Saturday, January 31, 2009

Map of My Daughter's Brain

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Reaching A Million

The Rooster and I sat together for a moment after we finished reading the bedtime stories.

“I will love you forever and ever and always, no matter what,” I told her.

The Rooster smiled and snuggled in.

“I will love YOU forever and ever no matter what too,” she said.

Then she added,
“I will love you until I'm a million years old and so tall that I break right through the roof of our house!”


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Windows is for Lovers

K adjusted his tie and looked at his blackberry.

"Ugh! The day's shot," he said.

"Why? What do you have?" I asked.
"A board meeting from 9:00 - 12:30 and excel training from 1:00 - 5:00."
"Excel training? What are they going to teach you that you don't already know?"

"I'm going to become... IT'S MASTAH!" he said, assuming the crane pose.




[This pose was followed up with a lot of "HOY-YA!" noises and karate kicks.]

[He's lucky I had a crush on Ralph Macchio in 8th grade.]

When he got home from work, I asked how the training went.
"It was great!" he said. "Later I'll show you what I learned about pivot tables."

[Be still my beating heart.]

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

No Man's Land

A pre-dinner bath seemed like a genius idea.

I took the lead while K slaved over the hot stove.

It was all going according to plan... until...

Out of nowhere, The Rooster stood up in the tub and, suddenly hysterical, began repeatedly yelling,

"I WANT SPAGHETTI RIGHT NOW!"
She choked on her great big sobs between each berserk outburst.

I helped her out of the tub and into her pajamas.

"Go tell your Daddy that you're hungry," I told her.
She went careening towards the kitchen.

"I WANT SPAGHETTI RIGHT NOW!" she screamed at him.
"Dinner's almost ready, Roo. But we're not having spaghetti tonight," he said.
I swear I heard the paint peel from the kitchen walls in response to the high decibel shriek she emitted.

"SPAGHETTI!!!!!"
She flung herself to the floor and lost her little mind.

Still tub side with The Mayor, I stifled my laughter.

"Uh... I could use a little help in here," K called to me.
"I'm still washing The Mayor," I yelled back.
Meanwhile, The Rooster beat all four limbs against the kitchen floor while still demanding spaghetti with impassioned fury.

It unwise to let the women of my family get too hungry.

There is a point beyond which it is dangerous to tread.

Years before we were married, I was out on a date with K on a Sunday evening.

It was almost 10:00 p.m. and we hadn't eaten dinner.

Every place we went was closed and I turned into a rabid animal, wild and foaming at the mouth.

[I TOLD him I was hungry!]

A local diner selling a specialty hamburger called The Chubby Decker was the only thing he could find open.

[I sobbed harder. What woman eats a food named "Chubby"?]

By this time I was incensed and overwrought, sobbing in the passenger seat of K's car.

[I am an AWESOME date.]

K swung through the drive through, handed me the bag and took me home.

I remember sitting at the desk in my apartment bedroom while he sat on my bed reading the newspaper.

I could only stop crying when I needed to breathe enough to take another bite of food.
"What are YOU still DOING HERE?" I bawled, screeching at him.
[It was all his fault!]

He folded down the corner of the paper and gave me a long, patient look.

"Just because you're hysterical, doesn't mean I have to go anywhere," he said
Eventually, with a little food in my belly, I calmed down.

It's not just me though.

When my mother married her second husband, she made her groom vow to avoid the wrath of "Hungry Bonnie" by ensuring that she was fed regularly and on time.

K, a guest at my mom's wedding and a long, suffering life partner of mine turned the heat down on dinner and pulled a plate of food together for The Rooster.

"Here you go," he said. "Eat something, Sweetheart."
She only stopped crying long enough to inhale mouthfuls of food.

When I finished drying The Mayor and getting him into his pajamas I joined K in the kitchen.

I met his gaze with an enormous grin on my face.

I raised my eyebrows.

"That's MY daughter, eh?"
And this is what K commonly refers to as, "The Joys."

"Oh, The Joys."

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Science of Breadmaking

K made yeasted bread rolls with the children on Sunday afternoon while I went shopping with a friend.

