Wednesday, November 23, 2011


It seems as if at least half of the women in my life have been participating in that heartfelt and beautiful facebook meme in which one only posts status updates about stuff for which one is thankful all November long. It’s lovely, and sincere, and… it makes me feel kinda guilty for continuing to use my status update space for talking about weird random crap my kids say (like “These wipes smell like butt” or “Mommy, I love boobs.”), weird random crap my kids do (like making up songs about my coin slot), pumpkin-flavored seasonal snacks and beverages, wine, dirty jokes about leaf blowers, and… did I already say wine? I did have two thankful updates this month, one in which I was thankful for not getting into an accident on an evening with three near-misses, and one in which I thanked the Chick-Fil-A play area for a half hour of feet-up time with a novel. But if I had limited myself to thankful posts, you all would have missed my most “liked” status update to date:

“As our family left the grocery store in a sea of noise, tears, snot, and stress hormones, every single person in the joint silently vowed never to have unprotected sex again.”

Aren’t you thankful you didn’t miss that little gem because I had committed to only writing about being thankful? Yeah, me too.

So here it is. My 30 days of thankful, all in one shot:

1 - I am thankful for my kids. Like, duh. They change everything, and they suck sometimes, but until I had them, I had never felt my heart explode with love. Love, sure. Lots and lots of love, oh yeah. But that full-to-bursting love feeling… it’s only for them. I am thankful for the unique people they are and the joy they bring to my life every day.

2 - I am thankful for a husband who doesn’t care whether I clean the house, who doesn’t fight with me over money, who is a loving daddy and a thoughtful and considerate partner. Oh, and a morning person. That rocks. And also he makes awesome cosmos and martinis.

3 - I am thankful for my health. Seriously. I am so effing grateful that all I have to deal with is some rash-prone skin.

4 - I am thankful for box wine. No longer do I have to make the decision whether or not to open a second bottle. No longer do I have to fight my husband for that last ½ glass of wine after we have both had 2. Rah-rah for the wine spigot.

5 - I am thankful for my siblings. They are fun and hilarious and serious and smart, and they will always get me like no one else ever could.

6 - I am thankful for my parents, for all that they sacrificed so that I could have dance classes and art classes and creative writing classes. For museums on the free day. For knowing that life was more than what I could see from where I was then. For still being there for me, even now that I am all old and stuff.

7 - I am thankful for love. For every single time and in every single way I have experienced it. For the times that it felt good and the times that it hurt and the ways that it changed me forever.

8 - I am thankful for dance. Dancing makes me feel alive. I am myself when I am in motion.

9 - I am thankful for my education. I may never use it again, but when those survey people call to ask me my opinions about politics or local issues, I get to tell them I have a PhD. Yeah, that’s right bitches, a PhD. It’s from Stanford too. Take that. I usually don’t say that last part, but I get to think it every time I feel like all I ever do is wipe butts and fetch snacks.

10 - I am thankful for my fellow twin mamas. Without you, I would feel guilty for not having used cloth diapers. Without you, I would feel guilty for having put my children on leashes at the aquarium. Without you, I would be surrounded by moms who had their kids one at a time, and those moms just don’t get it.

11 - I am thankful for my boobs. They really balance out my ass.

12 - I am thankful that my husband’s job is flexible enough that he gets to spend lots of time with the kids. I like the breaks, but mostly, I am glad he isn’t missing this time with them.

13 - I am thankful for awesome TV. Six Feet Under, Californication, Dexter, Firefly, everything Joss Whedon has ever touched, BSG, West Wing, SYTYCD, oh hell, and all of the singing shows too. Whatever. Shut up.

14 - I am thankful for my friends. My friends, you are the family I chose. We may not talk all the time anymore, but I would still walk on fire for you. Like, you know, if you really needed me to walk on fire. Perhaps more likely and maybe a bigger sacrifice, I would stay sober to drive your drunk ass home safely. Or at least I would call us a cab.

15 - I am thankful for lists. I love lists. I love to make lists. If I had said what I was thankful for every day, I wouldn’t have gotten to make this list. Lists, I love you.

16 - I am thankful for my in-laws. I kind of hit the in-law jackpot.

17 - I am thankful for facebook. It allows this closet introvert to pretend I am the extravert I always wanted to be.

