Monday, July 31, 2006

Mmmm, technology

See the happy girl, sitting at her kitchen island.

That's right, her kitchen island.

I may go into my bedroom after this.  

I can go anywhere now, with this, my latest techie gift from my husband.

He mysteriously disappeared yesterday afternoon with my Dad.   I figured it just some man-mission, until they returned and Mr W said "Sit down."

Oy.  What's he up to????

He placed a rather large box in my lap.   Then a case on top of the box.

It's a good thing I was sitting down.

Or I would've dropped my new laptop right on the ground.

"Happy (early) Birthday,"  he said. 

"No way!"


My grin is probably visible from outer space. :D

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sugar kisses

The doctor held Ryan for me, as I got his carseat ready.

We were at my ob's for the wonderful six-week checkup, and I was chatting with my doctor a bit before leaving.

"He's a cuddle-butt,"  my doctor said, as Ryan snuggled into his shoulder.

Nearly eight years later, Ryan is still a cuddler.  He likes to crawl into my lap, he likes to be held, he likes to hug.   What else can one expect from the child nicknamed "Sugar"?

But my favorite thing, the thing that is just so adorable I know I will miss it when he doesn't do it anymore, is this:

Right before he leaves the room, or asks me something, or for whatever reason, he says, "But first, a kiss."  And he kisses me.  I can't be stingy about it and offer a cheek, or he will turn my face for me; it has to be a little smack on the lips.

He only does this with me. 

He has a habit of doing it when I'm cranky.  I'll be ready to tear the head off the next child who pushes, and here he comes.  "But first, ..." 

Recently, I found a Mother's Day sheet that he'd filled out in kindergarten.  One of the sentences he had to fill in was  "I like to make my Mom ______."  He filled in the blank with "smile."

He's found the perfect way to do it.

The Discovery Channel -- dangerous to my matrimonial health

My husband is gonna refuse to watch tv with me if I continue this...or he's just gonna smother me with a pillow the next time I open my mouth...

I was putzing around, getting kids to bed, etc. when I walked into our room.   I realized I was missing Dirty Jobs, just as Mr W pointed to the tv set.

"He's gonna sing,"  he said.

"Nah-uh,"  I said, as I spun to look at the screen.

(I'd mentioned to Mr W that I'd "heard" the host of Dirty Jobs was in theater or something previously, and that he sang.)

I giggled like a 11 year old, watching and waiting.   

Oh, good lord, he's making candy with a sweet little old lady.  They're talking about opera (here it comes) ...he's singing.  In Italian! Oooh, nicely done~~

I look at Mr W, who enjoys the show enough to overlook my silliness; who is wayyy too tolerant of me when it comes to my grinning at the tv screen.  I shouldn't push my luck, but of course, I can't help it.

As he finishes singing, I look at Mr W:  "I'm leaving you."

He flips me off. 

Which is his right, since I'm being an idiot.

The next part of the segment involved the host smearing chocolate on a table with his hands to make peanut butter cups.

This time, I was wise enough to say nothing.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Even as a grown up, I hate it when she's right

A few months ago, I told my Mom that I was going to grow out my hair.

"How long?  Not too long?  What are you going to do with it?" she pondered out loud.

Instantly, I was 15 years old again.  And in my head, I thought, I'll grow it down to my ass if I want, but I said, "Shoulder-length, maybe longer."  

I laughed at myself, to feel that teenage indignancy raising it's ugly head.  Surely, I'm past that, I thought, she's not supposed to get to me that way anymore.

Yet, now that it's longer, and weird every day, not to mention curly (where did that come from?), I find myself hearing my Mom's voice in my head.  And I reach for a barrette, because she hates it when my hair is in my face, so I can clip up my bangs.  It makes me crazy.  It is crazy.

I don't think I'll make it to "down to my ass."  

We were talking at the end of last week, and I was telling her that I had to buy clothes for Nolan because he's grown quite a bit. 

"How are you doing, since he's starting jr high?"  she asked.

"Oh, fine," I breezily replied, "he's really excited and looking forward to it, I think he'll be okay.."

"But, mija," she interrupted quietly, "I meant," she pauses, "how are you doing?" she says pointedly. 

