Wednesday, December 23, 2009

And As If Right On Cue...

The UPS man just appeared at my door with none other than our second annual nightmare... The Turducken.

Is it considered a tradition if it is thrust upon us unwittingly?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Aftermath

Here's what I have learned...

A little snow = frolicky fun. A lot of snow = hell, in many different forms.

Let me share...

So, things were going swimmingly for the first 3-6 inches. Dogs were prancing, chasing after the wet snowflakes. Kids were red-cheeked and buzzing with anticipation of even more snow to come. I had actually gotten off my ass and hit the store and was prepared to be snowed in indefinitely.

But then, the snow kept falling. And falling. 12-18 inches later, the scene had changed drastically.

The school bus carrying Moody's swim team home from the meet Friday night got stuck on the icy roads, with the scantily clad and still damp team on the bus, until well after 1:30 in the morning.

Our entire little outdoor winter scene, complete with lighted snowman, arctic seal and penguin was buried, shorted out, and declared DOA by Saturday morning.

The dogs have become overwhelmed and disoriented and have no idea where their invisible fence is. Since they no longer wear their collars, they have been venturing way past our yard and are thisclose to being official runaways. Look for them on this week's edition of 20/20, living under a bridge and selling crack for dog biscuits.

Moody keeps insisting he should be able to be out driving in all this mess and is making our lives miserable. Truly.

Apparently, I miscalculated at the grocery store, and while we still have about $200 worth of cookie dough left, we have been out of actual food food since Saturday afternoon. And who the heck wants to eat cookies without milk?!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Digging Out

Well, it snowed. And snowed. And today, we are digging out, not that we have anything to do, or anywhere to go. The streets haven't been plowed, but Hubby has been hitting the pipe stem pretty hard, snow blowing every 4 hrs or so. We haven't gotten any word about school tomorrow, but I forced the boys to get some homework done, just in case. Once the work was done, we decided to play a little...



Friday, December 18, 2009

Do You See What I See...?

I have noticed for the last few days that there was something amiss with our tree (other than it being mildly pathetic and small). It took me a while to deduce what was happening, and then another little while to actually catch the perpetrator in the act.

In other, somewhat related news, I hear fur is back en vogue. I am picturing a nice muffler and perhaps a matching hat?





Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Miracle, Part II

Well, it turns out, the real Santa can bite me. I was out of my jolly mood, and back in the saddle of irritation, panic and distress, by sundown yesterday. Whatever, Santa. However... I adore my Secret Santa Soiree partner. She is an angel. A bonafide gift from the heavens.

I must confess that my Secret Santa wasn't much of a secret for very long. Due to my own crass pushiness, and a SSS partner that is such a good person that she is horrible at lying, even through email, I was able to figure it out PDQ. Am I officially kicked out of the SSS program now, Georgie and AmyBo?

Anyway, my unSecret Santa sent me the most wonderful (and needed) box of goodies that, because of the intensity of my emotional crisis, were put to use immediately. Therefore, the photos below may not truly emote the festivity, care and love put into my gifts.

So, without further ado, I present to you my goodies! Lotion and body wash and comfy socks and yummy chocolate... All to de-stress this crazed scrooge. Oh, and they were accompanied by the most hilarious and perfect Christmas card, ever.

Here we have the "before"... yay!

And then the boys got home from school and things began a pretty swift downward spiral...

No, my unSecret Santa isn't stingy... the pail was brimming before I got my hands on it. My mood lifted a bit, until the sugar high passed and I started to crash. Coincidentally, about this time, Moody's math progress report landed in my inbox. I grabbed the 'stress relief' body wash and took a nice, hot shower.

And no, I didn't use the razor next to it on my wrists or Moody's throat! Oh, and I didn't get a chance to photograph the cozy slipper/socks because Sassafras, the rogue, evil, Christmas decoration destroyer kitty, had run off with them somewhere. Take my word for it... they're heavenly.

Thank you, my dear unSecret Santa for being an excellent seasonal Santa, and a true year-round friend!

Oh, and muchas gracias to those big hearted elves, Georgie and AmyBo! I love you both for your commitment (I am sure you are feeling like you are ready to be committed about now, right?) to the season and to us lowly bloggers. I am thankful that there is always room at your inn.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Christmas Miracle, Part I

So, I was speeding way too fast along the parkway this morning, in a hurry to just be done with my Christmas errands. My mood was crap, and I was full of dread. Suddenly, flashing lights and sirens caught my eye and I hit the brakes. In the distance before me, I could see that there were motorcycle cops at the next two intersections, and a large police escort was headed my way. My first thought was that it was a funeral procession. A funeral for someone very influential, mind you, but a funeral, nonetheless. I strained to spot a hearse, but couldn't see one.

My next thought was it was some sort of diplomat/politician (Obama in the suburbs? Making a quick arugula run, perhaps?). I live within close enough proximity to "The Beltway," that it was a real possibility. Those fat cats (See, I can use that term fast and loose, too) are always zooming about in their tinted-windowed town cars, enjoying the expensive and ridiculous perks of the job, using those HOV lanes at their own whimsy, since, if you count their huge egos, their vehicles, indeed, carry quite a high occupancy.

No such luck. Turns out it was someone even more grand than any politician. Someone alive and well in Fairfax County... it was Santa Claus! My jaw literally dropped as I watched 12 police motorcycles escort a Suburban with Santa peering happily out the window, waving to us all. And if that weren't surreal enough, the Suburban behind dear Santa was carrying Rudolph, the one and only reindeer!

I couldn't help but smile. I would have expected my response to have been more cynical. But it just didn't occur to me to question the expense or the necessity or the appropriateness. It was what I needed to snap me out of my yearly bad mood. And it worked. The mall didn't seem so crowded, the lines didn't seem so long, and even though I didn't find everything I needed, it didn't matter.

Santa was on the scene, spreading his jolliness to all. By God, I was going to let it rub off on me, even if it killed me! But it didn't kill me. Maybe reveling in Christmas cheer isn't as difficult as I always seem to make it.

