Thursday, August 27, 2009

George, shark teeth, and memories.

Ohmyohmyohmyohmyohmyohmy.

Oh. My.

I found my funny for the day.

If you've ever wanted to dig up dirt on me, then this is it. I'm really such a sweet gal, so I don't know why you would want to exact revenge on me, but I'm sure I have my foes somewhere out there in this world, and even though I don't know who you are, here it is. Have at it.

Revenge can be a dirty thing, so I'll just go ahead and save you the time and the hassle. I'll take a preemptive strike and embarrass myself first. I'm putting it out there on the internet, or as me and my peeps used to call it back in the day, the World Wide Web.

Done and done.

But please allow me to start at the beginning.

This whole thing started with shark teeth. When we were on vacation earlier this month, and searching for seashells in the sand, I casually said to the kids, "Hmmm....I wonder if we'll find shark teeth on the beach." The kids were naturally intrigued, and I told them that when I was younger and my parents took the whole family to Florida, we combed the shore and my sisters and I found little shark teeth. I brought them back home and saved them in a baby food jar, although to this day, I have no idea why. They were shark teeth. Out of a shark's mouth. Nonetheless, I thought they were cool, and they became a knick-knack up on a shelf for me when I was young.

Go figure. I had impeccable taste, even in my youth.

When Bill and I moved into our first house, my parents were so ready to get rid of some of the crap that at least one of their six daughters had accumulated over the years, that they loaded up their car, drove to see our new place, and very happily dumped off boxes and boxes of old love letters, high school yearbooks, and various other tchotchkes that I couldn't see fit to part with from my youth. And I love them for saving all of it, even though it was taking up space in their house for years, and it was totally insignificant to them.

Thanks Mom and Dad, because you just unknowingly contributed to my funny for the day.

That was about 9 years ago, but I remember going through the boxes, reminiscing, and discovering that they had saved my little jar of shark teeth. Shortly after, however, all thoughts of shark teeth escaped my mind, until our recent family vacation and I happened to mention it.

Stay with me. I promise you I'm getting to the good part of this story soon.

Well, George would not let this go. For the rest of the vacation, he became a little man obsessed with finding at least one shark tooth, and I realized too late that Virginia isn't great shark-hunting territory. Shark teeth are usually found on beaches further south, but what did I know?

So now when Bill and I hear the words, "shark" and "teeth" together, it's like our little inside joke, and we laugh because we heard these words over and over and over and over and over and over and over out of the mouth of George the entire vacation. We should have just bought him some from one of the many gift shops in town, but he was very intent on finding them on his own. Finally, when he was unable to find any, I said offhandedly, "Well, I'll try to find you my jar of shark teeth at home, and you can have it."

We returned home, and all thoughts of shark teeth had been completely forgotten.

Yesterday morning, however, out of the blue, George looked at me with his cute little face and said, "Mom, can you find your shark teeth for me, please?"

Oh crud. Who can resist that? He even said please. So I had no choice but to drag myself down to the dark basement full of spiders, (and you know how I feel about spiders) to find the shark teeth that I promised my little dude. And as I was digging through box after box of my stuff, I found it. No, not the shark teeth, (I still haven't unearthed those) but....a mix tape that I made for Bill way back in 1993.

And oh man, did it just make my day.

What's so funny about a mix tape, you ask? Oh, this mix tape is hilarious. It was a very unassuming in it's Maxell clear plastic box, but when I looked further, I saw the selection of songs that I had included, and I started snorting with laughter. And of course George wanted to know what was so funny. So I showed him the box and of course, nothing. He really needs to work on his sense of humor.

I apologize if this is only funny to me. Just humor me.

The tape had the oh-so-original-I-should-have-thought-about-copyrighting-it title of: I LOVE YOU! with one exclamation point, and a swirl and a heart next to it.

And because I couldn't resist, here is a picture of the cassette jacket, just so you can see for yourself how insanely bad this mix tape was. Like so bad that I can't believe that Bill and I are still together and now married with four kids. But, in my defense, he made me mix tapes as well, so once I find those, maybe I'll say the same thing about him.



When I flipped over this cardboard insert, I discovered that I had written, "Happy 1 year Anniversary! 1/19/93, All my love, Clare, xoxoxo, (another picture of a heart)"

Clearly I had an obsession with hearts when I was a teenager. Because that's what true love was all about back then. Hearts. Check out all the metallic heart stickers stuck to the cardboard. Just what every 18-year old male wants from his girlfriend. Heart stickers. Ugh.

My powers of seduction still astound me to this day.

Let's go through the list of songs, people.

1.) In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel - Okay, I'll admit that including this song on the tape doesn't embarrass me one bit. It's a great tune, and I met Bill at a high school dance when this song was playing. He was a student at the all-boys Catholic high school, I went to the all-girls school, and our eyes locked across a crowded floor, and that was that. Well, kind of. Basically it was a gym with a big blue tarp on the floor, full of sweaty, hormonal teenage boys, and all our friends were dancing with other people, so he shyly looked at me and said awkwardly, "So you wanna?" as he gestured toward the floor. And yes, we left space for the Holy Spirit, lest the parental chaperones bust us.

2.) True Companion by Mark Cohen - So boring, so lame, so tired, so unoriginal. So mix tape material. But then again, I was a very literal 18-year old, and when Mark Cohn (I spelled it wrong back then) crooned in his raspy voice, "So don't you dare and try to walk away, I've got my heart set on our wedding day..." it was probably my passive-aggressive way of saying that he shouldn't ever break up with me. Who knew I was a psycho girlfriend with my not-so-subtle subliminal messages? Teenagers are so stupid.