Big pause.  I'm thinking of my answer, when she adds that it was always a little hard for her when we were starting something new.

"Ummm,"  I stammer a bit, because I know that I really don't want to admit it, "I'm okay, I guess.  I'm getting used to the idea, but it is a little hard."

And I was off the phone like a shot.  Which probably was silly of me, because if anyone would understand this, it would be my Mom, right?

It's not that I don't want my kids to ever grow up, that I'm not able to face that.   That's not it at all, it would be silly to think that I would be able to arrest them at a certain age and stay there for ever.  

It's just that sometimes it goes a little fast.  Some cosmic fast-forward button gets pushed, but mine gets missed.  It's not always fun playing catch up.  As usual, she knows me, she knows this, she's been there.

My Mom has never been one to be out and about.  She's a little shy.   So she always encouraged me and my brother to be outgoing, and not afraid to go places. 

It was a huge adjustment for her, she's told me, when I started leaving the house for summer programs and camps and such; and an even bigger one when I went away to college.    She missed me, and worried, just like any mother would.  But she told me that she realized that she had to be content that she raised me well, that hopefully the things she taught me stuck, and that I would get on in the world okay.  This meant, she said, letting go.  

This is something I've taken to heart, when I'm teaching the kids just about anything. Take this information, because you might need it someday, I think, as I squeeze in some bit of trivia that seems minor, even silly, at the time. 

I know that in the grand scheme of things, jr high is not a big deal.  It's not high school.  It's not college.  He's not getting married, or having a baby.

But it's just that letting him out into the world, where I'm hopefully the good voice in his head, feels like the first big step in letting him go.

Boy, it's a doozy.

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

It's back-to-school time for us.  We started school yesterday.

Even though it's so hot that I'm sure there will be nothing but melted children returning to me at the end of the day.  Even though it feels like we just got out for the summer. 


And you know what else comes with back-to-school...

No, not oodles of free time with which to ignore laund--I mean, teach Audrey how to write her name...

Nope.  It's the back-to-school supply lists.

Ordinarily, if I have an excuse to be around notebooks and pens and Post-its, I'm a happy girl.  Sharpies and scissors and glue--whoohoo! bring it on.

But after visiting Target twice in the last few days to get the stuff the kids need, I've decided that it is this time, back-to-school time, that is the worst when it comes to shopping. 

It's hot.  It's crowded.  Kids are everywhere, be they slack-jawed sullen teenagers or the kindergartners hyped up on too much sugar shopping for their first lunch box.

Parents with supply lists in hand, standing in front of a million notebooks, frozen in time like I have nothing better to do than to wait for little Susie to, for the love of all that is school-related, pick one pick one PICK ONE.

Woman raging, break it up, aisle four.

There's stuff all over the place, and not in it's place.   Like some kind of swap mart from hell, but without the smell of hot dogs and roasting mystery meat. 

At least at Christmas time, when it's totally a zoo, people are in a good mood.  Peace, goodwill and all that go a long way when you're gauging your speed against the lady with the bigcart and you're both angling for the last video game.

But now? 

Good luck getting the last "1-inch, 3-ring binder" away from the 10 year old who pushed you out of the way to grab it first in full view of a parent who, conveniently avoiding your glare, crosses the item off their list and moves on to the next aisle.

And you comfort yourself with crazy thoughts that include discreetly adding items to her cart when she's not looking. 

Like Vagisil, Preparation H, and a box of condoms.  (I'm nothing if not mature.)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

It's a dramedy, Part 2

Yesterday, in the morning, I turned the ringer off on the phone.  No one had to be up really early, and I figured anyone that was in dire need of talking to me, could call the cell phone.

The kids start school next week (!) and I just wanted a day for everyone to sleep in, and ease into our last week of staying-at-home hedonism.  Pajamas!  Movies!  Popcorn!  Ice cream!  You know, real bad stuff.

I was really surprised when my cell phone rang.  I nearly fell out of the chair when I realized it was my Dad, calling at an ungodly hour (for him), 10:45 am.  I braced myself for bad news, maybe about Nana, and took a deep breath.

You could've knocked me over with a strong exhale when he said, "I think your Mom had a little stroke last night."

