Monday, November 23, 2009

I'm (on my way) back!

I've been a neglectful blogger these last few weeks. But I'm back now, brushing off the cobwebs, getting ready to talk some more. I'd like to tell you that I've been in a warm, tropical place on vacation, and that's why I haven't written, but the truth is that I've been in a much darker place than Key Largo or Ibiza.

My old friend, the depression that has plagued me since my teens, has been visiting again. And he is the worst kind of guest: he pops in with no warning, plops his bags down in your living room, and has a seat, fingers laced behind his head and (dirty) boots on your coffee table.


For the last few weeks, I've been following him around and forgetting myself , my friends, and my family. But you know what? I think I'm finally getting up the gumption to give him the boot.

I hate to be rude, Depression, but I've got a lot of reasons to be feeling good right now. I've got new furniture, that while cheap and oversized for my teeny house, makes me feel comfy and cozy. I've got my favorite time of year starting up as we speak: Nathan's 3rd birthday (today!), Thanksgiving, Christmas, and then the girls' birthdays following soon after. It's a festive time, and I refuse to be bogged down in your bullshit. (Pardon my French.)

So. I'm going to start ignoring my dark, heavy houseguest and start focusing more on the things that make me feel good. Like doing stuff. (That sounds dumb, but I swear that when you have depression, it can be really, really hard to do anything. And the less you do, of course, the worse you feel.) And like listening to Putemayo Kids CDs. And blogging. And cutting way back on the comfort-eating crackers and Wispride cheese habit that makes me feel lethargic and, oh yeah, fat.

And I think I'm getting a little of my mojo back even now as I type. I'm feeling confident and strong (and I haven't even had my coffee yet). This time, I'm going to get rid of my unwelcome houseguest all by myself, without having to call in my big cousin Lexapro to kick him out. Hyyyyy-yah!*

*Yes, that was supposed to be the sound of me doing karate chops at Depression.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I'd love to show you some photos of my kids' costumes...

I am Halloween-ed out! We had a great weekend with beautiful weather and lots of fun, but good lord, is it tiring! Since I am pooped out and lazy today, I figured I'd share some photos of me and the kids in our costumes...until I realized that I don't really have any. I had tons of opportunities, too...

Halloween Party #1, Thursday: took a few photos, but mostly of other people's kids. The ones I took of mine came out weird because the girls had taken off their hats and Nathan was preoccupied with some kind of stretchy skeleton toy. No big deal, though, because there are still more Halloween events coming, right?

Halloween Party #2, Friday: brought camera, but left it in the car. I even made a trip out to the car during the party to get a change of clothes (plastic-y witch costume had frayed my nerves for long enough!), but didn't remember to grab the camera while I was out there. Still, I'm not worried - there'll be plenty of time on the actual holiday to take photos.

Town-wide Halloween Costume Parade and Library Craft Time, Saturday afternoon: didn't even think to bring camera. Didn't even think to think that I could take pictures later.

Trick-or-Treating, Saturday night: so exhausted from costume parade and library craft that I barely even thought of feeding my kids, let alone photographing them. (Well, alright, I actually DIDN'T think of feeding the kids - it was actually Jason who suggested that we give them dinner that night while I was sacked out on top of my bed, drooling.)

This is all rather surprising to me. I recently completed our family scrapbook for 2007, my first completed album ever. It was so chock-full of photos of, well, everything, that I had to split it into TWO large albums. So what's happened to me? This year's album is going to be, like, the girls' school pictures and maybe a random photo from a birthday party at Grandma's house. Geesh.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Follow-Up

Happy Friday! It's Halloween weekend, which means that all of us parents are bound be be half-insane by Sunday night. Between the costume paraphernalia, the parties, and the trick-or-treating, we've got our hands full. And don't forget the candy, staying up late, and that oft-underestimated parental nightmare: The Hype. Good luck with all of it. May your child's stockings not tear as you pull them on, already late for that party.

Also this weekend is Daylight Saving Time. I've already done a practice run-through, so I think I am ready. Still, I'm not making any plans for Sunday, just in case.

You remember how I confessed to dropping Nathan off at the YMCA's Child Watch area so that I could sit around in the lobby with my laptop? Well, not only did Nathan have a great time playing with the other little kids there, but I got a bonus Christmas present idea when I came to retrieve him and saw him playing with a little tool bench toy. The wonderful babysitters told me that he had been playing with it happily for over 30 minutes, which gave me the mom-equivalent of a cash register cha-ching in my head. Hmmm...if I bought him one of these, would he play with it at home for long stretches like that? Well, you know I intend to find out! I'm also thinking of getting him one of those Tag Junior reading thingies so that he can sit with a book and wave the little sensor-mabob over the words and pictures and be entertained.

I remember when they first came out with toys that would read to children (Teddy Ruxpin, shudder), and I judged. "Nice," I snarked, "Whatever you do, lazy-ass, don't read to your own kid. Buy a creepy robot-bear to do it for you." Um, yeah. That was before I had three kids, one of whom craves adult attention every second of the day. I've spent so many hours working with Nathan to engage him and get him talking socially that now I am ready to hand over the reigns to any creepy robot toy, wand, or laser-thingamajig if it will give me ten minutes to take a shower or (gasp!) read a magazine.

I am still loving my $6 sweatpants, and in fact find myself fantasizing about them throughout the day as my jeans get pinchy and the chilly autumn wind whistles right through the Target denim. My sweatpant manifesto proclaimed that I would be putting them on before my husband came home if he was working late, but now I find myself grabbing them out of the closet as soon as I've picked the kids up from 3:00. On the days when we don't have playdates, errands, or swim lessons to shlep to, and we are settled in right after school, I'm putting those suckers right on. Sorry, babe.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A post that manages to reference Popeye

Now that I've told you about the dumb moments of my weekend, let me tell you something nice that happened: I went to a MOMS Club workshop and got to see my NY friends who had traveled down for the occasion. I "talk" to these ladies all the time via Facebook and email, but only see them in-person twice a year, at MOMS Club functions.

Though I hardly see them, they've had a major impact on my life. I won't get into the emotional stuff about how they are inspirational and all that - I don't want to trigger your gag reflex as I wax Hallmark-y. But I can tell you how they've influenced me in a cultural sense.

Two years ago, at a regional luncheon, we first got to know each other and instantly clicked. I'm usually shy and awkward when I talk to people, especially new people, but somehow I felt instantly comfortable in their presence. They just got me.

Toward the end of the night I must have whined about how it wasn't fair that they all lived close together in NY while I lived all the way in Massachusetts, because one of them plopped her Mac in my lap and demanded that I sign up for Facebook. I knew little about FB and felt a little unsure about its usefulness, but I signed up. Now, I can't imagine living without it.

Score one for the NY Peeps.

The next time I saw them, they were all a-flutter about those Twilight books, watching trailers for the first movie on their laptops and discussing which "team" they were on, Edward's or Jacob's. Inside, I rolled my eyes a little. Teen vampire stories, really? It seemed so weird. But I love and respect these women, so I thought that if they liked it, maybe it was worth a shot. I read the first Twilight book and remained unimpressed. I joked around with people about how lame the whole phenomenon was. Then I read the second Twilight know, just to see what would happen to the characters...and I was hooked. I read all of the books in the series and Netflixed the movie while Jason was traveling.

Score two for the NY Peeps.

And then this past weekend, they invited me to crash in their room, slumber party-style. I was so excited...until one of them brought out a True Blood DVD. I was exasperated. I mean, isn't obsessing over vampire books and TV shows the 21st century-version of the soap opera and bon-bon devouring housewife stereotype? I wanted to pass on watching, but they were all into it, and I wanted to be with them, so I watched. Well, it took just about five seconds for me to be so immersed in that show that I almost forgot to breathe. And now I've gone and downloaded the first book in the series onto my Kindle, a book I think about during the day as I'm driving the kids to school and shampooing my hair.

Score three for the NY Peeps.

What I've learned from all of this is that I should quit being so afraid of becoming a stereotype. I should quit worrying about what things I like say about me.

In the words of that sage philosopher Popeye, I am what I am.

I like watching soap operas. I record them on the DVR and watch them in marathons while Jason's away, or I'll watch a single episode here and there while paying the bills or doing some other random task - the familiar characters keep me company.

I like reading and watching vampire stories. Maybe it's not high art, but it's fun fantasy and it's easier for me to relax at the end of the day with one of these books than with Dickens' Hard Times.

I like watching reality shows like America's Next Top Model, So You Think You Can Dance, and Project Runway. And I get psyched about craptastic teen dramas like 90210 and Gossip Girl.

I like goofing around on the internet (a practice Jason and I call "gweeping" for some reason). I think it's fun to see what people are up to via Facebook - it's the perfect way for a phone-phobe like me to keep up with her friends.

I like fake shopping in catalogs. I browse through the pages and tear out the ones that have something on it that I'd like to buy, whether it's a toy for one of the kids, a pair of curtains for the living room, or a sweater for myself. I even organize the torn pages into a tabbed folder in case I ever want to look at them again. I do this because I have a hard time sitting still, just staring at the TV without doing some kind of "busy work," and also because before I did this I actually bought all of that stuff. This way, I get the thrill of shopping, of finding that perfect thing, without really pulling out the wallet. Once the page is torn and filed, I know that I can go back to it and make the purchase for real if I want it that badly, but I rarely do. Instead, I exclaim, "Look at this old-fashioned train set! I'm gong to fake-buy this for Nathan's birthday!" Jason doesn't even make fun of me for all this, probably because he prefers the fake buy to the real one.

I'll own up to all of these hobbies and interests because I am less afraid now: if you don't like me because I admit to knowing who Chuck Bass is, well, then I guess that's too bad for both of us. I owe this new-found confidence to my NY Peeps, who showed me that a stay-at-home mom can be intelligent, responsible, valuable, respected...and a Twilight fan, all at the same time.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The blue hands mystery

So, I told you about being tricked into thinking it was the start of Daylight Savings Time when it wasn't, causing me to blow numerous obligations and disappoint multiple people on Sunday morning. I'm still reeling over this weird mistake - who doesn't know what time it is?