And if that weren't enough of a Christmas miracle, when I got home, I had a simple, brown package waiting patiently for me on my front porch, courtesy my own, lovely, Secret Santa.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Brain is Fried

The weird thing about my relationship with french fries is I don't absolutely love them. Given the amount of time and brain power I dedicated to them yesterday, you'd think they'd be at the top of my fave foods list (sidebar: that would be thin crust cheese pizza from Vocelli's and Breyer's cookies & cream ice cream). I mean, I like them, and everything, and I certainly never order my burger sans fries, but I don't really obsess about them, like I do other foods (such as: thin crust cheese pizza from Vocelli's and Breyer's cookies & cream ice cream).

In other, marginally related news, I have become a shopping addict.

So, after what is now apparently my daily crazy, overstimulating, expensive trip to Bed Bath & Beyond, I was famished. I made a quick drive through Wendy's, which is, by no means, my preferred choice of fast food, but I was fairly desperate. The burger (with cheese, cut the lettuce and pickles) was a necessity. The fries? Well, why the heck not?

I found myself doing what I always do when eating fast food in the car. Burger sat half unwrapped in my lap, while the fries remained in the bag, which was resting on the console, for easy access. As I drove, I started to think about the deliciousness of the food I was eating. The burger was gone before I could render an accurate verdict, which left me alone with the fries...

The first step was purely tactile. I reached blindly into the bag (I was driving, after all) and began to feel each individual fry. The ones that were shorter than, let's say, 1.5 inches were immediately discarded. The next to go were those that came to a point on either end. The only fries to make it to phase two were those long, luscious, perfectly rectangular specimens.

Which was followed by the visual examination. Any green or black discoloration was grounds for immediate disqualification. If I overlooked any hard or too pointy fries during the touch test, I got rid of those.

What I was left with was the cream of the crop. My mouth is watering right now, just thinking back to those golden, soft but crispy, little gems.

So anyway, back to yesterday. I was munching my way back towards home, with a trunk full of Beyond, when I had to quickly throw on my brakes (Hmm... distracted much?). The carefully screened fries went flying. I managed to bend down and reach most of them, but I saw that, much to my dismay, the fry that I had been saving for last (we're talking at least 3 inches and not a flaw to be found) had landed under the gas pedal. The three second rule, along with the red light, came and went in a flash. I gnawed on my bottom lip all the way home, trying to decide if I had really sunk low enough to want to still eat that fry.

Trust me, you don't want to know how this ends...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

(Gray) Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow!

So, being around my parents and basically having my self-esteem captured, water-boarded, shredded into little bits, and then thrown out with the trash has left me feeling worn down and blue. Suddenly RootWatch '09 feels like Sad Old Worthless HagWatch '09.

It's been quite a journey that I have taken with my own head of hair these last few months. We've reconnected, and I have to say, I appreciate my hair, crazy flaws and all. I had taken it for granted for years. I had been dying it various shades of wonderful and not-so-wonderful since I was thirteen years old! I really had no idea what would be waiting for me underneath.

Now, after letting all the color grow off, I have gotten the chance to see the fascinating pattern of gray around my temples and widow's peak (sort of a Lily Munster/Eddie Munster hybrid). I've watched as the natural curl slowly bounced back, after being suffocated by bleach and peroxide. Life has officially returned to my hair.

But as wonderful as that all sounds, it is seriously time to start chasing the elusive fountain of youth, once again. While a part of me feels free, an even bigger part of me feels dowdy. And that's no fun. I have many, many years ahead to try this little experiment again, and I know when (or if) I am ready to permanently go au naturel, it will be just fine.

Until then, Viva L'Oréal #62B!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Naughty Again This Year

I have known that they think all of the following for a while now, but it was all reaffirmed for me in many spoken and unspoken ways this past weekend...

I spend too much money.
I spoil my kids.
I am enable my in-laws.
I eat out too much.
I don't call enough.
I watch too much TV.
I am materialistic.
I am wasteful.
I am difficult.
And my personal favorite...
I appear bloated.

One thing is for certain... The message is strong, clear and consistent.

I get it.

But what I don't get is why anyone wants to be around someone as awful as I, any more than I want to be around anyone that feels this way about me.

PS: Can someone please check my grammar on that last sentence?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Purging

I tell you what... I am pretty tired of looking inward when things get complicated with people. It can't always be me, can it? Do I really need to just be more tolerant and patient and compassionate when others are acting selfish and silly?

Today I want to feel like the injured party, for once. Today I want to be annoyed that everyone around me is being childish. Today I want to feel secure enough in myself to know that I am taking a stand and saying what I want and calling people on their accusations and careless words.

You'd think that the people around me would think twice about judging others and calling people cruel names, such as "alcoholic", especially having one in their own immediate family, and all. You'd think they'd pause before putting others down, yet congratulating themselves on their apparent redemption, while their deep-seated dysfunction remains firmly intact.

Maybe miracles do happen, but I am not buying it. Sorry.

I am irate. I am sad. I am annoyed. I want it to be Tuesday, so I will have my house all to myself and I can finally exhale and relax and try to get these crazy people out of my mind.

Maybe then I will go back to feeling guilty and bad and put the weight of the world back on my own shoulders. For now, I will mope and whine. Maybe I'll even do a little judging myself.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Armageddon II

Oh, who am I kidding? There won't be any grandiose display of diamonds or cookware under the tree this year (see Part I), and that is just fine with me. My self-preservation strategy this year is to simply ignore Christmas. Call it a desperate measure to keep the anxiety in check, if you'd like.

So, speaking of the Apocalypse coupled with an unhealthy dose of stress...

Those four ominous horsemen have been replaced by an elderly couple, driving a red Toyota Camry cross-country, due on my doorstep in about 10 hours. And if you think I am exaggerating their power to incite mass hysteria and plagues of locust, you obviously weren't around when the whole Texas showdown, precipitated by my brother's near-death experience/alcohol intervention, took place.

Take cover, my people. Take cover.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Seventh Sign of the Apocalypse

Those horsemen better saddle up because either the world is coming to an end, or I have officially lost my mind (once again).

