Thursday, September 20, 2007

Have I really been working there that long?

Ryan's birthday was Tuesday.  (This is not a recent picture of him, but it is one of my favorites.)

I was at work and one of my friends asked me how old he was.  When I replied "nine" we both almost fell over at how fast time flies.   I got pregnant about a month after I was hired, and that means that this December marks ten years that I have been working with this company.  No way.

Ryan remains the cuddliest little boy I ever met.  He has a temper, but for the most part, is very sweet.  He still says, before he starts his sentence/statements to me, "But first, a hug." I love that little squeeze, even if he's about to deliver bad news.

He does a face that is a spot-on imitation of one of his father's expressions.  He is shameless when he is trying to get me to cave, throwing that lower lip out like a pro.  It's hard to resist him, and he knows it. 

He had a nice day, his Dad and I took him to lunch, while the other kids were at school.  He had his favorite pizza for dinner, and I made him a cake so he could have the requisite "Happy Birthday" song and candles to blow out.

I still call him "Sugar," although it has morphed into the more mature "Suggity-Buggity".

NINE.  Yikes. 

Isn't that the beginning number in the "tween" age group? (9-12) 

It's a good thing I have an appt to get my hair colored Monday.   I feel some more gray coming on....


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Groundhog Day

It occurred to me this morning as I made the kids' lunches and yelled at Audrey to hurry up and Nolan to get out of the shower that my life has turned into a version of the movie "Groundhog Day."

Every day at the same time, I find myself saying/thinking/doing the exact same thing.

Get up get dressed just a minute no, you can't have soda in your lunchbox where's your backpack do you need your trombone who took my keys where's your water bottle no I'm not signing that hey, that's not your shirt what do you mean you forgot your homework too bad you're gonna be late oh shit you're all late did you brush your teeth did you do your inhaler get changed for aikido no you can't yeah go ahead I'm making ____ for dinner take a shower who fed the dogs feed the dogs did you finish your homework did you read did you do your inhaler did you take your medicine I'm in the bathroom can I have five minutes there's only one of me go to bed take it to your father where is your father don't wake up your father go away I am on the phone....

Lather, rinse, repeat; every day, with a stint at work in between.

Usually around 8 or 9 pm, I pick up the phone, and dial.


At around ten, when silence is golden, I can do whatever I want, watch tv, use my computer uninterrupted, read....

But I fall asleep instead. 

It's too quiet.

One more reason for me not stifle a laugh

The Discovery Channel was on yesterday afternoon, just background noise while I was helping someone with homework.  An episode of "Dirty Jobs" was on, so of course I was listening (oy, that voice) and I looked up at the screen to see a banner on the bottom that said something like "find out what's on Mike's iPod."

I was curious.  I'm nosy enough to be interested in what people like to listen to, just like I like to know what they like to read.  It's nice to have something in common (or not) with other people.  It's a good way to check out/try new things.

I went to the website to check it out. 

Wow.  The website has got all kinds of features that are about the show, and Mike Rowe, too.  I felt a bit like a stalker.  There's a fine line between like and obsessed, and looking at the website, it seemed I was gonna cross right over it.  I hesitated.

But curiosity got the best of me.

I was bouncing around the snippets of this and that when I saw this, a list of "Ten Questions for Mike."  It's a list just like the one at the end of Bravo's "Inside the Actor's Studio" show.  This one thing caught my eye.  Okay, I clapped my hands in glee when I read it:

What sound or noise do you love?
The involuntary snorting that sometimes comes from a woman laughing uncontrollably.

As this is one of my more charming ladylike traits, I am glad to see someone out there appreciates it. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Yeah, the light is still on

My nephew took the vows this weekend.

Not to enter the priesthood--he got married. 

At the rehearsal, I was annoyed with myself for feeling so jaded.  I know that weddings are just the right environment for incubating all kinds of Hallmark cheesy moments, and ordinarily I go with it, but this time...

