Friday, April 30, 2010

New Dos and Don'ts




















The Unicorn?

Ummm...No.





















The Handlebars?

Neyet. Try again.




















The Double Vision?

Please remove now and delete image immediately.





















The Bang Pullover?

Clearly a winner. Since she still consumes hair ties and yanks out anything else in her hair like there's a roach on her noggin, there may be a good deal of hairspray and gel involved in this endeavor. And I'm not above superglue if need be.

Cattails




















You know how they say you fall in love when your baby is born?

Well, I did. Both times. And the really good news is that it didn't end there.

The greatest thing about babies/toddlers/kids is that they become new little people practically every day. This comes with some sucky things like having to make yourself a permanent fixture at the shoe and sock department and/or recreating the wheel at dinner time because those chicken fries he loved so much yesterday are avocados wrapped in bean sprouts as far as he's concerned today.





















But. But...with all that you also get the birth of "snuggle time" and family music hour and I Love It When You Rub My Back Mommy and every other special in between the chaos moments that stir your heart and cause you to fall madly, deeply, and irrevocably in love with these little yahoos all over again. Which is good. Because Lord knows we mommies need all the endorphins we can get. Apple martinis can only carry us so far through the day.




















video
video

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Her Green Green Grass

Today I questioned absolutely everything I did from the time I woke up until just 2 minutes ago. This day was proof that I could not get my game face on and march forward enthusiastically. We were all over the place because mentally, I was all over the place today. Some days I just don't know if this is how things should be done. If this mothering, staying at home to mother thing, walking around the neighborhood searching for sunshine and peace mothering thing is the way things should be done. Today I felt like a crumpled up piece of newspaper that just kept getting smushed tighter and tighter into a ball that would bounce if you dropped me hard enough on your kitchen counter. Sometimes I just want to be dropped on the kitchen counter so at least I'd have an actual direction to go into even if that direction is just toward the band-aids.

Parenting is hard. We know. I got the memo too. Mothering is impossible. We know. I read books. Nobody is normal; we're all freaks because of our mothers and we love them relentlessly anyway (thank God). Most of the time the hard part of this job can be a sweet chorus in the back of my brain making me proud that I get through the days fulfilled, exhausted, and happy instead of a booming electric symphonic orchestra beating me to a pulp with indecision and lack of direction like today.

Then I read this and felt instantly better. There really is comfort in mothering when you know you're not alone and really great moms question their decisions, or lack thereof, too. Our grass is green and lush and most of the time, we know it.

Thank you, CRK. Toldya, I totally needed that.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Inequality




















There are still a few things that separate men and women: Lording over the remote and eating PB & crackers with zero guilt at 11pm.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Over it

At the gym locker room the other day I saw a teeny black haired woman in an even teenier black bikini rocking the roundest and prettiest baby bump I've ever seen in real life. And you know what? I wasn't jealous. I didn't feel the little sting that usually comes with realizing my baby bumps (not to be confused with milkshake hips) are over with forever.

Although I've only really confessed this to one or two friends, I am sad that we cannot have more children (We made it a permanent decision over a year ago). Don't get me wrong, I love the two we already have beyond measure and all that jazz but there's something very, I don't really know what to call it other than achy, about knowing I'll never again be able to see my belly grow with another little baby feasting on my every cell nestled inside for 9 months.

This feeling of regret and longing for another one completely blind sided me after Abby was weened. I wasn't even thinking of another baby until mine was that much closer to not being one. I'm sure this is exactly when other moms get the baby itch too and go for it again. Secretly to the outside world, I was left wishing and mourning the fact that we couldn't go for it again no matter what I wanted. We had already made that decision and my job was to accept it as fact.

Up until a couple of days ago I wasn't sure I could accept it as fact. I even approached my husband about a reversal and his reply iterated his clarity and commitment beyond any reasonable doubt. "You're %*&$ psychotic," were I believe his exact words.

Somehow I knew he was right but it didn't change the big hole I felt lingering every time I packed away Abby's outgrown onesies for donation. I couldn't escape the feeling that I was also packing up the happiest time of my life just to drive it to a dusty warehouse where someone may or may not buy it for 25 cents.