My husband is quite an amazing gift-giver. He is stealthy and he is generous. Anything I want is mine... and he doesn't even need hints!

So last night, in an apparent act of desperation, he flat out asked me what I want for Christmas. I gave him my standard answer, "Ohhhh, nothing," with that slight martyr inflection, inferring that there might be some little ol' thing that I could think of to put on my list.

And then he let it drop. I began brainstorming. Panic set in. There really wasn't anything I could think of that would put a little extra spring in my step. Except...

It is no secret that I am not so hot in the kitchen. I don't like to cook, and I really don't have a problem with that. That being said, I have been inexplicably drawn to some cool looking non-stick cookware at Target. But honestly, as much as I think I would love it, and how desperately I want to believe that it will make me enjoy cooking, I fear I will just be depressed on Christmas morning when I sit down in front of a really big, heavy box filled with a bunch of Teflon-coated metal just waiting to be used. Which means I would have to actually cook. Ick.

So maybe me wanting cookware isn't the seventh sign of the Apocalypse. Maybe the Pale Horse of Death, as the embodiment of my family's starvation from my lack of cooking (yet abundance of diamond-wearing), is the seventh sign.

Sounds reasonable to me.

Friday, November 20, 2009

And So It Begins...

We've certainly already endured our fair share of 'grown up' problems here at our house. But yesterday seemed to usher in a new era, one in which the blinders are off, and things will never be the same, no matter what we try to do about it.

My father-in-law died. My husband's dad...the boys' grandfather. I look at the facts, and it really isn't shocking or, if I am being honest, terribly tragic. He was 90. It was peaceful. Life on this Earth, as he would want to continue living it, was over.

My husband is being strong and stoic. But I know he's feeling guilt and regret. But I also know that as seemingly destructive and useless as guilt and regret can be, he will transform it into something worthwhile... More time with his boys. More love shown to those around him now. Being a better father than he already is, if that is even possible. And while that is all good, I hate the weight he puts on his own shoulders.

And I also hate that this is just the beginning. One down, three more grandparents to go. It's inevitable, but it is still jarring. Watching my boys absorb the reality while remaining firmly entrenched in their teen lives of friends and games and homework and life. Should they be sadder? Are they too sad? Do they really get it? Should they really get it?

And while we pass through this final arc of but one great, honorable circle of life, I am humbled by all the other tragedy and heartbreak around us. On one hand, our problems feel so big sometimes, yet, it is very, very obvious that others have so much more to bear.

Why, then, are we always so blindsided by things like this? If it is everywhere, everyday, why are we not calloused and shielded? Do our souls regenerate with new life after each little piece is ripped away?

Who knows, I guess. I suppose our ultimate task is to persevere.

"In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins - not through strength but by perseverance." ~H. Jackson Brown.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Bean Sprouts

So I am kind of known around here as the mom of teens. However, the truth is I am the mother of only one (very moody and wonderfully maddening) teen. My other child is not a teen. In fact, he is one very sweet little boy that still likes a tuck-in, is willing to snuggle on the couch, never passes up an ice cream run with Dad, and speaks in full, non-inflammatory sentences.

But that's all about to change.

My precious Mr. Beans is about to officially cross to the dark side. Sure, I have seen subtle harbingers in the form of hormone surges, texts from girls (MANY texts from MANY girls), smelly armpits and even a bit of defiance. But I have heretofore been able to shrug them off because he's still my baby. After all, he's 12, not 13, so any experimental foray into teendom is only temporary, and kind of cute. Until this coming Saturday. God help us all...

And while I want so badly to hold onto him, as he is, keeping him cute and innocent and nice, I also wonder what life has in store for this creature that is unlike any other. I can't wait to meet him after all the messy teen chaos gets sorted out, and he becomes the incredible man I know he will be.

Because while the scenery will change, and hair will grow, and the voice will deepen, the awe-inspiring soul that draws others to him, the smart but gentle humor that comes so naturally, and the courage and self-esteem that make him stand so tall will all still be there, shining brightly.

Let's just hope I haven't lost my mind by then, so I can enjoy him a little.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Eggroll? Eggroll, Who?


Welcome to the family, little Sassafras Williams. My best advice for you as the newest member of the clan? Don't get sick.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hell.

I am not sure how to say this without sounding more unstable than I already seem, but sewing makes me want to jump off a bridge. And we're not talking the real stuff here, like clothes and decorative pillowcases, as I don't have a machine. That would render me completely catatonic. We're talking the little, "easy" stuff. Buttons? God help me. Darning? As if. Hemming? Laughable.

So imagine my surprise and reluctance (and terror) when I was presented with the "opportunity" to sew a patch onto Sweet Mr. Beans's fencing pants. I basically just stared in abject horror until my husband repeated, "He needs it on there by Saturday's tournament. He's gotta show his Club pride!"

Umm...

Well, here I am now, Thursday afternoon, taking a small break to hammer out my frustrations on the keyboard, because...

It took me literally two hours to pin it on, re-pin it on, re-re-pin it on, thread the needle, tie that stupid knot at the end of the thread that everybody claims is so essential, stick my finger, stick my finger again, and finally get the job done. I was exhausted, both mentally and physically, and so relieved it was over.

So, in walks my husband just now, and I leap up to show him my handiwork. He doesn't really smile. Rather, he looks confused and a bit frightened to say what he needs to tell me.

"It looks great, but you sewed it on the wrong side."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Circle of Life

So we had this lizard. Yes, had. He is no longer with us, both in the literal and figurative sense.

And for all of you curious reptiphiles and reptiphobes, here's how it all went down...

I guess first, I should provide a little background info, just to get PETA all nice and worked up. A general unspoken rule in our house is any mammalian member of the family will receive appropriate basic veterinary care. If, God forbid, something catastrophic were to happen, well, we'll just cross that bridge when we get to it.

Now, if you reside in our home and are not a mammal... Well, be happy you have a warm place to live and keep an eye on the cat.

