Thursday, December 27, 2012

The 12 hours after Christmas

After a five-day visit, my family has scattered back to their own homes.  It is a joy and a luxury to spend so much time with my family of origin.  For a few days, my normally quiet, relatively tidy house is transformed into a truly Saturnalian chaos-land, where young cousins laugh and run, sprinkling tortilla chip crumbs behind them, adult siblings day drink Bloody Caesars and keep the party going late into the night with our three games of choice (Texas Hold Em, Cards Against Humanity, and Wise and Otherwise), and my parents hang with their adult kids, laughing over wildly inappropriate things that parents probably shouldn’t laugh with their kids about, but whatever.  It’s awesome.  And a little exhausting.  When everyone leaves, I revel in the quiet, and then I start cleaning.  I find all sorts of strange things left behind, and this year, those things kind of organized themselves into a song.  You know the tune… Sing along!

On the first hour after Christmas, my family left for me… 10 extra pounds on my ass.

On the second hour after Christmas, my family left for me…one dish of dogfood… and 10 extra pounds on my ass.

On the third hour after Christmas, my family left for me… a toothbrush and some toothpaste… one dish of dogfood, and 10 extra pounds on my ass.

On the fourth hour after Christmas, my family left for me… empty bags of crumbs (like 3 or 4 of them)… a toothbrush and some toothpaste, one dish of dogfood, and 10 extra pounds on my ass.

On the fifth hour after Christmas, my family left for me… five Keurig cups!  (No, we don’t own a Keurig.)  Empty crummy bags, toothbrush and toothpaste, one dish of dogfood, and 10 extra pounds on my ass.

On the sixth hour after Christmas, my family left for me… ten little containers of leftovers each containing a tablespoon or less of food… five Keurig cups!  Empty crummy bags, toothbrush and toothpaste, one dish of dogfood, and 10 extra pounds on my ass.

On the seventh hour after Christmas, my family left for me… fake pancake syrup… ten mini-leftovers… Five Keurig cups!  Empty crummy bags, toothbrush and toothpaste, one dish of dogfood, and 10 extra pounds on my ass.

On the eighth hour after Christmas, my family left for me… four half-full juice boxes… fake pancake syrup, ten mini-leftovers… Five Keurig cups!  Empty crummy bags, toothbrush and toothpaste, one dish of dogfood, and 10 extra pounds on my ass.

On the ninth hour after Christmas, my family left for me… three Tupperwares of potato water*… four half-full juice boxes, fake pancake syrup, ten mini-leftovers… Five Keurig cups!  Empty crummy bags, toothbrush and toothpaste, one dish of dogfood, and 10 extra pounds on my ass.

(*Potato water, you ask?  The water left over from boiling potatoes.  Three large Tupperware containers full.  To be used to thicken soup.  Except my mom took the ham bone to make the soup at her house, so I’m not sure the potato water has any other use.)

On the tenth hour after Christmas, my family left for me… a jam jar full of something (milk, maybe?)… three potato waters, four half-full juice boxes, fake pancake syrup, ten mini-leftovers… Five Keurig cups!  Empty crummy bags, toothbrush and toothpaste, one dish of dogfood, and 10 extra pounds on my ass.

On the eleventh hour after Christmas, my family left for me… a few cell phone chargers… jam jar of milk maybe, three potato waters, four half-full juice boxes, fake pancake syrup, ten mini-leftovers… Five Keurig cups!  Empty crummy bags, toothbrush and toothpaste, one dish of dogfood, and 10 extra pounds on my ass.

On the twelfth hour after Christmas, my family left for me… lots of love and happiness… a few cell phone chargers, jam jar of milk maybe, three potato waters, four half-full juice boxes, fake pancake syrup, ten mini-leftovers… Five Keurig cups!  Empty crummy bags, toothbrush and toothpaste, one dish of dogfood… and 10 extra pounds on my ass!!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

On writing. On writing smut.

It’s been a week since I finished the mad dash to the NaNoWriMo finish line.  I did it!  Fifty thousand words in a month.  That’s a lot, or not a lot, depending on your perspective.  This blog entry is approximately 1,200 words.  It takes me about an hour to write 1,000 words, give or take a half hour.  If the inspiration is flowing (i.e. I am writing a sex scene or a snarky internal monologue), closer to a half hour.  If not (i.e. I am writing awkward dialogue that I know will need to be rewritten, but I’m writing it anyway because it’s really better if my main character talks to other people too, not just to herself all the time), then closer to 90 minutes.  The goal per day for NaNo is a little under 2,000 words, so it was a 2-3 hour/day commitment for me. 

There were days during which I wrote nothing.  Thanksgiving weekend is always a black hole of family, cooking, and day drinking.  I also discovered a fun penicillin allergy in early November, for which I was essentially chugging Benadryl from the bottle to control the overwhelming itchiness and hives.  Not so much with the writing or even the moving my mouth to makey the words.  In contrast, on my most productive day, I wrote 7,000 words, which was roughly a full 8-hour day of nonstop writing.  That day included three sex scenes.

Oh, if you’re new here, or just catching up, I’m writing a smutty novel.  Contemporary fantasy/paranormal erotica. 

I have always wanted to write smut.  Always.  At sixteen, top of my class in high school, I’m sure I was a disappointment to many teachers when I told them that my career aspiration was to write smut for a living.  Only one of them told me to my face that it was a waste of my brain.  He recommended that I become a geneticist.  At the time, that held zero appeal.  Now, older, wiser… yeah, still no. 

So smut.  I’m writing smut, and I love it.  It writes itself, honestly.  Not the pesky plot part (Plot? What plot?), but the characters seem to emerge as if by magic.  The novel started out as a romance between a succubus and a satyr.  But then this other character came in, and who knew?  The romance between the two of them is much more compelling.  I didn’t plan that.  These two fictional characters that emerged from my own brain have a chemistry that I didn’t plan on.  So the novel switched genre from romance to erotica.  I’m not going to make her choose.  For now, at least, she can have them both.  Where by have, I mean… Yeah, you all know what I mean.  Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more.

Here’s the tricky part.  People keep asking to read this thing.  They have joked with me that I should send excerpts out with my Christmas cards instead of my annual holiday letter.  That seems like a good thing, in theory.  People are interested.  That’s good.  I mean, who doesn’t like smut?  Smut rocks.  I would happily stick a pseudonym on this thing and let anyone read it.  It’s not about insecurity.  It’s about intimacy.  I didn’t realize that writing sex scenes was so… personal.  That sounds dumb, right?  I mean, what is more personal than sex?  But I really just didn’t realize how personal until my best friend asked if she was going to get to read it and I freaked out inside.  No.  Just no.  She knows me really well, but no, it’s too personal. 

There are only so many ways to write “and then they boinked and it was awesome.  Big O’s all around.”  If you are writing explicit sex scenes, it’s going to get… more elaborate.  And the elaborations say a lot about me and my sexuality.  The main character isn’t me.  But the sex scenes?  Yeah.  They’re my hot buttons.  Of course they are.  Who else’s could they be?  My experiences of sex that didn’t involve me are… shall we say… rather limited. 

