Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pioneerin'

No, I haven't gone anywhere.  Unfortunately, we are without power.  Since Saturday.  So I'm more working on things like warmth and potable water at the moment.  But I promise there's a story to come out of the semi-coherent madness into which I have descended!  Eventually.

Monday, October 17, 2011

C U L8R


Husband is a man of many talents.  Running is one.  Math is another.  Burying dead cats is yet a third. 

Lying?  Not so much.  Seriously, the man has the dishonesty meter of a toddler.  Like, if we played hide and go seek, he’d completely convince himself that I wouldn’t be able to see him if he hid under a blanket in the middle of the room.  (And because I am the wonderful wife I am, I wouldn’t stop to wonder what the heck we were doing playing hide and seek in the first place but would play the whole ‘now WHERE is HUSBAND?’ routine while looking right at the blanket as he giggles quietly for a good 5 minutes.  Then I’d walk away and see how long he’d keep hiding.  Come on, a girl can’t be Glinda the Good Witch all the time.)

Husband’s lack of any deceptive ability hasn’t really come into play in recent years, because what does a math teacher really have to lie about?  Proofs?  The value of x?  Try to convince a group of gullible freshman that 2+2 doesn’t REALLY equal 4?

In short, we’ve been floating along on a lazy deception-less river.  Until.

My first clue that something might be up came when Husband got up at 6 a.m. on Sunday to go on a long run.  The long run in and of itself wasn’t weird – Husband thinks it’s fun to churn his legs endlessly for hours at a time on a regular basis.  Sneaking out of the house at 6 a.m. for said run, however, was.

Being as it was 6 a.m. on a Sunday, I rolled over and went back to sleep.  Woke up an hour later, got the kids up and moving, still no Husband.  At 8:30, I finally started wondering where he was.

Husband rolled in at about 8:45.  I asked, as I usually do, how far he ran. 

“20 miles,” he replied as he ducked his head.

Huh, I thought.  Husband hasn’t run that much since……WAIT A MINUTE!!!!

Me:  “Hey, um, Husband?”

Husband:  “Yeah, Al?”

Me:  “So what’s going on?  You going to tell me why you’re running 20 miles?”

Husband:  (ducks head) “Noooo, no reason.”

At this point, Husband morphed into The Boy, dimples and all.  My fellow parents know The Look – that moment when a little kid is trying with all of his or her might to not look at you while still lying to your face. 

Me:  “Out with it.  You’re training for something.  An iron man?  Marathon?”

Husband:  “Uhhhh, I have to take a shower.”

Me:  “Nope, sorry.  Out with it.”

Husband:  “Weelllllll, there may or may not be a marathon in Harrisburg in 2 weeks and I may or may not have signed up for it.  See ya!”

Now, the loyal readers among you may remember my 7th layer of Hell experience when I took The Kiddos up to wait 3 hours to watch Husband fly by for 10 seconds in the Boston Marathon.  We’ll be supporting in spirit, thank you very much.

The training on the down-low isn’t even the best part.  Later, Girl #2 breaks the news of Husband’s plan for marathon day.

What’s this, you ask?  Husband wasn’t going to TELL you he was running a marathon?  What would have happened on marathon day?

Bear with me.

Apparently, the brilliant plan goes something as follows. 

Step 1:  Husband sneaks out of the house to train for the next three weeks. 

Step 2:  On marathon day, Husband sneaks out of the house extra early to drive the 90 minutes or so out to the marathon.

Step 3:  I wake up on marathon day, freak out because Husband is gone.

Step 4:  I go to my cell phone to call 911 because Husband is gone.

Step 5:  Upon opening my phone case, I am instantly comforted because my thoughtful husband has sent me a TEXT MESSAGE telling me that he has gone to RUN A MARATHON.

Step 6:  Locks changed and activated.

Nope, STILL not the best part.  Husband tells Mom of his brilliant Bond-esque plan over the weekend.  Now, my mother has known me for almost 34 years.  She knows that I don’t like the unknown or change.   Especially not surprises or changes to the general routine.  Yes I may be scattered, but I like to know what’s going on for any given day.  Change and I do not go well together.

Yet, knowing all of that, Mom thinks Husband’s plan is a fine idea.  Heartily AGREES WITH it. 

“Sure, I know she doesn’t like the unknown or surprises and all, but you’ll send a TEXT MESSAGE, right?  She’ll be FINE with it!!”

Some people connive to cheat, Husband connives to run a frieking marathon.  So I guess in the grand scheme of things, I still have it pretty damn good.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Screws fall out all the time, the world is an imperfect place

I have the pleasure of supervising the in-school suspension room every day from 8:36 until 9:21 a.m.  Usually there isn’t much excitement, as our guests are still half-asleep at this teenage-early hour.  Yesterday started off as no exception – until it happened.

I had four guests, who were scattered around the room engaged in various stages of sullen learning.  I was getting ready to start the bathroom rotation when suddenly the lights flickered and went out.  Shrieks from rooms up and down the hall told me that the entire school had lost power.

Now, a bit of background about this particular room, if I may.  The room is windowless and unadorned, save for one freaky-deaky space-Einstein-rainbow mural on the back wall.  Therefore, when the lights went out, the room was instantly plunged into complete darkness. 

After a few minutes, an announcement came over the loudspeaker that the outage stemmed from issues at the electric company.  Long story short, duration unknown, stay in your current class.  Ducky.

At this point, I had a couple of choices.  I could bring the kiddos out into the hall, like many of the inner-windowless-room sections were doing.  It was loud, it was chaotic – I preferred our dark little cocoon.  So, first decision made – we stay.  But, given that we now had an indeterminate amount of future time together, how to keep the kids relatively occupied so they don’t go all desk-throwy on me?

The answer was simple – we prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse.

Our first problem was lighting the room.  A kind administrator provided us with a flashlight and I turned my computer screen into the room so there was some light.  The kids did an admirable job of problem solving, working together to figure out the placement of the flashlight that would provide the most light.  (Physics!)

Next up in our one-room society, forming a government.  I intervened and declared a military dictatorship, imposing myself as supreme leader.  I am happy to report that it was a bloodless coup.  My reign was brief, yet effective.  Another couple of hours and I very likely would have rummaged up a captain’s hat and called myself Muammar. (World cultures!)

I gave my subjects some time for exercise – we went into the hall and I gave each of them their own hallway tile.  They commanded their own little island, but couldn’t leave the island.  Much like the Russian Police, I was stern…but fair.

We were humming along nicely making our own little Brave New World (literature!) when the subject of defense came up.  If (WHEN) then zombies came a knockin’, we needed a defense plan.  Throwing desks wouldn’t work (and I didn’t want the issue of practicing to cross anyone’s minds), so my little MacGyvers started to brainstorm game plans with everyday objects around the room.  An old school 007 black umbrella could make an excellent spear.  A wallet chain could be swung around like a mace.  Desks could be used as a barricade (NO THROWING!). 

