy, what does 'chingado' mean?  Is that a bad word?" "Don't say that, yes, it's a bad word.." "I'm telling Nana."  "Go ahead, you little s***", I mutter under my breath.  Believe me, Nana has been caught uttering curses under her breath when she's been babysitting all day and I come to collect them. :)  I figure the cursing in Spanish is just adding flavor to their day and adding to their vocabulary.  A way to get them to use the correct accent, haha.

Speaking of accents, I was watching Love Actually last night.  I really liked it, it's good.  And talk about eye candy!  Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, and a couple of other random cuties...all with adorable accents.  What is it about the accent that makes a girl go all jelloid and want to fling her panties right off?  LOVE that.  I love it when a man can speak more than one language, you have to wonder which one does he use when....ahem.  One of the characters in the movie learns to speak Portuguese, and he stumbles over the words, but the effort is so amazing that you realize it's worth it. Grrrrr.

Okay, that's enough of that.  I have to get ready to do a fun thing today:  shop for a pretty dress for little miss.  We have a party to go to tonight, and we are all getting dolled up for it.   I will get to be escorted by three handsome little devils who all look like their Dad. And I always did want to be surrounded by men who adore me.  Hopefully they won't try to out fart each other while we're there.


Thursday, December 2, 2004

Not a good sport

Okay, only 2 more days, until my guy gets back home.  I've missed him all week, but today, I realized how much.  One of the kids came in from outside, and when the door opened, I looked up and was looking for him to come walking through the door.  I even had the 'hi honey' big grin going on.  And although I am always happy to have a kid come in from outside without a blood trail dripping inside too, it just was quite the letdown.  UGH.  

I've made it this far, without any liquid medication in a brown paper bag, but the absence is wearing thin, and I'm tired of being a good sport about it.  I'm gonna tell him so too when we talk later.  I was so nonchalant the other day, "yeah, just call me when you get in, and we'll come to pick you up", but tonight, I'm just about ready to load them up and camp out at the gate.  I'm sure he'll be amused when I share that little tidbit. My list of little things I miss has grown and ultimately add up to one big thing missing--him. 

So sappy, so embarassing, but (and I've said this before) really, it is too much that he still affects me this way. (heehee) 

What's a girl to do?  Maybe tonight'd be a good night to practice writing some haiku....because I know I won't be sleeping, dammit.  That could make an interesting homecoming present ;) right?

Tuesday, November 30, 2004


Okay, I can hardly believe I did this...but I forgot to feed a kid before school.  How the hell do you do that, you wonder?  Well, I was concerned b/c Audrey fell asleep early last night and slept all the way through to 7-ish so I made sure she ate.  Ben, the pinkeye kid, eats like a horse, so he ate.  I fed the big guy before he left.  But little Ryan, my picky eater, my famine kid (you can feel all the bones in his little shoulder, he's a string bean) was drinking milk this morning, and for whatever reason, I was sure I fed him too.  Until we got home from school, and he had a little meltdown, something about pizza, and I realized that I forgot him.  He goes to school later in the morning, I just feed him a bit later than everyone else.  I can't believe I missed him!

Just nominate me for mother of the year.

I better remind him where the cereal is in case I have yet another brain fart.

I can only hope he won't be the one picking out my nursing home.


Little things

Well, so far so good.  No kids crying for Dad at night yet.  I'm surprised, the last time he left, it was a huge sobfest.  I've been preparing all of us mentally for it for a while so I guess that must've helped.

I'm the one who's missing him.  And it's not just the physical presence of him being here, it's the little things.  No toothbrush next to mine in the cup in the bathroom.  More space in the medicine cabinet because his toiletries are gone.  No spare cup to pick up in the morning that he used when he came home the night before.