And so it went, until this past week when our poor Chinese water dragon, Eggroll, starting acting sort of strange and slow. But the funny thing about reptiles is they'll do that before they shed, or when they are cold. So, we kind of just ignored the weirdness until yesterday. My husband decided to seek medical care for him, which just had disaster written all over it from the get go. His point was a good one, however. His thought was that if it was something simple, and fixable, why not? It was better than just watching him die. So we loaded the lizard in the car, and drove him to the exotic animal clinic.

The whole scene was a riot (until we got to the part about Eggroll's terminal illness). It was exactly how you would picture it... Lots of good-natured weirdos, lots of photos hanging on the walls from appreciative former patients (turtles in Santa hats, iguanas posing with kitties, etc).

Well, the Dr. examined Eggy and pronounced him gravely ill with pneumonia, a skin infection, and possible organ failure. Her treatment plan consisted of immediate hospitalization, tube feeding and iv antibiotics. Basically, lizard life support. To the tune of $1000.

Uhhh....

I felt like the worst person in the world when I asked sheepishly if there was a "Plan B". My husband, by the way, was too busy staring at a spot on the ground and fiddling with his car keys to help me out.

Luckily, the vet was really understanding and presented us with an Euthanasia Plan. Now, I don't mean to sound heartless, but it was pretty hilarious. We could be there with him, if we so chose. We could take his little remains with us, or have him cremated. I think we could even select some sort of commemorative urn for his ashes.

In the end, we chose a clean cut of the cord, if you will. We said our solemn goodbyes to the little wheezing lizard in the orange Nike shoebox, paid our $49, and ran.

We got home and broke the news to the boys. Despite months of basically ignoring the poor animal, they took it very hard... Until I told them we could go to our vet's office tomorrow to look at a stray kitten that's in need of a home.

RIP
Eggroll
1.09-10.09

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Home-Grown Terror

My life tends to run at only two speeds... boring and slow, to the point of mental and physical degeneration, or hypersonic overdrive, feeling overwhelmed and pulled in a thousand opposite directions, making me want to veer off the nearest (and highest) bridge.

So guess which one is my life of late ? Well, since it's not August, it must be the second one. Here's what's on my plate... if anyone can help me figure out how to remain calm, cool and ever so collected, I will write you into my will (which is currently in the red, BTDubs).

1) Father-in-law in hospital. Nothing too horrible, but the man is approaching 90, and he's the healthy one of the bunch. Not a good scene, and part of the reason we do NOT reside in Texas, while the rest of our extended family remains IN Texas.

2) Husband feeling the guilt of being 2,000 miles away from sick dad and needy relatives, and is sort of roaming around in a funk, which is worsened by...

3) Husband just got glasses for the first time (bifocals, to boot) and they are messing with his psyche. I am not good at doling out the TLC, and that is really what he needs. Hey, join the club, mister.

4) Magazine fundraiser at school has been extended for yet another week. Have I mentioned I am in charge?

5) Holiday crap displayed, and crowd-worsening detected, in Target. And you all know what kind of downward spiral/mania this induces. In fact, I am seeing stars and feeling nauseous just thinking about it. Must find a new approach to the holidays this year. Can't deal with Turducken, panic, advent calendars, relatives, and the extra 20 lbs ever again.

6) Dog has a partial tear of her ACL. No, she's not a professional football player. However, she may need to become one to cover her veterinary bill.

7) Kids are hacking and sneezy and semi-sick, but not to the fun point, where they lie silently in bed, drifting in and out of consciousness. They are cranky and annoying, and way too active. Am left with no choice but to try to sneak them back into school. Have vowed not to answer the phone, should I get a call from school.

8) The stupid lizard appears to be ill. If he dies, this will be the second lizard we have had to bury in a year. I am not a good lizard nurse and may need to put Dr. Kevorkian on speed dial... Maybe I can get a group discount.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Will Meme for Food

You may know that I kind of drew that weird, sudden, arbitrary line in the sand, and decided to no longer participate in any memes. I was pretty heavy into them, and I needed a clean break. So I quit.... cold turkey. And while I am generally very pleased with my decision, I am not unaware of the consequences. I have definitely isolated myself, somewhat. Also, now being left to my own devices for topic inspiration, I have found myself lacking at times. Seriously lacking.

And I am so seriously off-track right now. Enough about me.

So my old buddy, CaJoh, is celebrating his birthday today. And what I love about CaJoh, other than the fact that his nom de plume makes him sound like a cult leader, is the inspired simplicity of his blog.

What does any of this mean? And why should you care? Okay, well, here... let me spell it out:

CaJoh + Meme = Friday's Feast (yay!)

It's a simple one, really. You just have to talk about food (oh darn, right?). So I am going to dig deep within me for any vestigial memeing abilities, and see if I remember how to play.

Here's what I have to say about food:

1. You really can acquire a taste for those God-awful, healthy bran muffins (the hungrier and more desperate you are, the better).

2. If you are interested in obtaining the worst morning breath known to mankind, eat something with pesto for dinner the night before.

3. And now for my all-time favorite, which bears frequent repetition... Oatmeal is a totally acceptable and healthy dinner for your children (and disillusioned but hungry husband).

Happy Birthday, my friend, and Happy Weekend to the rest of you. Oh, and don't get used to all of this sociability... Back to our regularly scheduled programming posthaste!




Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Past Due

I've been more than a little fascinated lately by the life-cycle of the blog. Oh, you didn't know there's such a thing? Ah, but there is... and if you look closely, you, too, can easily identify the various stages, and their inherent characteristics. It doesn't take a scientist (which is good, because I ain't one) to figure it out. I won't bore you with the whole explanation, because it has been discussed by bloggers big and small around here.

Now, what is intriguing is how most blogs seem to stall at the cocoon spinning phase, and either just crawl around as a perpetual caterpillar, hungry for comments and approval, or feel the need to change, begin to spin its cozy transformational bed, but then kind of just fall off the tree, never to be heard from again. Rare is the blog that truly undergoes the somewhat painful metamorphosis and grows its gorgeous wings. And the simple reason why?

