Friday, December 19, 2008

Flying is optional

We'd been in the car about 1/2 an hour or so, first leg of the shuttling, and I hear Audrey pipe up: "Are we there yet? Don't you know a shortcut?"

I was about to say something when Ben said, "Audrey. There's a lot of traffic. It's not like we can fly."

"Only on my broom," I quipped, which made Ben crack up.

Minivans don't come with "flying package optional" on the sticker, but mine has something I'd consider the next best thing.

A DVD player.

I was resistant at first to the idea of one, but Mr W talked me into it by pointing out how nice it would be to have one already installed, ready to use at anytime; as opposed to our previous method, which involved a series of cables and headrest-mounted screens, the rigging up of which made a Space Shuttle launch look easy by comparison.

I'm all for reading and being bored on long roadtrips, but I have come to appreciate and love the DVD. Nolan sniffs with disdain when I use it for what he deems 'short' trips, but he's not driving. He has no appreciation for the silence-is-golden mood that spreads throughout the van whenever we use it.

Between that and the fat iTunes cards Mr W provides me, I maintain some semblance of sanity.

Even when I am turning down dark roads getting lost. :)

It's not only men...

...who won't ask for directions.

I spend a lot of time ferrying kids back and forth, and for the most part, I am okay with it. At this stage of the game, it's just part of the deal. I've gone from spending all day at home covered in Cheerios to spending all afternoon in my van, belting out my favorite tunes, trying to make sure I don't forget anything important.

Like a child.

Just last week, Mr W was home, as were 3 of the kids. I was emptying the dishwasher, and he was playing a computer game, we were just going through the usual afterschool routine of watering and feeding, when I looked at the clock. I looked at Mr W, alarmed: "We gonna get Ben? Because he's getting out of school right now."

His school is about 15-20 minutes away. Oops.

Last night, I had the added challenge of being in two places at once. Audrey and Ryan had a performance, at the elementary school down the street. Ben had a performance with the jazz band at a Mexican restaurant, that for all practical purposes, was on the other side of the world. They all had to be at their places within 45 minutes of each other and their functions were ending at the exact same time. Mr W was working.

It's like a math problem, isn't it? "If one van leaves at 5:30, with three kids, and arrives at 6:30, with two kids, with a detour in the middle, how long will it be before the Mom is escorted away by the men in white coats?"

I left with what I considered plenty of time. I knew, roughly, where Ben had to be, and I'm always up for an adventure. However, I assumed that if we were going to a restaurant, that the area around the restaurant would be oh, I don't know, inhabited by other businesses; not be located on a dark, damp stretch of road that instantly brought to mind visions of Friday the 13th. I panicked, foolishly made a turn in a muddy stretch I thought was a private drive but was really an alley (cue the Jason montage) and drove back down the road a mile, near panicky tears, to the last set of businesses I saw. I was about to call my reinforcements, but stubborn, I-can-do-this made me snatch the map (Ben had neglected to show me at the house before we left) and study it again, telling myself to focus, to think. Oooooohhh. I was on the right track, I just didn't go far enough into no-man's-land to find it. I drove back to where I was just at, and went further, into the darkness. A tiny swath of light appeared, and in it, a tiny sandwich board denoting the restaurant's name. I turned in and there was all kinds of light, and a giant, two story building mocking me with its size, what-took-you-so-long smugness in its facade.

I was about to do the move where I slow down just enough to shove the child out the door, as he was totally, horribly late (25 minutes, which in band-geekdom, translates into an hour, which means I was about to break out in hives) and I had a scant 20 minutes to get the other two to the elementary school when his band director showed up at the side of the van, all friendly and genuinely nice, and asked if we were coming inside. I reminded him of our other engagement, and he reminded me to call him if we had any problems with picking up Ben. (Which also required strategery on my part, but worked out just fine.)

I learned my lesson, took the surface streets I knew back, and we made it.

With seconds to spare.

I pointed and pushed Audrey to her spot, I sat Ryan in his; and I found one for me along the wall next to a friend who must've seen the look on my face as I surveyed the packed house and waved at me across the room to come stand by her.

I was enjoying the chorus' first number (Ryan is in it) when I realized that Nolan was not there.

Wasn't he supposed to meet me.....?

I texted him and he assured me he was almost there. Which, in teen-speak, translates into "I'm just leaving the place I'm at."

After the performances, my friend and I decided to take all the kids to eat at McDonalds. I was halfway to leaving when I realized...

I was missing a kid.

We'd have to wait for Ben to get home.

The men in white coats are very nice. I have my own private room, and the food is okay...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Christmas wish

I was reading a magazine the other night, and in it, there were letters to Santa that different authors had written, as if they were writing a letter for themselves at any given age (like 5, or 35, or 10, or 77). One of the letters in particular intrigued me, because the author pointed out to Santa that what she wanted wasn't really anything that could be put in a box, but if she gave him ideas, maybe he could come up with something that would fit the bill. I started thinking about what my letter to Santa would be, and after casting aside "mistletoe in my doorway" (Who doesn't enjoy a good smooch? Although, I think the UPS man mind find it offputting to be smooched by a lady in pink flannel panda pajamas, crazy hair, and questionable-hygiene-at-the-moment. My packages might never make it here again.) I came up with this:

Dear Santa,
I realize that you might not be able to do it, but I believe in Christmas magic and I have to ask...can I have one more day?

I would like one more day of sitting at her feet and feeling the mysterious whisper of silkyness as my 3 year old self stroked her stocking.
I would like one more day of following her around her garden, to hear the names of her plants, even though I know now that I did not inherit her green thumb. I ask for one more day to see her facial expressions as she listens to what I have to say, waiting until I am finished before correcting my Spanish.
I would like one more day to feel her hands gently get the tangles out of my hair before making my braids. I want one more day to giggle at a shared joke at my father's expense, one more day to play Loteria--to hear her say "El Catrin" as she held up the card for us to see the picture, one more time to sit on the bed and watch her get dolled up for her weekly Bingo excursion. To sit in the car, finding the capacity to keep my teenage mouth shut and listen to her and her friend Catalina replay the evening, as I drove them home, hearing who won the most money, local gossip, and the jangle of their bracelets against each other as they punctuated their stories with their hands. I want to hear her sigh, the one she made when I had the water temperature just right, as I angled the shower hose to hit her just so on her back. To hear her comment on how wonderfully healthy the children look. To see her face, patiently enjoying Audrey's attempts to comb her hair. To hear her "buenos noches, que Dios te bendiga" as we all took our leave at the end of our visit.
I want watch her make tortillas, measuring everything in the palm of her hand, rolling the dough into balls that magically stacked perfectly in her big silver bowl.

I know, Santa, this is not possible.

And that's okay.

I know I have her always.

In the gentleness of my hands as I work out the tangles in Audrey's hair, before I make her braids.
In finding the capacity to keep my Mom mouth shut, listening to the kids talk about their days as I drive them home, listening for them to punctuate their thoughts with drumming on their pant legs.
She'll be in my kitchen, every time I pull out my big silver bowl, rolling balls of cookie dough.
She'll be next to me, shaking her head every time another plant becomes one of my helpless victims. She will be with me, giving me the patience to wait until the kids are finished before correcting their Spanish.
I will still always hear "buenos noches, que Dios te bendiga" as I end a visit to my parents and head home.

Thanks, Santa, for listening. See what you can do.

It's not that I have regrets, that I feel that I didn't appreciate her enough. It's just that like a spoiled, petulant child, I am unhappy about losing one of my favorite things in the whole world.

Grudgingly, I accept the fact that 94 years is a long time to be on this earth and that she certainly earned the right to finally go. I am willing to part with her only because I have such wonderful, rich memories of our time together.

Buenos noches, Nana. Que Dios te bendiga para siempre.

Not as easy as it looks

Last week, I received word that my Nana was being moved into the hospice unit of the nursing home she was in. I wasn't worried, but I was sad that the end was approaching and when you're anticipating something like that, well, it's easy to lose focus.

I was at the elementary school picking up the kids when Nolan appeared out of nowhere. He'd forgotten his keys, and knew where to find me.