18 - I am thankful for my teachers, past and present. For the ones who taught me the rules of writing and when it is OK to break them. For the ones who taught me to think. For the ones who forced me to learn to speak in public. For my dance teachers. For my first drum teacher, who changed my life forever and who really deserves her own entry on this list.

19 - I am thankful for health insurance and a steady paycheck.

20 - I am thankful for my stick vac. Oh stick vac, I have spoken of you before. No one will ever replace you in my heart.

21 - I am thankful for people who came before, who fought and struggled and protested for rights that I have the luxury of taking for granted. Kind of like how I fought and fought to shave my legs and then my little sister totally got to shave hers like a month later.

22 - I am thankful for my minivan, with its magically opening doors. I love you, minivan, crumbs and all.

23 - I am thankful for Mirena (my IUD). I have migraines with aura, so I can’t be on the pill, and I am allergic to spermicide, so that pretty much leaves condoms or iffy methods that tend to result in pesky babies. Thank you, Mirena, for allowing me to choose not to have another set of twins. Also, that whole thing about how you all but eliminated my period? Yeah, that rocks too.

24 - I am thankful for books, for my favorite authors and the worlds and characters they create, for the calm that comes from complete escapism behind someone else’s eyes.

25 - I am thankful for Leapfrog and Word World. Thank you, TV, for teaching my kids how to read and spell.

26 - I am thankful for my smartphone. For the luxury of checking e-mail and facebook and twitter from the toilet, for the ability to play scrabble with friends in the same room without having to get out a board and tiles, and also with friends I haven’t seen in a decade, for something to do while my kids climb around in the McDonalds play place, for multi-tasking during American Idol results shows.

27 - I am thankful for cotton knit and spandex and clothes that feel like pajamas.

28 - I am deeply, deeply thankful that my kids are healthy.

29 - I am thankful for electricity. I take you for granted a lot, and for that, I am sorry. When you go away, dude, it sucks so hard.

30 - I am thankful for this present moment. And this one. And this one. I am thankful for mindfulness and gratitude and breath.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Off the wagon

Coffee. Remember that coffee scene in Ally McBeal? Yeah, that’s how I feel about coffee. I don’t just love coffee. I LOVE coffee.

“But,” my friends are all thinking right now, “you don’t drink coffee.”

That’s right. I don’t drink coffee like an alcoholic in recovery doesn’t drink wine. Nope, I’m not kidding. I have tried and enjoyed my share of substances over the years. Sure, the red wine intake creeps up every winter. It’s just so easy when you drink from a box and have fabulously gigantic wine glasses. But nothing hooks me like coffee. It starts with a cup. It very quickly becomes a pot. A pot of coffee. Every day. Or more. I get jittery and anxious, and I stay up until 4 in the morning. Even when I finally get tired, I can’t sleep. So the next morning, I need more coffee. And more coffee. And more coffee. Hot, creamy, magic coffee. Coffee all day. Curling through my sinuses, rolling on my tongue, warming my hands, coursing through my veins. Mmmmm coffee.

I can’t have my beloved coffee in the morning because I have no coffee off switch. I can have it once in a while if it’s not part of the ritual. I can have a cup in the afternoon, or some decaf after dinner. I can have the occasional overpriced coffee at a cafĂ© because I can’t afford to do that every day and because we pretty much only have Starbucks here, and that swill is just not that tempting. I can even have coffee in the morning… if I am at someone else’s house. At my own house in the morning, I drink my coffee methadone, Diet Coke. Those are the rules, and they have kept me clean of coffee benders for years. If there were 12-step meetings for coffee, I would have been an awesome sponsor. It had been something like 10 years since I had a cup of coffee at my own house in the morning.

Had been… yeah…

It all started when my husband left for the day. He left some coffee in the coffee maker. He often does. I don’t know why today was the day. But I thought, “What’s the big deal? I can have a cup.” So I poured it. I found some half-and-half in the fridge. My husband drinks fat free half-and-half (yuck!), but we had the real stuff from a houseguest. It wasn’t expired. I sniffed it. Smelled OK. Poured it into my coffee. And some tiny chunks floated to the top.


Universe, it’s really nice that you are trying to save me from myself. It’s super cool that you are looking out for my sleep problems and anxiety issues. But man, universe, you can be such an effing douche. That. Was. Not. Cool.

So I dumped out my chunky coffee. I rinsed out my cup. And I looked at the coffee maker.