Fear.

Fear of "letting down readers".

Fear of sounding stupid.

Fear of being boring.

Fear of saying what you actually mean and being judged a bitch. Or uncool. Or unenlightened. Or ungreen. Or just plain mean. And who wants to be considered mean?

Well, that's all going to change. At least around here. I freely admit that I have been guilty of some serious self-censoring, and I don't like it. My one purpose for starting my blog was to, for once in my life, be truly authentic. To just be me. To say what I want to say. Embrace what I really feel. To write about what is inside of me, instead of continuing to portray a character that people around me expect and enjoy, at the expense of my soul.

And if people don't like it, and suddenly I am alone? Well, at least my one constant companion will be a lot easier to look in the eye.

So if you're up for saying what you mean, without fear of being thought of as mean, with no regard to obligation or perception, grab a button (stage left), and... well... say what you mean! Even if it's silly, boring, controversial, sad, happy, upsetting or confusing, if you feel it in your heart, it is worth being read, comments be damned!

Finally, I have to give a big shout out to my pal, Em, who heard my heart, helped me figure out what I was feeling, and then grabbed my hand and jumped off of this bridge with me. And while she was busy taking care of me, she found the time to design that cool button that says it all.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Teen Talk: The Reunion Show

Back by popular demand... The child formerly known as Sweet Mr. Beans, who now, clearly, is working hard to shake the 'sweet', and well on his way to embracing the whole teen attitude thing. I may have to just recast the role if he doesn't shape up. Or maybe I can just claim him to be his own evil twin.

video




Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Sordid Truth

So here it is... the truth. I have been avoiding you. All of you. And I guess what I am hoping is you will maybe understand. If not, well then so be it. Please be patient and know that any irritation in my 'voice' is not, I repeat, not directed at you. But since it is illegal to throttle my children and abandon them on the street, I must take my frustrations out on the innocent... you.

Now, why have I been ignoring all the wonderful, optimistic, conscientious, inspiring tales of raising the next generation? Because suddenly I see the futility of it all. The societal judgment lingering in the air, for nothing, has gotten the better of me. The angst over breast or bottle, TV or no TV, green or... well, apparently there is no other choice besides green, or our kids, and the world as we know it, will all just instantly go to Hell.

I guess it seems harsh and, well, rude, to say it just doesn't matter if you do or do not grow your own squash to then boil (But not too long or all the nutrients will evaporate and your children will get rickets. Or is it scurvy?), and then mash, and then strain, and then mash again, and then feed to your children as they listen to Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

And do you know how I know it doesn't matter? Because I've done it. And you know what? My kids still talk back to me. They forget their homework at school. They complain about taking the trash out every single time, even though they have been taking out the trash twice weekly for the last 4 years. They fail tests. They go out with friends, in actual moving vehicles, and don't answer their cell phone for hours at a time. Yes, it happens.

The pressure on teens today is insane, and even in the most laid back of households, they feel it. Kids are depressed, kids feel lonely and isolated, and it has very, very little to do with whether or not they learned the alphabet in Chinese as a toddler. They react to things with little regard to the 'tools' they learned during circle time in kindergarten. Hormones are raging, chemicals in the brain are on the loose, disaster looms around every corner. Yes, it happens.

Or maybe at this point, you are thinking, "Well, it won't happen in my house." And maybe it won't. But it probably will. And, like me, you will be ill prepared for the constant frustration and emotional wrangling.

But, at least I know that when the day comes and my boys are standing in front of a judge, awaiting their sentence, they will remember to say "Yes Ma'am". And the nutrition they banked as infants will sustain them through years of prison food.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Teen Talk Sans Teens (Thank God)

Okay, forget the teens. I have no words of wisdom regarding those curious creatures, as mine are sending me perilously close to the edge. However, I thought I would share with you a nice little treat waiting for me when I came home from a stressful afternoon of having to interact with actual living, breathing human beings. Enjoy. Oh, and those disturbing black marks on the side of my washing machine are from this hose thing that keeps my mudroom from flooding.

video

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I Pledge...

To wish my good pal, Em, the happiest birthday EVER!

She has a spirit that shines, a heart that radiates goodness, and the soul of the kind of mother I strive to be.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

5 Things I Hate About Back To School Night

1. I am not the one who, by law, must go to school. I have already been through school. Just teach my kids already, and leave me out of it.

2. It goes against my policy of ignoring and avoiding everyone around me.

3. I have to get out of my pajamas. I tried staying in them one year, and the comfort wasn't worth the dirty/concerned looks I received.

4. It always interferes with some highly anticipated Season Premiere. ANTM, Biggest Loser, DWTS... you name it, I'll have to miss it. Curses!

5. The Teacher's Pets. Yes, they come in grown-up sizes, too. And they sit in the front row, nod their heads maniacally as the teacher speaks, and inevitably figure out a way to 'name drop' their own kids' names, LIKE ANYONE CARES. And of course, they force us to stay after the bell, asking ridiculous questions about the curriculum, LIKE ANYONE CARES.

I'm tempted to play hooky this year, but I want to go scour the walls for my kid's essay/poem/picture hanging there haphazardly. What can I say? I may have a bad attitude, but I still think my kids are the best, just like everyone else.

Oh, and in a show of solidarity with my pal Em, over at Life, Liberty and the Pursuit..., for each comment I receive, I will donate one can of food to the local food bank. Limit one comment per customer, s'il vous plaît.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Snips, Snails and Puppy Dog Tails


Happy Birthday, my dear, infuriating, wonderful Moody Teen.

Sixteen short years ago, you came into my life rather uneventfully... on your due date, no less! My water broke uneventfully. My one contraction I endured before having the epidural, contracted uneventfully. Before I knew it, you were in my arms.

You were a thrill seeker and a car lover from the beginning... The higher and faster you could get in your swing or bouncy seat, the happier you were. You slept with a Hot Wheel in each hand every night.

You grew into such a confident, adventurous kid... If it looked fun to you, you tried it. You didn't worry what others might think, or if you'd be able to catch on.

