Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Classic Mom Suit

I should have been wearing my red one-piece tank today. I
was so proud of that suit in college. I ran my hand across the flaky white
letters, “lifeguard” with pride. I strapped my life-saving fanny pack to my
slender hips each morning and felt powerful, needed. I felt a sense of purpose.
The suit gave me confidence. I might as well have been wearing a cape and mask.
It didn’t hurt that “Baywatch” was enormously popular at that time and my
inflated ego sat on my shoulder and encouraged me to run as often as possible.
I would, doing my best to imitate Pamela Anderson or Nicole Eggert, running
slowly so as to ensure that just the right amount of bouncing occurred. I had
it down to a science in my head. I’m pretty sure, though, that I looked more
like CJ’s ungainly sister than CJ herself.

It has been ten years since I retired my red lifeguard suit
to pursue my “real life.” I don’t even know where it is anymore. I was pleased
to discover this week that my skills, unlike my suit, are still close to the
surface. I have rescued my daughter from the perilous water three times in the
past three days. The first time she jumped in the water from the stairs wearing
her little pink inner tube. Instead of going feet first into the water, her head
and body went in and her feet and legs waved in the air. I pulled her out, watched her retch and cough a few times and she was back in the water in seconds. The second time she was
swimming around the pool in her inner tube and fell right through the hole. I
rescued her again, this time from the side of the pool. I ran to the edge,
grabbed her arm (her body is quite buoyant) and pulled her to a standing
position on the edge of the pool. The third time was the most dramatic. It
involved running.

The red tank has been replaced by a matronly tankini with a
skirt bottom, a classic “Mom suit.” Generous hips have replaced the slender
body that once resided in this skin and gravity has set in with a vengeance. My
daughter was running into a gradual entry pool, doing her best to keep up with
her brother, when she found herself in waters that were too deep for her short
stature. I was in the shallowest part of the pool watching her. I immediately
leapt to my feet and sprinted across the pool to my daughter’s side. There was
no ego whispering in my ear, telling me to move a certain way to ensure maximum
beauty and sex appeal. There was only the animalistic instinct to protect my
child. CJ had nothing on me today.

Friday, July 27, 2007


We’re leaving for vacation tomorrow. This stresses me out.
I’ve got to pack four people for a week at the beach and make sure that I leave
no stones unturned. Instead of doing what I should be doing: packing, I am
making lists. My procrastination rituals usually involve lists. The planning
for the packing successfully postpones the actual packing which is, in fact, my
ultimate goal.

Packing, you see, is a pain in the ass. Planning for packing
is actually kind of fun. I sit back and visualize my days, lounging at the
beach. I visualize my kids in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening,
before bedtime. What will they need? How much of what they will need do we
already have? What do I need to buy at the store? This daydreaming process
produces several lists. I have a list for my daughter, one for my son, one for
myself, and one for my husband. I have a grocery list as well and a list of
long car-ride essentials.

I arrange the lists neatly on the kitchen table, with a pen
readily available to check off each item as it is packed. Exhausted from the
list making process, I decide to take a break and catch some Z’s while the kids
rest. I wake up, go into the kitchen, look at my lists and panic sets in. I
better double check the accuracy of each list before I begin packing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

8 Random Things

I've been sitting in front of my computer screen for about 15 minutes typing and immediately backspacing over everything I type. I'm just not feeling the creative vibe today. So, in lieu of the traditional blog entry, I've decided to post 8 random things about myself per the request of Christina Katz at Writer Mama. Here goes:

1. I met my husband at a summer camp. He was the outdoor education director and I was the waterfront director. He proposed to me on the bridge that connected the two areas.  Ready to vomit yet?

2. I have Lupus but it doesn't have me.

3. I call both my kids, "Tee Pee." My son because his initials are T.P.H. and my daughter because one of her most popular nicknames is Tater Pie.

4. When I blast my CD's in the car, I sing along at the top of my lungs and fantasize that I am on stage. My children probably think this is normal behavior.