First of all, my Mom is in pretty good health.  Second of all, we were just there Sunday night, and she was fine.  Thirdly, is there such thing as a 'little' stroke? 

I said, "You have to take her to the hospital."

He said she was doing okay and he would take her to her internist that afternoon.  So I said we'd be right over, to watch Nana, and that if she worsened, to take her to the ER right away.  He told me what happened that made  him think she'd had a stroke, and I really didn't retain much, because I was concerned.  But I kept thinking, why is he waiting?  Surely, she should go somewhere right now...whatever.  I just need to get there.

Nolan was impressive--in the middle of all this, before I got off the phone, he stood up, straight as I've ever seen him, said, "I'll take care of the kids,"  marched down the hall and started rousing Ben (ack, still sleeping) while giving Audrey and Ryan orders to get their stuff together so we could leave.   All that, just by hearing the tone of my voice.  He's such a good kid.

My next task was getting Mr W home, who'd gone out as he had to go to court.   He called me back; I was expecting him to say he'd be home as soon as he was done, but he surprised me by saying he'd be home asap. 

He was home in a flash, I was getting our stuff together, and that's how I found out about the car getting egged.  He hosed it down while I was finishing up, and someone picked it up right before we headed out.

Imagine my surprise to walk into my parent's house, to find my Mom in the kitchen, right as rain. 


She and my Dad were shooting daggers at each other.  I'm in the middle, trying to make sense of it all.  Thank God for Mr W.  He kinda shifted into cop-mode, taking it all in and assessing the situation, and I was for once, not irritated to see him do it.  He summed it up, looking from my Dad to my Mom as he looked right at me:

"So, basically, we're looking at a 'he said, she said' situation."

Love him.  Love him, love him, love him.

My Mom insisted she was fine.  She didn't get up all night.

My Dad insisted she was "wandering the house, drooling and unresponsive...barely able to walk".

"Sleepwalking?"  Mr W and I offered.

This only led to some ranting under his breath, assurances from my Mom, and me wanting to shake the shit out of the both of them.

They've been having issues.  My Dad has always been volatile, and it's worse lately.  My Mom is mouthier than I've ever seen her in all my life (which is not necessarily a bad thing) and that adds to it.  Throw in the care of my Nana, and it's like there's TNT in the air they breathe.

Anyway.  Dad left for work, and we were left with my Mom, who was annoyed.  For her, this situation is like being woken up by your spouse in the middle of the night as they hold a mirror under your nose, I guess.  Or shake you into wakefulness because you are so soundly sleeping they think you are dead. 

Mom didn't want to go see the doctor.  I pleaded with her, and Mr W convinced her, that it would be best to check her out, as neither one of us was there the night before, and we would worry after we left if she wasn't given a clean bill of health.

So I took her to the doctor.  Who said she was right as rain.  (Not before I got to hear an earful about my folks, um, relations, for which I will be traumatized by for the rest of my life.  "I can step outside Mom."  I said, eyeing the door.  "No.  That's fine.  I don't care."  I look helplessly at the doc, and sink ever lower in the exam room chair.  Calm. Blue. Ocean.  Calm.  Blue....ack!  Thaaaat's gonna require a lot of selective memory.  Thank goodness for heavy drinking.)

The bright side is my Mom is fine.  My Dad, well.  Well.  I can't say.  He's terribly embarrassed, and he's not putting it behind him anytime soon.

It's his fault. 

He's the one that called a few people.

And you know how family loooooves to let one live down an 'oops', no matter the intentions.

As for Mr W, he managed to get on the bad side of ShrimpyNana.  My Mom's mom, she called the house, looking for Mom.  And Mr W innocently replied, "Oh, Anna took her to the doctor."  "What?  Why?"  Oops.  He told Nana that it was nothing, my Mom was fine.  And Nana got feisty on him.  "They went to the doctor, just for laughs?"

I didn't know this, and as most people know, when in crisis, you usually want your Mommy.  So I went to pick up ShrimpyNana on the way back to my Mom's house. 

She was all over Mr W the minute we walked in.  And they were laughing about it, of course, but I think she could've taken him, with one good swing of her purse, had he not helped her out of our van and made her laugh.