Then I saw her. God bless you, little Demi Moore of the gym. Just when I least expected it, you showed me that I have wholly accepted my fate as a mother of two and two only. I saw you heading for the showers, knees buckled, feet swollen and didn't yearn for even one second of your life. In that instant, I knew that I've had my time. Both pregnancies were marathons of their own variety and I'm fortunate to be on the other side of them. Even if it was possible, I probably shouldn't have wished for a third one to finish me off. Plus, a woman like me who is blessed with two incredibly colorful personalities as Grayson and Abby has no business ever wanting for more. It's clear to me now that it was just a phase I needed to pass through and now, with clarity and un-psychotic certainty, I too can say that I'm over it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

On Sunday We "Rest"

Highlight of the weekend was our trip to the DC Zoo on Sunday. We went with friends who are very easy going and nice to be around. They have a darling little guy who is almost three so while none of us made it long enough to see the bears or the elephants, nobody seemed to mind.

We did see one majestic lion perched up high like Lord of the Land. Chilling to be in his presence actually. We also were lucky enough to:

  • Catch a glimpse of an alligator snacking on a chicken leg.
  • Sit motionless as one tiger drank reverently from his pond. Very cool if you're three or thirty three.
  • Make cutesy sounds at the prairie dogs.
  • Spend an hour or so in ReptileWorld peering through glass to see things slither, swim, and make themselves look like moss on trees or leaves that blink.
  • Stand around the farm watching donkeys and cows until Bessy unloaded a "mudpie" two feet in front of us. We figured that was as good a parting song as any and packed up to go home. Unfortunately, my pictures are all trapped in my camera phone until I learn how to get them out. Until then, here are a couple I completely heisted from our friends' photo album (Thanks, D!).












































(Abby showing off for her new and extremely dashing friend. )


Friday, April 23, 2010

A Tragic Loss















I usually skate over the sad, gloomy or depressing on this blog. In this instance, however, I feel compelled to make an exception. For some reason, I cannot shake out the sad in me without commemorating a person who should not have been taken so early. About a week ago, a former teaching colleague of mine turned principal was found slain in his DC home. We were both teachers when we worked together at a middle school about a decade ago. His name is Brian Betts and I'm sure by this time, you've read some of the articles or have heard about his untimely death on the news.

While we did walk the same halls for two years, work the same outdoor education groups together, and attend the same pep rallies as fellow teachers, we were not very good friends. To be telling, in fact, I was completely intimidated by his larger than life personality and usually ran the other way or lowered my eyes when bumping into him in the office or anywhere else. In fact, when I first started at the middle school, I thought he was actually the assistant principal and not the gym teacher. He had a very authoritative style that commanded respect. I liked him very much but as a first year teacher at a really large middle school I felt like the geek who somehow landed the best job around and hadn't a clue what to do next. Just being in the same room as Brian made me feel like a huge fake because he was so excellent at what he did. I (stupidly) worried he'd sense my weakness and dislike me for it. He was the kind of person who was a teacher with every pore of his body. The kids all believed he slept on the roof of the school because there was never a time when he couldn't be found on school grounds.

The students revered Brian. Our principal adored him. The other teachers all seemed equally enamored and it seemed I was the only person in the building who didn't high five him while passing him by the lockers. He respected my social awkwardness and left me alone which is saying a lot because he was known to pick on those he loved and those he didn't.

I'm telling you this because the gym teacher Brian I once knew went on to become a principal for a DC school. He was hand picked for the position to turn around an inner city school that was failing. If anyone could do it, Brian could. And he did. From all the reports I've read, he not only earned the respect of Shaw's student population but he was also well loved by the parents. This should speak volumes. I don't know many parents who would sing a new principal's praises after the first or second year of being on the job, no matter what the test scores showed. Most principals take the heat for many years before they prove themselves worthy of respect. Brian got it, and lots of it, his very first year.