When I came home, The Rooster explained the finer points of bread making.

"Do you know what the yeast are doing in the dough, Mommy?"

"No Rooster. What are they doing?" I asked.

"They are eating the sugar!" She told me.

"Oh, really? I didn't know that," I said.

"And do you know how the yeast make the dough rise?" she asked.

"No," I said, "I don't. How do they do it?"


"By farting! They eat the sugar and then they FART and the dough rises."

Confused, I turned to look at K.

He shrugged.
"Something like that," he said.

"And you know what else, Mama?" Rooster said hopping from foot to foot with excitement.

"What? What else, Roo?"

"When we put the rolls in the oven, they're all going to die. The YEAST are ALL going to DIE!"

I can't decide if I should have stayed home.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Reveries

Whenever I drift off, I wander back in time, reliving the past while cognizant of my future.

I endlessly daydream about finding my 41 year old brain in the body of some earlier version of myself.

I imagine how I would respond to things differently, explore what choices, priorities, activities and friends would change.

For example, I recently reconnected with a guy that went to my high school.

I remembered his ongoing and hilarious English class commentary whispered from the seat behind me.

How would my life have been different if I had made a friend of him then?

My mind wanders, I play scenes from my past out in new ways in my head.

I wonder about other old classmates. Who were the kids in my class who didn’t go to all the keg parties?

What did they do instead?

What did I miss in not knowing them?

Who did they turn out to be and would they seem more interesting to me now?

I dream up conversations never held.

I imagine my old brain forcing my young body to swim laps, something I’m committed to now but wasn’t then.

Would that young body seem out of shape because I didn’t exercise regularly or would I be amazed at its youthful power?

I see myself at our old YMCA pool in my home town.

I think about my parents and wonder how they would seem.

They were younger than I am now when I was in high school.

How interesting it would be to witness them almost like peers.

Yesterday I found myself daydreaming like this again.

Just out of college, I pursued a different career path. Because I knew the future, I found and followed someone I knew would turn out to be a rising star.

I played out my life in this different profession.

The thing is, these reveries always come to the same abrupt end.

I follow the path too far and am suddenly desperate to find a way to meet my husband – or if I have found him (in the daydream) earlier in life (because I know who he is and what he will mean to me), then I scramble not to alter our future.

It happens like this every time... I imagine myself walking down a different life path and then, desperately try to make the pieces of this one fall into place.

If I could live parts of my past over again, I’d be afraid to do things too differently lest I miss the road that led me to K, and subsequently The Mayor and The Rooster.

I don't think I create these scenarios because of any specific regrets.

Everything I’ve chosen has led me here and made me who I am.

I’m where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to be doing, with all the right people.

Still, over and over again, my mind wanders down these different paths, exploring ways things might have been.

I wonder what it is that draws me in again and again.


****************


3 of 365: Today's random list of little things for which I'm grateful...

[ SUEBOB loves the Grace in Small Things idea so much she hopes all participants will leave their daily lists in her blog's comments section.]


Thursday, January 22, 2009

I'll Take Her In Silver

An elderly woman shared an aisle at the thrift store with me.

Her hair was perfectly dyed and set in springy curls.

Her eyebrows were drawn on with a high arch and she had obviously spent a good bit of time selecting her outfit, coordinating her patterned hose with pert, little heels and a hat to match.

I noticed her because she was muttering to herself while she shopped.

“Oh, my arms are breaking,” she exclaimed to no one in particular.
I kept looking up at her, wondering if she was talking to me or if she expected me to respond in some way.

[What is it with me and attracting unwanted attention at the thrift store?]

My friend Gail invited me to join her and her older brother Steve on this particular thrift store outing.

Steve and I were chatting about grey hair in the checkout line.

Steve, 15 years older than Gail and I, is already completely grey.

“I’ve decided to let mine go,” I said in solidarity as he stroked a hand across his silver locks.

“Oh, DON’T!” I heard a voice urge.

It was the muttering, elderly woman.
“Pardon?” I said, again unsure if she was speaking to me.