But you know what? That was not even the dumbest thing that happened to me that day. Here's what else:

On the way home from Annabelle's game, I grabbed some Dunkin' Donuts iced coffees for the grown-ups and some kind of apple pastry-things for the kids. We were all sitting around the kitchen table enjoying our treats when I suddenly noticed that my hands - particularly my fingers - had turned blue. I must have made some kind of noise about this, because the next thing I knew, Jason and I were both standing up, on high-alert, trying to figure out why my fingers looked dead. I stripped off my shoes and socks: nope, toes were whitish-pink as usual. Jason noted that my lips were a little pale, and we immediately (but silently) started jumping to all kinds of medical conclusions. I was baffled that my hands didn't feel particularly cold or numb or pins-and-needlesey - when you have a major circulatory issue that makes your fingers turn blue, shouldn't you be able to feel something weird going on there?

I sat back down at the table, flexing and rubbing my hands together, trying to get the blood flowing back into the Smurfy digits. Annabelle started to whimper in concern. Jason started Googling and Web-MDing to figure out the possible whys and what to dos. Mad and Nathan kept eating their pastries.

Jason called down the hallway to me: "Try washing your hands!" I agreed that some warm water and rubbing might do the trick, so I got under the faucet and washed with gusto. Sure enough, my fingers looked just about normal again.

My husband returned to the table with a diagnosis: I had Raynaud's Phenomenon, a vascular disease that can cause fingers and/or toes to turn blue in times of cold or stress. I came to terms with my new medical condition quickly, recalling strange pains in my right hand over the last couple of weeks. And, yeah, I certainly had been both stressed and cold that morning - I'd run out without a coat and shivered through the whole Pop Warner game.

It all fit. I started to envision myself in a rubber Raynaud's survivor bracelet ("Live Blue!"), plastering my van with blue ribbon magnets, and leading a talk about overcoming Raynaud's discomfort at the next MOMS Club meeting.

By now, the kids were bored with the whole scene and had migrated to the room with the TV. Clearly, Mom wasn't dying.

Then, my hands got a little wet from my iced coffee cup and I rubbed them on my jeans as I often do to warm them. As I had for an hour straight at the game that morning just before coming home.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

Yes, my hands turned blue as I rubbed them on my jeans.

Turns out my hands were not blue from some weird syndrome out of a House episode. It was just the dye rubbing off of my jeans.

And that fifteen-minute escapade was how I out-dumbed the Daylight Savings Debacle.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sunday morning surprise

It was Sunday morning, and I was in that brief half-waking, half-sleeping state when worries do not yet clog your mind and quicken your pulse. I noticed that sunlight was peeking through the blinds and, surprised, I wondered how late it was. With one eye open, I looked over toward the clock - it was 6 something, and no peeps were coming from Nathan's room, so I rolled back under the covers in delight.

A little while later, I woke again and noticed that it was REALLY bright in the bedroom. Panicked, I looked at the clock again, but it read only 7:10. I elbowed Jason and exclaimed that it was very bright in the room for such an early hour - usually it's still pretty dark when we wake up around 7. I quickly concluded that it was the start of Daylight Savings Time, which made sense because our alarm clock is supposed to be some kind of "smart clock" that automatically resets itself when Daylight Savings Time starts and ends. I was a little surprised that I hadn't heard any reminders about DST, but hey - I'd been away for the weekend and hadn't been watching any TV or goofing around on the internet, so it was possible that I'd missed it.

When my clock read 7:34, Annabelle burst into our room, wearing her cheer uniform and an anxious face. "Mom! It's 8:34 - weren't we supposed to be at the field at 8?" I gave Jason a knowing look and launched into a lengthy explanation of what Daylight Savings Time was and why we still had about 20 minutes before we needed to leave.

I kept lazing around and chatting with Jason for a few more minutes before reluctantly getting dressed. As I was putting my shoes on, Jason said, "Are you sure it's Daylight Savings Time? You should check. The computer clock would say the correct time."

I checked my laptop: it read 8:44.

Oh, shit.

I googled Daylight Savings Time 2009. It said "November 1."

Oooooooh, shit.

The clock, purchased several years ago, had not received the memo when Daylight Savings Time dates were changed, so it had set the hour back on the wrong date. Smart clock, my ass.

Jason jumped out of bed and started working on Anna's ponytail while I simultaneously brushed my teeth, smell-checked yesterday's bra off the floor, and looked for the team manager's cell phone number. Not only were we going to miss practice and possibly be late for the start of the football game, but I had also missed my volunteer shift at the raffle table.

As Annabelle started to wail that Dad wasn't doing her hair right and that she'd known we were late all along, I connected with the team manager. "How far away are you?" she asked, "We're doing photos right now! Bring your form to the back field - we're about to do the team photo - we'll wait for you."

Ah, right! It was picture day to boot. Of course.

Cursing, I ran out to the van with no coat and no keys, a crying cheerleader trailing behind me. "Get in!" I barked. Then, "Shit! Keys!"

Five seconds later, I re-emerged from my house after dropping several f-bombs at my husband, with keys in hand, but still no camera, coffee, checkbook, or coat.

I defied the posted speed limit signs and made it to the field at warp speed. Annabelle suffered through a bogus pep talk about "pulling it together" even as her mother's voice cracked with emotion.

We arrived, and I was full-on crying behind my sunglasses, in shame, embarrassment, and most of all, frustration. Last game of the season and no camera? Picture day and ill-constructed Dad-ponytail? Well-prepared, responsible daughter and day-ruining Mom? It was all so upsetting.

As I crouched on the ground, haphazardly filling out the photography order form, desperately trying to hide the fact that I, a grown woman, was crying at cheer practice, my daughter's teammates and their moms rallied around her to get her smiling. I felt overwhelmed with love for all of these people. They did what I couldn't, and within a minute Annabelle was laughing and joining her mates in the team photo.

The girls then ran to the football field, ready to cheer on their football-playing teammates. I looked on with relief as the adrenaline finally shut off and the full body blush gave way to my natural pale skin. I volunteered in the Snack Shack to make up for blowing off my shft at the raffle table. At halftime, Annabelle was not a "base" in the stunting group as usual because she had missed the pre-game practice. But! She got to do a cartwheel right in front of the stunt groups instead!

And so, I was forgiven. By my daughter, her team, and by myself.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sweatpant justice

While shopping at Target on Friday I spotted something I never imagined could excite me so: a big rack of Hanes Her Way sweats in all different colors. The big picture-sign above the shelves of fleece informed me that these cozy pieces were just $6 each, and the woman in the picture looked so comfy and happy.

So I bought a couple of sets. Now these are not clothes you'd actually wear to the gym. No, women must be wearing tighter-fighting yoga or running pants with some kind of coordinating tank and zip-front jacket when sporting gym clothes in public. It's the code. These sweats are more the old-fashioned type: a boxy, unfitted sweatshirt with loose-fitting straight-leg sweat pants in mix-and-match colors like black, gray, and purple. These are the sweats I remember from childhood, minus the elastic cuff at the bottom of the pants-leg. Apparently no one wants to go that retro.

I was so excited about buying these (Only $6 per piece! Comfy and warm for these chilly autumn nights!) that I immediately washed them when I got home, eager to wear them later that night. (This is significant because I had mulitple laundry piles waiting patiently for their turn to be washed, and I shockingly let these sweats cut the line.)

Jump to 7:30 that night. I've tucked the kids into bed, and I am deciding which TV show to watch while waiting for Jason to get home from work, decked out in my cute little jeans that make my bum look smallish. I'm still wearing my bra and a nice shirt, too, so that I will still look presentable when he gets home. (Overall, still closer to Roseanne on the done-up scale than to Donna Reed, but trying, anyway.) The minutes tick by as I squirm in my uncomfortable clothes, trying to relax and enjoy another gross-out episode of CSI:Miami. My mind keeps returning to thoughts of the sweats, washed, dried, and folded neatly in my closet. But I resist putting them on and wait for Jason.

And wait.

By the time he gets home, it's close to 10:30, and I give him a quick hello, barely listen to some stories about his day, and then race to the closet to change into the sweats. He saw me in the jeans and shirt, right? As long as he saw me, even if only for five minutes, I get credit, right?

But credit from whom? He probably didn't even notice. And I spent two-and-a-half hours cooped up in tight, pinchy jeans when I could have been lounging in soft, cozy fleece.

So from now on, husbands of the world, a new rule: if you're going to get home from work after 9pm, please do not expect to see your wife's cute little denim bottom and perky little push-up bra. Instead, you can expect to see your wife in amorphous $6 sweats. But, hey - at least she'll be soft to snuggle.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Working out, or hardly working?

I just checked Nathan into Child Watch at the YMCA, where he is happily playing with other tots whose yoga-pantsed, stainless-steel-water-bottle-carrying moms have dropped them off, too. It's that time of the morning, when the dads have gone off to work and the moms who stay at home with their children hit the Y to whip their post-baby bodies into shape.

With nothing on the calendar for this morning, I woke up with the idea to come here so that I wouldn't have to spend another day hanging around the house, trying to do laundry while Nathan follows me around, asking the same 3 questions over and over. ("What are we gonna have?" "Where are we gonna go to?" "What are we gonna do?") And after dropping all that cash on furniture last weekend, I figured I should lay low on the going-out front.

So, I put on some sweatpants and sneakers, made some tea for my travel mug, and headed to the gym. Well, not the gym, exactly. I never really intended to work out here this morning, but I figured I'd dress the part so I don't stand out. Instead of going into the Wellness Center and toning my ass on an elliptical, I sat my ass right down in one of the overstuffed leather chairs in the corner of the lobby with my laptop. Free Wi-Fi! (Y-Fi?)