He very graciously occupied his sister on the swings while I finished up some stuff in the office. As we walked to our car, my thoughts were on calling my Mom for news, when I had a little brainstorm.

I decided I needed a normal, regular thing to keep my mind at bay for a few more minutes.

I cocked my head and looked at my tall, gangly boy and smiled. "Mijo," I began, not believing the next words that were going to come out of my mouth, "Do you want to drive us home?" (He'll be fifteen in about 12 days. The permit window is quickly approaching. He's gotta start sometime....)

"Really? You're not kidding??" he asked, incredulous. "Not kidding," I said, taking a deep breath as I handed him the keys. "Get in."

I made sure Audrey was buckled in, and I gave him some instruction on where the gas and brake pedals were, as well as how to get it into drive. "Let your foot off the brake, and it will roll forward. Get a feel for it and then you can put your foot gently on the gas," I said.

He listened. And concentrated.

I held my breath but was calm when I addressed him. "You're going to have to slow down up here to turn," I said, then I reached over and helped him make the turn. "Look in front of you, not at the cars parked in the street. Your hands will follow your eyes, and we will hit whatever you're looking at," I added.

Audrey started giggling like mad in her seat.

"Um, you need to step on the gas." Pa-whump! The van jumped a few feet forward, and I became reacquainted with the head rest. "Easy, dude. A little lighter with that foot..." "Sorry, Mom." "What are you doing, trying to kill us, Noey?" asked our little backseat driver.

We approached an intersection, and as people in our neighborhood don't always remember to slow down, I made him slow as we got closer. A car approached us, and we had a little standoff. You go. No, you go. No, really, you go. Finally, I semi got out of the van, standing up in the doorway, shouting over the top of it, "He's learning. Go ahead and go."

The other driver smiled widely, light bulb going off in his head, and I could almost see him remembering his first drive.

We made it up the street in fits and starts, and finally, we were at our house. "You're Dad's not home, so we have the whole driveway. I'm gonna let you pull in and park it." I helped him with the turn again, but as we hit the incline of the curb, we paused a little, so he goosed it enough to make it...but kept going.

"Brake, son. Brake. Brake NOW!"

He'd mistakenly hit the gas. Luckily, he recovered in time such that my garage door is remains intact.

Surprisingly enough, so do my nerves.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I should read before I sign

I get pieces of paper shoved at me all the time, usually rumpled from being in the bottom of the backpack, and always of the highest urgency.

The rule of the house is no shoving paper under Mom's nose while we are pulling out of the driveway on the way to school. It took a while, but they are all on board with this, and it's gotten 100% better.

Now if I could get them to stop shoving paper under my nose at bedtime, when Mom's patience is short and all she wants is the breathy silence that accompanies 4 little bodies hitting the hay simultaneously.

Not that 'simultaneous' ever happens. Nope. There's one last trip to the bathroom, two drinks of water, and a "did you brush your teeth? get in there!" before I can even be assured that everyone is in their own bedroom.

All of which leads me to the papers...the papers I have to sign for field trips. Ryan had a zoo field trip a few weeks ago. Audrey has a field trip today.

I'm a sucker for "Mom, will you come with us?" because at the end of the day, I'll pretty much say "Okay" to anything if it means I can watch tv by myself, for the ten minutes I'll get in before I'm knocked out too, face down in the latest issue of "Real Simple." (You are what you read. ;p)

As a result, I went on a zoo field trip a few weeks ago with the fourth graders, the highlight of which were the giant poops in the rhino pen and the babboon's red asses. Try explaining babboon red asses without the real reason why and you will begin to understand why it is more fun to be at the zoo with kindergartners, whom you can easily distract with "Hey! Did I just hear the lions roaring??"

And today, I'm going on a field trip with Audrey to the local bowling alley. Six classes of 1st and 2nd graders. Just the thought of all those shoes needing to be changed is making me reach for the Excedrin right now.

Hopefully, she will be as sweet as her brother, and pat the seat next to her for me to sit down when we get on the bus.

I guess I should count my blessings, were it not for the kids going to all these local exotic places, the only time I'd do anything fun like this is.........

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Order something else

On the way to work this morning, I decided to drop in to Starbucks.

I usually try to avoid it, because I know it will make me late; but it was one of those mornings where I was trying to maintain that I wasn't really cranky yet knew, deep down, that I'd be better caffeinated.

It was unusually busy at my usual drive-thru, and I'm a patient kinda girl, even if I am cranky, so I parked my car and walked in. I tried not to feel a little smug as I watched all the 'gotta-go, gotta-go' types jockeying for the next available spot in the line of cars approaching the drive-thru entrance, knowing it didn't matter what spot they got, they'd still be waiting when I was heading back to my car.

Once inside, I had to wait in line, but it's fun for me to people watch in Starbucks, if only to hear what people order. I think the next time they ask for my name, though, I'm going to start amusing myself and try using different ones. Something easy to fit on the side of a cup, like "Tallulah." "Janet. Miss Jackson-if-you're-nasty." "George."

I was waiting for them to call my name, and listening to the barista as she called out what the order was/customer's name. I always feel a little weird when they call out my drink, as though the mere mention of what I'm having is some indication to the world of my psyche. As if "tall breve gingersnap latte" would reveal to the world that, heee-eeeyy, this chick, she's got a precious drink, but the breve, well, that's quite decadent, even on a Friday, you can bet she's rockin' some hot underwear, maybe a black bra underneath that tshirt, and whoa! matching panties, too; as a spotlight appears from nowhere and follows me out the door. (For those who don't know, 'breve' means that they make your latte with half-and-half, for heaven's sake, and yes, it is creamy goodness but really, if you're going to drink that, you may as well be drinking full-fat chocolate milk and having someone gently wipe off your chin when you're done.)

Anyway, I'm standing there, eyeing the crowd, hoping not one of the soy-milk-nonfat-sugar-free crowd judges my choice of butterfat with an indiscreet eyebrow raise when it happens.

"Venti caramel mocha frappuccino for Ryan," the barista calls out and I turn my head to see a dude in his mid twenties approach, and yeah, I'm thinking, surely, that's not his drink, but then I see the girl with him has a cup already and then I'm a little catty, a little judgmental, as I see him get his straw ready and take a drink.

He wasn't fruffy, but he wasn't dressed like he was doing any manual labor, either. And I couldn't help but thinking he looked a little ridiculous holding a giant, clear, domed lid cup, the upper half filled with whipped cream, the visible criss-cross of caramel up the inside of the cup making it look more like a confection than a real cup of joe. Again, I have no excuse, I mean, my drink is not anywhere near the truly hard coffee served in some places around here, but I just find it very emasculating for a man to be seen holding a cup like that, drinking something that amounts to a coffee-flavored milkshake. Clearly, his momma didn't raise him right. (I won't get started on the metro-hair.)

It made me wish I'd stopped at the convenience store just up the street, where the men are men, taking their coffee in giant doses and should they reach for cream and sugar, they might say "Excuse me, ma'am" in a voice that sounds like it's seen some real life, even though they know you heard them coming up behind you, because work boots always make that scuffy thud-step across the floor. Everyone just wants their caffeine hit so they can be on their way, not a frappuccino half-caf soy anything in sight.

Guess I know where I'm stopping next time.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Nice to be missed

I got in from work the other day, and no sooner than I put my keys down, I had my circle of friends around me. Audrey hugging, Ryan behind her, and the little dog jumping up and down behind both of them.

"Mommy, why do you smell so good?" "Mommy, you're pretty." "Mommy, I missed you."

It was enough to stop the "Can't-you-people-let-me-set-down-my-purse-and-breathe?" snark about to come out of my mouth. Wooowww. Kinda hard to not like being loved like that.

I considered changing my schedule and working full time.

But then the real work started: "Mom, I'm hungry." "Mom, I need a book for school, can you take me to Barnes and Noble?" "Mom, can you help me with my homework?" "Mom." "Mom." "Mommm...."

"How was your day?" Mr W asked, as I walked into our room and made my Mr Rogers change-of-clothes switch.

"It appears it's just getting started," I answered, grinning at him as I finished putting my things away.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

He strikes again

I was hanging up clothes in my closet the other night when the little guy entered my room. He was on his way to bed and wanted his goodnight kiss.

