Thursday, January 31, 2008

What big brothers are for

I was in the middle of making dinner, and needed to be in two places at once.  Surprise, surprise.

I'd sent the boys to take their baths while I was cooking, and it was Ryan's turn in the tub.

Ryan is unusual, he likes to take a shower, then fill up the tub and sit in it.  I am just happy that he's bathing, so I try to overlook the water he's wasting, and as he doesn't always get in the tub every day, I figure it all evens out in the end.

I was almost done in the kitchen, but not quite, so I asked Nolan to go tell Ryan to wrap it up as we were about to eat.  "I'm going to open the door real fast and scare him,"  he said.  "Whatever,"  I distractedly replied, trying not to burn myself.

The next thing I hear is Nolan, Ben, and Audrey giggling.  Nolan is standing behind me, and he says, "Do you support me in doing this?"  Initially, my response was going to be, "Yeah, yeah, do it, just get your brother out of the tub."  But my Mom radar went off instead, and I turned around to see Nolan in a Halloween mask, a red one with nose rings and crazy black hair, very middle-Earth, along with Audrey and Ben beside him, giggling madly.   I knitted my brow, "What?...."

"I'm going to barge in there, and really scare him!"  Nolan was excited.

I have to admit, I really wanted to give him the green light. 

Because I am a little evil that way.

However, I thought of little Ryan, naked and vulnerable in the tub, and I know that if it were me, I'd not appreciate it.  And we all know how bathroom things like this tend to scar people for life.

"Ah, no, I don't think so,"  I said.  "But MO-OM," they pleaded.  "Sorry. No.  You just don't recover from that kind of bathroom trauma,"  I stated, very matter-of-factly.

Sometimes Mom takes away all the fun.

Sometimes Mom hides the Halloween mask in her room for another day.....

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sugar and spice, alright, part 2

Wednesday night, Audrey and I opted to wait inside the dojo for Ryan to finish his aikido class.   We usually wait outside, as she likes to run around, have a soda or smoothie, or we go to the library; but it was quite brisk that night and she wasn't wearing a jacket.  (I say "brisk" because if I say "cold" those of you who have to dig your way out of the snow to exit your houses will throw something at me.)

She squirmed in her seat, ants in her pants; I shushed her as someone was testing for their next level and didn't want to be disrespectful; to have to leave due to her antics.  It was warm in there, and that is preferable to freezing my ass off.

About ten minutes into it, she wound up in my lap.  At five, she's not always a comfortable snuggle in a plastic chair, but I held on to her, thinking she just might nod off.

Yeah.  Thaaat's realistic.

The squirming continued in my lap.  She'd sit still, settle, shift.  Sit still, settle, shift. 

I was wearing a zip up hoodie with a camisole underneath.  Her shift, shift maneuver was coming dangerously close to exposing anyone near me to a dose of ta-ige but she was in my lap so I figured we were safe.  I knew if I hiked my cami back up, I'd look like those women who constantly readjust the top of their strapless dress, and that is not pretty.

All of a sudden, she leaned back, looked a little embarassed, and hiked it up for me.   I tried to look nonplussed, like, this happens all the time, when my knee-jerk reaction was telling me to jump straight up and yell "Stop that!"  Admittedly, this was a far cry from when she used to pull my shirt down or up to get to food, glorious food; but I still felt like I was being groped by an overenthusiastic teenager.

I kept looking over her head at the test like nothing was up.  Kinda like when you stumble over a crack in the sidewalk, but keep on walking like nothing ever happened.

She snuggled into me again, and I sighed, approaching the hissing-in-her-ear point.   As she burrowed her face into the upper part of my chest, just over the top of my readjusted garment, she murmured, "I love to smell your skin."   "What?"  I asked her, not sure I heard her right. (And simultaneously wondering, if only her Dad would say that.  :p)  "Nothing," she smiled sweetly, and put her head back down.  It brought to mind when all the kids were younger, and as I held them, they'd always put their little hands on that same patch of skin, Mommy-the-human-blankie.  I'd forgotten.

It also reminded me of the smell, the baby smell; that top-of-their-head goodness in the middle of the night.  How you could burrow your face into them anywhere and know that it was the greatest smell on earth.

This morning, I got up early with her.  She came and sat in my lap, snuggling on the couch, and we were watching "Max and Ruby."  I leaned my head down to smell her hair...and immediately wished I hadn't, because in an instant, I realized that the soury, off smell I attributed to morning breath was really emanating from her.  entire.  body.

