Sunday, December 16, 2007

It's the confectioner's version of "brick"

Ladies and gentlemen, you will have to excuse me.  I'm a little tipsy.  In my cups, so to speak.   And not the ones labeled a, b, or c.   C, for the record.  Yeah, baby.


I didn't intend to be tipsy, but I was Christmas shopping this evening with my Dad; then got home late.  Mr W is out catching drunks, so I figured that since I've had a bottle of wine in my fridge since Thanksgiving, why not?  The kids are asleep.  I'm feeling a little...spirited.  Maybe some wine will chill me out.

Um, no. 

Not the chill factor I was looking for.  If anything, I feel even more spirited, and just stopped myself short of sending a persuasive text message.   Thank goodness for the internet.  I'd really get into trouble without it.  


Anyway, I cracked out some brie with my wine.  Oh, my god.  What happened to street tacos and tequila?  Brie?

I succumbed to the siren call of the brie at Costco.  Oh, yes, surprise, surprise, the sample ladies are on a mission.  A mission from God, apparently, to let you have a taste, just a little taste...they are like the drug pushers of the culinary world.  There you are, amidst gallons of olive oil, when a little old lady who looks like your Nana suggests you try some of her wares....and before you know it, you are justifying the purchase of a wedge of brie so buttery, so rich, that it's artery-clogging goodness could put down a brigade of Marines.   Mmm.  Marines...

Whoops.  Distracted!  Where was I?

I learned I have a new skill.   Apparently, using a corkscrew is not as hard as it looks.  Not only did I manage to open the bottle without incident, I saved the cork so I could at least pretend I wasn't intending on drinking it all and could re-cork like a pro.  Sweet!

I took my chances with a knife, and there I  stood, in the kitchen in my pj's; thin slices of a lovely apple, some round Melba snacks, brie, and a few glasses of wine.  Throw in a hundred cats, and I'd be the perfect cliche.

I decided to put the bottle away, to maintain some semblance of dignity.  (cue laugh track)

I took a gander at the Saturday Six, and here we go:

Saturday Six - Episode 191

Boy, that's big.  Is that a title in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me? 

1. If you could receive only the gift of food this Christmas, which single item would you choose?  

No brainer.  An obscenely large container of  Jane's fabulous almond toffee.  Oh, she gave me the recipe, but it makes me cry because I can't do it as good as she can.  I can't.  Yes, this is a shameless, shameless attempt to get her to give me some.  If I'm an expert at anything, it's shameless begging.  Just ask my hus--- Ooops.  <blush>

2. Dessert. What’s the first food that just came to mind when you read that word? 

Pizzookie.  I am new to the Pizzookie;  a local Italian restaurant makes it; it's a gooey, warm chocolate chip cookie served warm in a 6 inch deep dish pizza pan with quality vanilla ice cream on top.   Mmm, mmm, good.  Next time, I will skip dinner for that, and not share.  It's that yummy.

3. What do you eat more of when you’re trying to lose weight?  After my previous response, I'm supposed to think of losing weight????  Veggies,  like, DUU-UUuuh.

4. Take the quiz: What holiday food are you?   

I know, I know--"Stupid quiz alert."  Yet, I couldn't resist. 

You Are a Gingerbread House
A little spicy and a little sweet, anyone would like to be lost in the woods with you.

That's what I'm talking about---would this be the confectioner's version of "brick"??   Schhh--wing!  :p

5. When you were a kid, did you ever really leave food for Santa Claus? If so, what was the typical fare you placed near the tree for Jolly Ol’ St. Nick? 

Nah.  But I may have left cookies and milk once.  Now, as an adult, I am forced to leave out not only cookies and milk, but reindeer chow as well.   Really.  Maybe I'll leave out a little wine and brie this year.   (Although I hear Santa is partial to margaritas.)

6. Do you tend to eat more, less, or about the same at Christmas dinner than you do at Thanksgiving dinner? 

Bwahahahahaha.  Really, who keeps track?  I watch it, not to over indulge, but just try to get between me and my Christmas tamales.  Try.

Hmm.  Guess that's it.

Wow.  It's 3 am.  It appears I have a glass of wine to pour.

Eh, I'll probably just move Audrey over, and pour myself into bed. 


Party's over.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The best presents come when you least expect them

One of my favorite holiday shows was on tonight, and we were watching it with the kids.  It's "The Year Without a Santa Claus" and I just cannot resist the Heat Miser, I have to sing along.

During the presentation, there were a lot of commercials for an upcoming showing of "The Polar Express." 

"The Polar Express" is adapted from a book, like many of the movies directed at kids have been lately.  I remember I'd never heard of it, but received it quite a while back when I was a member of a kids' book club.  I was enchanted by it the first time I read it, and I read it to the kids each Christmas holiday season.  I really love this book, and am glad that stumbled upon it when I did.

But it makes me cry, when I read it, every single time.  The kids are all aware of this, and for some reason, Ben said to me tonight, "I don't understand why it makes you cry, Mom."

I tried to explain it to him, about how the part that gets me is near the end, when the main character mentions how he could hear the bell, even into adulthood, but as his friends and sister grew up, they could no longer hear it.  I told him that it touches me that they don't believe anymore, and that's why they don't hear it.  They grow up, they know the world, they no longer believe--like they lose that innocence within themselves that would allow such a belief to exist--that that is what makes me feel sad, but I left out the part that it particularly hurts because I know there will come a day when he and his siblings no longer believe either. 

I have decided it is just me mourning the passage of time.  While this passage is necessary, constant, and I accept it, nonetheless, it chokes me up.

"You don't get it,"  I told him, "but someday, you will."

Nolan piped up behind me, "I get it."

I know he does.  Last week, when he was feeling so poorly, I was going out and I told him I'd bring him anything he wanted.  I was desperate to make him feel better, and I had a shake or something like that in mind.  He got up from the couch and walked over to me, to whisper it in my ear.  Mr W teased him at the time, about being so secretive, but Nolan said he was a little embarrassed to say it out loud.

What did he want?

A game.  Pokemon Diamond.  I kinda knew why he was embarrassed, but I made nothing of it and I picked it up on my way home.

When I got back, and showed it to him, he smiled at me, his face tinged with sadness, and said, "So I can be a kid now, too?"  "What?"  I asked, a little perplexed.

He wrapped his arms around me and said that he thought we'd make fun of him for asking for such a "kid" thing.  And then he started crying, like he hasn't done in a long time, and I found myself patting his back, rocking back and forth a bit, just like I used to hold him--when he wasn't taller than me.

"Honey,"  I said, "You're just tired of being sick,"  I told him, as I felt him calm down some.  

As he walked away, I mentally kicked myself, because the light bulb in my head went off, and my initial assumption, while not far off, wasn't the only thing bothering him.  I followed him into my room few minutes later.  "Son,"  I said as I flopped down next to him on my bed, "are you under the impression that just because you are growing up, you aren't supposed to still like "kid" things?  That you need to give them up or something?" 

He nodded.  And he started to cry again.

"No, no, no,"  I told him.  "Growing up doesn't mean you have to give up the "kid" stuff, the things you like that make you you.  You're allowed an obsession or two to follow you well into adulthood, be they Pokemon or books or rocks.  Dude, there's a reason your sister likes Hello Kitty, and it's me.   Did you think your Nana keeps the Star Wars toys that are your Tio Ernie's in her closet because she has the space?  Do you think your Dad rides the roller coasters at Disneyland with you guys purely for safety reasons?  I have friends who still buy Barbies...for themselves.  Part of the fun of being a grown up is that you don't have to give up the stuff that is really dearto you, even if it comes in a package that says "ages 3 and up."  I promise you that you are not alone, and you are not to ever feel you can't indulge in the "kid" stuff because you think we will make fun of you."

The smile of relief on his face was worth any shame I may have felt showing him the Raggedy Ann doll my Mom recently sent home with me.  And she is raggedy, my very own Velveteen Rabbit.  (Yes, that story gets to me too.)