And here I sit, feeling equal parts guilty and smug. But mostly just happy to be sitting, quietly enjoying my tea. Hey, you've got to grab these moments however ... and wherever ... you can.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Follow-Up

It's Friday, y'all! I told you it'd come fast this week, and it sure did. So, here are some updates on past stories:

First, I want to thank you all again for the amazing support you gave me while I was going through my miscarriage. Last week was ROUGH, but this week has been all about keeping busy and moving on. I'm feeling good, although I do seem to have developed a bit of an angry edge. (On the inside, so don't worry that I'm going to cut you or anything.) I thought I recalled hearing something about anger being one of the 7 stages of grief, so I Wikipedia'd them, figuring anger must be the last one before the Being Over It stage. Turns out it's actually only step 3 in the process. Ouch.

But wait! I seem to be in hyperdrive, because I am simultaneously experiencing:

Anger: I'm swearing in my head a lot more than usual, especially when I see baby stuff. Fuck off, Pooh booties.

Reflection: Been thinking about the crazy ride we were on when we discovered that we were surprisingly expecting and then surprisingly not expecting anymore. Wondering whether we'll decide to try again or keep things as they are.

The Upward Turn: Experiencing a welcome lift in mood and productivity - for example, I cleaned for the whole morning while Nathan was at playgroup on Tuesday...typically something I'd do only to avoid embarrassment if company's coming over, or to avoid playing another game of Go Fish with Nathan.

Reconstruction and Working Through: I finally decided what I wanted and bought furniture for the living room, family room, and kitchen on Monday, and am currently investigating window treatments. Thinking about personal and "professional" (i.e. blog) goals. Noticing that my body feels back to normal. (Bye, bye, bigger boobs.)

Acceptance and Hope: I accept that this kind of thing happens. A lot. And I hope that it won't ever happen to me again. For closure, I morbidly peed on a stick yesterday, and I saw only the one lonely pink line, when last week there'd been two. I'm a visual kind of person, so this creepy maneuver helped me turn the page.

So there you have it: proof that women can multi-task anything, even grief.

In other news, Romeo accidentally injured Annabelle in school yesterday and he felt terrible. He seems like a pretty nice kid, actually. For a player. He kept apologizing (although it was an accident), and he told her that she looked pretty, despite the bloody lip.

And the Academy called this morning. Madeleine has been nominated Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Mom's Embarrassing Interview Fart in The Emotions Game. She says she's honored just to be nominated, but you know she wants to bring home that statue.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Seven going on seventeen

Annabelle, my second-grader, has a boyfriend. She came home last week telling me that this boy - we'll call him Romeo - asked her if she had a boyfriend. "No," she answered shyly. "Why, do you have a girlfriend?"

And so it began.

The next day, Romeo disclosed to Annabelle that he already had a girlfriend, technically, but that she could be his "number two." She was game, although it did seem to weigh on her a bit as she confessed her secondary status to me on the way home from school.

The day after that, I saw Romeo for the first time, as he walked Annabelle out of the front doors to the car pick-up line. He was cute, and he seemed really into her. I caught him looking at her once she was in the van and buckled up, bubbling over with stories of her day.

Then, he bumped her up to "first girlfriend" status. I asked Annabelle what it meant to her to be someone's girlfriend. She explained that the two of them are together all the time, and had even gone for a romantic walk at recess. "A 'romantic' walk?" I asked, eyes bugging out. "Yeah," she grinned. "We were about to hold hands, but the whistle blew and we had to go back inside."


Annabelle and her boyfriend have been joined at the hip (not literally, I hope) throughout the day: during morning work time, at music class, in the cafeteria. But yesterday, this Lunchtime Lothario announced to her that he wasn't sure that he wanted "to be with her anymore." She kept silent and went back to work on her Christopher Columbus coloring pages, unphased. Later, he approached her again with a similar pronouncement. This time she warned him, "You'll have to tell a lot of people you changed your mind, then, because you told everybody about us." (This had been a source of great embarrassment for her - she'd have preferred keeping things on the DL.) He backed off immediately and claimed that he'd never really wanted to stop being her boyfriend. Then he gave her an Arthur sticker.

I am blown away by these developments. Aren't boys supposed to be blind to the opposite sex until, like, middle school? I thought it was the girls who were supposed to be the first aggressors, what with their earlier development, maturity, and Disney princess movies. I can't believe that this little boy has been trolling the schoolyard for girlfriends. Plural.

And hey, where is Little Cassanova learning this behavior? Who is the kid's dad, Hef??

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I'm a winner!

I won a little contest on Christine Green's blog, grown ups are like that! I didn’t do anything special to “earn” the win, but I am still excited that my name was the one she picked out of a hat. So I will soon be the proud owner of a book of beautiful writing about motherhood called Mother Muse. Isn’t winning something the best feeling?

But I’ll tell you what’s an even better feeling: thinking of myself as a writer. Yeah, my blog is written in a style that’s more like a journal than like anything you’d find in the Literature section at Barnes and Noble, but hey, I am writing. I go through my mom routine, wondering what to do with those chicken breasts, searching for that missing sock, and all the while I am thinking about what I’m going to write about next. One of the kids says something funny, like “Mom, you need to change my diaper. I stink!” and I laugh, “That’s going in the blog.” I even carry a Where the Wild Things Are journal in my purse so that I can jot ideas and funny quotes as they happen. All of these things, combined with the fact that I publish musings on the internet, make me a writer, I think.

But I feel so much more like one today because I won Christine’s contest. You see, Christine is a real, honest-to-goodness writer and I admire the hell out of her. To be associated with her in some way – even just by winning a giveaway on her blog - makes me feel all puffed up and proud.

I met Christine a year-and-a-half ago, through MOMS Club. I met her just the one time - she lives a couple hundred miles away - but I was so impressed with her. We became Facebook friends, and I soon learned that she’d been published in a collection of essays and poems and in a local parenting magazine. Wow. Published! More than once! I started reading her blog, and my respect grew as I devoured each thoughtful, artfully-crafted post. And then, I saw photos of her penning her name at a book signing, and whoop, she officially became my idol. Published, reading her work to a crowd in a book store, and she wears glasses to boot. (I’ve always dreamed of wearing glasses, but my stupid eyes work fine.)

So, thank you, Christine, for the book I won, and for inspiring this mom to follow her dream of writing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Family dinner

Does it feel like Monday today or what? I've been so confused all morning, setting out a gym-day outfit for the wrong girl, gearing up for the wrong after-school activity, and wondering whether the trash goes out or not. But I love this kind of week, the short kind. It'll be Friday even before we can moan, "Is it Friday yet?"

We had a nice long weekend here at the Paradis homestead. Jason turns 35 today, so I got the idea to take him out on Sunday for his birthday. Little did I know that Sunday was the day that both the Red Sox and the Patriots would be playing. (And losing.) It worked out okay, though - we headed over to Bar Louie at Patriot Place to watch the games. The food was good, and the beer was good, but as halftime approached and we'd already been sitting there for two or three hours, we decided to make a mad dash home to watch the rest of the game on the couch, drinking our fridge beer for half the price. I don't want to use the term "old farts," but let's just say that we didn't even touch any more beers at home, and I was dozed off on the couch in my pj's by 8:15.

Still, it was nice to be able to walk around the house, talking in full voice after 7:30pm because there were no sleeping children about. And it was really nice to wake up on our own terms the next morning, which is usually my favorite part about sending the kids over to Grandma's for a sleepover.

So then, after having the wonderful chance to actually miss the kids, we all gathered around the table last night for a family dinner. I made lasagna, Jason's favorite meal, in honor of it being his birthday eve. We dined on matching plates, the novelty and excitement of which still has not worn off, and enjoyed each other's company. After we ate, we decided to play this game that makes us laugh when we're all together at the table. (That doesn't happen often because Jason usually works late.) One person, the judge, picks an emotion, and the rest of the participants have to pose in their best display of that feeling. Then the judge chooses the most convincing poser as the winner.

Well, last night we took our game to the next level. Now it's more about improv than modeling. Jason, as the first judge, created a scenario for each of us and we had to act accordingly. So, for "excited," he told Annabelle that we were going to Disney World, Madeleine that she was getting a pony, and me that we had won $127 million in the lottery. (Annabelle's reaction was the most genuinely excited-looking, so she won that round.) Next, Annabelle judged and chose "embarrassed" as the feeling she wanted us to emote. She told her sister that her friends were looking at her while she was getting dressed in her bedroom. (I guess they were supposed to have been hiding in the closet or something? Creepy!) Coming up with Jason's scenario was tricky - he doesn't embarrass easily. So Mad and I pretended to be his bosses, sitting at dinner with Jason after work one day. Annabelle pretended to be the waiter, who gave Jason the old, "I'm sorry, Sir, but your card's been declined." The girls' performances were great, but Jason remained annoyingly unrattled.

But the best was the scenario they cooked up to get me to act embarrassed: I was on a job interview, sitting across the table from my prospective boss, Annabelle. She asked me to tell her a little about myself, and as I began to answer, Madeleine, crouched on the floor right behind my bum, made farting noises. It was hysterical! We were all laughing so hard, we forgot to pick a winner.

The whole dinnertime was awesome because I actually enjoyed myself. I know this makes me sound like a jerk, but I usually HATE to sit down at the dinner table. I prefer to serve the kids and then go do my thing for the few minutes that I know Nathan is sitting down somewhere. And who wants to sit down and eat the gross dinners that I've made, anyway? Not me! (shudder) But I know that's wrong, and that I need to be a good role model for table manners and eating, and that it's a great opportunity to have family time and talk about our day. So, now that we've got the new dishes and use non-disposable cups like city-folk, I'm sitting down at the table more and allowing myself to relax and enjoy it a little.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Follow-Up

Happy long-weekend Friday! I want to thank you all for your support as I've gone through my miscarriage. I am amazed at how many of my friends have been through similar experiences and have now shared their stories with me to help get me through this loss. I was pretty arrogant to have thought that something like this couldn't happen to me.