“Don’t let your hair go grey!” she insisted. “It looks attractive on men, but NEVER on a woman!”
[No, please… don’t hold back, Lady!]
“Wait and see,” I said. “I’m sure I’ll look okay with grey hair.”

[Maybe I will and maybe I won’t, but I’ve decided not to care.]

Later, I stood in front of the bathroom mirror, surveying for further evidence of my encroaching decrepitude.

I noticed a sharp uptick in grey hair, deepening lines on my face and ever heavier bags under my eyes.
“I look like myself,” I thought, “myself getting older.”
Regardless of what the woman in the thrift store said, I think I’m alright with it.

[At least for today.]






****************

2 of 365: Today's random list of little things for which I'm grateful

[I'm pretty excited to post these because my friend SUEBOB loves the Grace in Small Things idea with the fire of 1,000 burning suns.]

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

1 of 365

Schmutzie invited me to participate in 365 Days of Grace in Small Things.

I like that I don't have to do 365 of them in a row.

I like that it's about small things that make me smile, things that I'm grateful for... from a single day or from any time in my life.

I like that anyone can participate.

I'm going to start, to try.

Keeping a list seems like a good way to appreciate life's many blessings.

So, today I found Grace in,

  • Two sets of small hands helping me make cornbread for dinner.
  • The way my little girl squeezed my hand while I read her bedtime stories.
  • Keeping my e-mail in-box relatively empty at work.
  • Hand lotion.
  • Warm cups of tea.


Oh, yeah... and this...

Monday, January 19, 2009

People Get Ready, There's A Train Coming

"How did Martin Luther King, Jr. die at such a young age?" The Mayor asked.
He was so genuinely curious that I could tell he didn't know.

The Mayor has been learning about MLK in his class at school.

Wisely, the pre-k teacher skipped over the particulars of Dr. King's death.

But here he was asking me...

I was walking from the kitchen to the dining room, my arms full of dinner plates, about to set the table.

I stopped still in the doorway between the two rooms, wondering how I would answer.

The truth seemed too harsh for my four year old boy.

And yet, the truth is what's true.

What would The Mayor make of the shooting?

[This is the boy who worried for days because Simba's father died in The Lion King.]

I hesitated.

The Mayor understands that Dr. King was a good and kind man.

How could I explain why his life was taken? How could I explain hatred and evil to my small and still innocent boy?

I often reassure The Mayor when he gets worried about bad guys.
"Don't worry, Mayor! Good always triumphs over evil in the end. Good is much stronger than evil because it's much harder to be good."
I was concerned that the absolute finality of King's death by gun shot would shake The Mayor's faith in the idea that good prevails.

"How does good triumph when a great man is killed?"
In the morning we spent the day volunteering as a way to honor King's legacy and then made red, white and blue paper chain decorations for an inauguration party at a friend's house.

I thought about Barak Obama's train making its way to Washington and his swearing in as the 44th President of the United States of America tomorrow.

"That's how," I thought.

"You have to be much stronger to be good, to do the right thing no matter what. You have to wait a long time, but goodness prevails always."
I looked up to tell The Mayor, but he had moved on unanswered.

I set the four plates at our places at the table.

The King Defense

The Mayor loves to eat out and this causes a fight routinely every evening as we leave daycare.

"Where are we going now, mom?"

"Home."

"No! I don't want to go home! I want to eat dinner at a restaurant!"

[Relentless argument continues...]

On Friday, The Mayor took it a step further, trying to physically restrain from leaving the play yard and heading for the car.

He grabbed my winter coat by the belt and pulled with all his might.

He tried kicking me in the shins.

He took it far enough that I was embarrassed by him (and I'm not easily embarrassed).

I tried to keep my voice even and told him there would have to be a consequence because his behavior was unacceptable.
"No!" he screamed, "I don't want to have a consequence!"

I tried to find my Zen Motherhood Super Powers... I get so tired of this fight.

Somehow I managed to get him into our car.
"You're being mean to me, Mommy!" he shouted.

[As if! Other way around, yo!]
"You know what?" he yelled.