3.) Almost Paradise by Mike Reno and Ann Wilson - Okay, now it's starting to get embarrassing. And it's looking more and more like the playlist over at Lite FM. (In fact, when I'm done, I can call over there and donate this tape. Mama smells a tax deduction.) Whatever happened to Mike Reno and Ann Wilson? Has anybody heard from them? Do you think they ever google their names, and if so, will my blog come up? Will it make them feel famous? Will it make them feel like they are almost in paradise? Knockin' on heaven's door? I hope so.

4.) A Whole New World (from "Aladdin") by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle - Okay, now I'm full-on, unequivocally, 100% embarrassed. Like, can't believe I'm showing this to everyone embarrassed. But there's no turning back now. I'll just write through the pain. Aladdin? Seriously? I have a vague memory of Bill and I seeing this movie together when it was in the theater, but did I find it so incredibly romantic that I had to include this song on the tape? Did the love story of the two CARTOONS, Aladdin and Princess Jasmine touch my teenage heart so deeply that I thought, "Damn. Bill and I could be that way." Who knows? Cartoon love is hot. What I do know is that I like to say the name Peabo. Peabo. Peabo. Peabo. Yep, still fun.

5.) When I'm Back on My Feet Again by Michael Bolton - Yes, that's it. Michael-friggin'-Bolton. Cue snorting laughter. And this was back in 1993, so Michael was still very much sporting a mullet. Now, I am DYING to know what my thought process was on this one. DYING. First of all, the title, "When I'm Back on My Feet Again," implies that there was some inner turmoil in my life at the time. Why didn't I pick the classic Bolton tune, "Time, Love and Tenderness?" Did I fall down somehow, and I needed to have Bill help me get back on my feet again?
Okay, and here's the part where I know Bill never actually listened to this tape at college, at least around his friends and roomies. You know how I know? Because Bill actually had friends in college. And they were pretty funny guys too. And straight guys who listen to Michael Bolton don't have friends. So there is NO WAY that they would have EVER let him live down the fact that he was listening to a mix tape with Michael Bolton on it. None. I cannot imagine an 18-year old Bill saying, "Dudes, we can leave for that kegger in just a few, but check it out dudes, I gotta finish listening to Bolton croon this song. It totally touches my heart, dudes." Nope, it's just not possible. However, Bill and his friends did used to say "dude" a lot. That part is not made up.

6.) I Love You Just the Way You Are by Billy Joel - This is still a good song, but not one of Billy Joel's best. Once again, I was a literal 18-year old, so I wanted Bill to know that he didn't have to go changin' to try and please me, because I never wanted him to work that hard. I just wanted someone that I could talk to, I wanted him just the way he are...was.

7.) The Inspiration by Chicago - The overall sappiness of this song is unbelievable. But I'll admit, to this day, if I ever hear this song on the radio, I have to belt it out at the top of my lungs. It's that horrifically good.

8.) Oh I Love You So by Preston Smith - I had NO idea who the hell Preston Smith was. And my time machine was broken, so I couldn't exactly use it to retrieve my cassette player and play this song, hoping it would ring a bell. I looked it up on iTunes, and apparently it was a catchy little tune from the movie "Cocktail." So I must have thought that Bill and I were like Tom Cruise and Elisabeth Shue. But without the Bahamas. And without cheesy umbrella drinks and tiki torches. But hey, didn't Tom Cruise sleep with an older married woman in that movie? Was I subliminally sending Bill a message with this song that if he ever sleeps with an old bag in the near or distant future that I would dump him? Again, I had no idea that I was Psycho Girlfriend. I had a great way of hiding it. My psychotic tendencies must have only come out in the form of extraordinarily bad mix tape music.

9.) The Solace of You by Living Colour - This is another song I had to look up on iTunes because I had no idea what it was. Where was I getting all these songs? I'm about 99.9% positive that I never owned a Living Colour cassette, and iTunes most definitely did not exist in 1993. I wonder if I got a copy of this song by sitting in my room and listening to the radio until a DJ decided to play it, and then I quickly pressed "record" on my Jam Box. Yes, my trusty old pink Jam Box. Back in the day, kids, they were also referred to as "Ghetto Blasters." Chew on that lil' piece-o-trivia.

10.) Love is the Seventh Wave by Sting - Not a bad song. But what do I know? You've seen my taste in music. It's craptastically awful.

11.) American Pie by Don McLean - This was the last song we played at our wedding in 1998. It's a good song, but oh so cliche. And don't you think it goes on way too long? Towards the 25th minute of it, aren't you just like, please end it, Mr. Don McLean? I am.

12.) Father to Son by Genesis - What the hell? This is a song that a father sings to his son about life, and how he'll always be there to catch him when he falls. How did this relate to the love story of Clare and Bill? It didn't. At all. Teenagers are so stupid.

13.) Fallen by Lauren Wood - Horrible, horrible, song, and the third one that I had to look up on iTunes. It's like a really bad Sade song. And all Sade songs are bad. So this song is even worse. Trust me.

14.) & 15.) Faithfully, and Open Arms by Journey - I had to group these two songs together because they are both by Journey. Journey isn't exactly awful, per se, they're kind of kitschy cool in a way, but they are just so cliche on a circa 1980s or 1990s mix tape that it goes to show how cheesy and sappy I was. As if you didn't get that by now.