I bent a little at the waist, he's much shorter than I am, and he gently placed his hand on both sides of my face, drew me in, planted one on me just as he slid one hand around to the back of my head to make sure I was in the right spot. "Goodnight, Mom," he said, as he left the room.

I doubled over giggling at the foot of our bed, shaking my head and asking Mr W, "Did you see that?" I straightened up, and raising an eyebrow, I could not resist this comment: "You don't even kiss me like that."

I hope this doesn't foreshadow a liking for chubby older women with curly hair who like their lip gloss.

Somewhere, I think Freud is chuckling in his grave.

Either way, someday, some girl will be very happy.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Okay, this one is weird....

We were just finishing up dinner last week, pizza, when Ryan suddenly swooped in on me and gave me a kiss.

He pinned my head back, before I had a chance to wipe the pepperoni-ness off my mouth, and laid one on me. My lips were slightly parted as I was about to tell him "hang on a sec." MMMMMM-WAAAAAAH!! he smacked, turning on his heel and exiting the room as he noted, "Mmm, that was good!!!" complete with a fisted little arm swing for emphasis.

I had to wonder what he was referring to, me or the pizza. Mauled by my own boy.

I'm adding that to the "He did what?" list of parenting moments.

Granted, it's a little odd; but he's gonna not even want to be seen standing next to me in public soon, so I'll let this one slide.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A bar of soap should be on my plate

I have no idea if the little scribbler guy is on this page.

Remo tagged me with it, and I am still working the kinks out over here (heh heh heh, she said "kink") so I have no idea if it will make it.

Fair enough. I have to think of some blogs to mention anyway, and I am pressed for time (have to go pick up the oldest soon, he's at a band thing, and---this will make Remo look outside to see if it's raining---I STAYED HOME.

But on with my post.

About 2 months or so ago, my brother called me and asked me if I would take in his dog. The dog is a Chihuahua, about a year old, and the poor little guy's name is "Coco." Very unmasculine, but I didn't name him. Anyway, the long story short is he asked me to do it because he knows Mr W likes the dog and the dog likes him; and he thought it would be better if the dog wintered with us (my brother lives in Northern Az, where it snows) and maybe, well "If he works out okay and everyone likes him, you guys can keep him, it can be kinda a present for Mr W."

I should have known better.

The only present from that dog I get are the tiny, brown kind. Well, unless you count the puddles.

He is not neutered. He marks.
He was not crate trained, but I won.
He doesn't even really come to his name. (I can hardly blame him.)

My lap and my attention are not what he seeks, unless I am in the kitchen, then all of a sudden, I'm his best friend. The rest of the time he treats me with the kind of indifference I last experienced from the boys I went to high school with.

I believe the dog hates me.

However, I am patient, and I still feed him and seek him out, making an effort to procure his friendship outside of the food I might have on my plate.

But even my patience has limits. And I think, if I keep it up, he will start answering to what I usually call him.

"Where is that Little Bastard?" I usually ask, through gritted teeth. Paper towels/chewed up shoe/peed-on item in my hand.

I had no idea I called him that so frequently until last night. It was Audrey's turn to feed him and Ben was with her in the garage, helping her out. Suddenly, he's doubled over in laughter.

"Mom. Did you hear that?" he gasps out between giggles.

"What? No," I answer.

"She went into the house, swung the door open, and said, "Where is that Little Bastard-dog?"

Ooops. In my head, I could almost hear her saying that....and I couldn't stop laughing.

I walked into our room and held my wrist out to Mr W. "Just smack it," I instructed him, as I tried to gasp out the story between giggles myself.

I had a word with Audrey later, about not repeating what she hears come out of Mommy's mouth.

And I made a promise to myself to refer to the dog as "LB" instead.

(I'll have to finish the tagging part later, it's time to go get the boy.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Did I say that?

I started laughing, snorting, crying...

Ben looked at me like I needed to be medicated. "Mom? What's so funny?" he asked.

I was on my way to take him to school.


He was missing his extracurricular class, but it wasn't my fault.

You see, there are some mornings my life is a sitcom, and yesterday was one of them. I was running late (for real) and trying to get everyone out the door, bad hair day be damned, and as I am ushering the chicks out of the coop, Ben stops dead in his tracks and announces he needs the bathroom, in the voice that tells me he's going to be a while.

Fabulous. Why? Why now?? It's deja vu, in a dirty-diaper-blowout-all-over-your-lap-as-you-are-about-to-leave-for-work sense. I sigh.

"Go," I point to the bathroom, "I'll drop these kids off and come back for you."

When I got back, he was heading down the hall to me. I throw some things in my own lunchbag, and grab my water bottle, I'm turning towards the door, when he gets a weird look on his face.

And says something about his underwear feeling funny, complete with hip wiggle.

"I think these are Ryan's," he explains.
"FIX them," I say through gritted teeth.

Finally, we are on our way, and about a mile down the road, when this rant just spews forth:
"I don't know what it is about you and taking a crap," I say (you have to understand, that for most of his early years, God bless him, he used to have to disrobe ENTIRELY when he was going to be a while, it was a production) "I mean, why should you take so long?" I start beating my open palm against the steering wheel for emphasis: "You go in." (beat) "You take a crap." (beat) "You get out." (beat) "What's so hard about that?"

I wasn't mad. It was just one of those frustrated-mom moments that bubbled out into the open. He looked at me, a bit chagrined, and I swear I saw him roll his eyes, 'is-she-done-yet-can-I-turn-up-the-radio?' all over his face.

We driven a bit further when I had my laughing fit. Which brings us back to the beginning of my story.

"What's so funny?" he asked when I paused for a breath.

"Dude, the things I find myself saying, the conversations I have with you kids, because of you kids, sometimes, it's absurd. You have to see how funny that is... I had a flash, of all the ridiculous things that have come out of my mouth: 'Don't eat your boogers.' 'Do that in private.' 'You take a crap too slow.' It's hilarious, when you think about it."

He started laughing too. "I guess so."

He was just delighted that I wasn't ranting anymore.

Just like his father, he's relieved when I stop raving and start smiling.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I have been obsessed, I am obsessed...with a much younger man.

Okay, a fictitious much younger man...who happens to be a hot teenage vampire.

I can't remember when I first read the book, but I can tell you I just finished reading Twilight again last week. The movie opens Friday, and I am like a man who has taped his favorite sporting event to watch later, I'm trying to avoid the newspaper, tv, and radio. Sure, I know what happens. But I don't want my anticipation bubble burst by someone else's opinion.

I don't know what it is about Edward, the hot teenage vampire, that has me so mesmerized.

Well, maybe I do.

He's polite, and old fashioned; handsome, articulate, heroic...and not necessarily the good guy, unless it comes to the lead female character in the story. He's amazing with her, for her.

I'll be sitting there, reading away, and as I get through certain passages, I find myself holding my breath, hand over my heart, melting.

I hope that happens as I see it onscreen.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Check please

Last week our school had their fall festival. I didn't have to be there for a couple of hours, but a couple of the Moms from school that I am friends with had to stay at school for the set up, as well as through the festival to run it. As I went to pick up my kids, I thought maybe my friends' children might want to come and hang out with me, as opposed to being stuck at school while their Moms were busy.

The only fly in the ointment was that I had to go to Costco for one thing before getting Ben at school. No biggie, I thought, we'll still have time to get some pizza at the food court and zip on over for Ben.

I should know better. I should know better than to think that a quick trip to Costco with three 6 year olds and Ryan would not be quick.

The children behaved, but of course the item I needed had been relocated due to the Christmas stock and we wound up doing a couple of laps through the store while I hunted for it. "Wow!" "Look!" "Mommy, can I try that?" was all I heard as my little band stopped every fifteen feet to look at something "Cool!". Eventually we made it to the checkout, and after stopping a game of skipping that got a little rowdy (at an empty register nearby) I was on the home stretch. I mentally calculated the time to get the pizza and the time I had to get to Ben.

"Hey, you guys can eat in the car, right?" I asked, crossing my fingers against spills and choking.

"Yes," they chorused.