I think about some of my favorite writers who do sex scenes in their novels.  Jacqueline Carey.  Laurell K. Hamilton.  They have hot buttons, and I have a pretty good idea what those hot buttons might be.  These women are strangers, but I feel as if I know some very intimate things about them.  But it’s OK, because they’re strangers.  I’m not hanging out having coffee with Laurell K., thinking about how she fantasizes about having sex with two dudes at once.  How it “just flat does it for her.”  (If you read her books, that line should be familiar.)  She likes guys with long hair who wear lace-up leather garments.  She likes biting.  She probably scratches the crap out of her partner(‘s/s’) back(s).  I am really fine knowing that about a stranger.  I am also really fine with a stranger knowing the equivalent fantasies for me.  But friends?  FAMILY?  I don’t know how to knock down that wall of intimacy. 

For now, the “novel,” such as it is, consists of 50,000 words spewed out rapid fire.  Those words are not suitable for anyone else to read yet anyway.  So I have some time to figure this out.  But I feel it… I feel inside that I will finish this novel and that it won’t suck.  I don’t know whether other people will agree that it doesn’t suck.  I don’t know if anything will ever come of this.  But I think that at some point, people I know are going to read this thing.  They’re going to know I like that, and that, oh yeah, and that other thing. 

Having someone else read my writing is always an incredibly intimate and agonizing process for me under any circumstances.  Always.  Even just putting these blog posts out there is intimate and not without social challenge.  It’s hard to imagine getting over that hurdle, letting someone read what I’ve written about the most intimate aspect of my life.  The main character isn’t me.  Her issues are not my issues.  I have known a lot of people in my life, and they all inform the kind of characters that I can imagine and create.  But sex, more than anything else I can imagine, is personal.  I don’t know what it’s like to have sex as someone else.  In those moments, yeah, she is me.  Except for how I’m not a succubus.  There’s that, at least. 

So for those of you who have been requesting smutty excerpts, thank you thank you thank you.  You are encouraging me to finish this book, to edit it, to keep working when self-doubt creeps in.  You are helping me to realize a dream I have had since I was a teenager.  But also, please be patient.  It’s not self-deprecation or my inner critic that is holding me back from sharing.  It’s this question of intimacy.  I need to figure this out if I am going to be a purveyor of smut, but I haven’t figured it out yet.  And if I never share it, but one day you find a smutty book on a shelf somewhere with a pseudonym based on my first and middle names, please buy it.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The true meaning of Christmas… a clock tower?

Well, it’s been a year since the “What’s church” conversation.  And we just had the "true meaning of Christmas" conversation.  Oh my.

We were putting up the tree, and the kids asked if everyone in the world is decorating for Christmas.  I told them some people don't celebrate Christmas, that they don’t believe in it.  "That's sad," said my daughter.  "That's crazy," said my son.  I didn't say anything else, just let it marinate.  About an hour later, tree decorated, garlands up, the “Seasonal” music channel playing through the TV, my daughter asked why some people don't celebrate Christmas. 

Gather 'round, my children... Time for you to learn that Christmas is not about Santa and Rudolph and presents.

Here are some notable events from the conversation:

When asked, "Do you remember what 'God' is?" my son answered, "God is a grown-up word" (i.e. "Oh my God," which they are not allowed to say).  So, um, that’s hilarious or awful, depending on your perspective.  Once I reminded them about God making the earth and the sky and the animals and McDonalds, they clearly remembered.  But…

They have both switched their positions since the original talk.  My son is now on the "God is pretend" track, and my daughter is now a believer. 

We talked about the pagan origins of the Christmas tree and evergreen garlands, showing how our modern version of Christmas comes from lots of different kinds of beliefs blended together, and how everyone believes something different.

I showed them the baby Jesus and nativity ornaments and told them the traditional Christian Christmas story.  We also talked about the significance of the star, and the presents people brought for God’s special baby.

My daughter is clearly taken with the idea of a baby god.  She likes baby things.  A baby god?  That is so right up her alley.  She is all about the baby Jesus.

My son said that he thinks God didn’t have a baby.  God had a clock tower.  Um, huh?  “Why a clock tower?” I asked.  “Because clock towers are really real, and God isn’t,” he said.

Um, OK.  Good talk.

Friday, November 16, 2012

It's November, the season for writing a novel

My dear readers, if you have been wondering where I have been all month, I have been sitting right here in my blogging chair, writing away.  Just not writing this blog.  I have been writing a novel.  If you’ve never heard of NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month.  Every November, tens to hundreds of thousands of people set out to write a novel in a month.  Thirty days, 50,000 words.  That’s the goal. 

I have accomplished this mad dash before, pre-kids. It taught me a lot about my writing process.  It helped me find strategies for powering through (or going around) writer’s block.  It got me in a habit of writing every day.  But then, you know, twin babies, and then twin toddlers, and then twin preschoolers…

Now that they are twin kindergarteners, and gone all day, I am back to my frantic November noveling, and hopefully back to a habit of writing pretty much every day. 

This year, I have discovered the joys of writing in the first person.  I love to create rich voices for characters, and it is so much easier when I can just write their stream of consciousness thoughts from time to time.  The main character is a 40-year-old mom, so her voice bears some resemblance to mine.  But she’s not me (except inasmuch as every character I write is some facet of me).  She’s single, first of all, and has never had a deep, lasting relationship.  Oh, also, she’s a succubus.  So that’s different. 

If you know what a succubus is, that should be your first clue that the novel I am writing is not going to be suitable for all audiences.  I’m writing a blend of romance and erotica.  Kind of like 50 Shades of Grey, except good.  I hope.  No inner goddesses doing tangoes or any other dances.  And instead of a virgin who has never held hands, my female lead has had to have sex at least once a week since she hit puberty so that she wouldn't die.  And also, she has three kids and stretch marks.  And the guy will be more realistic too, once she stops boinking him long enough to get to know him.  Certainly he’ll be less of a douche nozzle than Mr. Fifty Shades.  If he tried to tell my main character what she could and couldn’t eat, demanded that she get weekly bikini waxes, or told her what kind of car she was allowed to drive, she could use her full power on him and take away his will entirely, or she could just, you know, leave.  So he’d better not pull any of that misogynistic crap. 

So, anyway, that’s what I’ve been doing.  It takes two to three hours a day for me to reach my writing goals if I want to stay on track to finish on time.  I am pretty much on target, although perhaps 3,000 words behind.  I blame the two days I lost when I discovered that I was allergic to Penicillin, and needed constant Benadryl in my system.  I can make that up if I stay on track, so this might be the last blog post of the month. 

If you would like to read excerpts of what I am writing, um, no.  Eventually, yes.  But writing at this pace means vomiting out a book in a month with no editing.  It’s not suitable for company yet, polite or otherwise.  But I do have one excerpt on the NaNo website.  It’s relatively clean, not a sex scene, but also… definitely adult content.  Here it is.  And credit where credit is due… I have my sister and my good friend, Eve, to thank for the best two of those slang terms.  Most fun brainstorming session ever.  You’ll see when you read it.