People knock Facebook and Twitter and blogging because we are not communicating face to face anymore these days. While I agree that sometimes there is no substitute for holding a friend's hand or seeing their expression while delivering a joke, I'm all for using the internet as a means of connecting with people. I've always been very shy in person, but still have a need to talk about well, everything. Like this miscarriage for instance. Being able to talk about what happened helped me to deal with the confusing feelings of loss and mourning that seemed too big for something that I'd only known about for a little over a week. And wow, did people come through for me! So many women shared their stories and their caring with me via email, blog comment, Facebook, phone call, handwritten note, flowers, and even tearily in person. Had it not been for my big blog mouth, I never would have had such a wide-ranging outreach from friends old and new.

Another thing I've learned from all of you is that women really come through for each other in times like these. Yes, some of us may give each other once-overs at the playground ("Are those real Uggs or knock-offs?") or gossip about each other at practice ("Are those real boobs or did she get a little help?"), but when it comes down to it, we all relate in a fundamental way, and when one of us experiences a painful woman's issue, we drop everything and cry for her. We offer meals, babysitting, hugs, listening ears, and above all, sympathy. I am amazed at how both women I've known for half my life and women I've known for a few months have all come together to offer their support. It's like we have created our own virtual red tent, and we're in it together though we are technically, physically apart.

Thanks to all of you.

I have had ups and downs since I wrote last. Wednesday was good. I didn't cry, even though I saw a lot of friends in person and feared that I would break down or turn to stone upon seeing them. I listened to a lot of music, thanks to Nathan's reminders to "Bring the iPod!" whenever we were in the van. That helped. Miley Cyrus, of all people, with her cheesetastic "Party in the U.S.A." actually got to me when she said, "And you know I'm gonna be okay." Like because this 16-year-old sings it, it must be true.

Yesterday was not so good. I walked into early intervention playgroup, feeling all cool with Miley's teen pop anthem in my head and my iced coffee in hand. The group leader saw me come in, and nodding her head toward a newborn in a little infant carrier said, "Kelley, does that make you excited?" I froze, mute, head down, hair falling around my face. She thought I hadn't heard her, so she asked again: "Kel, does that make you excited?" I couldn't speak. I raised my head to meet her eyes and just started shaking my head "no." Tears streamed out of my eyes and I even made one alien sob noise as the already-seated parents looked at me, standing there, coming apart in front of them all. The rest of the 2-hour meeting was a blur. The group leader was there, hugging me, and thankfully a rocking chair happened to be vacant in the corner near where I stood, rooted to the ground, so that when I was able to sit I didn't have to make my way through the parents, but could just sink into the seat in the corner and keep my head down. I worked on my Ken Ken puzzle book and made sure that my unruly hair was unruly enough to cover my face so that I couldn't be seen too easily as I silently cried throughout the morning. There are a couple of other pregnant moms in the group, and naturally the topic of pregnancy and childbirth comes up a lot in a parents group. One question, asked by one expectant mom to another, "Is the baby really active in your belly?" kicked me the hardest, but as the morning went on I became desensitized and the eyes dried up. I know that I'll be much better able to handle next week's meeting.

Today has been pretty good so far. Nathan's going to a drop-off program in the morning, which leaves me kid-free for a couple of hours. I'm going to look at furniture again, looking at ways to home-ify my drab, vagrants-live-here house. I'll grab an iced coffee and listen to some Stones and, okay, probably some Miley, too.

P.S. My "Uggs" are knock-offs, but my boobs are real. ("No kidding," you're smirking about my teeny booblets.)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bye, bye, baby

I'm not sure how to tell you this, so I'm just going to say it. I am not pregnant anymore. I've had a miscarriage.

Watching soap operas throughout the years, I'd learned that a miscarriage always happens like this: you have a heated confrontation with your husband's lover, then you clutch your abdomen in pain and croak, "Something's wrong. Something's wrong with the baby!" Next scene, you're in a hospital bed, crying as a handsome doctor shakes his head, eyes to the ground. Next scene after that, you're on somebody's yacht, scheming about how to get another baby to pass off as your own...

Turns out that a real-life miscarriage may not happen in this way. I was sitting at my in-laws' house, stuffed from a bowl of GG's homemade beef stew, chatting with my mother-in-law about Nathan. I kept feeling cramps, getting more and more insistant, so I ducked into the bathroom to see if anything was going on Down There. Now, I do things like this to psych myself out all the time. Like, okay, I'll check and see if there's something wrong because I know that there isn't really going to be anything wrong.

Except there was.

I was bleeding, and I was so surprised to see that there actually was something bad happening. So I paged the midwife on call, still thinking that I was being dramatic and that she was going to (kindly) laugh at me about getting overly-anxious over nothing.

Except she didn't.

When the midwife called back - the very same one who had delivered Nathan, actually - she asked me to tell her what was happening. I explained that there was some cramping and some bleeding, and I just wanted to see if I should be worried. "Well," she said nonchalantly, "In a situation like this, when what you're describing happens, we think 'miscarriage.'"

I was dumbfounded, waiting for the rest. But there wasn't much else she could tell me except that I should go in for some bloodwork on Monday morning, and then again on Wednesday morning, so that the hormone levels could be measured and I could know whether my pregnancy was still viable. I awkwardly lingered on the phone with her; I couldn't understand that she was telling me that a) I was probably having a miscarriage, and that b) there wasn't anything that I needed to do, like go to the hospital, and that c) I wouldn't even know for sure until probably Wednesday.

I cried. Jason had already hustled the kids into the van as I'd been awaiting the midwife's call, so all I had to do was walk down the driveway and get in. I cried and shook so hard as I made that walk that the kids must have been terrified. Jason murmured something like, "Mom's not feeling well," and we rode home in silence except for Nathan's repeated questioning: "Why is my mom crying?"

When we got home, I laid in bed with the lights off and the covers over my head, just focusing on feeling what my body was doing. Nathan came in and hugged me and told me that he would make me feel better. And as he snuggled with me, he did.

I hid out in this fashion until bedtime, all the while looking for hope (implantation can cause bleeding and cramps!) but sensing that what was happening was probably not going to turn out to be some weird fluke that we'd laugh about after my delivery. By 7, I understood that there wasn't going to be a baby coming in May. I wiped my face and decided to give the kids a really good tuck-in. I relished reading every page of Nathan's book with him, staring at his profile as I recited the memorized lines. I felt overwhelmed with love for him, and I sang his songs with a sweeter voice than I ever had. When it was the girls' turn, I brought out a new chapter book for us to start reading together: Mathilda by Roald Dahl. As we read, I kept peeking at them, noticing how very beautiful they are. And I hugged those girls like there was no tomorrow.

Later, before I went to bed, I passed what they call the "products of conception," which told us definitively that the baby was gone.

What they didn't tell me on General Hospital was that a miscarriage is not necessarily a boom-bang-and-you're-done kind of thing. For me, it's been a sort of ongoing process as my body says, "Uh, something's not right with this one. Let's call a do-over!" Since Sunday afternoon, I've had cramps and bleeding as the field gets cleared off and reseeded for next time. It's a strange and surreal feeling to be walking around, going about your day(s), doing laundry, making lunch, running errands, all in the process of having a miscarriage.

So, I guess I should apologize to you for putting you in the awkward position of knowing that I've had a miscarriage. If I had done what most people in polite society do, I would have kept quiet about the pregnancy until 12 weeks, and therefore you never would have been the wiser that any of this had happened. Unfortunately, I've never been any good at keeping secrets, and I tend to be a pretty emotional person. As soon as I found out that I was expecting, it became the only thing I could think about, and good lord, how was I going to blog some stupid crap about what I bought at the store today when I was PREGNANT? And how was I going to make small-talk at the car pick-up line when I knew that I was PREGNANT?

So, I told. I honestly never thought that this would happen to me. I was like an arrogant senior rolling his eyes through the drinking-and-driving crash video they show a week before prom. Sure, it could happen, but it wasn't going to happen to me.

Except it did.

And I am sad - really, really sad. But I'll be okay.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday Follow-Up

Wow. I have officially known about being pregnant for a week now, and it is starting to sink in. (Sort of.) Most people that I see around in daily life have heard or read the news by now, and everyone has been really excited and supportive. I must confess that I wasn't sure this would be the case. Having four babies seemed, well, excessive, and I was a little worried that people would start making Duggar references or ask me if I was angling for my own reality show.

As you may have guessed, this was not something that Jason and I set out to do. A few years after having the girls, who were born 13 months apart, we considered having another set of two babies close together. Then Nathan was born, and I said, "Whoa ... three is good." I told everyone within earshot that I was D-O-N-E, and yelped things like, "Bite your tongue!" and "Don't even joke about that!" when someone suggested that I might get pregnant again.

A month ago, when I found out that two moms in my early intervention parent group were expecting, I was very smugly unpregnant. (Or so I thought.) "Suckers," I thought to myself while outwardly well-wishing. "I wouldn't want to be starting all over again!"

Two weeks ago, I finished cleaning out my closet and drawers, and threw my maternity clothes and nursing bras into a donation bag with gusto. "I won't be needing THESE anymore!"

And then last week, I peed on three sticks and learned that I was on my way to being the mother of four children. My very first reaction was shock, but with an aftertaste of warm maternal happiness. Even though it was not something I thought I wanted, I am thrilled to be creating this big family. Growing up, I had no siblings at home to play/conspire/fight with, and I always envied my friends who had multiple brothers and sisters. Although I didn't think I'd ever be married and having children, I knew that if I did, I'd want to have the big, bustling "cool" house with lots of kids and their friends congregating in the kitchen after school, eating all of the food and gossiping about which teachers give the lamest homework. So, it turns out that now I have a shot at that. I'm creating the family I always wanted as a kid.

Of course, in my dreams, I was never the one who had to clean the toilets...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why, yes, they are!