I don’t know how to use our coffee maker. Yeah, the coffee maker we got as a wedding present 9 years ago… I don’t know how to use it. It’s this fancy thing that grinds the coffee and has all sorts of bells and whistles. My husband doesn’t use the grinding part because it is a pain to clean, but it still makes the whole thing kind of daunting. But still, how hard could it be? I put in a new filter with some coffee, and the water, and turned it on.

Beep beep beep beep.

What the hell? I push all sorts of buttons. Lights go on and off. Beep beep beep beep. “Just make my coffee, you temperamental bitch! Just heat up the damn water and run it through the grounds. What’s wrong with you?”

Oh, there’s a piece I had to take out to put the grounds in. OK. I put that back in. Close the lid. Push the button.

The coffee-maker starts making that water-heating sound. It’s like a whisky drinker hearing an ice cube clink into a cup. Want. Need.

Coffee. Coffee is ready. Peet’s Major Dickason’s Blend. With real cream left over from making ganache. Oh. My. God. I am so off the wagon. If you see me facebooking at 3am, that is my cry for help and the sign that it’s time to set up an intervention. Until then… it’s just one cup.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Might makes right

Being a mom. It’s a great job. It’s rewarding, and inspiring, and it fills your heart with love… and sometimes it makes you want to cheerfully bludgeon your sofa cushions to death. No sick days. No vacation days. No measurable metrics of success. No recognition. Shit hours. No respect. And your bosses are total tyrants. They don’t care if you’re having a rough day. They demand that you work weekends, early mornings, late nights, through your lunch break, and through dinner too. They come with you on vacation, and even follow you into the bathroom.

Who would want this job?

Well, I did. Apparently lots of you did. And there’s one more person who seems to. My son.

He has figured out that I’m in charge, and the ambitious little devil is after my job. He has spent the last few months trying to figure out how to become the mommy. See, the mommy says whether or not brownies can be eaten. The mommy is in charge of the Halloween candy, the TV, and the Wii. The mommy decides whether we can buy the remote control helicopter at Toys R Us and what time we go to bed. The mommy has the power, and my kid wants it.

His scientific mind started with rules. The mommy makes the rules. Like this gem: “We never say fruckin’ in this house. Or at least, kids never say that. Sometimes when mommies and daddies are angry or frustrated, they might, but we shouldn’t, and well, just don’t say it in front of your preschool teachers, OK?”

My son’s version: “Mommy,” he tells me in a perfect imitation of my firm voice, “we never ever give time outs in this house.”

But that didn’t work. He still had time outs and he still couldn’t have a Hershey bar 10 minutes before dinner. Hmmmm, he wondered, what else does she do?

I know, she counts.

“Mommy. Get me a lolly right now. One… two… three.”

What?! She didn’t do it. Crap, what happens now? I don’t know. We all live in fear of three. We never get to three. I have no idea what happens when you get to three. I’ll try that for a few days and see what she does.

Oh, right. Time outs. Time outs suck.

I’ll give mommy a time out, and then she’ll learn to heed my counting. “Mommy, give me cookies right now or you will have a time out. One… two… three… That’s it, Mommy. Time OUT. Time out, Mommy. Now you have to go in time out. Mommy? Mommy?”

Crap. How do I get her in time out? Well, how does she get me into time out? I always just go. What happens if I don’t go?

Oh, right, she picks me up and puts me in time out. OK. Got it. I can do that.

Um, no, kid. You can’t. You can drag at my leg all you want. In fact, please do, because it is effing hilarious to watch you try. But there is no way in hell that you are going to be able to get me into a time out against my will. I’m sorry, kid. In the end, the reason that I get to tell you what to do and you don’t get to tell me what to do is that I can pick you up. That’s not fair, is it? It sucks for you. But there it is. You have to do what I say because I am bigger than you.

For now. Hopefully by the time he is a teenager, he will forget this little lesson, and will just do what I say out of habit. Yeah, I know, I’m not holding my breath.

Monday, November 7, 2011

On marriage

My daughter, prompted by the lovely people in Disney’s marketing department, has become interested in brides. The Disney Princess Polly Pocket bride and groom 3-pack, a bridal veil I picked up for her at a thrift store a few months ago, and playing bride with her other toys. We were playing, as usual, with Mario characters, and the twin Princess Peaches decided to get married. (No, not to each other.) For my Peach’s groom, I chose Mario. My daughter chose the less obvious Toad. I guess she’s into a man who is the right height for frequent motor-boating, although surely that gigantic hat would get in the way.