If you’ve ever considered writing a novel, if it’s on your “bucket list” or your someday list, I can’t say enough good things about NaNoWriMo.  One month.  You give yourself over for one month, and at the end, you have either a novel or a big head start on one.  And you get to tell people you’re writing a novel.  That shit never gets old.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

If you give a mommy a new faucet

My kitchen faucet has seen its day.  It’s white plastic, ugly, stained, and when you pull out the handle to use the spray function, it won’t retract.  If you think it has retracted, but it’s not locked in place, it falls down, spraying you and the entire kitchen with water.  It completely sucks and needs to be replaced.  Here is the story of why I just keep living with it:

If you give a mommy a faucet, she is going to want a new sink to go with it.  A sink that is not scratched up and stained, a sink that is not white, a sink in which she can dump out half a cup of coffee without having to clean the resulting coffee stain with Comet or a Magic Eraser.

If you give a mommy a sink, she is going to want new countertops to replace the old laminate ones that have that telltale brown laminate seam, and have bumpy drips of superglue from the messy fixing of broken toys.

If you give a mommy new countertops, she would really prefer not to put them on the existing cabinets, which are dated country oak, and not her style at all, and which have curved panel doors that, even if painted, will never look modern.

If you give a mommy new cabinets, it really doesn’t make sense to put them on the cracked tile floor, because the flooring goes under the cabinets, and wasn’t installed correctly, leading to a long crack that runs through several tiles and gets longer each year.  Also, the floor is white and shows every single freaking drip and piece of dust.

And that is why I have a non-functional kitchen faucet.  The end.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Go team?

Last week, my son was invited to a birthday party for one of his classmates.  He was one of only two or three kids from the class invited, so clearly this kid and my son have connected.  We had a fantastic time, and I enjoyed the other moms and the kids.  But here’s what happened.  The party had an Orioles theme.  (That’s baseball if you’re as sports-dumb as I am.  I’m just proud that I didn’t have to look it up to determine the sport.)  The birthday kid asked my kid, “Do you like the Orioles?”

And my kid looked at him blankly, and said, “Huh?”

Once someone at the grocery store asked my kid if he liked the Ravens. (That’s football.  I didn’t have to look that up either.  Go me!)  He answered, “A raven is kind of like a crow.” 


See, I pretty much hate watching sports.  I would go to a live game, I guess.  If there was going to be beer and naughty food I don’t usually allow myself.  But honestly, I’d rather go to a pub and have beer and naughty food without the boring sports part.  I could see tailgating, especially with friends of ours, one of whom went to culinary school. He makes elaborate meals including Scotch eggs from scratch. (He mixes his own sausage spices, etc.)  I would be totally down with that.  And just, you know, skip the football part.  (A Scotch egg, if you don’t know, is a hard boiled egg, encased in sausage, breaded, and then deep fried.  Dipped in spicy mustard, if you’re me.  Mmmmm, Scotch eggs.)

I like playing sports.  I played basketball, soccer, and tennis as a kid, and I still enjoy those, or the slower-moving mommy-playing-with-kids equivalents.  I would probably still enjoy the faster-moving versions if I had better shoes and a better bra and a month to get back in cardiovascular shape.  But watching?  Absolutely no interest. 

My husband doesn’t watch sports on TV either.  He probably would.  He watches when he’s with his family.  But it’s not high enough on his priority scale to set aside time to watch, especially since he knows he would be watching alone.  He has made some noise about taking the kids to an Orioles game, and I said, “Awesome, have fun!”  But since I tend to plan all of our outings, the odds of this ever happening are pretty low.  Like, not statistically different from zero.  He can go.  I’m not going.  And I’m not planning it.  Maybe some other dad will plan it and he can tag along.

He has taught them baseball (a sport I loathe in all forms—playing, watching, watching kids play, etc.)  My daughter, who is very sporty, can already bat better than I can.  I have taught them some soccer skills.  They did gymnastics, and they both dance.  They have been exposed to parkour, and know the names of some of the feats from American Ninja Warrior.  They’re not… you know… deprived.

But in this area of the country, I wonder if sports and (gag) the local teams are an important part of their social education that I am neglecting.  Maybe they should know who the Ravens are.  Sigh.  But do I have to?

Kids their age are asking.  If I expose them to sports and they still prefer Mario and Pokemon and reading and dancing, at least I’ll know it’s their choice.  But what if they like sports?  I managed to score a husband who doesn’t watch sports.  I am not having football on every… um… Monday?  Monday night football?  That’s a thing, right?  Except that my dad comes down on weekends, and there always seems to be some important football game on while he’s here too.  So, is it, like, more than once a week?  Is that right?  That sounds bloody awful. 

Can I just not?  What do you guys think?  Can I just… not?

I’ve spoken with a few friends about it, and the consensus so far seems to be that I have to at least expose them to sports.  Football first, and then baseball, pretty much the two LEAST appealing sports possible.  I guess it could be worse.  It could be golf.  I imagine myself sitting down to watch a Ravens game with them, telling them that the Ravens are “our” team.  It feels like talking about the Easter Bunny.  Or maybe more like indoctrinating them in a religion that I don’t share.  In Maryland, the Ravens are more of a religion than, like, you know, god.  People (apparently) wear purple on Fridays before games.  No one dresses up every week for god.  I’m just saying.  Well, maybe for church I guess, but around here, people don’t really dress that nicely for church.  This isn’t Manhattan.  There are no fabulous hats.

This whole question makes me miss the San Francisco bay area.  Around here, my friend’s kids apparently have a “wear your favorite team jersey” day at school.  I have this fantasy that in the bay area, people would send their kids to school wearing the uniform of the Irish curling team or something.  It’s not the appreciation of sports that makes me uncomfortable.  It’s the assumption that everyone is into sports.  We have no jerseys.  We have no favorite team. 

The easy solution, proposed by a dinner party companion the other night, is that I outsource the problem.  Send the kids to someone else’s house on a game day.  Or make chicken wings and taco dip and buy a bunch of beer and have some people over to my house to teach my children what they need to know to be socially accepted in suburban Maryland.  So I guess I’ll do that.  So that at least when a school friend asks them if they like the Ravens, they won’t start quoting Poe. 

But can’t I have that same party—chicken wings, taco dip, beer—without the football?  Oh, right.  Right.  Crap.

Monday, October 15, 2012

An honest resume

Pam-a-rama ding dong



Job utilizing my creative energy, requiring absolutely zero follow-through.  Must have flexible hours, and a yoga-pants-friendly dress code.

Qualification summary

Overeducated, intelligent, creative type with savant-like knowledge of a completely useless array of domains.  I can make something from nothing.  But it might be crooked and/or unfinished.



  • Sole writer for a successful blog with tens of regular readers.  Especially skilled at creating an authentic voice using such devices as F-bombs, ludicrous overuse of sentence fragments, excessive ellipses, and idiosyncrasies borrowed from Joss Whedon characters.

  • Have several unfinished novels languishing about.

  • Craft a mean facebook status update. 

  • Zero-tolerance policy for poor grammar.

  • Can beat most people at Scrabble and Boggle.


  • Can seriously rock a corset, and have trained minions people in appropriate corset-lacing technique, because that shit is not as easy as you think.

  • Specialized expertise in the area of deviant sex slang describing disgusting acts that no one I know would ever do.  Go ahead, quiz me.

  • Used to belly dance, and have retained just enough muscle memory to look like I know what I’m doing for the 15 seconds it takes to impress someone.

  • Apparently have the voice of a phone sex operator.  Or so I have been told.  More than once.

  • My boobs have their own twitter account.  Yes, really.  They don’t talk much, but once in a while.