In short, we spent 2 hours problem-solving and collaborating – we had morphed into our own little Breakfast Club.  (Does that make me Principal Vernon?  I’m NOT being Allie Sheedy.  And Molly Ringwald was a brat, too.  What the heck was her ‘talent,’ anyway?  I never understood the lipstick thing.  Forget the mean principal, I call being the elephant trunk lamp kid.)  They learned about physics and government and I learned that when the Zombie Apocalypse does happen, I want these people in my corner.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mawage


This June will mark the 12th  year of blissful union for me and Husband.  This not only means that those who took the ‘under’ on us making it 10 years had to pay up, but also tells me that we’re doing something right.  Or at least enough right that we are able to tolerate each other’s company on a relatively consistent basis.

When we got married, I remember being told “never go to bed angry.”  Um, ok, not to burst any bubbles, but that’s crap.  First, I like sleep.  A lot.  Also, I’m not especially one for big heartfelt conversations.  I don’t need a good cry every so often and I don’t complain with the girls about how silly those men are with their football and other sports-related things. 

So, yeah, talking it out isn’t something that really works for us.  I can get my message across just as well by huffily pulling ALL the covers over to my side of the bed and crocodile-rolling myself into a puffy cocoon of downy anger.  And then we wake up fine and life goes on.

However, there are times when even my black heart takes a bit of time for sentimentality.  Like last night, for example.  I was home sick all day convalescing and finally taking in the magic that is “Mad Men.”  (Seriously – I would have been lost as a woman in the 1960s.  “Call me “sweetheart” one more time.  Go ahead.  I’ll cut you with your stupid skinny tie.”)  Once Husband got back from another running-related event, I filled him in on the bulk of Season 1 as we finished out the first DVD set.  (“Yes, he’s the boss.  No, not him.  HIM.  Yes, the boss.  Of the AD AGENCY.  No, he’s not sleeping with her.  He’s sleeping with HER.  Come on now, people, pay attention.”)

Now because he still has more than his fair share of a sixth grade boy’s maturity level, Husband became quite entranced by the wool-blend dresses worn by the secretaries on the series.  He decided that the word of the evening would therefore be “bum.”  Yes, Husband spent a good 2 hours saying “bum” every 2 minutes and giggling to himself. 

I’m all for a good fanny joke, but I just wanted to sit and watch the fine character development on the show.  And I had invested about 12 hours in Season 1 at this point, so there was no going back.  I tried the patented Teacher Look.  Since Husband is a teacher himself, he was immune. 

Then I started getting kicky.  Nothing.  (“Bum.  Hee hee hee.”  KICK  “Ow!.......Bum.  Hee hee hee.)

Finally, mercifully, it was time to go to sleep.  (Wait, what?  Why didn’t I just turn off the show earlier if he was bothering me?  Um, hello?  Have we met?  Talked about the OCD-ish need I have to finish stuff like that?  OK, then.)

My head hit the pillow and just as I closed my eyes, I heard it.

“Bum.”  (giggle giggle giggle)

Crocodile roll, activate.

“YOU ARE AN IDIOT!!!!!”

I was all prepared to go to sleep when I remembered.  No, not that I shouldn’t go to bed angry.  Something much more basic.

“Crap, you have an invitational tomorrow, don’t you?”

“Yup.”

“OK, well just in case the bus crashes and you die, the last words I say to you can’t be calling you an idiot.  I love you.”

“Love you too, Al.”

And that’s our secret – infantile comments with more than a splash of gallows humor. 

Oh, and a pledge when we got married that we’re only in it for 50 years.  Then we can both trade in for younger models.  Only 38 ½ years left!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Running on empty


Yesterday the Kiddos and I put on our school colors, gathered up signs and trekked over to cheer the cross country team Husband coaches on in a big meet.  The girls did great and the Kiddos were excellent little cheerleaders.  Their favorite chant was to encourage passing runners to “Work it!  Work it!  Work it!”  as The Boy added a jaunty little hip toss to the cheer.  It was classic. 

(I’d make a Pretty Woman reference, but as Toddlers & Tiaras  has that market cornered, I’ll hold back.  OK seriously, though – a woman dresses her toddler as Julia Roberts’ character for the ‘outfit of choice’ portion of the competition.  You know the one, the blue/white dress from the first scene of the movie?  Complete with the thigh-high patent leather boots.  And the woman’s response to the [wholly appropriate and warranted] uproar?  That the dress covered her daughter more than most of the bathing suits in the competition.  Um…..OK, but that’s not as much the issue as the fact that you dressed your toddler up like a hooker.  But thanks for playing.  Have fun making the beehive wig for the next competition when you tart your kid up like Amy Winehouse.  You’re right, completely appropriate, because she was a great singer and all.)

Overall, the Kiddos did great yesterday for what amounted to 90 minutes of hanging around with sporadic bursts of cheering.   The same cannot be said, however, for the last time we went to support Husband in this whole running thing.

Husband belongs to that special group of insane individuals who think it’s perfectly reasonable and acceptable to run 26.2 miles at a spurt.  Insanity aside, he’s actually quite good at it.  He ran the NY Marathon as his first and, just two marathons later, qualified for Boston.

Because I’m nothing if not supportive (Husband: snort), the Kiddos and I made the trip up to Beantown to cheer Husband on.  At the time, Girl #1 was 9, Girl #2 was 6 and The Boy was 4.  Yeah, I don’t know what the hell I was thinking either.

The day started off great.  Husband left us heartwarming sappy notes about how we’d all be with him on every mile, blah blah blah, and we watched the start of the race on TV.  Husband projected his finish to be at a bit over 3 hours (insane!), so the time came for us to head a few blocks over to the race route and stake out a viewing spot.  The four of us headed out, psyched to see Husband in action.

Now, the Boston Marathon is run on Patriot’s Day every year.  (Great when you live in Boston, because many places give the day off.)  Patriot’s Day falls in mid-April.  Which, for those of you that may not have lived in that great city, just grazes the tail end of winter. 

I remembered this, but my layering skills were not what they were when we actually lived in Mass.  One pair of gloves just wasn’t enough.  Windbreakers and sweatshirts were rendered useless in about 20 minutes.  We had a good 90 minutes to wait and already the Kiddos were complaining about the cold.

We had a nice spot about 2 blocks from the finish and right up against the railing.  But the Kiddos failed to appreciate the prime location.  Nor did they really care when the elite male and female runners came by. 

Girl #2 gave up and started full-on meltdown mode after about 45 minutes.  Her coping strategy became crouching on the sidewalk and gripping the bars of the cattle-chute barrier, staring forlornly across the street and whimpering for her father.  She eventually started inching her way into her jacket, to conserve her warmth.

Girl #1 tried for some height.  She stood on a lamppost pedestal and refused to come down.  Ducky.  But at this point, I was in survival mode.  I could reach her and she wasn’t screaming, so I let the kid check out the world from a different perspective for a while. 

The Boy lasted the longest but also melted down in spectacular fashion.  You see, Husband didn’t come by in the 3 hours he anticipated.  He didn’t come by in 3:15.  Nope, the Boston course kicked Husband’s butt so bad that it added an extra 30 minutes to his usual time.  And, in so doing, an extra 30 minutes to my own personal Hell.

Those last 60 minutes were sheer torture.  Girl #1 up on a lamppost, thinking every guy that runs by in a white jersey is Husband.  (“There he is!!!  Wait, no…..THERE HE IS!!!!  Wait, no.  THERE!!!  Wait, no.”  For an entire hour.)  Girl #2 is huddled on the concrete with her head turtled into her coat, looking like an oddly little homeless woman. 

