Friday, August 29, 2008

A Rush of Patriotism

What an exciting 2 months lay ahead of us! We have Sarah Palin, the first woman ever on the GOP Vice-Presidential ticket and only the second in history (anyone remember Geraldine Ferraro?). Plus we have an African American on the Democratic ticket, born just 6 years after the Montgomery Bus Boycotts when African Americans in Alabama were fighting for a seat on the public buses. Now, a mere 53 years later, Barack Obama is fighting for a seat in the Oval Office. I freakin' love this country.

Indoor Topography

Do you ever look around your house at the chaos and wonder, "How could I even considering adding another person to this mix?" I find myself doing that allot lately. Maybe it's the hormones or the ceaseless bouts of dry heaving but I focus on the chaos in my home. I am either a glutton for punishment or I have just accepted the fact that my house will never, ever even have the appearance of cleanliness again. It's over. With kitty cages and a dog that likes to shred things like paper, pillow stuffing, cats, Littlest Pet Shop toys, and all variety of apparel and a husband who could walk by a trash bag at the door, ready to be taken out to the curb, 17 times and never even notice its existence; I might as well just accept my fate, embrace it. Instead of fighting this constant battle to keep up a façade of cleanliness, I'm going to turn over a new leaf. I'm going to become a hoarder. In ten years, I'll have a guaranteed appearance on Oprah, something my writing career may never afford me (yes, I'm optimistic—if I hoard and write successfully, I might just morph into Oprah's ideal guest).

I'm going to start collecting things now, lots and lots of things. I'll throw nothing away and count on my husband to take the recycling to the center, thus ensuring that it will never leave the home. I'm going to stop consigning my children's clothes when they outgrow them and save them, every single piece, for posterity's sake. I'm going to start ordering things from QVC. A QVC addiction is an absolute must for any self-respecting hoarder. I'll turn each room into a labyrinth. My kids will love that. There will be specific trails that will get you from one room to the next, surrounded by walls of things. I'll make my son our official topographer, turning each day into a treasure hunt, What Mommy? You need the dishwashing detergent? Let me consult the map. I'll need 25 minutes and a machete but I'll find it for you. His topography skills may just lead him to become the next Rand McNally, mapping the floor of the ocean or the surface of Mars. My hoarding will become his career inspiration. I can hear the Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech already. Sure, they'll be mildew and odor but that's a small price to pay for an Oprah appearance and a kid with a Nobel Peace Prize, right?

Monday, August 25, 2008


Just a few tidbits on this lovely, wet Monday:

My first cover story was published! Pretty exciting stuff. I'm posting a picture of the cover for all to see. Forgive my lack of humility. It's a career milestone.

One of my oldest friends, Julie Schmidler, who used to drive me around in her rockin' blue Mazda 626, had a baby on Friday. Her name is Kate and she weighed a whopping 10 pounds at birth! Congratulations Julie, Ray and the extended family!

My son has decided he wants to be a spy for Halloween. I welcome any costume suggestions anyone might have. I'm at a loss.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Kitty Cages

There is rarely a dull moment in my house. With a daughter
who raises her voice an octave and a decibel every time she talks but is not responded
to immediately, a dog who has recently acquired a taste for all Littlest Pet Shop products, and a son
who manages to injure himself at least twice a day, I rarely have time to give myself
the half-hour of trashy reality TV and a self-pedicure that I deserve.  Last night was no exception.  My son was doing his usual afternoon routine
of making him and my daughter “Kitty Cages.” What is a kitty cage, you ask? Well, a kitty cage is my son’s infuriating
invention. Each one consists of a laundry basket, one or two strategically
placed chairs, and several blankets. They are always constructed in a
high-traffic area and leave me with no chair to sit in at my computer and no
way to get from the kitchen to the bathroom without performing a medal-worthy
gymnastics routine. What’s the best part
about kitty cages
, you ask? Well, funny you should ask that. Hands down,
the best part about kitty cages is the 10 minutes preceding bedtime when this
mean old haggard woman named “Mom” demands that all of the items in the kitty
cages be put away. My son’s reaction is typical. He falls to the floor in a
heap of tears and high-pitched screams, forcing me to threaten him within an
inch of his life and swear, up and down, that I will forbid kitty cages in my
house if he doesn’t comply.  Kitty cages
rock my world inside out. I’m so pleased that they have become a part of my