On the way to the house, though, she made me laugh.  She insisted I call my Tia that she lives with, who'd just walked in when we were leaving.  "Do you have your cell phone?  Call her."  She gets on the phone, and the conversation turns into a George Lopez skit.

The background is my Nana lives with my Tia, my Tio, my cousin, and a long-haired family friend (and her 7 yr old son).  Got that?  Okay.

My Nana was a little irritated, as my Tia doesn't believe her that the family friend makes a mess in the bathroom (the "chower") and so she felt compelled to call my Tia right at that moment.  

Spanglish ears, everyone:

"Oyes, Tessie?  Te hable because I had to tell you, and so you don't accuse me of chisme, that the chower is a mess.   Hay grenyas (hairs) all over the inside of it, and you never believe me.  And I didn't chower in that today.   Mira, go, did you look?  I'm not lying.  Go!  Look now.  I'm not chismiando, ve lo!  I have to have my chower, voy al el doctor de los ojos manana..."

At which point my Nana says my Tia told her, "Mom, they're checking your eyes, not your body."

"Si, pero, yo no soy cochina, and I need the chower.  I'm not going to my appointment all hedionda.  Estoy cansada de estar cleaning it up.  I better be able to use it later.  Didn't you go see it?  Go, go now.  I'm not lying!"

At which point, it hit me that I have been away from visiting them too long.  And it was funny, in the midst of my day, this day, to have my Nana get worked up about hairs in the shower.  "Um, Nana?  My hair is longer, and I leave it everywhere now too."

"Si, pero, I don't think El ____(insert my husband's name) has to clean up after you nomas para usar el chower."  (I love it that all my relatives, all of them, call him "El ___").

I think about the mess I currently have at home.  Dust, and a floor that needs to be swept...

If she only knew.

She'd take me out with a swing of her purse.

It's a dramedy, Part 1

Sunday night on our way home from my Mom's, I snapped.

Audrey and Ben both, at the same time:  "Mooom..."  (insert request)

Mr W barely raised an eyebrow as I started, hand motions like a stewardess and all, "Okay, listen.  Get all your requests in now, because I am quickly approaching the last "MOO-OOOM" of the day.  After this happens, I won't hear you anymore, got it?  No.  More.  "MOO-OOM".  Do we understand each other?" 

Ten thousand "Moo-ooom"s a day is plenty, don't you think?

I jumped out of the van in the driveway, noticing the amount of dirt, watermarks, etc. and smirking a little about it, on Mr W's car.  His cop car.  The marked vehicle he has been bringing home.  It's a long story, but he is supposed to have a take-home car.   He got this marked one last week.  Oh, yeah, it's subtle, having a marked black and white in your driveway.  As subtle as painting a target on your roof.  

Far be it for me to steal his thunder, though.   He was really happy about having a car again, so I just buried my trepidations and looked on the bright side.  Afterall, he's a big boy, and he is fully aware of what the implications and complications having a cop car in your driveway can entail.  So I consoled myself with the thought that maybe the sight of it in our driveway would be a good thing.  Maybe it would make our neighbors feel safer.  The stars would align.  It would be thirty degrees cooler...sorry.  I'm a wee delirious in this heat.

Of course, I should have known better. 

Sometime after we got home late Sunday night, and Monday morning, the cop car got egged.

It makes you feel all warm in fuzzy inside, doesn't it?

Mr W washed the car and it's no longer at our house.  As he told me that he could still get a whiff of eau de huevo on his hands yesterday afternoon, all I could do was smile consolingly. 

There's no way I'd pat his hand. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"I didn't get that from me."

All families have their shared inside jokes.   In a houseful of boys, a lot of shared inside jokes in my house involve gas.  Burping and farting, whether pretend or all too real, are the subjects of many a laugh.

Ryan is on to this, and being the littlest, hasn't quite figured out what is funny for family might not be so funny out in public.  

We were in Winslow over the weekend, for my niece's birthday.  She's two.  Adorable.  There's nothing like a chubby two year old, standing on the ice chest in her bathing suit, precariously perched and leaning forward to the table, reaching for her birthday cake.  I caught her just in time...