"What, Mayor?" I said calmly (through gritted teeth).

"Martin Luther King, Jr. wouldn't want you to treat me this way. He
wouldn't want you to be rude to me EVEN if I was being rude to you."

I attempted to respond,
"I... well... it..."

He caught me off guard.

The MLK Defense!

Gah! Foiled again!

[Should have invoked The Golden Rule...]

*************************

Happy King Day!

We're off to a service project.

Make it a Day On, not a Day Off!

Friday, January 16, 2009

And Now For A Guest Post From My Husband!

I listened in on a very long conference call yesterday, so long in fact that we had to take a couple of breaks.

I kept my speaker phone on during the breaks, instead of hanging up and calling back in each time.

During these interludes, phone-hold “muzak” came on.

I tinkered away on my computer while this shiny, polished tune washed over me.

Slowly, it dawned on me that I recognized the melody.

I was certain I knew the tune, but I couldn’t place it.

You know how muzak can be?

You don’t pay attention to it until you suddenly do and then you must know what song that used to be, in its youth?

You rock your head back and forth just a little to the tune, maybe close your eyes or look up, trying to access some long-dormant pathway in your cortex.

For me, figuring it out typically amounts to remembering the words; what are the words that go with that tune?

What are they?

They’re on the tip of my tongue.

“But, the boy in the station…”

No, that’s not it.

Oh, yeah,
“But, the dog in the station doesn’t need a vacation as the people rush by in
grey.”

Harpua.

Boy, did I feel old.

*****************************************

In the late eighties, K lived in Burlington, Vermont and spent a lot of time in small clubs and dorm basements listening to four good musicians play funky music.

Those four guys were the band Phish.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bleary Eyes Find Stupidity


I'm really bad at waking up in the morning.

K gets up first and makes breakfast.

[Because he is AWESOME.]

He comes to the bedroom door and gently tells me when breakfast is ready.

I stumble out, bleary eyed and unable to see properly.

Frequently, I inhale my eggs, drink a glass of water, blink a lot and finally look up at him. As if he hadn't been sitting there the whole time, I say,

"Did you eat?"
[I'm lucky he finds this endearing. ]

My husband is also the one who ventures forth (these days out on the FROZEN TUNDRA) to collect the newspaper every morning.

Because I am physically unprepared to digest the REAL news, I usually start with the soft stuff in the living section.

I confess, the first thing I do is evaluate the responses of Ms. Manners and Dear Abby, assessing whether or not their advice is correct.

[As measured by the degree to which I agree with it.]

Inevitably, I glance at the horoscope.

I'm not a big believer in these things, but I generally read it since it's moving at my morning speed.

This morning's entry got me all irritated though.

"If something new grabs your attention, that special someone might not be so special."
What kind of HORSE MANURE is that.

That is exactly the type of thinking that messes people up.

Before the holidays, the five women in my mom's night out group got together to make holiday cookies.

One of the women talked about finding herself attracted to a man other than her husband.

She described feeling irritated by it. She loves her husband. She has no intention of acting on the attraction, but there it was.

Another woman in our group works as a therapist. She mentioned that it is totally normal to feel attracted to other people after you are married EVEN when the marriage is healthy and you are happy.

"You simply have to wait an attraction out," she said.
Wait it out. Do nothing. It will pass.

That stupid horoscope is going to have people throwing away perfectly good spouses all over my town.

Sheesh.

[Shakes head. Drinks more coffee.]

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Lessons Lost

First, the parent reading the bedtime stories was the wrong parent.

To make matters worse, this parent intended to read the WRONG book.

To top things off, his sister got to choose a second book.

[And this too, was ever so wrong.]

A storm formed on The Mayor's brow and blew all the way down to his chin's peninsula.

The storm was progressive, gaining force as it travelled, until it erupted into a three-foot tall hurricane.

Gale force winds rotated on the storm's joints almost resembling the arms and legs of a young child who has lost control.

[Sigh.]

In the end, The Mayor, busy shattering window panes and tearing off roofing shingles, missed hearing bedtime stories altogether.