I'm not pretending my grief is wholly personal, Brian and I never spoke again after I left that middle school in 2002. My grief is public. Simply put, he was doing great things with his God given talents by making a difference where a difference really counts: children, their self-esteem and their education. Mr. Brian Betts should still be here. His death was utterly senseless and completely horrific. It should never have happened to a man like him and I'm having a hard time making peace with it all. His funeral was held Wednesday night. I did not attend. I cannot make peace with the fact that this generous and gifted person is no longer here. His life was taken from him just when he was hitting his groove and living the life for which he seemed destined.

There were six busloads of students, parents, and teachers who drove to Mannasses, Virginia from DC to pay their last respects to their principal, their leader, their friend. Six busloads of people hurting, crying, and clutching their chests because the pain of losing him runs so deeply for them. He was their shining star, their hope and their reason for proving themselves better than many thought they could be. Brian Betts mattered and it is more than just sad that he is gone before his time. It is devastating.

His spirit will live on in those who knew him. His life will no doubt be remembered with reverence and respect. His specific heart and unparalleled devotion to his role as mentor, however, will be not be replaced anytime soon. And if that day ever comes? I'm betting the farm he taught the kid who will rise to the occasion.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Key to Unlock my Brain is Lost

Last night my husband needed a lift some place down the street. So, we loaded up the kids, the dog, the vacuum cleaner extension that also doubles as Grayson's light saber at times and we were redtogo! Except I couldn't find my keys.

"Check the kitchen."
"Just did."
"Check the upstairs."
"Uh-Uh, not there either."
"What jacket did you wear today?"
"All very good suggestions but I've checked all those already."

Abby who is immobilized by her car seat sounds off with the kind of medieval cry that only get worse before better so we agree to just go with the extra set of keys for now. Since my vehicle is in the driveway, I'm trusting the keys I used to get it there cannot be very far.

*If I only knew how close*

As we're driving, I'm completely preoccupied with where my keys could be. There is not a trace of mental imaging I can scare up in my foggy memory to figure out where they may have wound up. Maybe Abby walked away with them when we picnicked in the front yard? Maybe they are are the sunroom? Maybe I left them in the change bin on the....




shhhhhhhhkkkkkkkkkkchakung!!!!






"What was dat, Mommy?"

My husband and I trade screwed up faces and stare at the ceiling of the minivan.

"I think I remember where I left my keys, Honey."
"Where Mommy?"
"On top of the van."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Martin Sexton




















Here's the superbly talented artist I got to see on Friday night with a dear friend of mine who stood (standing room only) for three hours straight on a hard cement floor that smelled like blue cheese. Once he opened up his mouth, however, nobody noticed the smell as our ears were in heaven and we were all transported to a very. happy. place. It's honestly church for people who don't attend one on Sunday. He's the soulfood for lost souls.

God bless you, Martin Sexton. You happy me up every time. If he comes to your town, don't think about it, just buy tickets and see him. He'd hate me for saying this (willing to bet my mommy blog is not on his radar so we're safe) but please ignore the first 4 songs he'll play as they are new and not (in my bold opinion) of the same caliber as his typical church revival energy tracks from his first two CDs. Sorry I didn't take any audio to go along with this picture but I wasn't looking forward to the escort out of the building. It was hard enough to get in (ticket SNAFU).

Monday, April 19, 2010

Feeling the Pinch

**Vegans, Vegetarians and Mom, if you're reading this...click out right now. Trust me, here.**


We got crabs to eat on Saturday. My husband pulled up to the crab shack, paused to ask me the question of the hour, "red..or blue?" Oh Dear God. Ah! I cannot make this choice. While I love nothing more than a huge hunk of delectable crab meat pushed about in Old Bay salt, I cannot fathom being the one who forces them "into the light" just so we can feast on their bounty.

"RED if they'll give you red. Blue if there's no other choice." Why do I pretend I'm tough enough to have this crustacean holocaust go on in my kitchen? Why am I pretending I want the kids to witness live blue crabs going in and hot steaming deceased crabs coming out? Why don't we just go home to have bean salad and go from there?

Five minutes later the husband returns with the tell tale brown paper bag. That was kind of moving. And hissing a little. Grayson was enthralled. I was appalled. The husband smiling quietly was all too amused with himself. "They gave me blue."