5. I used to love hair bands, all hair bands. Skid Row, Poison, Danger Danger, RATT, Motley Crue, the list goes on...

6. I am completely addicted to "Rock of Love" with Bret Michaels on VH-1

7. I had a major crush on Perry King from "Riptide" in my tweens.

8. I love to pick scabs. It repulses me but I do it compulsively.

Hope you enjoyed this revealing look inside of my warped mind.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Chaos and Ruin

It blows my mind how different my two children are. My son
is totally type A. He’s a neat freak. He likes order. And he appreciates a
routine. My daughter, the antithesis of my son, is a two-and-a-half foot
Tasmanian devil. She spins through the house at warp speed leaving chaos and
ruin wherever she goes. Here’s what happened to day at the hands of my little

At around 11:00 a.m. I had to pee. Normally this is a
customary, all-too-frequent (ask anyone—I’ve got overactive bladder. I could
take Detrol LA but I’d prefer not to be associated with Betty White at the ripe
old age of 32!) occurrence but today there were extenuating circumstances. I
flushed and watched in horror as the water rose rapidly to the brim of the
toilet. Thankfully, it stopped but I noticed a fairly large clump of white
paper that seemed to be stuck in the toilet causing the clog. I took a closer
look and discovered that my daughter had taken the box of wipes, which I had
refilled this morning, and dumped the entire contents into the
toilet. I slid on my elbow-length, industrial kitchen gloves and pulled the wipes out of
the toilet, rung out the pee-soaked water, and put them in the garbage. It
really brightened up my morning.

At roughly 2:00 my son got out his art box and he and my daughter
started coloring. They were playing peacefully together so I decided to take this
opportunity to clean the bathrooms. It was blissful really, cleaning without
interruption. I got so much done and felt great when I finished mopping the
floor and went into the kitchen to check on my kids. I found my son
coloring contently at the table, very into his current project. My daughter was
also coloring contently. Her medium, though, was not paper. It was my stove.  She had decorated the table, two chairs,
the stove, the floor and various parts of her body with every color in the
rainbow. I gave myself a quick pat on the back for having the forethought to
purchase washable markers and got down to the business of cleaning my newly
decorated kitchen.

All was not in vain as I
have learned a valuable lesson from these incidents: As long as I can hear my daughter, I don’t
have to worry. It’s the rare patches of silence that are cause for concern. If
she’s not talking or singing or screaming or whining, then she is, in all
likelihood, silently destroying something.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Madonna's Footsteps

When I pulled into the driveway on our way back from the
YMCA this morning, there were some packages sitting on the doorstep. My son,
always excited about packages, asked me, “Mom. Do you want me to carry the post
in?” The post? Who calls it the post? My son, that’s who.

Following in Madonna’s footsteps, my son has become British.
When I pull into the gas station he says, “Mommy. Are we getting petrol?”
Petrol! What ever happened to good ol’ American gas? Don’t get me wrong. I have
nothing against the Brits. I just find it humorous that my son is becoming
one of them. He’s never met anyone from Jolly Old England and he laughs
hysterically when I attempt an English accent during our many tea parties. He
does, however, like the terminology.

The origin of this British transition is no mystery. I know
precisely where he is picking up terms like, “the post” and “petrol.” It’s from
his favorite TV show, Postman Pat. Postman Pat is the cleanest, most benign television show I have ever seen. It is very simple and focuses
around the antics of a Barney Fife-ish Postman in a small town in England. It
is old school claymation and my son could not love it more. It comes on HBO
Family and, as a result, there are no commercials. PBS and HBO are favorites in
our house because of their lack of commercials. I suppose my son’s transition
into a young, British lad is the price that a four-year-old has to pay for a little freedom from marketing.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Surplus of Silence

I woke up this morning completely alone. My husband left for work at the crack of
dawn and the kids spent the night with my parents. It is very strange, this lack of activity in my house. Normally, I’d have put at least one kid in
time out, taken a speed shower, cleaned up a spilled drink, changed a diaper,
fed three people, struggled with getting all of us dressed and done my best to
straighten up the house; all before 9:00. It’s 9:10 now and I’m sitting in silence in front of the computer
screen. It’s an odd feeling, typing
without interruption. I’m so used to
doing all of my work in 5-10 minute increments that I’m a little concerned the
quality of my writing will suffer as a result.

As I was getting dressed I tried to recall the last time
that I was truly alone in my house. I
could not come up with anything. I
honestly do not think that I have had any quality alone time since I had
children. Someone is always here making
some type of request. An observer in my
home on an average day would be hard pressed to witness a ten-minute period
that did not involve some type of Mom request. They never stop. My daughter
even calls out for me during the night.