Ah, and then the teen years came along, and what wasn't to love? I can honestly say that I only wanted to kill you a (large) handful of times (so far).

Which brings us to today...

You keep me on my toes, you rebel, you argue, you love, you laugh, you even occasionally hug, and you live like no one else I've ever known.

I am so proud of you... Not your grades or accomplishments or determination in the face of adversity or athleticism... but you.

Love,
The Mother To Whom You Are Not Speaking at the Moment Because of the Car Argument

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The More Things Change...

For those of you following along at home, we last left "The Big Family Breakup," with me having a major showdown with my elderly parents in the middle of the airport (with basically me doing both the showing and the downing), as my newly-minted alcoholic brother, fresh out of ICU, headed straight to rehab, as he had been forbidden to return home to his wife and kids. As with any good cliffhanger, I sat on the plane back to DC, torn between cutting all ties and resolving to make amends.

Fast forward three months...

Well, my brother seems to be on the mend, so to speak, but I really only know that second-hand. I'm in my usual avoidance mode with my parents, leading them to believe I'm still a somewhat willing participant in this whole nonsense that is our family unit. But of course, there has been no real dialogue. No actual communication or discussion of feelings, regrets, wishes, solutions. And I am having a hard time accepting that there won't be. There just won't. They can't do it... They don't know how.

Which leads me to feel like I need to be an adult about all of this and throw a little compassion their way.

It's all very weird and extremely sad. It would break my heart into a million tiny pieces if my boys grew up to feel this way. Not only because of the adult relationship we would be missing, but because I would know their distance is a consequence of a childhood gone awry.

And, oh, how I want them to look back and remember the happiness and unconditional love.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Fool Me Once...

Okay, maybe I am just tired. Or maybe I'm a bigger sucker than I care to admit. But here it is... I think I am going to give Michael Vick a second chance to make me loathe him. I am going to take him at his word that he is sorry. I am going to trust that the US justice system, in conjunction with Tony Dungy's wizardry, actually worked, and he is the changed man he claims to be. It's a big leap for me, I know, but why the hell not?

I do wonder if, had he not gotten caught, his epiphany and subsequent decision to "be a part of the solution" would have occurred? But I look back on all of the bad/wrong/stupid things I have done, and getting caught was most certainly a catalyst for change in some cases. Should that matter?

What's so funny is it is easier for me to be forgiving of someone who a) doesn't need my forgiveness, b) has millions of dollars to make himself feel better, and c) hurt sweet, innocent animals, than it is for me to extend the same to people in my own life, who have done far less. But I guess baby steps, right?

Oh, and Michael? I may forgive, but I certainly don't forget... Just ask my husband.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Life Goes On...

So I guess it isn't really any surprise to any of you that I am a total maniac. And, hopefully, you read my silly little blog with that in mind... That I am just plain nuts. An emotional nightmare, if you will.

I feel like after my last post, I should explain myself, which is kind of counter-intuitive to the whole notion of blogging for oneself. But, not only am I insane, I also have rather substantial guilt issues. Hence, the need to explain away any kind of emotional outburst that might cause you, my dear readers, any physical or psychological discomfort. Sick, isn't it?

Anyway, the long and short of it is, nobody is dead or on the verge of death, or even within a year or two of dying, for that matter. My son is fine. Life goes on, and let me tell you, that boy knows how to handle life. We should all be taking notes.

But my head is someplace different now. I am changed. I am the one that's not okay, and that's just silly, because I am not the one with the disease. I am obviously sulking and I hate that about myself.

I am all caught up in this whole "He doesn't deserve it" thing, which leads to the whole "Well, but who really does deserve it (besides evil ol' me, of course)?" which just makes me sad for all of us. And being sad sucks.

So, in an effort to snap myself out of this, I am about to do what any self-respecting head-case would do... Make, and then eat, a chocolate cake. Please pardon me while I make myself feel better with food.

Oh, and ps: Thanks for coming to my rescue, once again. Your words, your prayers, your strength, love and humor amaze me. Pat yourselves on the back, people. You deserve it.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Worst Day of Your Life

You'd think the day you find out your little five month old baby has a genetic disease that is the equivalent of a death sentence, would be the absolute worst day of your life. Well, you'd be wrong. What actually happens is, you end up feeling blessed because of a salty kiss and a tiny bit of knowledge from way back whenever. You know you should feel sad, but you are thrilled to be given a precious head start. Months, maybe years, to protect your little baby, and your own heart. Time is on your side.

And, quicker than even seems possible, that healthy baby is a healthy teen. A rebellious, funny, intense, larger than life, healthy teen. Everything is on his side. Life is his for the taking. His future, so wide open and brilliant. Congratulations to the boy who is such a brave miracle, and his mom, who must be so brave and strong, herself.

Until the day he coughs up blood. And everything changes.

Suddenly, reality... real reality, is in your face, shaking you out of that blissful cocoon of denial that had been keeping you so safe and warm for all those years. Sure, the doctor has a plausible explanation, but come on... who coughs up blood? Healthy people? No. If your other child, your "normal" child, coughed up blood, you would be a mess. And here is your big boy, with a lung disease, coughing up blood. All you're feeling is a dulled, depressing nausea. And sadness.

So very suddenly, you realize you really aren't very brave at all. Like not at all. It's easy to keep a smile on your face and stay positive when you haven't had to spend one fucking minute actually worrying, other than in theory, about your child's health or future. Sure, it sounds awfully impressive... "Yes, my child has cf and we will probably out-live him." You can get the words out without a tear, and you seem incredibly fearless. But you really aren't. You are nothing, because what no one knows, is that up until today, you didn't actually believe your own words. Your denial was so ingrained into your actual being, that the words would come out flawlessly, never making contact with your heart, much less your soul. Airtight. Your life support.

And now it's gone.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Just Curious...

I want to take a minute to acknowledge a very rare and interesting breed of the human species... The Driver's Education Instructor. As Moody Teen continues to come home alive each day from "Behind the Wheel" driving instruction, I have been curious about the kind-faced (and obviously insane) instructor, risking his life on a daily basis, in order to magically transform my child into a legal (and safe?) driver.