Eau-de-trucker, not so pleasant on a five year old.

So much for rainbows and sunshine, the bubble bath scented like cucumber-melon; I may have to fetch the Lava.

And a hose.

Sugar and spice, alright

The other evening after I got home from running some errands, Audrey came up to me with a picture.

She loves to draw, and there are several times during they day when I have a paper shoved under my nose, as a little voice proudly says, "Look, look at what I did, Mom!"  Usually, it's a stack of pictures, variations on her theme of the day...multiple studies, if you will.

I had no sooner set down my keys when she bumped into me, vibrating with excitement.  "Mommy, I made this while you were gone,"  as she handed me the picture.

There were lots of sticky figures, with hair and faces, some with glasses and some not...but under them, at about hip level, these black thorax-looking things, in addition to legs.  I must've had a curious look on my face, because before I could ask, she explained.

"See, that one, that's Ben.  And these,"  (she points to the black thorax-y thing), "these are his dumps."

I was a little horrified and a lot amused.  I took the picture and her hand, and we went in search of Mr W, who was in his usual spot in our room--sitting on the bed watching tv.

Placing the picture in front of him, I started to tell him what she said, and he interrupted me, smiling, "Yeah, I saw those."

"You know,"  I said, "most little girls draw pictures of butterflies.  Rainbows, unicorns, ponies...ballerinas....but my daughter draws pictures of her brothers sitting on piles of ...poop."

I am sure Van Gogh got started this way.

And then some things make your day

I like to think that most people pluck, dye, put on makeup, appear their best for themselves, mainly.

But it is always nice to get a compliment, isn't it? 

I've had a good streak lately.  It's been cool, and unusual--this is really an unprecedented thing for me.  Considering that most of the time I'm in the Mom-uniform (t-shirt or some combination thereof, completely washable and mainly handprint-free; jeans) a compliment has real make-my-day power.   :D

Today, one of my friends at work said to me, out of the blue:

"Do you know who you remind me of/who you look like?"

"No,"  I said, bracing myself, because so many times in the past, this opening has not gone well, expecting to hear the worst...

"You look like the girl who plays the orthopedic surgeon on 'Grey's Anatomy'."

I was pleasantly surprised.

I was totally stoked.

For those of you unfamiliar with the show, the character's name is Callie Torres, and she is portrayed by the lovely Sara Ramirez.


I was so thrilled, that if decorum would have allowed it, if I may borrow one of my j-buddies phrases, I'd have humped his leg out of sheer joy.

I said "Thank you" instead.  Right on!  How cool is that??

She's fabulous, so of course I am insufferably big headed when I get home.

"Hey, guess what, honey,"  I burst out, right when I see Mr W.  I relay the story.

His response:  (shrug) "hmmmphf".  Simmer down, buddy.  Try to contain yourself.   I'll take a little attitude from him on this one.

Because that comment just about made my month.

Sometimes it's Mom in the doghouse

Wednesday morning, Ben woke up with a stomach ache.  A three-alarm, is-he-crying? stomach ache.

Ben has a tendency to be a little dramatic.  *ahem* I took a deep breath and spoke with him about what it was at school that was up that he didn't want to be there for. 

As he told me about the book he was supposed to be reading/have read, I patted myself on the back for being intuitive enough to know my kid.

I reassured him, dusted him off...then I sent him off to school.

I had to do some things for my volunteer gig at the school before I went in to work.  I had just finished, was just heading out of the office, running a little late...and as I reach for the handle on the door...who opens it but Ben.

I think we know where this is going.

Sighing, I signed him out.  I was irritated, because now I was going to have to figure out, do I stay or do I go--(surely he could stay home alone, with check-ins by his Dad to keep him company)?  Why couldn't he have said something before I got up at 5 am to get ready for work (it's better if I invade the shower before Mr W wakes up at 6 and before I rouse the troops)??  I was looking forward to going to work, because last week was so slow that they were sending us home, and that kind of slow makes me edgy and fearful that something is up with our jobs--even if I know better, that it's a seasonal lull.

We got home soon, but not soon enough that Ben was spared a little ranting from me.  Not my worst moment, to be sure, but not my best one, either.