On Sunday, we took the kids to the creek.  We were sitting in one of the picnic tables, eating lunch, when I hear someone let it rip across the table from me.

Ryan and my nephew are sitting there.  And Ryan, without missing a beat, without saying a word, grins and jerks his thumb at my nephew.  It was funny.

His brothers have taught him well.  

But it's his father who is really in trouble. 

Because he's never around when 'funny at home' becomes 'embarrassing in public.'

Monday evening, I took the kids to a coworker's house.   We're friends, I've known her a long time, but she only recently began working with us again.  She's invited me over tons, but this is the first time I'd been able to make it.   She has horses, and lots of dogs, so the kids were excited to come.

We were standing outside, chatting, letting the dogs get used to all of us.  Ryan pipes up that he has to pee.  She lives in one of those spreads where it's desert all around the house, so we joked to him to pick a tree, any tree.

I didn't notice Ryan leave us.  I didn't notice Ryanuntil I looked up and saw his back to us, assuming the position. 

You know seven year olds.  They take you literally sometimes. 

My friend took it in stride.  "Well, that's what we told him to do."

I found it harder to take in stride what my boy did next, though. 

He came back up to us, and started heading for her front door, asking where the bathroom was...because "now, I need to ...."  and he very slightly squatted, placed both his hands out in front of him bent at his elbows but still at his sides, made a motion backwards with his hands, and said "huurrrrrnnnggggh."

Surely he's didn't just indicate...I stood there, incredulous, plotting my husband's death. 

He did it again, just to erase any doubt.

"Inside, to the right,"  my friend said.  She laughed.  I blushed.  I couldn't even explain, other than to stammer out:

"He gets that from his Dad."   

My fourth boy.

Thursday, July 6, 2006


On our way home from swimming lessons, I couldn't resist calling my husband.

"Ball-and-chain,"  I said when he answered.  "You couldn't even leave me a note?  No Post-it declaration of love?"

"I tried to wake you up.  You were snoring."

"A likely story." 

Ben is looking a little quizzically at me, as I hang up, so I explain to him about "ball-and-chain."

"You know, how in the old days, they would put a ball and chain around a prisoner's ankle so they couldn't go anywhere, or not go anywhere quickly?  Well, you can tease your spouse by calling them your ball-and-chain.  Because..."

Nolan interjects at this point: "...because you're trapped."  He didn't beat an eyelash or look up from his game.  He just silently held his hand up to me for the high-five.

It was pretty funny.  And insightful, even for a twelve year old.

I'm hoping he has picked up on some of the more positive aspects of marriage too, but I think it's important that he also see it's not always a picnic. 

Because we all know it's not.  It's better to know that sometimes the little things like dishes in the sink make you snap; that you don't go through life always holding hands all googly-eyed. 

Sometimes, you look at your significant other, and the years melt away, that flip-flop in your stomach makes you pause.

Sometimes, you can't even look at your significant other without feeling homicidal and needing to leave the room.

It's like anything else in life, it has its good points and its bad points, and all points in between.

Today, it's 15 years for us.  If you count our dating, it's 24. 

The good points are there, and the bad points suck, but it's the points in between that I like the best.

The everyday things.

Like when I wake up just enough to tell him to have a good day. 

Like when he sneaks up behind me, puts his head on my shoulder, and tries to get in the way of what I'm doing.

Like when I stand out of his line of view, and watch him playing with the kids.

Like when we exchange the secret code; things I say that seem innocent but aren't, and he knows it.  ("I shaved my legs today." = you are so getting lucky)

Like he can look at me, know something is wrong, and get me to spill it with just the right way of asking me "what's up?".

All of the day to day adds up, and eventually, years go by.

In the blink of an eye.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

A swimsuit, I can do

Miss Audrey has been a tad overscheduled for the last month. 

As the summer opened, I was happy to be out of the Mom-taxi mode.  But the downward spiral into laziness, once I enter it, is really hard to get out of, so I signed Audrey (at least) up for a few classes.  This way, I figured, I'd have a reason to get out of my pjs earlier than the 30 minutes before hubby got home that I was previously managing.