He has since played his game out in the open, without explanation or excuses.

As for our viewing of the YWASC, during another commercial, Ryan turned to me and started talking about Santa Claus.  During his in depth conversation, something became apparent to me, and I was surprised and delighted. 

He still believes in Santa, with the ferocity and innocence that only a nine-year-old can muster.

For me, that is the first gift of Christmas.

And it didn't cost a thing.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Standing up

I sent the kids in to brush their teeth last night.  You'd think I'd learn by now to send them in one at a time, or suffer the consequences of listening to them bicker and argue their way through who stole the toothpaste.

I heard Ben telling Audrey, "Sit DOWN on the toilet!" and I sighed, because I figured she was doing her usual "oh, look at me" admiring gaze while she stood there.  I should just mount a full length mirror in the house for her, because if she's not standing on the toilet, she's standing on my bed to look at herself in the mirror on the dresser.

A couple of seconds later, Ben walks into my bedroom, looking grave.  "Mom,"  he said, "you really need to have a talk with Audrey about sitting on the toilet when she pees.  She was standing in front of it, aiming,"  he pauses, imitating her, horrified.

I'm opening my mouth to reply when, not skipping a beat, Nolan says:  "Geez, Ben, she's more manly than you are."

Ben leapt at Nolan, and I had to peel them apart, reminding Ben that Nolan weighs less than he does at the moment, and I didn't want him to snap any of his twiggy limbs.

First of all, I'm surprised that she was going to use the bathroom with all the kids in there, but I guess if you gotta go, you gotta go. 

Secondly, I've been yelling at the wrong kids, apparently, for missing their mark.  I wonder how many times it was the girl, and not the boys?  Eww.

Thirdly, I can't help but laugh.  Who among us women hasn't wanted to take aim at one point or another?

I had a little chat with her about acting like a lady and using the restroom alone.

Sitting down.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sharp edges

Monday afternoon, I walked into my room to tell Mr W I was heading out and who was coming with me.  It helps us both to do an occasional head count.

"Ben and Ryan are coming along, and I'm running by Costco first, Ben's wants a hot dog--he's wasting away."  I added.

"Tell Ben to shut up,"  Nolan said, "this..." he pulls down his waistband, exposing a jutting hip bone " wasting away."   Mr W and I cracked up, and exchanged a little look of relief, that the boy must be feeling more like himself if he can crack jokes.

Later that evening, I heard the three boys laughing as they came down the hall.  Ben says to me, "Mom, I'm gonna play my trombone and Nolan's gonna play his bass clarinet," he said, pausing for a giggle, "and in the middle of it, Nolan will pull up his shirt and play a xylophone solo," he gestured, pretend mallets playing his ribs.

You can always count on your family.....

It is difficult to see Nolan laying around the house like an emaciated stray cat.  I've started taking him out on little jaunts, mainly to get him to walk around a bit and hopefully, stimulate his appetite some.

He does get tired, but not in the "I'm sleepy" sense, more like the "I just ran a marathon" sense.  We wandered around in Barnes and Noble yesterday so he could get a book for school, and met his Dad for lunch; after that, we had to come home.  I figure I'll take him out a little each day, because he is understandably stir crazy and needs the exercise. 

He shuffles like an old man, but we manage. 

I get nervous that he's walking behind me, and he tries not to roll his eyes at my hovering. 

He's eaten more today than he has all week, and I find that reassuring.  I think he's feeling better.

Which means I feel better, too.

In the spirit

The first Christmas we had in our house, lo those many years ago, Nolan was not quite two, and I was pregnant with Ben.

Mr W was craaaazy that year, giant tree, loads of lights, he was practically bursting with good cheer.  I remember being a little overwhelmed with his zeal, but it was so cute I couldn't rein him in.

Over the years, he continued to put up the lights, but his enthusiasm has waned recently, much in the way my enthusiasm for all things pizza-parlor-birthday-party-stop-those-screaming-kids has waned.  I gently remind him two weeks before Christmas that maybe he should put some lights up, he does it, and we just ooh and ahh over whatever he puts up.

I wasn't sure why he'd gotten so 'eh' about his displays when he'd been so Griswold all those years ago.  Last year he finally let on that he is tired of doing it all by himself and wanted us to help.

Granted, this was not an unreasonable request.  However...he's a little...he can be...kinda  militant about ordering us all around.  I was out there playing peacemaker amidst all the cords.

He even went so far as to let Ben get up on the ladder.  I told Mr W that if an ER trip came out of that, he was going to take it, and I held my breath.  Ben did a great job, and he was so proud of himself that I stopped praying and patted him on the back.

And here we are again, it's the light time of year.

I prepped Mr W right before Thanksgiving:  "Lights.  I want my lights, and I want a lot of them.  No haphazard, will-this-stay-on-through-Christmas strings, will-this-one-short-out-and-burn-the-bush ones, either.  I want...I want you to be just as enthused about it as you were our first Christmas here."  Without me prompting them, the kids started in on him too.

We have awakened the sleeping beast. 

Mr W, who will not set foot in Target without a substantial bribe, especially this time of year, went and looked at lights.  I think he started looking into them when I sent him out for some stuff for Nolan last week.

I tried to explain to him that Costco has better deals on them at lunch yesterday, but he was steadfast, told me to go into Target, what aisle I needed, and to check them out.  Fine.  "Look at the ornaments, too,"  he said.  "Why?"  "Well, I thought that maybe you might want to try something new."  "But ours are fine, and I have all the ones the kids make every year."  I am horrible when it comes to change--they're not broke.  Why fix it?

Last night I dragged him to Costco and showed him my side of the story.   Then he drove me to Target anyway, and showed me his.  "Hey, you were right,"  he said, as he looked at the light boxes and mentally compared the two. 

We started planning right there.  Right as we were leaving, I remembered.

"What was that about the ornaments?"

He took me to the aisle, and after we contemplated tree skirts (I use an old red tablecloth, usually, I'm breaking down, no cats in the house anymore, I want a tree skirt this year), I asked him to show me what he wanted.  "What is that you have in mind?  Are you wanting like, department store tree, or just new ornaments?"

That man surprises me sometimes, he really does.

He went and started pulling out a box.  "I like these."

They're rich red colors, magenta, ruby, darker; with gold on them.  Pretty.  We started matching up different sets to see what we liked, and I was impressed.

"Um, new ornaments?  New lights? I'm sensing a pattern here, next thing you know, you'll be wanting to replace me, it's a matter of time,"  I joked.

He screwed up his face in an expression I've never seen before.  I think it's a face I see on Audrey all the time--the little girl nose wrinkle/head shake, no small feat for a guy.

"Nooo, you're crazy,"  he said.  I know he would've swooped on me, but we were in public, and he is a gentleman...

We started heading out and suddenly he turned and started looking for something else.  I found myself in front of the extension cords and outlet extenders, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't start to worry.  Clark is baa-aack.

There was a man standing with a cart and his wife right in front of where Mr W needed to be.

"Excuse me, sir,"  he said.  They didn't move.  He said it again, a little more barky, but still, "Excuse me, sir."

The man looked at Mr W blankly, but it changed to irritation once the words sunk in.  I couldn't understand why, other than that the guy was right around the same age as Mr W, maybe he was offended by 'sir' the way some women are about 'ma'am', and I'd be lying if I said my heart didn't skip a beat, a little swoony with Mr W's manner.

On our way home, Mr W shook his head, "Did you see that guy look at me all irritated?"  he asked.  "I was surprised, considering that I wasn't trying to be rude." 

I mentally recontemplated the man, who spoke like his head was full of syrup, had horrible feet (if you're wearing flip-flops, for the love of god, take care of your toes) and was accompanied by a woman in a black bra.  How did I know this?  Because she had on a thin pink tshirt.  (A little bitchy there, Anna.) 

I was about to share this with him, but instead, I found myself blurting out:  "Honey.  "Excuse me, sir" is not something people really say all the time anymore. No one really says that, except you!  It's so Southern, so like your Dad!  I think it's adorable that you are so unfailingly polite, but not everyone appreciates that." 