Making stuff

  • Ability to wing it/fake it at any art or craft, from painting to making a faux fur bike seat cozy. 

  • Can bake and cook my ass off (or on, perhaps I should say).
Pirate costuming. Corset.  Boobs.
Oh, and I made those curtains.

  • Extensive costuming abilities, with specialties in Mario characters, Renaissance Faire garb, pirate costuming, and anything involving a corset.  Specialize in modifying existing costume elements into a new costume.  And pushing up boobs.

  • Can make lampwork glass beads and jewelry.  Wait, that is an actual skill.

  • Speaking of actual skills, I am a decent decorator.  You should let me pick all of your paint colors.  I am always right.  And I can make curtains and stuff.  And I’m really good at shopping and buying all of the pretty objects.

Judging people

  • Statements made while watching So You Think You Can Dance often repeated nearly verbatim by “qualified” judges.

  • Superior expertise in choosing glasses frames, as evidenced by having once had an ex-boyfriend ask me to accompany him glasses shopping, even though he was dating someone new.

  • Correctly chose last season's American Idol on week one.

  • Paragon of fitting-room clothes shopping companions.  Kind, but honest.


  • Extensive and somewhat snooty knowledge of single malt Scotch and bourbon.

  • Can totally drink you under the table.


  • Not the best mom in the universe, but hella good at loving those kids.

  • Giver of freakin’ awesome hugs.

  • Bow-chicka-wow-wow.


Dude, you guys?  I have a PhD in Psychology from Stanford.  Isn’t that weird?  I know… it freaks me out too.  Seems totally out of character.  I met the best people there though.

Work history

1991-2007         A bunch of jobs I was really good at and have absolutely no interest in doing now.

2007-present     Person who can count to three really well, even though I usually only count to two.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Car conversation: My son, the bachelor

Sooo, I was having some random conversation with the kids that ended, as these conversations often do, with "Because I'm the Mommy and you're the kids, so I'm the boss."

Son: "When will you not be the boss?"

Me: "When you're 18.  You'll be a grown-up when you're 18 and then you can do whatever you want."

Son: "So when we're 18 we'll get married and have kids?"

Me: "If you want to, but it's a good idea to wait to get married until you've been a grown-up for a little while, so you make sure you find the very best person to marry.  And it's a good idea to wait to have kids until you're older too, because once you have kids, you can't do whatever you want anymore.  Mommy and Daddy used to go to movies and restaurants and travel to other countries, and then after we had kids, it's harder to do that stuff because we have to get a babysitter.  So when you're 18, you can do what you want, but I think you should wait to have kids until you're older so you can have some fun being a grown-up first.  Mommy was 33 when I had you, and Daddy was 50."

Son: "I don't want to have kids at all."

Me: "Why not?"

Son: "Because I want to do whatever I want all the time."

Me: "You don't have to have kids if you don’t want, but you know what's great about having kids?  I love Daddy and I love Aunt Rebecca and Mimom and Poppie.  I love lots of people very much, but when you guys were born, I loved you more than I ever loved anyone else.  I didn’t know I could love anyone that much.  And I think it’s really great to have that much love.  When you hug me and kiss me, that is the happiest I have ever been in my whole life.  So I don’t mind that I can’t go to movies because you guys make me feel so much love.”

Son:  “I still don’t want kids.  I just want to play Wii all day long.”

Me: “Do you want to get married, or not?”

Son: “No.”

Daughter: “But what about **** (my son’s best female friend, who has planned their wedding and whom he calls “My love” and has agreed to marry someday)?”

Son: “No, I love her, but I don’t want to marry her.  I just want to play Wii.”

Me: “You can still play Wii if you get married.  You can even play Wii if you have kids.  Daddy plays Wii with you.”

Son: “No, because then I would have to take care of them.  I would have to take care of my family.”

Me: “OK.”

The end.

Monday, September 24, 2012

What are you going to do now?

Now that my kids are in kindergarten, lots of people are asking me what comes next for me.  Here’s a note for everyone, please don’t ask.  I don’t know and it makes me want to barf to think about it.  I am still just missing the kids and adjusting.  I’ve been out of the job market for five years.  I don’t want to do what I was doing before, but I don’t know what I want to do next.  I don’t want to think about it or talk about it.  At all.  But since complete strangers ask me, I can’t really rely on my blog to reach everyone. So, here are some of the things I might say:

What I say: “Well, it will take me six months just to clean the house.”
Translation: “I’m going to pick up a few toys, stick-vac up the crumbs under the table, swish the toilet brush around once or twice, and then spray some lemon-scented pine sol around the house so it smells like I cleaned.”

What I say: “I’m going to work on my writing.”
Translation: “I’m going to read some more blogs, screw around a lot on facebook, and maybe do NaNoWriMo again.”

What I say: “You know, they say the kids need you even more after they start school.”
Translation: “I am cultivating a mild Pinterest addiction.”

What I say: “I’m thinking about going back to work.”
Translation: “I went on craigslist once.  Didn’t see anything good.”

What I say: “Maybe I’ll have another baby.”
Translation: “You have clearly never met me because if you had, you would know that there is no way in hell I am having another baby.  Apparently, I pop those suckers out two at a time, and I do NOT need to go through the twin infants phase of life again.  Also, my husband would kill me.  I just don’t want to get a job, and that would be a socially acceptable way for me to get away with that.”

What I say: “I don’t know.  I’m figuring that out.”
Translation: “I like to go back to sleep after the kids get on the bus.  Wake up.  Rub one out.  Throw a load of laundry in.  Check facebook.  Eat lunch.  Switch out the laundry.  Play scrabble on my phone.  Clean something.  Go shopping at Goodwill.  And then read a novel until the kids get home.”

What I say: [fingers in ears] “La la la la la la la.”
Translation: “When my fingers come out of my ears, you had better change the damn subject or I just might puke on you.”

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

You get what you get

For some reason, sending my kids off to kindergarten has really spotlighted my parenting insecurities.  Knowing they would be away from me all day made me realize how many times a day I would step in with a small correction, say or do something to settle them when they were getting dangerously nutso, give my son a timely “remember, don’t use your body” when I could tell he was angry and starting to lose his cool.  But now they’re on their own, their full unedited behavior on display for the teachers to see.  They might stand up on the seat while eating.  They might bust out a swear word or talk about wine and make me look bad.  They might hit someone.  They might crack up over a poo-poo joke and not be able to stop for five minutes.  They might be completely incapable of completing any task at 2pm because they need a snack.  (Seriously, they have lunch at 11am and don’t get home until almost 4.  They need a damn snack!  It would make your lives easier, teachers, I’m telling you.) 

There’s this idea (maybe it’s only in my own head, but I don’t think so) that if you do a good job at parenting, you will have kids who do what they’re told, eat their vegetables, go to sleep, behave pretty well, play appropriately with friends, and do decent in school.  There’s this idea (maybe only in my own head, but again, I don’t think so) that if you can find the right strategy, you can fix any “problem.”  So we read parenting books, and try new discipline or reward strategies.  We have marble jars or prizes or time outs or 1-2-3 Magic or no Wii for the rest of the day or verbal praise or sticker charts. 