And the night is hard too, I mean, I'm making sure to get to bed early, since no one wants a cranky sleep-deprived Mom, but I can't sleep the whole night through.  Last night I was up at 3:30, listening for him to be home. And at 4 and at 5:30.  I gave up trying to sleep and just got up! Sometimes when he comes in, I hear him and silently will watch him tiptoe around the house covering up the bare foot that will be hanging out of Ben's bed, rearranging the sheets on Ryan, brushing Audrey's hair off her face, covering up Nolan so he's in his cocoon.  He's the shadow by the bed, I can feel him looking at me and sometimes we will clasp hands for just a minute, then if I don't get up and talk to him, I slip into deep sleep comforted that he's in, okay, safe, no bad guy wins tonight. 

 I can tell when he's charged up and has a tale to tell, so I definately get up then to hear it.  And I will purposely leave out the silly kid details of the evening so that the time and my attention are his.  The stories are not really the point, he's just winding down, and sometimes I think that this after work time is lonely for him if there's no one to talk to.  Yet there are times I know he needs to be left alone. It's just one of those 'know your man' things, an intangible intuitive sense that can only be honed with time, familiarity, and patience.  I know I won't sleep well until he gets back.  In the meantime, I'll do his night shift of re-covering and checking on the kids.  It's better than watching the clock.

He misses me too, because he called me this morning, just to see if everyone made it out the door ok.  He's not a fan of being chatty on the I'm still smiling about it.


Monday, November 29, 2004

The score so far: KIDS 2 MOM 1

Okay, score one for Dr Mom.  I was right about the pinkeye, and was perfect in my timing to Urgent Care.  I got there right when it opened.  Smooth, huh?  When I used to work in Urgent Care, we absolutely hated it when people were lined up outside waiting for us, but es por de mas, I had a sick kid.  Besides, Ben woke me up at 5 am crying because he was a goopy mess, so I was up anyway. 

However...ever try to get a kid to cooperate with eye drops?  It's not pretty.  "HOLD STILL I am NOT going to hurt you!"  evolves into growling threats in no time flat.  We are managing better today, and I think the duct tape I used to hold his head down should come off the couch... 

We made it home with plenty of time to spare to get Mr W off to the airport.  It's Mr W that was unfocused.  We're all loaded up, ready to go, so I ask him: 'You taking your cell phone?' 'Yeah.' 'Um, don't you think you'd better take the charger too?' He gets back in the car... 'Did you remember your money?' He rolls his eyes, 'Be right back'.  Had I not see his bag full of all his stuff, I don't think I would believe he packed everything.  I know he wasn't all that thrilled about leaving us and it made him a bit airheaded.  He was even compelled to fill up the van and wash it too (such a guy).    :)

I used to swear up and down that if I ever had a little girl, I would not buy into that Barbie-Disney machine that I don't always think has the best imagery/messages for little girls.  (in fact, I used to say, "I refuse to sell that 'someday my prince will come' crap to my little girl")  And then, I had one. I still will not endorse the 'someday my prince' will come mentality, but I did (and I admit this painfully)get her the new Barbie Prince and the Pauper DVD a while back.  Hey, she can only watch the Bionicle movie so many times...  She is into it.  She is a child that should never be allowed to watch commercials, because she will ask for all the girly stuff she sees. I (again, somewhat painfully admit) that I bought her a Barbie P/P nightgown that looks like a little frou-frou princess dress, very cute.  Now, she won't take it off.  Yesterday, I made a deal with herto wear regular clothes to the store, but that she could wear "her princess" when we got home.  Foolishly, I thought she'd forget, and I would be free of the dress until bedtime; we walked in the door, and she goes "Mommy, you get my button?" so I'd unbutton the dress she had on.  Minutes later, she trots out in her "princess" and twirls around the living room. She wore it all day and night yesterday, so I need to wash it today, and I am sure the accompanying cries of terror at being separated from "my princess" will bring the neighbors out of their houses to investigate.  I really think it's hilarious, and it's not really something to sweat it?  I may have to get her another just so I can wash the one she's wearing.  Ok, I will be at Kohl's later this morning.  Can we say pushover?  I am chalking it up to just a kid being a kid.  At least it looks like a dress.  Did I mention she wears her tights with it too?

They say that 2 and toddlerhood is like a preview of adolescence.  I can only hope that after the three boys make it through that I have enough energy left over for her, because I know that will be interesting to say the least. 