The Boy decided to make up in volume what he lacked in stature.  He spent the final hour crumpled on the ground, shrieking for his father.  I still owe apologies to the good people around us who endured “DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADDYYYYYYYYYYYY…. I WAANTTTTT DAAAAAAADDDDYYYYYY!!!!” for an hour straight. 

The good people around us did what they could.  They asked what Husband was wearing and started scanning the passing runners for the white jersey with our alma mater, Lehigh, on the front.  Honestly, I think they just wanted to get rid of us.

Husband had quite the welcoming committee.  When he passed, not only did the clouds lift and the trumpets sound, but a good 20 people started yelling “LEHIGH!! LEHIGH!!! THERE! THERE! LEHIIIIGH!!!” 

The Kiddos calmed, we waved…..and he was gone.  A good 2 hours of meltdowns for 5 seconds of a blur of white jersey.

In the end, I think my 2 hours in Dante’s seventh layer of Hell washes with his 26.2 miles. 

Either way, Husband got to drive home.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Whistling in the dark

I can’t remember how we handled the 3-hour life cycle of newborns. I remember getting down on our knees and practically weeping the first time the Kiddos slept more than four hours at a stretch, but I blank on the particulars of those first few months. I think the human brain blocks out the blinding and utterly incapacitating exhaustion that comes with being a new parent so the human race can continue.

Last night, however, gave me a little reminder of those first few months – namely how the brain will play amazing tricks on you at 2 a.m. when you wake up from a dead sleep to tend to a child.

Mommy intuition is an amazing thing. I can out-sense any baby monitor. Even years later, the slightest noise jolts me out of bed. I’m halfway to the Kiddos’ rooms before I realize I’m up. (Husband sleeps. Not a twitch, not a movement. An immobile slumbering rock. The Force is not strong with this one.)

My Spidey sense has come in very handy – I’ve prevented puke-covered sheets and headed off colds at the pass. However, it does have some drawbacks. Namely, The Boy tends to talk in his sleep. And laugh in his sleep. And SHOUT in his sleep. Just for kicks, I once started talking back when The Boy was yelling about everyone else getting a watch but him. We had a full-blown argument. Yeah, some of that will probably stick in his subconscious but the fun of arguing was a sleeping 5 year old about nonsense outweighed my concerns about permanent psychological damage. (Bells going off – maybe THIS is why he’s so obsessed with the time?)

Anyway, last night I awoke to a shriek at 2 a.m. The Boy, shouting for Girl #2 in what my keen senses characterized as a scared tone. Nightmare. OK, I can handle this. Let the rocking and back rubbing commence, I’ll be back to bed in 5.

I stumbled into The Boy’s room ready to soothe and comfort. (Yes, despite my general state of irritation, I’m surprisingly maternal. I can heal boo-boos with a kiss like nobody’s business.) Went over to The Boy’s bed and….nothing. Empty.

No problem, I thought. The Boy often has sleepovers, he’s probably in Girl #2’s room. I lurched across the hall into Girl #2’s room. Another empty bed.

At this point, my brain made the executive decision to stop working. Instead of piecing together the fact that it just heard The Boy yell with the fact that there hadn’t been any other noises in the house, the ol’ gray matter made the (at the time) wholly rational leap to the conclusion that The Boy may have been kidnapped.

I rushed back into our room, panicking. Kidnapped – KIDnapped! I must stress again that I had completely convinced myself that this had happened. Again, 2 a.m. is not the best time for rational thinking (as anyone who has left a bar after last call will tell you – ZING!).

Husband, who had been peacefully sleeping through my whole ratcheting up to crazy process, found himself being shaken awake as I babbled about kidnappers.

Husband: Um, Al, he’s fine. He’s here.

Me: NO HE’S NOT! Not in his bed, not in Girl #2’s room – maybe what I heard was him crying out for us to help him –

Husband: Al. Chill. He and Girl #2 decided to have a sleepover in her closet.

Me: Oh. Yeah. Um….’night, Husband.

Husband: (sighs)

Is it really any wonder that we feel zero burning desire to have more kids?

Friday, September 16, 2011

I'm aware enough, thanks

It’s Thank Your Mom week on Trials!!!!!!! Post this as your on blog update if you have a mom, ever had a mom, or might have a mom in the future!!!! (emoticon emoticon emoticon)

OK, um, no. It’s not Thank Your Mom week. (But really, you should thank your maternal figures anyway. Because moms are generally awesome. And, as I have discovered as I have grown older and, dare I say, wiser, moms are also generally right. For example, I have realized that, contrary to the belief I held fast in my twee eight year old mind, parents should NOT give their child everything that child’s little heart may desire. Mom, you were right. Thank you for teaching me moderation.)

Don’t get fooled now. Just because I thanked my (incredible, amazing, splendiferous) mom, it’s STILL not Thank Your Mom week anywhere in the known world. Maybe somewhere in the undiscovered wilds of the Amazon, they’re jumping around in loincloths thanking the mothers of the tribe. I don’t know. But not here.

Oh, and by the way, it’s also not Shake a Stranger’s Hand, Love Thy Neighbor, Bless the Beasts, Hug a Tiger, Kiss a Penguin, Alphabet Awareness or any other entitled Week that keeps popping up insistently on Facebook. Now, if you’re the kind of person who loves to copy and paste messages into the ol’ status bar, then God love you for it. Go in peace. Spread your light. Or status. Whatever.

I’m not that kind of person.

Not only am I not that kind of person, my black heart means that I do on more than is a healthy amount of occasions actually yell “NO, IT’S NOT!” at those statuses (statii?) accompanied with a weighty sigh and hefty eye roll. Look, I never said I was nice. Or particularly tolerant of kitsch. Despite living in the country, our home is blissfully free of framed needlework. And, oh I don’t know, antique butter pat patterns.

So again, thank your maternal figure. Every day if the spirit moves you (or, as some insist on saying, everyday). Just don’t make up a fake week to try to go viral on Facebook. In the end, by doing so, all of the weeks, causes, what have you just become background noise. (End of rant. Long week, people, long week.)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

O beautiful for patriot dream

What I will always remember about that day is the sky. A pure crystalline blue, unblemished by clouds. We were in the Boston area at the time and the sky was as clear there as it was in New York. Even in the morning you could tell it was going to be one of those Indian summer days that made you want to kick out of work early and enjoy the season’s last gasp of balmy sunshine.

I had just begun my second year of law school and Tuesday morning found me in a Juvenile Justice class from 9-11 a.m. During the previous classes we had taken a break at around 10, but for some reason we went straight through on that particular morning.

This particular professor did not permit computers in the classroom – he had already caught on to the fact that most people used them to surf the internet or play Free Cell instead of to take notes. Iphones weren’t around yet - the most exciting thing my cell phone did at the time was ring and permit the user to play Snake.

At about 9:30, my phone started vibrating. I pulled the old “phone under the thigh” trick and looked at the screen – Husband. No message. I thought nothing of it and returned to taking notes.

2 minutes later, Husband calls again. And again. Over and over my phone lit up, with no message.

A knot of unease began to grow in my stomach. I thought that something had happened to a family member. As we didn’t break (and getting up in the middle of a lecture wasn’t the sort of thing you did to a law school professor), I had to wait until the end of class to finally call Husband back.