I was looking at the cashier as if that would somehow make him go faster when I heard a giggle. Giggle, giggle....and a pointed finger in front of me, "Ha, ha, that says NAKED," the adorable little guy along with me announced loudly with glee. "Naked!" he pointed it out to the girls. Who also started giggling and saying "naked" far more loudly than need be.

I sighed, stifling a giggle myself, wondering what his Mom would think when all he reported to her of our trip to the store was "Naked!" Luckily the gentleman behind me in line, to whom the Naked juice belonged, was highly amused, and chortled himself. My mind whirled, looking for a way out.....

"That's good reading, J," I complimented him. "Wow. You're getting really good at it!" Encouraged, he started reading everything else in front of him. "That says 'red peppers' and that says 'cheese'," he continued with pride as he touched each package. "Sugar," I stopped his hand, "it's probably not a good idea to touch other people's food like that," I said. "What kind of pizza would you like?" I asked, as I could see the finish line. "Can I have a churro for dessert?" he asked.

I love a boy who has his priorities straight.

They got loaded up into the van, three peas in a pod, pizza in their laps....churro by one of their sides. I drove carefully and tried not to worry about the time.

Finally--I pulled around the corner and saw Ben sitting on the curb. He scowled at me until he opened the door to the van. Upon seeing the children, and what they were eating, he grinned widely.

"I can see why you're late."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's nineteen eighty-_______ ........

In some parts of the lab, we aren't allowed to wear headphones. So when we are working in these places, we usually have a radio blaring or if possible, internet radio blaring. Internet radio is good because you have a better chance of finding music that pleases the masses.

The boys tend to listen to super hard rock, but I can't do that for extended lengths of time or I start feeling really aggressive, in a "You talking to me? Cuz I'll kick your ass..." kind of way. I tend to like pop-y stuff, stuff I can sing along to under my breath, stuff I don't have to think to hard Madonna (a guilty pleasure, for sure).

One day, a couple of weeks ago, one of the boys left the room, and he set it to Madonna for me before he left. Another friend of mine was working with me and after about ten minutes, she asked if we could "maybe listen to something a little less...eighties?" "Whatever," I said, biting back a comment about how maybe she didn't want to date herself in front of the young man who just left us.

I also chuckled inwardly, as I thought to myself, "If she only knew...."

If she only knew that I had done something uber-eighties just that Sunday before.

Another coworker and I had gone to a concert together. A good friend of hers had extra tickets and she invited me to.......ahem...a Rick Springfield concert. It doesn't get any more eighties than that, does it???

It doesn't. And that is perfectly okay.

I went along because I figured there are worse ways to spend a Sunday night, the venue was small, and I knew I liked at least one of his songs.

Having spent my entire high school career wanting to be Jessie's Girl, or at least using that as the reason why I had no one beating down my "she's taken" door, I could not resist.

We dutifully went to our assigned seats, and made polite small talk while we waited for the show to start. About 10 minutes before showtime, we noticed a bunch of ladies all start walking towards the apron of the stage. No way, I thought. Rushing the stage at Rick Springfield? In 2008??

Should we? We looked at each other, naaaahhhh,, hesitating.

He came out.

We hesitated no longer. We were not disappointed, either.

Down in the front of the stage, a mere five people back from the front of it, I eyed his leather jacket. It was perfectly distressed, but it appeared to be from wear, not because he bought it that way. I kinda hoped he'd throw it into the crowd, but totally forgot about it once he took it off.

Because ladies, that man had a surprisingly impressive set of guns. Not too bulky, nicely defined--you know--the kind of arms that let you know you're being held. I poked my friend and mouthed "wow." Who knew?

I bounced around, singing along, surprising myself that I knew a lot the songs, not so surprised when I started placing them in my teenage timeline. He was really friendly with the crowd, and wasn't too cheesy at all (although there were, I admit, a couple of cheesy moments). He went to all sides of the stage, whipping the ladies into a frenzy.

I'd forgotten how good looking he was (how is that possible?) until I looked up at precisely the right moment, purely luck, as he looked right at me. (Okay, so maybe not right at me, but at the ten other girls around me and me.) . Hit fully by the force of those green, green eyes, I felt my heart just stop for a second. There he was, not fifteen feet away from me, all green-eyed, sweaty, six-foot-one of him. With his guitar. Oy. I swooned like the fifteen year old girl I once was.

It was great fun; I had a really good time. He went up into the audience, and was in the tiny space in front of some lady's seat, playing away. I thought she was going to come unglued, I still have no idea how she managed to stay composed when all the people around her were just going apeshit.

After the show, we stood around outside, marveling at how awesome he looked. We started speculating how old he must be, about how old we were (back in his soap opera days and now), finally settling on late 40's/early 50's. My curiosity was piqued, so I looked him up when I got home.

He's 59.

Which should make me feel "ewww" in a bad way, but instead makes no difference, as I feel "rrrrrr" in another way. (Seriously, his earring bothered me way more than his age does. You can check it out. Google him, there's pictures on his website.)

The show was about an hour, hour and a half, and he sang the entire time; totally energetic and interacting with the audience. Not bad for an old guy.

An old guy who is the new guilty pleasure on my iPod.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Big Squeeze

I was in Target with Audrey, walking down the aisles from point a to point b when I got distracted. I looked to my right, and she looked to my left----and bolted across the aisle to the ladies underwear section. She pointed to a rack of thongs, and asked, loudly, "Mommy! What's this?"

Before I could reply, she picked one up.

Not seeing this as a teaching moment, particularly since one of the boys was with us, I just replied "underwear" and "put it down" as I kept briskly walking by, knowing she'd follow me. I knew I wasn't off the hook, but I also knew she'd get interested in something else, why make a big deal out of it?

Of course, I still heard my Nana's voice in my head, hissing "cochinas!" as in "only for dirty girls." Nanas are kind of strict that way.

It made me think about my first bra. White. Unadorned, except for a little rosebud in the front. Because lace, color, and too much adornment--"cochinas!"

If she only knew what was in my undie drawer right now.....she'd whip out her rosary.

It seems a little odd, I know, for my Nana to have ever been interested in my underwear, but it's just one of those things; one of my Nanas lived with us when I hit puberty, and the other, being the mother of 3 girls herself, knew what was going on even without me telling her. There was no way they'd let me get away with "cochina."

But back to the bra. And what goes in it.

I had my first mammogram earlier this week.

The thought of someone else, even a trained medical professional, handling the tas made me a little queasy. Not to mention I've seen that machine. I know how it works.

I was all bravado, sitting in the lobby, blithely texting Nolan while filling out my paperwork.

Mr W showed up, there for yet another of my rites of passage, supportive as always.

When lady called my name, and he asked if he should accompany me, and I told him I'd be fine, handing him my book and turning around before he could see unease cross my face.

She led me to another waiting room, and inside it, opened the door to another little room, a dressing room. She gave me the instructions in a soothing tone, (what does she mean, wear that out open in the front?), and left me. There was a giant mirror mounted on the wall, fatly edged in gold. If I am going to be topless in front of a mirror like that, I thought, shouldn't there be someone sliding money through a slot somewhere on the other side of it?

I changed and went back out into the waiting room, where I nervously thumbed through a magazine, angled away from the door, holding the front of the gown together and hoping no one else was going to come in and join me.

A few minutes passed before the tech came back, signaling me to follow her down the hall to the room where we'd get the pictures. As I followed her, I noticed the door to the lobby was a little open, and I almost ran into her in my haste to get out of line of sight of anyone on the other side of the door.

And suddenly, I was face to face with it. The Flattener 2000.

My mouth was suddenly dry. The tech explained what she needed me to do, and I tried not to flinch at the coldness of her hands as she positioned Boob A on the equally cold plate. As she patted my breast into place, I resisted quipping, "Shouldn't we have dinner and a movie first?" or "Have we been formally introduced?"

I secretly hoped she'd say my boobs sure didn't look 40.

I mean, I don't mind my boobs, I think they are not a bad size (a nice handful) and they served me well in nourishing my children. But I still lament gravity. The brown vs. pink. Their tendency to look more National Geographic than Playboy.

Thank goodness for the smoke and mirrors of a good pushup deep plunge underwire. Not white.