[He may not have heard us reading, but we certainly heard him.]

When I finished reading to The Rooster, I went to The Mayor's room.

He was awake, finally quiet, lying in his bed.

He looked at me accusingly with red rimmed eyes.

Can I climb in and give you a snuggle?" I asked.
He nodded.
"Sometimes I get really mad," I said.
He listened.

"Sometimes I get so mad I can't get myself together and that makes me even more angry. Does that ever happen to you?" I asked.
"The EXACT same thing happens to me," he said.
"In the end, I usually end up feeling angriest at myself," I told him.
"How come?" he asked.
"For not being able to control my anger."
He thought about what I said.

"It's different for me," he said. "I'm always angriest at you and Dad."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Did She Just Say...

Margaux is one of The Rooster's best friends and David is Margaux's Dad.

Whenever David's name is mentioned at Rooster's daycare, her teachers cool themselves with imaginary fans and use words like "rugged" and "Well, I declare!"

[And this is all set up for today's Rooster story.]

"Mommy," Rooster said, "let's play a game where all foods are made out of people."

"Like Spaghetti with Margaux meat balls," I laughed. "Pizza with Mayor Sauce or hot dogs with..."

"David buns?" she suggested.

[Does she even know what she's saying when she says this stuff?]

I cower in fear of her teen years.

It WILL be a long road with her.

Monday, January 12, 2009

My DNA Hard At Work

Occasionally my children do things that reassure me and fill me with pride.

They do things that let me know I made the right choice in procreating in the first place and that I am on the right path with the whole parenting thing.

Sometimes they make me feel like the world will be a better place because my DNA will carry on after I am gone.

Today was such a day.

The Mayor said,

"Mom, do you want to know how chickens snore?"

"Why, yes. Yes I do."
And then he showed me.



Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Nudie Booty -- Not So Cutie

I wasn't worried until I overheard the word "vagina".

The Mayor was playing in his room with his friend Adam when The Rooster and I got home.

Roo hurried in to play with them and the next thing I knew...

"Blah blah blah VAGINA blah blah blah."

I hurried to the room and found three-year old Rooster buck naked showing off her lady parts to the boys.

The Mayor was occupied with a game on his junior laptop.
"Adam suggested she take off her clothes," he said nonchalantly.

"He's lying," Adam countered from his Lego-fortified position on the opposite side of the room.

"No I'm not," The Mayor argued.

[Ugh!]

The Rooster stood there grinning, basking in her own glorious nudity.
"First, I showed them my butt! Then I took off my shirt!" she announced with pride.

You have never seen a child so proud of her own bare hindquarters.

The child was beaming.

I admit, as her parent, I was thrown.

On the one hand, I'm clear that I don't want to make her ashamed of her body.

On the other hand, I'd also prefer that she not end up being the girl who shows the boys her business under the bleachers.

I wracked my brain for an appropriate parental approach to the situation and all I could come up with was the memory of my friend Elke's not-so-successful experience trying to explain to her son why some things were private.

Gah! What to say?

I've got to turn to the broader Internet on this one...

What do I tell The Rooster?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Romanza!

"I need to call our insurance agent. I want to find out about umbrella liability policies," he said.

He didn't notice that I was already in bed or that I had turned on the music.


[You know... THE MUSIC.]


"I also need to call our energy provider and lock in our rate at ninety four cents a therm."

He got ready for bed and climbed in.


"Ninety four cents a therm!" he exclaimed. "That's such a good rate!"


[Oh, the excitement.]

"I might have to give them a hard time about our Dedicated Design Day Capacity charge though."

[Our what charge?]


He kept on talking.

"What kind of insurance was it you said you were interested in?" I asked, giving his tush a little goose.


"Umbrella liability," he moaned, feigning the heights of passion.


"Baby, the things you say really get me going!" I laughed.

[And then the badda bing, badda boom was followed by a chorus of happy snores]


When he came home from work the next day, he said,

"I blew it! I gambled and didn't lock our rate. Energy went up to $1.04 per therm!"