My sister’s pediatrician once put it this way:  We are trying to “raise the shit out of” our kids.  We’re high power, smart people who kicked ass at our jobs, and now we’re gonna kick ass at this parenting thing.  We’re not going to have the kid who only eats chicken nuggets and applesauce.  We’re not going to have the kid who hits the other kids at school.  We’re not going to have the kid who says, “Whatever” when an adult tells them what to do.  Those kids must have really bad parents.  We’re not gonna have those kids.

But, um.


You get the kids you get.  You can move their tendencies around a teensy weensy bit, but basically?  You get what you get and you don’t get upset.  Or maybe you do get upset, but it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference.

Having twins has shown me this so clearly.  I did all of the same crap at the same time.  I had an equal number of “I don’t feel well, let’s just watch TV all day” days with both.  They went to the aquarium and the zoo and didn’t go to the library an equal number of times.  I used pretty much the same sleep strategies (modified slightly for each kid’s needs, but basically the same).  I exposed them the same foods.  We read the same books together.  I used the same discipline/behavioral techniques. 

I got what I got.

One is practically a vegetarian; the other would eat steak at every meal.  One prefers vegetables; the other fruits.  One loves to draw and color; the other loves to play on the Wii.  One is a “pleaser;” one doesn’t give a flying f*** what I say.  One is getting “treasure tickets” for good behavior at school every day and brings home perfect papers with all correct answers and gold stars on top; the other has gotten almost no treasure tickets and brings home papers with “please review at home” on them.  One comes home from school and tells me all about the day; the other makes up crap that is clearly false and mixes it in with (possibly) true stuff so that I have no idea what really happened.  (“No, honey, your teacher did not dress up as Mario today.  What really happened?”)

Honestly, I am starting to think that I have very little to do with this process of them growing up.  I’m here to offer them unconditional love, and some structure and boundaries.  I’m here to make healthy food and set limits.  I’m here to teach them about the world and offer opportunities.  But they are who they are. 

I’ll keep pushing against the tide, because it’s not OK that my son still hits sometimes.  It’s not OK that my daughter will cry and gag rather than try a new food, even when that food is a peanut butter and nutella sandwich that I KNOW she would like if she would just stop gagging in anticipatory hatred.  It’s not OK that my son rolls his eyes and says, “Whatever” to me when I tell him what to do.  (It’s f***ing hilarious, yes.  But it’s not OK.)  So I will keep reading parenting books and making up new sticker charts or reward systems so that maybe I can shift them by a minute degree. 

After years of pushing against the tide, now more often than not, my son punches the air when he’s angry instead of hitting me or his sister.  His anger is physical.  He can learn to punch a pillow.  My daughter ate two bites of chili the other night, one piece of meat and one bean, and last night tasted my Thai sweet potato lentil stew without gagging or crying.  She still gives me the evil eye when she sees something unfamiliar on her plate.  She still claims to hate new foods almost before they hit her tongue, but she tastes them.  And mostly doesn’t gag or cry.  And so I push against the tide, working my ass off, for these tiny shifts. 

I’ll keep pushing.  I’ll encourage my rather solitary, easily overstimulated son to make friends, and I’ll be thrilled when he comes home and tells me he held hands with another boy who is now his best buddy.  I don’t have to do much behavioral modification with my daughter right now other than the food thing.  Did I mention, she’s a pleaser?  But when she’s 12 and 13, I suspect I’ll be doing a lot of tide-pushing against her tendency to please when the people she cares about impressing are her friends and (I’m gonna anxiety-puke just thinking about it) boys. 

In the scheme of things, I have really easy kids.  I lucked out on the kid lottery, and I know it.  Yeah, when they’re in the same room, they don’t sleep until midnight.  They fight.  They would rather screw around than sit down and eat.  Whatever.  Normal crap.  The stuff I am dealing with is nail biting, talking back, sibling rivalry, leaving their toys all over the house.  Booo-ring.  When I was dealing with my kid hitting other kids at school, when I was dealing with a preschool teacher implying that maybe my kid had Asperger’s, yeah, I busted out a lot more behavioral wing-dings to deal with those things.  It didn’t work awesome until developmental changes happened in their own time, but I had to feel like I was trying everything I knew how to try. 

I’m not sure it made any difference.  But at least I felt like I was doing everything I could.

I watch parents deal with more challenging kids, kids who are not as easy as mine.  I watch them push against the tide, and when that doesn’t work, I watch them try to build bulwarks and levees made out of sheer will.  I watch them try to plug leak after leak, until the number of leaks exceeds their emotional resources.  They have to.  I would do the same.  When your kid is having a problem, you have to do everything you can.  Because what if that next parenting book, or that next strategy, or that next specialist is the one that can help your kid? 

But I want to tell them this:  You didn’t give your kid this problem.  Your kid is not struggling because you don't read enough parenting books, or because you aren't consistent in your discipline strategy or because you let them watch too much TV or eat too many Cheez-its.  You’re not getting notes home from the teacher because you’re a bad parent.  You got the kid you got.  And your job is just harder.  You’re working harder than I am, harder than lots of parents, and maybe people think you’re not doing a good job, but that’s because they don’t know shit about how hard your job is.

It’s like the person on The Voice who tries to sing a Whitney Houston song.  It’s easy to get all judgey when you can’t sing worth a damn and don’t really know anything.  But other singers know which songs are hard to sing.  Parents of tricky kids, you got dealt a Whitney Houston song.  Sing your heart out.  But cut yourself some slack.  Worrying about your kids is one of the worst feelings in the world.  But you know what’s worse?  Guilt.  Let it go.  Parent as well and as mindfully as you can, do whatever you can to help your kid.  And then let it go.

Some kids are never going to make friends easily.  Some kids are never going to like sushi or strong flavors.  Some kids are never going to make the honor roll.  Some kids are never going to sit still with their hands folded and listen to the teacher.  Some kids are going to be just a little bit tone deaf.  Some kids are going to struggle with temper, or with impulsivity, or with reading, or with handwriting (stupid D’Nealian).

Obviously, there are kids and families with much more challenging problems than these.  But without even bringing up special needs, just your average “typical” kids… they are who they are, and it seems to me that you just can’t change it that much.  While they’re children, society wants them to sit quietly and be friendly and write neatly.  Kids who can do that will have an easier time in school, and their parents might feel like rock stars.  Until they have a second kid who doesn’t do those things, no matter what they try.

All of these kids, the easy ones and the tricky ones, will grow up.  And handwriting and sitting still will matter less, and there will be ways to make friends who share their interests rather than just share their classroom.  And strong family connection and love will matter more than coloring in the lines.  And they will find their own way, and become more than you ever could have imagined.

So love them, and yes, push against the tide.  Try to help them strengthen the areas that are a struggle for them.  Do everything you can for your kid, because you love them and you can’t not.  Do everything you can so that you will know you did everything you could.  And then let go. 

That’s some pretty good advice.  I should really try to take it too.  Letting go, not my strong suit.  Never was.  Nothing anyone really could have done about it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The facebook cleanse

It seems there’s a new trendy “cleanse.”  The facebook cleanse.  Yeah, no, don’t worry.  I will SO not be doing that.

It’s happening more and more.  A facebook friend will announce that they won’t be on facebook for a week, a month, indefinitely, whatever.  So if you want them to know something, you have to e-mail or call them.  Even my 13-year-old niece deactivated her account for a short time because she felt she was spending too much time on facebook.  I was super-impressed with her, because deactivating facebook at 13 (a) is a big effing deal, and (b) takes a level of self-understanding and discipline that most 13-year-olds don’t have and I have possibly yet to achieve.  Go her.