Last night wasn’t just any kitty cage night. There were
special circumstances. My son tried to incorporate the plastic headboard of my
daughter’s old toddler bed into the Kitty Cage building process. This involved
climbing to the top of the headboard (about 4 feet high). My son is not the
most graceful of children. His falls are frequent and spaztastic. His plummet
from the top of the headboard was no exception. He cried predictably and I did
my best to do the simultaneous consolation/lecture technique that so many
mothers employ, “I’m sorry that it hurt when you fell, honey but you know this
never would have happened if you wouldn’t have climbed on the furniture.” I
hugged him and went about my business. A couple minutes later I sat down to
watch a little TV with the kids and noticed that my son was very lethargic. He
kept falling asleep and, when ERI tried to wake him up, he seemed disoriented and
out of sorts. I started to panic and my husband arrived home shortly
thereafter. We agreed to keep him awake and watch him closely and we both
noticed a half-dollar-sized bruise on his temple. He continued to doze in and
out and we decided, fairly quickly, that a trip to the ER was in order. My
husband took him to the hospital and I stayed home with my daughter. At about
10:30 they returned with news that my son was fine but should be watched for
nausea or any other signs of a concussion for the next 24 hours. He got up and
went to Kindergarten this morning and was perfectly fine. He even found time to
build two elaborate Kitty Cages right in the middle of my kitchen.  And the cycle continues…

Monday, August 18, 2008

Humiliating Library Moment #1

The staff at my library are usually hip, young folks from the local university. I glow with the approval of them when they look over my literary picks. Kurt Vonnegut, huh? Cool., the skater dude with the longish hair will say as he puts the final kid's selection, "Yurtle the Turtle" in a pile to reveal my choices at the bottom. I bask in the awesomeness of myself and my reading selections. On another occasion it was the hippie chick who can rock a no-make-up face like nobody's business and usually has a homemade peasant top on, Animal, Vegetable, MiracleDon't you just love Barbara Kingsolver? I smile and nod. This is the first Kingsolver book I've read but cool hippie chick doesn't have to know that, right? Aaahhh… there is nothing as pathetic as seeking approval from the young, is there?

Today was not one of my shining moments. First of all, my kids were with me and I was taking back one book and one book on tape that may or may not have been overdue. Secondly, there was a huge line and only one person at the check out counter. She was not the usual youthful presence. She was a crotchety older woman who was clearly flustered by the crowd gathering in front of her desk. I had the kids throw their selections on the counter and handed her my card. She scanned it and said, "You owe $2.00 in late fees."

Blushing, I replied, "Can you tell me what those late fees are for?"

She turned the computer screen towards me and scrolled to the page that listed my overdue books. I saw the listing and said, "Oh, I see. I won't make you say that title." And I laughed uncomfortably.

She said, without batting an eyelash, (she was at least 75 years old), "Skinny Bitch and Skinny Bitch in the Kitch." Suffice it to say, she didn't use her inside voice and everyone in line and within a 2 mile radius of the library for that matter, heard her.

Not wanting to seem like a library loser and in a desperate attempt to draw attention away from that unfortunate title, I immediately jumped to my own defense, "Oh. I brought that back today. I put it in the drop slot when I walked in."

This news was not received by Crotchety Old Library Lady (COLL). She sighed heavily and walked slowly over to the drop slot. She opened it up and said snarkily, "What does it look like? I mean, it could be anywhere."

Me, trying to remain cheerful, "It's a book on CD and I turned it in less than five minutes ago so it should be close to the top."

This did not go over well either and COLL kept pulling out VHS tapes, holding them up and asking, "Is this it?"

"No Mam. It's a book on CD."

Finally, she held up the correct title. Relief flooded my body. "That's it." She returned to the counter, took my $2 and gave me a mini-lecture on how I should tell her up front that I had an overdue book when it was really busy. I thought about explaining to her that I wasn't sure whether it was overdue but thought better of it. I thanked her in my most sickeningly sweet Southern draw and sashayed out of there with my kid's books in hand, hoping like hell everyone wasn't looking at me thinking, "She might want to listen that Skinny Bitch book a couple more times."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Déjà Vu


The kids and I sat down for an early lunch this afternoon. It was an odd mix of leftovers. My daughter had a slice of pizza and some broccoli. My son had a PB&J and some strawberries and I had some teriyaki chicken and rice. We were all very hungry for some reason so we weren't talking much at

the table until everyone's plates started to clear. Then the chatter started. My daughter had eaten her pizza to the crust and then tore the crust in half and handed me a piece. She said, "You be this guy and I'll be this guy." Then she held up her half of the pizza crust and started bouncing it around, attempting to anthropomorphize it (do I get props for that word, or what?!). Here's how our little pizza crust dialogue went:

Daughter: (in strange, muffled deep voice) What are you doing friend?