Sunday, November 28, 2004

Can we get a hand for the cranky lady down in front?

Mood:  UUGGGHHH-- grouchy and unpleasant

It's been a long day.  It started off well enough, but has taken a turn for the ugly as it's gotten later into the evening.  Mr W suggested we step outside for some fisticuffs, but I know I'd kick his ass and that's not going to make me snap out of this funk.  No, the best thing for me at this point is a deep breath and a time out--out of state, out of body, out of my mind, whatever works.  I think I know what's bringing this on, besides the usual biological bitchiness that strikes from time to time.

Mr W is going away for a week.  Granted, it's for work reasons, but he's gonna be in Florida, so that's hardly across town, and I will be here.  With the children.  Outnumbered.  Alone.

I do not fear them like I should.

They don't fear me, I wish they would.

I do not want to admit they can

Make me really miss their Dad!

See, I'm a babbling idiot already.  I know we'll be okay, but I dread the evenings when I'll have at least one of them breaking down in tears because they want Dad. 

And the laundry's not finished, so I'll be busting butt in the morning to get it done before he leaves (yeah, he does change clothes once in a while). I'm a sort of pissed that Mr W was home today, and could of continued the laundry while I was out for a bit, but why split hairs at this point?  It's still not done, so it doesn't really matter. 

Adding to the joy, it looks like Ben has developed a raging case of pink eye, and who knows who or what he's been rubbing his hands on in the meantime; I'd be willing to bet that at least one other kid will develop it too.

  I can't even do anything about THAT until tomorrow, when I will have the pleasure of attempting a (hahahaha) quick visit to Urgent Care as I don't think the dr will just call in something for him w/o him being seen. I can only hope we don't catch some kind of virulent strain of crap while we wait. Damn, damn, damn it, I should have picked up on the pink eye earlier today.  Isn't that in the job description somewhere?

Mom Wanted: Must be cheerful, witty and willing to clean up after herself and others.  Must be able to drive, cook, shop, occasionally teach, and coach either soccer, basketball, or football. Intensive knowledge of stain removal techniques suggested.  Should be familiar with hostessing impromptu gatherings of friends whenever the bosses decide it's time for a get together; see cooking requirement. Should be aware of the likelihood of being sprayed with various biological substances at any time. Should not be prone to mood swings that can't be cured with a hug/"I love you" combo.  Skill in diagnosing and treating minor illnesses and injuries REQUIRED. Failure in any of these areas will lead to bosses not ever making it past grammar school and becoming a burden/menace to society and employee will be held entirely responsible (it will be your fault--the management is not responsible for any areas in which you lack required expertise.)  We offer an exciting work environment where every day is different. If you are faint of heart, you need not apply. Be aware that this is only a partial list of qualities we like to see in our applicants.  Salary requirements will be met (if any apply) only after approval by our board of trustees.  Send resume and references to:  I'myourbaby, Inc. 525 E Rainbow Lane, Nodless, WI 74521.

I am hoping to make it through the week without a visit to that nice white room with the padded walls and fashionable jackets. 


Friday, November 26, 2004

Movie time

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?....

Why Spongebob Squarepants, of course.  I'd promised the kids I'd take them to see it today not realizing that today was probably not the best of days to be anywhere near a mall.  I was pleasantly surprised that although the mall was busy, it wasn't that bad at the time we went (around 5).  Since I enjoy all things Spongebob, I was looking forward to seeing it as much as they were.   

I love taking them to the movies.  Sometimes I don't watch the movie and just watch their little faces to see how they react to it. It's great to see little smiling silhouettes passing their popcorn back and forth, just so into it they don't notice me watching them.  I have to say Spongebob didn't disappoint! I was LOL quite a bit. Who says I'm not easily entertained? 