If I hadn't been so nervous, I might have giggled at the coordination involved: "Okay, now turn your hips this way," as she positioned my hips; "good, now tilt your chin back," um, what?; "hold on here," as she moved my hand to the bar; "now, hold your breath," wait, I need to take one in; "good"; is it over? She stepped back around and freed my boob. Which, to its credit, sprang back into shape, offended. I started putting the gown back on my shoulder to take the other side off when she told me "oh, hang on, we need another picture" as the Flattener 2000 came to life and turned the plates 45 degrees.

I raised an eyebrow. Now, there's a trick, I thought, trying not to think about how my boob was going to get into that position. I mean, I'm limber, but there are limitations.

Getting the boob on the plate (pat, pat) was not that bad...but this view is one that gets up into your armpit too, and if I didn't feel like a piece of meat before, I sure felt like one now.

There was more choreography, of the same kind, but with "drop your other shoulder" added, five, six, seven, eight, jazz hands, aaaannnd "hold your breath!" I tried to think I was anywhere but there, but this is one of those things that you just can't really detach yourself from.


Whew. Halfway there.

Crap. Halfway there.

Put the gown back on the right, take the gown off on the left, here we go, one more time! Aaaand high kick!

Once we were done, she explained to me how I'd get my results, hopefully by Friday. I nodded sagely, very 'I do this everyday.'

I walked back into my little dressing room, and I can honestly say, I have never looked at my bra with so much relief before ever in my life. It was one of my favorites, a smooth bright blue number with just the right stuff to make the girls feel better.

As we exited the building, Mr W looked at me, brow knit, patting my shoulder, "Are you okay?"

"We're fine," I reassured him. "Just a little cold."

I would ordinarily have suggested he help me out with that, but the tas just weren't ready to receive any more visitors.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Any couch in a storm

There has to be something cosmically wrong when the tone of my daydreaming fantasies shifts from "rrrrrr, give me some of that" to "mmmm, a nap..."

I look at my bed longingly, the magic chair with a fondness usually reserved for loved ones, and am prone to Goldilocks moments where I imagine falling asleep at various friends' houses: "This couch is too big. This couch is too soft. This couch is juuuuust riiiiight."


Lusting for sleep.

Finally, a good excuse for the drool mark on my shirt.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Look

Ryan has a doctor appointment later this morning. He's fine, it's just a followup. I asked him if he brushed his teeth...

"Yeah, I brushed them."

I catch the look. The look that means I should press him again.

"Really?" I look at him square in the eye. "Because they're looking in your mouth later and we're not coming home beforehand." "Go brush them again. You need to brush them super-good, okay, bud?"

"Awwww, man...." he says, as he drops his backpack and makes his way back down the hall towards the bathroom.

"I brushed mine super-good, Mommy," Audrey announces, as she comes up to me. "Yeah?" "Smell my breath."

I hesitate but know I will need to do this. Semi-holding my breath, I lean forward and stick my nose into the lion's mouth.

"Maybe you should go have another shot at that too," I tell her.

Note to self: Next time, hold your breath. And add bubblegum to breakfast.

Monday, October 20, 2008

This is my now

Right now I am in the throes of the marching band season. I'm officially a Band Parent. Nolan is in marching band and it has taken over my whole life.

Yeah. Really.

It's not like I'm performing myself or anything like that, it's just between making sure he's on time for the zero hour to making sure he's still on top of his homework to volunteering myself for the myriad of things that need to be done to keep the band things going; coupled with working and taking care of the other three, I barely can stay up until 10.

I will pay for this in the morning, let me tell you.

It's great fun being a band parent though. I've learned all kinds of things:

*that the word "shako" means hat, and not some new dance move
*that the show is the icing on the cake after weeks and weeks and hours and hours and hours of rehearsal
*there's no wrong way to insert a plume, but it better be straight
*bibs aren't just for babies
*watching from the track can be dangerous (don't lock your knees) (watch out for the football players)
*how to handle food (got my food handlers' license to work the concession stand--nachos, anyone?)
*riding the schoolbus is not a bad thing--it's a giant, yellow, limo. I can text in traffic and it's legal. :)
*timing is everything

Oh, yes. Timing. I am coming to understand that what I was told by former band folk is true. Band geeks are always on time. Their adage, "if you're not fifteen minutes early, you're late" is now my daily mantra. Who would ever have believed that "I'm running late" would slowly move out of my regular repertoire? As always, the child is dictating when I get up and I'm forced to be ON TIME. This hasn't happened since before he was weaned, and it's a feat I am starting to be proud of. Punctuality! What a concept!

I've enjoyed working the concession stand, even if I feel like I can't look at a hot dog or a vat of nacho cheese ever again by the end of the night. I smell like jalapenos and popcorn with a hint of churro by the time I get home. The dogs love me.

When I imagined being followed by admirers, having the dogs sniff away, tails wagging, at my ass as I walk down the hall, peeling off my shirt as I make a beeline for the shower, is not exactly what I had in mind.

At this point, however, I'll take what admiring I can get.

If only the posts made it from my mind to the page

I know I haven't been here lately, but I do write alot. In my head.

Where to start..........?

I'll start at the beginning.

When I first received notice that we were going to have to move from AOL elsewhere, it got me to thinking why I'd ever started blogging in the first place.

I mean, I've always told other people stories about my kids, subjecting them to whatever happened that day that I found amusing. When you're home with four children, believe me, it's better to think about their antics as "amusing" and not "the reason why Anna drinks." Now that they are bigger, and I am able to talk to adults more, like at work, I find myself talking to them kids.

I remember one time at work, one of my colleagues mentioned to me that I should "start a know, write the stories so someone else can read them on the internet." At the time, I shrugged him off, and I stopped talking for a few days, thinking maybe he'd had enough of Ryan's last rash and how Ben told the saleslady in Home Depot that I was the reason we were there buying a toilet plunger and a mop.

And then one night, a few months later, I was waiting for my kids to finish a class, and another friend of mine told me that he'd just started a blog, and I should check it out. He also suggested I write down some of the things I would tell him as we waited for our children.

At the time, I was inclined to shrug him off. But something about the look on his face, the excitement he had on it, and the fact that he was gave me the address so that I, a friend, not even his teacher grading an assignment, could read it----I got curious. I'd not really ever pegged him as a writer, and that is my own bias--all the boys I know or ever knew up until that point were decidedly not given to writing.

I read. Once I got over my initial discomfort, that I was invading his privacy, I was dazzled. Impressed. A little intimidated.

I could never write like that, I thought.

Yet I found myself writing posts in my head at night as I fell the morning as the kids and I made it through our morning the grocery I gave everyone their baths at night. Eventually I emailed my friend an account of what happened to me one morning, telling him that I thought I might post something like that. "Looks like you have the idea, " he encouraged. That evening, I bit the bullet and put it out there for the world to see. I made some new friends. Somewhere in the sharing of my life's little details, I was able to find a place of my own, a place I liked to visit and have others visit, too.

Which is what I hope to find here. I've felt a little off balance not writing anything at all. The posts in my head are staging a coup, they want OUT.

I still read everything my friend writes as soon as I know he's posted it. I am still dazzled, amused, impressed, and sometimes intimidated by the things that come out of his head.

So, to my good friend Remo, thanks for the nudge. I know I'll like this new place as much as I did my last.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Just settling in

The floors are clean, the cupboards bare....and everything still smells new.

It still remains to be seen whether or not moving is all it's cracked up to be.

But I'll give it a shot.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Just leave the light on for me


So this is what this place looks like, huh?

By some miracle, I am still up.  For how long--well, that's another story.  Hopefully I can get through this without drooling on the keyboard.

Not much new going on in my house other than a lot of same-old-same-old routine:  get 'em up, move 'em out, and pick 'em up, do-your-homework; sprinkled in with trips to the grocery store, my work, and the gas station.  Lots of trips to the gas station. 

One night last week, I fell asleep in the living room, which is not all that surprising.

I woke up and sleepily toddled off to our room, making a pit stop in the bathroom.  

I had just stuck my thumbs into my waistband and was in the process of the mid-drop-trou sitdown when my spidey-sense started tingling.  