I was grinning.

He might surprise me sometimes, but it's also nice that some things are constant.

Since last night, sugarplum ornaments dance through my head...maybe some change is good.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My "Family"

I know my kids look out for each other.  There have been plenty of times where I come upon them or overhear conversations that are about how "we'll take care of that" or "Who?  Who said/did that to you?  Oh, I know that kid.  I'm gonna have a word with him/her."  Usually, it is Ben acting as protector, but they all do it.  Nolan's approach is as laid back as his father--"don't let it get to you, man."  Ryan's vacillates between both.  Audrey's is straight up 'I'm gonna get them!' (with requisite closed fist)

I am glad that they feel so strongly about maintaining each other's psyches, but I have to wonder if it's truly an altruistic maneuver or just along the lines of 'no-one-else-can-tease/beat-you-except-me'.

Yesterday afternoon, the kids had running club.  Ryan was upset when they got home, even though he'd gone another lap since last time, because one of the his classmates "said I was fat."

Admittedly, Ryan is on the portly end of things right now, the summer spread really got him this year, but we are watching him.  We've been encouraging him to be more active and not letting him eat so much crap.  I know he'll stretch up soon and things should even out, if we can keep his weight constant.  It's not been a huge issue, because lord knows I don't want to start him down that path, the weight shame spiral that carries over from childhood and hangs over your head forever. 

Besides, I know the kid who made the comment, and he's a little round, too. Ryan said he said it to him when he took a break to catch his breath and couldn't run just then.  (Running club is funny that way.  There are kids who pace themselves, and kids who run full bore the first few laps, have nothing left, then walk.  I figure they're moving, it's all good.)

It must've bothered him more than I thought, despite my assurances and encouragement to let it go and keep it up with running club.  I didn't realize it until we were on our way home from school today and we made the turn towards our house.

"Hey, that's where 'Billy' lives!"  he exclaimed.

"I thought you knew that,"  I replied.

"He better not say anything to me next time,"  he mumbled under his breath, "because now I know where he lives."

I stifled a giggle, as Ben asked, "What?  Why is that important, Ryan?"

I explained, "'Billy' said Ryan was fat yesterday at running club, and it upset Ryan."

"Oooh.  I'll come with you, Ryan.  We'll get <video game weapon> and take care of him."

"Cool it, you guys.  There's no need for that." 

I thought for a minute and then told them that while I knew they were kidding, they weren't allowed to say anything like that at school, or they'd get in trouble because the schools have to take them seriously, no matter what.  (Which really made me sigh, inwardly, that I had to add that warning at all, the world being what it is these days that something like that could get them in trouble.)

As Ben carried his trombone into the house, I was amused.

I couldn't help but think of him as my mini-mafioso, with Audrey as his tiny henchman, standing guard over Ryan at running club.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Things that go bump in the night

About a month ago, as we sat in the ENT's office and he went over all the scenarios that were possible for Nolan's procedure and recovery, I nodded as I took it all in, thinking that it was good to know all this stuff, but, really, as the worst-case scenarios were rare, I shouldn't focus on them.

Nolan, on the other hand, giggled as he said to me, "Mom, watch.  I'm gonna be in that one percent."  I told him to knock it off.  He was joking with me because he has this funky skin condition on his palms that I'd finally gotten him to a dermatologist to see--and while it is treatable, it is rare, and exceedingly rare in boys.  We have been teasing him about being a freakshow, and he decided to head me off at the pass, I guess.

Or tempt fate.

Friday night, well I guess, Saturday morning, Nolan shook me awake at 4 am.  I felt bad, as I did the Vulcan death reach at him, something new in my wake-up repertoire that makes even Mr W take a step back after he starts trying to wake me up, but as he said "Mom!"  I opened my eyes and saw him.

I thought that maybe he needed some pain medicine (we'd been cutting back and not sure if he'd make it through the night).  There was just enough light from the hallway bathroom coming into my room for me to notice he looked scared, and a little pale.  "Mom, I threw up blood,"  he said.  I sat straight up, weighing the possibilities, my mind still a little fuzzy.  "A lot or a little?  Into your washcloth or in the bathroom?"

"A lot.  In the bathroom."

I reached next to me, to wake up Mr W, only to find Audrey there and Mr W gone.  I got up and patted Nolan on the back, and went to the bathroom to investigate.  He was breathing rapidly, and wide-eyed, I made him sit down as I comforted him and tried to assess the situation.

"Hang on,"  I told him, as I went in search of Mr W, who I was sure vacated the bed once our little hockey player came into it.  She pretty much pummels him when she comes in, so I winced as I realized he was probably in the recliner.   I filled him in, and he followed me back down the hall to Nolan.

We'd been in there for maybe a minute when Nolan started throwing up again.  Bright red blood.  I patted his back as soothingly has I could as all the alarms in my head went off.  I looked at Mr W, who mouthed "I don't like this" over Nolan's back and I traded him places so I could go out and get our post-op instruction sheet.

I read it as I pointed out the relevant section to Mr W.  I was about to get the phone to call the on call doc when common sense took over and we both said at the same time, "He needs the hospital."

Hurriedly, I dressed myself, while Mr W got Nolan cleaned up a bit and explained to him what we were about to do.  Good god, I thought, it's 4:15.  Mr W would have to stay behind for the other kids.  I steeled myself to keep it together and grabbed a plastic shopping bag and a book as we headed to the van.  

I weighed in my head the quickest way to the ER even as I autopiloted to the freeway.   I broke a few traffic laws along the way, but I figured if anyone stopped me, I'd have a good excuse.  As I got closer to the hospital, I felt Nolan fighting the urge, so I sped up as I explained to him that holding it in was not going to work.  When you have blood going down like that, I explained to him, it's gonna come back up because your stomach doesn't want it, so use the bag.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I grabbed the first spot I could find, and before I was out of the car, Nolan had his head in the bag and he proceeded to just let it go.  He was on his third wave as I opened his door, trying to get the seatbelt off of him and get him out; my mind racing as he asked me "Mommy, why is it so hot?  Why is it so hot?"

"It's blood, baby."   I half dragged him out of the van, and tried to hurry him along when I realized this wouldn't work.  We were too far from the door.  He was in no shape to go anywhere fast and while I didn't want to leave him, we needed help.  Of course, there was no one outside to yell at...  "Can you prop yourself on this car?  I'll run in and get a wheelchair and some help.  I'll be right back,"  I said, almost losing my resolve as he slumped across the trunk of the car we stood next to. 

I never knew I could run that fast.  Adrenaline does that to you, I guess.  I sprinted through the doors and ran up to the desk.  I was clear in what I said, but the girl there looked at me, and to me, was moving in slow motion.  I repeated myself, threw my stuff on the counter, ran back out, grabbed the first wheelchair I could, sprinted to Nolan, "Get in,"  I ordered, and was back inside the doors before anyone had their gloves on. 

As he sat there, bag of blood on his lap, the receptionist asked me a few questions, while the nurse next to her assessed him.  We were back in a room in a couple of minutes, and he was throwing up again by the time they got his vitals.  

I thought that once we got there, and the IV was in, he might slow down, that it might stop. 


I spent my time answering questions, alternately holding his puke bag, his hand, and wiping his face while I tried to maintain calm for him.  This was no small feat, because when your kid is puking that much blood, and the staff is doing the best they can and it's still not good enough, all you want to do is yell at someone.  This coupled with an ER doctor who not only failed to let me know he was the doctor and freaked me out as he examined Nolan with nails that brought Nosferatu to mind was making me anxious. 