Swimming lessons (every day), preschool (3 days a week), and a ballet class (it's only one night!)...throw in aikido for the boys (twice a week, as always) and the taxi is back in service.  In and out all day, in this heat, and I wonder why I'm wiped out at/by bedtime? 

This past Monday, Ben and Ryan started swimming lessons too.  Nolan, being too cool for swimming lessons, is hanging on to his pjs as long as possible.

Last week, I was getting Audrey ready to go.   She has (cough cough) 3 two-pieces that are just adorable.  She was with me when I bought them, she wanted to match one of the little girls we know who favors tankinis.  However she has since grown, so where the top once met the bottom is now her tummy.  It's cute, and not inappropriate at all.

She was on my bed, looking at herself in the mirror on my dresser.   She turned to her side, turned forward, patted herself on the tummy, and announced she would like a suit that "covers my belly." 

Aww.  "But your belly, it's perfect,"  I told her.  Surely, she's a little young for the body image thing.  Surely.  I'm not taking any chances:  "Perfect, perfect, perfect,"  I tickle her.  (I think she is more comfortable, given the activity of the lesson, to not feel like she's losing her top or bottom.)

We found a yellow Spongebob one (which I discovered too late is only lined in front, and once wet, from the back is a disaster--it's gotta go) and a pink polka dotted one.  

I love it when I can fulfill easy requests like that. 

Unlike her poor father.  Not that he doesn't fulfill requests, it's just that he just couldn't okay this one.  Weekend before last, while I was at work, she popped up into his lap:

"Daddy, I want a tattoo."


A good friend of mine is in town, and she invited us to come over to her sister-in-law's house on Friday night for a surprise party.  Her husband turned 40 in April, and his family decided better late than never, I guess.

We had a good time, getting caught up and just enjoying the company. 

I watched Nolan gamely try to not be upset that my friend's daughter was playing it cool and avoiding him at all costs.   She was once so enchanted by him, and now, poof.  Ouwwwwch.

The kids behaved, and we left at a decent hour. That alone would warrant the evening a success, but then on the way to the freeway, Mr W saw this truck.  A truck that he said was "begging to be pulled over."

At which point I somewhat jokingly reeled off about five things I thought he'd cite them for, just to see if I could come close to his train of thought. 

He was impressed.  Oh, yeah, he was. 

Why whisper x-rated things in his ear when "unsafe lane change" will do the trick? lol

I guess I've absorbed more than I thought I had via copsmosis.

Does that mean I get my own handcuffs?

While I wait for the answer, I'll stick to the Six.

Saturday Six - Episode 116

1. If you had the chance to vote for a law that would ban flag burning, would you vote in favor of it?

Nope.  It's the way you dispose of a flag properly.  The other more dramatic reasons people burn flags for are allowed via the auspices of living in a 'free' country where you are able to, in essence, do whatever you want.

2. Which of the following did you walk through most recently: a zoo, a garden, a beach, a cemetary?

Cemetary.  I think about Rob everyday. 

3. If you could create a new scent for a candle, which one would you select and why?

Hmm.  With three boys in the house, I'd come up with something like, oh, I don't know...  Ass-b-gone ?  (self explanatory) 

Non-toxic Child?  (I've seen the bottom of the hamper.  Be afraid.  Be very afraid.)

Eau de New ? (I forget what 'new' smells like.)

And Princess.  For Audrey, of course.

4. Take the quiz: What soda are you? (Thanks, Anna.)

Yet another quiz telling me how mediocre and boring I am:   I am Coke.  The quiz says I should try something new for a change. 

Don't they know that Coke goes well with everything?  Mmmm.  Jack and Coke.  Rum and Coke.  Did I mention, my personal favorite, Jack and Coke?  Everyone sheds their capacity to be boring with Jack and Coke. (There is anecdotal evidence that given enough of it, I shed more than that.  Ahem.

5. How often do you drink this flavor of soda?

Love it.  I drink it at least once a day.

6. Do you have any plans for the July 4th holiday weekend?

I didn't have any plans.  I worked Sat, Sun, and the 4th, too.  We just hung out at home once I got in today.  It's too hot to do anything else celebratory other than lay on the bed under the a/c vent and pretend it's November. 

Gobble, gobble.