Last Friday was my 35th birthday, and revisiting my 18-year old self was quite cathartic. Humiliating and slightly disturbing, but cathartic nonetheless. No matter how cool I think I've gotten over the years, or how much I think I have it all together, somewhere inside of me lives a frizzy-haired, sentimental, nerdy girl who thought that Michael Bolton was actually a good singer. (I can't even type his name without cringing.) Thanks for the reminder, atrocious mix tape. You have touched my little 35-year old sarcastic heart.

I didn't have the advantage of meeting the man I would marry when I was a career girl in my twenties, sophisticated and ready to conquer the world. No, I met him at the awkward age of 17, when I thought that true love meant heart stickers. We basically grew up together, so there's not much we can hide from each other. He knows that I used to peg my jeans and wear really bright, hot pink lipstick. I know that he once had acid-washed jeans and Skidz pants in his closet. And now you do too.

There's something I find very comforting about my old best friend, and that's one of the reasons I married him. We keep it real for each other. Our road wasn't always easy over the years, and we broke up a few times before we figured out that we wanted to be together, but somehow I don't think it was because of or in spite of this mix tape.

Who knew that Georgie and his shark teeth obsession would be my little reminder?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

School is a beautiful thing.

Henry: Why did the M & M go to school?

Me: I don't know.

Henry: Because he wanted to be a Smartie.

Henry has smooth delivery and joke-telling skills, even at the age of 7. You do not want me to tell you a joke. I'm beyond horrible at telling jokes. It goes something like, "There were these two guys. No, actually it was a guy and a girl. And they were in a bar. Kind of a restaurant-like bar, but with food there. And this dude walks in. He was kind of a big dude with muscles. Wait, did I say this took place in Texas? Because it did. Anyway, so this dude walks in and he says..."

See? I don't have mad skills with jokes. Remind me never to tell you one.

Anyway, back to my original topic. M & M's going to school and what this has to do with my life.

School started today!

Do you hear that chorus of angels singing?

Ahh...school. What a bee-a-u-ti-ful word!

Of course it's not going to be fun getting back into the routine of leaving the house with all four children dressed and ready to go by 7:20 every morning, (Oh how do I love you Catholic school uniform? Let me count the ways you help me avoid clothing battles in the morning...) and I don't relish cajoling children to bathe and go to bed by 8:30 p.m. Boo. But it's so good for them! And I'll gladly do all of the above if it means an end to the fighting, tattle-taling and cries of boredom that has been very prevalent in our house as of late.

Have I mentioned that I like school yet?

'Cause I do.

Last Friday was Meet the Teacher/School Supply Drop-Off Day at school, which was a great warm-up for today, but as you can imagine, anxiety disorders and school don't always mix so well. Henry has been nervous about this day for quite some time.

Charlie was all, "I'm so excited for 3rd grade! I can't wait to see my friends!"

But my little Henry is like his mom in more ways than one. I could practically see the over-analyzing in his brain. He had a great talk with Bill last night, and he was recalling every first day of school he's ever had, which is a whopping total of four now, because he went to two years of Pre-K. But who remembers that stuff? Especially if you're a little kid? Well, I'll tell you who remembers that stuff in vivid detail: Henry.

Last year when he started 1st grade, it was a new school for Henry and Charlie because we had just moved here from another state. On the first day of school last year Henry didn't talk to anyone. At lunch time, his teacher said that he just sat in the cafeteria and wouldn't even crack open his lunch box. Later he told me that he was afraid that everyone would make fun of the way he eats. His fears are so irrational sometimes that it makes Bill and I just want to say, "How ridiculous! No one would ever make fun of the way you chew your sandwich! No one would ever make fun of the way you write your name on your paper! No one would ever make fun of the way you tuck in your shirt!" But to Henry, the fears he has are very real, and it is his struggle, and eventually, in his own time, he conquers most of these fears on his own.

That new school is now old school. He has many friends and is well acclimated to the building and the teachers. You would think it's a piece of cake for him to return this year, right?

As if it were that easy.

The fears all came flooding back to him, and he told Bill last night, "Dad, when I started kindergarten, I didn't talk to anyone at school for 5 days. When I started 1st grade, I didn't talk to anyone at school for 1 day." He recognized that it was getting a little better for him, and Bill pointed that out to him as well to remind him that it does get easier.

I sent his teacher an email last night asking her if she received the diagnoses paperwork from his psychologist. There's so much I want to tell her, and this Mama Bear wants to fill her in entirely. I want to say, "Hey Mrs. So-and-so, Henry has Anxiety, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. He's very intelligent but has a hard time focusing. He might exhibit impulsive behaviors like hitting or acting out. He might tell you unequivocally "no," if you ask him to do an assignment and he is feeling overwhelmed with anxiety. He's a really great kid, but sometimes he's very intense. So, hey, good luck with that."

Instead, I gave her the basic information and then let it go. I want to give her the chance to get to know him before I over-explain him. He's in great hands with her and I trust her judgment.

When we got to school this morning, all the kids assembled in the cafeteria before they could go to their classrooms. Charlie walked in and high-fived all his friends. He was in his element. Henry walked in and sat by himself at the very end of the table designated for 2nd graders. His head was down, and he was talking to no one.

And I just wanted to run over and hug him.

But if Bill and I jumped in there, that wasn't going to help him. We know that he has to learn to cope when we aren't there. So we went a little closer, but hung back in the fringes so we could watch what would happen and let him handle this one on his own. Suddenly one of his buds came up to him, jabbed him with a little playful punch, and his frown was replaced with a big smile.

It's going to be okay for him.

Oh, and by the way, I forgot to mention something.