One mile later:

Remorseful Me: I mean, what's the lifespan of a crab, anyway?
Husband: You're not serious.
Pathetic Trying to Rationalize the Situation Me: A few weeks?
Husband: Months probably.
Horrible Crab Killer Me: As in a year or longer?
Husband: Do you want me to stop now so you can throw them over the Bay Bridge?
Hopeful Me: You would do that?
Husband: No.
Defeated Me: It would be a gesture of love.
Husband: It would be asinine.
Me: It would be asinine. We'll wait and let them out in our big silver pot at home. "Hello little crabby crabs. Annnd Goodbye."
Husband: Now you're talkin'.
Me: I'm kidding, obviously I'm going to need therapy after this is all over.

So to make a long story short, let's just say we made it home with the brown paper bag and its wriggling contents. Made it into the kitchen to open the bag. Even made it as far as The Husband using tongs to pull the first one out. And then it happened. The Crab Coup was underway. This last crab standing (aka: The General) reached around its hard blue belly and drove its largest claw deeply into my husband's thumb. My husband yelped. Grayson yipped and jumped four feet backward toward his baby sister who whimpered and clung to the kitchen table. I was extremely helpful and flailed my arms north and south wildly like a big fat dumb goose. Realizing I had no coping skills for this occasion whatsoever, my husband who still had a very angry live crab attached to his thumb, gave me direction. "Get something." Right. Get something to kill the bastard. A mallet, I grabbed a wooden mallet and started to swing. "No!!!" yelled my newly maimed man. "Get a knife."

"What?"
"A knife."
"Wha?? How am I going to..."
"GET THAT KNIFE IN THE SINK THERE!"

Right. To pry The General's claw and loosen his death grip on my husband's now half purple thumb.

Thirty seconds later I managed to use the knife, THAT ONE IN THE SINK THERE, to wedge The General's claw and release my husband to freedom. Two new holes in his body freedom but still.







































"We eat him first," says my Marine.

Then we both fall into hysterical laughter that lasts much longer than the entire debacle that was our first blue crab at-home experience (and undoubtedly our last).

Oh, what happened to The General? The one that tried to take down my husband in his own kitchen? Deeeelicious. No Old Bay necessary.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Gift of Mulch

Abby's at that phase where she gives "gifts." Her versions of gifts are specific. If it looks like, tastes like, and feels like dirt and/or half eaten Nilla wafers then it qualifies as a gift of the highest order. A little slimy with dog hair attached? You just received a box of Godiva, baby.

This afternoon we were out back, digging and planting flowers. There were pint-sized watering cans shaped like turtles. There were miniature metal spades with short wooden handles. There was water from the hose (read: Disneyland) and there was mud. I could see the whites of their eyes, the kids were so excited.

While standing back attempting to give excavation directions (Have you tried describing how to dig a 3 inch trench to your maniacally independent three year old perfectionist? A party it is not.), I noticed little Abby weebling over to me with something in her hands. It appeared to be a pile of mulch.

"Tankoooo," she sings like a blonde parakeet.
"Ohhhh...niiiice," I sing back while cupping my hands to receive the booty.
"TankOOOOO," she says with more volume than chirp this time.
"Yes, oh yes, Thank you!" I stand corrected. She turns to rejoin her brother who has now expertly buried a bajillion flower seeds into a zig-zag strip of undone earth that loosely resembles a row or trench. He is patting the soil down with the care of a surgeon.

Abby squats down to retrieve something. Her back is to me so it's anyone's guess. My cards are on more mulch. She wobbles back over to my outstretched hand and once again transfers the gift.

Not mulch. Guess again. Yep, dried up nasty weeks old bugs still in it Sadie poo.

"Tankooooo," she sings like a blonde parakeet.
"ABBY!"
"TANKOOOOO!!" she demands once again.
"Awww man, no.no.no. Yuckeee, Abby....very very yucky!"
"TANKOOO TANKOOO TANKOOO Mama!"