Here’s what happens when I see someone going on the facebook cleanse.  First, I feel a twinge of discomfort.  “You should really do that,” says my discomfort.  “You spend too much time on facebook.  Think how clean your house could be if you didn’t check facebook and read blogs.”  “Not that clean, bitch,” I answer the voice of my anthropomorphized discomfort.  “I mostly check facebook while I am doing something else.  Waiting somewhere, taking a break from consignment sale pricing and tagging, waking up slowly in bed so I don’t get the weird shaky feeling I get when I get out of bed too quickly, watching The Voice.  So shut up.  I don’t want to do a facebook cleanse.”

If I didn’t check facebook, play Scrabble with my friend, and play Drop7 on my phone, how would I know who the good contestants on The Voice were?  I know they’re good when they make me put down my phone.

I know what you’re thinking, why don’t I just turn off the TV?  That, my hypothetical friend, is an excellent idea.  I would totally do a TV cleanse.  I mean, I would still Tivo all of the shows and binge on them like a junkie after the cleanse was over (which perhaps defeats the purpose), but I could easily go a week or longer without TV.  Especially now that fall is putting a chill in the evening air, and having a bourbon outside at the fire is an option again.  I’d sit at a fire with a lovely glass of whisky rather than watch TV any day.  But TV is one of the ways I spend time with my husband.  He and I tend to go our separate ways unless we’re watching TV together.  We even bought a sectional to replace the couch and chair we used to watch TV on, so that we can snuggle while we watch.  That is the function TV serves in my life, snuggle time with the man.  Also, it allows me to judge people.  I love armchair judging of dance and singing competition shows.  I like to think it keeps me from being judgey with other people in my life.  But still, I could snuggle with my man out at the fire, and find some other outlet for my “critical evaluative” skills.

But how would I replace facebook?

The real answer to that twinge of discomfort I feel when I think about a facebook cleanse is that facebook is serving some important functions for me.  First, my facebook filter takes situations that suck and makes them funny.  I try really hard not to complain on facebook, unless it’s funny.  So when bad stuff happens, I immediately look for the funny.  Without facebook, those sucky things would just suck.  Like the time, back when my kids were potty training and they had a small potty in their bedroom so they wouldn’t have to come out if they had to pee in the night.  And someone dropped a deuce in it.  And then they used the turds as meteors and threw them at their stuffed animals, because some episode of some show (Wonder Pets, maybe?) had a meteor that looked like a turd hurtling through space towards an animal in trouble.  Walking in on that particular scene… well, it just wouldn’t have been the same if I hadn’t been writing the facebook update in my head while I was reacting.  I might have wondered what else in the room my kids had touched after touching their own excrement, rather than coming up with funny phrases about “poo-poo meteors.”

Second, and probably more important, facebook is my main social outlet.  I see friends and family in person, but not enough.  I have extremely high social needs.  I need to talk to people, connect.  I need to be in the world.  I have a husband with pretty low social needs.  He likes to stay home, and when I make too many plans for us, he gets burned out quickly.  If I make plans for just me, he gets burned out on being home alone with the kids.  Once in a blue moon, he will go out with a friend without me, but it’s rare, so getting my social needs met in person generally leads to a child care imbalance.  Also, in-person social time tends to cost money for things like restaurants and drinks out, money we just don't have right now.

On facebook, I can connect with people I care about.  I can hear about my sister’s rough day, or what my mom had for dinner (something I truly don’t care about for most people, but my mom is a stunning cook, so I love her food posts, and it’s also amusing to me how she talks about food as if eating is sex).  I get to see photos of my brother’s kids, even though they live a prohibitively expensive plane flight away.  I get to argue politics, or religion, or philosophy if I’m in the mood for that sort of thing.  I can solicit or give advice or sympathy or validation.  I feel connected with my Australian friends despite a challenging time difference.  I don’t collect friends.  I only accept friend requests from people I actually know (with one or two very special exceptions).  In addition to limiting my friends list to people I know, I also hide more than half of them.  Many high school acquaintances are hidden.  If someone posts too many political opinions that piss me off, or posts too much about exercising, boom, hidden.  I manage my facebook flow so that it feels like a big room with all of the people I love, talking about stuff I want to hear about.  Like a party.  Except I don’t have to wear makeup or a bra.  How awesome is that?  Seriously!  And if the kids get out of bed, I can deal with them and then go back to the party.  No babysitting costs!  And did I mention, no bra!

Now, I’m not saying I’ll never pick up the phone.  But honestly, I hate the phone.  There are two or three friends with whom I communicate by phone, because it’s their strong preference and I love them enough to go with their preference over my own.  And an even smaller number of people with whom I actually prefer to communicate by phone, because our conversational style and banter is an important facet of the relationship.  But basically, no.  I generally hate it when my phone rings, because I was doing something at that moment.  Cleaning the house, eating dinner, reading a book, playing with my kids, writing a blog post, sneaking a nap.  I was going about my day and suddenly, blammo, I am expected to drop what I was doing and talk.  It’s not my style to ignore the phone—what if it’s important?  What if someone needs me?  Besides, people get pissed when they know you screen.  But because I don’t like it when my phone rings, I can almost never bring myself to call someone else, because nothing I could possibly have to say could be more important than whatever they are doing at that moment.  Unless, you know, I have important shit to say.  But let’s be honest, that’s rare.  Quick logistic questions, or a problem I’m having that I need to work through with a friend, yes.  Blah blah catch-up chit-chat, no. 

Blah blah catch-up chit-chat is what facebook is for.  From the comfort of home, at my convenience, I can look at a friend’s baby pictures, laugh at the snarky dating humor of a single friend I haven’t seen in a while, ogle dance friends’ new costumes, or have a haiku-writing marathon with other bad haiku enthusiasts. Best.  Party.  Ever.  And.  No.  Bra.

I just don’t see enough of a down side to justify going on a facebook cleanse.  Also, if I were going to go on any cleanse (and I’m almost certainly not), my well-being would probably be better served by cutting wine, bread, sweets, bacon, or a bunch of other crap that is way worse for me than facebook. 

But I’m not cutting any of that stuff, because it is all awesome.  And so is facebook.  The end.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Mario Party!

For those who know my kids, you know that to say they are into Mario is an understatement. They LOVE Mario, are obsessed with Mario, own dozens of tiny 2” Mario character figures, as well as the larger plushies. And, of course, the Wii games. And the costumes, some of which I had to make because for some reason you can’t buy a kid’s Yoshi costume for less than $150, or at least you couldn’t last year when he wanted to be Yoshi for Halloween. I am also in the middle of a Bowser costume and a Rosalina costume for this year’s Halloween. Crazy. This year will be the third all-Mario Halloween. It is not at all uncommon for me to be seen at the grocery store or a friend’s house with at least one child dressed as someone from the Mario pantheon, so at least the costumes get a lot of use. My son asked to wear one of his to the first day of kindergarten, and was disappointed when I said no. He has had to satisfy himself with wearing a Mario-emblazoned shirt every single day to school, except the first day.