I really like school.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Livin' in a Kidz Bop world.

If you are one of the privileged few, (and believe me, it's quite an elite group) to be friends with me on Facebook, you might have seen a status update of mine last week:

(my name) "would like to thank Kidz Bop for continuing to ruin songs that I used to actually like at one point. Bravo."

I wrote that on Wednesday morning. I was inspired to write it, because I was cleaning up the breakfast dishes and a few of my kids were getting their morning dose of Nick Jr. Suddenly I heard a commercial for Kidz Bop, and the song, "Fire Burning".

Only it wasn't Sean Kingston singing it, it was those not-so-lovable scamps, the "Kidz Bop Kidz." (Need I remind you how I feel about pluralizing with a "z"? Is my rant against those Bratz chicks ringing a bell with you?) It was quite mind-numbing in all of its glory, what with them trilling in their high-pitched-haven't-hit-puberty-yet voices, "Somebody call 9-1-1! Shorty fire burning on the dance floor..." Yes, they sang, "shorty" instead of the correct pronunciation of the word, "shawty." 'Sup with the proper grammar, Kidz Bop Kidz? I thought you'd be down with "shawty" since you think it's cool to pluralize with a "z".

Yet another song ruined by a bunch of "shawties" singing "shorty" instead of "shawty".

Not that "Fire Burning" is a great song, exactly, but it does rev me up when I have to get my butt motivated on the elliptical. And don't the shorties have enough of their own crappy music to ruin, rather than taking songs that are just fine the way they are and ruining those too?

I'm sure the Jonas Brothers have enough sappy drivel to botch up, and how about that Miley Cyrus? A few of her songs actually sound better when sung by the Kidz. And it's just a matter of time until that bonus Jonas, Frankie, gets his own record deal, so there's that to look forward to.

How sad is it that I know there's a bonus Jonas? And I know that his name is Frankie? And I knew that without googling it first? And I also know that the other three are named Kevin, Joe and Nick? Aaaaand I just put them in order of their age.

Jealous much?

If you just read the above and asked yourself, "What's a Jonas brother?" then I applaud you for having a life. But I don't want to hear your bragging. Just go back to listening to the Fray and Coldplay and Kings of Leon in all your smugness.

The kids and I have dance parties and we all listen to almost everything that's on my iPod, which is an eclectic mix of rap, country, alternative, Top 40 and the old classics like Michael Buble, Frank Sinatra, etc. Their current favorite song is "I Gotta Feeling" by the Black-Eyed Peas. I used to like this song, but after hearing it 8,472 times recently, not so much anymore.

But these are all sung by adults, and even though the themes are geared towards adults, they go right over my kids' heads. However, there's just something that's so ridiculous about the "Kidz" singing the same songs. Why the need?

One of the most hilarious renditions of a real song that has been swiped by Kidz Bop is "1985", which was originally recorded by the band Bowling for Soup. Most of the songs that the Kidz sing have lyrics that are mostly inappropriate for little kids to sing. But do you think that stops those little rapscallions from singing them anyway? Unfortunately for parents everywhere, no, it does not.

Check out these lyrics to "1985".

Debbie just hit the wall
She's never had it all
One Prozac a day
Husband's a CPA

(Um, kidz, don't do drugs. Unless they're prescribed by your doctor in the form of a happy pill. And even though being a CPA is a perfectly respectable job, apparently it makes your Mommy depressed. So never go into that line of work. Mmmmkay?)

Her dreams went out the door
When she turned 24
Only been with one man
What happened to her plan?

(Okay, I know that 24 is about 14-16 years away for most of you kidz, but never fear, once you hit 24, your life is over. All your dreams go out the door. You are officially old.
"Only been with one man"? It's so heartwarming to hear little voices singing in chorus and lamenting the fact that they are not slutty enough.)

She was gonna be an actress
She was gonna be a star
She was gonna shake it fast
On the hood of Whitesnake's car

(I love how they changed the original words of "shake her ass," to "shake it fast" for the purpose of turning it into a kids song. Those whippersnappers got one over on us again! But for all you 8-year old girls out there, listen up and take notes. You are a failure unless you've shaken it on the hood of a heavy metal band's car. Heavy metal was a type of music in the 1980s, which was a decade last century. Whitesnake was a heavy metal band, and they are old enough to be your fathers. Maybe even your grandfathers. They are not a type of reptile.)

Her yellow SUV
Is now the enemy
Looks at her average life
And nothin' has been alright

(As your generation well knows, SUVs are the enemy. They are *gasp* gas-guzzlers. A big no-no. Besides, all your booster seats fit better in your mom's minivan.)

Springsteen, Madonna
Way before Nirvana
There was U2 and Blondie
And music still on MTV

(Springsteen? Madonna? U2? Blondie? This is all jibberish to you, isn't it? I refuse to explain who these people are. Go ask your grandmothers.
And yes, you might want to sit down for this one. Once upon a time, MTV used to actually play music videos. When did they have time to play "My Super Sweet Sixteen", "16 and Pregnant" and "A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila," you ask? Go to your rooms. You are grounded. You're way too young to even know what MTV is, let alone any of those shows. Shame on you.)

Her two kids, in high school
They tell her that she's uncool
'Cause she's still preoccupied
With 19, 19, 1985
1985

(First of all, high school is this big building you get to go to after you finish about 6 more years of grade school.
1985 was a year back in the old millenium. We used to number the years with a "19" in front of them instead of a "20". You weren't even an embryo back in 1985.)