We had to wait for our showing, so we actually bravely sallied forth into the mall to grab a bite and window shop.  I got a kick out of spotting the crazy people that had that "I've been here all day and am about to snap" look about them.  I inwardly cringed at the chubbies wearing belly shirts and low pants; and am still trying to figure out the appeal of the fur-lined Ugg-like boots in a climate like ours.  It's just not that cold, girls.  We are lucky enough to live in a place that if you wanted too, you could probably wear sandals year round. Did I mention that said fur-lined boots were most often paired with a miniskirt?  Whatever, people.  You just keep on spending Mommy and Daddy's money on whatever you want, princess, because apparently no one is checking you at the door when you go out.

I did manage to score some points with my oldest when I spotted a denim jacket at Gap.  On sale.  If I'd been looking for it, it wouldn't have come to pass, but we weren't, and I got lucky that it was a good deal AND he liked it AND it fit ok.  What are the chances of that?  I had to smile when he asked me if I thought he looked ok/would Dani like it?  I'm in for a long month and a half before she comes to visit! 

We visited briefly with my husband at work when we took him a treat (choc shake).  I resisted the urge to put Ex-Lax in it because I know he was really rooting for the U of A tonight, and was so smug earlier in the afternoon when ASU was losing that I almost punched him. It was a welcome diversion to go to see Spongebob. (I'm a little inconsolable right now.  But I'll take my lumps like a man, I'm sure the people I've not heard from all season will be burning up my phone lines tomorrow.  At least I won't have to put up with it at work for a week or so.)

When I was walking with the dog earlier, I noticed a lot of people in the neighborhood getting a jump on the Christmas lights and such.  It made me think about my other favorite thing to do with the kids at this time of year, and that's drive around and look at lights.  I took them to this one particular street we always go to, it's really spectacular.  Seriously, it's like Christmas exploded in this cul de sac in Mesa.  I couldn't feel bad for too long when I heard around me "Look, that's different from last year.." "Can we come back and walk around the street next time?" "WOW!  Look, Mommy, lights, my lights!" The last comment from Audrey, who was about to bust right out of her carseat from excitement--I grin just thinking about how thrilled she was, she's really gonna have fun this year that she's more aware of what's going on. She started crying when I pulled into our driveway because she wanted to see "more my lights!" Hopefully, she won't inspire her Daddy into a Christmas Vacation-like display of watts, but I'm sure he'll get a little carried away, he's due for it.

Guess I'd better start shopping for a good ladder and a staple gun...





Thursday, November 25, 2004

Old friends

One of the benefits of growing up in a small town is that you know everybody.  That being said, one of the bad things about growing up in a small town is that you know everybody.  Who's who in a small town is really quite easy because eventually you will find the branch on the tree that leads you to the knowledge that the cute boy across the street is actually your cousin so you'd better stop looking in his window at night. Eeewww--yes, it happened to me.  When my aunt informed me of that little tidbit, I shot milk out my nose all over her warm cornbread in shock and disbelief.  But I wasn't really looking in his window at night, just perving the shadows I could see through the curtain.  The only way I came to terms with that was to blame it on the hormones of a preadolescent.

The coolest thing about the small town is that the friends you had during grade school and high school (and I mean your true friends, not the chicks that make Mean Girls look like an episode of Barney) are still your friends today.  You know, the kind of friend that doesn't care how long its been since your last conversation, they are just happy to hear from you.  I happen to have a few friends like this, and a couple of them are -gasp-boys.  I'm not talking some of that 'When Harry met Sally'-can't be-friends-with-a-girl bullshit either.  These are guys that I could spend the night with, even today, and Mr W wouldn't bat an eyelash and their wives wouldn't come after me with loaded weapons. 

One of them lives really close to me, and I tracked him down about a year ago, using the time-honored tradition of siccing the Moms on him.  I simply put a bug in my best friend's Mom's ear to ask his relatives about him because she still lives in our hometown.  I was so surprised that he was living just down the way that I played a prank on him by sending my police officer husband over there in uniform to say hello.  He'd not seen Mr W in quite some time, so he initially didn't have a clue that the cop knocking on his door wasn't there for some sinister reason.  Once he got over his surprise, he welcomed him in, they called me, and we had quite the chuckle over it.  I took the kids over on Halloween and we had a nice visit.  Unfortunately, that was last year.  Hey, simply living can get in the way of the best of friends...he works nights, I have all these little ones to chase around, they just had another baby.  Our schedules just could never mesh.