Part of it is I don't know the bride well, and I am not sure if I ever will.  (or if I even want to)

Part of it is--these people, most of them, were in their mid-twenties, if not older.  Surely, they'd seen a wedding or two in their time.  How hard is it to walk down the aisle, take your places, have a mock ceremony, and let us get to the rehearsal dinner, where hopefully a glass of liquor can be found?  Were four (or was it five?--lost count) run-thrus really necessary?

By the end of the night, I was totally happy to lie down.  We were staying at a Motel 6 not too far from the festivities.  It's okay that there were no frills there, we really just needed a crash pad with a bathroom.  They left the light on for us, and that was about it.

We have a king-size bed at home, and I eyed the double bed (postage stamp) warily.  I sleep like the dead, usually, and Mr W sleeps like the Princess and the Pea.  I knew he'd be a little cranky the next day, between my snoring and the elbow to the ribs he was sure to get by midnight.

In our bed, even though it's big and he's always waaay over theeeere, I am always aware of his presence.  But I'm aware of it being waaaay over theeeere.  You have to roll over to touch.

This time, sleeping like the dead didn't happen for me.  Aside from some bizarro dreams, I was surprised...

..surprised that in this bed, I was aware of Mr W's presence all right.  All night long, I knew where he was, even if I wasn't all the way awake, I could reach out, and touch him easily.  Which happened often, because every time I moved, our proximity made me do it.

At some point in the morning, I woke up and went to the bathroom, and when I went back to bed, I got comfy and realized that we were spooning.

It was surprisingly effortless, no pulled hair or 'ow, my arm'.  Sweet!

We chatted a little, and then I realized that this closeness, while very nice, was going to present a problem very soon (mainly because we were sharing a room with the kids, of course.)

For once, I was grateful for the ever-consistent cold hotel shower.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Take two and call me in the morning

I was hoping, hoping, hoping, that Mr W would not catch what the kids had.

Unfortunately, he's had a weird week.  Little sleep.  On Friday, he approached me with that "I think I am coming down with something" gleam in his eye.  (Let me tell you, that is not the gleam you want to see in your hubby's eye on a Friday night.)

I went into instant Battle Mode.

Because as we all know, there is nothing worse than sick kids....unless it's a sick husband.

I made him quaff back some Airborne, of which I am a recent convert, after some tough negotiations:
"Take it."  "What does it taste like?"  "Take it."  "No, really, does it taste bad?"  "Take it."  (skeptical look)  "Is it nasty?"  "Take it before I decide to see if that tablet will dissolve lodged in your...."

He took it.  Once or twice, but he felt better Saturday morning, so he took nothing else all day.  Saturday night, his face contorted in sinus pain, I could see he was approaching the "ick" phase.

I did what every good wife would do.

I medicated him to the bejesus belt.  A HUGE shot of Benadryl, on top of the Sudafed Sinus he took earlier, followed by some Motrin.  I was preparing the Nyquil chaser when I realized that that was probably overkill, and reserved the right to use it later.

The hearty zzzzz's I heard after about an hour told me I'd made the right choice.  I was a bit concerned in the morning, as I left for work, that he might not get up again until Tuesday, so I was a little surprised when the phone rang at noon.  He said he felt much better.

Meanwhile, I had to make a detour on my way to work...for some Airborne.

There's a tickle in my throat.

I had ventured over to Patrick's, to see what was up for this weekend.  The Sat Six is all about grammar.  My head started hurting on third question of the quiz.  I know my their to they're to there, so send me to detention, I'm skipping it.

However, the Sunday Seven caught my attention.

Name the seven musical instruments you most wish you could play.

I am a wannabe band geek. 

However, when I was younger and could have learned in jr high, I quit band.  See, I wanted to learn how to play the flute, my Mom strong-armed--I mean talked me into--the clarinet, and I hated it.  This, coupled with a desire to not be in band in high school so I could find my glory as a majorette (in my small town, people tended to pigeonhole you in whatever you did currently, and I didn't want to hurt my chances) led me to trade one stick for another, before I got too accustomed to the taste of the reed.  Ick.

It's one of the things I regret doing, but we all do silly things in the shortsightedness of our youth.

Besides, band geeks are hot, what was I thinking?  (Oh, this is a throwback to jr high.  Did I just blush?)