As a result, I have inadvertently developed a freakish savant-like knowledge of the Mario-verse. And so, for your Mario enjoyment, here are some of the details from the past two years of Mario-themed birthday parties. (For my regular readers, don’t worry, this blog isn’t about to turn into a party-planning site. I just know how many great ideas I get from Pinterest, and wanted to pass my ideas along to parents of other Mario-lovers out there.)

Year 1, ambitious favors with handmade hats!

The favors from year 1 included handmade Mario hats.  I think the hats were $2 at Hobby Lobby and I used  iron-on T-shirt transfers (for dark T-shirts so the white would be opaque).  I printed the Mario M-circle onto the transfers, cut them out, and ironed them on.  This was a lot of work, so I wouldn't recommend it for a big party, but if you're just having a few people, they were a big hit, and my kid still wears his ALL THE TIME.  Get a few extra because the iron-on process is not foolproof and a few got wrinkled or messed up.  For an easier solution, you could also cut sticky felt for the Mario-M circle, but that wouldn't be as permanent.

Girls got Princess Peach tiaras from Oriental Trading (or Mario hats if they wanted - I made extra for that reason).  And then the goodie bags held mushroom rings, mushroom spinning tops, and rubber spiked "Bowser bracelets" all from Oriental Trading, plus chocolate coins and Mario gummies, and and and.  This was clearly overkill.  It was my first major themed party and I went a bit cuckoo-nuts.

Year 2, far less ambitious favors.

The next year, I just got Mario-themed art supplies (pencils, erasers, markers) from Party City (online only), and some Mario candy.  Both years, I just printed out Mario images and glued them to basic cheap-o paper goodie bags.

Mario brick box and question box life-size blocks!

As the major decor item, I got moving boxes from a friend who had recently moved, and painted them to resemble brick and question boxes.  We used the boxes to make a big Mario fort.  I had envisioned the kids building with them, but it was definitely an adult job.  But the kids had a great time playing in the fort.  Using moving boxes was key to the success of this project, because they are made to stack neatly in the moving truck, so they all have the same width and depth (just different heights), so they bricked and stacked well.

I learned a lot of lessons doing this project.  The biggest one is that spray paint is almost never the right answer for anything.  I used regular latex wall paint and a roller to paint these, and that worked great.  The kids "helped."  I painted them flat, and then used a Sharpie "Magnum" (snicker, gotta love dirty-sounding art supplies) to draw the lines on the brick boxes.  After they were assembled, I printed and cut out the question marks and rivets and glued those onto the question boxes.

Make sure you let the boxes dry for a long time before stacking them or laying them on top of each other.  You need at least a few days for the paint to cure or they will stick to each other and mess up all your beautiful work.


Hanging around from ceiling lights were these Boo ghost balloons.  Oops, this one lost his ear, or wing, or whatever that thingie is supposed to be.  Just white balloons, sharpie marker, and white paper cones mono-adhesived (inexpertly, apparently) on the sides.  I got this idea here.


I added to the easy, cheap-o balloon decorations by making these Bob-omb balloons.  Black balloons (helium filled) with small orange balloons for feet and paper ovals monoadhesived on for eyes.  I tied the feet to the base of the black balloon, and then used a small piece of monoadhesive to attach the feet into position.

OK, let's talk food!  We had pizza and usual chip-dip party stuff, but also did a few themed snacks.

Chocolate moustaches make for funny photos!

I was so proud that I came up with idea to make chocolate moustaches for this party, but then I later saw on Pinterest that everyone and their sister has already done that.  Well, poo.  But either way, chocolate moustaches = awesome.  I used these molds from amazon the first year, and they were great!  Then, a few days before the party the second year, I went to look for them and couldn't find them anywhere, and didn't have time to order more, so I got the Wilton moustache molds from Michael's (pictured).  The Wilton molds have three different moustache shapes, and only one is Mario-y, so go with the amazon ones if you have time for them to arrive.

Making chocolate is easy!!  You can use the candy melts, which I understand are fairly foolproof.  Or, if you're a chocolate snob like me, you can use real chocolate because it tastes better.  If you want to use real chocolate and want to be sure it looks perfect, read up on "tempering" chocolate.  It's a pain, but it's how you get them perfect.  I totally planned on doing the tempering thing because I am a freakish perfectionist, but hadn't realized that you can't temper chocolate chips, because they have an additive to make them stay in chip shape in your cookies.  Sooooo, I just didn't temper them.  I just melted them, poured them in, put them in the fridge, and done.  Yeah, the chocolate was a bit soft and didn't have that nice snap of well-made chocolate.  And yeah, some of them got that cocoa butter "bloom."  I'll tell you what, the kids sooooo did not care.  People will be so impressed that you made these things, they won't care if they're not perfect.  I promise.

Watermelon chomp, and my kid (yes, it was also a pool party) 

Here is the watermelon chomp.  My son particularly liked how the chomp was throwing up chunks of watermelon.  Yeah, that was a big hit.  My sister cut him for me because I was running sooo behind in setting up the party.  Thanks, sis!  You did a rocking job!  She also took most of these photos (some with my crappy camera, so don't judge her on that).  She took the bikini photos of me too.  If you're in the MD/DC area, she and her husband take beautiful photos of kids, families, weddings, etc.  Here is their website if you need a photographer!  Oh, and I got the watermelon chomp idea from Pinterest, but the pin just leads to a yucky scam site, so I can't credit the original source. Sorry!!

Gold coins


Some more themey treats.  Chocolate coins and sour worm "caterpillars."  Not pictured, one year we also did cherry licorice "Yoshi tongues."

Aaaaand speaking of Yoshi tongues, the red "blowouts" were fun Yoshi tongues.  (Wow, if you don't know Mario, this all probably sounds like complete gibberish.)

Feed Yoshi!

We didn't do games the first year, but this past year, we had two games.  This one, Feed Yoshi, was a big hit.  I hand-painted Yoshi on a big piece of foam core and cut a hole for his mouth.  The kids had to try to toss caterpillars and "spiky balls" into his mouth.  

Pin the moustache on Mario

I also made this "Pin the moustache on Mario" game on a piece of poster board.  I cut black construction paper moustaches and put some tape on them.  Here are my cute two pinning on their moustaches.

Finally, what is a party without cake?  There are some adorable Mario cakes on Pinterest.  I went with the always-easy cupcakes.  My sister had done a Mario party the year before and I got these cupcake ideas from her!  Goombas and Toads!  I just printed out Goomba feet and Toad faces, frosted (well, my mom frosted), and decorated.  The Toad ones are obviously just M&M's.  The Goomba faces are white M&Ms, black frosting eyeballs, eyebrows, and mouth, and white chocolate chip teeth.

Goomba cupcakes

Toad cupcakes

We have had a blast with these Mario parties.  I wonder if the kids will want a different theme next year.  Maybe, but I'm keeping all of the stuff for one more year, just in case...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A night before the first day of school poem adapatation

Tonight, I was lamenting my kiddos' imminent departure to kindergarten tomorrow morning.  My exact words were:

"OMG OMG OMG OMG. Breathe, Pam, breathe. It's just school. You're not sending them off to work in a mine."