Is he constantly (and pointlessly) stomping the imaginary brake pedal on the floorboard of the passenger's seat? Does he have to resist the urge to grab the wheel and steer away from the oncoming car/child/bike with every fiber of his being? Does he pop blood pressure pills like they're Tic Tacs? And finally, how often does he accidentally shout out, wild-eyed and in a panic, "For the love of God... You almost got us killed!!"?

Just curious.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Perfect Storm

I don't know... Suddenly, everything seems so ridiculous. Blogging is bordering on overly self-indulgent and over-thought. Maybe we all need to be out there actually living life, rather than picking it apart, piece by piece. And yes, of course, I am in a bad mood. PMS, to be exact. I know it will pass, and I'll be putting my "oh-isn't-life-so-kooky" spin on it, right here on this very blog, soon enough. But right now, I want to wallow in it. I want to scream at everyone (even, apparently, the lawn guy), feel bad about myself, and roll my eyes at all things meaningful, joyful and sweet. yuck.

I know there are things that can combat this. Exercise, a balanced diet, water. However, the only things that pique my interest right now are cookies, ice cream and my pajamas. I am not about to get my ass off the couch. I am desperate to get the family out of the house and out of my hair. And if you haven't already guessed, Moody Teen is back from the mountain, and, as God as my witness, I take back every nice thing I've ever said about the kid. Okay, maybe I'll only take back a handful of nice things... But a very large handful. He's managed to smirk, shrug and make his brother cry enough to make me seriously consider boarding school. For me! Isn't there some sort of adult boarding school where I can go and learn about botany and clay throwing? Or is that just called prison? Either way, sign me up! I promise to make my bed every day!

Ugh.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Drug Me Now: A Mother in Crisis

I haven't cleaned a nebulizer, yelled at Moody Teen to do his chest PT, nor fought with the insurance company in a week, and I have to say it feels, well... strange. All the cumbersome medical equipment is kind of piled up in the corner and the meds shoved to the back of the fridge. Life is awfully quiet, and seemingly stress-free. Normal, perhaps. Is this what normal feels like?

But not jumping through the medical hoops and listening for a cough means my sweet, big boy is gone... Out of my care and my reach. Off to the mountain-top, skiing and jumping and living a teen's life without a care. It's probably a welcomed break for him. His usual daily medicine cut down to the very bare minimum. But just for the week. One week to basically be just like everyone else. To be normal.

He's not homesick... He's loving it. Off by himself, meeting new people and trying new things. His health is in his own hands... completely out of my control. A preview of things to come? The man he's going to become?

As freeing as it is for me, I have to confess that I am a mess. Somebody just put me on a Diprivan drip now, and keep it running for the next 50 years. I want to take care of him forever, but I know that's weird and wrong. Did I mention that normal is not all it's cracked up to be?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Where's Chris Mann When You Need Him?

You've probably read that "there wasn't a dry eye in the house," while the keynote speakers bared their souls at BlogHer. Well, yes there was. There was one. Actually two. Mine. My eyes were dry. Not a tear to be shed... Not even a slight welling. But to say I wasn't moved isn't entirely accurate. I was moved... eventually. But before you delete me out of your life with indignant outrage, let me try to explain.

The weekend at BlogHer took me utterly and completely off-guard. I had no expectations because, in the weeks prior, there was absolutely no time to think about it. I didn't blog. I didn't twitter. I didn't email. I was offline and living large. In retrospect, not such a great move. I felt fairly detached, and was operating in "observer" mode most of the first day. Blog names sounded vaguely familiar. Avatars, transformed into friendly faces, were a blur. Introductions didn't mean what I thought they would. I was confused.

Day two was a bit better, but I was still overwhelmed. It took everything I had to take it all in. There were lots of blog-unrelated laughs with the handful of women with whom I felt a connection. Easy conversation, easy silences. No need to get every word in, because there would be time later... when the weekend was over, and the actual fostering of relationships could begin.

I spent my days wandering in and out of various lectures and panels, learning about SEO, CPMs, and the apparent apocalyptic arrival of the FTC on my blog's doorstep (who knew?). I finally "came to" in a nondescript chair in the last, nondescript room in a dark, nondescript hallway in the unbearably nondescript basement of the whole damn hotel. I had landed in a sweet little nest of writers, all of whom wanted to talk about the craziest thing at a blogging convention... writing. The panelists began their not-very-thought-out, but very-well-intentioned schtick, which quickly evolved into a fun, smart, intimate and nurturing conversation between us all. It dawned on me that I was in the right place, and walking away with the knowledge that I am, metaphorically speaking, where I really should be, was exactly what I needed to learn.

The puzzle pieces all sort of assembled themselves for me on the plane ride home. The emotion, the connections, the glitz, the baby-wearing, the swag-handling, the reality of it all suddenly took over, and I finally shed those tears that I held so deep inside, unable to release in front of the lovely, crazy, smart, funny, wonderful people I encountered over the weekend.

And then I wanted a "do-over". I wanted to relive the weekend, better in touch with my own soul... But, I guess I'll just have to wait until next year.


Monday, July 27, 2009

What I've Learned...


Well hello.

The reunion, the explanation for my absence, the gossip from BlogHer '09, and the very important update on my greying roots will all have to wait.

What I have learned today that needs immediate attention is this:

Despite all indication otherwise, one can miss a stinky, silly, immature, belligerent, petulant, manic, perverted 15 year old boy more than a heart can stand.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Waxing Porcine

So we really are a fickle people, aren't we? I believe that we ride the trends furiously, contradicting ourselves, panicking others, all the while, basking in the glow of being "in the know."

This really hit home for me this week as friends and neighbors started to exhibit various flu-like symptoms, ranging from high fever, cough, and even my favorite old standby, general malaise. Well, wouldn't you know, all these people had succumbed to the dreaded swine flu.

Yes, you heard correctly. Or I guess, read correctly.