In no particular order, here they are:

Piano.  (Forever.  All my life.  Now we have an old one, and when no one is home, I try to remember what little I know about reading music, and have at it.  I guess it may be time for some lessons, before the neighbors start calling the police about the 'tortured animal' sounds coming from our house.)

Trumpet. (I would so love to get my mariachi on.  For this, for the sheer loud joy of it, I have a special place in my heart for the brass instruments; this is my favorite.  Back in the day, if memory serves, I was told that it was too masculine an instrument to try.  Can you believe that?)

Cello.  (It looks so difficult.  What a sound!  The posture, the way you hold  Sexy.)

Saxophone. (I've tasted things worse than a reed by this point.)

Harp.  (I have a little Greek goddess complex.)

Drums.  (Come on.  What's not to love about banging on something rhythmically?)

Guitar. (I have a Guitar Hero complex, too.)

Music is a wonderful thing.

I was listening to Ben whistle the other day, and was about to yell at him to cut it out, when I realized he was whistling "Ode to Joy."  I dug that he had it in his head, so much so that he could whistle it so naturally.

My delight was surpassed when he was practicing it on his trombone later, and Nolan and a friend of his that was over afterschool took out their instruments and joined him.

It wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination.  They argued about who was messing up, they started over umpteen times---

But they played.  And that was very, very cool.

It's one of those things I know I will remember when my house is quiet and there's no one around to whistle and annoy me except Mr W.

I hope he knows a little Beethoven.


P.S.  This is a place I like to visit, just to show the kids how different things sound.  And to play a little on my own.  Check it out.

I'm trying NOT to....cry, scream, throw something...

Curse you, oh curse you, AOL.  For eating my entry full of wit and so totally suck.


Thursday, September 6, 2007

Yeah, they're dangerous alright



Obviously trained killahs.  Run for your life!!!!   Quick, before you have to scratch some bellies!!!!!

Should've pretended I wasn't home

This morning I was assessing the kids, to determine if I'd keep them home another day when the doorbell rang.

I hesitated to answer, as I was in my pjs.  But, usually, your doorbell doesn't ring at 7:10 a.m. because someone is stopping by for a casual chat.  My mind runs through possibilities, including that it might be Mr W back because he forgot something, as I curse the fact that all I can see is a blur through the doorway because I wasn't wearing my glasses.  Or a bra, for that matter. (Which is highly unusual, as the ta's are usually strapped down--besides being a vestige of my nursing days I can't let go of, once you've done battle with a toddler running at you full bore, you learn some natural resources should always be protected.  Mr W begs to differ, but then again, it's good to hear him beg once in while.)

Anyway, there I was, mentally wrestling opening the door, when I decided I am an adult, let's see what this is all about.  The dogs were inside with me, I knew they'd push to the screen and provide interference if need be. 

Those wagging tails are quite a deterrent.

There was a large African-American lady in my doorway, in exercise gear.  Off in my driveway were two more similarly attired ladies.  "Do you have a dog?  There's a big black dog running around."

"Yes, I have a black dog, but she's right here,"  I said.  I gestured to Shadow, who was right in front of me, forgetting the lady couldn't see me through the security screen door.  (I never open that until I know what's up on the other side.)

"Well, was that dog in the yard a minute ago?  Because we were walking along the sidewalk behind the houses here"  (there is a regular through street behind our house) "and that dog nearly came over the fence at us."

I smiled.  Shadow is really nosy.  She likes to jump up, place her paws on the top of the fence, and look over.  I am probably tempting fate by saying this, but she has never, ever, in the three years we've had her, gotten over the fence.  She just looks.  I know I didn't hear her barking this morning, so she was probably up to her usual nosy ways.

"She does that.  She just looks--she's always looking into our neighbor's yards..."  I let my voice trail, not really wanting to explain anymore.   I didn't get the chance, anyway.

"She gets very close to coming over.  One little push and she will be over that fence."  She was giving me a little attitude now, so I let her say her piece.

I tend to lean towards the "don't argue with a drunk" school of thinking.  Not that she was drunk, but you get the idea.  I figured the sooner she spewed, the sooner I could get back to the morning kid business, a bra, and my glasses.