In response, a friend posted this poem by Dan Valentine (presumably because she thought it would be funny if I anxiety-puked all over my keyboard):

Dear World:

I bequeath to you tomorrow one little girl named a crispy dress...with two brown eyes...and a happy laugh that ripples all day long...and a flash of light brown hair that bounces in the sun when she runs. I trust you'll treat her well.

She's slipping out of the backyard of my heart tomorrow morning...and skipping off down the street to her first day of school. And never again will she be completely mine. Prim and proud she'll wave her young and independent hand and say "Goodbye" and walk with little lady steps to the schoolhouse.

Now she'll learn to stand in lines...and wait by the alphabet for her name to be called. She'll learn to tune her ears for the sounds of school-bells...and deadlines...and she'll learn to giggle...and gossip...and look at the ceiling in a disinterested way when the little boy 'cross the aisle sticks out his tongue at her. And now she'll learn to be jealous. And now she'll learn how it is to feel hurt inside. And now she'll learn how not to cry.

No longer will she have time to sit on the front porch on a summer day and watch an ant scurry across the crack in the sidewalk. Nor will she have time to pop out of bed with the dawn and kiss lilac blooms in the morning dew. No, now she'll worry about those important grades and which dress to wear and whose best friends is whose. And the magic of books and learning will replace the magic of her blocks and dolls. And now she'll find new heroes.

For five full years now I've been her sage and Santa Claus and pal and playmate and father and friend. Now she'll learn to share her worship with her teachers ...which is only right. But no longer will I be the smartest man in the whole world. Today when that school bell rings for the first time...she'll learn what it means to be a member of the group...with all its privileges and its disadvantages too.

She'll learn in time that proper young ladies do not laugh out loud...or kiss dogs...or keep frogs in pickle jars in bedrooms...or even watch ants scurry across cracks in sidewalks in the summer.
Tomorrow she'll learn for the first time that all who smile at her are not her friends. And I'll stand on the front porch and watch her start out on the long, lonely journey to becoming a woman.

So, world, I bequeath to you tomorrow one little girl named a crispy dress...with two brown eyes...and a flash of light brown hair that bounces in the sunlight when she runs.

I trust you'll treat her well.

[Apologies to Dan Valentine for any missing punctuation, etc.  I couldn't easily find the original source because mamas all over the internet are copying and pasting your poem.  Um, kind of like I just did.  Except I gave you credit and most of them don't.  I am a writer.  I tried my best.  If you see this and want a link, it's yours.  Just let me know.]

Anyway, I did my own adaptation.  Here it is.  Enjoy.

Dear World:

I bequeath to you my little monkeys. In clothes they picked out themselves which are totally not the clothes I would have picked, but whatever, it's their big day so it's OK I guess... with their mops of hair that I promise I brushed even though they completely look like orphans because secretly I kind of like it when they look messy because it means they're having fun.

They're meeting our next-door-neighbor at the bottom of her driveway tomorrow, the female next-door-neighbor that my daughter said she would marry after she was rejected by her best male friend, who is already betrothed to another. She has no idea that the very Christian family would probably be horrified at her girl-girl marriage plans with their daughter, and has no idea that that marriage would not be legal in most states.

Now they'll learn not to say "Oh shit" when they drop something, and not to talk too much about how they'll drink coffee and wine and beer when they grow up, or about how when they grow up they will be allowed to say "fruckin'," because the teacher doesn't like it when they talk that way.

No longer will they have time to watch TV and play on the Wii all day long.

For five full years I have alternated between being the best mommy ever and the meanest mommy ever, depending on whether I said yes or no to a cookie ten minutes before dinner. Now I will pack a cookie in their lunch boxes and some cheez-its too, and they will probably eat them before they eat their lunch and I will never know.

They'll learn all sorts of crap, like about Justin Bieber and Monster High and whatever the boy equivalent is of those horrifying things. They will ask for iPads and want to text their friends. They will know more about the next level of tech than I do. And I will be the old lady who uses the wrong words for some computer thingie and makes them roll their eyes.

So world, here they are, my little potty-mouth, gay-friendly, nerdy, amazing, loving, beautiful-souled kids.

If you don't treat them well, I'll break your f**king face.

Aaaaaand that is the sort of thing that sometimes happens on my personal facebook page.  I thought I'd pass this one along to you, my faithful readers, late on a crazy Sunday night.

First day of school in the morning.  No anxiety-puking allowed.  

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Is it hot in here?

I tend to run cold.  All winter, I sneakily turn up the thermostat, which gets sneakily turned down by my budget-conscious, warm-blooded husband.  He’ll be hanging out in shorts and a T-shirt, while I wear sweats and hide under a blanket.  So imagine my surprise when I asked recently, “Is it hot in here?” and he said no.  Well, I was drinking red wine, and had been cooking.  That must be it.  The kitchen was hot from the oven.  Yeah.


It happened again, both us in the dining room eating lunch.  “Am I have hot flashes?” I asked him, appalled, wiping sweat from my forehead and pulling my hair off my neck.  He said that maybe I was warm from the stress of dealing with my son, who had just put me through a challenging parenting half hour.  Yeah, maybe.  Yeah, no.

It keeps happening.  Sometimes it even wakes me up at night and I have to adjust the fan to point on me and pull off the sheets to let the sweat evaporate and cool me.  It’s been about a month, with a flash happening once or twice a week.  I’m having some weird sleep disturbances too, waking up early for no reason (and if you know me, you know how truly weird that is).  I’m 38.  I’m effing perimenopausal.  You’ve got to be effing effing mother-effing kidding me.

So, yeah, that’s happening. 

I went on the interwebs and found out that perimenopause usually starts around age 40, and can take anywhere from 5-10 years to fully resolve into actual menopause.  So I’m not out of the range, I guess.  But damn.  I’m not ready.  I went to grad school, which tends to delay child-bearing, so lots of my friends had babies at the age I am now, and into their early 40’s.  My family is complete.  I don’t want more kids.  But…  menopause?!  No.  Not yet. 

I feel like my mom only just finished hers.  She had a protracted perimenopausal period too, ten years?  Maybe more?  I remember her going to the doc claiming to be perimenopausal (At what age?  I don’t remember.  It suddenly matters.)  I remember the doc telling her that she could still have a kid tomorrow, hormonally speaking.  That lasted a long time.  So I know this is just the beginning.  But it’s the beginning.

I’m trying desperately not to think of it as the beginning of the end. 

The part about no periods sounds pretty good, but I’m on the Mirena, so that is already mostly true.  The part about osteoporosis is scary.  The part about losing my libido is the part that really freaks me the hell out.  My libido is so much a part of me that I can’t imagine what life would be like without it.  I can’t imagine who I would be.  I’m a woman, sexy, hot, curvy, awesome.  I’m scared of those things changing, of feeling less like a woman.  Terrified of feeling less sexy, less sexual.

I know there is more to me than sex.  Obviously.  I’m trying to think about wisdom and crap.  But crap.  Screw wisdom.  I want the big screaming O’s.  I want to boink without synthetic funny-tasting lube.  I want to feel that swing in my hips that comes from knowing that I am one sexy bitch.

Every woman goes through this eventually.  I’m not alone.  I should probably start reading self-help books and crap.  They’ll probably talk about the wisdom of being an elder and transitions and crap like that.  Blah.  Sigh.  I’m too young for that shit. 

In my own mind, anyway.  My body, apparently, not so much.