It’s amazing what we can get used to. I don’t remember life without kids. I remember the big events: the carefree
vacations and the frequent date nights; but I don’t remember daily life. My husband and I were married five years
before the first child came along so we had lots of time to live a carefree lifestyle and I am very grateful for those years.   In some respects, though, it feels like my
life didn’t really start until I had children. That’s when I found my groove. That’s when I discovered my first true sense of purpose. So, am I enjoying this silence this
morning? Absolutely. Do I want it to continue long term? No way. When your primary purpose is providing comfort, nourishment,
entertainment and support to two irrational, little human beings, the coveted
surplus of silence and time feels surprisingly empty and boring.

P.S.: Clearly my
writing did suffer as a result of the silence. This entry is very sentimental and unfunny. Sorry folks, back to the funny stuff tomorrow.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Return of the Culotte

How do you know that you’ve reached a new level of
uncoolness? You find out that you are
out of sync with the latest grammar trends. Nevermind my lack of hipness in regards to fashion, music andPunctuation
(I purchased my first MP3 player less than 3 months ago and find my recent
upgrade to wireless internet to be nothing short of miraculous), I am now faced
with the knowledge that my punctuation, along with my wardrobe, is out of

I learned today that the double space after the period in
magazine/newspaper writing has become obsolete. Who knew? I was taught
that those spaces were imperative to a successful writing assignment. In fact, as a student my grades would suffer
if I used one space instead of two. It
seems that, in order to gain favor with my potential editors, I’m going to have
to go against what my teachers and professors instilled in my brain. What’s next? No capitalization at the beginning of sentences? The return of the culotte?

Thursday, July 12, 2007


My husband had knee surgery a week and a half ago. He went to his follow-up appointment
yesterday and discovered that he has to get fitted for a brace. The fitting/creation of the brace will take
place at a local Prosthetic clinic. The
name of the clinic? Stubbs Prosthetics
and Orthotics
. Sometimes life is
stranger (and funnier) than fiction.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mouse Plans

We’re going to Disney World again. We went last year in October and had a better time than I ever thought we would. I never dreamed I’d be a
once-a-year Disney World person but, as it turns out, I might be. A deal came along that I couldn’t refuse and
we got a week long trip at a Disney resort, including meals and tickets, for
less than the price of a condo rental at the beach. Who can pass that up?

So, for all of you Disney haters out there, I know where you
are coming from. I realize I am the
victim of a vast marketing ploy. I
realize the gift shops at Disney World probably make enough revenue to fund a
third world country. I realize that the
park itself is the very antithesis of nature. I realize that a child who gets to go to Disney World for a week every
year is probably going to have their share of entitlement issues. I acknowledge all of these things and, yet,
as one of the most cynical people I know, I also recognize the fact (and I’m
going to vomit a little in my mouth as I write this) that it really is a
magical place.

Monday, July 9, 2007


I’ve reached a crossroads in my parenting life. My two-year-old daughter, an angel since
birth, has become more annoying than my son. She is extremely demanding, relentless and very, very loud. It’s like living with Shannen Doherty
without volume control or the ability to take “no” for an answer. 

This recent graduation into full-blown toddlerdom has caused
me wax nostalgic about my son’s baby years. He used to be angelic. I used to
look at other children taunting their parents with blatant disobedience
thinking, “what did they do to that kid?” I was so grateful to have been blessed with a child (all of 6 months
old) who was so well behaved with such a calm, passive disposition. Boy, was I in for a rude awakening. Just tonight, I talked to my husband about
"that demon living under our roof” in reference to my son. 

Things change. I
realize this now but apparently I did not learn my lesson the first time around. Just three weeks ago I had myself convinced
wholeheartedly that my daughter was going to miraculously skip the toddler
stage. She was, after all, the perfect
baby. And, let’s face it; she’s pretty
easy on the eyes. Adorableness can mess
with your brain. I was convinced that
her long, dark locks and her big brown eyes would be enough to warm my heart in
the midst of even the most taxing toddler years. I was wrong. 

My daughter looks at me with those big, beautiful eyes and yells,
at the top of her lungs, with her face less than 15 inches away from mine,
“MOMMY! Ont milk! Ont milk!” If I don’t stop what I am doing immediately and fetch her some milk, she
turns up the volume and yells some more. I have become, for lack of a better word, a slave to my daughter’s
needs. My mind tells me it’s a phase
but my instincts tell me to lock her in her room for the next two years and
feed her through a makeshift mail slot in the door.