I missed him so much the other day, I decided to call him.  I spoke with his wife, another friend of mine, and then played phone tag with him for about a month.  A month!!  Can you imagine that?  I even went by and left them a note last week.  Well yesterday, I tried again, and we actually got to talk.  For an hour.  Sure, my kids were eating every piece of junk I could hand them so I could continue my conversation (bad Mom! bad Mom!), but it was so good to talk to him.  Today, we went over, and everyone had a great time.  I got to visit with his brothers, and we got all caught up on what's been going on since we were together last.  It was so easy, so comfortable, and I am so stupid for not having made the effort sooner.  I won't let that much time lapse between us again.  It's important to keep tabs on the people who know where the bodies are buried.

Of course, he's moving back to (groan) Tucson in the spring.   But at least I'll know where to find him. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Young love

Mood: giggly, giggly, giggly

I have a really old friend that lives in Kentucky now with her husband and daughter.  They come out to visit about once a year, and her daughter is just younger than my oldest son.  The last time they were here, the little girl apparently kissed my boy.  She's been on his mind ever since.  Ahh, the power of a good kiss...

Recently, he was complaining (like only a ten-year old can) that he was bored.  So I suggested that he email my friend's daughter.  My friend tells me that Dani misses AZ, so I figured that a correspondence could only be a good idea; he could hone both his writing and socializing skills, she could have some AZ news to tide her over while the weather there is unbearable.  They email each other several times a day now, with about one sentence per email.  One of her little friends is now in on it too.  And my boy grins like an idiot every time I tell him he has mail.(don't we all?)

He has informed me that he would like me to take him to Kentucky to see her.  He is not sure if he can wait until she comes to visit in January.

I don't think he realizes that in Kentucky, that kind of visit is probably considered a proposal. 

At least I already know her Mom.


My little one is 2 1/2.  She is the epitomy of a two year old too.  Everything has to be her way, right away, or else all hell breaks loose.  I battle between letting her get away with murder to keep the peace, and letting her know that she's really NOT the boss.   Not an uncommon battle, I know.  

She is pretty sweet most of the time.  But lately, she's been having these killer temper tantrums late in the day, and I think I've figured out her problem.  She's tired, and needs a nap, and she wants....her Mommy.  Easy enough, right?  No, not so easy.  She wants to nurse.  

Don't start on me that I'm a weirdo.  She only needs me at naptime and bedtime, and sometimes not at all.  It's just really hard because I've nursed all of the kids to varying degrees...10 mo, 15 mo, 27 mo... and well, I'd like them back.  And I thought I was winning this battle, but today, I came home from work, and she threw a total fit.  And I sat down, rocked her, and let her nurse.  And she's sleeping peacefully right now.  She even told me that she felt better, right before she drifted off.   She likes the closeness, and reaches up and holds on to me with her free hand. Sometimes, she'll pat my cheek.  I try just holding her close, and it isn't the same for her, I guess.  And she won't go to Dad without crying herself to sleep if I'm here too.  I don't really mind that much, it's just...I'd like them back.  

I know she'll probably quit soon.  Sometimes with the little ones, you have to back off when they aren't ready.  She's learning to use the potty right now too, so I think it's a one step forward, one step back kind of thing.

Besides, I don't think she'll graduate high school still nursing, so I try not to sweat it.  :)

Sunday, November 21, 2004

I'd like some of that!

I went to see my Nana earlier this evening in the hospital.

She looked tired, and has a big bandage on her shoulder. 

The real fun began when she started to speak.  I came into the room, and said hello, and she said "mira ese perrito blanco que esta aqui en la cama." (look at the little white dog here on the bed) And when my Dad came in, she asked him not to take away her cocktail.