Some weird happenings over the last few weeks.

I was dizzy for a couple of days in a row for no apparent reason.

I've been nauseas on and off for two weeks, and moody as hell.

Last Wednesday night, while Jason was away, I was even more lonely and sad than I usually am when he's traveling for work. I just needed him, but he wasn't here.

I sobbed off and on for ten hours after Nathan did a new autistic-y thing (he flapped his hands) during his therapist's visit. And when he woke at 10:30pm, asking to be hugged and re-tucked, I went in and held him like my life depended on it - so not like me. Normally, we adhere to a strict "Good night, I won't see you 'til morning unless you barf or the house is on fire" policy.

I wanted a lot of bologna-and-potato chip sandwiches.

Last Thursday morning, I had the weirdest feeling that my boobs were a little bigger than usual. And that's when I decided to buy a pregnancy test.

You may remember that Mad was home sick with me at the end of last week - boy, does that make shopping for a pregnancy test interesting. ("Mom, what is that?") I bought a box of two just in case and went home, wondering how I was going to manage to pee in private. The first test gave me a plus sign. No way! I had to pee again almost immediately, so I took the second test. Also a plus sign. Gulp!

Later, after grabbing Annabelle from school, I brought the kids to buy another box of pregnancy tests, a different brand this time. Maybe EPT was pranking me, but First Response would be on the level. When we got home with my purchase, Jason was there - he'd returned early from his trip. I stealthily peed on the third stick while the kids surrounded him and regaled him with stories of the last 24 hours. Two pink lines.

Yup, I'm pregnant.

I told Jason, and the first thing he said was, "I thought so. I noticed that your boobs were a little bigger."

Monday, September 28, 2009

An interesting email

A few weeks ago I received an email from Autism.

How strange to receive a communique from an enigmatic developmental disability! I am a little afraid to open the email, and especially the attachment - I've heard of people receiving viruses via email, but this is ridiculous!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Follow-Up follow-up

Hi there! Just thought I'd let you know that Mad has strep throat.

I knew that you were all on pins and needles wondering about this, and I didn't want to ruin your weekends with worry and suspense. So, now you know!

She's doing fine, though - says her throat doesn't even really hurt and is watching more Barbie movies in a row than I want to acknowledge publicly.

Have a good weekend!

P.S. Know what I had for breakfast today? Two Oscar Mayer bologna and potato chip sandwiches on Wonder bread. With yellow mustard. Yum!

Friday Follow-Up

Hey, kids, gather 'round! It's Friday Follow-Up time!

As you can see, I'm in a weird mood. It's been a weird week. I got some unexpected feedback after writing about my inability to accept that life isn't fair. I thought I came off as a nutjob, obsessing about free pancakes and peewee football players, but I actually received quite a bit of support from all of you. Enablers!

I'm still waiting for my cookbooks to arrive. I ordered them all from different vendors through Amazon, so each book will arrive in a separate box, on a separate day. I'm so excited - next week will be like Hanukkah! (I've always envied Hanukkah...) I love having a project that doesn't involve any actual work. First, I'll put the books in order on the coffee table in the family room. Then, I'll grab my little Staples organizer that's filled with different colored flags and Post-Its. And with feet up on the couch and garbage TV on (Hi, Melrose Place 2.0!), I will pore through each book, marking every recipe that looks bland and uncomplicated enough with flags, following an as-yet-to-be-determined recipe organizing system. Then, I'll add the keepers to my Better Homes and Gardens Recipe Organizer Binder. I suppose at some point I should add another phase to my project: Cooking The Meals. But that's a ways off - I can't just start cooking recipes randomly! Must organize first. And lord knows how long that will take...

Oh, and speaking of my cookbook post, I got a comment that used an abbreviation: FTW. I had NO IDEA what that meant, and couldn't get it from the context of the comment, the way I might translate an unfamiliar word while reading a novel. Embarrassingly, I had to Google it. Turns out that it was a complimentary bunch of letters, meaning "for the win." What you're supposed to do is write something that's good or that you liked and then add FTW to the end. So Noodle Mom could message me something like, "You made boxed spaghetti for dinner tonight? Huh. I made spinach ravioli with homemade marinara. And hand-churned ice cream with berries FTW."

And finally, I want to let you know that Mad is still out of school, thanks to that party guest who won't take the hint that it's time to go home, Mystery Fever. We're heading to the pediatrician's office in about 10 minutes to see WTF is causing her to have a fever for three days. (See? I do know some acronyms all on my own!) She seems to be doing better today, which is great, but man, is it weird having a kid around the house during a time when you're not supposed to have a kid around the house. Even Nathan has these little programs that he goes to during the day, so I had been used to not having to answer to anyone for at least an hour on most days.

Talk to you Monday!

P.S. I craffed yesterday. For like an hour. I'm not telling you why, but thought you'd like to know that yes, I really do Craff Out Loud.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

How I spent $50 on

I did this very grown-up thing the other day: I used my $50 Amazon birthday gift card to buy a bunch of cookbooks.

Yup, cookbooks. I haven't even told Jason yet - he'll go into hysterics when I tell him. And then he'll suggest some things I should have bought instead, things I'd actually use. You see, I am not a natural in the kitchen. I think it's mainly because I'm a picky eater who doesn't like things with too much flavor or too many ingredients. Oh, and I also hate being wet, which means that all of the veggie-handling, the washing and the slicing, is nearly intolerable to me. I hate to cook, and I stink at it.

Or do I? Come to find out, for the past four years that we've lived in this house, our oven has been broken. Some kind of heating element flake-out has been causing it to slowly lose its ability to heat properly. So all those times I tried to make the meatloaf recipe that was stuck to the ground beef package, the one that said it took 45 minutes to cook, maybe it wasn't still raw inside after 70 minutes because I Can't Cook. Maybe it was the oven's fault. (We don't need to get into why it took me FOUR YEARS to figure this out.)

Maybe, just maybe, now that Jason has fixed the oven, and now that I will be the proud owner of 9 new cookbooks in the next 10-14 business days, I can cook.

I told you that I bought a food processor. It's actually still disassembled because I couldn't figure out how to put it all together, even though they thoughtfully included a "How to Assemble Your Food Processor" diagram with labeled parts. But once I remember to ask Jason to put it together for me, I am totally going to start using it. I can't even imagine how, or to do what, but I promise you that I am going to use that thing. I bought a wide-mouth version because it says "Less pre-cutting!" in a large, jaunty font on the box. Sold!

The inspiration for that particular purchase was Noodle Mom. One night when I went over to her house for a beer, I was shocked and awed to see her nonchalantly moving zucchini muffin goop into muffin tins. Naturally I was impressed by her feat of from-scratch baking, which is the stuff of legend in my house, but then another thought occurred to me: how do you get from an oblong, whole zucchini to surprisingly unrepugnant zucchini muffin mix?

The question stuck with me, unanswered, until the day I was at Target, looking for ways to spend money in a way that could be disguised as Being A Good Wife and Mother, when I stumbled upon the wide-mouth food processor. In my mind I saw a zuccini moving in slow motion toward the plastic opening of the food processor...and it all suddenly started to make sense.

And soon I'll have the cookbooks to talk me through the finer points.

P.S. Get a load of some of the names of the books I bought - they are guaranteed to increase your heart rate and cause sweat to bead your forehead:

Desperation Dinners

The 5:30 Challenge: 5 Ingredients, 30 Minutes, Dinner on the Table

Quick Meals For Healthy Kids and Busy Families

Busy People's Super Simple 30-Minute Menus: 137 Complete Meals Timed For Success

The Frantic Woman's Guide To Life: A Year's Worth of Hints, Tips, and Tricks

Don't they make you feel like you've got to go change into running shoes? I didn't do much research on the books; I just interpreted the "busy and quick" theme as "lazy" and ran with it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sick, not scamming

Mad seemed fine all day, so I was feeling like maybe I'd gotten played by a six-year-old. I chided myself for keeping her home, and I even assigned her the chore of cleaning out and organizing her dress-up clothes (which she did, fabulously).

Then at dinnertime I picked up my "little scammer" to give her a giant hug, and I noticed that she felt warm. Sure enough, she's got a fever of 101.

Moms, always trust your first instinct! I was right to have kept her home, to have believed her initial claim of not feeling well, vague as it was.

I'm going to go point at myself in the mirror and say, "In your FACE, self-doubter!"

Sick or scamming?

I woke up this morning 45 minutes before the alarm went off. Usually this is a total bummer, right, because you can't fully relax and get back to sleep knowing that the alarm is coming for you real soon. But today I was filled with energy and optimism about the day ahead. I felt rested and ready to roll!

After getting Jason's clothes ready for work and doling out peanut butter bagels to the kids, I turned back to the ironing board and ironed my workout clothes. (Stop with the snickering - I have issues about wrinkles, okay?) Today is the day that my self-defense class meets, and I was so ready to go kick the crap out of those bags after missing last week's class. I even shaved my legs in the shower and remembered to apply deodorant.

And then, just after Jason's car pulled out of the driveway, and just before I marched the kids out to the van for the ride to school, Madeleine broke down in tears. She was curled up in a ball on the hand-me-down chair in the living room with Puppy Dog, her stuffed friend, thumb in mouth, cheeks red, and eyes moist. Annabelle was exasperated - "What's her problem?" I, on the other hand, was moved to float over to her on mom wings and scoop her up close to me.

"What's the matter, honey?"

"I don't feel good," she replied in the tiniest voice.

"Aw, honey. I'm sorry to hear that. What is it?"

She shrugged, and then, when it became apparent to her that I needed more than nothing for an answer, she added, "It hurts here," and pointed vaguely to what could have been her chest or her stomach.

Hmmm. Mom, M.D. kept prodding for more details, but got nothing else out of her other than a faint claim of nausea and a request that I take her temperature.