Imagine my chagrin when we got into the house, to hear Ben say, "I'm sorry," (oy, was my rant that bad?); hear all his belongings hit the floor...I turn around just in time to see him RUN down the hall to the bathroom.

My bad.

I thought about the situation.  I am the part-timer.  I have always, always, put the children first.  Sick?  I  stay home.  Something special goes on at school?  I rearrange if needed, but I'm there 98% of the time.  They need me to bake cupcakes?  Call me Betty Crocker.

Why is it, I thought to myself, that when they were 3, and not going in meant no pay that day (no benefits) I didn't have such a problem with it, but now that I am working more, and have sick/vacation/etc time, I am bitching about it?

Tsk, tsk, Anna. 

Besides, I can't predict when he'll (they'll) be sick now that he's 11 (14, 9, 5) anymore than I could when he was 2.  It's totally not his fault. 

I was on the phone before he was out of the bathroom.  Sorry.  Not coming in today.

I stayed with him on Thursday, too.  Although Mr W has plenty of time to spare, come on.  When you're sick, you want your Mommy.

I am happy to report, he got her. 

And I even apologized as I tucked him into my bed and gave him the remote.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Other parents will understand

I know I'm going out on limb here, with what I am about to say.

Black-tinted cars will pull up to take me away, but I have to say it.

I will probably be asked to burn my degree, but:

I hate the Science Fair.

There.  I said it, and I'm a scientist.  It's a complete waste of time, I mean, no one uses a battery made out of a potato unless they live in the wild desert surrounding my hometown.

I'm in the process of guiding Nolan through his project.  I usually try to rein myself in and let them do their own homework, but when I saw his "notes" the other day, something in me snapped, and I sat on the dog food bin in the garage and hastily scribbled out something that resembled what he's supposed to be doing anyway, for fear that if one of my coworkers saw his efforts, my lab coat would be taken away.  And burned.

(The last couple of weeks at the lab have been s-l-o-w, we're running out of entertainment there.  I refuse to believe cancer takes a vacation, I blame it on the doctors taking a little extra r-and-r around New Years.  Oh well.  Who wants a hungover physician coming at your hip with a needle anyway?)

I think we have until the end of the week to kil--I mean, continue his experiment with plants. 

If only we could use Mr W's Taser on something instead....


Monday, January 14, 2008

Of course I wasn't holding the remote

I was putting groceries away, and the kids were watching tv.  They like the George Lopez show, and I usually don't mind it too much, even if the kids are a kinda mouthy, the Nana is the anti-Nana, and it there is the occasional lean towards sexy.

I quite familiar with sexy Mexicans on tv (telenovelas are just visual bodice-rippers), so I'm usually only cringing a little bit when things go that way...but I still cringe. 

I had my head in the freezer tonight when George was talking to his mother, who he'd taken to the gynie for her first visit in 37 years.  The long story short is that his mom was dating a much younger man, went to the gynie for the usual tuneup and found out she had something else.

"What happened?"  I asked from the kitchen when I heard the audience noises.

"She said she has the clap,"   Nolan said.


"Oh my god,"  I said, shaking my head, formulating the rest of my response as I moved around the chicken breasts.   Small freezers suck.

"What's the clap?"  Ryan asked.

*silent scream, hand slapping forehead*

"OH MY GOD!"  I groaned, nearly smacking my head on the door as I whipped my head around.

"Um, I'll talk to you about that later,"  I said, "When I have more time to explain it to you." 

"Oh, I know,"  Ryan postulated, "She must be pregnant."

"Who has the remote?"  "Aww, Mom," Ben complained, as I said, "Look, I don't have time to explain all this to Ryan right now.  This is inappropriate for him to watch, so change it." 

"....but I've already seen this episode..."

Hole-leeeee cow.  Not exactly what I expected to be thinking about when I was head first in the freezer.   I thought about just staying in there, looking for my imaginary bottle of vodka...but I came out and made dinner instead.

Penicillin, anyone?? 

If you show me yours, I'll show you mine

Upon receiving my new iPod, my precious, I vowed I'd still use the old one.   I planned to mainly use it for work and when I went walking.


But.... because the new one is so damn cool, I find myself not willing to part with it.   I've been taking it to work.  Some of my coworkers have been interested in it, and they come and want to check it out.

I've found myself saying, more than once, "Sure, no problem.  Just don't laugh at my music."  I know I've mentioned before I have what I consider to be odd taste, and I have lots of different types of music on my system.