I found out at 11:00 a.m. on September 11, 2001 what had happened to our country.

The rest of the day I remember in a stream of senses and disjointed pictures.

- Staring up at the sky as I waited for the T to take the train home and wondering how something so horrible could happen on such a gloriously beautiful day.

- Leaving the T blocks from the train station because I didn’t want to be underground anymore, only to be redirected back by a Boston police officer.

- The 12:30 train home being packed and smelly and the conductor telling everyone that there was no fare for this ride.

- An overwhelming feeling of complete uncertainty and helplessness.

- Feeling like we needed to do something – going to the blood donation center (closed) to try to help if we could.

- Wondering why. Needing to know why.

- People hanging from buildings, waving white towels.

- Hate. Pure and utter hate.

- Dust. Plumes of smoke flooding the streets of New York.

- Wondering what was coming next. Being sure there was something coming next.

- Paper floating through the air.

- Members of Congress singing “God Bless America” on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

- Sleeping with the TV on all night for the next few nights, then immediately turning on the TV in the morning to check the news for weeks.

- Singing “America the Beautiful” and (still) breaking down at the line “Thine alabaster cities gleam. Undimmed by human tears!”

- The firefighters. The police. The emergency workers.

What is uncanny is that seeing a picture or news broadcast from that day brings back all of those thoughts and emotions in a split second.

This doesn’t have a big punchy ending, doesn’t have a joke. Just what sticks out for me about a day that still hurts.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My Baby's Daddy

As Husband’s head has ballooned to immense proportions over the last 24 hours following my whole “he’s a saint because he buried my frozen cat” story, I feel the need to take it (him) down a notch.  Yes, Husband is generally wonderful, caring and understanding of all that is my daily insanity. 
However.
The morning of April 29, 2003 began very early for me.  I was 9 months and one day pregnant and had spent the preceding evening walking the mall with Husband in an effort to get. The. Baby.  Out.  (Let me tell you, nothing gets you faster service than when someone asks when you’re due and you reply “oh, today.”  Or a better deal on a car.  Negotiating while  extremely pregnant has been our go-to car buying technique.  Yeah, I just did the whole “we’re pregnant” thing.  Works great.  Especially when “we” need to go to get McDonalds now because “our” pregnancy has caused insatiable cravings for their sweet sweet fries.)
I woke up at about 3 a.m. with something going on.  I had been constantly swinging between thinking I was going into labor and being terrified that I’d sound the alarms and launch the ships only to be told that I wasn’t actually in labor (with the understanding that I was obviously going to then be a horrible mother if I couldn’t even tell what my yet-to-be-born baby needed!) for the preceding three weeks.  But as I rocked on the living room glider and took in some fine fine 3 a.m. programming, things didn’t wind down.
Could it be?  Nah, no way.  I had already decided that this baby was never coming out, so this couldn’t possibly be labor. 
Oh well, I told myself, this is just another false alarm.  Let’s just watch some of Balkie’s antics on Perfect Strangers and calm the hell down.
For kicks, I started keeping track of any belly action in this little notebook we had been using. Because every extremely pregnant lady knows that the first question out of every person’s mouth from the time you call the hospital to the time you actually finally (blessedly) get a room is “how far apart are they?”  (My response was always “I want drugs, please.”)
Perfect Strangers changed seamlessly into Full House.  I lost track of time and flashed back to the good old middle school days of the TGIF line-up.  Suddenly, a doozie of a contraction tore me away from the hijinx of Uncles Joey and Jesse.  Whoa.  I looked at my watch, then my notebook.  I realized that I was at a good 6 minute pace that had been consistent for the last hour.  Showtime!
Time to get to the hospital, which meant that since “we” were pregnant, “we” needed to now get our butts out of bed and drive “our” pregnant selves to the ER. 
Yes, Husband had slept peacefully thus far.  But it was all good – nothing was really doing that required us both to be up.  Really, did he need to sit and watch me quietly contract?  But now it was necessary to inform Husband of his immediately impending fatherhood.

“Um, Husband?”  Gentle nudging as I prepared to experience that magical moment when I informed my one and only love that it was time to become a daddy.
Nothing.
“Babe?  HusBAND????”  More urgent nudging.  Practically shaking.  “Wake up, babe, it’s time.”  I smiled, anticipating his joy and finally welcoming his first child into the world.
Groggy head pops up.  “Whaaaa?”
“It’s time, sweetie, I’m in labor.”
Again, still groggy.  “Huhhh?”
“LA-bor, honey, I’m in LABOR.”  Starting to freak, but gamely keeping my pregnant hormones in check.
And then Husband turned to me, blinked a couple of times and uttered six tender words to express his deeply-held feelings to his laboring wife.
“Do I have to get up?”
No, no.  We’re good.  You go back to sleep. 
And.  He.  Did.
Hands off ladies, he’s all mine.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ol' Blue Eyes


I have mentioned several times how Husband is an absolute saint for putting up with my special brand of crazy for going on 12 years.  When I start a sentence mid-thought, Husband is on it and usually gives a completely relevant answer.  (Me:  So, what did they do before?  Husband:  I don’t know, I think people just wrote everything out and mailed letters.  Me:  Oh.)  When I lapse into Smurf-Ali talk, Husband picks up the ball and runs.  (Me:  Did you remember to put the thing on the thing?  Husband:  Yup, took garbage out last night.  Me:  Nice!) 

However, I didn’t come alone.  Husband also earns bonus points for blending in seamlessly with my fam.  One particular event made me realize just how much he had become one of us.

At the time, Girl #2 was about three months old.  I had just taken the bar exam and was waiting to start at my first firm, while Husband was a full-time stay-at-home dad (again, a saint – and don’t think the mommies at storytime didn’t try to work it.  Pffft - I’d claw their eyes out before they knew what hit them.)  We were in the middle of what we had termed Christening Tour ’03.  We had a month and took Girl #2 on the road to visit pretty much everyone.

One leg of CT ’03 had us stopping at my parents’ house before heading out to Long Island.  My fam was already up in Long Island and had a pet sitter coming by daily to check up on Frank, our cat.

Frank was the best cat.  He was a cream Himalayan with blue eyes, hence the name.  I got Frank when I was in high school and he stayed with my parents when I moved on.

Instead of the general “oh, you again?” dismissal you get with cats, Frank would come running when you came home and immediately start twining around your legs.  The guy thought he was a dog.  He would come when you called him and even let my little sister walk him on a leash.  He’d cuddle with you when he knew you weren’t feeling well.  Frankie ruined me for all other cats.

Naturally, when we got to my parents’ house, I ran around trying to find Frankie.  I looked upstairs, I looked downstairs – no Frank.  I figured he was hiding under my parents’ bed or something because he didn’t recognize the baby smell and turned my attention to taking care of Girl #2. 

Once we got settled, we called my parents to let them know we had gotten in OK.  I talked with Mom about the drive and Girl #2, then a little about how their visit with the Long Island branch of the fam was going. 

I finally got around to saying that I couldn’t find Frank.  Mom evasively asked to talk with Husband.  No problem, my goldfish brain said as I handed the phone over and went back to play with the baby.

Husband listened for a while, said “OK” a couple of times, then came into the family room.