Now I can almost see you right now, shaking your head in disapproval as you guess that I ended up keeping her home from school. (I did.) You think I've been scammed. I admit that it is a possibility. BUT! Mad did mention to me right away this morning that she didn't feel good, and she barely touched her breakfast, which was usually such a favorite that only a bowl of Princess Glitter Choco-Sugar Smacks could have topped it. (I can see the execs at General Mills right now - "Johnson - it's brilliant! Get this woman on the phone and buy her off. We'll start manufacturing in the morning!")

And then there's this: Mad loves school. If she loved her teacher any more, she'd be a Lifetime movie creep. She wakes up every morning with excitement and enthusiasm, brimming with compliments about her teacher and friends. Except for today.

So I bought into it and kept her home. In my defense, I had to make the call on my own - Jason had just left, remember - and in a flash because it was time to go to school right then.

And she is such a cute little peanut. I'm a sucker for a cute little peanut.

Maybe there was the teensiest little spring in her step when I suggested that she lay down on the couch and watch TV. Maybe I can hear her singing happily with Nathan right now as I type. Maybe I got scammed. But don't scorn me! I'll have to miss my kicking ass class again this week, and I got a wicked dirty look from Annabelle as I dropped only her off at school this morning. I'm already paying for my (possible) mistake.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A life lesson not yet learned

I've been thinking a lot lately about the concept of fair, and how stubbornly I have held onto it since I was a kid. Tell me if I'm wrong, but I think that grown-ups are supposed to accept somewhere along the way that life just isn't fair. Maybe you learned it in college, when Idiot Jock "whizzed through" organic chem as Hard-Working You eeked out a B-. Or maybe you caught on in your early career when Idiot Co-Worker got the promotion and office while Hard-Working You toiled away in a cramped cube. Maybe some of you took a little longer to catch on but finally got it as you dismissed your children's concerns about who got more orange M&Ms after dinner.

So why has it been so hard for me to learn this lesson?

I get worked up over lots of teeny, tiny things because they trigger the "But that's not fair!" reflex in me. And it's driving me crazy because I really do have better things to do.

Case in point: I had two back-to-back awful experiences at the kids' favorite breakfast restaurant. (We'll call it "Schwinternational House of Pancakes" to protect their identity.) I was so incensed that I labored for two hours over a letter to the store manager, explaining exactly what happened and exactly how disappointed I was, blah, blah, blah. I couldn't believe that upon receipt of my letter the manager didn't immediately issue me a letter of regret and some kind of large-denomination gift card. Instead, she called me and after some brusque questioning, reluctantly offered to cover our check next time we came in, as long as I announced our presence upon entering. We did end up having breakfast there again, but I was too embarrassed/afraid to say, "Yes, hello, I'd like to see your store manager, please? I'm the lady who wrote about how much our last visit sucked."

That noise you hear in your head right now is the cooking staff hawking up a revenge loogie into my crepes.

So now I still carry around this bad feeling of, "Hey, I should get a free meal at S.H.O.P., but I can't because I fear the embarrassment of being identified as The Complainer in front of the staff who will cook and serve my food." And I wrote that letter a month-and-a-half ago.

You think I sound pathetic, huh? You ain't heard nothing yet. What about last weekend, when I was at an away-game with my 7-year-old cheerleader? I noticed that as the cheerleaders were cheering, three of the football players (also 7 years old) were standing a little to the side of them, mocking them. How the heat rushed to my face! How my hands curled into tight little fists of outrage! How dare those little boys make fun of the cheerleaders who were cheering for them? What kind of sportsmanship is that?

For the rest of the game, I was all pins and needles, that feeling that you have on oral report day when you are not sure when the teacher will call you up to the front of the room to deliver your hastily-written oration on the Teapot Dome scandal. I wanted to say something to the football coaches so that they could tell their players to be respectful of their comrades in the pleated skirts. I envisioned the coach thanking me for bringing this matter to his attention and then having a meaningful talk with his team. Then, at halftime, after the girls went out to do their special cheer and dance routine, the football players would run out onto the field and do a synchronized routine, spelling out "THANK YOU, CHEERLEADERS" with their bodies.

But none of that happened. (I know - surprising, right?) I was too embarrassed and too nervous to mention the incident to the coaches - they all looked so busy, so intense, calling out plays and yelling at players who missed the block or didn't hold the line. So I left the game with a sense of, "That's not fair! Those players should appreciate that these girls came here to work hard as a team, too!"

The end result in both of these scenarios is that I am both overreacting and feeling like a sucker at the same time. When something stupid happens that isn't fair, I should either let it go and really, truly fuhgeddaboutit, or I should own my immature complaining-ness and bitch to high heaven until I get the resolution I want.

Speaking of which, who do I write to at FOX with my concerns about that godawful season premiere of House last night?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Inspirational music

This summer, while the girls were at day camp, they started learning some popular songs from the counselors and other kids. I never listen to the radio myself, unless it's the news on NPR, so I had no idea What The Kids Are Listening To These Days. (I learn my "new" songs by playing Guitar Hero - so what if they're so ten years ago?) One song they came home all excited about was "Right Round" by Flo Rida. I pulled up the sample on iTunes and, getting a kick out of hearing a re-working of an old favorite, "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" by Dead or Alive, I purchased the song and added it to the family playlist.

A couple of weeks later, I was picking up the kids from a sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa's house, and Grandma asked, "What's that X-rated song that Nathan's singing?" Apparently Nathan had spent his entire visit singing, "You spin my head right round, right round when you go down, when you go down, down..."

Now, get your minds out of the gutter, you pervs. AS IF I would let my 7-, 6-, and 2-year-olds listen to a song about oral sex. No, it's actually a touching account of Flo's experience at the strip club, drinking with his friends and spending all of his hundreds on this one bewitching woman sliding up and down the stripper pole.

See? Family-friendly!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Follow-Up

Hey! I have some updates to report in a new feature that I'll call Friday Follow-Up (read with jazz hands). It'll be kind of like the annual Christmas letter that you see families sending in movies and TV shows but never in real life. Only weekly. And in real life.

My very first post, Kiss me...Like this...On the mouth! talked about the ritual bedtime smooch that I share with Nathan each night. You may remember that only dramatic, drawn-out kisses on the lips were acceptable to my little boy, and you may also have read in my biography that Nathan has an autism spectrum disorder that makes him pretty, uh, how do I put this? Inflexible. So you can imagine the sheer panic that hit me at bedtime a couple of weeks ago when I felt like I was coming down with something. I didn't want to pass my germs along, but good lord, how could I deny Nathan his big smooch on the mouth? Well, the kid surprised me. After running through the rest of the lengthy bedtime routine as he expected, I nervously mentioned that I'd be giving him a "big this" on the cheek that night. Eyes locked, we stared each other down for about 120 seconds before he decided, "No. You can kiss this...on this cheek AND on this cheek." So, we made it through the ordeal just fine, with mom being charged one penalty kiss. Phew!

I got a lot of creative advice from my Facebook friends after writing I'm so glad you what's your name again? - apparently I am not the only mom who has been in this awkward situation. But you know what? I didn't have to use any of your ideas - I cheated instead. At the start of our very next parent meeting, the moderator of the group addressed the mom-to-be by name. Score! For the rest of the meeting, I cockily tossed that girl her name so many times she probably thought I was trying to initiate a drinking game.

Remember how I mentioned that Nathan substitutes "juice box" for "juke box" when he sings "I Love Rock and Roll" by Joan Jett? Well, now I have to sing it that way whenever I hear it (usually while playing Guitar Hero) - and it makes me sound like a slurry Courtney Love. This, combined with the automatic hiccups that humiliate me every time I drink half a beer, makes me seem much drunker than I (usually) am.

The response that I've gotten from my angst-ridden post about changing schools has been overwhelming. I couldn't believe the outpouring of welcome from Heights parents and the wistful understanding and well-wishing from Alt School parents. At the new school, I've seen so many moms I know from MOMS Club and around town, and I feel totally at ease and like a part of the Heights community. Oh, yeah, and the girls are loving their new school, which I guess is kind of important, too. The agita of being part of an always-on-the-chopping-block school is gone, and the agita of changing schools faded quickly. Now if someone could give me a Tums for the kids-have-to-read-to-me-for-20-minutes-each-night agita...

And one more update. After my post Enough, already, a lot of people rushed to my defense and accused Noodle Mom of being a holier-than-thou show-off. Because she's actually a close friend and an all-around good egg, I defended her. Then, last week, she messaged me about how she was preparing homemade fruit leather and making hand-cranked noodles in the same day. So you know what? You can feel free to let those barbs fly! ;-)

Jonesin' for some Street Hoops,

P.S. I'm typing this at Starbucks while the girls are in school and the boy is at a drop-off program at the Y. (Ooooh yeah!) And a mother just came in with her teenage daughter and used the coolest mom line, which I am totally going to steal. The daughter picked up a mug that she wanted and quoted the price. Unflappable Mom said calmly over her shoulder as she approached the barista, "I'm only here for coffee." The mug was replaced and the girl never made a peep of protest. Next time we're at the store and the girls start frothing at the mouth over gum at the checkout, I'll say, "We're only here for beer."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Suburban Housewife

You guys have to watch this. But not in front of the boss, whether "the boss" is your employer or your kids. Seriously - you don't want your kids singing this one on the playground.

Thanks to Kelly for sending it!

The nightmare...

I had a horrible nightmare on Saturday night - three days ago! - and it's still affecting my sleep.

Now this was not your typical mom nightmare, where you can't find your kid at a crowded carnival fairground, or your husband leaves you for the teenaged check-out girl at the supermarket. This was a full-blown horror movie with gore galore. So here's what happened: Hannibal Lechter was on the loose and, for some reason, it was common knowledge that he was coming for me and my family. He was way scarier than he was in The Silence of the Lambs, though - in my dream, he had superhuman strength and could do magic tricks like make locks on doors and windows disappear. And he didn't dine on people in pinky-extended nibbles, either. No, in my dream, he went berserk on his victims, leaving them short limbs and heads. The most vivid image from the dream was of a super-pale bald man who had lost the entire bottom three-quarters of his body. He had only enough torso so that he could still have arms attached, but he did somehow manage to maintain his glasses in all of the bedlam. He was hovering around on the street among the other victims, evangelizing to me that Hannibal was coming and that I, too, could lose over 100 pounds on the Dismemberment Diet! ("Actual results may vary," he disclaimed.)