I've caught more than one mini-snicker, more than one grin, as my library gets perused.   I stop myself from offering any explanations--I just give them my best "What?" look. 

So, my question to you is, what are five of your guilty iPod (or other mp3 player) music pleasures?  I'm curious.

I promise I won't laugh.

And if you show me yours, I'll show you mine.

(Here's one to get the ball rolling: "Brand New Lover" by Dead or Alive.)

We now return you to "Sounds of the Elderly"

As any Mom knows, sometimes you can't even make it to the bathroom.

You're in the middle of pouring juice, folding laundry, or signing off on homework when suddenly you realize you're squirming.  

Even Mommy needs a potty break.

I'm so bad about getting to it, that when I finally do get to the bathroom, the relief-moan I let out would get me some weird looks, were I in a public bathroom.

Don't even get me started on how the last time I was late to work, I forgot to go, got stuck in traffic, and got off at the first available off-ramp juuust as my eyeballs began to float.

Today was no exception.  I was finally in there, so relieved (if you'll pardon the pun), and suddenly, I sneezed.

Again, most ladies know that this is a little bit of an impossible usually have to stop one to do the other.

However, I wasn't quick enough, and had to go that badly.  I sneezed mid-stream, and instead of my usual moan of relief, I barked out "Yeo-owtch!  SON OF A BITCH!" which earned me a weird look from Mr W upon my exit.

I don't know, but I think I may have broken something.

Hopefully, it's not something vital.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I've been up to...

....taking Audrey to the Nutcracker.  It was her first time this year, a present for both of us.  I got really good seats, and we went on the 26th.  I held her on my hip and we looked down into the orchestra pit before things got started.  The ballet itself was amazing--the entire thing was like a painting come to life.  We were very close and could see quite a lot of details, and I was dazzled by how the dancers made it all look so effortless.  At intermission, Audrey said to me, "Mommy, that is just like the Nutcracker I saw on tv."  "Where?"  I asked.  "The Tom and Jerry one,"  she replied.  Fabulous.  My kids are getting culture from cartoons.  I remember that Tom and Jerry, so I chuckled.  She then said, as her face lit up, that she would like to learn to dance too.  Is there ever a little girl that doesn't want to be a ballerina at five?  At ten?  I know I did.  It's a long story, but there is a horrifically embarrassing picture my Mom has/had (hopefully lost or burned) of the chubbiest ballerina ever.  

....finally, finally, polishing off the last of the giant plate of almond toffee Jane so graciously made me (speaking of chubby).  I came out of the candy coma just last weekend.

....serving as the iPod gatekeeper for the entire tribe.  Ben got a new one as a late, late birthday present from my Dad a few months back.   It started a revolution.  As everyone knows,  I love my iPod.   Even when I was mocked by one of my son's friends, "Oh, look, how cute, you don't even have color" as he pointed to my screen (he may as well have said, "Oh, look, you guys still have an outhouse") I didn't falter in my affections.  Until I held Ben's in my hand, and watched some videos on it...and the coveting began.  I figured that I might get one on down the road, you know, break down for the newer model, the knee-weakening swoon-worthy version of my dreams...but I put that thought on the back burner, as old reliable still worked well, and let's not be frivolous, Anna.  We decided to get Nolan a new one, like Ben's, and give Nolan's old one to Ryan, hey, everyone's happy, right?  However, as always, Mr W knows his girl, and he surprised me with an iPod Touch for Christmas.  *swoon*  It's fantastic.  I love it as much as my old reliable one, which I still use, on occasion.  But the Touch has me seduced by its smooth screen, its lovely graphics, and the hot pink case he got me for it.   If someone had told me even a year ago that I would be able to watch Top Gun and the 300 in the palm of my hand, I would never have believed them.  And yet I have.  Watched Top Gun.  Thank you, Levi Strauss and Hanes.  White tshirts, jeans, and sand never looked so good.   Big screen, small screen--size really doesn't matter. :p

....realized the trauma that is coming up this year, as not only do I stare 40 right in the face, but in a couple of weeks, I have to start the process of picking the high school that Nolan will attend.   And fill out papers for Ben to go to jr high.  "I am not old enough to have a child in high school,"  I lamented to Mr W this morning.  "Weren't we just there ourselves??"  I smiled at the thought of a 17 year old Mr W, and I was inwardly pleased--and a little horrified--that he at least can conjure up an image of what things were like when they were in their original starting positions. Yet when I point this out, he still has the grace to pat my ass and assure me, sincerely, that everything is, still, in the right place.   