Something caught my eye on the ground, right under my foot...because it was moving.  Fast. 

I stood up, yanking my foot up in the process, expecting -yuck- a cockroach (it was that type of moving fast).

Oh.  Just a scorpion.  About six inches long.  Under my foot.

I gasped loudly, that "huugh!" intake of breath that makes you shiver.  I stepped back and bent over a bit to get a better look, goosebumps erupting, forced to evaluate and formulate a plan.

I wasn't fully awake, but you know, that fight-or-flight thing is pretty good at making one snap-to.

Running through the potential weapons I had in the bathroom at the time, I decided an eyelash curler probably wouldn't do the trick, so I opened our bedroom door to go in search of a shoe.

Preferably something along the lines of a size 20 Doc Marten, but alas, Mr W has small feet and all we own are pretty much sneakers.

The light from the bathroom, combined with my "huugh" woke Mr W.  "What?"  "There's a scorpion in here."  "Kill it."  "Duh.  I'm getting a shoe."

Quickly, I grabbed one of my heavier shoes, and I hurried back into the bathroom.  I closed the door and took a deep breath, aimed and gave it a big whack. (You cannot hesitate, it's gotta be a good one, or why bother--it will scurry away.)

It crumpled a little, and oh, is that tail still moving???  WHACK.

I decided beige goo = dead enough so I cleaned it up off the floor and gave it a burial at sea.

I did my business, shuddering at how close I came to stepping on it.   At this point, I was a little too adrenalized to sleep, and decided to watch a little tv to calm down.  (I really wanted to go room to room and make sure I had no more guests, but 5 am is kicking my ass, so I knew I better settle down and go to sleep or live to regret it.)

Turning off the light, I exited the bathroom, and expected to hear a "did you get it?" and maybe a pat, pat, "are you okay?" but instead I heard...snoring. 

My hero, I sighed as I walked down the hall.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

It's never too early to crack up

"When is your birthday, Mom?"  Nolan asked, as he ate breakfast.

I was in mid-eyeroll, "Why do you guys keep asking me this?" exasperation when I heard Mr W pipe up "Tuesday" from the vicinity of his chair.

"Heretoforafter known as 'Black Tuesday',"  I pointed out to Nolan.

Without missing a beat, he cocked his head sideways as if in thought, and he says, "Don't you mean 'Gray Tuesday'?" 

Nice one.

I'll file that away for the day he comes to me, "I need you to sign for my driver's permit."

"Eh, sonny?  What did you say??" 

It's an adjustment

When Nolan was a baby, and we were new parents, I remember a time when it took two of us to accomplish a somewhat simple task.

Changing the poopy diaper should not have seemed such a challenge, but when you are doing it on a newly circumcised baby, it seems impossible.   With the added fun of postpartum retrospect, I think I cried more than Nolan did.

I was thinking of this one morning last week, as Mr W and I shuffled around the house (and each other) in the predawn-5 am-quiet.

In theory, it shouldn't take two parents to wake up one teenager and get him ready for school.  But it does.

I make the boy something to eat and get the lunches going for everyone.  Mr W does the initial wake up and makes sure Nolan is moving around.  Everyone is resigned to their fate, we all have our roles, and there is no grousing allowed.

Nolan stumbles to the table, and pretends to eat, and then Mr W drives him to school.

Nolan is in marching band.  Which means he has "zero hour."  I am appalled to report that means he has to be at school at 6 am so he can be ready to go at 6:15. 

On the bright side, it's good to get up that early and get ahead of the wake-up-get-to-school routine.

On the not-so-bright side, it's waking up at 5 am, indefinately.  *yawn*

I am learning the Tao of the High Schooler.  The Tao of the Band Parent. 

At the same time, I am coping with turning 40 this month.

Throw in some hormones....and it'll explain why the words "call time" can bring me to tears.

I swear, those are the two dirtiest words I've ever heard.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Sharpie is a terrible thing to waste

The boy returned from band camp Friday just fine.  It was a little shaky there, for a day or two...where his phone calls were enough to make me want to zip right up there and bring him home.  

By Wednesday, he sounded more like himself, just tired, and I was able to put my car keys back down.

The imprint of where they were gripped in my hand just wore off yesterday.

Now, it's on to bigger and better things.

We start school Monday.

I vowed this year to wait until school starts to by school supplies.  This is a novel concept for me, as those who know me well can attest.  The prospect of reams of pristine paper, new pens, and the smell of a new box of crayons is usually enough to make me veer into the nearest Target and load up like I have to supply the entire neighborhood.

I was doing quite well until a friend of mine told me that spiral notebooks were 5 cents at Walmart.  5 cents!  And so the ball started rolling in my mind, the wheels turning...I mean, having gone through this so many times before, I kinda know what they're going to need anyway...and I can get those things first, the stuff the teachers want later....and I won't go crazy.

As I stood in the checkout at Walmart yesterday with Nolan beside me,  stacks of 5 cent notebooks in front of my, I felt that pang, that good pang of "this is a great deal!"  

There was also that control-freak pang of "I'm on top of things."

It was enough to carry me through the day, even though I resisted the siren call of "special edition" Sharpies in colors I'd not seen before but love.  Later, I whispered to them, as I placed them back on the shelf gently, with the care of a lover.

I saw my friend last night, and I told her I'd checked out Walmart.  "Did you see the Walgreens ad?"  "No."  "Five pack of Bic mechanical pencils, 5 cents each, you can buy 3 packs at a time.  We bought like 30 packs, I cleaned out the one I went to, I'm hitting two more tonight."

I felt feverish. 

So I went to Walgreens as soon as I got everyone home.

I am certain that by the time school starts, my friend's picture will be posted by mine---right next to cash registers all over town.

Monday, July 14, 2008

...."and one time...."

" band camp..."

I just thought I'd get that out of the way.  You'll see why in a minute.

I dropped off Nolan today at the school.  He is going up north, a few hours away, to band camp.  He'll be back on Friday. 

All last week he would alternately sulk or make a face every time I reminded him of it or asked him about it.  I was getting pretty irritated with him over his attitude until I decided to make a stab at why he was being such a pill.

"Is it because you know this means school will start soon?"

I opened the flood gates.

"Yeah.  I'll only have ONE WEEK after I get back off, and then school starts again.   That sucks."

Are you kidding me? I thought.  A week up in the cooler climes, doing something you enjoy, away from us.  No parents.  No siblings.  It's interrupting his busy schedule of sleeping in, playing Halo, and complaining about Ben; what was I thinking?  Of course he's upset.

Suck it up, buddy.

Anyway, as with most camps, there was a list of items to take along.  I've been collecting what he needed to take over the summer, and I was fairly comfortable (okay, and maybe, a little smug) that I had it under control.   Missing him aside, this should be a piece of cake, I thought, as I drifted off to sleep last night.  I went through the list in my head again.  Check, check, check...I mentally ticked. Forms.  Don't forget to fill out those extra forms, was the last thought I had before I nodded off. 

This morning, I had him in the shower, all his stuff laid out to be put in his bag.  I was filling out the forms, and I was copying the list of "field trips" aka 'away games and festivals' for myself when I got to "ASU Band Day."

This, for some reason, conjured up an image of...marching bands.  (duh) More importantly, it conjured up an image of the thing that holds the music onto your instrument...because playing with two hands and holding your music, for someone who plays with two hands, like a clarinet, is probably important.  (Although, I have seen music held in one hand, while the player wobbily held it and played his trumpet, while swaying, thanks to pregame libating...I won't name names; suffice to say, I know it can be done, just not in my son's case.)

I didn't even know what the thing is called, but was set straight soon enough after consulting the expert swayer, and as soon as Nolan was packed, we set off for the music store.

I managed to mangle the pronunciation of "lyre" but the guy understood what we needed, and I also picked up the flip-chart music holder that attaches to it.  (I may be slow on the uptake, but I am thorough.)   We brought the lyre home only to discover it didn't fit right. 