Me: (attempting to imitate the bouncing with my half of the crust) I'm getting ready to be eaten.

Daughter: NO! NO! Don't let her eat you! No!

Me: How do I stop her?

Daughter: (looks mischievously at the pizza crust in her hand and takes a big bite out of it) Ah! No! No! Help!

Me: (taking a big ol' hunk out of my half of the crust) Sorry man. I can't help you.

My son, the whole time, was watching our conversation with great interest, smiling as the poor crust halves met their fate. I couldn't help myself. I turned to my daughter and said, "You could not be more like your brother." I winked at my son.

He looked at me innocently and said, "What do you mean?"

I just laughed and said, "You know what I mean."

Neither one of us spoke again. I just marveled at my two glorious weirdos who can turn the most mundane items into dramatic scenarios and smiled.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cafeteria Style Social Life

An impromptu viewing of Mean Girls this weekend caused me to ponder the great philosophical questions of parenting life. I wondered, for example, what I would pick for my children if I could walk down the cafeteria aisle of teenage social existence. What choices would you make?

Would you choose A or B:


A. Star Athlete

B. Mack Daddy Mathlete


A. Valedictorian

B. B+ Student with a good sense of humor and a decent social life


A. Head Cheerleader

B. Marching band French Horn Section Leader


A. Football Player

B. Golf or tennis player


A. Card-carrying member of the "In-Crowd"

B. Card-carrying member of a Motley Crew of cerebral misfits

I choose B every time. Now, don't get your panties in a wad about letting my kids be themselves and tell me to stop trying to dictate their future. I realize, also, that there are many, MANY more social possibilities for teens these days and that very few actually fit into any one of these categories. This is a fantasy exercise people. It's completely hypothetical, on the same level as the "5 Celebrities" game we've all played with our spouses (although some, who shall remain nameless, refuse to give an answer—party pooper!). Just play it. I'm curious to know, given that you've all survived the teenage years, what you would choose for your child to create the best possible high school experience. Here's mine:

Son: Good grades, mathlete, class clown, a little too confident and terrible with the ladies but he doesn't realize it. He wears weird shirts with sayings that I don't always understand and he plays soccer well enough to get some field time during home games.

Daughter: Good grades, yearbook editor, cute with a strong sense of fashion that's a little left of the norm. She plays tennis but doesn't know if she wants to commit to playing for the school team. Her friends are smart and fiercely loyal to each other. They resemble the girls in "The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants"

Man, am I in for a reality check or what?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Wax On. Wax Off.

I just read a profile about a young woman who has made it her mission to teach teenage girls how to defend themselves. Her interest in the martial arts began when, at age 10, her father sat her down and told her that the only way he would allow her to date as a teenager is if she earned a black belt in a martial art. This may be the most brilliant parenting strategy I have ever heard. I'm seriously thinking about implementing it with my daughter. I did a little research tonight and asked her whether she would rather take dance lessons or karate. Without hesitation she replied, "Karate." Score!

Now, how can I avoid a double standard? What should I require my son to complete before he is permitted to date? Any thoughts? Suggestions? Advice?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Stranger Than Fiction

Long after my college days of devouring Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan and participating in "Take Back the Night" marches, I have finally come to appreciate what the feminist movement has done for me, for my daughter, for every generation of women to come. This appreciation came from a most unlikely source: a television show. After reading about all of the award nominations that the AMC show, Mad Men, has garnished, I had to see the show for myself. I moved it to the top of my Netflix que and have been watching Season 1, one disc at a time, for the past few weeks. For anyone who hasn't watched the show, it depicts the professional and personal lives of New York Advertising execs in the 1960's. Let's just say the glass ceiling was in another galaxy and sexual harassment was not only legal, it was a freakin' expectation. This is the work environment that my parent's generation began their professional lives in. It blows my mind.

Mad Men
On a recent episode, one of the men in the office was describing his experience while brainstorming with the secretaries (lovingly referred to as the "hens") in which he was astounded to find that one of the women actually had some pretty good ideas. He described the scene, "It was like watching a dog play the piano." This is so foreign and offensive to me that I cannot fathom behavior like this ever being tolerated. My daughter will be even more astounded and baffled by this type of talk. You know what that is called people? Progress. So, thank you Mad Men for giving today's generation a real glimpse of what it was that the women of the sixties and seventies were fighting for. And thank you bra-burnin', protestin' women of generations past for making such behavior seem stranger than fiction to me.