Okay, so you're thinking this doesn't sound that scary, right? Well, wait 'til you hear the worst part...

I woke up from this dream gripped by an absolute terror that was so powerful I could not move a muscle for about 10-15 minutes. (Great - now I know how I'll react in an actual terrifying situation. Better sign the kids up for track so they'll be able to run themselves away from danger while mom goes catatonic in fear.) I finally calmed myself enough to reach over and grab my book light and Soap Opera Digest, which I read for an hour. The reading worked - I got so immersed in the soapy goodness that I forgot all about Hannibal and fell back asleep.

And then I was back in the same dream again.

Holy crap! I had been under the impression that this kind of thing did not happen. It's certainly what I've told my girls whenever they've woken up from a bad dream in the night. "Shhh, it's okay. That dream is all over now."

When the alarm woke me up at 6 to bring Annabelle to her Pop Warner game (yes, you read me right - I had to get up at 6 on a Sunday for my child's activity), I was actually relieved to get the hell out of bed. And the dream haunted me all day. Later that night, when Jason and I were watching football and I was falling asleep on the couch, he suggested that I go to bed. What was he, crazy? Like I was going to go to the other end of the house and get in bed all by myself so that Hannibal could get to me with less resistance? Yeah, sure. Instead, I set up a blanket and pillows on the floor in my family room and slept there until the game was over and Jason was ready to come to bed with me. Yes, I am 5 years old.

And last night, after the Patriots played, I was uncharacteristically eager to watch the Raiders game just to avoid going to sleep. And when I did go to bed, I could only fell asleep with my Soap Opera Digest and booklight on the bed right next to my head so that I'd be able to grab them that much quicker in the event of a Hannibal redux.

Wait, wasn't I just writing about how I'm trying to be all grown-up now? (nervous laugh)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Movin' on up

Hello! You may have noticed that I haven't posted in almost a week, and I do apologize for that. To be honest, I was feeling kind of down-in-the-dumps last week and just couldn't get up the gumption to write much of anything. I started a few posts, but they all ended up sounding like they'd been written by Eeyore, so I opted not to publish them.

But I'm back and feeling super-energized this week! I'm starting a campaign to be a legitimate grown-up, and I'm starting with my house. Now, Jason and I bought this place, our first house, exactly 4 years ago this month, and for the last 4 years we have been living like college kids in a dormitory. We own hardly any furniture, and what we do have is one funky mismatched hand-me-down piece after another, just a small step above milk crates and a ping-pong dining table. We've never even owned a full, matching set of dishes! I am so ready to make our house feel like people live in it, to buy some bona fide furniture-store furniture and maybe even - gasp! - some artwork.

And curtains. Good lord, do we need curtains the way we all strut around eating cereal in our underwear.

So, on Friday I bought some dishes. Dinner plates. Salad plates. Coordinating bowls and mugs. Yes! And today I bought some wine glasses, a corkscrew, and a food processor. I don't know how to use any of them, but it sure does make me sound sound grown up, doesn't it?

I also took Nathan on a stroll through Jordan's Furniture to get some ideas about couches and chairs and such. Wow. You know you're in a big freakin' store when the areas are labeled like, "Building 2, Room 43." It was quite overwhelming to see all the shit that you have to buy to be a grown-up. Console tables! Ottomans! Area rugs! Coordinating lamps and decorative dishes for your coffee table! (Cha-ching! Cha-ching! Double cha-ching!)

But it is exciting to start movin' on up, adding some color and fabric and texture to these rooms. Our house may be small, but it's got the potential to be a place that makes us happy. When I asked my mom about her recent birthday plans, she mentioned that they hadn't ended up going out. "That's okay," she'd said, "We love our castle." That got me thinking about how I feel about my house, and let me tell you, I am not a fan. I look forward to getting an oil change just so that I can go sit somewhere else for an hour. And you can forget about getting invited over here - I'll just have a heart attack in anticipation of your visit, which will most likely result in a cancellation on account of my being resuscitated in the ER and all.


So, I'm making an attempt to cozy up this bitch. My goal is to buy furniture for our family room by the end of September. And the whole house is to be curtained by Christmas. And I'd like to have one arty thing on display somewhere in the house by Valentine's Day. I like my chances of reaching these goals; I have a few things working in my favor. For one thing, Jason will not care what I get, so I can just go ahead and buy stuff without having to tussle with him over throw pillows. Also, I am highly motivated to get this done - if I don't make this house feel like my homey, cozy castle very soon, I am going to go all The Shining on your ass.

All work and no curtains makes Kelley a dull girl...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Date Night, or You'll Never Believe How Stupid My Husband Thinks I Am

On Saturday night Jason and I got the idea of having a nice seafood/sushi dinner at Skipjack's, so we dropped the kids for a sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa's house and headed over to Patriot Place in Foxboro. Man, is that place user-unfriendly! They have shops and restaurants galore, but navigating your way through that parking lot is a challenge for even the most brilliant minds. So we parked in the waaay-wrong place (next to a parking space with a pool of big, chunky vomit in it - ah, romance!) and walked all around, trying to find the way into the large building with the Skipjack's logo on it. We walked this way, and then back that way, and then back this way again, and I was getting crankier and crankier by the minute.

We noticed animal poop all over the sidewalks and imagined what kind of animal was there at the luxury shopping and dining center taking a crap everywhere. "Disgruntled customers?" I wondered.

Finally, we found our way to a large (and I mean large as in, halfway up you are gasping for air as the outdoor-terrace diners at CBS Scene snigger at you) stairway that led to the restaurant. We walked in, giddy with hunger and relief, and put our names in for a table. The wait was going to be about 40 minutes, so we headed over to the bar. Because it was a busy Saturday night, there were no seats, and we ended up doing that awkward, creepy hover behind some other patrons who had been fortunate enough to snag chairs.

About halfway through my Oktoberfest, I noticed the hostess ushering a couple away from the bar to their table. I nudged Jason excitedly and bossed, "Go! Go! There are seats opening up over there!" He didn't move, murmuring something about waiting to get his change from the bartender. I was flabbergasted. I wanted to give him a huge shove and yell, "MOVE! GO! NOW! WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH YOU? WHY AREN'T YOU MOVING?" but I worried that such an outburst might be considered gauche. Instead, I shoved past him and made my way toward those seats as fast as I could.

Just as I got there, of course, an elderly couple had edged me out. I stomped back over to Jason, fuming that his hesitation had cost us those seats. Didn't he realize that I was carrying a 35-pound bag on my shoulder? (No, we hadn't done any shopping beforehand - it was just my giant mom-purse, filled with diapers and wipes and snacks and magazines and Kleenex packets and bug spray and ChapStick and maxi pads.) I was so annoyed that he actually noticed that I was annoyed. He bravely asked, "What's wrong?" and I whined, "I wanted to go sit down, but you wouldn't move, and now we've missed out, and now we'll never get a seat." I was making a pouty face, and I may have even stamped my foot. He kind of shrugged and looked back at the baseball game on the TV.

And then, gasp! Two more seats opened up, and again, I nudged Jason to start walking so that I could deposit my 50-pound bag on the back of a chair and sit down like a regular paying customer instead of doing the vagrant-hover near the end of the bar. And again, he wouldn't budge. I started to sputter, mind blown that he wouldn't start walking. He looked uncomfortable and said quietly in a patient teacher voice, "There's a managed queue." It took me a few minutes to process what he was talking about, and then it dawned on me.

He thought that I was trying to grab seats at a table. That was used for dining. That people, including us, were on a waiting list for.

Take a minute to absorb it.

This is what my husband thinks of me after 8 years of marriage. It's one of two things, and I'm not sure which one I'm routing for. Maybe he thinks that I am really stupid and I thought the hostess was just asking our name to be super-friendly, and that she wrote it down on that paper because she's so bad at remembering the names of new friends she meets. Or maybe he thinks that I am really rude and that I was just going to jump into a booth, giggling conspiritorially with him as I flipped off the hostess and customers waiting in line to put their names in. (In that case, he must have thought I was showing great restraint by sipping my beer from a glass rather than just hopping over the bar and sucking Sam Adams right from the tap.)

Once I explained that I am, in fact, both aware and respectful of restaurant seating law, we had a good laugh over that one. While we were sitting in those bar seats I nabbed for us.

Friday, September 4, 2009

How Kelley got her groove back

I woke up this morning feeling like crap. I've got a little bit of a cold, and I hadn't slept well, and when I woke up the kids were all over me, showing me stuff and asking for stuff. I felt like crawling under the covers with Kleenex (actually Stop & Shop brand tissues, to be honest) up each nostril to save myself the trouble of getting up. But as I (half-heartedly) ironed Jason's clothes and (reluctantly) poured the kids' cereal into bowls, I gave myself a little pep talk and determined to make something better out of this day.

After my shower, I blew my hair dry and put on a little makeup. This is not customary for me - there's a 50/50 shot of me taking a shower on any given morning, let alone remembering to put on deodorant. Makeup is usually reserved for parties, funerals, and clothes-shopping. Annabelle walked in to pee, stopped dead in her tracks when she saw me gawking at myself in the mirror, and gasped, "Mom! You look dramatically gorgeous!"

Things were starting to turn around.

The girls inexplicably have the day off from school today, so we knew we'd have some special girl time this morning while Nathan was at his drop-off gym program. Still feeling half-crappy, half-cautiously-optimistic, I decided that we'd do something tried-and-true (read: minimum-effort) for fun - Chuck E. Cheese's. Yes, I realize that today is a beautiful summer's day, and We Should Be Outside, but after the way I woke up this morning, throwing death looks at anyone coming near me, I'm just proud to have made it out of the house at all.