"We called the police..." 

Are you kidding me?  First of all, I stifled a giggle, for Mr W's sake.  Secondly, come on.  I know of all the stupid calls a policeman has to take, the "barking dog" call would probably be on the same level as the "potentially dangerous dog" call.  Bottom of the list. (Remo can attest to this, I am sure.)  If any of the boys in our stretched-thin Sheriff's office come to visit me regarding this, if they come at all, it won't be until nearly noon.  Tomorrow.

Sigh.  What could I have said at this point?  They were all in on it then, gesticulating and going on about how Shadow could very easily clear the fence, and come after anyone.  "Her legs were completely over." "We just wanted to let you know."

Okay, I think we're done here.

They were still talking as I murmured something soothing, like "well, thank you" as I shut the door.  I really wanted to tell them to fuck off, but Ben and Ryan were watching the exchange, so I chose to behave myself.

Of course, I could've just set my petite 48-lb trained killah on them in the driveway.

Because no one should knock on my door that early for a non-emergency without coffee and a bagel.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Looks can be deceiving

I wound up at the pediatrician's office today, for Ryan and Audrey.

Don't worry, Ben was attended to at his allergist's office yesterday.  I am ever-so-grateful for this word:  copay.  For both doctor visits and prescriptions, I don't think there is a more beautiful word. 

I think I may add them all up at the end of the year (I'll have to do it anyway for tax time) and spend that amount on myself, as a gift to me for all the time and suffering I endure whilst they are sick.  The hours and hours of time I will never recoup waiting in reception areas, in the actual rooms themselves, or for that "we'll have the nurse call you back" phone call.  Not to mention the time spent smoothing hair off hot foreheads hoping the Tylenol kicks in soon. 

With all these somewhat sickly children, I will probably be able to buy a very nice purse. 

In Italy.

Anyway, much to Audrey's delight, we were in the Princess room.  Disney princesses on the walls, it's a room we've actually not been in since they remodeled (imagine that) and it's quite cute.  The doctor came in, and was talking to me about what's been going on, and as he was examining Ryan, he looked over at Audrey, who was sitting next to him, politely waiting her turn.  She looked so adorable, and as he looked at her, she made a cute face and grinned at him.

"Man, she is so cute, look at her,"  the pediatrician said.  He's a friend of ours, so I felt perfectly comfortable with my reply:

"That one, she's the devil,"  I deadpanned.

As if on cue, Audrey morphed her face into something infinately more bratty, and indeed, scary and devilish.

"No way,"  he said.

"You know what they say, about looks being deceiving..."

"I don't believe that for a minute."  He looked at her again.

And she smiled as sweetly as if he'd handed her a bouquet of flowers, like the little Princess she can be.

He has no idea.


One of the big battles I have in my house is finding a happy medium in the evenings regarding what to watch on tv.  This would be later in the evening, but not too late; after homework and reading is done and the kids are just winding down.

I was pretty strict before about shows and channels they could watch; and to a certain degree, I still am.  However, Nolan is approaching an age where he kinda needs to know what is going on a little bit, pop-culture wise; and a little innuendo is not going to hurt him.  I talk to him about what we see; and I don't want him to be so innocent that he becomes the butt of jokes because he doesn't get what's going on.

It's a fine line.

This summer, I kinda let things slide, and the kids were watching "Scrubs" reruns quite a bit.  I wasn't completely comfortable with it, don't get me wrong, I like that show, it cracks me up; but there does tend to be a lot of things on it, sex not being the only questionable thing, that perhaps Ryan shouldn't be watching.  For the most part, I know that most of the innuendo would go flying right over his little head; but the problem is he wants to be so like the older boys, I could just hear him repeating something he shouldn't at the worst time--like at school. 

Ultimately, I put my foot down one night, took Nolan aside, and explained to him that if he was alone, for instance, up with me late, that he could watch it; however, if the little kids were up, he was stuck with Spongebob.  I explained my logic, and told him it was inappropriate for an 8 year old, and I expected him to follow through and suck it up, and change the channel.