Nolan was terrified at this point, and I knew the only thing that would make us both feel better was reinforcement in the form of Mr W.  "Would you feel better if your Dad was here?"  I asked him, as this was the only thing I could offer at this point.  (*Although, joking with him in Urgent Care earlier in the week, I'd offered a car, a cell phone, a new video game...just to crack him up.)  He nodded yes.  Then no.  I knew he was hesitating because he knew the kids needed someone at home.  "Son, this is an urgent situation.  I can call Remo, I can call Jane, we can get someone to the house for the kids.  Do you want your Dad?"  He nodded yes, eyes full of tears. 

I called Mr W and told him my plan.  "I'll see if I can get Remo to come for a little while,"  --knowing that he'd worked the night before and probably had not been asleep for long, and that Mr W would only agree to this if I had relief coming soon--"until Jane can get there; that way you can come right away."  I called Jane first, and while she is an early riser, I woke her, and filled her in, trying to remember to breathe, willing myself not to start bawling at the sound of her voice.  She said she'd come, and it would be about forty minutes.  Then I called Remo, and while I knew I might not get him on the first ring, I knew he'd answer, as it was the wee hours of the morning...and no one calls at that time for just a chat.  I stammered out what I needed to with him, but again, I had to will myself not to cry, and just speak.  I mean, really, it would have alarmed both of them more if I was a wreck, and as hard as it was, I managed it, my voice cracking just as I finished talking to him.

And here is the beautiful part.  I didn't worry about the kids at home anymore.  I knew they would be in good hands.  I wiped my eyes, before I turned around, and I just concentrated on Nolan while I waited for Mr W to come.

Once he arrived, I brought him up-to-date.  I was mainly concerned with keeping Nolan from freaking out because he would not stop puking.  I have never seen anything like it, over, and over, bright red, sometimes clotty, he'd jerk upright and we'd comfort him through another bout.  The thing is, I was so focused on him, I didn't realize we hadn't had an update at all other than the nurses coming in to draw his blood for typing.  Instinctively, I knew that his bleeding wasn't stopping on it's own; I knew that he was probably headed for surgery, but it was like that was in a separate thought bubble from the task at hand.  Wipe face-new bag-comfort him-throw washcloth out.  I looked up at Mr W, spotting him shooting a murderous glance into the hallway at the nurses' station.  I caught his eye, as I knew what he was thinking.  Ipounced on the first person to come into our room next.  "What's going on?  Where are we (with this)?" I asked, as politely as I could without shaking her silly.

"We're waiting on the labs from the blood we drew."  I saw Mr W stifle a snort.  He was not impressed with how that went at all, and I know was about to take the guy trying by his scrubs and throw him out into the hall had the other nurse in the room not intervened before he could.

Shortly thereafter, Nosferatu returned and looked in Nolan's throat, "I need to see if he is still bleeding."  Are you kidding me?  I pointed to the bags in the trash and the one in Nolan's hand, "I think he is."  I figured he must've concurred, as he turned and left the room without saying anything.

A bit later, a well-dressed man, my god, I thought, noticing the crispness of his clothes, it's not even 6:30 am and he's so polished; came in.  "I'm Dr. G,"  he said, "covering for Dr M." He gestured towards Nolan. "Has he stopped at all?  What's been going on?"  Mr W told him that he had not stopped, that he'd been at it since 4 am, and it was now after six; Dr G told us they were planning on taking him up to the OR once anesthesia got there, and he'd go in and see what was up and hopefully get it stopped. 

The room was a flurry of activity as they readied Nolan for his trip upstairs.  It was hard to do, as he kept puking.  On his way up, Mr W walked right beside him, and even the transport guy was amazed when he had to stop a couple of times so Nolan could hurl. 

We finally made it to preop, and it was more prep, and questions, but they were really wonderful about reassuring us and explaining everything.  Of all the indignities he suffered that morning, the one that bothered him the most was when the nurse said he had to take his sleeping pants and his underwear off.  He shook his head, pleading with his eyes, "no".   "Sweetie," said, "it's okay.  It's just a requirement when you are having surgery at the hospital, it's not like at the surgicenter.  We'll keep you covered up, no one will see anything."  Is there anything like the modesty of an adolescent?  The nurse furthered his perceived shame when she handed him the pitcher-urinal.  "We need you to pee, honey, if you can.  I don't want you to have to get up, so do you think you can go in this?"  I looked at Mr W.  "You're up,"  I said, as I bowed out of the curtain surrounding his bed.

I stood outside and the staff talked to me, as we were the only people there at that time of day.  I snuck away and gave Jane an update, again managing to not lose it.  Barely.  Mr W said to me, "Geez, Anna, you didn't ask her about the other kids."  "I don't have to,"  I replied.  "They're fine.  Besides, they're probably sleeping,"  I added.

It seemed like the longest 30 minutes of my life, sitting in the waiting room.  Finally, Dr G came out and told us that he'd patched the boy up.  He'd had an arterial bleed on one side, probably brought on by the scabs in his throat  falling off.  He assured us that it wasn't due to anything we did or didn't do, that about 2 percent of tonsils bleed. Nolan was right, when he was joking around with me about his ability to be the freakshow patient.  (I'll have to ask him to pick some lottery numbers.)  

We sat with him in recovery as soon as they let us in.  Once we were comfortable with the situation, Mr W went out to move the van from the ER to closer to where we would make our exit; naturally, Nolan started coming around.  He looked confused, so I held his hand and told him where he was and reminded him what happened.  "Where's Dad?"  he asked.  "Moving the van," I explained.  "Just a second,"  I said, as I called Mr W.  "He's asking for you,"  I relayed.

All in all, we were on our way back home by 10:45 am or so.  We made it into the house and Nolan headed straight for our room.  I squeezed Jane immediately, I was so relieved that we were home; so relieved to see her, that this part was over.  The kids were all milling about, Ryan enthralled with Guitar Hero, it was like I'd just stepped out to the store or something.

Like I said, they were in good hands.  I decided to wait to fill them in at Casa de Remo, as I limit my wake up calls to once a day.

Nolan is pretty weak, the doc says he's anemic for the time being, but he is on the mend.  It hasn't been as bad as it was right after his initial surgery, but he does have some more recovering to do before I will feel okay about sending him back to school.  He's lost ten pounds, he gets tired easier, and he's a little too frail-looking for my taste, but he's talking and acting like himself, and I definately will take that.

Maybe this week will be our week of ice cream and Halo.

But if not, hugs and naps are okay too.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

'kay, I'll shut up after this

Last night, when I got home from Urgent Care, I was changing my clothes (back to pjs, hurrah, the day might end) and I looked in the mirror.

I didn't really care, not much, but Nolan, bless his heart, has some really foul breath right now (normal) and he'd been breathing it on me as I cradled him (no pillow) on the hard exam table.  I felt like I might look like his breath, so to speak, as crazy as that seems. 

I was about to take out my ponytail when I saw it.  Or I should say, them.  Winking, more than I've noticed in a while.

Grays.  Bastards!

I lamented to Mr W.  I was amazed that he was so unsympathetic.  "Why do they bother you so much?"  he asked.  "Why don't they bother you?"  I asked him.

"It's not a big deal to me."  I bit back "Because you don't have any hair" and instead asked, "Why not?"

"We're getting older.  We get gray hair.  Big deal."

"Hmphf,"  I huffed at him.  "Gray hair.  Once you get 'em, that just lessens your chances of ever being the hot girl," I moaned. (The elusive title.  Why does it matter?)

I'd be more offended at him had he not had this conversation with me earlier in the week...

I had on a relatively new top.  And I pointed out to him that he had not commented on it, I was being a little flirty and obnoxious, and I said to him, "You haven't noticed.  Aren't I cute?"  as I did the Vanna up-down-look-at-this hand motion with a pause at boob level, of course.  He rolled his eyes, and sighed the sigh of a man, a husband who knows.

"You look good, hon.  You always do."  He says it with such sincerity, I start to giggle.  "Doesn't she, boys?" he looks over at Ben and Ryan, and they chime in "Yeah, Mom, you always look nice,"  as Mr W goes on, "Even first thing when she gets up in the morning,she looks good, right, boys?"  he turns back to me.

"Why are you blushing, Anna?"  he points out.  I giggle some more.