???Nana, there's no dog on the bed, it's your blanket.  Move the blanket, and started helping her sit up on the bed b/c she was leaning perilously close to the edge.  She says to me "hay muchas papitas aqui en este plato..." (there are a lot of french fries on this plate)  Nana, there are no fries here.  I stroked her head, and she felt feverish.  I took her ice bag, and told her I'd be right back, and went to fill it with the idea of catching her nurse and asking her some questions.  I didn't find her, but someone sent her back to the room for me...

"She feels feverish and is really disoriented," I say.  The nurse says "Well, she has had a low fever today, and it's not bad, but not good either.  We are watching it.  It is common for elderly people to become disoriented after they suffer a fracture.  We hope she'll snap out of it soon.  But I'm not aware of how sharp she was before the injury, so I'm basing her disorientation on the usual behavior we see with elderly patients."  I think, okay.  "So what's this I hear about her not cooperating when the physical therapists wanted her to walk?"  "Well, she took about four steps.  And she was leaning to her good side, in a manner that's not safe, so they sat her back down."  "She says she's uncomfortable," my Dad says.  And the nurse replies, with a straight face: "I gave her some Percocet earlier, and it didn't work for her, so then I gave her two Lortabs, and that seemed to do it."

???What?  You gave my Nana enough medicine to knock out a Marine, and you are wondering why she's asking inappropriate questions and doesn't know where she is and is disoriented?  She's hallucinating little white dogs, french fries, and our hometown, and no one thinks this could have been a side effect of all the narcotics?  WTF?  You know, I'd be hard pressed to take four steps had I'd ingested all those pharmaceuticals.  Some days, I have trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time, with no medication whatsoever.  Poor Nana!! :)

We left a little after that.  But before I did,  I fluffed her pillows, and tucked her in.  She asked about the little white dog again, and I realized she was referring to the box of tissues on her bed!  So I held them closer to her and said, "Mira, Nana, this is a box of Kleenex, not el perrito blanco."  And she smiled, a little embarrassed. 

I resisted the urge to turn on some Jimi Hendrix as I was turning out the lights to go.

Who comes up with these ideas?

When I logged on this morning, I saw this on the AOL parenting page..'New Mom Stress Busters--6 Strategies to make you feel calmer, fast!'

I'm still LOL.  Here they are, and what I think of them:

1)  Break a sweat:  "Exercise for 20 min a day or more can reduce stress and build confidence."  Followed by 'easy' ways to fit these 20 minutes in like:  walking with hubby and baby in stroller, joining a mommy n me exercise class or new mom yoga classes.

What are they thinking?  Any new mom I've ever spoken with, given the choice of walking with hubby and baby OR taking a nap while hubby walks baby is gonna sleep.  Or shower.  Or take this time to clean the artwork the older toddler has left all over the house while she's been bonding with the new baby.  Or work on her hand-stamped, calligraphy baby announcements, the ones she vowed to send out immediately after the cherub's arrival but still sit on her dresser 4 months later.

2) Get out:  Plan a regular activity that gets you out of the house.  Have hubby, a relative or a sitter watch your baby (don't forget to pump a bottle if you're nursing) and join a book or cooking club.

There are several problems with this one.  A regular activity that gets you out of the house...hmm, let me see.  Grocery shopping?  Picking up other kids from school?  Football practice?  The weekly jaunt to Target to get more diapers, more wipes, and tp?  Have your hubby or a relative or a sitter watch the baby...Um, ok.  "How long do you think you'll be?" is usually the first question asked of you, and you grit your teeth, so he says "not that I'm saying you have to rush" and it pisses you off so you take jr along anyway, and then ALL the kids want to come, so you let them, and there you are, in the tp aisle at Target, with a screaming newborn while your milk lets down, wrecking the crappy tshirt you are wearing, and the other kids have gone running down the aisle to the toy section and you hear the inevitable crash that you know you will ultimately be responsible for as you realize that said hubby is home, recharging by taking a nap.