I told him I counted on him to help me set a good example.  We only have two tvs, one in our room, and the one in the family room, so it was important to me that he understand me and that I meant business.

He got it.  And it wasn't a problem the next time, when I changed the channel.

I put it one of the many Discovery channels we get, and we were watching, the little man, Audrey, Ben, and I.  It was a show about jellyfish.

Giant jellyfish that invade a fishing area in Japan, getting caught in the nets and wreaking havoc on the fishermen's livelihoods. 

So far so good, I thought, jellyfish.  Eww, but okay.

Until the narrator started talking about how Professor So-and-so studies the life cycle of the jellies, trying to understand how they reproduce ("here he is, harvesting their sex organs...eggs...sperm...") such that their numbers might be diminished.  Ryan was sitting up straight at this point, because the next scene showed the jellies being chopped up by the fishermen and thrown back into the ocean.

Very interesting, the narrator intoned, that this chopping up of the jellies seemed to turn them on; made them more likely to reproduce.  Some death enzyme or something like that "acting as an aphrodisiac."  I think you know what happened next.

Ryan sweetly turns to me and asks: "Mommy?  What's an ap-pro, an aphrodisiac?"

My kingdom, my kingdom for a beer, I thought.  Sometimes, you just can't win.  (Since when does the Discovery Channel promote jellyfish porn, I ask you?  Good god, I did sleep too much during biology class.)

I took a deep breath as I reached for the remote.  "Nevermind,"  I said.  "You know, chopping up those jellies is kinda grossing me out.  Let's see what happened to Turk."  As I changed the channel.

At least with "Scrubs" I know if there is a word he doesn't understand, there will probably be a visual aid driving the point home. 

Hey, even I have a new, horrified appreciation of the term "banana hammock."  

Also gross when you think about it, but offset by presence of the adorable Mr. Braff.

The best solution occurred to me, just then; it's one I'd known all along:

"Time for bed, Ryan."

From now on, I have to look up

It is true what they say about children growing overnight.

Nolan has been hovering at my height for months, just shy of it, but not quite there.

Until one morning recently, when I woke him, he got out of bed, and I went to hug him....and noticed he was taller than I was.


The moment he was as tall as I was was simply that, a moment.  I blinked, and it was gone.

I have been giggling as I follow him around since then.  "Are you ever going to get over this, Mom?"  he asks, amusement, tinged occasionally with adolescent irritation, in his voice.

"No," I reply, as I giggle some more and embrace him.

He is the oldest, the experimental child, so to speak.  Everything I learn as a parent, I learn with him; through him, first.  He's in the eighth grade now, and it feels like it was yesterday that we brought him home from the hospital, and I was almost in a state of panic that this little person was ours forever, and this Mommy-thing was FOR REAL.

He's in the eighth grade.  I was about the same age when I met his father.   It's madness, pure madness for me when I consider that.

Sometimes, I have to remind him that I need a minute to catch my breath so I can keep up. To bear with me when I make decisions that seem ridiculous to him, but perfectly reasonable to my overprotective mind. 

I dropped him off recently at the mall, by himself, to meet a group for a birthday party.  I didn't go in with him, meet the Mom, or even stay in the parking lot watching him go inside.  It was probably the hardest thing I have ever done thus far.  I told him, as he left, to call me when he found his group.  I forced myself to let him go, and I was imagining all sorts of horrible scenarios ("That man, he looked a little shifty."  "What if they are gone to the movie already, and he wanders off looking for them, and gets abducted?"  What if, what if, what if, my overactive imagination toyed with me.  What if something happens to him, and I have to admit to his Dad I let him go in all alone?  Why hasn't he called?)  Suddenly, just as my heart was approaching a dangerous beat, my phone rang.  "Mom? I found them, I'm with my group."  The sigh of relief I breathed was probably audible inside the cars speeding past me.  (Ten minutes kid time = one hour worried mama time)

He's growing up.  I'm facing it, bit by bit, giving him some slack in the maternal cord as we both adjust.  I'm finding that it while it is scary, it is also delightful, fulfilling even, to watch him morph from boy to young man. 

A young man who is now officially taller than I am whether we are in our sneaks or in stocking feet.  How is that even possible??


Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Ben was coughing this morning, and I sent him to school anyway.

I medicated him first, of course.  Ryan had a cold at the end of last week, on Friday.  Audrey joined in over the weekend.  And this morning, the family hypochondriac felt he was sick too.

Of course, this sickness didn't seem to bother him over the weekend, when his cousin came over and spent it with us; or when another friend slept over too on Sunday night; nor did it hamper him attending a birthday party for a school chum Sunday afternoon.

No, this sickness bothered him after I'd gotten him to school.  When I was 3/4 of the way to work, making good time in light traffic.  I saw the # in the window of my cell phone and was pulling off the freeway before I even answered it.

I knew what the nurse was going to say, and I was right. "Ben is coughing, tired, says he feels really sick... Do you want to talk to him?"  "Sure,"  I replied, knowing full well that there would be tears and I would bite back my irritation and be reassuring.   "I feel like I can't get enough air,"  he said, and started to cry.

Oh, great.  Play the breathing card on me.  Something I can't respond to with: "Slap a bandaid on that and send him back to class."

"Tell the nurse I'm coming.  I'll be a bit because I'm almost at work.  Stop crying, I'm turning around and coming to get you right now."

I groused a little to myself on the way to the school.  I like to think that I am patient, and kind, and good to the kids.  They know how much I love them.

And yet here I was, mired in *is that?* resentment.  Black, smoldering, dammit, resentment.

Now, over the weekend, my nephew decided he wanted to go home.  I don't know why.  He was a little whiny about it, and his Mom lives over an hour away; and they both knew we weren't planning on heading over their way again until Monday when she dropped him off to me at my work on Sat afternooon.  He really enjoys his time with Ben, so I wasn't anticipating any problems, and was surprised that he said he wanted to leave.

So I called his Mom.  I figured she could talk to him and get a handle on what was making him want to leave, and talk him out of it.  I handed him the phone, and went out to throw out the trash.  When I came inside, he was done.  As I shut the door, I heard Ben say, "Dude, that's messed up."   He looked at his cousin.  "Tell her, man.  Tell my Mom what your Mom said."  My nephew sunk into the couch, trying his best to disappear.  "What?"  I asked.  "Tell her, you won't get in trouble."  My nephew remained silent, so Ben said, "She said she won't come and get him."  My nephew looked a little forlorn.  I teased him, but couldn't get a smile.  "Looks like you're stuck with us,"  I said.  And I promptly went into the kitchen and started making some cookies.  Chocolate chips are good for the soul.  (He did perk up later, but cookies had nothing to do with it.  He just started having a good time again.)

I remember feeling a little bit 'hmphf' as if it were one of the kids, I'd go get 'em.  I couldn't understand my ex-SIL's logic, but it is a drive, and chances are, she'd get here and he'd not want to leave.  Her reasons are her reasons, and that's fine.  But.  I was kinda snotty about it when I told Mr W the news.  And Mr W, bless him, offered to run him home if he really wanted to go.  But by that time, he opted to stay.

However.  When I felt that wave of resentment this morning, I thought to myself that I had no business being snotty about my nephew's situation at all when here I was, pissed about a sick kid ruining my day.  On Friday, it was Ryan being sick and making me rearrange my day off around him that made me grit my teeth.

I was resentful last week when my supervisor informed me I was not eligible for a position I'd applied for, even though it's a step up from what I do now and hardly an earth-moving promotion, because I'm part-time.   I get tired of the "but you're part-time" getting thrown in my path, as an explanation of all the things I can't do or have or achieve; and it breeds a certain kind of contempt in me that I am part-time because of my home situation. 

I get mired in all the things I give up to stay at home and lose my focus on all the things I do right by being here.  This is the reality of my life, a world I chose, and I don't think it's fair to anyone for me to harbor any ill feelings. 

It's dark, it's ugly, and it makes me feel really, really small.

All the things I like to think I am not, brought to the surface like some putrid boil, reminding me that even in the lightest of hearts, there is a dark spot of selfishness.

I gave Ben a breathing treatment, and he's doing better. 

After a few deep breaths, I'll be doing better too.