Tuesday, February 26, 2008

conspiracy theorist weighs in

so i dragged my jiggly self back to weight watchers today, since the "baby" weight has been creeping back on since halloween, and the baby is almost 2-1/2.

the closest ww, it turns out, is in a minor-league strip mall and is conveniently sandwiched between a pancake house and a plus-size clothing store.


Monday, February 25, 2008

rated pg-1965

well, it was bound to happen. the 4-year-old was miffed by/struggling with something, and i heard her say, "dammit!"


although, in fairness to me, i try really hard to keep it clean around the kidlets. and she did say "dammit!" in exactly the same tone that her father does. not that i'm pointing fingers or anything.

her little outburst was like a proustian madeleine for me (albeit auditory): it immediately transported me back to my grandparents' house. my father's people were a polite lot, but as my mother has said, her parents could barely speak without swearing. it's not much of an exaggeration to say that every other word out of their mouths was hell, shit, damn, ass or some variation of those four:
  • "how the hell are you?" 
  • "move your fat ass!" 
  • "goddammit, did i clean that house: i went through it like shit through a tin horn!" (this one always mystified me, but i didn't dare ask for clarification.)
i believe my grandfather's given name might have been "goddammit, bud!" because that's the only way i can remember my grandmother addressing him. 

things would grow especially heated around the holidays and the ritual roasting of the bird. oh, the turkey wars! the carnage, the bloodshed, the terror! (but dinner was delicious.) i remember one year how my dad wrote a little play about my grandparents and the turkey, and he and my mom acted it out in front of us all as best they could in between their own gasping laughs. the climax came, as it always did in real life, with the argument about whether the red thingie popping out of the bird really signified doneness or not. my grandparents were NOT amused.

despite all this (and despite the fact that in later years, i would come to believe that my mother had named my brother and me "dammit, david!" and "jesus, jennifer!"), my mom never heard the really dirty words. her parents never dropped the f-bomb, at least in front of her. hence this naive exchange on the eve of my birth, when my parents were prepping the new baby's room:

my dad: "f---ing wallpaper! f---ing wallpaper paste! f---ing (insert decorating task here)!"
my 8++++ months pregnant mom: "what does that word mean?"
dad: "what word?"
mom: "f---ing. what does it mean?"
dad: (collapse into helpless laughter)

have a helluva good day, goddammit.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

and she is

Friday, February 22, 2008

"i have an idea!"

the four scariest words in the english language.

if you are my husband.

and you see me a-comin' at 8:30 in the morning with an old piece of foam core, a dozen screw hooks, a utility knife, fabric odds and ends, and some spray paint.

but i must say, my homemade necklace wrangler turned out quite well, especially considering my investment of time (minimal) and money (none). and it nicely complements the earring wrangler i made many years ago from an old picture frame, some window screen, and spray paint.

oh, how i loves the spray paint.

doogie howser, pharm. d.

here are some words the not-quite-two-and-a-half-year-old can say perfectly:
  • zyrtec
  • motrin
  • tylenol
  • amoxicillin
  • nebulizer
  • bacitracin
  • suture nurse
i see a career as a pharmacist. or perhaps a drug dealer.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

eye patch? not s'bad

when i find myself starting to whine too much about my kids' "problems" that's usually a good time to read e-mails from the food allergy mommies group, the eczema mommies group, and the lazy eye mommies group.

to wit: here's a post from a mom whose son (i think he's 2; might be 3) just got his allergy test results back. he is allergic to 41 foods. 41:
  • peanut
  • almond
  • walnut
  • cashew
  • pecan
  • pistachio
  • egg yolk
  • egg white
  • milk
  • beef
  • pork
  • lamb
  • chicken
  • turkey
  • fish
  • corn
  • rice
  • soy 
  • wheat
  • barley
  • rye
  • oats
  • sunflower (includes seeds)
  • safflower
  • peach
  • pear
  • pineapple
  • apple
  • banana
  • orange
  • cantaloupe
  • white potato
  • sweet potato
  • peas
  • green bean
  • red kidney bean
  • tomato
  • onion
  • garlic
  • mustard
  • cumin
and the mom also has a baby with health problems.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

here's a swell idea

for all you folks who run home day cares in minnesota, i have a great idea for how to pass the time on one of our sunny, a**-cracking cold mornings:
  • bundle up all the kids in your charge. make sure there are at least five of them, all under four years old.
  • put the baby in a regular stroller rather than a jogging one, so you have enormous difficulty steering over the snow.
  • because both your hands are needed to pilot the stroller, have the little ones just hold on to each other when you all cross the street.
  • now make sure to cross some busy intersections. don't worry if some of the kids head in a different direction as you – they'll catch up eventually!
jesus h. tap-dancing christ. and she was heading for the creek with all those kids. the creek!