Don't forget to pump a bottle of if you could forget that you are lactating when the random baby in the store starts crying and you make a mad dash for the bathroom in hopes to stem the coming tide.  Just consider yourself lucky if your baby WILL take a last two kids wouldn't and it was hellish for anyone involved to take care of them.  So barring work, they went with me (and still do) EVERYWHERE.  Join a book or cooking club...yeah, I think reading while the baby sleeps and whipping up coq au vin are the first things on a new mom's mind.  Can you say Domino's?  I think that # was on speed dial at one time...

3) Eat.  Poor nutrition can sap your energy level and increase stress.  This one included tips like have the whole family load the fridge up with healthy snacks and drinks (so you can grab a meal while you are caring for the baby the next day) and putting a mini fridge in the 'nursery' so you could store more healthy snacks and leftover formula or breast milk.  And nursing moms should avoid dieting because it could 'compromise' the quality of breast milk.

They must not realize that to a toddler, a healthy snack can be anything from string cheese to the leftover cheerio they find under the couch.  Grab a meal while taking care of the baby the next day...I remember staying up all night with one of them and then grabbing a poptart and glass of milk while he slept in my arms, and downing it like I'd been stranded on a desert island.  Put a mini fridge in the nursery...What, are we all living in houses that are so large we can't make it to the kitchen?  The 'nursery' in our house was the spare bedroom. And obviously, this missive about nursing moms not dieting because it will compromise the quality of breast milk, is a little off the mark.  If you are nursing, the first six weeks or so involve some of the most intense hunger and thirst known to man.  Seriously, you could drink gallons of water and still want more, and you are starving pretty much all the time.  I don't think dieting is the first thing on anyone's mind at that point, unless you are a Victoria's Secret model and it's time to go back to work.  The only thing sapping your energy is the little being determined to suck the life force out of you.

4) Pamper yourself.  Get someone to watch the baby while you schedule a manicure or facial.  Or you can hit the makeup counter where the sales reps are usually happy to give you a free makeover.  OR if you can't get away, shut your bath and bedroom doors and take a LONG, steamy aromatherapy shower.

Okay, say you do find someone to watch the baby.  You probably won't have remembered to schedule that manicure or facial "No, ma'am, there's no appointment here for Mrs. Jones.  Hey, wait a minute.  It's NEXT Tuesday, not today Tuesday..."  As for the make up counter makeover, have they not seen some of the over the top women (and I've seen guys too) staffing said counters?  "Look, honey, I got a free makeover."  is not so appealing when you come home looking like a retired Las Vegas showgirl and you need a paint scraper to recover your face.  A long, steamy aromatherapy shower?  You better hope that your doors are reinforced, because they won't stay closed for long if they aren't...I still frequently come out of the shower, only to find fingers sliding under the door to announce the presence on the other side, and that's just my husband!  A long shower...hmmm, would that be the shower that is long enough that you could shave BOTH legs and underarms without interruption, or are we talking just long enough to let your body see the water before someone comes charging in with an emergency?

5) Enjoy date night at home.

HA! HA!!HA!!!  So you get everyone in bed early, and manage to light a candle or two.  Dinner is good, and you may even be conversing comes "I need some water" "I can't sleep" "I need to go to the bathroom" "What was that noise?" "Can you tuck me in again?" "That smells good, can I have some?"  "Why were you laughing?"

Date night at home...are you kidding me???

6)  If you get overwhelmed with stress, you can and should seek professional help/counseling.

Could it be considered 'professional' help to put in whatever video is the favorite of the moment?  Before my first was born, I swore I'd never, ever resort to this.  But then I discovered that it might buy me a half hour of sanity to let him watch Barney.  And I let him watch.  We've now graduated to the root of all evil, the video game, and now I referee whoever is feeling he didn't get his turn (UGH) but a few minutes peace, is well, a few minutes peace.

And there's always that bottle of tequila when all else fails.

Perhaps I am wrong in the assumption that people who write for parenting pages are actually parents, and not some 20- something writer doing his/her time until they get a real job.  But you know what they say about assuming... 

 Calmer?  I'd have settled for showered, rested, fed, and no knockdown, drag-out fights to settle.  Calmer would have been the bonus!!