When we arrived at Chuck E.'s, there was only one other car in the lot, probably on account of it being such a heavenly day and all. We walked in, and immediately I felt a sense of calm wash over me. It was a bit (I'd imagine) like the feeling a drug addict gets when he scores: sweet relief in the knowledge that fun would be had for the next couple of hours with no interference from that pesky outside world.

The girls filled their fists with tokens and made a beeline for the photo and drawing machines - they love to commemorate our trips to Chuck E.'s with these little portraits of themselves having fun. I looked on happily and realized that we had the whole place to ourselves. I sauntered around the place, checking out the salad bar, the air hockey table, the mini-carousel with exaggerated interest. I waited as long as I could, probably a good three or four minutes - you know, so I wouldn't look like an addict - and then I nonchalantly walked over to the Street Hoops game, all, "Oh, hello! What have we here? Maybe I'll try my hand at this little game," as though I hadn't been playing once a week for the past four weeks, desperately trying to beat the high score.

I glanced over my shoulder, locating the girls. Yup, they were still right behind me, having a blast on some Win Lots of Tickets! game, and yup, we were still the only customers in the joint. It was safe to play. Hands shaking, I placed my first token into the slot. The familiar "street" music came on, and the deep-throated voice told me that it was time to shoot. I leaned forward, hustled the black basketballs closer to me, and then aimed each one toward the chain-link hoop.

"Ooooooh," I shuddered as I sank ball after ball, "This is goooood."

I played a couple of games, advancing each time past overtime, double-overtime, and into the playoffs. My only goal in life for those two hours this morning was to beat the high score of 150. Oh, and to look like someone who a) has never played this game before and doesn't really care about the outcome, and b) knows where her kids are.

I made a deal with myself that I would play just three games and then I would hang out with the girls. With surprising willpower, I followed through and met up with the girls after a few quick games. We had fun together, playing that game where we'd race to shoot water into a little target and then shaking and lurching through the simulated roller coaster ride. But often the two of them would run off, "Anna, look! We can climb in the tunnel!" and I'd be left alone and defenseless against the siren song of Street Hoops.

Once, when I had broken the record for the first time with my 163 points, I looked over to my left and saw Madeleine staring at me with an expression of either surprise or terror - I couldn't tell which. I looked behind me to where she was staring, and there was Chuck E. Cheese himself, purposely standing about 3 inches away to scare the crap out of me. I jumped a mile with a loud gasp, and everyone thought it was a hoot. "Ah-ha-ha!" I fake-laughed, a good sport.

I was really thinking, "Get out of my way, Rat - I'm in the zone here."

After the girls said their hellos to Chuck E., they started in on this game that lets you win coupons for ice cream and cotton candy. It was right next to the Street Hoops game, so what could I do but play some more? As I hit my first six shots in a row, I knew that this was going to be my best game ever. I was so focused that it took me a minute to realize that not all of the "street" music and DJ-scratching sounds were coming from my terminal - someone else was playing next to me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Chuck E., grabbing the street balls with his giant rat hands (paws??) and making shot after shot.

Oh, it was on.

I have to say that the rat put up a good fight, but who could have had a chance against my outrageous 173 points? As our game ended, I looked over toward Chuck E., flushed and ready to start trash-talking. Then I noticed a little boy standing nearby (Yay! There was another mom who flipped this beautiful summer's day the bird!), and I decided that I would be setting a better example for the kiddies if I just smiled demurely and said, "That was fun. Good game!" I politely left out the rest: "Now you're my bitch, Chuck."

I wasn't the only one with a major victory today. Annabelle won a free ice cream coupon for herself and a free cotton candy coupon for her little sister. She felt like the big hero, and boy, did they relish those treats, especially because I never would have let them eat that shit at home.

As our morning came to a close, we traded in our tickets and picked out some worthwhile prizes: a High School Musical diary for Mad and a big package of colored clay for Annabelle. My prize? Happy kids, bragging rights over a costumed rat, and a sunnier disposition that has lasted me the rest of the day.

Disclaimer: Please take note of my repeated mention that Chuck E. Cheese's was virtually empty while we were there. I would not have played and played that game if there were little kids waiting for a turn. I might be an addict, but I'm not a total jerk.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Enough, already

Sigh. I'm getting a little tired of bumping into people who expose my incompetence (inmompetence???) by either a) having their shit together so much better than I do, or b) asking questions to which I don't, but definitely should, know the answers.

Example #1: I'm at a birthday party this weekend, having a nice relaxing time watching Mad run around with her mates, when out of nowhere my consistently awe-inspiring mom friend asks me what I'm making for dinner. "Dunno," I shrug with complete distaste and disinterest. "Oh," she grins, "Well, I'm making noodles."

I stare at her blankly, a little relieved, because, well, she's only making pasta. Even I can do that.

But wait - she's looking a little too smug, and what's with that grin? Something's wrong. I run her words back in my head,"...making noodles," as in making the noodles? From dough?? She mimes the action of cranking the pasta out of her little pasta-making machine, delighted by my disbelief as I catch on.


(I ended up ordering pizza that night.)

Example #2: I'm out shopping with the girls this morning, enjoying our last morning together before school starts back up, when an impeccably-dressed sales clerk asks the kids when they start school. "Tomorrow," they groan. "Oh!" she exclaims perkily, "So, do you already have your outfits all picked out and ready to go?" They look over at me, uncertain.

No, I don't know what they're going to wear yet. I mumble something about not knowing what the weather's supposed to be like, as though that's really why I haven't got anything sorted. Hell, I don't even know what time the school day starts or where exactly to drop them off, now that they've switched to the neighborhood school.

Example #3: I'm sitting at my computer, typing a blog post, when Nathan comes up and asks sweetly, "What are we gonna have?" As in, for dinner. Ah, yes, look - it's 5:21 pm, and the law says something about taking care of these little people who live in my home. I should probably have started making something for dinner by now.

Have you ever had a moment like these? Please share if so. In the meantime, I've got to run - I have hungry children closing in around me like zombies in the Thriller video...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Spicing it up, mildly

Every five years or so, I get antsy and decide to buy something to make myself feel less vanilla.

When I was a teenager, I was awed by my ex-boyfriend's new apartment: his bedroom walls were painted red. RED! And he had some kind of Japanese-style seating area on the floor, which was totally exotic to me. I went home and stared at my cream-colored walls adorned with an old-lady floral border and, sickened by what it said about me, I stayed up all night rearranging my plain ol' stuff to look somehow less plain ol.'

When I went back to school at Rhode Island College, married and pregnant with Annabelle, I was awed by all of the 18-year-olds sitting around me with their guitar cases, American Spirit cigarettes, and literary journals. I hopped the bus to the new mall downtown and bought some sweaters and a giant over-the-shoulder messenger bag to beef up my cool co-ed quotient.

When I started this blog, I was awed by myself - I'm a writer now! - so I needed some style to make me feel the part. I've already mentioned the scarves, (man, does Jason HATE the scarves) but I've also added a few other exciting new articles...

It all happened rather unexpectedly. I was at Target, drenched and shivering from walking through a cats-and-dogs pour without a rain coat (see how cool and rebellious I can be?). I was there to buy a couple of gift cards for the birthday parties the girls were invited to this weekend. It was supposed to be an annoying errand, an in-and-out-$40-lighter kind of thing. No big whoop. But something made me walk through the store toward the women's clothing after I'd grabbed the festive gift cards. Possibly Fate, or maybe just dread of getting drenched in the parking lot again. Anyway, once I turned the corner, I saw some jeans and stopped in my tracks, mouth agape. You see, I have been on a quest for some cool jeans that fit just the right way, wide at the bottom instead of skinny, without all of that weird stretch, that don't show half of my ass when I sit down. I've had jeans like this in the past, and I wore them every day until they literally fell apart. And since they did, I have been on an epic search to find their replacement. I've looked in all of the department stores, and even some foofy boutiquey stores because money is no object - I would happily shell out $200 for the right pair. So imagine my surprise when I found Target...for $29.99.

And, get this: I wasn't sure of the size, so I grabbed two different sizes to try. And the smaller ones fit. Well, you know I snatched up all three pair that they had in my size. Had there been ten of 'em on the rack, I would have bought them all.

So, now that I'd found The Jeans, I strolled up toward the registers, drunk with my success.

And then I saw The Watch.

Since I was a kid, I've always wanted a big, silver man-watch, but for some reason, I've just never bought one. Until now! 'Cause I'm a writer now! So there! It's nothing fancy, just a Timex Expedition for like forty bucks, but it is exactly what I needed. I had the lady remove as many links as she possibly could so that this huge man-watch would fit my little bitty wrist, and then when I tried it on I swear I heard angels singing. It is perfect.

Now you know that it took the lady quite a few minutes to trick my watch out for me, so I started looking around the jewelry counter. I was getting cocky now. And wouldn't you know it, I found some more flair for myself. I've always liked the idea of layering a couple of small necklaces (probably because someone on 90210 or Friends did it), and so I added a couple of silver necklaces to my haul. One has a little charm that represents a Successories-style motivational message: Believe! And the other has a couple of little circle charms that, circles.

And then I really got crazy and bought a couple of pairs of small silver hoop earrings. This may sound boring to you, but let me share an embarrassing secret: I have been wearing the same pair of earrings since I got my ears pierced at age 19. For real. Microscopic "diamond" studs. So wearing these dangly silver hoops feels roughly the same as getting a tattoo on my face. Baby steps, people.

Annabelle stared at me hard when I picked her up from the birthday party, decked out in all of my new bling, new jeans, and new Anne Taylor Loft sweater (sounds farty, but I swear it's not). "You look younger!" she exclaimed. "Like, 21 or something."

Now that's retail therapy.