Back to the music store, this time with all his gear as time was getting short.  He went into the store, receipt in hand, as well as the part of the barrel he thought he needed to fit it on.   A few minutes later, he emerged emptyhanded.  I assumed he needed more money, but no, he needed the entire clarinet.  My eye started twitching as I bit my tongue--I'd suggested that to begin with--and I waited long enough to wonder what was up, when suddenly, he reappeared.  I couldn't resist asking, "What happened?" "He was putting it on the wrong part."  "He was?"  "He was.  I was.  We both were."

I kept my laughter and further comment to myself.

I got him a bite to eat, and dropped him off at the school.  He probably would have bid me adieu in the parking lot, but there was a sign that said "Parents must check in". 

To think, I shaved the "annoying overbearing mother" mole off my forehead, this would have been a fabulous opportunity.....

Once inside, we were directed on where to place his luggage and such, and I tried not to wince at the gross state of his pillowcase ("at least I'll know it's mine") and we got his nametag (haha!) and I handed over the forms.  I looked around the room at these kids, none of whom I knew, and I spotted a neighbor of ours.  I don't really know her either, just in passing, but when you are sending your child away, it's nice to see a familiar parental face.  I said hi, introduced her to Nolan, and could almost hear him groan inwardly. 

"Are you coming?"  she asked.  I knew already, from her past record, she was more than likely going along.  "No.  I was going to, but by the time I put my name in the hat, there were enough parents along."  "Is this his first time?"  "Yes."  "I'll keep an eye on him."  This time, I know I heard Nolan groan inwardly.

We stepped aside together, and I asked him if he was okay.  "Yes."  He paused.  "I'll be fine."  "You want me to leave, don't you?"  "Yup."  I stood there, not wanting to leave, knowing I had to...stalling, I asked, "Do you see anyone here you know?"  "Yes."  I thought, foolishly, he'd take me over to them, but he stood there, 'mom-go-already' all over his face.  I told him to call us later tonight, and I left.  Before I went out the door, I looked over my shoulder at him.  He was already with the kids he knew.

When I was driving away, and I felt the pang I knew I would, but I swallowed it.  I wouldn't want any of the people driving up to see me wiping away a tear or two in the car, lest I embarrass the boy.  (As if anyone would recognize me.)

I hold my children close (sometimes too close to those on the outside) and that always makes separations like these difficult.  The truth is, I wanted to go along, I did want to chaperone.  But I know that the child needs his space, he needs to have these experiences away from me in order to grow.  And so do I.

I know he will be okay and I hope he has a good time.

Hopefully, on his return, he's not going to begin any of his stories...the way I started this one.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I've never heard it called that before

Audrey has been taking swimming lessons since we got out of school.  She's as brown as a bean, truly a Coppertone baby, and I point at her as she prances around, lifting an eyebrow at Mr W: "Do you see my good work?  That tan, that's all me,"  I giggle.  Of course I can giggle now, after class--it wasn't so funny earlier, in the locker room, when I accidentally shot sunscreen right into her eye.  Ooops.

Speaking of locker rooms, on our way out of the pool today, she was on her third "Mommy?  I was wondering..."  (it's her current way of phrasing a question, and I hear it a million times a day); I was on autonod, automm-hhm when I realized she was walking into the boys' locker room.  "Let's go in here," she said, mischievous glint in her eye.  "What?  No,"  I said, as I put a hand on her shoulder to guide her back out.  She giggled, then said, "I want to see the boys.  I want to see...their...noodles."  There's an interesting turn of events, I thought to myself, suddenly sensitive to the swirl of Moms and kids around us.

"Noodles?"  I asked her, cocking my head to the side, moving her along ahead of the pack.  "Yeah.  You know, their wieners."

This is going from bad to worse, I thought.  Aw, honey. If it's a noodle, you don't really want to see it.  Whoa, girl, filter ON, snap out of it.  

As we turn the corner, continuing our way out of the locker room, I ask her, "Where'd you hear that?"  "Ryan.  He told me not to hit Ben in his private place because I'd hit his wiener and that hurts."  Ah, anatomical wisdom from a sage 9 year old.  Fabulous.

Why am I squeamish? I wonder.  Has it been that long since I had this discussion with her brothers?  All that "use the right term" blather with all the adults who might be asked this question, and here I am, blanching at 'wiener'?  Be the grown up, I scold myself.

I take a deep breath.  "Well, honey, he's right.  It would hurt if you hit Ben in his private place.  That's because boys have their private parts on the outside.  It's called a penis,"  I said, looking over my shoulder for eavesdroppers as we enter the parking lot, playing my sudden film of sweat off to the heat, as I walked her faster, faster, to the van. "A penis,"  she repeated, trying the word out herself.  "Boy private parts are on the outside?" she repeats, as I see she has a spark of understanding, and moves on to the next question: "So what are our (girl) private parts called?"

Of course.  Of course that was next, what did I expect? She's a bright girl. Too late to turn back now.  I can do this, I reassure myself.  I'm ready!  I'm enlightened!

Still, I stumble on it. "Um, ah.."  Do I give her the whole deal?  Good lord.  Keep it simple. "um...It's called a vagina,"  I replied, saying it out the side of my mouth, over my shoulder down at her, like I was asking for something illegal.  "Ah-G-INA?"  she parrots.  I whirl my head, surveying the parking lot, estimating how many feet to the van, "No, sweetie, vagina," I say again.  "An-gina?"  I wish.  "Vuh. VUH-JA-INA."  Oh, the hell with it.  I say it, intoning the syllables, restraining myself from the cutesy "va-jay-jay" (thank you, Gray's Anatomy), from "hootchiekoo", from every other thing that would make us giggle and probably entice her to repeat it wherever we go at random and at probably the worst time.

"And girl parts?...."  "...are on the inside,"  I say, finishing her thought.  Holding back: And neater.  And prettier.  Please.  I'm a fan of the boy parts, but we all know that's true.

We are steps away from the van.  "Because the boy private parts are on the outside, it's very important to not kick or hit your brothers there, it is very painful," I remind her.  Besides, I think I might like grandchildren some day, don't knock your poor brothers' goods.

I realize I left out "scrotum" and "testicles".  At this point, however, we were in the van, and she was more concerned with what we might havefor lunch.  Parts were forgotten in lieu of:

"Can I have McDonalds?" 

Honey, you can have Peking duck, I'm so glad you didn't say "noodles."

Top Ramen will never be the same.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Red is my color

My forearm is riddled with little red slashes.

A sign that I should be under surveillance in the padded room of my choice?


(Although, if the padded room was equipped with air conditioning set to "artic", I might consider it.)

No, these marks I bear are from my seatbelt.  I miss the hole every time and when hot metal bumps up against your skin, and you hear a sizzle...well, it's bound to leave a mark.  Who knew that taking Audrey to her swimming lesson would be such a challenge? 

As I breathed in the superheated air of my van, I could feel my lungs crinkle in protest.  So I felt kind of bad urging Audrey into her seat while at the same time, I have to chuckle at her ingenious way of buckling her seatbelt.  She has taken an old knit hat, part of her winter hat-and-mittens set, and uses it to hold her seatbelt as she guides it in.

It's a sad day when your six-year-old outsmarts you.

Unfortunately, this happens a lot.

The boys are visiting with their uncle, three hours away, and it's down to me, the princess, and Mr W.  I'm trying to focus on the boys having a good time, making memories with their cousins and family; and not that they are taking classes instructed by Professor Tio E, in "Porn 101:  How the Internet and Cable TV Are Your Friends"; "When to Tip a Stripper";  and "The Physics of Quarters", accompanied by the seminar "Alcohol:  Lowering Inhibitions or Broadening Horizons?"

I exaggerate, of course.  My brother is a good guy and he enjoys my childrens' company. Besides, as he put it--"I'm not going to corrupt your kids."  It's just that he is way more fun than I am, I know it.  Less filter.  Less "no, that's inappropriate."  They will have enjoy their time there, no doubt. 

I am, admittedly, a little overcome by the emptiness of the house.  Not the quiet.  Audrey takes care of that, no problem.  And it is nice to not have to be feeding people all daylong.

However, even though I assured them that I rented their rooms out while they are gone, I miss them.

Maybe I need my own seminar.

"Yes, I'll Have a Margarita."

Friday, June 27, 2008


"I won't use it,"  he said flatly, with the disaffected air of a teenager. 