Husband:  Ali, I need you to go upstairs for a while with Girl #2.

Me:  Why?

Husband:  I just need you to do this, I have to do something.

Me:  (connecting dots)  Husband, where’s Frank?

Husband:  Al, just go.

Me: (more dots connecting)  Frank’s dead, isn’t he???

Husband:  (sighs)  Al, please.

Me:  (dots flying as I realized my cat was not only dead, but still in the house) Ohmigod.  Frank’s in the freezer, isn’t he???!??!?!?!

Husband:  (blink)

Me:  AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Yes, Frankie was no more.  Apparently the middle-school-aged girl my parents had hired to come check up on him had the rare pleasure of finding him dead as a doornail.  Every pet sitter’s dream.  No cause of death, no sickness, nothing.  He just decided he had had enough.  Thankfully, the girl’s dad was with her and called Mom to find out what they should do. 

And that’s how Frankie came to be wrapped up in a garbage bag in my parents’ garage freezer.

When Husband got on the phone, the conversation went sort of like this:

Mom:  Husband, I need you to do me a favor.  A big one.

Husband:  OK.

Mom:  (deep breath)  Frank’s dead and he’s in the freezer.

Husband:  OK.

Mom:  I need you to get Alison out of the room and bury Frank in the woods.

Husband: ……………………..OK.

Mom:  Thanks, Husband, I owe you.

Owe him, indeed.  When you marry a girl, I don’t exactly think it’s with visions of burying her dead (frozen) cat in the woods someday.  Even if you are a saint on Husband’s level. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Girl #2 goes to the pediatrician (or, why my purse now weighs a good 15 pounds)


Big news, all.  I got my first google hit!  Well, hits.  The person searched the same terms over and over – about 12 times over the course of 5 minutes.  And, for whatever reason, this individual kept coming back to my little blog. 

Not that I’m not flattered, but I’m not quite sure that my blog specifically suited this person’s particular needs.  Especially given that their needs entailed “satin boxing robe, -pajamas, -lingerie.”  I’m guessing my karaoke post left this person somewhat … wanting.

Moving on.  It’s Labor Day!  A day when we Americans get to sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labors during the rest of the year with a well-earned day off.  I have so far spent my morning nursing the same cup of coffee that at this point has been nuked within an inch of its life.  Bliss.

Husband, who is much more ert than yours truly (yes, I know that ‘ert’ is not the opposite of ‘inert’ – but I love it and I’m sticking with it.  Imaginated words are our friendings) insisted on mowing our front lawn despite the intense rain last night.  As a result, our driveway now sports a layer of green fur.  Peachy.

But, as this is Labor Day and two of my college besties are due to have their first babies in a matter of days (woo!), it’s time for a baby story.   No, not a labor story you big silly, just a harmless baby story.

A bit of background – Girl #1 came into our lives after she passed the baby stage.  As a result, Girl #2 got to be our first baby – our starter kid, if you will.  Looking back, we were absolutely clueless. 

Day 4 of Girl #2’s time on this Earth showed us just how drastically we needed to change our thinking. 

First, a disclaimer – as most new parents are, we were running on no sleep at this point.  Like, hallucinating-real-fish-in-Girl #2’s-little-aquarium-crib-toy-no-sleep.  I blame the she-devil nurse at the hospital who broke the number one baby rule and had us wake up Girl #2 to feed her in the middle of her first night.  Extremely long story short, it took us an hour to fully wake Girl #2 up and five.  Goddamn.  Days. to get her to do more than catnap.

Day 4 brought our first pediatrician visit.  As we hadn’t left the house (or, very possibly, showered) for the preceding 48 hours since coming home from the hospital, we were ecstatic about a field trip.  We dressed Girl #2 in a snappy little outfit (watch her neck!!!), grabbed the log of feedings and diaper changes (nothing is more humbling than recording whether your child peed or poo’d at 4 a.m….. except potty training when you’re cleaning up child urine from the carpet for the fifth time in a 4 hour period) and traipsed gleefully out to the car.

We checked in and were shown to a cute little room covered in happily marching pastel animals.

Given that they are dealing with the least patient (Husband:  HA!  Get it?  Patient?  GET IT???) segment of the population, one might think that pediatricians would try to run their offices with a certain sense of urgency.  In this case, one would be wrong.  We waited at least ½ an hour each time we went to this guy.  Not so bad when you’re dealing with a baby.  Thankfully, we moved before we had to entertain a 1 year old in an 8x8 box for an indeterminate amount of time.

Suddenly, our noses started to twitch.  As cute as they are, babies can produce a remarkable amount of foul-smelling pure concentrated evil.  And they have the uncanny ability to do so at the worst possible time.  Such as at the pediatrician’s office.  When you’re new parents.  And, accordingly, forgot the diaper bag at home.  Yup, Husband and I waltzed out the door without giving a single thought to the fact that we needed to be prepared for every possible contingency.

Husband and I looked at each other.  We had nothing.  I mean, they didn’t tell us to bring a diaper bag, right?  They just said to bring the baby!

Our lack of sleep made our brain process as slow as if we had just summitted Everest.  We looked at Girl #2.  She looked back.  We rechecked her diaper.  The stank had not magically disappeared.  We looked again at each other, as little wavy stink lines started coming out of the diaper.

Now, I’m not saying that our ultimate solution was correct.  It did, however, solve the problem.  What we learned was that when you become a parent, you will do whatever is necessary to fill your child’s needs.  Even if that means searching every square inch of an examining room and stealing a diaper, then, um, digging through the trash to hide a dirty diaper at the bottom of the pail.

Now?  We are nothing if not prepared.  My purse could win any day on Let’s Make a Deal – snacks, crayons, safety pins, even spare sets of earrings.  No diapers – because, really, if our 6, 8, or 11 year old suddenly has an urgent unfulfilled need for a diaper, we’ve got bigger problems on our hands.

Happy Labor Day!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The day the brownies died

Today, after Girl #2’s first game as an official little cheerleader (yay for a parent-watching opportunity!) we will be heading over for a Labor Day cookout at my aunt and uncle’s house. We are in charge of appetizers.

We tend to take our food responsibilities very seriously. Lots of planning and precisely choreographed cooking precedes these events. Really, I’m surprised every time Husband and I come out the other side with all of our fingers. (When I get stressed in the kitchen, my go to threat tends to be that I’ll cut a bitch. Which means Husband. Said with love, of course. Again, a saint this man is.)

I will freely admit that I wasn’t always this way. Bake-y, I mean. In college, my dish of choice was macaroni and cheese of the Kraft variety. Kindof every night. And, um, afternoon. OK, OK, even mornings. (Now that we watch Top Chef, every food offering has become a dish. Because we’re classy like that.)

Husband has always been very adept at the stir-fry method of cooking. By that, I mean that in college he pretty much threw what was around into a skillet, added rice and tomato sauce and simmered/saut√©ed. It was….interesting. And, um, edible. Yup, interesting and edible kindof sums it up.

To rescue us both from years of random mixtures, I tried to cook when we first got married. Note that I said tried. Generally, Husband would come home to some sort of baked meat (usually very well-done) and side vegetable. No need for seasonings, the general charring that ensued added an interesting smoky flavor!