all i can glean from this sighting is that people: 
a) are insane,
b) have waaaay more faith in the universe than i do, and 
c) are insane (i really can't stress this point enough).

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

i may have created a monster

the 2-year-old just scornfully rejected the eye patch her father picked out for this morning, saying, "it doesn't match my purple jammie shirt!"

i have no one to blame but myself.

(and i'm just a teeny bit proud.)

Monday, February 18, 2008


thing two and i both still have the plague. i spent most of the weekend in bed; she spent most of the weekend shrieking if she wasn't sitting or lying on me. very restful.

last night, barnacle baby kept waking up and shrieking for mama, so i finally laid down with her in her bed. which meant when she woke up shrieking, i was close enough for her to do it directly into my ear canal.

and shriek she did, about every 45 minutes. what she didn't do was notice that i was RIGHT THERE rubbing her back, stroking her cheek, whispering soothing nothings, and generally being a nice mommy. but she was so out of it, it took her about 10 minutes to clue into the fact that i was RIGHT THERE. then she'd fall back asleep, spin herself around until she was at a 90 degree angle to me, and kick me over and over again.

this was repeated about 159 times during the night. i may be exaggerating.

now i'm off to my pre-dawn mammogram. it should be like a trip to club med after last night.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

captain hook's revenge

the handsome man fixed the knob on our bedroom door so now when thing one locks it, we can push a pin in to pop the lock from the outside (we did discover that in a pinch, a hello kitty valentine's day card slid between the door trim and wall works well, too).

this is not the first time child + lock = unintended consequences. oh no.

back in the mists of time, when i was a new (read: terrified) mom, i tried to calm my anxieties by baby proofing. everything. i had gates and outlet covers, foam padding and locks. oh, so many locks! cabinet locks, cupboard locks, stove lock, refrigerator lock. if babies r us sold a lock for it, i sealed it shut.

i also made my own locks out of metal hooks and eyes to keep the precious bundle from opening the basement door (even though it had a baby gate just inside), the workroom door (in the basement, beyond the baby gate and locked basement door), and that great, gaping maw of death: the bathroom.

i don't know why i was so freaked out about her getting in the bathroom. perhaps it was those helpful baby proofing articles that scream, "NEVER leave your child unattended around water even for a SECOND! babies can DROWN in just a few inches of water, you MORON! what kind of mother ARE you?!"

i was convinced that should my attention ever waver, josie would immediately rush to the potty and plunge in, head first.

so i put a hook and eye outside the bathroom door and began hounding the handsome man to use it. i was relentless, a harpy screeching day and night, "lock the door! lock the door! YOU FORGOT TO LOCK THE DOOR!"

to his credit, he didn't divorce or institutionalize me; instead, he got with the program and LOCKED THE DOOR. it got to be an instinctive behavior for both of us, like putting your foot on the clutch when you drive a stick shift car. lock the door, lock the door, lock the door.

one night when josie was a little over a year old, i repaired to the bathtub with my chai tea and stack of smithsonian magazines (because i am a swinger). after a few minutes, the handsome man stuck his head in the bathroom, announced he was going to put the snow tires on my minivan (like i said, swingers), and left, shutting the door.

i think you know where this is going.

yup, he had unconsciously, instinctively (or so he would later claim) LOCKED THE DOOR. i discovered this about half an hour later when i emerged from the tub, bright red and shriveled as darth vader's skull (i like hot, hot baths), and pulled on the door knob.

i gotta say, those hooks and eyes really work. especially when you install the heavy-duty kind.

for those of you fortunate enough to live in warmer climes, i should note here that the proper, careful installation of snow tires takes a bit of time, and my husband is proper and careful when it comes to all things automotive. that means he not only lovingly mounted all four tires, he then drove the van to a gas station to check their pressure and add air, and finally took the van for an extended spin (city streets, highway) to make sure everything was working right.