"Thanks, just....thanks."  I continue to feel my face get hotter, and I can't have him look at me anymore, I walk into the kitchen, giggling, shaking my head.

Not what I expected.  It sounds cheesy, but he really was sincere.  To spoil it with the usual "you're full of shit" song-and-dance would cheapen the moment and not make it likely that he would compliment me ever again. 

I guess now that I think about it, if he is cool with what I look like early in the morning, then a few gray hairs are probably not going to dampen his enthusiasm, any more than the lack of hair on his part would dampen mine.

And that's hot.

Guaranteed to get me a speeding ticket

About two weeks ago, I was on my way home from work, on my way to the school to pick up the kids when my phone rang.

I looked at the number and recognized it as being the school, so I picked up, curious.  The children have been getting smart, realizing that if they go to the nurse, and they are sick, that I will come get them.  I take this with a grain of salt, and I think the nurse does too.

"Anna?  I have Ryan here in my office.  At recess..."

I'm expecting the next sentence to be "He fell and broke his arm" as it seems to be the third grade injury of the year thus far.

"...he got kicked in the shoulder, and it left a red mark.  I'm just letting you know so you aren't alarmed when you see it.  He's okay, and the principal is handling it--the other child is being dealt with."

I felt my foot push down on the accelerator, Mama-bear rising.  I look at the speedometer, and back off a little.

"Can I talk to him?"  I ask.  She puts him on.  "Sugar?  What happened?"

"Well. I was at recess, and this girl just started kicking me in the shoulder real hard.  I couldn't even get up.  And I didn't want to get up and kick her back and get in trouble..."  I interrupt.  "What do you mean?  Why were you on the ground during recess to begin with?"

"I wasn't on the ground.  I was in the slide tube, and waiting my turn and she just started kicking me."  I feel my foot get leady again.  This time, I'm not backing off.

"Are you okay?"  "I'm okay.  But the principal is here and I have to go talk to her..."  "Fine, baby.  Give the phone to the nurse."  I tell her I will be there in a few minutes.

I feel my ire rise, and as Ryan is a pretty sweet kid, I feel my eyes cloud at the thought of anyone hurting him, for any reason, especially one as ridiculous as impatience for the slide.  I realize I need to talk to someone.  I consider my calming prospects at the time, and choose Mr W. 

Because he is at work.  Because truly, in my deepest heart of hearts, he is the protector, job notwithstanding, I'm a little girly when it comes to that.  Not that I won't stand up for myself or the kids, it just helps to have backup.  And honestly?  Selfishly, and unfair advantagely?

I want him in the office, in his uniform, because I hope the sight of him will scare the holy bejesus shit out of the girl who kicked Ryan.

When I call him, he is far away.  He's busy.  I know if I ask, he will drop everything and come, but I haven't assessed the situation yet.  So I let him know what's happening.  And he gives me the lowdown he knows from work, and tells me to stay calm.  Fine, I agree, taking a deep breath.  And in the next, I wonder, for a second, if Remo is busy....if only to get some more 'chill, Anna' advice.   I settle for replaying Mr W's voice in my head, as retelling the story will only work up my Mama-bear instinct again.

I arrive at the school and make a  beeline for the office, stern face (for the girl) at the ready.

Ryan isn't there, but the principal takes me into her office and tells me what happened.

Indeed, Ryan was in the slide tube, and the girl got impatient and started kicking him.  "When they were here  in my office, Ryan was very assertive with her, I was really impressed.  He told her that she really hurt him, and she didn't apologize and that wasn't right.  He really stood up for himself, you should be proud."   I think to myself I'd feel prouder if he'd pulled an aikido move and put the hurt back on the girl, but understand his reaction.  I'd heard the 'it's a girl' note in his voice.  He was being a little chivalrous in spite of it all, and I can't fault him for that, for keeping his composure.

Then she tells me that he actually bears the mark of this girl's shoe sole on his shoulder.  I think, hmm, that's a far cry, an imprint of a shoe, from "a red mark."  I feel it coming on...

"Who is the little girl?"  I manage, barely avoiding gritting my teeth.

"Oh."  The principal gets a pained expression on her face. "I can't tell you.  We're not allowed..."  As she goes on to explain some privacy policy, I swallow hard and pipe up, somewhat edgily, that Ryan will tell me anyway.

I hear Mr W's voice in my head.  "If you feel yourself getting irritated, before you burn the place down, get Ryan and leave the office." 

I cut the conversation as shortly and politely as I can; she has duty so it goes smoothly and we part ways.

I find Ryan as the bell rings.  I ask him to show me his shoulder.  He pulls his shirt back, and I see circles and tread marks; indeed the near-perfect imprint of the sole. 

I intake a sharp breath at the sight of it, but I am cool.  I am collected.  I want someone's ass on a plate, but I gather up him, and Ben, and Audrey, and take them home without incident.  Once inside, he elaborates, and I tell him he reacted appropriately, but in the future, he has our permission to defend himself, even if it means getting in trouble at school, he won't be in trouble at home if it's justified.  (His Dad repeated this to him later.)

On our way to pick up Nolan at school, Ryan is telling me something.  He sits way in the back of the van, so sometimes, I am ashamed to admit, I am smiling and nodding and not hearing everything he says.  This time, the word "secret" and "Mrs. X" gets my attention.  Mrs. X is not his teacher.  Why is she telling him a secret?  I prompt him to start over.

"Mrs. X told me a secret.  She said that this little girl, she used to live with her Mom and Dad, but the Dad left her; and it was just her and her Mom, but then her Mom left her too, and she went to live with her grandmother.  Then her Dad came back around, and she doesn't really know him, and now she might have to go live with him, too, and she doesn't want to.  And she's very, very angry about that."

WTF?  Why is he hearing this story, one that might be told on Jerry Springer?  I'm perplexed.  Then the light goes off in my head.

"Was she talking about the girl who kicked you?"  I ask.  "Yeah.  She's angry...."  I cut him off.  "We'll talk about this at home," I tell him, "because I can't do it and drive right now,"  I explain.

I'm pissed.  Why this teacher felt compelled to share the student's life story is highly inappropriate on many levels, I feel, the least of which is that Ryan is nine years old, and fortunately, he doesn't know a world like hers, other than his uncle being divorced, he doesn't know that kind of situation.  While I realize the world is full of situations like that, I don't think that at nine, he is equipped with the means to process that.  And he certainly should not feel that the other child's behavior is fine based on her home life.  Besides, I am certain the student in question wouldn't like her laundry being aired like that either.

Nine year old keeping a secret?  Please. 

Once we get  home, Ryan and I chat.   I commend him all the way round for a cool head and a warm heart.  I tell him that while "Sally"s situation makes her angry, it's still not okay for her to kick him--or anyone.

Of course, I still wanted to go to school have a few words with Mrs. X, but I decide that face-to-face with her would probably not be a good idea for me; and it was the Friday before a long weekend, so the school would be empty.

But that Tuesday when we went back, I sought out our student affairs lady (counselor) and ran it by her.  I told her I wasn't out to be snitchy, but I didn't approve of the "secret" telling.  While I understood the teacher's motive, I just wanted her to know that maybe they should address the sharing of information during a staff meeting or something.  She came up with a plan I agreed was a good one.

Sure, it was passive-aggressive, but I didn't want it to come back to me, and/or Ryan.  Besides, I knew that it would be best to just let it fade along with the mark on Ryan's shoulder.  He was fine, in the end; making a huge stink about it was not necessary. 

Sometimes, Mama-bear has to be content watching from the wings.

And believe me, she's watching.

Misconceptions are the worst wakeup call

When my friends contemplate to me about how they will handle children, stating that they aren't sure if they have it in them to be parents, the comment I usually make is that no one is truly ready.  Parenting is on-the-job training, whether you have one kid or six kids; no two snowflakes are alike, no two raising-the-kid experiences are alike.

Similar, but not the same.