Thankfully, Husband rescued us both and took over the bulk of the dinner duties. He left the skillet-concoctions behind and (thank GOD!) became a superb griller.

When I reclaimed my soul after my career switch, I decided to give baking a try. Mom is an AMAZING chef and I figured some of those genes may have carried over. (They had not made the slightest hint of an appearance over the preceding thirty years.)

Carry over, indeed. I know that humility is a desirable quality and all, but I can rock me some pastry. I think Mom teared up a little when she was finally able to buy me a stand mixer for Christmas.

This past Easter, I was on desserts. I decided to do a cruise-buffet-inspired variety of little individual offerings. Despite having spent five hours painstakingly making a dobosh torte from scratch (seriously, look this sucker up. I am a pastry goddess!), this Easter buffet almost broke me. No, it wasn’t the mini-lemon meringue pies. Or the ganache-topped mini-cupcakes. Or even the chick-shaped cake balls. (Husband: Cake balls. Heh.) No, what almost drove me to the cooking sherry was frieking brownies.

Looking back, I can see where I went wrong. Since I didn’t see any Pam, I coated the mini-muffin tray with Crisco. Round 1, deep-fried brownies. I pulled them out of the oven and almost sloshed a good ½ inch of liquid lard all over myself. Because I was not going to let a batch of brownies beat me, I tried again. I used less Crisco and popped Round 2 into the oven. I could do this, right? Heck, brownies are the first thing every little girl makes from scratch, right?

I couldn’t do this. Deep-fried brownies 2, Alison 0.

Now I got angry. You know how they say to put happy thoughts and love into your cooking? Not these brownies. Batch 3 were filled with anger, bitterness and a stream of muttered curse words. However, this time I at least had the good sense to finally dig through our cabinets and find some cooking spray.

End result? Deep-fried brownies, 2, Alison 1. I WIN!!!

The anger-brownies were not the hit of the buffet. I blame the brownies. Little bastards.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Put on the red light


There have been several times over the course of my life when I fancied myself an entrepreneur.  When I was nine, I spent the summer selling cookies and lemonade at the end of our driveway.  (Many thanks to Mom who spent that particular summer baking cookies for my inventory.)  Every morning I would drag a little table and chair to the end of the driveway, slap a gallon of lemonade and Tupperware container of cookies on that bad boy and open for business. 

I was a shrewd businesswoman – my marketing campaign consisted of conning my little sister into holding a posterboard sign 20 feet or so past our driveway that said “Turn back!  You just missed lemonade!” (COMPLETELY readable at 45 mph) and both of us shouting “Stop and BUY!” at passing cars (windows closed).  

My motivation?  My own cockatiel.  (Think parrot, but smaller and gray with a white/yellow head and an orange pumpkin patch on the cheek.  Well, where the cheek would be if birds have cheeks.  Do birds have cheeks?  Google was no help on this one.)

The summer was long, but I emerged victorious.  One quarter at a time, I worked my way to owning my own bird, Tiely (pronounced TEEl-ie).  Problem was, Tiely was a brat.  Instead of riding around of my shoulder like I pictured, Tiely bit me every time my twee fingers got near her sharp and hurt-y beak. 

Since I was a…persistent child, I kept trying to fulfill my vision of having a bird BFF.  Basically, I kept trying to pet my bird to try to get her to like me.  She, on the other hand, kept right on biting the annoying kid that would NOT stop poking her.  Ours was a tumultuous relationship – I think Tiely eventually died of consumption.  Or maybe an early strain of bird flu.  Or maybe (probably) I just didn’t clean her cage enough.  RIP, my angry little almost-bird-BFF.

Anywho, that summer pimping cookies and lemonade taught me the importance of a catchy slogan.  Well, and kid guilt – our street was extremely quiet, so I suspect many people stopped just because they felt bad for the little girl that looked heat stroked slumped at a table amid pitchers of warm lemonade.  Whatever, I still got my quarter.  But I digress – the key to a good business advertisement is the hook.  You want people to get interested in the product enough to actually, you know, buy it. 

Before you start on a slogan, you have to figure out your target audience.  Don’t limit yourself to one very specific and small target group.  Especially if that particular group may not exist in a relatively rural and conservative community.  For example, take the following advertisement posted in our local grocery store:


Call me crazy, but I really don’t think limiting yourself to the ‘working lady’ demo is the way to go here.  And what exactly would make this particular room ideal for said ladies?  Velvet covered walls?  A big lady they just call “Momma” working the door?  Nothing but red lightbulbs, as far as the eye can see?  Lots of readily available feather boas?  (Yes, my mental picture of a working brothel is obviously highly romanticized.  As is my mental picture of a hooker.  I blame Pretty Woman and Moulin Rouge.)

I don't know who is going to be more confused in this situation - the entrepreneurial hookers who see a new brothel opportunity or the poor people just trying to rent a room to earn some extra cash who can't figure out why they keep getting messages from Sugars, Candys, Bambis and Stars.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

There were horses, and a man on fire, and I killed a guy with a trident


Yesterday was a pretty tense day around the ol’ Fortress of Solitude.  In anticipation of Irene’s arrival we got our bottled water, filled our bathtub, put away all of our deck and porch furniture and waited.

Thankfully, she didn’t do much damage around here.  Looks to be some localized flooding, but nothing too bad.  Or at least not enough that we can’t look back on some of yesterday’s weather coverage and laugh.  Because, seriously people, some of these intrepid individuals just about hurled themselves into the sea to demonstrate how bad things were.

But first, a brief detour.  As instructed by the good people at The Weather Channel, I texted my parents this morning to make sure all was well instead of calling, to conserve my battery just in case we still lost power.  I did break all of the rules (damn the man, Willard) and called yesterday as Irene cranked up to make sure Mom had filled the bathtubs. 

She did not, however, fully appreciate my kind and thoughtful gesture.  Probably because when I called I told her that I was calling because the people on the TV instructed me to check up on the elderly and infirmed.  And, um, Husband might have been yelling “ARE YOU OK, INFIRMED ELDERS???” in the background.  I kid because I love, promise.  No, really!  (But yeah, we really did do that.  Moving on.)

So after getting my text this morning, Mom (always the rebel!) calls back to tell me that they were fine but without power.  And that they had already driven around to check out the damage.  Teeeeerriffic.  As visions of my parents getting play on the news for being flood-rescue candidates ran through my head, Mom ‘fessed up that the REAL reason they ventured out was to go out for breakfast.  Because what’s a little flooding when you’ve got a hankering for some good diner eggs?

As sane people stayed indoors, all food-related establishments were closed.  Which left Dad with a problem – morning coffee.  Dad NEEDS his coffee.  Strong like hi-test gasoline and piping hot, every morning first thing.  Their power was out and restaurants were closed – what to do?

Dad is nothing if not a modern day pioneer.  As a result, when I called to check in, I couldn’t actually speak to Dad because he was perkily boiling water for coffee. Outside on their deck.  On my parents’ gas barbeque.  Pa Ingalls would be proud.

Beyond Mom and Dad, I have to laugh at some of these weather guys.  Yes, last night was practically Christmas.  Beyond the dangerous potential of the storm, this was the local guy’s big opportunity to finally get noticed and get that big call up to The Weather Channel.  And try to get noticed they did. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one of our fine local weathermen, Adam Joseph.  First, the guy was on the air for 12 hours straight.  So he gets mad props from me for that.  However, there came a point where I didn’t think Adam would make it. 