A few months ago McDonald's gave out Kidz Bop cds with Happy Meals instead of toys. It was our first foray into contributing to the Kidz Bop empire. The songs are also as annoying as I thought they would be, but my kids love them because it's cool to like Kidz Bop at their age. Actually, I was relieved to see these cds in the box instead of yet another plastic toy that will just end up wedged between the seats and the floor of my minivan.

Not that I'm a fan of Kidz Bop by any means.

But someone has to give those Wiggles a run for their money.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Loosey-goosey.

It's a great day today.

I know it's only about 1:00 p.m. as I write this, and my day could take a crappy turn for the worse, but so far, so good.

I splurged on a 60-minute massage this morning at the spa and it was worth every penny. Did I mention they had free babysitting too? So yeah. No complaints here.

Migraines are the bane of my existence. I only get them a few times a month, but when I do, it totally knocks me out for at least a day. Well, I don't have the luxury of anything knocking me out exactly, since someone has to take care of these kids and drive them to school and activities, but I usually walk around in a stupor, not talking much to anyone and lamenting the fact that the world is way too bright during the day. Can we turn down that sunlight a bit please?

I always love when people say, "Oh, migraines? I don't think I've ever had one of those. In fact, I don't usually ever get headaches."

Okay, first of all, shut up. Secondly, you will know if you've had a migraine. Believe me. There is no questioning, "Hmm...my head hurts a little bit. I wonder if it's one of those things they call a migraine headache?" No, it's not like that at all.

There is a distinct difference between a headache and a migraine. If you want to know what a migraine feels like, go to Home Depot and buy the largest "C" clamp you can find. Unscrew it to the widest it will allow, then stick your head in it. Screw it back tightly, to the point where you are just about to crack your skull, but not to the point where you start seeping brain matter. After you have successfully done that, go to your garage and get the jumper cables used to start your car battery and clamp them tightly on your ears. (Not on the fleshy earlobe part of your ear, but the rigid cartilage at the top.) Now here's the next step and it's an important one: Have someone shine two of the brightest flashlights you can find directly into your eyes. If your retinas are burning, then you are doing it right. To finish it off, have your children scream as loudly as they can, for as long as they can, directly into your ears. Shattered eardrums are a plus. And then whack yourself in the head 100 times with a lead pipe. Extra credit: If you want to simulate the nausea that sometimes accompanies a migraine, it would help if you did all of the above while on a choppy boat ride or on an upside-down roller coaster ride.

There you have it. A migraine cooked to order.

Back to my great day.

People always talk about what they would do if they won they lottery and it usually involves bigger houses, cars, boats, etc. But if I won the lottery, you can have your stinkin' Ferrari. I would splurge on a masseuse to come to my house every single day for an hour to work out the kinks. In fact, I would build a sound-proof room in my home with a dimmer switch set to low lighting and in there I would play Enya on repeat. What is it about that music that is so annoying in any other instance but in a massage room? Oooooohm. Orinoco Flow.

I have gotten about a dozen massages in my lifetime, but it had been about a year since my last one. They always feel so self-indulgent, but my 35th birthday is tomorrow, so what the hey? The masseuse said to me as she was working on my neck,"Wow. You have so many knots in your neck! Have you ever been in a major car accident?"

No. I just have kids. And a penchant for migraine headaches.

Then she proceeded to apply pressure to the knots, which hurt at first, but felt like little bubbles popping in my neck. Then she said, "Well then you must store all your tension in your neck area. Are you stressed out a lot?"

Ya think?

No offense, but please stop talking, masseuse. Just work your magic.

After it was all done and I had to walk out into the harsh sunlight, I still felt good. Could I just have one of these every single day please? Because now I feel all loosey-goosey, (one of my Dad's favorite terms) like nothing could ever bother me again.

I swear to you that when we got home and I was making lunch and everyone was hungry at the same time and it was chaos as usual, I just let it roll off my back and I said, "Dudes. Chill out." That's how good I felt.

If the hot-water heater exploded right now in the basement and shot a huge plume of water I would just be all, "Wow kids. Look at the pretty fountain. Let's throw pennies in it." That's how good I feel.

It probably wouldn't be a good thing to be this loosey-goosey all the time though because it's kind of like being drunk, but without the visual impairment and the drunken Facebook status updates. (Not that I would ever do anything like that. I've just heard of friends who have.) I have loads of laundry right now calling out my name in all their stinky glory, but I'm just going to sit here and update my blog because it's naptime and the boys are all playing nicely and because I don't feel like functioning in a domestic capacity.

Do you think if I write a letter to my senator and ask him to add "free monthly massages for all moms" to the health care reform bill that taxpayers would cover that?

'Cause I would totally vote for that.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Was it enough?

Last night I was fretting.

I am a world-champion fretter, you know. If they handed out gold medals for fretting, I'd be all, "Thirteen gold medals? Ha. Eat my dust, Michael Phelps."

In less than five days, Summer Vacation 2009 will be in the books. Over. Vamoose. Part of me is all, "Woo-hoo! Yay! Fiesta! Par-tay! Back to school time!" But then there's that other part of me that's all, "Boo hoo! Where did the days and months go? My babies are growing up so fast!" Of course, that's the part of me that speaks the loudest. And that part of me is also fretting and saying, "Did we do enough? Did we see enough? Did we savor enough?"

But I guess it's never enough, is it?

I was at Bed, Bath and Beyond recently, and a mother was there with her daughter doing some back-to-school shopping for college. I saw the mother lean over to her daughter, squeeze her shoulders and hug her in tightly. She said, "I can't believe we're here shopping for your dorm room!"