So I asked her, “How do two people get married?”

Her answer: “They dance.”

“That’s it? They dance and then they’re married?”


Thanks Disney. Yeah, when I think about it, that’s pretty much how it works. They wear wedding clothes and dance, and poof, they’re married. And then the movie ends. Watching them actually be married with how little they knew about each other… watching them try to work it out as their beauty fades and they pop out a couple of kids… that would be a very different movie. But I’m not here to rag on Disney.

I asked next, “After they’re married, what do married people do together?”

“They hug.”

“What else?”

“And kiss, kiss, kiss.”

So far, very sweet. But she goes on.

“Sometimes one gets on the other one’s head.” Um, what?!

She then demonstrates this by showing Mario lying down on the ground and Peach standing on his head. My brain pretty much interprets this as a Mario moustache ride. I have no idea what my daughter intends, but it’s too late. There’s no going back once you picture the Mario moustache ride.

“What else?” I say, NOT giggling.

“The get up on the table together.” And do what? I will not ask.

“Anything else?”

“They watch a show together, and that’s it.”

Now you’re talking, kid. Hug, kiss, moustache ride, get up on the table, and then watch a show. Awesome.

Next kid. Now that I know how fun this is, I am curious what my son will say.

“What do married people do together?”

His response: “I don’t know. Do you know?”


“Then just say it.”

“I want to know what you think.”

“They go round and round, holding hands like ring around the rosy.” Hmm, Disney again? Or cartoons? A sweet image.

“What else?”

“They do stuff.” Do stuff? I swear there was a naughty twinkle in his eye when he said this. It’s like he knows there’s something there that he doesn’t totally understand. He’s very innocent, of course, but just like me at his age, I think he knows there’s something more, and he’s intrigued. I may be projecting, but I don’t think so. I’m gonna have to watch that one.

“What kind of stuff.”

“Like, check their computers.”

Ah, reality. You are not a Disney movie.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pajama Genes

Not, not PajamaJeans. Pajama genes. The pajama gene is a strong one in our family. My mom comes home from work and gets into her PJs. When she was a stay-at-home mom, she drove us to school on days too cold to walk, wearing a flannel nightgown with a long coat over it. She picked us up after marching band rehearsal similarly attired. I don’t know which side of her family passed the pajama gene to her, but I definitely got it. I get home and I can’t wait to get out of my bra and restrictive clothing and into something pajama-like. I’m more yoga pants than flannel nightgowns, so I like to think I pull it off, but yeah, it’s all about the pajamas.

When we have an unscheduled day, we all wear pajamas. All. Flippin’. Day. Not even the weird October opportunity for my kids to play in the snow managed to get me into clothing on a pajama day. (Yes, that's me in actual pajamas. Actual pajamas with snow boots. Since the pajama flow chart post, I have acquired a few true pajama items.)

My kids are no exception. When we get dressed, they immediately ask, “Where are we going?” They know we don’t get dressed unless we have plans. This leads to an embarrassing number of photos and videos on facebook in which my children are wearing pajamas. But it’s not just nurture. I feel quite certain that the pajama gene is nature too. We got home yesterday from a day of errands and dance class and a blissful afternoon in the Chick-fil-A play area. The kids had been really sweet, and had earned enough marbles in their reward jars for a coveted “marble present.” A new marble present should have been enough to distract even my pajama-loving kids from the urge to strip down.

But no.

Five minutes into playing with his new “Mater saves Christmas” snow-covered Mater and McQueen, my son stopped and requested pajamas. “Because when I sit down I feel the buttons on my jeans and they are bothering me.” Ah, my son, I understand. I support you. Here are some pajamas for you, my little love. Because there is nothing more annoying than trying to play with your toy cars with a waistband pinching and jean pocket buttons poking into your butt. I get it, man. I totally get it. You are of my people. We, the pajama people.

Be proud of your pajama heritage, my son. You come from a long line of people who don’t like clothing to poke at them. You are descended from a clan of cotton-knit-wearing, pantyhose eschewing, shoe-less, bra-less cozy people. Fly your yummy-soft flannel flag, my son! Wear your pajama genes with pride.