At about 9:30 p.m., a pack of tornadoes started popping up around the area.  Adam, jacket and tie off and sleeves rolled up at this point, basically lost it.  He started gesticulating wildly around the map, spitting out the names of random cities that might be in the path of a tornado.  Which, mind you, at this point basically covered the entire greater Philadelphia region.

“Radnor!  Central Philly!  Conshohocken!  Broomall!  DREXELL HILL!  KING OF PRUSSIA!!!!

Then Adam started screaming for paper.  “I need this written down.  This is too much.  I need paper!  PAPER PEOPLE!”

An hour later, Adam had both his paper and grasp on reality firmly in hand.  But that moment when he morphed into Kermit the Frog-doing-the-crazy-wave will forever make me smile.

Then we have the reporters who feel the need to actually try to get swept away by the ocean to prove their point.  If you tracked The Weather Channel at all yesterday, you may have seen the reporter stationed in Nags Head, NC.  During a hurricane, this guy decided to stand in the ocean.  As the wind and surf picked up in power, this guy doesn’t move to higher ground or even get out of the range of the ocean.  Nope.  Instead, he just widened his stance.  

There you go.  Don't get out of the way, just hunker down.  Because a lower center of gravity can defeat a frieking hurricane.  No problem.
As the day went on, he got closer and closer to doing a full split.  My black heart encouraged me to root for the ocean.  (No, of COURSE I didn’t.  That would be wrong.  Husband did.)

Finally, you may have heard of the enterprising young go-getter who stood right next to the boardwalk railing in Ocean City, MD to give viewers the fullest sense of the ocean’s fury?  He got covered in that ocean foam stuff that doesn’t dissipate and pretty much looked like Foamy the Snowman.

“It’s in my face as well…as you can imagine, it doesn’t taste well…it has a sort of sandy consistency to it.”
 
Yeah, um, about that foam.  For those of you that go to the beach, don’t ever go near that weird ocean foam again….organic matter is NOT plankton.  Guy pretty much made raw sewage foam snow angels.  (shudder)

For those of you yet to be hit, stay safe out there and please don’t eat any ocean foam!


Friday, August 26, 2011

Whatcha gonna do, brother?


To the Good People in the Programming Department at Food Network:

My family and I immensely enjoy your “Challenge” program.  Whether it’s making Rube Goldberg devices out of sugar or Disney characters draped in fondant, it’s all hands on deck in our house at 8 p.m. on Sunday nights.

However, I must bring to your attention a cruel injustice done during this past Sunday’s program.  Someone at your fine station decided to inexplicably attack one of the members of our geriatric population. 

This particular individual has done nothing but give to our good country.  For more than thirty years, he has fought.  He has fought for our rights – not just his own mind you.  This individual has fought for the rights of every man.  He has even fought for his life.

In short, he is a real American and I just don’t think it’s right to take an utterly unprovoked swipe at poor Mr. Hogan.

Sincerely,

Alison

Listen, Hulk, I know it might be crashing down and hurt inside, but you gotta take a stand against this cruelty - it don't help to hide.








Monday, August 22, 2011

Parenticus Sportian


“Let’s!  Get!  Fired up!”  (clap, clap, clapclapclap)  One hundred little voices ring out from the center of our high school’s courtyard.  The time has come – Girl #2 has joined cheerleading.

This isn’t our first time at the kid sports rodeo.  Each of the Kiddos has played soccer at one time or another, The Boy started t-ball, Girl #2 does gymnastics and Girl #1 swims.  So we have been to quite a few practices and games over the past few years.

Practices provide a unique opportunity for parent-watching.  It’s almost like bird-watching, with each sport having a specific species of uber-involved parent.  For now I’m going to focus on the male varieties of the species.

Soccer has the Beckham Dads.  These individuals can be found at every practice and game in rip-away warm-up pants and an Under Armor shirt, ready to be called into the game should the need arise.  As the games we see are generally played by 7 year olds, you can imagine that the need has never arisen for a parent to step in to sub for a fallen first grader.  But there the Beckham Dad waits, prepared to bend it at a moment’s notice. 

The Beckham Dad also has the charming attribute of directing his child’s every move.  “Joe!  This way!  No, attack!  ATTAAAAAAACK!! Now back!  Back!  BACK!!!! Get the ball, Joe, get the ball!  Defense!  DEFEEEEENSE!!!”  For two hours.  At top volume.  Please Joe, just get the ball and score.  For all of us.

Closely related to the Beckham Dad is the Varsity Blues Dad.  This individual played back in the day and hasn’t quite left those glory days behind.  Parent-kid game?  Yes.  Parent swim relay?  Sign.  Him.  Up.  He’ll show up in Speedos and tell everyone within earshot how he used to swim a 52 second 100-meter free.  Everyone smiles, nods and indulges him, secretly shaking their head at the aging, balding, waistline-expanding guy who insists on trying to recapture his youth.

Most recently, we spotted the elusive Bring It On Dad.  I had previously only seen this species on T.V. and was unsure whether we’d ever find a Bring It On Dad in his natural habitat.  Usually this particular species can be found on the kiddie beauty pageant circuit, shaking his groove thang and doing the Outfit-of-Choice routine right along with his daughter.

As I mentioned, Girl #2 has started cheerleading.  Practices began last week with the basics – learn the cheers, learn the moves.  I was watching the girls when all of a sudden I saw a dad step in line and start stretching.  Could it be a Bring It On Dad?  Sure enough, when the leader yelled (with SPIRIT) “READY???!?!??!” the suspected Bring It On Dad popped his hands on his hips right along with the girls.  Right L?  Check.  Left diagonal?  Indeed.  High V?  The highest!  

Sighting confirmed, I only have three words - GO!  FIGHT! WIN!!!


Please feel free to report your sightings of these and other species at kid sporting events around the country.






Sunday, August 14, 2011

Keeping abreast of the situation


After a week spent blissfully cut off from civilization, we reentered the continental United States this morning with a bang.  Or, more appropriately, with a nipple.

Let me set the scene, if I may.  To get back to the mainland from our carless paradise, island-dwellers have to take a ferry.  After the ferry ride, everyone sort of runs around with their heads cut off at the terminal looking for their luggage.  While this is run with almost Disney-like efficiency and speed, there is nevertheless a general scrum as people spot their bags.

During the organized chaos, I see a newborn baby pretty much screaming his precious little head off.  I have nothing against newborns.  As I have little people of my own, I know the struggle.  I even remember the struggle.  Your kid is crying, you think everyone is not only looking at you but judging and looking up the number for the closest Child Protective Services office.  So I sympathized….until.

Everything was going along according to plan.  Screaming Baby had faded into the background commotion.  We were executing a precisely planned attack – Husband was completing the Tetris puzzle of repacking the car and I was corralling the Kiddos.  

Suddenly, I noticed that The Boy was a little….giggly.  He kept stealing looks across the departure loading road to a stairwell.  I followed his furtive little gaze and saw Screaming Baby and his mom.  Well, that’s not entirely correct.  I saw the back of Screaming Baby’s head and his mom’s right breast.

Teeeerrrriffic.