As always, my on-the-job training is always challenged by my oldest.  I've mentioned before, every time is the first time with him, so if I am going to fall on my face, usually it's because his foot is the one that tripped me.

I imagined this week to be an easy one, that we would coast through this little procedure and he'd be eating popsicles, drinking milkshakes, and bouncing back.  We'd hang out, I could maybe run a few errands and work on some projects around the house, and by this time, he'd be well on his way to feeling better.

I noticed yesterday morning, my mind started the nag-nag-nag of woman, something was just not right; that Nolan was way too lethargic for just pain meds.  I started to mentally add up his sips and realized that he'd not been drinking much, only when I gave him his medicine, the nasty tasting but effective liquid codeine he got during the day.  Hmm.  "Son, when did you pee last?"  garnered something I didn't bargain for:  he held up his fingers in a O.  Not at all.  Not all morning.  "What about yesterday?"  To my horror, he held up two fingers.

I called the doctor's office, but didn't hear back right away.  I called again in a few hours, as the day had grown longer and I worried about the office closing and not getting back to me in time.

I spoke with the nurse, and she told me to do what I was already doing.   Nolan seemed compliant, so I figured it was worth a shot.

Although I doubted that he was suddenly going to succumb to my onslaught of daily "here, drink this *shake, water, gatorade, juice* eat this *ice chips, pudding, popsicles, broth*"  (Nothing is more frustrating to me, who likes feeding people, to see someone struggle so hard at just swallowing.)  I was comfortable trying, with a little altered approach, but was a little pissed that the nurse suggested I threaten him with the prospect of an IV, like that would scare him into drinking, like that was the only reason he was being stubborn about it. 

I also got a call from the nurse practitioner, and we covered the same ground.  I'm not afraid to be Dr. Mom, Nurse Ratched, whatever.  But right now, Nolan just wanted Mom.  It has been really hard for me all the way around, knowing I'd have to be both. 

This week, of bonding and relaxation?  I've spent it pacing, squirting meds into his mouth, and holding him, patting his head, holding his hand as much as I can. 

In the middle of all of this yesterday, the kids had running club, Ben had a band concert, and we also got progress reports from school.

Ben's sucked.  Ryan's sucked.  They are usually good students, so I was surprised.  And pissed.

And who did I blame?

Me.  I've been busy trying to balance working more and four kids in school; along with the volunteering thing I do for the school as well.  I realize I haven't been as attentive as I usually am, and granted, the kids are bigger, this should be a piece of cake.  Theoretically. It always looks better on paper.

So I had my first meltdown of the day, and as I told Mr W I blamed myself, and he stewed about Ben's really crap report, I told him maybe I could work my hours in a way that weighted the bulk of them to the weekend so I could be more available to the kids during the week.  Mr W proceeded to let me know exactly what he felt was necessary on my end, annoyance in his voice, on his face, the least of which included him letting me know exactly how he feels about my volunteer thing...and it ended with my feeling upset.  Then irritated.

Granted, the volunteer thing I do is a big thing I dofor the school, no one knows more than I what a pain it can be.  But I like it. I am realizing that in my current situation, I need to delegate more, and I am getting there.  I like my job, too, and to work more hours has been rewarding to me, even if it means more juggling at home.  

For him to attack it like he did yesterday really hurt me--because I hate it that I am the one who always (it seems to me) has to give up something I like for the greater good of our whole.  It was particularly uncharacteristic of Mr W to be so resentful, and having him get a little loud about it was too much for me when I was already mentally flagellating myself.

We worked it out.  (I think.)


Mr W stayed home with Nolan, and I hit the band concert for Ben (they were good, I love the little band geeks, I love watching their moving lips as they count the music to themselves), when I came home Mr W and I went to run a couple of quick errands, taking the newspapers to be recycled and picking up some food for the kids...when my phone rang as we returned, we were turning on our street, Ben telling me that Nolan was asking for me. 

I got into the house and he motioned to me that he was nauseous.  So nauseous he didn't mind that I had to give him the lovely anti-nausea, um, suppository.  I told him to just let the medicine work, and went into the kitchen to let Mr W know what was going on.  And I started to cry.  Really, I just had had enough of watching the boy suffer, as had Mr W, and I lost my game face.  He stood between me and the other kids--reminding me if I was upset, they would be, too-- and talked to me, calming me down.  He didn't bat an eyelash when I asked if he could stay home again with us today; then we went back to check on Nolan, and he seemed settled.

But fifteen, maybe thirty minutes later, he came into the kitchen to tell me it was time for his medicine, and alarm crossed his face.  I knew that look in an instant and turned him immediately over the sink while calling for his Dad.

Thank goodness he didn't throw up any blood.  But I was ready to throw an IV into him myself at this point, and I called the on call dr who agreed/told me to take him in.

Luckily, I got him to Urgent Care within fifteen minutes of them closing, and they took really good care of him.  Two liters of fluids, some anti-nausea meds, and *lordy* 4 mg of morphine later, and my boy was looking better.  Sleeping, but clearly, his body was much more relaxed than I'd seen it all day, and in retrospect, in a couple of days (in spite of what I was administering at home).

And who did mentally kick, thinking that I should have listened to my instincts and cart him in at 10 am and not 10 pm?

We got home around midnight.  I had Mr W help me get  him outside, and after I put everything down, I walked down the hall, and heard the best sound I'd heard all day.

The boy was peeing like a racehorse.

My challenge today is to get him to stay hydrated, as well as keep him more comfortable.  I'd been leaning towards the lower end of his dosage scale because he wasn't letting me know it wasn't quite cutting it.  I told him it was better to be a little less conservative if it meant he would be more willing to drink. 

When I woke him up, for the morning dose, he seemed much different this morning.  His color is better, he is actually looking more like himself.  I told him I'd get him up in a couple of hours for a pedialyte popsicle.

Hopefully today will be a better day.  Cuz if it's not, and I wind up in Urgent Care again...

I'll be requesting a happy IV for me, too.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I always knew I liked chemistry

Nolan has always had problems with his throat.  We finally made it to the ENT, who said the words I'd been longing to hear all this time:

"We can take his tonsils out."

I let out a mental whoop, complete with happy-happy-joy-joy dance, and I responsibly nodded my head and said "Great."

Last Thursday was the big day, and we prepared Nolan as best we could, knowing that until he experienced the wonder of anesthesia for himself, he wouldn't totally understand.

The procedure went well, and I have spent the weekend with my life revolving around his pain medicine schedule.

Because on Thursday night, I didn't wake him up; and on Friday morning, he was in a LOT of pain.

Oh, the mommy guilt.

Anyway, he's hanging in there.

Glassy eyed and a little out of it, but quite the trouper.

My hat is off, and I bow down to the power of high quality pharmaceuticals.

But I have to admit, as I grind pills to add to his pudding, I feel a little like a drug dealer.

Don't think we'd see Bill Cosby hawking this type of Jello... 

Not for the faint of heart

I'm going to preface this entry with remember, I live with primarily boys, boys who don't always consider the finer sensibilities of others when they decide to comment on whatever is in their heads at the moment.

That being said, we had this conversation in my van last week--

(a little background:  I'd been working a lot, my workweek shifting to accomodate the time I am currently taking off for Nolan, who just had a tonsillectomy on Thursday, and Ben had been "sick" at school, so I'd picked him up, on Tuesday, throwing off my hours-mojo...)

"Ben, you're going to school tomorrow.  I don't really think you are all that sick, and unless you are projectile vomiting or have massive diarrhea, you're going to school."

And Nolan decides to pipe up:  "Yeah, Ben.  She's not talking about a little wet one either."

I nearly drove off the road.  What?  Did I just hear that? 

Not to be outdone, Ben quips: "No wonder girls don't like you."

I have to admit I laughed.  Alot.

At the time, it beat being grossed out. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nursery rhymes are a gas

Each year our kindergarten classes have a "Nursery Rhyme Parade" around Halloween.  The kids come to school dressed as their favorite nursery rhyme character and then the class/es walk around the campus visiting all the other classes and they recite a rhyme or two in the other classrooms. 