so i was locked in my own bathroom for about, oh, two hours.

here is a partial list of things you can do in your bathroom for two hours:
  • read several smithsonian magazines cover to cover, even those teeny tiny ads in the back
  • pee
  • clean the sink
  • pee
  • clean the toilet
  • clean the tub
  • look far too long and closely at your pores
  • pee
  • formulate an elaborate escape plan involving the bathroom's lone window, the snow drift outside for cushioning, your polar fleece robe for modesty, and your neighbors' gracious and bemused welcome
fortunately, before i performed my birdman of alcatraz impression, the handsome man finally returned. i heard him come in the back door, and i started calling frantically (but softly! don't wake the baby!) for release.

me: "charlie! charlieeee!"

him: (pause) "where are you?"

me: "in the bathroom!"

him: "still?!"

me: "i'm locked in! you locked me in!"

freedom, reunion, apologies and chuckles ensued.

and maybe a little less freakiness on my part, whether from wisdom or just from sheer fatigue after all that vigilance. i realized i gotta pace myself and save enough energy for the bullies, braces, boys and other horrors yet to come.

a nice, hot bath should help.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

call mensa

i try not to brag about my kidlets, really i do. but yesterday, thing one did something that makes me think she just might be gifted. 

i'd served the gals each a piece of birthday cake (vegan AND tasty, thank you very much), then ducked downstairs to move the laundry mountain a few feet. when i came back to the kitchen, i saw that josie had managed to remove every molecule of pink frosting on her piece with surgical precision, leaving the cake/frosting vehicle/brown junk completely intact.

it was a thing of beauty. i was so proud. even i, the frosting lover of all time, could not have done such a good job, and i told her so. (praise your children when they do something right! the books say.) it warms a mother's heart.

bird balls

jesus, the birds are fat this winter.

we have four bird houses on our garage, so we have a little condo complex going out there. right now, i can see three birds perched on the roofs and one peaking out a "window" (hole in the wood). they are all perfectly spherical – they look like dirty tennis balls with beaks. how can they possibly fly?

of course, i'm sure they think similar uncharitable thoughts about me when i emerge from my dwelling.

goooood morning

here's a real eye-opener: being barfed on by both kids.

it's 8:46 on saturday morning, and i'm already exhausted.

Friday, February 15, 2008

i have made an important discovery

and i feel i would be remiss as a human being if i did not share it with the world.

it is hershey's special dark cocoa.

now, i am normally a milk chocolate kind of gal. but this stuff makes awesome cakes and cupcakes, and freakishly good hot cocoa. see for yourself:

freakishly good hot cocoa
  • 1 c milk (or soy milk)
  • 2 T sugar
  • 2 T hershey's special dark cocoa
  • dash salt
  • 1/4 t vanilla
  1. heat the milk as much as you like (i prefer it just this side of undrinkably hot)
  2. mix the sugar, cocoa and salt
  3. add a bit of the milk to the cocoa mix and stir to make a paste
  4. add the rest of the milk and the vanilla; stir well
  5. pour the cocoa through a strainer into a mug
  6. sip
  7. drift off to your happy place

waiting, waiting

i'm a-feared.

yesterday was my birthday; i turned 43. and now i'm waiting, waiting, waiting for something scary to happen to my carcass.

it's not the milestone years i fear – it's the off-brands. like 28, when i suddenly developed back fat. or 32, when my ass fell, like, 2 inches overnight. or the year i discovered that my cloven hooves are not normal and i have bunions and hammer toes (bye bye, pretty shoes). on one birthday, swear to god, a friend plucked my first gray hair from my head and waved it gleefully at me.

so now i'm waiting to see what else might bag, sag or just plain fall off.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

shoot me, cupid – just shoot me

last week, the handsome man switched the knobs on our bedroom door and the basement door. the basement door knob has a push-button lock in it, and the handsome man thought that moving it to our bedroom would give us more privacy for amore.

except thing one just went in our room, pushed the button, came out, and pulled the door shut.

the handsome man is now downstairs collecting tools to take the door knob apart. and i am heading to the bathtub ALONE. now that's amore.

imaginary band names

back in my teens and 20s, i had a long run of dating musicians. consequently, i own some horrendous mix tapes, i can carry a bass amp as big as me, and i've had occasion to dream up lots of potential band names.

since then, band name ideas have also percolated up from funny things said by friends, the handsome man, and things one and two.

so this is for the kids out there: feel free to crib one of these for your next band. just say nice things about me when you make the cover of rolling stone.