Listen, I get that a baby’s gotta eat.  Not trying to get into the Great Nursing Debate at all.  (But might I suggest nursing blankets for those expecting?)  However, at that moment, The Boy got more sex ed than I had really been prepared to give right off of a vacation. 

I nudged him.  Nothing.  Caught in the tractor beam of a free flesh buffet.  Finally, thankfully, Husband finished packing and I literally hauled my son into the car.

Husband’s reaction?  “Well, now we know The Boy’s a boob man.”

Charming.

I can’t wait to read his first journal entry on “What I Did This Summer.”







Friday, August 12, 2011

What is THAT???? Part 2


Just because I’m away from the crazy of everyday life, don’t think for a second that I’m not looking for blog gold.  Constant vigilance, people, constant vigilance.

My mom has been on a mission during this trip to find gnarled driftwood to bring home.  I get my special brand of, um, focus from my mom.  Some might call it a tendency to obsess, while Husband would probably say stubbornness.  (Husband:  LIKE AN OX!)  Once we get an idea in our heads, well, it’s lights out.  We are goal-oriented and that is that.

Last year, we decided to look for sea glass.  Instead of casual sunset beach walks, Mom and I would speedwalk-race each other down the beach, frantically scanning from side to side for a precious piece of sea glass.  It got uber-competitive, uber-quickly.  I don’t think I have to explain why Trivial Pursuit has almost resulted in blood?  No?  OK, then, moving on.

So, driftwood it has been for the past five days.  Yesterday, Mom came home with a special find from her walk.  She loves the gnarled and knobby qualities of the wood.

Me, I think the fine children she teaches are going to have the unfortunate opportunity to touch petrified deer poo.

So, my dear readers, I give the issue at hand to you….what is THAT????









Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I scream, you scream


 The idea was simple in theory.  A relaxing post-dinner trip over to the local market’s ice cream window to grab dessert.  The important part here is in theory.  Reality intervened in the form of Alexei, Svetlana and Katarina.

No, we have not acquired Russian immigrants during our travels.  These individuals were the crack team assigned to work the ice cream hut during the evening rush. 

The basic set-up is simple – you go up to Window #1, give Svetlana your order and pay.  You then take one sidestep to your right to pick up your order from Alexei or Katarina.  Think Soup Nazi from Seinfeld, but with ice cream.

Our orders were simple enough.  Vanilla cone, vanilla hot fudge sundae, 2 rocky road cones, 2 vanilla mocha almond dishes, 2 birthday cake cones.  (Yes, I got the birthday cake cone.  Yes, I know I have the palate of a 10-year old.  My favorite cereal remains Marshmallow Blast Froot Loops –  in college, I could study for a good 20 hours at a clip on a box of that stuff.  Along with Salsa and Sour Cream Doritos Thins, it’s the discontinued food item that I mourn the most.)

Perhaps we should have started to worry when Alexei (helpful subtitle of The Russian Boy on his nametag) announced “cookie cream!” as he hurled a dish of ice cream out of Window #2.  Husband picked it up, as cookies and cream looks pretty similar to vanilla mocha almond.  Nope, cookies and cream all the way.

Window #2 opened again.  “Cookie cream cone!”

“Um, sir?  We ordered vanilla mocha almond in a cup and a cone.  Not cookies and cream.”  Husband gallantly took the communication reins as he handed his dish back through the window.  Alexei looked at Husband, then down at the ice cream now coming back into the booth.  He turned to Svetlana and a heated Russian exchange occurred.

As I took a year of Russian in high school, I tried to follow along.  However, the only words I really remember are “brown” and “I love you.”  I can report that neither of these words were used by Alexei or Svetlana.

At this point, Katarina intervened and took over our order.  Vanilla mocha almond confusion remedied.  Birthday cake cones, no problem.  Rocky road, check!  Vanilla cone, da!  We are on a Russian roll!  Vanilla hot fudge sundae…..ohhhhh boy. 

Generally, if an item is presented on a food vendor’s menu, I don’t think I’m completely out of line by assuming that I can purchase said item.  Sure, items may run out, but if it’s on your menu board, you shouldn’t be completely confused on how to make a given dish. 

The hot fudge sundae brought the inner workings of the ice cream shop to a complete standstill.  First a dish of plain vanilla ice cream came out.  “Sundae!”

(waving at window to get a comrade’s attention)

“Um, hi.  We ordered a hot fudge sundae, not just plain vanilla ice cream.”

Dead shark eyes.  Furrowed brow.

We tried again.

“Sundae?  So we need some whipped cream and hot fudge on this ice cream.”

No response.  Hand thrust through window – we give back the dish.

More Russian sparring.

Take 2.  “Sundae!”

Deep breath.  OK, we’re getting there.  Now there is whipped cream on top of the ice cream. 

(another friendly wave, now certain that we are in the process of restarting the Cold War)

“Hi, us again.  Um…LOVE the whipped cream, so thank you for that, but we still need hot fudge on the sundae.”

Dead shark eyes.  ANGRY furrowed brow.

“Yeah….um….so if you’d just put some hot fudge on top here, we’ll be good to go.  Or, if you have hot fudge back there, we can even put it on, no big deal.”

Hand thrust through window.  Sundae returned.

“SUNDAE!!!”

This time, the sundae is not alone when it’s plopped onto the window ledge.  There’s also one of those squeeze tubes that they use at Starbucks for the caramel.  This one is filled with a dark brown substance that we can only assume is (please for the love of all that’s good in the world let it be) fudge sauce.

“Oh, um, so you really took that whole ‘I’ll do it myself’ thing seriously, then.  OK.”

Sundae experiment in cooperation complete, the window slams shut.

Poor guy behind us didn’t stand a chance.  He ordered a banana split.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Just call me Kerouac


When one travels by car from the Eastern part of the good United States into the shallow South, one tends to see some things along the way.  Some funny things, some not-so-funny things that become a LOT funnier after you’ve been in the same car for a good 400 miles at a clip.

First, I’ll admit up front that I’m not a bumper sticker kind of girl.  It’s not that I don’t want to affect the trade-in value on my sweet ’03 Honda Civic.  No, much simpler – I can’t find a slogan that I’m willing to express to the world on a daily basis via my vehicle.  Same goes for my backside.  No fanny slogans, thank you very much.

Some of my fellow road warriors don’t have my bumper issues.  One lady had her bumper basically wallpapered with bumper stickers, showing here:

 
This is fine – I don’t have anything against being told every single one of someone’s personal views through snappy little slogans.  Little hard to read 10 of these views while passing, but still.  Gets an A for effort.  However, one must be consistent.  If one chooses to have at least 10 messages, as this individual did, one should NOT then have a bumper sticker that reads “Actions speak louder than bumper stickers.”  Ah, roadtrip irony.

The other memorable moment occurred at the North Carolina Welcome Center.  We were walking up to the center when we heard it.  A child screaming?  Nope.  Dog barking?  Guess again.  Tractor trailer backfiring?  Sorry.

We heard a rooster crowing.

I don’t know (nor do I care to speculate) how it got there, but there was an angry little rooster in the welcome shrubbery, basically scaring the crap out of the good road travelers just trying to catch a quick bathroom break.

On the other hand, the rooster was thematically appropriate, because the welcome center smelled like a barnyard.