Friday, July 6, 2007

NASCAR-Free Zone

Anyone need some NASCAR gear? It’s top quality stuff. There’s a jacket, a hat, a T-shirt, a picture frame and a leather bag;
each item officially licensed by NASCAR. In just two to four weeks our family will be the proud owners of this
merchandise. We even get to pick the
driver of our choice. All thanks to my
husband who is one of the few people on this earth who will pick up a losing
lottery ticket off of the ground, fill out the back, throw it in an envelope
and mail it to the second chance address. What could be better?

I grew up in Darlington County, South Carolina, just a few
miles from the speedway and NASCAR is not very high up on my lists of favorite
things. It hovers somewhere between
getting a cavity filled and having a pap smear. My husband is a NASCAR fan in the same way that the chick in the
corner at a frat party slurring her words with a Virginia Slim
dangling between her lips is a smoker. He’s a social race fan. He
doesn’t keep up with the races in the papers (if he did, he’d have no problem
because our small town paper actually has a NASCAR section!) nor does he watch
them at home but he does enjoy watching a race with his friends at a
party. And he goes on a pilgrimage each
year to Talladega in the spring for a weekend of NASCAR, poor hygiene and

Thankfully, that is the extent of my husband’s NASCAR
involvement. He doesn’t wear NASCAR
merchandise and I am proud of this fact. This could all change in two to four weeks when that merchandise arrives
in all of its garish, logo-laden glory to poison my NASCAR-free zone. Anyone got a proven antidote to NASCAR
poisoning? I’m thinking a couple of
Polo shirts and a croquet set ought to do the trick.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Dumbin' Down

I have never been one to alter the way I speak in order to
accommodate my children. I use the same
words that I use when speaking to my friends. I will happily explain the meaning of a word if I Dictionary
am asked (I often am)
but I refuse to dumb down my vocabulary for the sake of my kids. This parenting philosophy makes me very unlikely to condone baby talk but I do like to prolong the use of some of
the more endearing words and phrases that come out of my children’s mouths. My daughter, for example, calls her shoes
her “woos” and I have adopted this word as my own. I rarely say “shoes” these days, even to my husband or son. I realize this is a little strange but I am
clinging tightly to my daughter’s youth and want to prolong the cute phase as
long as possible. I know what comes
next and cute is not one of the many words that come to mind.

Sometimes the choices that we make as parents actually
payoff. It is rare that we get to
glimpse the tangible results of our actions but it happens, sometimes. My refusal to modify the way that I speak to my children paid off last
week when I went through the motions of letting my son out of time-out. I asked him if he knew why he was in
time-out. This is what my four-year-old

“Because I was antagonizing my sister.” Slam! Duh duh duh.


Monday, July 2, 2007

Candy Frappe

Why is it that a milkshake becomes trendy when the ambience
is right? I went to the bookstore
looking for inspiration yesterday. I
was greeted at the front door by a sign that read, “Try our new Candy
Frappes.” It featured clear plastic
cups, filled to the brim with frozen coffee-flavored Coffee
goodness intermixed with
ground up pieces of my favorite candies. “Yum,” I thought, “I could peruse the writing section and sip my
delicious coffee flavored treat.” Normally, I would deny myself a milkshake in favor of an unsweet tea but
something about the new book smell and the fact that it was called a “Frozen
Frappe” and not a “Blizzard” made it OK, even a little sophisticated.

The nutrition information is about the same but the people
who sit in coffee shops and bookstores and sip Frappes are quite different from
the folks over at the Dairy Queen spooning cookie dough infused ice cream into
their mouths. The latter is a clear,
sometimes sickening, snapshot of American indulgence. The former is a respectable, often even sophisticated, photograph
of pretentious intellectuals at work and play. It’s a scam. Just because the
lady at the Dairy Queen is wearing sweatpants and a banana clip doesn’t make
her any more indulgent than the woman in a business suit with the trendy
haircut at Starbucks. They’re all the
same. American indulgence crosses all
financial, educational and cultural lines. This is what I thought, at least, driving out of the parking lot of the
bookstore, voraciously slurping up the last of my M & M Frappe.