And I wanted to cry right there on the spot.

In just a blink, that woman is going to be me. Of course, my oldest is only going into third grade, and my probably overly-dramatic fretting reminds me of that scene from the movie "When Harry Met Sally," and Sally frets (see? I'm not the only one who does this stuff) about getting older.

Sally: I'm going to be forty!
Harry: When?
Sally: Someday.
Harry: In eight years.
Sally: But it's there. It's just sitting there like this big dead end.

Only I'm not fretting about getting older as much as I am fretting about my babies getting older, leaving the nest, and therefore not needing help anymore from yours truly. And like Sally says, "it's there." It may be far away, but it's there.

Parenting is the biggest paradox I can think of. We want our children to grow up, walk, talk, be potty-trained, sleep and eat on their own, read, go to school, gain social and physical skills, finally be completely self-sufficient, and eventually be ready to tackle the big, bad world all on their own. But at the same time, we wish we could hold our children so tightly that they would stay little and stay with us forever.

As if.

You think you'll never forget the sound of your sweet little two-year old's voice. After all, you hear it all day long. "Juice, mommy! I want to watch 'Blues Clues'! I wanna play outside! I'm not tired! Why, mommy? Why?" But suddenly that two year-old is eight and then you have no memory of that little voice at all. You can't even begin to conjure it up in your head.

Thank God for home videos.

When I look back at the memories of this way-too-short summer, (all summers are too short) I think of the major events. I think of my sister Bernadette's wedding, and what a joyous, special day it was and how my little Henry, with all his anxieties, mustered up the courage to walk down the long church aisle as the ring bearer. I think of Charlie's All Star Game and how proud we were of him that day. I think of my sister Colette's baby shower in August and what a beautiful celebration it was of an impending new life. I think of our family vacation to the ocean for the first time with the kids.

It's so easy to think of the big moments because that's what matters, right?

But when I delve a little deeper, I think of our afternoon trips to the pool, coloring with chalk on the driveway, spraying the kids with the hose while washing the car, taking a walk through the neighborhood on a gorgeous summer evening, playing a game of family baseball, watching fireworks blast into a colorful explosion in the dark night sky, eating drippy ice cream cones until our tummies ached, hiding out under the covers with the kids during a loud, summer evening thunderstorm, and watching little boys play a baseball game on a Saturday afternoon.

The little moments matter too. They matter a whole lot.

I don't live in the past. I like the present. It's a great place to be. And I don't live in the future either, but I do wonder what it will bring, and I fervently hope that it's all good. Even if it's not, I pray that I can handle whatever comes my way.

I have to remind myself to savor the present, and savor these moments. I tell myself that even the crappy, frustrating, monotonous days are a gift. Even when I'm yelling at the kids to slow down and stay in the same aisle as me at Target. Even when I've had it up to here. Even when I don't think I can fold another shirt, or load the dishwasher one more time. Even when Bill and I are snapping at each other because we're tired and overwhelmed and we need a moment alone to reconnect with each other. Even when I am breaking up yet another fight between the boys.

I thought about cramming even more activities into this last week of summer. We had all these grand plans back in June, but now here it is, August. Should we plan one more trip to the zoo? One more trip to the science center? Should we check out the conservatory gardens? But why? If I do these big things will it somehow make it that much more of a memorable summer? Will it be that much better?

I guess not. It was pretty perfect in its own little way. Maybe no one would envy our summer because we didn't take that family trip to somewhere exotic, like Europe. But I realize for us, that it's all about the little moments.

And the little moments are enough.

Monday, August 17, 2009

On a roll...

My happy marriage often consists of little head games that Bill and I like to play with each other.

Gotta keep it fresh.

I'm married to a wonderful man who does an excellent job of providing for our family. After all these years he still makes my palms sweat and my heart race. He makes me laugh and he helps me to put things into perspective on those frustrating days when I can't think of anything else to do but scream or cry. I couldn't ask for a more caring and attentive husband and better father to our children. It's for these reasons that I try not to be the stereotypical nagging harpy wife. I try to overlook the little inconveniences like shoes and clothes left on the floor instead of in the closet, and wet towels flung over the edge of the tub.

Notice that I said, "I try to overlook" these things. On a good day I will just pick up the wet towel and hang it up. On a bad day I bitch about the towel, which usually ends up in me yelling something stupid like, "IF YOU REALLY CARED ABOUT ME YOU WOULD ALWAYS HANG UP YOUR TOWELS!" Thankfully those days are rarer than the good days. I'm not proud of it, but surprise, surprise, this gal isn't perfect. Of course, I always apologize and sometimes I blame PMS, even if it's not that time of the month. But now the secret is out. I blame my hormones when I'm just cranky. Sue me.

We all know that PMS is the ultimate scapegoat for bitchiness, right? So I guess that means that PMS is my girl sometimes, even though I mostly hate her stinkin' guts. Nonetheless, she's got my back.

Where was I? Oh yeah, mind games and how we play them. When I am the one to finish up a roll of toilet paper, I take the cardboard roll off the toilet paper holder, deposit it in the trash can, and then I put the new roll on the holder. It's three easy steps, and quite the simple maneuver, what with the spring-loaded action and all. I prefer my paper hanging over the roll rather than coming out from under, but hey, I'll take it how I can get it. Beggars can't always be choosers.

One would think this would be a simple maneuver. It's three steps, people. So can one of you please review this simple procedure with my husband? Again? Thanks. Now I won't have to sound like the nagging harpy. I'll just play the role of the passive-aggressive harpy. I assure it's quite Oscar-worthy.