It's quite a little event.  The children are encouraged to use their imaginations, and make their 'costume'. 

Audrey picked "Little Miss Muffet."  We've been practicing her rhyme, and she's wearing a little dress and carrying a little basket with her spider in it.  I figure that'll do, as a tuffet might be too awkward to carry.

I hear her off and on all the time, "Lit-tle Miss Muf-fet sits on her tuf-fet..."

Yesterday afternoon, as we were trying her dress on, she started up:  "Lit-tle Miss Muf-fet"  --pause---

"farts on her tuf-fet."  --exploding gale of laughter

That's gonna go over well with the kids, I thought, as I laughed along with her.

Mr W heard us laughing and gave me that quizzical "what's up" look.  I told him, and she recited her version for him again.

He smiled and pointed his finger squarely at me:  "That's you.  That's your kid." 

I opened my eyes wide in mock innocence, "And I made her all by myself, too..."

Monday, October 29, 2007

Baby, I'm a star

I came home from work yesterday to a nice surprise.

No, not clean shiny, happy, fed children in a clean, shiny, happy house....

I came home to a big box of Guitar Hero III. 

Mr W has been listening to me rant about how I love that game since I first played months ago.

And he knows I need to get in touch with my inner rock goddess, so.....

I'm sending the kids to bed in five minutes, and hitting the stage in ten.

Hopefully, I will make it through a round without getting booed off the stage this time.

Party on, Wayne.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hot pink is not a scary color

It's October, so all the kids thoughts have turned towards Halloween.

Audrey, in particular, is very excited.  I was expecting the usual from her, too, in regards to her costume.  I've been planning a special mall visit to hit the Disney store.  I've been wondering who she'd pick this year.

My thoughts were reaffirmed when she saw all the pumpkins, the plain plastic ones with the jack-o-lantern face on the front and a handle, in Target...and picked out a hot-pink one.  Oh, very scary, I giggled to myself.  I was placing mental bets that it would be Sleeping Beauty this year, as the pumpkin would match the pink dress.

However, she is my girl, and full of surprises.

This year, she wants to be a vampire.  She can't quite decide which version of vampire she wants to be.  The dressed up kind, or the messed up kind?  In addition to that, she has taken to wearing Ryan's costume from last year, a cloaky Grim Reaper get up, around the house.

It's long enough that you don't see her hands or feet. She sneaks up behind you, pulls the hood over her face, and says:  "Heeellooooo, person-I-don't-know!!!" in as scary a voice as a five year old can manage, but then she giggles uncontrollably and even if you try to jump and scream in fear, everyone knows it's totally for show.

So cute.

Ben has decided he wants to be a vampire again this year now, too.

All that vampire talk, and now all I can think about is biting someone on the neck.

It's still technically too hot in Arizona for turtlenecks, but Mr W may have to start sporting his a little early this year.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Watch what you say....

I was driving my son and a friend of his home last week.

They'd been talking about a video game when I picked them up, but as we drove, the conversation shifted.  I was half-listening to them, as Nolan made some comment about his siblings bothering him--and his friend pointed out that as he was the oldest, "at least you can boss your brothers around."

I looked over my shoulder at him, and he explained, that he couldn't necessarily boss his younger brother around as it ultimately led to his brother getting upset, and his mother then getting upset, which would mean in the end, that he'd be in more trouble.

"That's usually how it works,"  I pointed out.

He leaned forward, very man-of-the-world, and said, as he gestured to Nolan in the front seat, "Yeah, I always tell this one, that it's not so bad, and he should just not worry so much about his brothers annoying him.  Even when he starts complaining how his parents suck...."  he grinned, as Nolan turned around quickly in his seat to look at him, more quickly than I've ever seen him move in a long time, 'shut up, shut up, shut up' glowering on his face.

I smiled to myself, slightly turning my head towards the boys, and giving Nolan a sidelong glance, eyebrow raised a bit.

Nolan had that 'oh shit' look on his face now, like he was willing an escape hatch to open up beneath him in the van so he could fall into the waiting hole in the earth he'd just had dug for himself.  Clearly, he was mortified.

"I didn't say that, Mom, really,"  he semi-pleaded.

Now, I have to admit, I was offended a little at first, as I can tell you, I am most assuredly not a parent-who-sucks.  That child wants for nothing, really, unless you count the cruel-and-unusual punishment of not owning a cell phone or a laptop of his own as prime indicators of parental neglect.  Or the fact that I filter out the things I deem inappropriate; and don't allow him carte blanche to play video games all day.  Or give him a giant  allowance.

Good God, I make him put his freshly laundered clothes away!   Clean the kid bathroomMake his bed!!  BatheDo his homework!  Crimes punishable in the kid court of law, for sure. 

My son tried again to reassure me he had not said anything of that nature, and his friend was amused to watch him squirm, but I think they were both a little surprised when I said this, with a wave of my hand.

"Oh, come on.  It's okay, man.  E-v-e-r-ybody's parents suck, at one time or another.  It's true.  It's fine."  I shrugged my shoulders.

We talked for a second or two more, as I pointed out to them that the things they thought their parents suck about were mainly things we were doing to try and rein them in a bit for a moment, just because you need to pace yourself when you are a teenager.

As we bid his friend good night, and I drove away, Nolan once again said, "Mom, I really, really didn't say that."

"No worries,"  I said, as I changed the subject.  He maintained a nice conversation on the way home.  He was exceedingly nice to all of us the rest of the night.  His guilt breeding good behavior?  (Maybe my mom was on to something...I certainly did my penance for her during my adolescence....)

Over the weekend, I was laying in my room, watching t.v.  Ben was out with his Dad and Tata at a football game, so Nolan was hanging out with me.  We were watching "Stranger than Fiction," that movie with Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, and Maggie Gyllenhaal; where Emma Thompson is a novelist and Will Ferrell hears her in his head, as she is "writing" his life.   There was this scene where Maggie's character makes Will's some cookies (she's a baker) and it doesn't go over so well.  "Didn't your mother make you cookies and milk afterschool?"  she asks.

At this, Nolan looks at me, and grins, and reaches out to squeeze my hand.  He scoots over and snuggles next to me.  "You love your Mah-ma,"  I tease him.

"You make great cookies, Mom,"  he said.  "I love you."

"Even though I suck,"  I added.

He sat up, giggling.  "You're never gonna let me live that down, are you?"  he asks, shaking his head.

"Not on your life,"  I told him, as I messed up his hair.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

So cute you wouldn't call the exterminator

I'd gone outside to call the big boys in the other day, and on the way back into the house, I nearly stepped on Audrey.

Irritated, I stepped around her and ordered her inside too.

"Just a minute, Mommy,"  she insisted, her body bent over a drawing she was doing on the sidewalk right outside the door.  She scribbled furiously, as though the chalk would disappear in the time it took her to complete her picture.

I sighed, exasperated.  I'd gotten two hours of sleep the night before, thanks to a bout of insomnia that Audrey shared with me, and I was well beyond tolerating anything that varied from "Okay, Mommy" at this point.

"Come ON,"  I urged her, as her brothers breezed past us.

She looked up at me, brows knit, and said, "Just one more second, please.  How do you make a six?"

Oh, good lord.

"Getinsidethishouserightnow."  I gritted my teeth.

"Mommy.  Please, just a minute."  I looked over her shoulder, at the little grid of squares, with numbers in them.

"What are you doing?"  I growled.

"I'm making hopscotch.  I'm almost done, it's hopscotch for ants."

I looked again.  Sure enough, each small square had a number in it, and the grid was laid out in the usual hopscotch pattern.

It was adorable.  Sigh.

"There, I'm done,"  she announced as she made the last square.

I smiled, and she must have felt my mood shift in her favor.  "What's so funny, Mommy?"  she asked.