Today my daughter put dog feces in my hand. And in the end, I thanked her for it. Because after all, it is the thought that counts.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Almost

So I went to the gym today. For the first time in six years. That's right. As in 72 months of not working out prior to now. I thought it was time to get back on the horse. The horse that is now gray, lame, swayback and cantankerous.
  • Really small and awfully uncomfortable sport's bra. Check.
  • 6 year old New Balance running shoes. Check
  • Children dressed, clean, and somewhat well fed to be received by free babysitting in gym. Check.
We arrive at the gym. We park at the gym. We walk in, hand in hand, like three lost birds looking for a Starbucks but instead dutifully flying toward the gym.

We stand behind the desk to get a picture taken for a photo ID since we're newcomers to this here enormous facility with the golden promise of personal space and parental freedom as well as 60 glorious minutes of uninterrupted time with an ipod that has only been used once before.

The picture is taken. The man smiles nicely and answers the phone. We wait politely and when he finishes being on the phone, we ask for a welcome packet. Because he is busy and because we have no idea where the babysitting room might be in this huge building.

We receive said packet, grab a few catalogs on the covers of which have pictures of pretty moms smiling with their over the top happy children. "They probably work out at this gym." I tell myself. Grayson looks up at me with his drippy big brown eyes and sniffs three times in a row. Then he sneezes. Because Abby is not to be outdone, she giggles then somehow manifests two baby sneezes in her own right. I look at my children more closely. They both have runny noses. Not stay home from public places green, run-for-your-life runny noses but still. Probably just allergies.

I rake my hands through Grayson's sweet felt bedhair. I kiss Abby's warm cheek.

We walk out of the building, hand in hand, like three lost birds looking for a warm nest of bedsheets and Spiderman blankets to climb into for the rest of this rainy afternoon.

Maybe tomorrow we'll get past the front desk.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Modern Day Julia

Carrot sticks have been baked in thyme, sugar, olive oil, salt & pepper at 425 for 20 minutes.

Can of corn is sitting in a pan awaiting a hot soak.

Chicken breasts smoothed in a couple tablespoons of dijon mustard, then quickly massaged in a rosemary rub of panko and salt, pepper are now working their magic and making my mouth water while they heat up in the oven at 425 for 25 minutes.

It's 4:30 pm. Dinner is done. Children are less wanky. Mom is not sure why this idea has never occured to her before tonight.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Temporary

Spring was once my least favorite time of year. Not because of all the pollen or the allergies that cozy up inside your nasal cavities for weeks on end although that could be reason enough. The reason I never really cared for spring is because it is so temporary. Sure, we are all deliriously happy to see and feel the sun again after such a long and snowbound winter. We're all tickled to watch the bland palette of our neighborhoods pop back into life right before our eyes; to see delicious red tulips and sassy pink snapdragons where there was just a palm of green yesterday is no tiny miracle. I too love a good show and what better stage than our earth this time of year? The problem for me in the past has always been that spring never lasts. I know it's not a profound observation as no season really lasts but spring feels like a passionate and sordid love affair between winter and summer; a transience between seasons. It is like having the host of a great party come and pick up all the plates and forks before you have a chance to taste dessert. Like getting up the nerve to talk to that cute foreign exchange student two nights before he is shipped back to his home country (not that Jacques is relevant here.) Over before it begins. Temporary. Spring to me once symbolized a restlessness...a flexing in the world that made me physically uncomfortable. I felt grumpy and surly while everyone around me seemed to rejoice in their tanks tops and flip-flops. Spring once made me itchy in my own skin and anxious for the next page to turn already. I couldn't wait for summer to stretch out her willowy legs and stick around long enough for margaritas and another dip in the pool. Summer is a stayer. I can relax around summer because she's not in a hurry to go anywhere else.

Not sure when it happened but things have changed. Spring is still not a favorite season (you cannot beat fall with a stick) but it's definitely not the worst anymore for me. I can appreciate the temporary of it without feeling threatened by it. I can see the tops of cars and sidewalks peppered in cherry blossoms without feeling sick to my stomach that their fat lady already sang and I just sat down with my Diet Coke. I don't feel slighted by the fantastic speed and hurried pace of spring as much as before. It still boggles my mind how many changes the earth goes through in the weeks between winter and summer but I no longer take it so personally.