So of course, my immediate reaction was to dig out my plastic sheeting and cases of Ensure from the basement, and prepare to shelter-in-place. I was panic stricken. Horrified. Petrified!

However, my husband couldn't be bothered. He rolled his eyes as I broke the news. I think he may have even yawned. Then I called my friend. "Oh, that's good! It's certainly not as bad as the regular flu," she said nonchalantly. Hello? Weren't we all glued to cable news, and following the CDC on Twitter just last week? Wasn't it supposed to be one of the seven signs of the Apocalypse? What's going on?

Well, it seems it's as simple as the story has run its course. It's no longer a hot topic. Everyone has already moved on to more important issues, like Jon & Kate's big announcement. And sadly, that broken marriage, and the eight innocent victims it took with it, will be yesterday's news in 5...4...3...2...1...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Teen Talk 3: Work It

So today we explore what I think may possibly be the one thing that has saved Moody Teen from boarding school... The summer job. All I can say is, in the words of the late, and somewhat heavily made up, Tammy Faye Baker, "Praise the LORD!"

Things are looking up around here. Oh, and don't fret... An exciting update to the Great Nail Polish Coup of '09 is in the works. Now go enjoy your day!

video

PS: It is boded, after all. 

Friday, June 5, 2009

5 Things That Could Kill Me

There have been many autobiographical obituary posts floating around the blog scene, and that got me thinking... If I were to, let's say, hypothetically, end up dead, what would be the cause? 

Way back in my youth, I was sure it would be homicide. I was very diligent about letting someone know if I had gotten into any sort of altercation with anyone, so if/when I wound up murdered in cold blood, they would know at whom to point the finger.

Now, however, in my old age, I can see my demise realistically occurring in a few other ways:

1. Splenda poisoning. It's everywhere.
2. Adult acne. Maybe it's a side effect of all the Splenda I'm ingesting, but it is only getting worse as I age. Gross.
3. Mauled and eaten by the lizard that lives upstairs.
4. Lack of Flossing. Am I the only one terrified by the repercussions of dental hygiene laziness? I've read articles that link tartar buildup to everything from Alzheimer's to obesity.
5. Homicide. My old standby. I can't rule it out, as I am still so good at enraging just about anyone.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Happy Days Are Here Again

I've had something really exciting happen to me over the past couple of days that I feel the need to share. I know I have been focused on the negative a lot lately, but that's all about to change!

On with the show...

I have actually gotten nail polish to stay on my fingers, unchipped, for almost 3 days now! I am not sure if the stars are aligned just right, if God is answering my prayer, or if I have finally struck the perfect combination of base coat, color, and top coat. Now if I could only get my cuticles under control, I might actually have hands that don't offend!

I am hosting a contest/research project with myself as the lone participant. I am finally going to nail down exactly how many paper towels I go through in a day. I have already started this morning and I am at one. I know, a bit of a let down, but it's early and I haven't really had any major catastrophes yet. So I have my little pile going, and at the end of the day, I will count them up and have the results. I am going to guess somewhere in the 25-30 vicinity, but I don't want to get my hopes up.

Finally, I hate to lean on you wonderful people more than I already do, but I need help. Am I just buying really crappy jelly or is there some sort of trick to spreading it on a PB&J sandwich? I mean, it all starts out fine, with me spooning a clump of it onto the bread, but when I go to spread it, it all just sort of stays together and rolls around in one big unit. Then I press down with the spoon, hoping to apply enough pressure to cause it to spread, which only leads to flattening the bread. So I start to kind of chop at it, which in turn, completely mutilates the bread. I usually resort to having little pieces of the initial jelly clump placed randomly across the surface area of the bread. Does that sound right?

Catty Much?

I just have to take a temporary break from shouldering the blame for my general distaste for, and inability to get along with, all other people.

I do still believe that I could do much better in the nonjudgmental and tolerance arenas, and wishing others would change is futile. But all of that boring high road crap is getting shelved today, because I just need to vent. In fact, I wrote the first draft of this post 'on location' at the neighborhood pool, scrawling maniacally on a piece of scrap paper because I was simply so annoyed and enraged by everyone around me. Dire straights, people!

Now let's observe a brief moment of silence while the claws and fangs emerge...

Either there is something in the water in my part of the country, or there is a fundamental screw loose when it comes to kids' sports and the so called "grown ups" involved. Call me a big ol' silly goose, but aren't kids' sports supposed to be for the kids? If so, why then, do parents get over-involved and super competitive? Why do they push their kids so intensely? Why the pressure? 

I have witnessed some of the most obnoxious and curious behavior, all from people who are old enough to know better. Coaxing, no, forcing their child into the water, when the child clearly was not interested. Begging the swim coach to talk their child into joining the swim team, when the child has outright stated that she doesn't want to swim, she would prefer to be on the dive team, thank you very much. Kids crying and shivering because it is 58 degrees and cloudy and are being forced by their parents to "suck it up". Parents bragging to each other about how, even though their kids are injured, these elite athletes are so dedicated, they are continuing to practice and compete, even against the doctor's advice. Shoulder injuries at 15? Hello? 

Sounds fun, doesn't it? And here I am, right square in the middle of it. Helping to lead the charge, even. Ugh. When I agreed to be the assistant team rep (basically assistant team mom), I thought I could dilute some of the intensity and bring a more relaxed, fun vibe to the scene. Clearly, I have my work cut out for me. If I want to stick to my vision, I am going to have to piss off, challenge, and confront a lot of people and a lot of bad behavior. And oh, how I detest confrontation. Double ugh.

So I am not in great shape if I am this worked up and I am only one week into it. It is going to be a long summer. And I know (sort of) that it really isn't any of my business, and I shouldn't care about the dynamic between parent and child, and just because I am not very competitive doesn't mean I should expect everyone to behave as I do. In fact, if they did, we probably wouldn't have a very good team and nothing would get done. But still... BUT STILL!

Oh, and if you just can't seem to get enough of the complete dissolution of my character, go see what other faults I am exposing over at my little sanctuary from all things upsetting, MWOB.