♪beat cancel
♪snot on my arm
♪sex coma

to say up yours, please press 2

i've had occasion during the past couple of days to be on the phone with customer service reps of various companies (charles schwab, qwest) in various far-flung locales (phoenix, salt lake city).

at the end of every conversation, each one of them has cheerfully inquired, "so, how's the weather there in minneapolis?" and it's not like they're asking in a nice way; the smug snickering is barely disguised in their voices.

to which i have responded in an equally cheerful voice, "why, it sucks! thank you for asking."

oh. and now it's snowing. again. keeel me.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

a two-paper-gown day

my mom is visiting for a week, so what kind of wild fun are we having?

we went to target.
we went to ikea.
we went to the grocery store.

and today while my mom watched the kidlets, i had not one but two doctors poke and prod my naked person: the annual spelunking by my ob/gyn, and the yearly mole patrol by my dermatologist.

the really sad part is, sitting in a paper gown reading old issues of people magazine is the closest i get to a spa anymore, and i really liked it. fortunately, i have a mammogram in a couple weeks. party on!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

nutter butter

can you name a serious, potentially fatal disease that affects 1 out of 8 women? now let me make it harder: can you name one other than breast cancer?

it's postpartum depression.

and i ain't talking about the baby blues. i'm talking about can't eat, can't sleep, can't stop sobbing, can't stop obsessing, can't stop shaking. i'm talking about being unable to get dressed, unable to care for your children, unable to function. for weeks, for months.

i slipped into ppd (as the cool kids call it) after i had my second child. unlike most women who get ppd, i didn't develop symptoms soon after birth; instead, i went slowly downhill until the baby was 9 months old, at which point i had become unrecognizable to myself and others. if it hadn't been for the intervention of my two best friends and my mother, i am pretty sure i would have ended up in the hospital – and that's the best case scenario.

i got therapy. i got drugs. i got better. i hope i never again encounter the crazy stranger i was during those months.

other women have not been so lucky. they stumble along in silent pain, trying to "get over it." a few develop postpartum psychosis. melanie blocker stokes, a pharmacueticals sales manager, threw herself from a 12-story window when her baby was not quite 4 months old. dr. suzanne killinger-johnson, a psychologist, leapt in front of a subway train while carrying her infant son.

ppd is a disease. it is a toxic chemical stew that curdles your brain. it doesn't mean you don't love your baby. it doesn't mean you aren't grateful to be a mom. it means that your mind has come lose from its moorings and splintered on the rocks.

that's why this whole "happiest time of your life" bullshit myth has to be put down for good, or women will continue to suffer in guilty, fearful silence, dragging their families down with them when they go completely nutter.

real mommies know how terrifying a newborn is if you've never been around one before. real mommies know why sleep deprivation is used to torture prisoners. real mommies know that taking zoloft is not a sign of weakness; it's using medicine to treat a medical condition. (would you try to pull yourself up by the bootstraps if you had diabetes? kidney failure?)

i am a real mommy. i love my babies without limits, but i don't pretend it's easy or fun all the time. every stage is not a blessing; some of them are goddamned annoying, and some of them can kill you.

thank god mommies tend to run in packs. we need the protection and support of the herd. we need our friends to tell us what to expect when you're expecting is shit. we need our aunts to tell us they wanted to throw our cousins through a plate glass window when they were kids. we need our own mommies to sit in front of us and make us eat something, then tell us to go lie down and take a nap, no arguments.

i try to keep a closer eye on my herd since i've had ppd. you keep an eye on yours, too, ok?

Friday, February 1, 2008

overhead in the playroom

as i've discovered the big, bloggy world out there, i've noticed there are quite a few "overheard in..." blogs (overheard in new york, in minneapolis, in chicago, in ann arbor, and so on).

not to be outdone, i am starting "overheard in the playroom" with this exchange:

4-year-old to sister: "what do you want to be when you grow up?"

2-year-old: (pause to consider) "orange and pink!"

that's my girl.