"Nothing.  That's cute.  I love it.  But, um, honey, those are some giant ants you've made the hopscotch for--the squares a just a smidge to big,"  I explained, shuddering at the thought of the size the ant would have to be to make it to the end square.

"That's okay,"  she explained.  "They can jump reeealll far."


Giant mutant jumping ants, that's all we need.

I didn't break it to her, I just patted her head and brought her inside.

And when I napped, I dreamt of antennae...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A look is sometimes the loudest form of communication

This month, our school is responsible for decorating the school district's boardroom.  So my principal asked me to take care of it, as I am the art lady at our school.  I was a little concerned as our program doesn't start for another month, and was worried about how much kid-artwork I could get from the teachers in time, but I didn't sweat it.

Until I saw the size of the boardroom.  The wall we are responsible for is....enormous.

I totally panicked, and sent out an email essentially begging for something, anything, to fill up the wall.  Fortunately, a bunch of the teachers came through, and last week, I went to put it up.

I was meeting one of the Art Masterpiece coordinators for the district, and I took Audrey along with me.  The lady had not seen her for some time, and was amazed at how big she'd grown in the interrim (she last saw her about gosh, about 1 yr, 1 yr and 1/2 ago).

"She's so cute.  Honey, I love your skirt,"  she said to Audrey.  Audrey smiled.

"I love her haircut,"  she commented.  We started to get stuff moved around, and she commented on Audrey's appearance a couple more times.  "Really, I love her hair.  It suits her."  I nodded.  "Thanks.  I think so, too."

She swept her gaze towards me, and looked over my own hair, which was up in a disheveled ponytail.  She had that look, like she wanted to pay me a compliment too, but was at a loss.  (I didn't get dolled up for this; I knew it would entail a lot of bending and stretching and climbing up and down off of whatever to mount this stuff on the walls.  I was wearing jeans and a baseball shirt, minimal makeup--not exactly my finest hour, but presentable enough.)  It was really comical to me, I could see her formulating the thought in her head and coming up blank.  She did one of those, 'uhm, yeah' kind of head movements and we went back to work. 

I should say that this lady is always turned out, every time I see her, she is very well dressed and groomed and polished.  Even this day, a potentially sweaty physical day--she had on a cute pair of jean/capris, the kind with the huge cuff, a really pretty just-above-casual top, and these totally cool slides.  Perfect nails (hands and feet); nice hair, nice makeup.  I wanted to go home and change when I saw her, you know?

She was a godsend, too, that room was a lot of work, and I never would have gotten through it without her help.

So I giggled and didn't take it too personally that I know she thought I was a total frump.  I resisted the urge to say, "I clean up good.  Really.  I swear!" especially since  I was busy all morning, had to go to the elementary school early, and didn't uhm, have a chance to take a shower.  Oh, the shame.

Besides, it was easier to not take it personally in light of the fact that earlier in the week, on my way to work, I'd stopped at Starbucks. 

The barista took my order, and I paid, and I was looking at the menu board behind her, off to the side.  I turned to look back at her, I had a question, and she was staring at me.  Totally.  At my mouth.  Like she was wondering about...kissing me?  

It was kinda cool, but I was a little embarrassed; I mean, I totally blushed.  

I heard my name called, got my coffee, and left without asking my question.

I don't remember what the question was, but the look on my husband's face when I told him the story was unforgettable.

And the lipgloss hasn't left my purse.

Love, abbreviated

Over the years, you get used to your partner's little quirks.  You know what they like.  You know what pisses them off.  You know.

Mr W likes to have a clean car.  I appreciate this, so I am very good about biting my tongue when he takes the extra time to go through the carwash when we get gas.  Even though it means Audrey will have to be pried off me when we are done, as she hates it.  Swirling brushes?  Foamy water? Life-threatening. 

Yesterday, we were on our way to my Mom's.   We needed gas.  And apparently, a car wash.  The first gas station we went to had the car wash closed.  The second one we went to had the car wash closed.  "It's just not my day,"  Mr W commented.  "It just means you'll have to do it yourself,"  I jokingly pointed out. 

As he pumped gas, I noticed a sign outside the minimart that indicated the car wash was closed because it was being redone, and would soon be a "foaming" car wash.  At the same time, Mr W started cleaning the windshield, so I pointed at the sign through the windshield.  It took him a minute to get my point, as he thought I was being a wiseass and pointing out a spot he missed.  I went back to my book, and felt him come around the front of the van and start cleaning my side of the windshield.

In my periphery, I noticed he wasn't moving the squeegee around any more, and was standing still right in front of me, so I looked up.  He grinned at me, making a big deal out of writing a "U" on the window in front of me.

I searched to the side of the "U" for what I was sure would be there, the "I" and heart.  Aww, how cute, he wrote "I" heart "U" on the windshield, I thought, and I grinned back at him, even though all I could make out was the "U."

He tapped the windshield to the left of the "U."  I continued to smile at him, and wrinkled my brow as I really couldn't see what he was getting at--so he tapped again, and just as the realization of what was there hit me, I heard:

"F."  "U".  "Mommy, Daddy wrote "F-U" on the window!"  Ben cackled.  "I know what that means!!"  (cackle cackle)

"F-U!  F-U! F-U!"  Ryan began chanting.

"Mommy, what does that mean?  F-U?"  piped up Audrey.

Nolan snickered.

I sighed and opened up the door.  I should've tried to knock him over, but he stepped aside just in time.

"Niiice,"  I said.  "Do you want to tell them what it means, or shall I?"  He looked at them.  "Stop it, guys," he said.

I told him what I thought he'd written when we were driving away.  "I should've known better,"  I said.

I guess it's just an one of those things that makes you realize you've spent a long time together--that sometimes you can't tell who the bigger dork is---and it doesn't matter.

You can still feel the love, even if it's not necessarily written right in front of your face.

All garden tools are not created equal

The kids are on Fall break, and were off of school last week, they will be off this week, they don't go back to school until next Wednesday.

It seems a little silly to call it 'Fall' break, in light of our non-fall weather, but I figure if it's less than 100 degrees, and it gets dark at by 6:30, then 'Fall' will have to do.

We've been lounging around, for the most part.   One day I suggested to them that they scoop up the dog poop in the backyard.  You'd have thought I'd asked them to patch up the side of a nuclear reactor with Scotch tape and bubble gum, with the reaction I got, so I sic'd their Dad on them. 

After he gave the order, he told me to go get a new rake, as ours was about to crumble into dust.  Oh, goody. A trip to Home Depot?  Sign me up.  I don't fear the orange aprons.  I welcome them.  "Rakes in the garden dept?"  I asked the first one I saw as I walked in.  "Yup."  As I headed toward the garden dept, I had to stop and stare. 

At the reindeer.  And the lights.

It's Christmas in this little corner of Home Depot.  (And it's been Christmas in Costco since mid-September.) I'm convinced that if we didn't have the back-to-school season in the middle, it would be Christmas right after the Fourth of July.  Momentarily, I was dazzled and started envisioning sugarplum vistas and light displays in my front yard--I had to shake the ideas out of my head so I could go get what I needed and only what I needed.  (My ankle bracelet goes off if I am anywhere near the paint section.)

The long story short is I bought the wrong rakes.  How is that even possible?  The kids used them, and I saw my error, even though I'd rolled my eyes when Mr W pointed it out initially: "Isn't your lunchtime over?"  Later that day, I took them back and exchanged them for the right ones, to Mr W's horror.  "You took back used rakes??"  "I had a receipt.  They were the wrong ones.  They weren't damaged.  Big deal."

That is the true sign of a man, is it not?  A man will cut off a limb before he returns anything, receipt or not.  If he only knew of the women I know who will not cut tags off of things, wear them to their event, and return them afterwards.  I, personally, have never done this, but ladies, you know who you are.  

The bottom line is that the poop got scooped.  And like most things that get dirty the second you clean them....they will have to get back out there again. (I'm sure the extra large bag of MilkBones I picked up has nothing to do with this.)

At this rate, they will be begging to go back to school.

Heh heh.