I eyed him suspiciously and said,


"Are you trying to seduce me?"

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Offenses of Little Deer

I remember the barista having a wild, mop of dyed-black hair, vampire-white skin and gothic clothes.

He worked at a local coffee shop called Espresso Royale when I was in college.


One day while I was ordering my coffee, the barista noticed a little, plastic Bambi figurine balancing on his cash register.



He picked it up and inspected it with a disdainful sneer.

"Deer," he said with complete distaste.

With a flick of his wrist, he hurled the offending Bambi over his shoulder.


I watched it roll under a piece of industrial kitchen equipment.

[Oh, no! Someone help Bambi!]

For some reason, that barista is now forever associated with Bambi in my head.


The Rooster watched the Bambi movie for the first time the other day.



She was especially interested in the film's ending where first the skunk, then the rabbit and then Bambi all find themselves "twitterpated" by the fairer sex.



When all the animated, animal flirting was over, The Rooster turned to Grandma New York and me and said,


"Next week, when I go to Creighton's Birthday party, do you know what I'm going to do?"

"What Roo?" I asked.

"I'm gonna TWITTERPATE him."

Poor Crey. He's not going to know what hit him.



[Though he may well wish she would get lost under some industrial kitchen equipment!]

Friday, January 02, 2009

The Good Guy

Thanks to the fabulousness of the school calendar, there hasn't been any daycare for... a long, dang time.

It was warm out the other day, so I took the short and loud people to the playground in the afternoon.

[As part of my double-top-secret-plan to wear down their boundless energy reserves.]

One of the doctors from our pediatrician's office showed up with her two boys and a herd of other moms and kids.

The Mayor, delighting in a burnt orange Big Wheel covered in flame stickers, was preoccupied with riding around and around the playground's perimeter.


Our pediatrician's three year old son, Jonah, was cut loose on the playground while his mother cared for her infant and chatted with other moms in her playgroup.

For no apparent reason, Jonah identified The Mayor as his number one enemy.

I watched Jonah crash and re-crash his bike into my surprised and startled Mayor.

When that didn't rattle him, Jonah got off his bike, walked over to The Mayor and purposefully shoved him.

[This Mama Lion's hackles were standing on end.]

The Mayor was genuinely puzzled by the boy's actions.

After all, he earned his nickname, The Mayor, for his glad-handing, friend-making ways. He is, by nature, friendly.

The Mayor didn't react to the bully so much as stare at him full of astonishment and curiosity.

[Though he did protest a bit when Jonah spit in his face.]

Later, Jonah and another boy climbed on top of a small playhouse and yelled out taunts.

"Hurry everybody! Get away from him! He's the BAD GUY!!"
That got The Mayor's attention.

The Mayor pedaled his big wheel right up to the house.

Jonah and his friend scrambled to hide inside.

"Guys," The Mayor shouted, "I'm a good guy. Really, I'm a GOOD guy!"
[Watching him insist on his own inherent goodness took my breath away.]

Four minutes later, The Mayor was somehow transformed and the two played nicely together from that moment on.

I told K this story as we were falling asleep.

"Is this how boys make friends? Is this how they get each other's attention?"

"Uh-huh," K muttered.

"It IS?" I asked again, incredulous.

K mumbled sleepily,

"What? What? Did you say something?"

[I thought about purposefully shoving him, you know, to get his attention.]


[Speaking of The Mayor, his surgical consult was postponed until next week. Thank you for all your kind thoughts and messages.]

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Midnight In The House of Joy

I don't know what time it was when we went to bed last night, I only know it wasn't anywhere near midnight.

We got all situated under the covers and then K jumped out of bed and rummaged around on his bureau.

He returned to bed with a travel alarm clock and began to fiddle with the settings.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"You'll see," he said.

He set the clock for 11:59.

"Look!" he said pointing at the clock and smiling.
When the time read 12:00, K shouted.


"Happy New Year!"

He gave me an enormous, celebratory kiss.

"Hurrah!" I cheered.
And then... we snored loudly.




Wishing you the happiest New Year.
xo,
OTJ