....laughing out loud at Audrey.  She got this giant paper doll as a gift from my brother and it has magnetic clothes you stick on it.  (I stuck the magnets on the flippin' thing myself, some assembly required, of course.)  I came into the room the other day in time to see the fully dressed Barbie being pummelled by small items as her brothers were knocking the clothes off (Barbie is not naked--she's painted underneath, so it's not that angle, thank God).  "Stop!"  I urged them, only to find out that Audrey dresses the Barbie for expressly that purpose, and helps bomb the clothes right off her.  Nice.  I know.  I know.  Oy.  

....discovering that red lipstick is a commitment.  Again, Mr W strikes gold with the "guideline" list I sent him to the MAC counter with, as he is the king of the cosmetic stocking stuffer.  I like what he got, particularly when he told me, and this is so awesome I almost jumped him on the spot, that the makeup counter chick was putting the colors I picked on her arm, and he made his decision based on the way they looked and me.  I don't care if she was the hottest chick he's ever seen in his life, and he really picked it based on the shade of her cleavage, he made good choices and told a good story.  That alone is worth the commitment of checking it and reapplying it. 

On that note...

Oh!  Note...

Speaking of note...

Ben plays trombone, but he really wanted to learn trumpet, and he just let that cat out of the bag at the beginning of the school year.  He's a good kid, and wants to please everyone, so when the band teacher talked him into trombone last year, he went with it; and when he finally told me this year what happened, he said he'd stick with it.  But he's been dropping hints and asking, and asking, and so I finally offered to rent him a trumpet too, as long as he understood that he'd probably need private lessons to get up to speed and if he was willing to practice and be responsible about it, we'd spring for that, too.  Yesterday, I finally got around to renting it and setting him up for lessons (Thursday is his first one).   I figure there's nothing wrong with learning more than one instrument, he enjoys it, why not?

I was leaving work today, and stopped to say hi/bye to one of my friends.  She invited me out to dinner on Thursday night, at 6.  I said I could come, but suddenly it dawned on me that I couldn't, so I apologized and said I wouldn't be able to make it.  I explained Ben's situation, and that he would be starting his first lesson...Thursday at 6.  

"Your son is going to be a good kisser!" she exclaimed.   "What?"  I responded.  "Oh, trumpet players make the best kissers,"  she gushed, sighing, grinning, "it's all about how they have to use their lips and their tongue,"  she went on, as I held out a hand and fanned my face, "You're making me blush,"  I said, and it's true, my face just burned, as she joked, "Well, I guess you wouldn't want to think that, not about your own son,"  she giggled.  "Um, no,"  I giggled back ---at just that moment, one of our cuter coworkers walked by, and I didn't think it was possible, but I blushed again, more severely, that's lovely...

And it appears I am not staring 40 in the face, but 14.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

It all started when...

....I ruined a batch of Rice Krispy treats.

Who the hell messes those up?  How?  They're so foolproof that a 9 year old can make them, yet there I stood, with a pan of too-crispy treats, so hard that I feared for the dental health of my friends and family.

I blame it on bad marshmallows. 

As I threw the mess out, it took the wind out of my cookie sails right before Christmas.  My Tias may never forgive me the lack of holiday cheer I send them in the form of lemon bars and wedding cookies, but I'll make it up to them as soon as I shed the shame of the failed Rice Krispy treats.

(I did manage a batch of sugar cookies for Santa, at Ryan's insistence, on Christmas Eve, and they turned out fine.)

It seemed to me that the kids got out of school, I shopped like mad, late as always (because I couldn't trust myself not to spill the beans, really) and boom!  Christmas was upon me.  The presents were unwrapped, and it was Nolan's birthday.  Then New Years.  Mr W surprised me with some time off of work, and the stars aligned and I was able to take time off too.   The kids just went back to school on Tuesday, and as of this today, things were back to normal.

As normal as can be for me, that is.

I thought of Martha Stewart, and those kid-cooking-expert gurus as I packed lunches this morning.  I don't think that a box of Hi-C and a tuna sandwich would ever measure up to star-shaped pitas with hummus and veggies for dipping,  but I do what I can.

The lunch boxes come back empty, so I guess I'm doing something right.

Stupid marshmallows.