Bill always casually sets the new roll on top of the empty roll, and I'm convinced he does this to mess with my head. He knows I'll just put the new roll on the holder, which will save him from the excruciatingly painful task of removing the empty cardboard roll and installing the new one. I mean really, I can't tell you how many times I've almost lost a finger doing this job. That's how difficult it is. The sheer amount of willpower and energy it takes to replace a roll of toilet paper is un-freakin'-believable. I have to sit down and rest for a bit afterwards, catch my breath and relax my muscles. I get tired and winded just thinking about it.

However, this time I got a little cri-zazy. I just let the roll sit there, even though it annoyed me. See? I even took a picture for you.



I know. I like to live on the edge. Look how the roll is almost used up. That's how long I've left it just sitting there perched on top of the empty cardboard.

Well hang on to your seats fair readers, because this is not where our story ends. I took the above picture yesterday, thinking I would rant about the sheer hilarity of it all right here in my blog, but I never got around to it last night. Then, when I went to use the bathroom this morning, this is what I saw:



Two rolls now? I just had to laugh. And of course, I had to grab my camera. (And because I don't think I have enough pictures of my toilet paper.) Apparently, what had happened was the smaller roll fell into the magazine rack in our bathroom, (Yes, we read in there. I know you do too. Don't judge us.) and Bill couldn't find that roll, so he went and got a brand new roll. But then he found the smaller roll that initially went missing, and put it on top so we could use that one up first.

So let's review. He expended the energy to WALK and get a new roll, yet once he got to the bathroom he had no more energy left to actually install the new roll? And if the first roll had been ATTACHED to the wall in the first place, then we wouldn't have had the problem of that roll of toilet paper getting lost now, would we? No we would not.

I assure you I am not toilet-obsessed. I know I blog about the bathroom a lot, but that's where the funny happens in our house. And we all know that you can't control where the funny happens in your life. Turkey basters show up randomly by the toilet, kids miss the bullseye, and my little girl won't even try to do her "business" on the porcelain throne. (See, how I cleaned that up for you, lest I offend your sensibilities? "Business" is a much more tasteful word to use, and I didn't even have to say the word "poop" once today in my blog. Oh crap. I just said it.) I wish the funny happened somewhere a lot more highbrow like the dining room or the den. I could tell stories like, "We were having tea and scones today in the formal dining room and my little boys thought it would be funny to put three lumps of sugar in their darjeeling instead of two. Oh those little scamps!"

Obviously, if this is the worst problem I have in my marriage, I'm very lucky. That's why I'll shut up and resist the urge to nag, and just change the roll myself. I know these little things aren't what really matter in a good marriage.

Of course, it's a little passive-aggressive of me to dedicate an entire blog posting to this topic, but I had to vent. And maybe someone out there will listen to what I'm saying.

Ahem...right, honey?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pulling out the big guns.

I'm getting desperate in what has become battle of wills to try and get Annabel to poop on the potty.

I've now enlisted the help of this slutbag.



Okay, "slutbag" is probably too harsh of a word. I take it back. Barbie is not a slutbag. She maybe just advertises the goodies a little too much for young eyes. See that? The box says "3+".

Maybe I'm just jealous because Barbie has a better rack than me.

But I guess it's safe to say that Barbie's not a slut, because we all know that she's not getting any action from Ken. He's too busy getting dolled up (no pun intended) and wearing sparkly shirts. Ken probably couldn't stop looking at himself in the mirror long enough. He's very metrosexual like that. And not in a good way. Besides, he doesn't even have the proper anatomy. (Ever take off a Ken doll's pants? 'Nuf said.) So I guess Barbie has no one to slutbag around with.

I loved playing with Barbie dolls when I was little. I grew up with 5 sisters, remember? My parent's basement used to look like Mattel threw up down there. And the Mattel vomit was pink and purple. And it looked like Barbie. And Midge. And Ken. And all the necessary Barbie accoutrements. Of which there are many. (Just ask my Dad what it feels like to step on a tiny Barbie high heel in bare feet. Not good.)

I'm not one of those staunch feminists that opposes Barbie because she sends the wrong message to girls. In fact, I don't oppose her at all. Barbie is good times. She actually has a career, a fabu wardrobe, (even though she has made some fashion missteps in the past) great hair, and she looks bangin' for a 50-year old. Although I'm sure she has a pretty good plastic surgeon. (Get it? Plastic? Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

She has made some questionable career choices before, but haven't we all? I was disappointed in Babs last November when my mom and sisters and I were Christmas shopping, and we came across the "Barbie Hot Tub Party Bus". Hot-tubbing is not a career, Barbie. Neither is Party-Busing. Unless you're the Bachelorette. Which no smart girl should ever aspire to be.

Bratz dolls, on the other hand, are slutbags. With major attitude problems. Just the fact that they call themselves "Bratz" and then have the audacity to pluralize their name with a "z" sets me off. Proper grammar is very chic, ladiez. Try it some time. The Bratz look like they want to cut me if I cross them, and I'm pretty sure they carry switchblades in their bras. The Bratz and their ilk are not welcome in my home.

I guess that means that I'll be buying a Bratz doll for my daughter somewhere between today and the twelfth of NEVER.

I'm just shocked that Annabel is already asking for a Barbie. After recalling that I let each of the boys pick out a "Thomas" train when they were potty training, I told her that she could pick out a small toy at Target yesterday. "What toy do you want?" I asked. "Barbie," was her quick and only reply.