Change has been a hard concept for me all my life. I like things to stay familiar. Homey. Warm cookies and cold milk. Spring once challenged that side of me and now I can honestly say that I welcome the difference. I welcome the flood of bright colors and wet grass. I welcome the renewal. As a mother of two awesome yet small children, a wife of a young yet hard working husband, and a beloved superdog who gets more arthritic by the day, spring is a great distraction for me. It gives me a few weeks of not noticing that we are all so temporary.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Narc

Last night we picked up Aunt Jen from the metro station. (She's staying with us while she commutes in to DC for a class.) She very sweetly offered to buy everyone dessert. My husband offered up Cold Stone Creamery. I silently weighed triple chocolate fudge against cookie dough until I realized neither was going to happen because numerous Cadbury eggs have been successfully lifted and snarfed from both children's baskets since Sunday. Falling off the caffeine wagon hurts. You wouldn't believe all the bruises.

Maybe because my van was reacting to the natural gravitational pull of fast food and immediate positive reinforcement, we slide up to the McDonald's drive thru instead of Cold Stone.

"Whaddayou want for dessert, Bud?"

Grayson touches his chin to inspire an exact response. "Ummmmm, a chocolate milk, up bread (the top of a cheeseburger sans meat or condiment), Happy Meal, french fries, chocolate milkshake and a vanilla latte for Mommy. Large."

Nobody said a word but I could feel all eyebrows lifting in unison around the suddenly very awkward and quiet van.

Ouch.

You should see all these bruises.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Just Another Photo Easter Editorial

(This is me distracting you because I still haven't finished that post on love languages. After all the hype here, you're going to hate it. It may as well go straight to DVD. Maybe we'll just forget I ever mentioned it and leave it for internet mice.)

Since there are roughly 215 digital pictures of Easter 2010 being held hostage in my camera, I thought I'd pick just a few to capture our weekend with family. It will probably go down as one of the best Easters we've ever had. Mimi and PopPop mailed goodies, baskets and books personally signed by Max & Ruby. The kids hunted eggs for 72 hours. Nammy & Pop boiled, dyed, and rehid Easter eggs until they got sulfur poisoning. Grandma Nonie, Grandpa T, and Uncle Matt brought along even more goodies to play with while I leisurely drank my weight in mimosas. I couldn't picture a better way to spend a Sunday.

Hope your weekend was spectacular as well!














The view from below a neighborhood tree.
I dig spring.















Starting the holiday weekend off right.















(Starting the holiday weekend off wrong.)















Grayson finds his first hidden egg on Sunday morning.















Abby's turn.















Oh, that Easter Bunny thought he was so clever with the hiding spots this year.















Abby settles in for a nice healthy breakfast of chocolate and peanut butter bunny legs. With some foil for added measure.















Grayson faired well in his quest to find 10 Easter eggs at the local Easter Egg Hunt.















Trying out the camera timer. Resting precariously on the passenger side mirror. Which almost drove Pop to drink heavily before 10am. Note: Check out Dennis the Menace's goofy face and what he's holding...hold that thought.





















Before. Glider now cocked and in the ready position.





















After!. You can't buy better shots than this one, I don't care who y'are.





















Someone's pissed he can't launch his glider inside the restaurant.















Someone else kind of likes it when her brother is in trouble.















Someone else's droopy right eyelid is showing that this isn't her first glass.















I know. OCD runs deeply in our veins, poor child. Step awaaaay from the glider





















and towaaaard the Hair Cuttery.





















"Anyone seen my glasses?"





















Sleep tight, Easter Princess.















The obligatory family photo with obligatory doggie bumhole.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Don't Blink

Since when did this little baby boy.....






















































































become this big kid?









































And this little baby girl....












































































































become this big girl?









































And this big tough Marine...



















become this Daddy?
































































And this dreamer girl...




























become this crazy momma?






























































And these four people...
































































































































become us?



I was here the whole time, yet somehow I never saw it coming.
Do any of us ever really see it coming?

Makes me almost afraid to ever blink my eyes again.
They grow so fast. We grow so fast.

It's easy to now see it all as one big circle and one (that I pray) we're only halfway around because it's the ride of a lifetime.