We were in Costco.  During a trip there earlier in the week, I'd spied backpacks and a Camelbak.  I took the oldest boy along with me so I could show him the stuff and so that he could pick out his own backpack color, even though I knew he'd pick black (he did).   It was the Camelbak, though, that was supposed to be the main attraction.

Nolan's going to band camp next month and while he is going to be someplace cooler, he will be out on the field all day practicing, marching, and I thought (and it was suggested) that the Camelbak would be a good option.   Hydration in the summer in AZ is not something to mess around with.  And he's...well, he's what the old guys in Westerns would refer to as a "tenderfoot".  That boy hasn't seen real physical labor ever, whether it's 75 or 110 degrees.  I was just looking out for him.

Judging by his response, perhaps I should stop doing that.

It seems every attempt I make these days to guide him along is met with, at best, a sigh and an eyeroll.  I know he's growing up, and would prefer to be left to his own devices.  I get that, and for the most part, I rein myself in more often than not. 


But it's hard.  It's not so out of character, really, to look out for the kids.  It's been a part of my life, everyday, for the last 14 years.  Surely he could find it in his adolescent heart to cut his mother some slack.  Over the years, I padded corners, I locked drawers, covered outlets, and cut up his hotdogs--among myriad other things-- to keep him safe.   Sleepless nights spent feeding him and fastidiously changing his diaper (no rashes for my boy) are ready in my memory as I walk by his room at night, doing my last lap of the house before bed.  It's just that now, where I used to stand and marvel at chubby, cherubic cheeks, I find myself standing and marveling at cheekbones, lanky, long limbs, and the whisper of a mustache.

During the day, I find myself torn---letting him take his steps away from me while simultaneously fighting the urge to babyproof the world for him as he does it.  

When we got home, I told Mr W what had happened, and that my feelings were hurt.  And that Nolan's general bad attitude of late and his constant bitching about Ben were pushing me closer to the edge by the minute.

"If he wants to go to camp, ill-prepared, get sunburned, and dehydrated, and have blisters on his feet because he doesn't want to listen to me, then that's fine!"  I exclaimed, exasperated and near tears.  Mr W pointed out to me that perhaps I should let just that happen.  I found myself sputtering, incredulous, at the thought.

(He obviously has not met the Good Mother Police.)

I was pondering his ideas when I overheard him talking to the boys in that tone he uses, the one reserved for affronts to the Mama.  It's a 'she's upset, so I'm upset' kind of thing, where he has my back, and I am grateful for it.

Consequently, this week has been better.

And Nolan has learned how to ride his bike to friend's houses within a couple of miles of us....while encased in bubblewrap.  :p

Monday, June 9, 2008

The bigger they are

Towards the end of the school year, I had a brainstorm.  I have been increasingly concerned over Ryan, he's gaining weight, and was trying to think of a way to up his activity level without making him feel like I was picking on him.

I realize that he may have a growth spurt in his future, but maybe he doesn't.  And having a lifetime of "you'll grow out of it" still ringing in my ears experience behind me made me start thinking.

I decided that although our summers are brutally hot, we could do things together, as a family, that could be fun and get the kids off the couch, late in the day or early in the morning.  I told them they would have to earn their video game time, and just to sweeten the deal, I made it easy--15 minutes of activity for 30 minutes of game time.  I came up with things like kickball on Monday evening, maybe walking on Tuesday mornings, etc.  We would all play, and it would be good for every one of us.

I invited another family with four kids to come and play kickball with us, and tonight we had our first match up.   We had a lot of fun, even though I failed to take into consideration that they are quite athletic--soccer and running kids---and we are....not.  LOL 

We still had quite a good time, in spite of the fact that Mr W was not along this evening, and Audrey was not feeling well.  The other family readily stepped in and rotated people onto our team once it became apparent that we were in need of help.  :p

At one point, I was running to third base, my brain urging me to run faster to make it, just as my eyes noted one of the other kids moving towards me.  I put on the brakes. 

And still managed to trip.  In a most spectacular, play-of-the-week fashion.  It was not pretty, and it dispelled my thoughts of ever being a contestant on the Amazing Race, as clearly my talents are more of the MXC variety.

As the earth sped up towards me, I thought, sweet Jesus, this is gonna hurt, and I was right.  My hips and legs came up off the ground, and I scraped up everything from my right boob on down. My hands are scratched up, my knee and ankle really hurt, and there's a fabulous bruise on my calf.  Although I would have blamed no one for erupting in peals of laughter, my friends were good and asked me how I was before commencing to tease me and chuckle heartily.  (My children later assured me it was hilarious.)

All in all, as I sit here nursing my wounds, I realize it's not such a bad thing to remember how hard the ground really is, and not so bad to embarrass myself publicly. 

What's a little dirt amongst friends?

Besides, I'll be okay.

Once my ego stops smarting.

Friday, May 23, 2008

She toots her own...horn

Ben, Audrey and I were hanging out in my room.   We were lounging in my bed, and they were watching tv while I was surfing iTunes. 

(I have to admit, I should be in a twelve-step program for my iTunes habit.  It's that bad.)

Suddenly, Ben starts laughing.  "Mom!  Didn't you hear that?"  "What?"  I ask, removing a headphone from my ear so I could hear him.  Audrey stood in the doorway of my bathroom, laughing maniacally.

"She was sitting here, watching tv, with me, and all of a sudden, she jumped up, ran into the bathroom, pointed her butt at the bathtub, and shouted "Fire in the hole!" and she let one rip.  She farted!  It was loud!"  he starts laughing.

I couldn't help but giggle too, reminded that our resident delicate flower is not so spite of what the pink dress says.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Anatomy of a backpack

On Monday afternoon, Ben had to stay afterschool for a rehearsal.  I offered to take his trombone and backpack home with me so he wouldn't have to lug them all the way as he walked home.

Now, I've watched him struggle under the weight of that backpack for quite some time now.  I'd sigh, roll my eyes, and tell him to clean it out at least once a week.  However, once we're in the door, and the backpack is in his room, I/we don't think about it again.   At least not until the next time I'd see him take a few steps backwards as he put it on, in an attempt to maintain his balance.

He handed it to me and I swore gently under my breath.  "This thing weighs more than your sister.  I thought I told you to clean it out."  "I know, Mom,"  he responded, as I held up my hand to shut him up.

I lugged it to the car (oh my aching back) and once I got it home, I put it on one of my dining room chairs (I heard it swear under its breath) and cautiously opened up the zippers.

I half expected a clown to jump out.

Nope.  This is what was inside:

*Lots of useless papers.  Some from December.

*A roll of aluminum foil, on a roll that was forever oblonged by the crush of items it was in between.  Been there since the Science Fair....which took place months ago.

*Hey, a couple of field trip slips. 

*The enrollment form I asked him to turn in for his March.

*Four, yes four,water bottles, 3 16.9 oz and one 8 oz, all about 3/4 full, one of them cloudy enough that I didn't bother emptying it out, I just threw it away

*A dog eared book

*Math text and 3 ring binder

*3 pencils and a Pokemon keyring

*A few Valentines and Valentine candies

*A 100 pennies (finders keepers)

*4 batteries--3 C and one 9 volt (Science Fair)

Then there was the pocket I kept pulling sticky stuff out of.  I had no explanation for this, and as he has a separate lunchbox, I had to wonder what the hell was making the stuff sticky--the Valentine's candy was sealed and non-chocolate.

I spied something putty gray-beige and for a minute, I thought that I was looking at the bottom of the backpack.  But something made me reach in and poke it.  It looked like clay or something.  I pulled it out.  It was a quart size ziploc bag and I was perplexed at the contents.  I wracked my brain, no, I didn't make him Playdoh, no, that's nothing from any lunches...what did I send him to school with.....

Oh, yeah.

A couple of months, maybe more, ago, I made him salt dough for a project.  Salt dough is flour, salt, and water--so it's white to start out with.

And definately not bubbly.

Yay, fermentation!  (I got your Science Fair right here, beeyotch.) 

After I was done with the "eeewwwww" dance, I stuffed the baggie in the trash, threw the backpack in the washing machine......

.......and made a beeline for the shower.

I may need a tetanus shot too.