So now Barbie is sitting on our kitchen counter, offering up motivation to Annabel to do her business in the big porcelain bowl down the hall. I think Annabel is starting to crack too. A bowel movement is sounding more enticing to her every minute. She has gazed at Barbie longingly and said several times, "I can brush her hair," after spying the little purple plastic brush in the bottom of the box. And isn't that really the whole point of playing with Barbies? Brushing their hair? Ahhh...to be young again. To find the simple joy out of brushing a plastic head.

I'll keep you posted on whether Barbie's newest career is "Bowel Mover".

Until then, I'll sit there with my Annabel, encourage her to poop, and sing a commercial jingle from my childhood, "We girls can do anything, right Barbie?"

And by "anything," I mean pooping.

Quick piece of advice.

I have a piece of advice for you.

If your son happens to need football cleats, and you happen to have a coupon for Dick's Sporting Goods, and you want to search online for said football cleats, do NOT type "www dot dicks dot com" into your search bar.

Especially if your 8-year old boy happens to be sitting next to you by the computer.

The correct website address is www.DICKSSPORTINGGOODS.com.

If you type in the first web address, be prepared to have your eyes assaulted with pictures of shiny body parts and lots of unsavory photos.

And girls with "Daddy issues."

Right there, right in front of your face on the home page.

Also be prepared to do some 'splaining.

Or, if you notice your mistake immediately before your 8-year old boy does because he's so engrossed in the latest episode of "Wizards of Waverly Place", be prepared to shut your laptop quickly. And when I say, "quickly," I mean chop-off-a-finger quickly.

Got it?

Not that I know anybody this happened to last night.

I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Henry questions the weather.

Henry: Mom, why is it thundering and lightning outside but it hasn't started raining?

Me: I don't know. Sometimes it just does that for awhile until the rain actually starts.

Henry: Is it kind of like how my tummy rumbles and I start gassing until I actually have to poop?

Me: Yeah Henry. I guess it's kind of like that.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Lightbulb moments.

I had a revelation this weekend.

Here goes.

I love my job.

Since I don’t work outside the home, that would be the job title of “Mom.” I don’t know why it was such a revelation to me, because I have reflected on this same thought many times, and I have even said those exact same words in the past. But something was different in my mind. It was like everything just clicked, a light bulb went off, and I realized that I really, truly mean it this time.

I love being a mom to these four little human beings.

Do you ever have those moments as a mom when you feel like everything just turned out right? Everything just fell in place? This weekend was one of those times for me. My sisters and I threw a baby shower on Saturday for our sister Colette, and Bill and I traveled with the kids to our hometown three hours away from where we live. Actually, I left with the kids a day ahead of Bill, so I did the initial traveling part without him. And I was superbly proud of my kids.

It is no small feat to take my kids anywhere by myself, but I do it. I do it mostly because I am not interested in being a shut-in, nor are my children. My kids are champion travelers by now because they have been doing it since birth.

My four little roadies.

When I said earlier that everything fell into place, I never said the word “perfect” did I? No, I'm not that big of a fool. But my kids all behaved, cooperated and helped out to make it a fun weekend. I was surprised to see them embrace the group mentality and being part of a big family, rather than, the I'm-looking-out-for-number-one mentality I sometimes see from them. Charlie and Henry are the two oldest cousins, so I love watching how tender and kind they can be with their young cousins. They have this nurturing side to them, and selfishly, I hope Bill and I can take the teensiest iota of credit for instilling it in them.

The shower was beautiful, and all the women at the shower wrote motherhood advice in a journal for Colette as she embarks on this journey. It made me stop and think about what it all means.

It’s so much more than carpooling, making dinner, grocery shopping and laundry.

The longer I do this job the more I enjoy it. I have always told myself to relax and enjoy and just take it all in, and now I am finally listening to myself. Bill and I try to set realistic expectations for our kids, (the key word being “realistic”) and we are pleasantly surprised that they are actually fulfilling them. My kids are getting older now, so I'm passing up the frazzled new mom stage, and I'm loving this current stage when I can have real conversations and laugh with my kids more.

Of course I don't have teenagers yet, so talk to me in a few years.

I dread when the words, "I'm taking away your car keys as punishment," enter my vocabulary. Car keys? I shudder to think of it.

This job is hard, but at the same time it isn’t. Discipline is hard, but in the long run it is making our lives easier. Consistency is hard to maintain, but I am also slowly realizing that maybe the experts are right. Another lightbulb moment for me: consistency is what is making our discipline stick.

Of course, we still have to discipline every single day. The naughty step is still very much my friend. I still have those moments where I feel like I am just an ineffective talking head blathering on and on while my kids don’t listen. But every so often I get a glimpse that they are.

I hope I don’t come off as "Today's Special Guest Lecturer Braggy McBraggerson." Like my kids are better than yours.

Because they are not.

I just want to encourage you to see your mommy glass as half-full rather than half-empty.

I wanted a blog entry that focused on the good stuff. If I write these thoughts down, it makes it real and cements it in my mind. Then I have no choice but to actually believe what I am saying.

Enjoy. Kiss. Hug. Praise your kids when they doing it right. Thank your husband if he is truly a partner to you. Don’t micromanage. I’ll say it again. Don’t micromanage. (Those two words are my own personal mantra, so I want to make sure they sink in, mostly in my head.) Breathe and slow down and you will be amazed that your kids will too.

Congrats if you’re already doing those things every single day.

It always takes me a little longer to figure these things out.

I still have so much to learn.